Arc 2 – Swing
Ch. 2 – The Lost Time
My sluggish, heavy steps echoed throughout the growing silence of the evening.
Warmly, the sun said its goodbye, leaving only a faint orange amidst the expanding indigo sky.
The familiar scent of fruits and vegetables began to dissipate slowly among the decreasing number of sellers as they grabbed every valuable item and took off to their own homes.
The sounds coming from the forest outside the village were the only things that kept me from being completely alone.
But that background turned into a blur as my mind kept coming back to what Rick had told me.
I couldn’t disagree with him no matter how much I disliked it: I’m a coward and will always continue to be one. That’s an immutable fact, something I have no control over.
I always ran from things that could hurt me, and I do realize that, but, you know…
That doesn’t mean I can’t dream! It’s nice to admire something from afar, imagining yourself in an impossible position or having what you’ve always wanted to have.
And being a Beast Knight was one of those things: unreachable, unrealistic, admirable… My childhood dream.
However, from the moment I was born, it had been decided that I wouldn’t become one of them. I don’t have a Crest, and in no way, shape, or form was it something malleable: either I was born with it, or not.
And the fact that I didn’t have it made me curious. What was the thing that blocked me from pursuing my dream? How does it work? And why?
Those questions kept pursuing me to this day.
But one thing everyone knew, child or adult, Beast Knight or not, was that a Crest was the connection between a Beast and a human.
Humans alone can’t produce a single drop of magic, but with a Crest, things are different. Humans can link to Beasts with the Crest, and thus be able to use the Beast’s magic to an extent.
Royal researchers throughout the empire are earnestly analyzing crests, their characteristics, and why they allow humans to use the beasts’ magic. It’s one of the mysteries that still can’t be fully explained yet, along with beasts themselves.
By the time I noticed, I had reached my house.
Without wasting much time, I opened the door and entered the house as the nostalgic smell of my mother’s signature meat roll rushed to greet me.
The scent lifted up the corners of my mouth. No one could resist her meat roll, not even the strongest of men or the most ferocious of Beasts.
I ate the succulent meal with a grin up on my face, momentarily forgetting all of my worries.
After eating and settling down my stomach, I went to my bedroom, only for my mind to be overwhelmed by those complicated thoughts again. I plopped down on the bed.
I rolled around in the sheets for a while, then lay sprawled out, staring at the wooden ceiling. My conscience was still hazy from the tiring confrontation with Rick, if I could even call it that.
I accepted the fact that I’m a coward, I did.
So please, my heart, stop aching…
A red ball of fluffiness began to nuzzle on my face.
“Oh, hey Ash.”
The little cub has been with me and my family ever since we left that terrible place.
My mother loves animals and Beasts, arguably even more than I do, so she tightly embraced the idea of having him, or rather, she hugged him to the point where he started to whimper. Poor Ash…
Interrupting my thoughts, Ash continued to nuzzle me.
“How’re you doing?” I caressed his soft fur.
“Arf!” He jumped on my belly, still nuzzling against me.
“Good…” I smiled bitterly.
“Woof?” His upturned ruby-red eyes locked on mine.
“I’m fine, really!”
“Arf, arf!” He nuzzled again.
After that short moment, we went to sleep together. The last thing I remember is a warm and furry feeling on my chest, snoring peacefully as the sweet aroma of lilac trees permeated through my nose.
Sweat trickling, hazy eyes, extreme thirst – the sun attacked all that lived under its gaze.
I flailed my shirt, trying to appease the scalding sun from burning me. It didn’t do much against that giant yellow powerhouse.
Usually, when I go to school, the sun isn’t as aggressive as it is today. Sure, the climate here is somewhat hot, but not to this extreme.
The boiling stones on the streets are just one of the symptoms of the unusual heat. I’m even afraid of passing out, but what can I do?
One of the only few happy things in school were the Beast Studies.
I may not become a Beast Knight, but Beasts do intrigue me. From their origin, to what they do, even the minute details – I want to know them all!
But that comes after surviving this blazing day. It’ll be tough, I know. Even more so when my way to school has a small number of shadows.
I stopped for a moment, wiping the sweat off my face. A sudden rush of realization hit me as I changed directions: Instead of going through the same path as I always do, why don’t I take the longer route?
Well, it does have a bigger amount of trees, so I won’t die from the sun.
Marveling at my decision, I walked down the long path while trying to distract myself from the heat.
Walking down the volcanic stone-paved streets, out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed a particular item in a store’s showcase. Since I left early, I could stop and take a look.
The more I approached the showcase, the more intrigued I got. The title “Ancient Languages: The Lost Time” was, by itself, eye-catching, but that wasn’t it.
Out of curiosity, I’d asked my teachers about this so-called “Lost Time”, only for them to tell me that a couple of years ago, one of the most important royal libraries was suddenly burned down, even though it was greatly protected by water-type Beasts.
Unfortunately, the knowledge inside that library was entirely destroyed, and since most of that knowledge was composed of ancient languages, known only by a select few groups of people, there were a small number of copies made.
We lost most of the registries from ancient times, and there’s nothing in our hands that we could do. Indeed, that time period was lost.
When I was told this, my curiosity peaked, but because that was everything the public knew about the matter, there was nothing more I could learn about it, and I let go of my curiosity…
And here it was, a book about that same subject that had sparked such intense interest in me.
I decided to enter the store. I had some pocket money, but I didn’t know if it was enough for me to buy that book.
As I set foot into the store, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by wonder. The store was filled to the brim with antiquities, from canvases painted with intricate and rare Beasts to pieces of metalwork with patterns I had never seen before.
While admiring the diverse store, I made my way to the seller’s counter, hoping to find someone there.
A pile of broad and heavy books stood atop the counter, but since I had to go quickly, I looked away from them.
“You won’t find any toys here, young one,” an old man said condescendingly.
“Um, that’s not it… I was just interested in a book,” I pointed at the showcase.
“A book…?” He titled his head.
“Yeah, ‘Ancient Languages: The Lost Time’.”
“I see… Interesting. I will get it for you, wait here.”
As he made his way to the showcase, I noticed his… unusual appearance: a pure white leather coat, black baggy pants and boots, messy gray-white hair, and a long white beard. However, instead of the usually bent old man, he had a well-built physique.
He quickly came back to the balcony while holding the book.
“This book is really interesting. It was one of my personal possessions,” he placed the book on the table. “But I’ve already read it so many times, I know everything it says, word for word.”
“What I’m saying is that this book is really good and enlightening, but hard to find in common libraries. You would need to go to a royal academy and read one there,” he sighed. “A friend gave this to me.”
“I… see,” I gazed at the well-maintained book. “I don’t think I’ll have enough money to buy it, then,” I smiled bitterly.
“Actually, I’ve been looking for someone to keep this book. I’m growing into an old fart, so if I keep it, it will probably be locked away in a dusty room until time destroys it,” he smiled at me. “A curious mind is perfect to keep this book. You can have it.”
He handed me the book.
“A-Are you serious?” I gazed from the book to him.
“Really?” I still didn’t believe it.
My eyes widened.
“T-Thank you!” I bowed sincerely at him.
“I’m the one to thank you, um…”
“Kyel.” He laughed heartily. “It was a pleasure to meet you,” he shook my hand.
“It was mine, sir!”
“Please, just call this old man Rack,” he smiled once again.
After parting ways, I left the store with a renewed spring in my step.
Thanks for reading, and thank you, Xaga, for editing!
This year’s end was full for both me and my editor. We hope to get back on track from now on! Sorry for the weeks of wait…
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