They left the pub and walked for a little while to a secluded street.
The moon was bright, but veiled in clouds. Moreover, the hour was so late that not even magic streetlights were on. It was dark, and there was nobody walking by.
Only then did Calian stop. Those who were quietly following him also came to a halt.
Calian turned around and stared at the two for a moment before untying the strings that were holding his robe in place. His black hair slid out.
Calian draped his robe around Hina’s shoulders.
She was still dressed in clothes that revealed a lot of skin. Calian quietly tied the robe’s strings together for her and turned to Kyrie.
Kyrie wasn’t in a particularly good condition either. His shirt was tattered and covered in blood and sweat. Calian clicked his tongue.
He took off his jacket and handed it to Kyrie.
Calian glanced at Hina’s ears that were peeking out from in between her long silver hair.
“Did you cut them, or did they get cut?”
The scars at the tips of Hina’s ears looked as if they had been cut with something sharp – as if to hide the fact that they used to be pointed.
Kyrie’s ears were not pointed. Even though the two of them were siblings, they looked quite different.
Calian recalled Kyrie’s drunk mumblings about Kyrie resembling their father and his sister resembling their mother, although he had no recollection of his parents.
Kyrie and Hina were half-elves.
Hina flinched. Kyrie stepped between Hina and Calian as a protective measure.
“Thank you for helping us, but…” Kyrie said in his young wary voice.
Calian hurriedly lowered his head. He was once again reminded of Kyrie from that day as his voice trembled and trailed off.
‘This… is all I can do… to repay your kindness…’
He felt happy, sad, thankful, and sorry all at once. Everything that he couldn’t possibly put into words all formed a teardrop and rolled down his face.
“Hahh…” Calian sighed and calmed himself down. He wiped his eyes and looked up.
“Half-elf siblings. I heard from the people back there.”
Although he didn’t exactly hear it from them, they seemed to know about it. Calian used that knowledge to cover up.
“So you don’t need to be so wary. I mean no harm.”
As if it had been planned, a gust of wind blew across the three. The clouds drifted away and the moon shone upon them.
A set of red eyes were gazing into Kyrie’s eyes.
Finally having seen Calian properly, Kyrie bowed hurriedly. Hina followed her brother and bowed without really knowing what was going on.
“Please forgive me, Your Highness. My ignorance caused me to cast unreasonable doubt,” said Kyrie.
Hina jolted visibly and bowed even more deeply.
“My name is Kyrie, and my sister’s name is Hina. We were orphaned when we were young, so we don’t remember our family name.”
Kyrie was someone who didn’t need to bow to Calian. Calian murmured a ‘yes’ and raised them up by their shoulders.
“So, did you cut your own ears or did someone else cut them? If someone else did, I’ll pay them back for what they did.” Greetings weren’t Calian’s priority right now.
Hina shook her head and touched her ears. She must mean that she had cut them herself.
It wasn’t difficult to guess that she had cut them in order to look like a normal human. Although it didn’t happen very often in Kyrisis, underground auctions of elves were still commonplace in more rural towns during this time.
“What about your voice? Were you born without one? Otherwise, I’ll pay them back for that, too.”
Hina chuckled and shook her head once again. She had expected a prince to be a very faraway person – as high up as the sky. Yet, she could tell that the boy in front of him was caring for her.
“She couldn’t talk since birth, Your Highness.”
“Anything else that needs payback?” asked Calian again, recalling Hina’s dress.
Thankfully, Hina shook her head for the third time and pointed at Kyrie. She was safe until now thanks to Kyrie.
‘My sister chose death for herself.’
A beautiful half-elf girl who had nothing.
Calian had not asked him about the reason for her suicide.
He could tell from Kyrie’s crumpled face as he blamed himself for everything. After Hina had killed herself, Kyrie killed everybody in the gambling grounds and ran away to Secretia.
“That’s a relief,” It was a relief that history had yet to repeat itself.
“I saw you on Astrisha Street yesterday.”
Kyrie seemed surprised. Others might remember Calian, but he figured that it would be difficult for Calian to remember everyone.
“You were looking at the knights, right?”
Kyrie was surprised once again. It was just as Calian had said. “Yes, that is correct. I was there yesterday.”
The Master of the gambling grounds had asked to see Kyrie, so he was out for a little while. Kyrie had only been watching for a short time before going back.
Calian had recognised Kyrie in that short moment.
“Do you want to become a knight?”
Calian had asked the same question to Kyrie once upon a time.
‘Do you want to become a knight, Kyrie?’
Kyrie had left Kyris, broken by the reality that didn’t allow him to learn how to use a sword and having lost his only family. Back then, he stared Bern straight in the eyes and answered:
‘A sword. I wish to become a sword.’
Kyrie remembered his eyes as he confidently spoke those rather embarrassing words.
Kyrie, now seventeen, answered with his unchanged eyes.
“No, Your Highness. I wish not to become a knight, but a sword.”
It was the same answer as always.
Satisfied by his answer, Calian asked,
“Do you know my name?”
“Yes, Your Highness. Prince Calian, the third prince of Kyris.”
Calian nodded and handed Hina the five gold coins that he had just earned back. Hina seemed flustered to receive such a large amount of money.
“Do you know how to clean?” asked Calian to Hina.
Hina responded with a nod.
“Good. For five days from today, sleep at a nice place, buy some clothes, eat well, and go have some fun. Kyrie, make sure you get your injuries treated. If you run out of money, ask them to bill Alan Manasil at the Mages’ Union. He’ll take care of that for you.”
Hina nodded enthusiastically.
Kyrie couldn’t believe everything that was happening before his eyes.
The person who saved them from the gambling grounds was the prince, and he had even given them money. However, Calian wasn’t just here to give them money.
“After five days, come to the palace and look for me. Don’t confuse me for another prince. There’s one that’s a bad drunk, and it’ll be bad if you find him instead.”
Hina laughed silently. It seemed like rumours about the ‘bad drunk’ had already spread outside the palace.
Suddenly, she widened her eyes and stared at Calian. She must have just processed what Calian meant when he told them to come to the palace.
“You can stay at the palace for now. It would be difficult for me to let you stay as a guest, so you’d have to work. But it should still be much better than where you were before. Anyway, when you come to the palace, there will be a boy called Yan who kind of looks like a cute puppy. Just do as he says. I… might not be able to see you two right away since I’ll be busy.”
It wasn’t in Calian’s power to help Hina, who couldn’t talk, live on her own immediately without Kyrie.
He could have sent her to Alan’s house, but he figured that Kyrie would be uncomfortable with the idea.
After all, Alan was a young man by appearance. It would be better for Calian to have her work as his maid. It wouldn’t be too late to let her leave when she decides to do so for herself.
“You got everything?”
“Alright. Which prince am I?”
“Do you mind working in the palace?”
She shook her head.
“After how many days?”
Hina nodded with so much energy, Calian was almost concerned that her neck might be sore.
Calian had to stop himself from petting Hina’s head. Although she was shorter than Calian, he remembered that she was two years older.
Having told what he had to tell Hina, Calian turned around and pulled down Kyrie’s sword that was placed on Raven’s saddle.
Kyrie took the sword in the confusion of the moment. Its weight was just right for him to swing it around. Calian smiled contently.
‘That’s right. Kyrie is only truly himself when he’s holding a sword.’
“You won’t be able to become a knight right away. You’d have to serve as my shield first. If you still wish to learn how to use a sword, come find me.”
Kyrie looked down at his sword, and back up at Calian.
“I promise to turn you into the best sword in existence.”
A sword that serves the prince. Kyrie couldn’t ever dream of it. He couldn’t believe any of this.
“Why… Why do you give us so much?” asked Kyrie.
“I need a good sword,” answered Calian.
It didn’t take long for Kyrie to make his decision.
Finally, somebody who recognised his desire had appeared before him. There was nothing much to think about.
Kyrie dropped and kneeled in front of Calian and said almost desperately,
“I’ll go. Please allow me to become your sword, Your Highness.”
Yes. I came here so that I could save my sword.
Calian smiled and pulled Kyrie up onto his feet.
‘And this, Kyrie, is how I’d like to repay your kindness.’
Thankfully, Calian reached Teinansha Street before sunrise. However, he was certainly not in his best state. He had walked into the street practically lying down on Raven’s back.
A few people – they must have either woken up early or not slept at all – were walking on the street in their mage’s robes.
Those who saw the suspicious person who was shriveled up on the back of a black horse flinched and backed away. Every time this happened, Raven’s hooves clacked on the pavement with a subtle sense of pride.
He must have been reminded of attracting everybody’s attention during the march.
Calian, who was still lying down on Raven’s back, mumbled in defeat.
“This isn’t the good kind of attention. Stop being so proud of it. It’s embarrassing.”
After finishing everything that he needed to do, all the exhaustion and pain hit Calian at once. He had gathered what little mana he had to use his aura.
Even though he took his medicine, he was at his limit. He was left with no other choice but to use Raven’s back as a bed.
It was a good thing that Raven was so smart. If he hadn’t returned to the Royal Road by himself, they wouldn’t have made it back on time.
Not long after, they arrived at the Mages’ Union headquarters that Alan had mentioned.
When Calian stumbled into the building, the mages joyously greeted him. Euria, the leader of the Mages’ Union, came down herself and showed Calian into a room on the fourth floor.
It was a small study that could also be used to welcome guests. All kinds of books about magic filled the bookshelves that lined the walls. A knife ornament on the desk caught Calian’s eyes. It was oddly similar to the one that Calian had.
Alan was sitting on the couch. He was waiting for Calian without sleeping. Calian was so glad to see Alan after his long night and had to swallow his tears of gratefulness.
Alan gaped as he stared at Calian’s worn-out appearance.
“Did you get into a fight? Where in the world did you lose all your clothes?”
“I didn’t get into a fight. About my clothes… it’s a long story.”
He had only put up a front to threaten the men at the gambling grounds, and technically didn’t get into a fight.
Alan scrunched up his nose, presumably from the foul smell of the gambling grounds that had oozed into Calian’s clothes. He snapped his finger. A fresh gust of air surrounded Calian and he instantly felt refreshed. Calian was overjoyed to know that it was cleaning magic.
“Thank you,” said Calian as he plopped onto the couch across Alan.
Alan closed the book that he was holding.
“Did you finish everything that you needed to do?”
“Yes, for now. I think I’d have to come back out again in about a month.”
Alan nodded. He would be willing to bring Calian outside next month as well.
Alan let go of his book in the air. To Calian’s surprise, the book fluttered away like a bird and nested itself into the bookshelf.
Alan saw Calian marveling at the book and explained,
“A spell has been cast on the building. It allows you to move objects where you wish. Mages are very inactive creatures, you see.”
“That’s quite fascinating.”
“Yes, even though it was probably more trouble to cast a spell on the whole building. That’s just what mages do, so don’t worry about it.”
Calian laughed. He glanced at the object that had caught his eye earlier.
“But that knife isn’t something that mages don’t really use.” commented Calian.
Alan followed Calian’s gaze and stared at the knife for a little too long.
“You’re right. There’s… a knife,” he said in a strangely unsettling voice.
Alan smiled bitterly. Calian turned towards Alan, slightly confused.
Although the object was sitting there like it was nothing, Euria held this treasure more valuable than her life. It was none other than Sispanian’s own creation.
It was a magic device that warned of someone’s hidden weapon in the form of a desk ornament.
In other words, the fact that there was a knife ornament on the desk signified that Calian currently had a knife hidden away.
“It’s something that shouldn’t be there.” Alan’s eyes sunk.
“When people age, many things are supposed to change… but it seems that curiosity still thrives in me.”
Calian’s face filled with confusion once again. Instead of explaining any further, Alan prepared his mana.
“As I have just told you, the objects in this room can move according to my will. All I need is to know how to connect my will to them, so there’s nothing difficult about it,” Alan continued.
Calian still couldn’t understand why Alan was saying all this. He was about to suggest that Alan slept a little, but could not get the words out.
“I wish people’s minds worked the same way – easily moved and understood.”
Calian couldn’t get the words out because he saw the knife ornament slowly being lifted off the desk.
“But that is the one thing that can never be done.”
The blade, which was sharper than needed for an ornament, slowly turned towards Calian.
Calian narrowed his eyes.
“If this is my only way of opening your mind, so be it.”
Calian thought it was a joke. However, Alan didn’t stop.
The knife flew into Calian’s neck. Calian’s hand moved instinctively.
The deafening sound of two blades striking each other rang throughout the study.
Complete silence settled in.
He stared at the knife that was in Calian’s hand, the knife that was deflected into the wall –
And at Calian’s eyes that were as sharp as the knife’s blade.
Calian stared at Alan without a word, and Alan gazed back in silence.
It was Alan who broke the suffocating silence first.
Calian closed his eyes for a moment.
Original Translation: Wordexcerpt
Edited By: Tani Andris
Let me know if you spot any mistakes!