Chapter 3:

0.2: Departure

Train in the Clouds

Chapter 0.2

A celestial vision appeared to my eyes as soon as I entered: the interior of the train car was completely decorated with sophisticated motifs, which intertwined with the simplicity of the golden curtains and the cream-colored ceiling, and then recovered again in the elegance of the reddish carpet. The armchairs were made of leather and some of them were covered with white embroidered sheets. Everything seemed so shiny and welcoming and I wouldn't have thought twice about putting my back on that seat that seemed so soft and comfortable.

There were several ambiguously dressed passengers on the car: some wore strange baggy hats similar to the beach hats old ladies wore, several women wore long dresses that encircled under the breasts while other men, in luxurious suits, were smoking from strange pipes  which emitted greenish smoke.

'It is impossible that they are of this world.' I thought as I tried to behave as naturally as possible. But that was difficult for me and I must have looked somewhat awkward.

"Follow me, sir." the butler said, "Anyway, you can call me Alder, Master Heiji."

We walked for a while, passing through several individuals, then reached a door with red velvet curtains.

"What's this part of the train, Alder-san?" I asked, frowning.

"It's reserved for special guests, sir."

The man, with a quick gesture, opened the door and I felt even more confused when I saw that the corridor looked completely different: it was now a little wider and there were several cabins, marked with small silver signs.

"Some wagons have different sizes !?" I asked, eyes widened. At which, Alder did not answer and just kept on walking silently on the long purple-red carpet.

Honestly, I didn't dare ask myself why that guy knew my name and why he called me that. The appearance of that place had convinced me that those people had something that made them more evolved than us. Of course, I was still confused and a little scared. This certainly limited my willingness to speak.

Then we came in front of a sliding door in the midst of the many that, instead of silver plates, had a gold one. The word 'PALADIN' reigned supreme and it almost seemed that those words were magical and, at the touch, something strange would have happened.

But I was wrong.

Alder moved the door and invited me to sit in one of the bluish armchairs in the cabin. As soon as I sat down, I thought that everything seemed so heavenly and important that I could have allowed myself some vice.

'I'm the chosen one, right?' Then I thought. Chosen for what?

"Alder-san, this is all great, but why me?" I asked, almost sorry to have to ruin that precious carpet with my shoes dirty with earth.

"Everything will be explained in due course, sir. And, by that, I mean tonight in the dining car. But I won't be explaining, as you can expect." Alder showed me a mysterious smile. "Anyway, would you like a drink?"

"Yes, but it doesn't matter what. I don't even know if you have human drinks on this train."

"I'll see to it." the butler said, still mysteriously. Then he closed the door and disappeared, leaving me alone and absorbed in my thoughts.

All those decorations on the armchairs, the handles in fine wood, the softness of the seat, the brilliance of the room and its fresh scent, the clear windows with curtains on the sides that allowed a glimpse of the immense landscape; what had I done to deserve it? I remembered my grandfather's words as if they had been spoken the day before.

"Possessor of great courage .." I said in a weak voice. "This is all so absurd."

Afterwards, I heard a shout announcing the departure of the train. The voice came from small shell-shaped crates, which I recognized as a tutufa rubeta, placed on the wall near the windows.

I say this because, even if it may not seem like it, I have always been a great observer. (In this case, I can say that during my summer holidays, I remember, my father and I used to bring various shells to our house and consult their origin in a book.)

"Passengers are kindly requested to hold firmly to the armrests of the chairs. We are about to take off." The voice said.

Meanwhile, out in the corridor, I could also hear some voices that were confused, due to the sound of the engine and the speakers, and a constant stamping of feet. So I went a little closer to the door and was able to listen better.

"I have told you a thousand times that I absolutely want a suite on this carriage! I am a noble, this is an affront!

"Miss Seiler, I'm sorry but they are all busy at the moment. This is a special occasion, do you understand? It is obvious that so many seigneurs have booked. The only one available is .. oh no, it's impossible, not the golden suite."

Before there could be an answer, I heard a loud roar. I quickly went to the windows and saw many people who, after stopping their work, had run to see what it was. I expected to see my mother in the crowd but didn't see her. I couldn't even hear what they were saying that I found myself in my chair, shaken by the sudden movements of the locomotive as it rose into the sky. Everything was shaking around.

Then I saw the cabin door open slightly, perhaps pushed by someone, and a young girl fell on top of me. I held her tightly in my arms for as long as that tremor continued. Eventually, everything returned to normal and many shouts were heard from the wagons.

The train had left.

"Heck, stupid train and stupid guards." I heard the girl say. Then I lowered my face and our eyes met.

She was the silver-haired girl I'd met earlier. My face turned a scarlet red as I found her close to me. The stranger blushed too and jerked away.

"I'm sorry, I…" I began, embarrassed, but was interrupted.

"So you're the human. You already look silly." the young woman spat, with a bored expression. "And you are also a maniac."

"Miss Seiler, you can't stay here. It's forbidden." the guard said cruelly, grabbing the stranger's arm.

"Wait!" I interrupted. "I don't see what the problem is if she stays here, I'd feel alone anyway."

The guard paused at my answer, which he most likely did not expect, then let go and rushed out of the room.

"If the young master desires this, then I will permit it." And he closed the door, leaving the two of us alone.

"Maybe you're not as dull as I thought." she admitted, blushing a little. "Better that way. I wouldn't want to wait another 50 years."

"Thanks for the compliment, I guess. But I'm still confused by all this. Can I at least know your name?"

"Right, you stupid humans don't know the grandeur of the Steiler family. Well," and she stood up, arms folded and serious expression, "I am Mivrea Seiler, one of the seven daughters of King Gustave Seiler, great warrior and conqueror of the Empire of the Skies, Nuvoland. "

And she slid back into her seat, snorting loudly. "But of course what can you know."

The sound of someone knocking interrupted us again. "Sir, it's me. I brought you a human drink."

"You come in." I said, ready to taste the delicious liquid. Alder came in and gently handed me a silver cup. Inside there was something resembling a normal fruit juice.

"An arduous and difficult undertaking! Our explorers had to travel far and wide to find the perfect fruit. So sweet, so rare! And this just for you, sir."

I took a sip, expecting exotic flavors that exploded in my palate. Instead, after I finished, I found myself saying, "But this is just pineapple."

"Don't you like it?" drops of sweat beaded the servant's forehead.

"Yes, but it's not a rare fruit. You can find it in the supermarket." I sighed.

"Supermarket?" Mivrea asked curiously.

"Mivrea-san," I got a glare from the noble and clarified, "I mean, Your Excellency. Supermarkets are places where you can find all kinds of food. I only went there a few times, as there aren't any in the my village. "

"Humans amaze more and more." Alder remarked aloud. "Anyway, forgive me, but I have to go help in the kitchen. For anything, press that button next to the Sky System." And he pointed to a button with some sort of transmitter nearby.

"Emh, all right."

Once we were alone again, she continued. "You humans are just villains. Why go to this 'supermarket' if you can safely ask your servants?"

"We have no servants, Your Excellency. Only the richest can afford it."

Mivrea snorted. Then there was silence and we didn't speak to each other for a while.

Konoko Asada
Ataga Corliss