Chapter 1:

0.01: Lost

Train in the Clouds

Chapter 0.01

The sun was beating down on Fergrat's immense expanse of clouds. Nothing could be seen or heard on the horizon, except the firm footsteps of the animal on which Heiji Yamamura sat on the back. Fergrat, after all, could be considered the equivalent of a desert in the human world. Above all, it was the largest desert in the area, surrounded by the large valleys of Angelika, which encircled various small towns.

"Damn, the water supplies are gone!" Heiji shouted, and his voice created an echo. In fact, he had been in that place for three days and none of the people he had known had come looking for him, probably blocked by the Sovereign's prohibition. He found himself, at that moment, with his face dirty with white dust and a top hat, recovered from the royal residence, covering his head.

The boy pulled the reins of his Kemel - that is, the whitish animal with small spots on its lower limbs similar to a camel - and got off.

"And now what do we do?" He rubbed his hands over his face, exasperated; then he thought he heard the sound of a splash of water and his dark eyes lit up. "Water! Thank goodness. But where?"

He looked around and, after walking forward with uncertain steps, he spotted, behind an overlapping of white sand - or rather, the cloud dust that formed in that specific area -, a half-dry lake, due to the heat that vaporized everything. His little oasis! He grabbed the reins of the Kemel and moved towards it, almost running.

Arriving in front of the small expanse of water, he grabbed a bottle and tried to get as much water as possible before it could turn into steam, while the animal drank, licking every tiny drop of that precious treasure. Heiji looked at it sadly and then sat down on a cloud.

"I'm going to die in this place," he said as he brought the beast close to him and touched the short white hair, "it's a certain thing. I never thought I'd die like this! I'd like to see my parents again and .."

At a certain point, the Kemel interrupted him and, alarmed, turned towards a precise direction. "What is it, Shu? Did you hear anything?" The beast continued to emit small grunts, at which Heiji rested his eyes on what the animal was observing.

A human figure was hidden behind a leaf large enough to cover a stout man. Heiji had not initially noticed the silhouette, too busy with his depressing thoughts and his half desire to collapse to the ground and do nothing more until he died from lack of nourishment. He found himself, however, soon shocked by that presence.

"Oh God! I haven't seen a person in three days. Please step forward!" The boy begged. Initially, the stranger pulled back but, after ascertaining his innocence, he stepped forward: he was a small boy, with trembling lips and big sweet eyes, but that sweetness was hidden by a veil of fear and invocation to some sort of help.

'He's most likely around 11 years old.' Heiji thought while, with his hand, he motioned for him to sit next to him. "Shu won't hurt you, don't worry. He's a coward who only thinks about eating." He joked.

The young man sat down, showing his slender arms, which he then fastened to his ankles. He wore only a long tunic and, around his head, he had an orange hat that protected him from being too hot. Shu grunted and returned to drink, regardless of what was happening around.

"Do you see?" Heiji began, "He just thinks about being well." The other gave a weak laugh. "So what's your name?"

"My name is Julio." He replied with an innocent smile on his lips.

"Why are you in this place?"

"My people threw me in this deserted place because I am only a sacrifice for the Goddess of the Skies Arthensia. I have been here for two days, but this heat is drying all the fruit and soon the water will run out. I don't want to stay here but facing Fergrat alone is dangerous. " Heiji was shocked by that explanation. "Why are you here?"

"Problems with the King." The boy of Japanese origin just said while he held the stranger close to him. "But don't worry about me. I'll find some way and, if the food runs out, I can always devour that beast there." And he looked at Shu with a menacing look. The animal, frightened, went to look for another place.

"But you're not from up here, are you?" Julio asked and raised his face, intrigued.

"No, I'm from planet Earth, the world of Humans."

"A human? Here? And why?" Julio looked half scared but the genuine complicity in his companion's eyes calmed him.

"It's a long story. You know what? While we find a way out of here, I'll tell you." Heiji flashed a warm smile. "We just have to wait until it gets less hot."

"It should be almost evening time, to tell the truth," Julio said, "It will be cooler soon."

"Yeah. We'll be leaving in a few minutes."

And so, the two decided, while waiting, to collect the few fruits that remained intact and to group them in the purse attached to the saddle of the Kemel. Julio was a skilled tree climber - in that case Palahias trees, palm-like shrubs of exotic places - and he managed to get a certain amount of that food.

"They are called Ribos. They are very sweet and have a thirst-quenching juice inside. The seeds are chewy and can be used to decorate dishes." Julio explained, after he had put everything into his purse with the help of his new friend. "Ah, see! It's starting to get cooler."

"Yes, it's time to get moving. I'll help you climb up." He lifted the boy and made him rest on the saddle, then climbed up after him, after he had reached the footrests with a quick leap. With a push, Shu began to move and Julio was impressed by how his humps moved.

A soft breeze began to blow, and all around them the sky grew darker as the sun went down. Now the shadows moved in strange ways and the trees took on mysterious shapes.

Once they were far enough away from the oasis dedicated to the goddess, Heiji began.