Chapter 10 – Whisp
“Luci, Luci!” Setsura cried as she shook Lucianus around his shoulder violently when he regained his conscious little by little.
“Setsura… I don’t think you should shake him too hard,” Zakura reminded Setsura as cold sweat fell from her forehead.
“Ah,” Setsura gave out a loud cry, immediately stopped her inconsiderate actions. She scanned Lucianus from head to toe, reassuring his well-being.
Lucianus stretched his eye muscles and opened them slowly, he was partially conscious on his current situation.
His eyes skimmed his surroundings, realising he is now laying inside a fairly small tent where its size was barely enough for the three of them to stuff inside.
He looked to his left and saw Setsura, instantly remembering the previous incident. She is fine; a smile broke at the corner of Lucianus’s lips.
“I’ll go out pick up some food and water for him,” after dropping her words, Setsura rushed out the tent and Zakura waved to her in respond.
Zakura had her eyes shifted to Lucianus and rested her chin on her hand as she sat beside Lucianus.
“So, mind to clarify what are you?” Zakura always had this question in mind but she never knew Lucianus has such monstrous ability.
Upon the rough landing of the couple to the ground, she swore that Lucianus had definitely died when he broke his head and spine from the impact.
And yet, right before her eyes, she witnessed the regeneration of the self-acting tissue around his head and body as if they were alive to begin with.
Within an hour, his physical injuries were fully recovered and it did not stop there. Around thirty minutes later, his body began to start functioning like before, with normal heartbeat and breathing properly.
“Mind your own business,” Lucianus brushed off Zakura’s doubt but his voice was still weak.
“Hmph, you were lucky. If Setsura was conscious when all of that happened, she would probably run away by now,” Zakura did expect Lucianus’s respond to be cold but she could not hold her temper.
“Setsura… Did she get any injury?” Lucianus struggled to get up from the tatami mat.
“You know, you should really put some efforts in caring about yourself more,” Zakura sighed.
“She is fine, just some bruises here and there and maybe some minor bone fractures. You can fix those later,” Zakura stood up and walked out of the tent to look for Setsura and her fellow Whisps.
Currently, they are inside Whisp’s territory, a half-human tall mysterious plant looking race where their green skin would shimmer under the moonlight and face mimicking a bee-like insect.
Despite their looks, the Whisps are rather friendly individuals since they were the ones who brought in Zakura and Setsura to their settlement in the meadow and allow them to use their tent for Lucianus’s recuperation.
Similar to their looks, their settlement was closely related to nature; many chose to live in the tree holes while some built tents with hempen and canvas cloth for shelter. Whisp do not feed on meat either, their food source mainly come from flower nectars and fruits widely found in the meadow area.
“Care about myself more eh?” Lucianus gave himself a mockery laugh.
For a person like him, who had stomped on countless lives as if they were nothing, he was not worthy of any compassion given, especially from himself. He shook off his thoughts and slowly stood up to get used to his body movement.
“Ah, you should be resting inside at this moment!” Setsura exclaimed when she returned with Zakura and saw Lucianus leaving the tent.
Both Zakura and her hands were filled with fruits and berries that she found around the meadow through a young Whisp’s guide. With their return to the settlement’s entrance, several Whisps approached the couple to lighten their loads on the hand.
“You can’t expect me to walk around with this attire, can you?” Lucianus showed Setsura the top that he was currently wearing.
It was a century white satin shirt with laced up neckline, ruffled collar and cuffs. The ruffled shirt, as elegant as it was, was badly stained with blood spilled from his previous injuries. In fact, a huge patch of dried blood can be seen from the back of his shirt, extending from the neckline towards half of his spine.
“That…” Setsura could not find any comment to reply Lucianus since it was clearly a problem to walk around freely with it.
More importantly, the dried blood streaks around his head made him looked like some walking dead, especially when the current sky had darkened.
“Well, the two of you can go take a bath and wash your dirty clothes at the lake nearby after dinner,” Zakura gave Lucianus and Setsura a suggestion.
“Of course, that idea was entirely from this cute little lad over here,” Zakura crouched down and put both of her hand at the shoulders of a thigh-height Whisp.
“Jiji…” Probably embarrassed by Zakura’s gesture, the Whisp lowered its head and gave a low-pitched chirp.
Apparently, the Whisps are unable to speak in human languages, only capable of producing different pitched chirps or whirring sound since generally, they would only use the contacts of their antenna for communication purposes.
Still, it seems Zakura had no problem understanding the Whisps.
Following Zakura’s given direction, Lucianus and Setsura sauntered through the primeval forest encroached at the side of the meadow.
With the bright moon glorifying the silent night, nocturnal birds chirped and orchestrated along the whistling wind through the branches. As they followed the trail, they saw protruding moss stones in ubiquitous that stood like guardians of the lush forest.
When they arrived at the Lake Ethrel, the serene ambience blessed in the solace of nature held them spellbound.
The vast lake in front of them was like a sea of diamonds, the water sparkled in dazzling captivation reflected by the moon and stars. Growing right in the middle of the lake was a huge majestic tree, where it stood rigidly unperturbed by its surroundings. Among the branches, fruits can be seen giving out a warm mysterious glow of radiance, further brightening the lake atmosphere.
“Wait, what… what are you doing?!” Setsura yelled in surprise when she saw Lucianus stripping himself.
“Preparing to wash myself of course, why are you even surprised?” Setsura’s reaction bewildered him as it was not their first time to bath together at the lake.
He soaked his clothes at the corner of the lake and walked straight into the water as if the temperature was just right for him.
Upon reaching the depth where the water height reached Lucianus’s waist, he dived into water to rinse his hair to liquefy the dried blood.
“Are you even coming?” He stood up and turned his back to look at Setsura, who was still stoned at the shore. Droplets of water dribbled down from his hair to his supple neck and firmly toned bare chest.
“… I am,” Setsura snapped out of her trance and began to undress in embarrassment.
Her cheeks continued to blush like a ripe cherry when she moved beside Lucianus. He was right; it was not their first time to bath together so she had no issues on that but something else was clustering her thoughts.
“Hey Luci… What is Aria to you?” Mustered her courage, Setsura asked Lucianus in a quavering voice.
The abrupt question startled Lucianus and his expression changed.
“A mother and friend; someone who I adored a lot,” Lucianus replied in a melancholic voice.
The couple remained in deep silence; neither one of them spoke nor looked at each other’s eyes.
“What about me?” Setsura stared at Lucianus.
“Luci, what am I to you?” Setsura repeated her question while her heart palpitated wildly for an answer.
Understanding the hidden meaning behind Setsura’s question, Lucianus kept quiet until few moments later.
“I’m your guardian,” that was the best he could answer. He did not even dare to look Setsura into his eyes.
“Guardian… You’re just my… guardian?” Setsura’s eyes dilated as she tried to comprehend the words – she always thought she was special in his heart.
If she was wrong, why would he even risk his lives until this far to protect her? Was everything that she had experienced so far a lie?
“Luci, look at me! Look at me now!” Setsura put both of her hand on Lucianus’s face and forced him to look at her bare body.
“I’ve grown up Luci. You can see it, can’t you? Are you really sure you don’t hold any feelings for me…?” Setsura jerked at her last sentence as her emotions peaked with tears welled in her eyes.
“Setsura…” Lucianus wrapped his arms around Setsura and kissed her gentle at the forehead.
“You’re someone important to me, that fact will never change,” he tightened his clasp on her for reassurance.
“But you should understand that I’m not a human. I’ve caused enough misfortune in your life; your village, your family, and even yourself. My selfishness has risked your life again and again,” Lucianus released Setsura from his arms and caressed her rainy-faced cheek.
“I’ve decided, after everything is over in Aetheria, I will leave you with Zakura in peaceful town where you could return to your quiet life under her protection. You will be happier this way, trust me,” Lucianus spoke earnestly but Setsura continued to shake her head in disagreement.
“No, you can’t do that! Don’t decide everything by yourself!” Setsura bawled and pushed Lucianus away.
Crying unstoppably, she ran at the opposite direction wildly.