Author Comments: Yay~ I managed to update exactly one week later! Hurray for a not late chapter~ It's longer than what I had planned though, because I couldn't find a way to end it before this! I might be finishing this arc in two more chapters, probably. Yay for that too~!
"Wah, Lynn-chan, you killed him!" Elias pretended to wail dramatically as he extended his hand in Luka's direction, who had supposedly fainted after Lynn had fallen right onto him as they crashed somewhere they did not yet know.
Lynn was not the brightest, and innocently believed in the bunny-eared man's claims, hovering in a panic around the flushed face. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Luka-san! I didn't mean to kill you!"
"Woe is me, to have seen the day my comrade falls upon witnessing the hidden white—"
His comments were however abruptly stopped, and instead continued by strangled noises.
"What the hell are you talking about, you pervert!" the brown-haired knight then shifted his glares to the relieved Lynn, "And you, what the hell are you going on about!"
"Luka-san! I thought you died—" a sob cut her short, and she flung herself for the second time onto him, squeezing him tightly as she cried about how happy she was.
"Wha—" Luka's brain overloaded in that instant, falling back onto the soft grass once more. Silence followed as the other two processed the situation, the hush broken by the occasional sob of the girl.
"Lynn-chan, it's not good to kill your friends twice," Elias stated monotonously as he stared at his partner.
The atmosphere was rather tense, as the still upset Lynn trailed behind with heavy steps and the annoyed Luka brusquely increased his pace every second. Elias walked in the middle of them, hoping not to lose trace of either of them.
"Do not call me that."
Elias sighed at his companion, and halted, waiting for Lynn to catch up. Despite all, a small smile played on his face as he saw Luka stop too, albeit quite a distance away.
"He's still angry because I killed him…" Lynn mumbled depressed, eyeing the black knight's back as they resumed walking.
Elias chuckled. "That's not the exact reason…" he bent himself to Lynn's eye level and covered his mouth with his hand. He then whispered cautiously, "You see, he's still a virgin."
"A virgin?" Lynn blinked her eyes at this statement.
"I heard you, you lecherous freak!"
"Oh my, he has heard us," Elias said as he patted Lynn's head. "For now, let's find out where we are, shall we? Luka-chan, isn't that enough? Or I'll tell Lynn-chan what you saw~!"
The young man who had, for the past hour, insisted on playing solo, abruptly turned and marched at a blinding speed backwards. His face was not the usual grumpy one but a rather embarrassed one. Elias giggled quietly to himself as Lynn stared, oblivious to whatever the white knight meant.
As soon as Luka approached them, Elias raised his head to the sky and closed his eyes. Seeing this, Luka kept his ragged breathing to himself, trying not to disturb his partner's concentration.
"Stars that bring light to this world. Heed my request, tell me where I stand!" his voice rose dramatically towards the end, where Elias snapped his eyes open as they glowed a fiery red for a split second. Taking a deep breath in, he faced the other two. "Luka, you were nearly killed."
Luka stared at him blankly. "What do you mean?"
"Just what you think it is. I found it strange that we did not end up near Setermo, and instead in this unknown area, but it's an illusion. Before us," the white knight pointed forward, "Is Setermo. The barrier was just a step before you…"
Realizing his near-fatal mistake, Luka sighed as he muttered a brief apology. "Well, what now?"
"Could I ask about what Elias-san did…?" Lynn asked upon seeing both heads turn in her direction.
"I used the powers of the stars… Oh right, we didn't tell you," Elias slapped his palm as he chuckled. "There are twelve magic types. Four of them are the main forms of magic, Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Each country governs one form, with the citizens able to learn only that type."
"Then there's the secondary magic. It is a special form of magic, again unique to each country," Luka continued. Elias was surprised to see him talk of magic, smiling and listening quietly as he spoke. "Sun, Moon, Time and Space. Then there's the tertiary level, four in total, and each country can specialize in two of them. The Spring Country controls Earth, Time, Metal and Herbs. The Winter Country controls Water, Moon, Herbs and Ice…"
"Alright, let me continue. The Autumn Country reigns over the Air, Space, Ice, and Electricity and finally we of The Summer Country control Fire, Sun, Electricity and Metal… Ah we went a bit off-track." Elias scratched his head as he continued, "Anyone who has mastered Solarmancy or Lunamancy can channel the power of the stars, which is what I did."
Lynn, who had listened attentively till now, jumped onto his words. "You have mastered the Sun magic?!" Her eyes were sparkling with admiration.
Elias opened his mouth so as to reply, but was beat to it by Luka. "To be part of the Order of the Knights, you need to master either the primary or secondary magic forms."
"I see… Then Luka-san has mastered Fire magic?"
Luka's eyes widened momentarily. "Anyway, it's starting to darken…" Elias cut in as he pointed to the sky. The warm colours of the sun were quickly receding and letting the cooler colours take over. The white knight looked at Lynn anxiously. "Are you really sure you want to do this?"
It took a moment for the girl to understand his words. She quickly nodded. "Where is the barrier?"
"Fifty steps ahead, probably, since that's the territorial limit of Setermo."
Lynn nodded at his response. She walked the steps, one at a time, counting them in her head. At the forty ninth step, she drew a heavy breath, placing her pale hands before her. Closing her eyes, she took the last step.
Seeing how nothing happened despite it all, she dared to open her eyes, which immediately widened. Gone was the endless meadow, replaced by an average-sized town rising a brief distance before her. She craned her head back, only to see a bright, whitish barrier surround the entire town, as she saw by gradually looking up at the sky.
Realizing only then that she had made it in, she dashed back out. Her eyes blurred momentarily, but soon focused to the worried faces of the two knights.
"I was so worried! Are you all right?!" Elias asked as he stepped forward, shaking her shoulders lightly. Lynn nodded slightly, and glanced at Luka. He had certainly been worried, judging from the sweat that made its way past his forehead.
"The problem is, how are we to enter?" Luka mused, placing his hand below his chin.
"How about you hold my hands?" the girl suggested as she waved her hands before her. Luka unconsciously took a step back with a worried expression, but Elias smiled in approval.
"Good idea, Lynn-chan! Perhaps the nullification works just like magic. Ah, but before we enter," he took the bag on his back to his hands and opened it. "We don't want to reveal we're knights, and neither do we want them to know Lynn-chan is not from here, so how about we wear the cloaks now?" He tossed Luka's blue cloak backwards, while handing Lynn a cream coloured one. He himself put a brown one on. "Shall we go then?"
"…Where is everybody?" Luka muttered as the trio walked through the desolate streets of Setermo. The night had finally taken over, but it was still too early for anyone to retire to bed. And yet, the grayed buildings of Setermo lacked any lights, with even the usual street lamps powered by Pyromancy lacking their vigorous flames.
Further still, Elias mentioned that he was unable to conjure up any form of magic, which ended in the three of them not crashing into any building thanks to the moon's kind light.
"What would you be doing in this place?" a sudden voice, clear and high-pitched asked calmly. The three's heartbeats increased rapidly as they turned, except for Lynn, to see the unknown stranger.
"Why did I not notice you?" Luka drawled, his voice dangerously low. His hand, hidden by the cloak, touched the hilt of his long sword.
Lynn finally gathered enough courage to turn. The stranger was nothing but a girl, younger than her. Her blue eyes, dark as the night, were calm as a soft breeze drew in upon the four. Her violet waist-length hair waved freely in the wind with her short lilac dress. What surprised Lynn the most however, was how the tall street lamps on either side of her, had mysteriously lit up, allowing the three to study her features.
"Do you mind telling us who you are?" Elias asked more kindly, seeing that Luka's query was met with a cold silence.
"A resident of Setermo. Letitia Barnes. Who would you be? I have not seen you in town." Her dark eyes lingered on Lynn's slightly longer than it took for the two knights, a thing both of them caught onto.
"We're travelers. We were stranded on the meadows when we suddenly ended up here," Elias explained in a cautious tone. "Our friend over here," He waved a hand in Lynn's direction, "Was feeling not too well. Would you know of any rest house?"
"There weren't any people around to ask from," Luka added.
The younger girl's gaze softened. "I'm sorry about my rudeness earlier. If you would follow me, I'll show you to a small house where you can rest till your companion feels better."
Lynn's bandages had come in handy, for they convinced Letitia that she was not well. They were quickly led to a small house. The journey had been quite surprising, for the lamps around Letitia came to life, just as others behind died out.
The young girl halted right by the wooden door, which she swung open. "Is there anything else you may need?"
"Could we have a change of clothes? We don't want to look too conspicuous," Elias asked with a smile. His way of weaving certain bits of truth into his lies was what made them believable, and Letitia nodded her head. She bade them a peaceful night, stating that the clothes would be ready by the next morning.
Closing the door behind them, they inspected the small stone house. There was only one room apart from the washing compartment, the living room and kitchen, the latter two of which were both one. It was a given that Lynn was to sleep in the room, with the knights remaining in the living room. The two of them agreed on one sleeping as the other kept watch.
The bed sheets were flung off, making the girl squirm and curl into a fetal position to the cold.
"Five more minutes, Mom…" Lynn whispered lazily, without even bothering to open her eyes. The black knight was surprised at her sentence, but recovered quite quickly. Dropping the sheets aside, he stepped forward, but a random unidentified circular object just decided to be right where his foot was kept.
The knight's eyes widened as he fell forward with a strangled scream, ending in quite the position. Lynn finally decided it was time to wake up, but as her eyes opened, they squeezed shut back again.
"I must be dreaming…" Her cheeks blushed slightly. Luka instead just plain stared at her in frozen shock, his hands supporting him up, leaving his nose just a few centimeters from hers.
"Oh, Luka-chan. So bold even in the morning!" Elias exclaimed in his cheery voice as he popped in. "Lynn-chan, it's breakfast time. Come out when you're don—"
"I'm not doing anything, you freak!" Luka exclaimed as he threw a pillow at his companion. He realized only a tad too late his mistake as the balance was broken. In a wild panic to not crash into Lynn, he smacked his hand down.
"…" Luka's hands certainly felt a softness he hadn't felt, ever… but it was quite flat.
'It's flatter than I thought—' he realized his thoughts though, and blushing even further, shook his head furiously as he hauled himself off and stomped out of the room.
"I'm going to investigate," he said in his usual grumpy tone. Putting his blue cloak on, he left the house, slamming the door behind him.
Elias stared at his companion with a slight smile, before shrugging his shoulders and turning to greet someone who had just entered the living room.
"Good morning Lynn-chan. Did you kill Luka again?" he chuckled as he said so, the girl staring at him with oblivious groggy eyes.
"I don't think so… But good morning, Elias-san."
Lynn sat on her bed, staring at the brass locket idly as she heaved a sigh. The two knights had gone out to investigate and she was to look after the house. That was all she was told.
She heaved another sigh, letting herself fall back on the bed. She soon rose up however, as a knock resounded. Alert, she stared at the main door which she could see from her bed.
"Is anyone home?" a muffled voice reached her ears. Lynn quickly got up and opened the door. Seeing nobody, she stared down and two dark blue eyes stared back at her.
Relaxing, Lynn smiled at the younger girl. "Hello there, Letitia-chan. Do you have any business?"
"Not exactly," Letitia replied formally. "I just wanted to talk with you… err, what was your name again?
"Lynn, Lynn Ta—" she caught herself though, remembering that they were not to reveal their true identities. "—lbot."
"Um, no. Please call me Lynn."
The shop Luka entered was old and worn down, even more so was its shop owner. Staring at him from the shadows, he simply watched as the knight entered the place and looked around.
"Yes, I'll have one of that," Luka said as he pointed to a box full of vials containing green-coloured vials. The shop-owner stared at him emotionlessly for a while, before robotically nodding as he walked towards the stock in a peculiar manner.
Luka eyed him suspiciously. "By the way, I was not feeling too well last night… So I missed the…" he left his words purposely hanging, waiting for the old man to complete them.
The owner wheeled around, staring for some more time before he replied, "You missed the ceremony! How rude, what an insult to Lord Hyde! Punishment shall be bestowed upon you!"
Seeing how his voice grew louder with each word, and that the passers-by were robotically starting to stare at him too, he ducked out of the dark shop and ran away.
As he ran, a slight smirk played on his face.
"Hyde, it is…"
The young man smiled as he reached the plaza. Sure enough, a huge pile of ash and remains of blackened wood was in the middle of it. The man walked towards it and kneeled on one knee. Picking a stone, he flicked it towards the middle. The burnt remains scattered about, revealing the innermost splinters. They were still retaining some of the red and warmth.
"Bingo," he muttered, letting his brown hood fall back. Without turning back, he averted his eyes. "Is it the Lord or a minion?"
"You shall suffer for insulting the Lord!" The heavy steps towards Elias resounded rapidly as the intruder rushed at him.
In the split second they were to meet, Elias wheeled around as he stood up. Grabbing the head of the rather short man, he lifted him up.
"What… just a minion," the white knight muttered in disappointed tone as he tightened his grip on the head. The minion swung his arms and legs randomly, trying to land a blow on the knight. Elias raised an eyebrow before his eyes narrowed evilly. "Move just one hair and you're dead."
His prey stopped upon hearing the words. Seconds later however, an irritated noise followed and a leg kicked wildly in the air. It landed rather gently on Elias's cloak.
The hand the prey was being upheld from suddenly got covered with metal. As the hand tried to compress itself, the minion screamed and squirmed, but no avail as his head was mercilessly crushed. The blood that fell to the ground was a dark blue and it mixed with the pieces of skin and hair that lightly landed on the ground.
"So… Magic works only if a lot is conjured…? Quite the barrier," Elias muttered. Without even deigning one more look at it, he threw the demon's body aside carelessly, walking towards the remnants of the fire.
"What did you want to talk about, Letitia-chan?" Lynn asked in a cheery voice. Placing the wooden tray on the table, she kept one glass of juice before the violet haired girl. "It's orange juice," she said, seeing Letitia stare at it suspiciously.
"…Thank you." The younger girl took a sip from it. The taste won her over, and she downed the whole drink in one gulp. Shifting her gaze back to Lynn, her eyes met with the older girl's glass.
Lynn smiled as she understood Letitia's thoughts, and pushed her own glass towards the girl. "You can have it."
Letitia stared at her uncomfortably. She accepted the glass though, her cheeks reddening in embarrassment. "…I just wanted… to talk."
"About?" Lynn spurred her on.
"…Then, do you want to listen to a story?" Seeing her nod slightly, Lynn continued, "Long, long ago a little mermaid used to live at the bottom of the sea…"
"We're back." The door opened, and in walked the two young men. Their eyes soon widened however, for before them was quite the sight. Sitting asleep on the small green sofa in the living room, were Lynn and Letitia, their heads leaning against one another.
A sudden wind blew though, slamming the door and startling the two girls. Their eyes snapped open, but relaxed at seeing the two.
"Ah, welcome back, Luka-san, Elias-san." Lynn turned to her friend, "Come on, you too, Letitia-chan."
A sudden chill ran through the white knight's back though, and he abruptly turned back, his eyes narrowing. Luka's eyebrows raised in question, just as Elias mouth opened.
The knights shifted their gaze back to the girls, just as Letitia fell to the floor with a hollow thud.