Delia was oblivious to all of the talks around her. The smile on her face had still not faded as she seemed off in her own dream land.
She remembered long hours of training on her peak spent with her dearest elder sister and a lanky boy with sandy blond hair.
He was always so polite and shy, but his demeanor always completely changed when it came to tending to his garden. Every little detail from taking off his shoes, to spending weeks planning out water routes and plant distribution, to even his focused murmuring as he spoke to himself about what he could improve and what he had done wrong.
Delia and Eli never spoke all that often to each other. In fact, Eli was always overly formal. But, Delia always found it interesting that despite how flustered he was whenever he saw her or Madeleine, he always seemed to completely forget about their existences until it was time for him to wave goodbye to them again.
Never did Delia ever think that this boy's voice would be the one that pulled her from a path she would have come to regret. But, he had. What she didn't know was that while Eli spent his life diligently analyzing and coming to an understanding of every seed he planted, he had been observing Delia from afar the same way.
It wasn't that Madeleine wasn't also a kind soul. In fact, Eli could hardly understand it himself. If he was going to fall for someone, shouldn't it have been Madeleine?
But, there was something in Eli's heart as a botanist that told him that Delia needed help arranging the flower that was her. Something told him that she was just a step away from making the wrong move and that he could play a role in adjusting her just perfectly.
That fascinated him. Even as Eli concocted medicines for Madeleine, he studied Delia. He saw her cold and yet soft-hearted demeanor. He took note of her graceful swords play, an art that seemed to be predicated on diverting the effort of foes into strength for her. He even took note of how she could transform from a beauty with flawless olive skin, to a beauty with the fairest skin he had ever seen.
Everything seemed to point toward the same thing: a façade.
Delia's entire being seemed to be coated in something false. No, not false. Something that was fundamentally important to her character, but still slightly flawed. And that was when Eli saw it – the perfect picture of what Delia was.
She was a leaf. Sleek, green and healthy. The picture of nature and warmth. The epitome of everything life. But, she was covered. She had a cold, but delicate exterior. She was a sword of unprecedented sharpness, but still one that chose to parry.
She was a leaf covered in snow.
Outside of Delia's dream land, everyone seemed to have settled into a calm rhythm. There was still quite some time before the final round – time given because all participants had just fought – so Dyon was taking his time to enjoy his wives.
Ri had left for a moment to go and ask Primrose, Mithrandir, Celine and Opal if they'd like to come over. After all, the miscellaneous area for ranked geniuses wasn't comparable to the top ten areas. This was especially true if you were relying on others to be there like the four of them, because none of them had ever taken part in a campaign.
So, Dyon had coaxed Madeleine into leaving Delia be, convincing her that she was fine while winking toward Eli's blushing figure.
"What happened?" Dyon say across from Madeleine, holding her small hands in his as he looked into her eyes intently. He hadn't had the opportunity to find out what she had been through, and he felt as though he should ask.
A sad smile spread across Madeleine's features as she shook her head, "It doesn't matter anymore. I'm here with you and little sister Ri, that's all that matters."
Dyon sighed, "Do you wish I treated your family differently?"
Madeleine shook her head again, "I still haven't forgiven them, why should you?" A defiant glint shone in her eyes. "A few months ago even my step mother came to convince me that you were no good. I love them, but I won't accept them if they won't accept you."
"I want you to know that if it ever comes to it, I won't allow anything to happen to your family." Dyon caressed Madeleine's soft cheek. "We'll save them. And, if they continue to be annoying, we can just lock them in a comfy room with movies and food."
Madeleine giggled, thinking back to her movie nights with Dyon. "You didn't finish lord of the rings without me, did you? I want to watch it with you and Ri."
Dyon shook his head, "Of course not. I only watched the first movie with Ri. We can finish the rest and the preludes together. But, more importantly, this makeover of yours. I didn't think it was possible for you to get more beautiful."
Madeleine looked at Dyon before blushing. She could never win a staring contest with him. The purity of his eyes always made his words seem all the more real, as though his word was law and it was impossible for him to be wrong. It made even Madeleine, someone who heard compliments like that blush.
"I have a feeling you already know what happened with this. But, it's a shame I lost my glasses though."
"Speaking of your glasses," Dyon got a serious look on his face, "I feel as though Amethyst destroyed them on purpose."
"So you know that much, hm?" Madeleine smiled. She was rarely surprised by Dyon now. Honestly, her reaction to Airic's appraisal of Dyon had been more longing and excitement than surprise. "But why on purpose?"
"That I'm not sure about. But." Dyon's hand found his way to Madeleine's collarbone to gently palm her silver necklace. "She didn't destroy this. That's telling us something."
"So it could either be symbolic or…"
"Or it could be the glasses themselves. In which case, we may need to keep an eye on your family as well."
Madeleine didn't know how to feel. But, she had always found it off that the main Sapientia branch went out of their way to distribute such high end materials even to the much lesser branch families.
From birth, Madeleine was assigned carbon framed glasses. These glasses then had the potential to be upgraded to crystal framed glasses once a member became proficient with the Sapientia speed reading technique. Then, the crystal framed glasses could be 'customized' to varying colors.
Before Madeleine's were destroyed, they had begun to tint purple. Connery Sapientia's however, tinted green. This was explained as taking the form of a person's aura, and it made sense for Madeleine since her favorite color had always been purple. In fact, whenever she wasn't wearing the white transcendent dress Dyon gave her, she was likely wearing a purple dress of some sort.
However, the question no one asked enough was… why?