Aetheria – Chapter 4

Chapter 4 – Reise

“… Mhmm…” Setsura moaned in a sleepy tone from the tapping sunlight against her face.

How long I have been sleeping? Setsura blinked her droopy eyelids. The crisp wind tickled Setsura but the warm sensation never left her body. Setsura yawned, finally willing to fully open both of her eyes.

“Morning,” Lucianus greeted Setsura gently and a rare tender smile broke at the corner of his lips.

“Slept well?” He asked the small figure who is piggybacking him. The extra weight over his back did not seem to bother him. Setsura nodded slowly, her mind was still hazy and unable to decipher the current situation.

All of a sudden, Setsura twitched her grip on Lucianus’s shoulder and began to shiver in fear. She remembered everything that happened yesterday night.

Instinctively, her right hand touched her head where she received the impact. Oddly, it was not there – No dried blood clot, no bump, nothing. In fact, all the bruises inflicted on her body were all healed, not leaving a single scar.

“… The village,” Setsura mustered the courage to mention the nightmare she had experienced. Her abruptness made Lucianus stopped his footsteps.

“Gone,” Lucianus did not hesitate to reply her. “Everything,” he added the next word firmly.

Setsura kept quiet and looked down since she fully understood the meaning behind Lucianus’s word. The word Death was no stranger to her as she had first hand experienced it from the loss of her brother in an accident three years ago.

“… What about mom?” Setsura knew it is a vain attempt but she could not hold it.

“There was nothing left,” Lucianus did not want to hurt her directly from the harsh truth since his depredations over the village was beyond comprehension.

The village that was once called home to Setsura are now nothing but ashes and debris. Nevertheless, Lucianus never regretted his actions. Strong shades of anger still linger in his eyes whenever he thought of the incident.

Setsura remained quiet for a long duration. What stood before her, was the man who disrupted her quiet life, murdered her parents and everyone that she knew and single-handedly destroyed her home.

How should she react to it? After all, he was also her life saviour, not once but twice. She owed her life to him. Her mind began to cloud; she was absolutely confused at this very moment.

“Do you hate me?” Lucianus broke the silent with a sharp unexpected question.

“Eh? No,” Setsura did not have the time to cogitate and replied without realising those are her deepest genuine thoughts. However, it did not take her to notice it.

“I… Uhm… Sorry and uhh… thanks,” Setsura muttered in a barely audible volume.

“You’re welcome,” it seems there was nothing that Lucianus would not notice. His expression brightened and returned to his walking pace with Setsura on his back.

“Do you have anywhere in mind?” Lucianus turned his head slightly to the back, “Places you want to go,” he added.

Setsura shook her head – She neither knew how the rest of the world looks like nor do the adults ever mention them.

“Let’s start with the ocean then,” Lucianus suggestion was quickly responded by Setsura’s grin.

With that, the odd couple began to travel aimlessly to various parts of the world.

Since their first point is the ocean, Lucianus lead them on to the nearest seaport within four days by crossing multiple shortcuts, as though he knew the map directions like the back of his hand. The whole new experience may seem to be new to Setsura, but it was not entirely fun… at least that is what she thought of.

“Luci, next time round, please avoid shortcuts…,” With her vision swirled, Setsura could hardly kept herself balanced if not of Lucianus’s grip on her hand.

Setsura’s plead was clearly understandable because the so-called shortcuts were all about crossing forbidden forest, getting chased by savage beasts and sneaking through bandits’ territory. For many times, Setsura really thought her life would have ended miserably.

“I was hoping you would enjoy it,” Lucianus chuckled and spoke in a gentle tone.

His current carefree gesture completely contrasted the old him; to be more precise, Lucianus had opened himself up to Setsura, no longer restraining his feelings and emotions towards her.

Unlike in the past where he prefers to be a recluse, he enjoyed Setsura’s accompany, mostly due to her innocent and blunt personality – an almost extinct kind in this loathsome world that he knew.

“Either way, we’ve just arrived,” Lucianus pointed at the huge wooden gate in front of them, “The gate to the world,” he added.

Due to the geological formation of the land Setsura’s village was located at, in which happened to be a far distant island separated from the main land, the only way to travel further is by sea.

Despite its non-strategic location and lack of Aether, the island was known for its rich natural resources on woods and exotic plants, leading a small commercial bloom in lumber industry and eventually earned itself the name “Lignum Island” which translated as ‘Wood Island’.

However, the prosperity of the island did not spread, for the island was also the home of numerous deadly monsters. Therefore, the present seaport was actually the only one within this island.

“Woah, so this is what they called a town! It is so huge!” Setsura gasped, much impressed by the seaport even though the actual size was rather small if compared to the ones in the main land.

Still, from the point of view of a first timer who came from a rural yet puny village, the seaport was probably massive in terms of size.

“Luci, does it have a name?” Setsura shook Lucianus’s hand in excitement.

“Lignum Port, not a very creative one if you ask me,” Lucianus thought for a moment before replying her. He skimmed around as if he was looking for a particular object.

Very much like its name, most buildings in the seaport were built traditionally with carven wood, using minimal wood and sand as foundation. Far from being dull, the buildings were in fact very colourful with creeper plants growing through its walls and roof, blooming in rainbow shades of colours.

It did not take Lucianus long to found what he is looking for and he approached it when Setsura was satisfied in observing the seaport.

“Two…” Lucianus’s monotonous speech was paused by the sudden increase in force on his hand.

He looked down to Setsura, realising the cause, he gave out a faint smile but it was quickly dismissed with a solemn face.

“Single room,” he said it firmly to the innkeeper and paid with the money he ‘borrowed’ from the bandits two days ago.

After taking a long shower, Setsura jumped on the bed and gave a satisfactory sigh.

“Luci, why were you so cold to the innkeeper?” She turned her head to Lucianus, who was sitting beside her.

“I don’t like humans,” Lucianus never planned to hide his misanthropic nature.

“You’re probably an exception,” just in case, he quickly added the next line.

“You’re weird,” Setsura giggled and rolled on the bed.

“I’ve wondered… you’re such a mysterious person. If only I know more about you,” she held her hands high to the ceiling, allowing the light to penetrate through her finger gaps.

“Ask away,” Lucianus caressed Setsura’s soft black hair as his purple crystal shard earring gave out a picturesque glow.

“Let’s start with the so-called magic thing,” Setsura continued her barrack of questions, from Lucianus’s reason on coming to such a remote island to the cause of his animosity towards humanity.

The ludicrous amount of questions caught Lucianus off-guard, yet facing the hard-headed Setsura, he had Hobson’s choice but to answer every single one of them.

Slowly, Lucianus explained magic in the most simplistic manner. Human magic are actually the permanent after-effects of overexposure to the massive power of Aether crystal, where it stimulated the energy force within the body and if properly trained or with great calibre, the user would be able to release it at will to generate or control an object such as fire or wind.

The after-effects of Aether crystal also come in various form, for instance, some are not able to perform magic but was bestowed with heightened sense such as enhanced endurance, strength or agility.

Certainly, for a person like Setsura who never had contact with Aether, it would be impossible for her to gain any of that unless she herself was exposed with Aether under certain amount of period.

Lucianus continued on by stating the reasons for his stay in the island were mostly driven by his hatred for mankind and he wanted a quiet place, of which, ironically, did not last too long after Setsura found him.

His enmity towards mankind was simple; for Lucianus, humankind was nothing but a bunch of simpletons who easily succumb to greed and gluttony, and kill each other for senseless reasons. What Setsura experienced in the village was nothing compared to the ones Lucianus had seen with his very eyes in the past.

When Lucianus was going to mention his identity, he noticed Setsura had fallen asleep on his lap. I suppose that can wait longer, he thought. Lucianus smiled and covered Setsura with a blanket.

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