"Sorry Ellis," Curtis paused, putting aside the pen he had in hand. He had just finished the sketch of a new prototype transcription plan.
Curtis leaned his body back against the splat of the chair and closed his eyes.
'I don't know why.'
The matter had been bugging him for a while now.
'Why? Why did our kiss feel so wrong?'
What order was he violating?
It wasn't like Curtis didn't like it— her supple, soft lips. No, the problem was the turbulent storm that would brew in his heart whenever he thought back to that moment. Like a raging fire extinguished by a tsunami. What exactly was the tsunami?
'I don't understand.'
If this wasn't attributed to his lost memories then Curtis didn't know what it was.
What was the link? The relation? What puzzle piece was he missing?
That girl. Ochre hair, olive eyes, she looked similar to Ellis somehow.
That girl from the illusion created by the Forest Sprite.
"This can't be right," He rubbed his temples, "I don't even know who she is. She may very well be a person I've met before or-- It could even be Ellis with green."
Curtis knew it was possible to dream of people he didn't recognize. These people were usually the resurfacing of memories deep within the mind. That girl's voice could have been any childhood friend Curtis knew back in his hometown.
Curtis turned around, getting up from his seat, he walked over to the door.
These bunch of kidnappers were quite professional. The room he had been provided was no different than a suite-level room found at expensive inns. A queen-sized bed at one corner, with white linen sheet and duvets. Magic lighting lit the room. A coffee table in the centre with a few tableware placed off to the side, and a cupboard to hang clothing built into the wall.
What Curtis found bizarre was the earthy, comfortable feel to the room. The wood used to build the cabin felt alive, it even seemed to pulse with vitality. Curtis was inclined to think that the 'living' material was a part of the cabin itself.
When he searched around the place, he noticed a few leaves growing in between the crevices of the wall. It wasn't an obvious detail at a glance, but it was there.
To top off the services and amenities that were provided to him, Curtis was wearing a pair of flip-flops.
He opened the door.
The person on the receiving end was...
"Claudia-- Happy evening. Anything?"
"No, not really, just wondering how you're doing," Claudia wore a white crew-neck shirt together with puffy cetacean-blue pants. Her pyjama combination looked like casual home wear.
"I see," Curtis wondered how he should continue the conversation from here…
"Can I enter your room?"
"Sure," though, not that Curtis felt aroused nor did he question why. His mind was still busy being bothered by the matter regarding Ellis. With Claudia's company, maybe he could ask her a few things-- to take his mind off the issue, even for a bit.
"Thank you," the real reason why Claudia came to his room was because of the odd mana reaction she felt when she passed by. Intrigued, she thought to stop by, "Can I ask what you are working on?" Claudia remembered Curtis asking Hermit for a few fusion crystals at dusk.
"A spell," Curtis didn't know what to make of the name. A fusion crystal instrument? He thought it was more of a tool that allowed one to use multiple variations of predetermined magic. "A variable spell."
"Veritable?" Claudia misheard that but..
Curtis turned to Claudia taken aback, "You know that? Veritable magic, I mean."
"Veritable magic? I think I should be the one surprised. I learnt it from Darwin. Though I think you already know what it is-- a veritable spell is just another branch of magic. People normally refer to it as additional magic but I prefer to follow Darwin's system," Claudia paused for a bit, "There are two main branches, elemental magic and veritable magic. Elemental magic, you know-- the seven elements. While veritable magic would be magic that did not fall into the category of elemental magic. An example would be the delineate or auxiliary spells."
"That makes me wonder-- who is Darwin exactly? Is he an elf?" Curtis thought there was a little innuendo because Claudia kept bringing up Darwin's name in their conversations. From the gist of it, Curtis felt that Darwin was a popular person.
Claudia nodded, "As you guessed."
Ending on that note, Curtis felt as if something was missing in their conversation-- coffee. Legion party wasn't one to have drinks when drawing out long conversations. There wasn't any coffee onboard the ship. It could be said the same for tea if it were not for the bag of tea leaves hidden deep within the storeroom-- probably expired.
"Can I take a look at the spell you're making?"
"It's not really a spell.." Curtis looked over his messy table. He organized the untidy, scattered mess of papers, notes and transcription designs sketches, "Here. It's something I've been working on, a fusion crystal that functions as an instrument."
"Such a thing is possible?" Claudia received the fusion crystal. She channelled mana into it, accessing the intricate notes carved inside-- no, it wasn't appropriate to call them notes, rather, a switch would be more accurate.
These switches had more than just one input and output terminal. Magic was able to flow through and change treads naturally despite its convoluted structure. To transcribe something this complex into the crystal was itself a challenge. How did Curtis even create this?
While Claudia was contemplating, Curtis thought about the unconventional Legion party.
First would be Seth's consumable throwing knives, exploding into the earth upon impact-- or by some manual activation requirements. Next would be the hyper-compressed onyx material that made up Mikhael's halberd. Curtis had been told that the material was procured by Darwin by combining onyx and purple gems.
Most recent was this conversation with Claudia. Curtis realized that she had an understanding of magic similar to his. Moreover, Claudia was able to read the complex transcriptions in the fusion crystal without a transcription stand. The number of people Curtis knew that could read transcriptions through this method could be counted in a single hand.
Just who was Darwin?
"How does this work?" Claudia wondered why Curtis would want to create such a thing.
"It's just like how we use our normal magic instruments," Curtis remembered that he had yet to ask Claudia about how her magic staff worked or why she called it a grimoire. "The one you're holding is only limited to ice elemental magic though."
"I don't understand the point of making this. We could already use magic even without the aid of an instrument," by we, Claudia believed that Curtis too was proficient enough in magic to evoke spells without the aid of an instrument. Up till now, she had not seen Curtis demonstrate his magic, but his vast knowledge alone was enough to tell much about him.
"It's for those who can't use magic. I'm trying to make it so those who have spirit talents can have a go with magic."
"Ha?" Claudia's hands fell and the fusion crystal fell to the floor-- it floated mid-air.
"I'm building this for Ellis."
"Is that so.." the fusion crystal, like a gentle leaf, drifted through the air and landed back on the table. "I do wonder-- what kind of person is Ellis?"
"Loving, caring, cute, and an incredibly good cook and… sensitive? I hope she's fine... I doubt she didn't cry because of this," Curtis worried about Ellis. At the same time, there wasn't much he could do, overhauling the ship was impossible. Since they were headed towards the starfish cluster, the best option would be to get on with the extermination as soon as possible. Though, it would've been a joke if Curtis said that he wasn't scared of dying.
These bunch of 'kidnappers' were absolute lunatics. They were treating a lesser geoprimal pillar guardian like some toy.
Claudia, who got tired from standing sat on the chair, her hands placed together between her thighs, "What an enviable relationship."
"Then-- where is Darwin?" Curtis quickly changed the topic.
"Darwin? Right about now-- Darwin should have arrived at Tsurian Empire. He's acting as the Monarch's temporary envoy."
"I'm serious, if not, how else could we afford this ship? Darwin is very well known in Trinity Kingdom you know?"
"I've never heard of him though?"
"Then looks like they're keeping their word."
Claudia was referring to the 'miracles' Darwin had done. By keeping his achievements under the dark, he wouldn't have to add another heap of problems to top the problems he was already facing.
Tsurian Empire was itself another realm like the Monarch Empire. There was a perfectly sound geological reasoning behind how empires, kingdoms and sub-regions were divided.
Pillars come together in clusters as stars do. Take Haital Kingdom for example, the main pillar represented the Sun while the surrounding clusters represented the planets. Sub-regions were metaphorically solar systems close to Haital Kingdom.
Combining multiple solar systems into one would create a galaxy-- which was the analogy for an empire. Just as the solar systems were a far reach from each other, the distance between two galaxies was also quite distant. Thus, records of empires working together were extremely rare. Travelling from one empire to another may span months of travel time.
"What would you think if I told you that I've lost my memories?"
Claudia was silent for a moment, then muttered, "That's the answer then."
"That's it. No wonder you're acting so weird. Everything else adds up except for your ears and your mana anaemia-something condition."
Curtis stared at her. He was acting weird? Since when?
"If your theory is correct then--" Claudia tilted her head, purple strands of glistening hair fell on her shoulder, "You're probably the person Darwin had been trying to find for the past 8 years. Though, It's just my speculation. We'll have to ask Darwin."
"Is that so?" perplexed, Curtis though he should give up thinking about his past. Darwin probably has the answer. Curtis just needs to ask him-- what about Will?
"And don't worry about Ellis, Tia said Ellis was alright-- she did cry though," the red delineate on Claudia's face started flashing.