Aetheria – Chapter 5

Chapter 5 – Der Pakt

The puddle splashed by the incoming footstep and Setsura ran with all her might. No, they are catching up! Setsura looked back in panic as her heart pounded like a runaway horse. Despite her struggle, she did not manage to outrun the incoming danger and was soon caught.

“No, let me go! I’m innocent! Let me go!” she screamed her lungs out when someone pounded on her and held her down to the ground. No! I do not want to die! Setsura jolted up, her eyes were filled in terror.

It was a dream…? Setsura touched her face for assurance. Not fully recovered from the nightmare, cold sweat drenched out from her skin and she was still trembling in fear.

“How ironic,” Setsura let out a deep sigh of relief and spoke in a mockery tone. Four years had passed since ‘that’ incident, yet she did not seem to have overcome it, suffering from periodic nightmares whenever it is moonless night.

“Luci… Eh?” Setsura was rather unexpected to see the missing figure beside her.

Answering the call of nature? Setsura pondered but she could barely sense anyone near her. Upon realising the dying embers in the campfire, Setsura looked up to the ink black sky where stars sparsely spread. The night was not quiet as the invading crickets sang in unison.

Few moments later, Setsura got restless on being alone in the dark since at this rate, the campfire would extinguish and it would be impossible to trace back the current spot.

After some cogitation, Setsura stood up and decided to look for Lucianus despite remembering his past advices on never leaving the preset resting spot in the forest.

“Urgh,” Setsura groaned and brushed away the tree branch that was blocking her way.

Personally, she did enjoy being in the forest but the lack of light irritated her as she could hardly see the path she was walking towards and that nearly caused her to fell a few times.

Where is Luci? Setsura sighed in dissatisfaction and continued her search.

By the time she took notice of her current location, she realised that she had completely lost track of her way back to the campfire.

Sadly, with the similarities of her surroundings and the darkness in the forest, she was unable to judge the next direction to go. Setsura’s heart began to sway with uncertainties.

Her anxiety continued to grow as time passed by and instinctively, she quickened her footsteps.

Luci, Luci! Her mind was completely festered with that person’s thought. Her increasing paranoia led her to start running without direction, of which was finally stopped when Setsura lost her balance and fell after kicking some mysterious protruding object.

“Ouch, that hurts,” Setsura groaned and slowly stood up with her bruised knee.

She patted the dust mingled on her white dress as she approached the object with great care.

Even in close distance, the lack of light did not help on the identification but Setsura was highly convinced that it looked fairly familiar through observance over the shadow.

For a quick moment, Setsura noticed the faint reflection on the lower half of the object and that finally ring a bell. A katana! Setsura gasped.

Hesitantly, her hand approached the katana hilt and poked it softly. All of a sudden, Setsura’s surrounding was filled in perpetual darkness and quietude.

The silence was then broken by a single water droplet falling from the top, causing mysterious circular water ripple at the ground. Gradually, the scene was succeeded with the appearance of infinite flower petals where each of them graciously danced its way down like confetti, causing Setsura to stay rooted in a daze.

“Cherry blossom petals…?” Setsura recognised the delicate whitish pink petals immediately but highly confused on their appearance since they are not in season for blooming yet.

Tiny floating ball shaped lights started to emerge and slowly swarmed in front of Setsura. Being absolutely clueless on the current situation, Setsura fell back a few steps and gulped. The swarmed lights eventually merged together into a form resembling a human.

“How peculiar, for a puny human like you to be able to summon me,” a female voice echoed from the light source followed by the transition of the surrounding into its original form.

From there, Setsura was finally able to see the woman in front of her. The mysterious woman levitated on top of the katana and faint light balls continued to illuminate around her; she had dark brown eyes and hair loosely tied in pony tail with a red ribbon and was wearing a yukata where its colour and pattern mimicked the cherry blossom tree.

“So, what do you want?” The mysterious woman stared at Setsura and spoke in a stern tone.

The sudden question puzzled Setsura for a while but she soon sucked up and asked the woman if she knew Lucianus’s whereabouts.

“You summoned me, only to ask this petty question?” The woman sniggered and her expression darkened.

“Know your place, insolent human!” she lifted her tone and Setsura was suddenly attacked by a number of cherry blossom petals.

With quick reaction, probably trained from her experiences, Setsura attempted to block and dodge the attack with both of her hand but it was futile, the petals were as sharp as katana blade and some managed to cut through her, leaving thin streaks of blood on Setsura’s cheek and some parts of her arm.

Setsura gritted her teeth and endured the pain coming from her wounds.

Although irritated, the mysterious woman did not seem to have the intention of continuing her attacks on Setsura. Instead, she turned to the right and gazed as far as she could.

“It seems we have a guest,” the woman smirked.

Luci? The name appeared first in Setsura’s mind and she quickly turned her head, lowering her guard.

“Human, I don’t know what you have in mind but that thing is definitely not what you’re thinking,” perhaps noticed the glow in Setsura’s eye, the woman warned firmly.

“It kills,” despite the woman’s serious tone, her stance remained relax. Setsura was unconvinced by the warning but soon changed her mind when she sensed a sinister aura drawing near to her location.

The bushes began to rustle and the vibration of the thumping footsteps could be felt by the ground rooted Setsura.

What is this? Setsura’s heart began to pump like a runaway horse and cold sweat drenched from her skin.

The one appearing before her was a huge grey skinned ogre with spikes sticking out from its spine. As if it has found its prey upon stumbling on Setsura, the ogre gave a loud roar and threw its wooden mace towards her.

On the verge of facing her death, adrenaline rushed through Setsura’s body and she jumped to the side, successfully evading the mace. The ogre roared again, seeming displeased, it started to chase Setsura.

Fortunately, its movement speed was fairly slow compared to the nimble Setsura and they continued ran in circular motion.

Although standing out with her levitating body and glow, the mysterious woman remained all in one piece without attracting the ogre as she enjoyed the life threatening but comedic scene that was happening in front of her.

“Human, answer me. How do you decipher happiness and how would you obtain it?” After being satisfied by the show, the woman stretched her body and threw out some odd questions.

Being obviously frustrated and terrified at the moment, Setsura did not pay much attention to the woman’s words but still managed to chunk out whatever that came into her mind.

“I don’t know anything on true happiness but I’m happiest when am with Luci,” that was Setsura’s final answer; with her stamina failed her, she finally fell on the ground, panting heavily.

“Curious human… Curious indeed,” the woman smiled as if Setsura’s endangered life was not her concern.

“Very well human, your wish is my command and I would follow you till the day you perish,” the woman closed her eyes and the glow around her body enhanced into blinding light.

Everything that happened later went on too fast for Setsura to even keep track with her naked eye.

By the time she took notice of the situation, a well-carved sheathed katana was on her lap and the ogre body was horribly dissected into multiple pieces with its blood scattered all over the place.

Her surrounding appearance horrified Setsura and she attempted the wipe the ogre blood that was stained on her face with her hand.

“Setsura, is that you?” A familiar tender voice echoed behind Setsura.

Recognising the owner of the voice, Setsura quickly stood up and turned her head to the back. She grinned in great relieve and ran towards Lucianus, tightly hugging him, she burst into unstoppable tears.

“Luci, Luci!” Setsura continued to cry like a baby.

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