Chapter 3:

0.2: Departure

Train in the Clouds

Chapter 0.2Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

'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.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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.Bookmark here

"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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

But I was wrong.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

"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.Bookmark here

"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?"Bookmark here

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

"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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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.)Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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

"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."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

The train had left.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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

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

"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."Bookmark here

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

"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. "Bookmark here

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

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

"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.Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

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."Bookmark here

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

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

"Supermarket?" Mivrea asked curiously.Bookmark here

"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. "Bookmark here

"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.Bookmark here

"Emh, all right."Bookmark here

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

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

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

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Konoko Asada
Marshall Eastman
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