We didn’t really have much of a chance to talk with all the new adventurers that were sent to the capital, at least during when we traveled from Kirkwall to the first town for the night. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, but more like I couldn’t. Many others wanted my attention, and some shared some information about the whole trip. Of course, I could feel how I was looked at, but weirdly enough, I had gotten used to it.
So, the first moment when I could talk to the young new future was at the first inn we stopped at. It wasn’t anything special. We bought some drinks, I talked, and then they talked. Not everyone could hold their booze, so some of them were dragged away very soon, while others stayed to talk for a longer time.
But it was evident that groups began to appear, and me, as a hero, didn’t really belong into any of them. Mostly because I was the hero. Funnily enough, Alice and Aldrynte were nowhere to be seen either, so I ended up sitting in a two-chair table alone, slurping my beer slowly.
But I wasn’t alone for a long, as a woman got herself seated in front of me. She looked very familiar, yet I had a hard time remembering who she was. She had a longer and darker brown hair, slightly wavy. She wasn’t that tall either. But her facial was more familiar if anything.
“Hello. Is this seat taken?” she said with her strong voice.
“No, be my guest,” I responded a moment later, leaning back, trying to think where I had seen her.
“I think we have met before?” I said, looking at her.
“Eh, I’m offended,” she said, leaning slightly back, doing a shocked face. But just a moment later, she began to smile. “We have. Bill was my brother, and we met just before we left the Platinum Theater.”
And that’s when I remembered. “You’re the shy one!”
“Hey!” she said, this time leaning forward. “I was in a place with a full of famous and known people. Give me a break!”
I laughed. “You’re right! You’re right…”
“But everything you said, and what Bill had achieved made me think. So I decided to apply to the adventurer’s school, and surprise-surprise I got accepted. I’m not sure if it’s because of me, or because of my brother…”
I nodded. “Yeah, I understand. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they chose you because you’re his sister.”
“Are you sure you should be saying any of that?” she asked, grinning.
I shook my head. “Maybe not. But I don’t really care. If anything, it’s your opportunity. Use it well,” I said.
She nodded. “That’s what I also thought. I can’t let his sacrifice be in vain!” she said, raising her hand and showing a muscle. “But I do miss him.”
I nodded. “I’m sorry.”
She sighed. “Perhaps barely talking with him for many years made it easier for me to accept it. Or maybe this is why I’m doing this, searching for some answers…”
“Mourning takes time, even if you go on with your life,” I said, looking at her. “Even after many years, you might still discover that you’re mourning.”
“Have you lost anyone?” she asked.
A moment of silence followed. Then I finally nodded. “Mother and father.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
“It’s alright,” I said, giving her a weak smile.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I never introduced myself, did I? I’m Aurora,” she said, putting her hand out.
A glass shattered against the ground as I said my name. It came from the group of fresh adventurers, who were now moaning. I smiled. The one, huh.
“Hiro, was it?” she said, almost pretended as that’s what I had said.
“Yes. You can call me by that name,” I said, reaching my hand out as well, and shaking it. “Aurora Cornfield, huh?”
Aurora leaned back, slightly blushing. “Eh, you knew my family name? Well, you probably knew Bill’s family name, which is also mine. This is so embarrassing.”
I grinned. “Well, your family name is safe with me, if you want to.”
“Yes, please. I don’t want others to really know. I just… this is so not adventurer’s family name,” she said as she looked away, trying to hide her face. It was funny because Bill didn’t even try to hide his family name, even if he had a bad history with Cornwall. If anything, he used it to help the poor, telling them that he was the same. The same family, yet there are many differences. Or perhaps she had to discover herself why Cornfield was a good adventurer’s family name.
“So, I heard that you’ll be teaching as well?” she said.
I sighed. So the word was already spreading. “I am, yes,” I said, nodding. I was not amused.
“Well. I’m really looking forward to those classes. I hope you’ll teach me a lot.” I blushed for a moment. It was a moment of realization. “Y-yeah, sure. I-I’ll do my best.” Why the hell was I nervous? Why was I blushing?
Elbert’s words went through my mind, as I had to look away to hide my flustered face. Stupid Elbert, pushing those indecent thoughts into my mind. Now that I looked at Aurora, she looked pretty cute as well. And then I screamed in my mind. What was I thinking?
“Are you alright?” Aurora asked as she looked at me.
I stood up, quickly. “Well, I’m tired. I’m going to sleep!” Like a machine of some sort, I turned around and walked away. “Put it on my tab!” I shouted.
“Sure,” the barman responded.
Aurora eyed my every step, smiling. I could see her gray eyes looking at me, as I did a sharp turn to walk towards the stairs. I was still a kid.
Funnily enough, it was the very same evening when someone knocked on my door. I casually walked towards the door, thinking maybe it was Aurora. Or maybe it was Aldrynte with another long speech?
But as I opened the door, there was the third one. I even wanted to avoid her, for some unknown reasons. Alice stood there, looking at me. “Hey! Got a minute?” she said.
“Of course,” I responded, making room for her to pass, and closing the door behind her. She casually walked to the center of the room, looking around, and finally got herself seated on the edge of my bed. She turned to face me.
“What’s up?” I asked, after a short pause, leaning against the wall.
“W-what are you going to do about the teaching?” she asked, looking at me. “I mean, I know how weak you are. You can’t train them. You can’t even show them your magic!”
“Ouch, that hurt,” I said as I hid my face for a second. Then, I smiled. Sometimes her stuttering still showed, at least when she was really nervous. I got myself seated next to her, leaning against the wall.
“There are more ways to teach them than the physical... or showing them my magic. I can just… talk?” She looked at me, almost like I was crazy. “Plus you’ll be at my side to demonstrate, aren’t you?” The staring continued, but this time she squinted, just slightly.
“I can’t do everything, you know? There’s no way I’ll show off my shadow arts, for example,” she said, looking at me. “Very few know of it!”
I nodded. “But you can show off your ice. Plus, it’s good training for you as well,” I said, smiling. “Plus, every hero needs a learning arc,” I added.
“W-what? This isn’t a book, Hiro. Plus, you’re going to teach, not to learn!”
Tch, tch, tch! I made the sounds, raising my finger, moving it from one side to another. “This is where you’re wrong! As Aldrynte said, I need to use the opportunity. I might just enter an interesting lesson - while pretending to be just checking it out, evaluating the teachers, perhaps - but in reality, I’m learning!” It sounded a lot more dramatic than I had intended. “That might make them work even harder! Beggars aren’t choosers, Alice.”
For once, I was happy that I could talk with someone as things really were. I couldn’t tell her everything, but she knew my true strength. She was like my secret confession room, with whom I could talk about all those secrets I had to keep.
Alice sighed. “I guess I’m just worried. Sometimes I regret that I did your magical essence evaluation. If I wouldn’t know, I probably wouldn’t really care if you did okay, or not,” she said. She barely managed to open her mouth again before I intercepted.
“That’s cold,” I said, not noticing that she tried to say something else.
She bit her lips, gently. “I’m a cold wizard. So you have to chill,” she said, giving me a grin.
I smiled. “You’ve changed. A lot.”
“You think so? Others tell me that too.”
“For starters, I like that you kept those clothes Lu gave you. Makes you look really nice. But you’re really… amazing,” I said.
Alice blushed, getting herself stand up. “Well. It’s time I’ll go to sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She slowly walked towards the door, showing me her back.
She’s pretty. And she’s smart. And- I thought, trying to keep myself in check. She opened the door, leaving the room, looking back one last time.
Those lips, and that smile. It’s so-
She closed the door, leaving me alone in the room. I frowned. “Damn you, Elbert,” I mumbled, finally lying down on my bed and looking at the ceiling.
Are these butterflies? Is this love? I don’t understand. Yet I felt similar things against Aldrynte as well. Was it because I was just experiencing my real teenage years?
But I was the hero. I needed to contain myself. It was important that I did all of that. There was no time for games. I needed to focus on the real things that mattered.
And after a while, I finally fell asleep, having a slightly restless night.
And as I said, the remaining week was uneventful. It was mostly full of small talks with many. I got to know some other adventurers, and I did talk with Aurora surprisingly a lot. But in some sense, I wanted to already get to the capital, so I could focus on other things.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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