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One Night, Different Experiences
That night, Harmonia Academy’s Quinquennial Festival became a hot topic for families to talk about. Of course the Hartmann family was no exception, for the four children in the house were all enrolled there.
“Eh? Alt, Lyra, and Clavis will be participating in the freestyle combat competition, becoming representatives for your respective class?” Cyan widened his eyes in surprise.
“Lyra’s finally participating in that competition! That is also good! I’ve been wondering when you will be selected to participate in any combat-type competition,” Cassie said in obvious joy.
“Well, well, who knows if we will be facing off against each other, Lyra?” Altaire turned to look at his younger sister in excitement.
“Aww, I wouldn’t want that!” Lyra immediately said.
“But you’re going to be with Luca and Kiri. They are good fighters, what’s there to fear?” Altaire tried to make Lyra change her mind.
“That’s true, but… hey, Alt-nii, the team consists of 3 people, right? Who’s the other one in your team?” Lyra suddenly thought of a question and asked.
“Oh, the other one will be a girl from my class. She is of elf descent, apparently,” Altaire casually answered.
“Apparently?” Freyr, who had been silently listening, finally asked.
“Haha, yes. I don’t know much about her as she’s mostly silent and a loner in class. She’s also a student who just enrolled in Harmonia Academy from this year, actually. We only know that she’s of an elf descent from her pointy ears and appearance, plus the fact that she’s excellent in magic—[Light] magic,” Alt-nii explained.
“Whoa, is she the cool big sister type?” Freyja excitedly asked.
“Hmm, how do I say it? She’s not ‘cool’, but more like elegant,” Altaire scratched his head.
How did this turn into this kind of conversation?
“Is she pretty, Nii-chan?” Freyja suddenly asked with sparkling eyes.
“Pretty? Eh, well, she is indeed beautiful…,” Altaire said after thinking for a while.
“Hm? Are you interested in her, Alt?” Cyan was also intrigued.
“Eh, I don’t know. Not really, maybe. We haven’t interacted that much but now we have to, as we’re now in one team and all… Anyway! Freyr, Freyja, how will you prepare for the drama and magic competition?” Altaire immediately shifted the topic to Freyr and Freyja.
“No worries, I will train you two. As for the drama… Hansel and Gretel, huh?” Cassie slightly pondered.
“Yes, Mommy~! I’m going to be Gretel and Freyr will be Hansel!” Freyja cheerfully answered.
“How nice, the class takes advantage the fact that there’s a twin brother and sister, huh?” Lyra casually said before she added, “What about Leti?”
“Leticia is the witch!”
Freyja’s cheerful answer caused everyone to tense.
“She became, what?” Lyra couldn’t fathom this casting.
“Yes, she is the witch!” Freyja repeated.
“Did she agree to this?” Lyra asked again.
“Yes, she agreed,” Freyr calmly nodded.
“Huh? Ah… Hmm now I’m curious on how your drama will turn out to be…,” Lyra said, still with an expression of disbelief.
“Ah, no peeking! Onee-chan will have to watch our drama to know the story!” Freyja immediately made the gesture of ‘X’ with her arms, as if she understood what her older sister was thinking about.
“Aww, Freyjaa, pleasee?” Lyra teasingly asked.
“Nope! No means no!” Freyja turned her head away from Lyra who tried to plead with a cutey look.
…Seems like this kind of pleading is only effective to Dad. Still, I’m so curious!
At this time, Lyra’s mind was fully occupied by the hype of the upcoming festival that the unpleasant discovery about her very first confession was pushed aside to the depths of her head, completely locked and forgotten.
Meanwhile, in another family’s house, Harmonia Academy’s Quinquennial Festival was brought up again at the same night.
“It’s finally the Quinquennial Festival again! Will Eldest Sister and Eldest Brother come?” A girl with curly light brown hair asked as her hazel eyes sparkled.
“Sweetie, Erica’s busy taking care of your niece, I don’t think she can. As for Elias, he’s in his final year of Advanced Level, so I don’t think he can come. But Eugene will be there with you, right?” An older man with the same eyes as the girl sweetly said.
“Aww, but Daddy! Eugene is in Harmonia Academy too, of course he’s going to be there! But he’s going to be busy with his own class. I want someone to accompany me walking around,” the girl sulked.
“Dear, dear, you’re going to be 13 soon, is it fine to be this spoiled?”
“That is exactly why I act spoiled! After my coming of age ceremony, I’m going to be a splendid adult!” The girl proudly said.
“Haha, is that so? Dad’s looking forward to it. As for the festival… Karina can accompany you walk around, Elise,” the girl’s father, Raphael Elandia, said.
“But Karina accompanying me is already a matter of course! It’s no fun! And it’s supposed to be the Quinquennial Festival!” Elise Elandia sulked even more.
“Then… who do you want to accompany you?” Raphael Elandia asked with a gentle expression.
He was expecting his daughter to pick him as the one she wanted to be there. After all, he spoiled this daughter of his the most—being the youngest child he had.
“Yanze!” Elise answered immediately without even thinking.
Raphael was dejected a bit, but he then sighed.
Fine, this little girl of his has always loved being around Yanze the most.
Besides, he couldn’t promise he would be able to accompany his daughter leisurely, with the work on his hand.
“…That is only if you can get him to come with you,” Raphael gave in.
“Eh, I can? Yay! Thank you, Daddy!” Elise immediately kissed her father’s cheek as she jumped from the sofa and immediately ran to the place she liked to visit from time to time.
“Young Miss, wait for me! Don’t run around!” A young maid with a high ponytail was flustered upon seeing her miss’ behavior and ran after her as quickly as she could.
Looking at the sight, Raphael sighed once more.
He had a complicated feeling towards his youngest daughter’s fondness to Yanze.
Back then, he was very close to Yanze. But ever since ‘that incident’ happened, Yanze had changed. Not only physically, but mentally. It was as if they were no longer close, and sometimes Raphael would feel like Yanze was a stranger to him.
But considering the circumstances, Raphael thought that it couldn’t be helped.
Raphael’s gaze turned gloomy when he recalled the incident that changed his family forever. It had been so long already, and yet…
In any case, it was true that he could no longer be close to Yanze as they were before the incident.
It didn’t help that his three eldest children felt somehow afraid to get close to Yanze, although it was understandable why.
Even Karina, the servant that he once assigned to Yanze, became frightened to Yanze when she got older and kept her guard on. Perhaps it was when she started to understand that Yanze was ‘different’. Though it was only subtle, but people could clearly tell how she felt towards her own master.
Yanze was getting more estranged as time passed by.
But then, came Elise, his youngest daughter. At an early age, she was already so interested in Yanze. Miraculously, as she got older, she didn’t get scared of him, and still tried to cling to him.
Elise quickly passed through the secret passageway that she was accustomed to the basement where Yanze resided, and when she found the familiar door that would lead her to her favorite family member, she immediately announced herself.
“Yanze~! I’m here!!”
“Yanzeee~! I am here—”
As Elise tried to emphasize each word, an indifferent voice came from within the room.
“It’s not locked.”
“Yay!” Elise cheered up as she quickly opened the door and entered.
There, she saw a young boy with bloodstained-like hair sitting on the sofa with his back against her.
“Yanzeee!” Elise energetically jumped up to hug Yanze from behind.
“Elise, how many times do I have to tell you? You’re turning 13 soon, you should behave yourself more,” Yanze reprimanded Elise, but he didn’t shake Elise’s arms that circled around his neck.
“Ehehe, isn’t this fine? Now I can hug you like this, Yanze~ And Yanze, you talked like Daddy, did you realize that?!” Elise didn’t feel like taking her hand away from Yanze’s neck. She slightly moved her head so that Yanze would be able to see her.
“Elise-sama! …hufft… Ah, Y-Yanze-sama, pardon my intrusion…,” Karina was short of breath by the time she arrived in the room.
This room in the basement where they were currently in was a simple living room equipped with a heater and cooler, comfy sofa, small table, some drawers and the decorations, along with bookshelves and some holographic devices.
It was a comfortable living room that didn’t seem to be designed for guests to come over. And near the living room, there was a door that would lead to a bedroom and bathroom.
All in all, the basement became a quite comfortable living quarter.
“Yanze, listen, there’s this festival coming soon to my school again. But since it’s the quinquennial event, it’s going to be open to public! Can you come and accompany me? Let’s have fun there!” Elise continued to cling to Yanze just like a spoiled child.
“…,” Yanze didn’t answer.
“Please? Eldest sister and eldest brother won’t be able to accompany me… I bet Daddy and Mommy won’t be able to leisurely have fun with me. Besides, it feels different if I’m accompanied by my parents. So, Yanze, please?” Elise continued to pester.
“…Elise, who do you think I am to you, though?” Yanze raised his eyebrows as he asked this.
“Eh? Yanze is… Yanze, of course!” Elise smiled brightly.
Yanze’s eyes slightly widened, but then he sighed and the corner of his mouth curved up very lightly.
“Really, you… What do you take me as?”
“Yanze is my important person! That’s why I want you to come! When else will you be able to accompany me walking around the school? And hey, with our appearance now, we will look like friends, right? I’m dying to go out with you. When was the last time we went out together, again?” Elise bombarded Yanze with questions.
Not getting any response from Yanze, Elise added, “There are lots of fun things to see and to do there! Harmonia Academy’s big and all levels are participating too, so… So…”
“Alright, I will come,” Yanze finally answered.
“But you see, it will be fun… Eh what? Yanze, did you just say yes?” Elise couldn’t believe what she heard.
“Yes, I did. I will come with you,” Yanze repeated himself patiently.
“Yay, yay, yay! Thank you so much, Yanze! You’re the best!” Elise said as she hugged Yanze more tightly.
Looking at how the young miss of this family could cling to the mysterious young boy that she somehow feared, Karina could only sigh.
How could Elise-sama like Yanze-sama a lot?
She couldn’t understand this.
But luckily, Yanze didn’t treat Elise coldly. Perhaps it could be said that Yanze would often give in to Elise.
“Ah, Karina,” Yanze turned around a little to take a look at Karina.
“Y-yes?” Karina couldn’t help but become nervous as she hadn’t really prepared her heart to meet this mysterious young man that emitted a different aura. But as to what caused it, she herself didn’t know. She only felt like she didn’t want to get closer to him. That’s all.
“The usual holographic display. Take it with you tonight and recharge it with your magical essence as usual,” Yanze glanced at a small round crystal with a black box as its base that was put on the drawer.
“Understood, Yanze-sama,” Karina promptly took the holographic display with her.
Then, Elise continued to disturb Yanze for a little while before night time was up.
Elise returned to her room to sleep, while Karina obediently recharged the holographic display with her magic before she went to sleep. As usual, she also took the chance to clean it well before she had to return it to its original place tomorrow.
And then, very late at night…
Someone walked to the secret path that lead to the hidden basement where Yanze resided. After arriving in front of the metal door, the person searched within their pocket and found a key. The person immediately opened the door to the hidden basement using the very same key.
“Master, you called?”
A young woman with her messy long brown hair entered the room. She was only wearing a simple white night gown with a black cloak.
“Candice, you’ve come.”
Yanze was unexpectedly still in the living room where he was, only he adjusted his position so that he would be facing the door. It seemed that he had been waiting for his underling, Candice, to come.
“Of course I will come whenever Master summons me!” Candice smiled widely as her crazed brown eyes shone brightly.
Master was waiting for me!!
“Listen well, Candice. It’s finally time for us to make another movement. This is our strategy…,” Yanze didn’t bother to have a chit-chat with Candice as he immediately started on briefing Candice on the strategy he had thought carefully the moment the idea crossed his mind.
Yet in another distant place, at the same night…
“The princess has calmed down, Your Highness. She has a good understanding on the current situation,” a man clad in uniform reported to the only man in the room with different bearing and clothes.
“That’s good,” the man called as ‘Your Highness’ smirked. Finally. Finally, with this, he was one step closer to fulfilling his ambition.
“Also, we couldn’t find the–ahem I mean, that pawn anywhere. Judging by its condition, it shouldn’t be able to survive alone. …Uhm, please excuse me for being rude, but are you sure about this?” The man was unsure and had mixed feelings on what just occurred before. He carefully studied the ruler’s expressions to ascertain his mood.
“What are you talking about? Sacrifices are necessary for the greater good. The ruler must be ruthless. If not, then he won’t be able to make his reign glorious. Find the pawn and if it resists… annihilate,” the ruler said with a heartless and resolute voice.
“Understood,” the uniformed man sighed in his heart. Yet, he would never show what he truly thought in his expressions. Doing so would be equal to his death, after all.
He immediately issued an order to make a search and chase. For the ‘failed’ pawn.
As for the said pawn…
The night was already late, and she didn’t even get a brief rest before her chasers came and managed to locate her.
Damn! Looks like there’s a tracking device somewhere, but how should I know and deactivate it?!
She continued to run. She must get far, far away from that place. As far away as possible.
I must survive… and… revenge!
The hounds chasing after her along with their masters were only getting closer.
She wasn’t accustomed with the state of her body, and she felt great fatigue.
With great difficulty, she picked a very roundabout way to manage her way in this jungle and managed to lead her chasers astray.
But as she was slowing down and thinking of taking a rest, her eyes detected some monsters waiting in front.
How great, she thought.
But when she came to realize what kind of monsters were there, she rejoiced a bit.
This is it!
Although it was a huge risk gambling, she was willing to take it rather than getting killed in the hands of those who had turned against her and used her instead.
She would be willing to die by her own choice rather than in the hands of those she loathed the most.
In any case, if it was true that they put any kind of tracking device to her body, they would soon find her anyway. Since she wasn’t that far away from them.
Determined, she launched herself straight to the monsters.
The gigantic round furry beast that was the closest to her immediately noticed this little intruder and turned to look at her with its gigantic single eye. Its slow legs moved to approach her as its huge and wide mouth let out a deafening roar. Its two long arms which weren’t proportional to the rest of its body were being waved here and there.
Yet, the girl didn’t hesitate and jumped to avoid the beast’s hammer arms. Her petite body did a somersault mid-air as her very long hair formed a beautiful turn.
Then, after her small feet and hands touched the ground, she stared tauntingly at the beast and shouted.
“Where is your signature move, huh? Throw it at me, I dare you!!”
As if the monster understood the taunt, it roared ferociously before its eye sparkled.
This is it!
And with yet another deafening roar, the beast unleashed a binding twisting light from its eye, which was directed to the girl.
The girl didn’t dodge, neither did she try to resist. Instead, she smiled as her objective was achieved.
She then kicked the ground and willingly let herself be enveloped in the warped chromatic wave. Feeling herself sucked into the wave, she started to feel an excruciating pain and uncomfortable feeling that caused her to lose her consciousness.
And then, the warped chromatic wave disappeared after sucking the girl’s body in.
It was unknown where it would take her to, it might even lead her to death, but she wanted to gamble. No matter how small the odds might be, it was still better than none.
When her chasers caught up, they were unable to find her figure anywhere in this dark, dense, and eerie jungle.
No one would have thought that the girl was actually transported by the monster’s teleportation wave to a different forest, safely in one piece.
Although it seemed like the girl’s condition was even more haggard and wounded than she was before. At this point, she was still unconscious, and it was unknown whether she’d make it through the day or not.
The sun was rising and the temperature in this different forest was warming up, yet the girl didn’t show any signs of waking up.
At this time, a shadow was leaping through the trees’ branches agilely as the person’s hands collected the fruits and the person’s eyes scanned around the vicinity for any useful herbs or prey they could take.
The emerald eyes which was glaring like a hunter’s immediately noticed the figure of a young girl who was lying defenselessly on the ground, still unconscious with numerous wounds and dirt all around her body.
The shadow stopped leaping from the trees and continued to observe the unconscious figure as they assessed her.
The unknown hunter’s figure was gradually being warped by the warm sunlight as it exposed the hunter’s young figure as well, along with a light green hair that was tied so casually.
“Huh? A girl…?”
Perhaps already confirming that the pitiful figure on the ground was indeed a person she ought to save, the girl immediately went down the trees and approached her.
The light green-haired girl slightly caressed the girl’s wounded cheeks and examined the girl’s face carefully.
“…Are you all alone as well?”
Yet, the other girl didn’t respond to her words at all.
In the end, the ‘hunter’ picked the unconscious person’s body and casually placed the person carefully on her back. Despite the fact that they looked like around the same age, the light green-haired girl didn’t feel like carrying this unconscious girl’s body was a very torturing chore to do. It was as if she was already used to lifting something around the girl’s weight.
After adjusting their position so that it was comfortable, the emerald-eyed girl started to trail the path she took to get here.
A spectre of light was flying around the vicinity before it stopped on a tree’s branch and transformed into a figure of a small boy.
The ethereal figure continued to send off the two girls who were just there before.
The small boy then closed his eyes for a while before he opened his colorful eyes and muttered.
“All is set in their respective place. Now, of countless future possibilities, which one will they tread?”
Aion continued to linger there until the two figures were nowhere to be seen.
And so, yet another fateful encounter happened on this day.
Was it already predestined, or was it formed by a pure coincidence supported by the right choice?
Whichever it was, the fact that this had become a ‘fate’ for both of them, couldn’t be changed.
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