Chapter 2 – Schlüssel
“Setsura, don’t you dare to go out today alright? A storm will arrive at anytime and it’ll be too dangerous,” The words of Setsura’s mother festered in Setsura’s brain as she gave a deep sigh.
She was worried about the young man’s safety as she did not have the chance to warn him on the incoming storm. Did he even have a shelter? She pondered and rolled around the bed at night.
Until now, no one other than her knew about the young man’s existence. She dare not to mention a word about it since the elders in the village are very inferior to outsiders, be it merchant or traveller.
Their reaction was not surprising at all as the village itself was neither gifted with Aether, nor they have ever heard of it. In fact, the village itself was self sufficient by themselves and have very minimal contacts, if not none, to the outside world.
After confirming both of her parents are asleep, Setsura crawled up her bed and looked outside the window. The night was quietly still but there were no signs of incoming storm. Unable to further hold her desire, Setsura sneaked out of her house and ran to the hill with all her might.
“You… Argh… Just come with me,” Setsura was having a hard time keeping her composure as she gasped for air to recover her fatigue. She then grabbed the young man’s hand and dragged him around, forcing him to stand and follow her.
Due to his natural height and Setsura’s unusual forcefulness on pulling his hand, the young man had no choice but to crouch himself to match with Setsura’s child height. Along the way, Setsura’s explained to the young man about the storm and how he should find a shelter to avoid it.
With Setsura’s accurate sense of direction, the pair soon arrived at a cave hidden behind a waterfall. The cave was not big, barely enough for two to be exact.
“There, you should stay here until storm is over. I’ll go gather some woods to start a fire for you,” Setsura knew she do not have much time left with the slowly escalating wind in the atmosphere. By the time she returned to the cave, the rain had started to pelt heavily on the ground.
“I have to go now, my parents will kill me if they found out I’m here,” Setsura put away the gathered woods and prepared to leave for home.
When she rushed out of the cave, she accidentally slipped on the wet slippery stones. I’m finished! Setsura’s eyes dilated as her body fell towards the waterfall where the water pressure had increased by folds due to the rain, more than enough to wash her to the gates of hell.
“Careful!” In split seconds, the young man agilely reacted on the situation and pulled Setsura in.
The sudden change of force made Setsura lost her momentum and she fell on her face onto the young man’s chest. BAM! The young man was unable to keep his balance from the impact and his back knocked onto the cave’s wall.
“Ouch, that hurts… Thanks for saving… Wait, did you just speak something?!” As Setsura rubbed her nose and moaned in pain, her memory struck her and she lifted her voice in exclamation.
“Wait wait wait, you did! My name is Setsura, what’s yours?” Setsura continued without waiting the young man’s reply – which ended up as nothing, again.
Annoyed by the young man’s silence, Setsura grasped his collar. Before she managed to shake him in demand of an answer, a huge lightning forked in blinding flashes followed by a deafening roar of thunder. The loud noise shocked Setsura and she instantly hid herself under the young man’s chest and closed her ears with both hands.
“Lucianus…,” probably realising Setsura’s fear of thunder, the young man replied in a soft tone in hope of diverting Setsura’s attention. Surprised by Lucianus’s reply, Setsura stared blankly at him.
“… Just wait until the storm to be clear,” Lucianus looked away in annoyance.
Sensing the sudden drop in the surrounding’s temperature, Lucianus swiftly swung his index finger at the direction of the woods gathered by Setsura. Whoosh! A brightly lit flame magically popped out in an instant, bathing the dark cave in warmth.
Despite the rain pounded heavily on the ground with its bullets of water, the two figures in the cave remained still without speaking a single word. Setsura took the opportunity to observe the young man who saved her life.
Lucianus was probably the most beautiful person that she had seen over the past eleven years of her life; Owning distinctive sharp facial features and chin length light golden hair, his solemn looks in clear white skin and oceanic blue eyes would definitely drive any aesthetics admirers crazy.
The only thing that was standing out from his absolute beauty would be the illuminating pair of purple crystal shard earrings hanging over both of his ears.
“Hey, how did you start the fire just now?” Setsura broke the silence that had long engulfed them.
She had been curious on it but thought it was not appropriate for her to ask him abruptly. Lucianus switched his attention to Setsura and paused for a few second.
“… Magic,” he replied monotonously. Setsura tilted her head and twitched her eyebrows, implying she did not understand Lucianus’s words at all.
“A mental force where you gather…” After noticing Setsura’s clueless expression when he tried to elaborate it, Lucianus gave a deep silent sigh. He swung his finger and whoosh, a faint flame lit on his index finger.
“Like that,” he continued. Mesmerised by the unknown performance, Setsura gasped in surprised and tried to touch the flame.
“Careful!” Lucianus instantly extinguished the flame on his finger, “It may not seem like it, but it’s enough to wound you badly,” Lucianus gave Setsura a stern look.
Disregard of Lucianus’s displease, Setsura burst into a long laughter.
“Luci, Lucianus is your name right? Tell me, why you’re always quiet when I met you? You’re not even mute,” Setsura’s voice was filled with excitement.
“……” Lucianus darkened his face, regretting his decision on speaking. He cogitated as his eyes scanned Setsura’s behaviour and finally drew a conclusion.
“I don’t like to get close to any other human beings,” he closed his eyes and spoke softly. Maybe it is fine to put down his guard for this time round, Lucianus thought to himself.
That night, both of them had their very first conversation and it lasted throughout the thunderstorm – despite the fact that Setsura did 90% of the talking.
“Wake up Setsura, Setsura!” Setsura groaned when her shoulder was violently shook by her mother. She rolled on her bed and stretched her body.
Giving a satisfied sigh, she remembered the waterfall cave scene that happened yesterday night. Was it a dream? Setsura rubbed her eyes and yawned. After finishing her breakfast, she ran towards the hill to confirm her vivid memory.
“Luci, are you there? Luciiii!” Setsura lifted her tone as she approached the usual tree spot. Much to her delight, a familiar figure was sitting there in quietude.
Although the environment was damp caused by the storm, Lucianus’s surrounding which spanned around 2 metres did not reflect that but retained its usual state.
“Yesterday, I had a strange dream. You spoke to me and told me your name! It’s Luci, right?” Setsura did not seem to be bothered by the odd sight.
“…” Lucianus stared at Setsura.
“… Morning,” Affirming Setsura’s bluntness, Lucianus unwillingly threw in some words but his eyes spoke otherwise since it was clear that he was looking forward to her visit.