“Akasha. A-k-a-s-h-a. Aaaakaaashaaa. Hahaha! What a strange name!”
I don’t really see how it’s any stranger than any other name, though. And why does she look so delighted about it?
“Oh, so you’re a mercenary? Aren’t you too young? Isn’t it dangerous?” Lilly asks, looking over the identification card I handed to her. “Oh? What’s with this? It says here you’re 29 years old.”
I don’t know why Jasper changed my age after I wrote the correct number. It didn’t seem important enough to worry about, though, so I didn’t bother asking.
Lilly smiles mischievously. “Did you lie about your age in order to enlist? Hohoho! You’re quite bold, aren’t you? But how could they have believed that you were 29? Was the person who handled your registration blind? Or did they accept it because you’re a majin?”
I’m still standing next to the window, looking outside at the rainy landscape passing by at high speed around the train. Lilly brought one of the padded chairs next to me so she could sit and rest her legs while we speak. As for the people accompanying her, they turned out to be her mother, father – the fat man – and uncle – the muscular man. They’re all sitting in a cluster of chairs around the middle of the room. They’re engaged in a peaceful conversation with the robber, and they seem to be enjoying each other’s company.
…It feels a bit strange to say this about myself, but shouldn’t they take more care about letting their daughter alone with a mass-murdering demon? It seems pretty reckless.
Lilly’s uncle is the only one who seems to have any sense of caution about me. He sometimes makes a token effort to participate in the others’ conversation and pretend he’s interested in what they’re saying, but I can feel his attention focused on me, ready to act if something seems amiss. I think he’s worried I might attack Lilly, but his vigilance is pointless. I’m not an indiscriminate monster; I don’t kill people without reason. And even if I did want to kill that noisy brat, there is nothing he could do to stop me. He is indeed pretty good, compared to almost everyone else I’ve ever seen, but I doubt he’s better than me.
I believe he’s realized that, himself.
That might be why he’s so tense, actually. I too dislike being near anything stronger than I am.
As the case may be, after politely requesting that I stop manipulating the room’s temperature, he hasn’t approached me even once. It could be that he doesn’t dare to, or it could be that he prefers to keep his distance so that neither of us will think the other is going to suddenly attack and preemptively do something drastic.
“Why did you board the train?” Lilly asks suddenly. “Is it to fulfill a mercenary contract?”
[…No. I’m looking for the place where I lived in the past.]
“The place where you lived? You don’t know where it is?”
“Do you remember anything about it? Maybe we could help you. As a duke, Father has a whole information network, you know? If he uses it, it’d be a cinch to find what you’re looking for.”
What’s a duke?
Is that supposed to be something amazing?
This fat man doesn’t look particularly amazing to me, though…
[…My house was built on a mountain covered in pink cherry trees.]
Lilly lifts up her hand to her mouth, stroking her pursued lips in thought. “Hmm… Nope! Doesn’t ring a bell. I’ll ask Father about it later. He travels a lot, so he might know more.”
What bell is she talking about?
This little girl’s words are really difficult to understand.
Lilly’s eyes return to the identification card in her hands. “High-Sea Verse mercenary group… You’re rank F. Did you just become a mercenary recently?”
“Perhaps Uncle could give you some pointers,” she says, handing me back the card, which I store once again in my space ring. At her words, the muscular man who was eavesdropping on the conversation – or, at least, Lilly’s side of it – suddenly coughs a few times, his breath catching in his lungs. Lilly doesn’t notice and puffs up her chest in pride as if boasting about her own achievements. “He’s one of the strongest people in the world, you know? He’s like you. He became a mercenary when he was really young, too, so he could probably teach you a thing or two.”
This might not be an entirely stupid idea, indeed.
In the Planar Tower, there were demons of all shapes and sizes, and after a while, they even started using actual magic spells, along with tactics and strategies, in order to cope with me, so I’ve learned to adapt to whatever my opponent can throw at me, but I still don’t have all that much experience fighting people, after all. It could be interesting to experience in detail the fighting style of humans from Caldera.
Well, those 5,000 apostles did give me an idea of it, but they were a bit too weak. I’d need a stronger opponent. Or should I restrain my strength to match theirs and compete on skill alone?
In any case, here and now isn’t exactly the most suitable time for this. The train would most likely be destroyed instantly, if a fight actually did break out…
“Hey…” Lilly says, poking my shoulder.
When I look back at her, sitting to my side, I notice she’s not looking at my face, but instead at my back. She leans toward me and whispers conspiratorially, “Do you… Do you have a tail?” When I nod, she jumps off her chair, a huge grin plastered across her face again. “Oooooh! Can I touch it? Just once?”
Since I can’t really find a good reason to refuse, I prepare to show it to her.
However, when I open my cloak, Lilly lets out a small shriek and quickly grasps the two sides of it, bringing them together again in front of my chest. She doesn’t release them, keeping the fabric tight in her balled fists, as if to prevent me from opening it once more once she lets go.
She throws a furtive glance behind her at her parents, then looks back to me, her face quickly reddening. “W–W–W–W–W–Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?!” she asks in an urgent whisper.
This girl really is weird. Telling me I’m not wearing clothes while she has my cloak in her hands…
And didn’t she see the eyepatch?
I’m obviously wearing clothes.
“No, I mean, underneath! You’re not wearing anything underneath!”
[…Why would I?]
“W–Well, what happens if a gust of wind blows your cloak open while you’re walking down the street? People might see… might see… They might see you!”
See me? Stealth is the problem?
No, that doesn’t make any sense.
What on earth is this brat talking about, now?
Ugh, I don’t get it…
Am I just missing something obvious?
I didn’t have this much trouble conversing with Sif, though, did I? There were a few of her words I didn’t understand, now and then, but I could usually infer a rough guess as to their meanings from context. But now…
This little girl is probably just a big weirdo.
“Don’t you have other clothes you can wear?”
Lilly bites her lips and squirms around hesitantly, before seemingly making a decision.
“Here. Come this way.”
Without letting go of my cloak, she leads me toward the door to the next room, the one through which she came earlier. I could probably just stay standing where I am, and she wouldn’t have a hope in the world of making me move, considering the sheer difference between my weight and hers, but I want to see where all this nonsense is going, so I don’t resist and follow behind her obediently.
When we approach the doorway and Lilly prepares to step through it, however, her uncle suddenly speaks up. “Lilly, stay in the room,” he calls in a deep, heavy voice. “Don’t leave my sight.”
“But Akasha is…”
“No. You stay in the room. Period.”
Is he worried I’m going to eat this brat while he’s not looking?
When Lilly sees her uncle denying her so adamantly, she finally releases her grip on me and trots up to his seat, leaning forward to whisper in his ear. “But, uncle, she… she doesn’t have any clothes under her cloak. What if some unprincipled people see her and… and…” She stutters and hesitates a while and, in the end, doesn’t finish her sentence before starting another one. “Father always says we shouldn’t leave a person in trouble if we can help them, you know?”
The uncle’s cheeks twitch when he hears her explanation. I guess he’s as confused as I am by Lilly’s eccentric behavior. He glances at me out of the corner of his eyes, then sighs. “Then just call a maid to lead her and fetch some clothes for her. Your new friend here can come back once she’s done. But you are not leaving this room.”
Lilly considers this proposal for a moment before nodding. “All right.”
She walks back to the door and opens it, then beckons to someone on the other side. “Ran. Come here, please.”
A sound of acknowledgment resounds and footsteps approach our position. A young woman, seemingly not all that much older than Lilly herself, steps into this room and bows deeply, her hands clasped in front of her waist. “Young lady? Can I help you?”
Lilly nods. “Yes. I want you to help this little girl pick some clothes. We should have some to spare that we can give to her, in our compartment, right?”
The young woman nods dubiously, glancing at me. “I believe so, yes.”
“Good, then!” Lilly turns back to me and points at the young woman. “Akasha, this is Ran. Go ahead and follow her. She’ll give you some clothes you can wear.” She abruptly grasps my shoulders and says in a forceful voice, “You have to come back here afterward, though! It’s important! You have to come back, all right? You still haven’t shown me your tail, you know?”
Thinking about it carefully, even if it’s not for the same absurd reasons as Lilly, I might actually agree that it would not be such a bad idea to find other clothes than those I currently have. I’ve already noticed that, apart from apostles themselves, pretty much no one wears a red cloak such as mine. That might be part of the reason why I always appeared so conspicuous, when I walked in the streets of Aldenfell.
After a few moments of hesitation, I walk to stand in front of Ran, looking up at her face and waiting for her to lead the way.
Ran stays rooted to the spot for a few moments longer, staring alternatively between me and Lilly, then at Lilly’s uncle, until eventually, she sketches a small bow toward me and turns around. “This way, please.”
I follow on her heels.
“See you soon!” Lilly shouts after me before the door closes between us.
I find myself in a long, narrow corridor. The walls are made of dark wood that gleams under the light of the lamps hanging from the ceiling, which sway slightly from side to side along with the movement of the train. There are several ornamented doors, spaced regularly along the walls on either side.
Ran leads me toward one such door.
When we step into the room beyond it, its occupants turn to greet us.
“Ran? What’s going on? And who is this child?” a woman asks.
She has piercing eyes and a sharp face and looks to be around… 30 years old, maybe – my knowledge of humans is sketchy at best, so I might be completely wrong on that point; I’m only guessing.
Upon receiving her questioning, Ran bows deeply – this girl really does a lot of bowing, doesn’t she?
“Miss Ophelia, this is an… acquaintance… of the young lady. She is called Akasha. The young lady asked me to fetch clothes for her, then lead her back to the communal room.”
“Clothes, huh?” Ophelia looks me up and down, her gaze lingering for a few moments on the tattered cloak, then on the scars covering my face.
I ignore her and look around the room. It is merely a quarter the size of the one where I left Lilly and her family – and the robber, too – but it carries the same air of warmth and comfort as the other does, though ‘warmth’ and ‘comfort’ aren’t words I usually associate together. There are two more girls there, sitting behind Ophelia at a small table in the center of the room. One of the two looks very similar to Ran, more than even a sister would be expected to; they’re probably twins. These two girls are also watching me, not with the same searching, inquisitive gaze as Ophelia’s, but with puzzlement.
I ignore them too and keep looking around, but unfortunately, after a thorough sweep of the room, I find myself disappointed by the complete lack of any wooden cabinet along the walls. I try smelling the air a few times, but that also fails. Looks like there really isn’t any alcohol in this room.
…At least, there is a large window, so that’s something.
It wouldn’t do to forget my original objective in boarding the train, after all. Its speed isn’t great enough that I would fear missing the mountain I seek just by taking a break from my lookout for a few minutes, but it is better not to take risks.
“Miss Ophelia, what kind of clothes do you think would be suitable?” Ran asks while my gaze wanders around the room.
Ophelia strokes her chin in thought. “Hmm… Well, Ran, your stature is closest to this child’s, right? You can give her one of your spare uniforms. I can fit it down to her size quickly enough, so that would probably be the best solution.”
Ran looks surprised. “Are we not giving her one of the young lady’s dresses?”
“Of course not,” Ophelia replies in a sharp voice, her displeasure plain to see upon her face. “What kind of servant uses the belongings of her master as if they were her own? Just bring one of your spares here. We’ll get you a replacement once we’re back at the estate.”
As if running away from Ophelia’s piercing glare, Ran scampers through a doorway set into the wall on the left, which no doubt opens into yet another room.
In the meantime, Ophelia turns to the other two girls waiting behind her and claps her hands. “Meliand, go and fetch my tailoring set. Rin, help this girl with a bath.”
One of the girls leaves through the same door Ran used earlier, while the other – Ran’s twin – approaches me and, almost as if imitating the way her sister acted earlier, makes a small bow and says in the same voice as Ran’s, “This way, please.”
This time, however, I do not move.
I remember that. Sif forced me into one of those, after we arrived in Jodene Fortress.
It was quite displeasing. The water was very warm, and Sif explicitly told me I shouldn’t lower its temperature down to a more comfortable point. I could have disregarded her advice and chilled the water, if I’d been alone, but Sif insisted on following me in, for some reason. Her behavior at that time was really strange… In any case, although the water wasn’t hot enough to actually hurt me, such conditions do make maintaining the appropriate chill within my body more costly than usual. There is no way I would accept that kind of wasteful expenditure of blood-qi without a proper reason to justify it.
Rin, about to turn around, notices my lack of response and looks back to me, puzzled. “Is there something wrong?”
[…No need for a bath.]
A bath is supposed to clean my body, right?
This way is more convenient…
Without waiting for Rin to get over the surprise at having a voice spontaneously appear within her mind, I take my cloak off my shoulders and store it within my space ring. Then, with a small burst of magic, a very thin layer of frost coats my entire body, from the soles of my feet all the way to the tips of my hair, trapping all the filth and dirt that might have been on me. Afterward, a small vibration runs through each of my muscles, and the ice covering me is shaken loose and falls off me. As for that in my hair and fur, I directly manipulate it with magic to achieve the same result.
And there you have it…
Much more efficient than taking a bath.
Rin is looking at me with wide eyes. Her mouth is open, but no words are coming out of it. Ophelia’s reaction isn’t quite as extreme, but she too looks surprised.
Sif didn’t look particularly impressed with this when I showed it to her a few days ago, though…
Well, no matter.
Rin, clearly unsure of what to do, looks to Ophelia with a hesitant gaze. “Um… I…”
Ophelia just shrugs in response. “No bath, then. Clean up the ice on the floor, please.” She glances at me and quirks an eyebrow. “Is it going to melt, eventually?”
Ophelia nods back, then looks to Rin. “Just throw it all out the window, then. Come on, now. Hurry it up. It was just magic; nothing to make a fuss about.”
While Rin busies herself with her task, Ophelia looks at me, her eyes roving up and down over my body.
“I think I understand why the young lady asked for us to give you some clothes… Don’t they have any concept of modesty, where you come from?”
“Reluctance to bare your body before the eyes of others. An instinct you clearly lack,” Ophelia says in a dry voice, a small smile on her lips. “May I ask how you came to become an acquaintance of the young lady?”
Using the words of Lilly’s mother would be quite accurate, here, I believe.
[…She threw herself on me and grabbed my ears.]
I twitch them up and down to indicate which set of ears Lilly went for.
“I see. Please, don’t take offense at her behavior. The young lady has seldom left the Duke’s estate, and you are the first majin she’s ever seen. I beg you to forgive her curiosity, however exuberant it might have been.”
[…I don’t mind.]
“I am grateful for your words,” Ophelia says. “I do have another question, if I may. Are you actually a majin in the first place?”
Ophelia nods. “I thought as much. Are you an apostle? Or a devil?”
“No? Then, what are you?”
My answer makes Ophelia hesitate for a moment. “Not an apostle, but a demon?”
Before Ophelia can ask more questions, Ran and Meliand file back into the room one after another, both of them with full hands. Meliand is carrying a small bag – it’s closed, so I don’t know what’s inside – while Ran is holding a rolled-up bundle of black and white clothes, no doubt the spare which Ophelia told her to bring.
“Good,” Ophelia says, forgoing her interrogation and walking toward them. “Then, let’s quickly get to work.”
I stretch this way and that in the center of the room and slowly executes the same motions I might run through in the middle of combat, testing whether these new clothes will impede any of my movements.
It doesn’t look like there are any issues.
Even if there were, those issues would only be that ‘such movements cannot be made without breaking the clothes‘. But, if I did end up in a situation where avoiding those movements would put my life in jeopardy, I of course wouldn’t hesitate for even an instant. At that point, there would be no way for simple fabric to restrain me in any way. The only point of these tests is to avoid destroying my clothes in situations where it’s not necessary to do so.
They are the same clothes that Ran – and everyone else in this room, too – is wearing. It’s probably a uniform of some sort, though it’s completely different from that of a soldier or that of the people in Aldenfell’s train station. It basically consists of a black, knee-length dress with a white, frilly thing on top of it called an apron, designed to protect the dress from being dirtied. There were other parts to the uniform, too, but those supposed to be worn underneath the dress were simply useless, and those supposed to be worn on my legs and feet would have effectively blunted my claws and reduced traction when I walked, so I discarded them all, despite Ophelia’s quiet protests.
All in all, though, I am quite satisfied.
Ophelia even made a hole for my tail, and the fabric of both the dress and the apron are much thinner than that of my cloak, so it ends up consuming less energy to keep myself cool when wearing them than when wearing the cloak itself.
“What do you think?” Ophelia asks me, her eyes following my movements.
I stop my stretches and turn back to her. […Satisfactory.]
Ophelia nods a few times, and begins stowing her tools back into the small leather bag Meliand brought her. “That is good.” She glances at the clock hung up on the wall of the room before continuing. “The young lady must be impatiently waiting for you. Ran, please escort Miss Akasha back to the communal room.” She hesitates for a moment and looks to me for confirmation. “Unless you would prefer not to?”
For the first time, Ophelia lets out a smile. “Thank you very much.”
With that said, and after more bowing from the other women, Ran leads me once again through the corridor and back to the first room.
The moment the door opens, a strident “Oh!” rings out, and a small form – still bigger than me, though – rushes toward us. Normally, I’d take that situation for an ambush and encase everything around me in ice, just to be safe, but I somehow expected this would happen, so I’m not surprised enough to react so violently.
Apparently, Ran is also well-accustomed to Lilly’s peculiar behavior because she expertly slides to the side when the child pounces on us, dodging her by a hair’s breadth. Since I’m walking right behind Ran, I end up being the only target within Lilly’s sight. She opens her arms wide and throws herself on me once again – this time, I actually do have to turn my head away so she won’t gore herself on my horn.
…This really does feel like an ambush. I’ve seen demons show less enthusiasm than this upon spotting me.
“So?” Lilly asks, her arms firmly locked around my neck, as if afraid I’m going to escape her grasp. “Did you pick some good clo– Huh?” Her smile falters for a moment, and she leans back to take a better look at me. “Why are you wearing a maid outfit? Why didn’t you pick one of my dresses?” She peers at my face with a confused look. “You have pretty weird tastes.”
Upon hearing Lilly’s words, Ran, who, her task complete, was leaving the room while no one paid attention, suddenly accelerates, scampering out and closing the door behind herself with all haste. I don’t miss the small, amused smile that flashes across her face at that moment, however.
Before I can figure out how to answer her accusations, Lilly seems to forget them all anyway and circles around me with a bright, eager smile. This time without even asking, her fingers close around my tail, holding it up and stroking its fur.
“Oooooh! So white! So soft! Your tail is even softer than your ears!”
Lilly’s touch is gentle enough, I suppose, but my tail is nonetheless too sensitive to make her clumsy handling comfortable. I swing it from side to side to shake off her hands, but unfortunately, far from discouraging her, my struggling only provokes more happy laughter.
In the end, I can only sigh and let her play to her heart’s content.
Well, I suppose I could use violence to force her away from me, but her uncle’s watch on me resumed the moment I stepped back into this room. Using violence now would seem a bit excessive, too, even for me…
Sanae’s voice appears in my mind at that moment, as I try to come up with a peaceful way to escape the brat’s evil clutches.
Images follow to elaborate on those words.
[…I want to ask your father about my old house.]
Lilly was the one who offered this possibility, earlier. I’m not exactly hopeful this will get me any results, but you never know. I might at least get little scraps of promising leads.
And the request does divert Lilly’s attention successfully. “Oh, that’s right. I’d forgotten about this.” A little reluctantly, she releases my tail and walks back in front of me, taking my hand in hers. “Come on, then. Let’s go ask him right away.”
Without waiting for my response, Lilly pulls me toward the cluster of chairs occupied by her family and the robber, all of whom are still focused on their talk – or watching me vigilantly, in her uncle’s case.
“Father,” Lilly calls, taking advantage of a lull in the conversation. “Do you have a moment?”
The fat man turns his gaze to his daughter and smiles. “Of course, Lilly. What is it?”
“Akasha is looking for the place where she used to live in the past. I know you travel a lot, so I wondered if you might be able to help her.”
The fat man’s eyes flick over to me. I can see his puzzlement when his gaze roves over my new clothes, but he doesn’t say anything about them. “I can always try,” he replies and gestures to a free chair in front of him. “Please, take a seat.” When I do, he continues. “Akasha, was it? My name is Solaire, Lord of the Springfield duchy, in the kingdom of Rigonn. This is my wife, Rieshia Springfield; and my brother, Finram Springfield. And this gentleman here,” Solaire concludes, pointing at the robber, “is Sieur Windsor Fulmist, an agent of the Ralgorn marquessate in Tonarr.”
I already caught all those names earlier, while absently listening in on their conversation as I spoke with Lilly, but I didn’t really pay attention to them, at the time.
While I know what a kingdom is, what are a ‘duchy’ and a ‘marquessate’, exactly?
‘Duchy’ seems obviously linked to ‘duke’ – the word Lilly used to introduce her father to me earlier. Judging by the flow of the conversation, it appears to be the name of a place within the country called ‘Rigonn’, which I remember seeing on one of my maps, to the west of the country of Tonarr, just out at the point where the Thread joins the human continent. I assume ‘marquessate’ should refer to the same sort of thing, although the difference – if any – between it and a ‘duchy’ is lost on me.
The thoughts go through my brain in an instant, fast enough that the delay before any answer I might make would remain unnoticed, if I actually had anything to say, which I don’t – they already know my name and the purpose of this conversation.
Solaire continues smoothly. “So, you are looking for the place where you used to live, correct? But how did you ‘lose’ this place, so to speak? Do you not remember where it was? How did this come to be? Please, forgive my curiosity. This is quite an uncommon and intriguing situation, so I can’t help but ask.”
[…Some… people… took me from it, a long time ago.]
With some effort, I manage to control the urge for violence rearing up inside me. Not a single hint of bloodthirst escapes me, even as unpleasant memories flash through my mind once again.
“What?!” Lilly screams in my ear. “What happened? Are you all right? Who was it? Did they hurt you?”
“Lilly, please,” Solaire rebukes her, a sigh in his voice, before returning his gaze to me. “I’m sorry to hear that. You’ve no doubt suffered harrowing experiences. But could you tell me how long ago this all happened, exactly? I realize this might sound like a strange question, but… the way you talk about it…”
[…279 years ago.]
“I see.” Solaire nods slowly, as if he’d been expecting such an answer.
His wife – Rieshia; I don’t actually know what a ‘wife’ is supposed to be, but that’s what Solaire called her earlier – and his brother also show no particular reaction, although Finram’s stare becomes even more intense than before. On the other hand, Lilly and the robber – Windsor – do appear startled, though the latter remains silent, only the expression on his face revealing his surprise.
“Huh? What do you mean, 279 years ago?” Lilly asks, leaning forward in the chair she chose for herself. “You… How old are you, really?”
Didn’t I say it earlier, when I first introduced myself?
Did this brat just ignore everything I said?
[…291 years old.]
Now, she looks more dumbfounded and uncomprehending than just surprised.
Well, I suppose I do look younger than even her, so she might not have expected it.
I leave Lilly to work through the news on her own and look back to Solaire, who seemingly also decided to ignore his daughter’s interruption. “Which is why you need my help, correct? It’s been so long your memories of this place you seek have faded, or you’re afraid time will have changed it beyond recognition?”
“What is it you do know about it, then? What clues can you offer?”
[…It was a mountain, with pink cherry trees growing all over it. The railroad passed through the plains near the mountain.]
Solaire waits for a moment, until it becomes clear I’m done speaking. His eyebrows rise toward his hairline. “That’s it? Nothing more?” I nod. “That is not much to go on, if I’m to be perfectly honest with you,” Solaire says, almost borrowing the words Sif used on that same subject, a few days ago. “Is that why you boarded the train? To search for that mountain?”
“I see. I suppose that’s not a bad idea. But… the railroad itself has also changed with time, as much as anything else. Countless factors could have diverted or extended or shortened its circuit. In nearly three centuries, there must have been several alterations to the places it visits.”
“Could there be records of those changes?” Rieshia interjects.
“Possibly,” Solaire replies reluctantly, sounding unconvinced. “but even if we could gain access to them – which is no sure thing – interpreting those records to trace back how the old railroad used to look would be no easy task. Records get lost, misplaced, burned or destroyed in accidents… And 300 years is a long time. I don’t think you realize how much time we’re looking at, here. Even in the very best cases, humans can only live for around 200 years, so there is basically no man alive now who also lived then – well, apart from the God Emperor, but I doubt you could ask him for information.”
At Solaire’s words, the old anxiety comes back as my belly twists itself into painful knots.
Long enough for any human to die of old age…
I shake my head and forcefully bury the thought away.
“Pink trees… Pink trees…” Solaire mumbles to himself.
“Doesn’t the earl of Fushia city have a pink tree growing in his courtyard?” Finram asks suddenly.
Solaire blinks. “You’re right. There is only the one tree, so it’s probable that the thing was transplanted from somewhere else, but the earl might know more. His household seems to consider it as some sort of heirloom, so there’s a good chance.”
The name doesn’t stir any of my memories, but it’s something, at least.
I remember seeing ‘Fushia’ on the map, too. It’s even on the train’s path.
The first stop after Aldenfell is Destem, capital of a country also called Destem.
Then is Fushia city, in the country of Tonarr.
“Didn’t you tell me your destination was Fushia city, your Grace? That you wished to meet the earl?” the robber asks in a high, fluty voice. “It seems like fate is on the side of this young lady, doesn’t it? She…”
Anymore words the robber might have said are abruptly cut off when Finram Springfield turns a vicious glare toward him. The robber’s face pales, and he hastily closes his mouth. There is an awkward lull in the conversation before Solaire finally nods, looking over to me. “That’s right. You can accompany us there, if you want. I’ll ask the earl of Fushia city once we meet him and share with you what I might learn then.”
Since that would indeed be quite convenient, I readily nod to his offer.
Solaire probably hadn’t planned to actually go that far in his assistance and involve himself so much in my task, but it doesn’t really matter to me. Even if he doesn’t help me, it’s not as if I actually need an intermediary. Now that I know where to look, I can just go and ask that ‘earl’ myself.
Looks like I have a plan for the near future, then…
As the conversation winds down and I sit in my padded chair – it bears my weight stolidly, without even groaning – ruminating about pink trees and old mountains and where a young elf might have gone to after having her house blown up and her little sister kidnapped, Lilly’s shock at my earlier announcement of my own age finally seems to fade.
She stands up and slowly walks over to me, the watchful eyes of her uncle still following after her.
When she stands before me, wringing her hands and looking at me with a strange expression on her face, I prepare myself for a slew of questions.
But only one comes.
“Akasha, can I touch your tail again?”