Chapter 4:

0.3: A Strange Girl, Indeed

Train in the Clouds

Chapter 0.3Bookmark here

A few hours had passed since the departure. The scenery, outside the large gleaming windows, had completely changed: we were now above the clouds. I was losing myself in looking at that immense expanse so white and soft-looking, similar to winter snow. I thought it reminded me of the December days of my joyful childhood, when the snow whitened Kiso-Fukushima and my grandfather and I competed over who had built the most impressive snowman. So I found myself smiling, with my face and hands attached to the glass.Bookmark here

"Why do you stick to the window so much, human? Can't you see that there are only clouds?" Mivrea asked, crossing her arms seriously.Bookmark here

"Of course I see it. It's just that, Your Highness, honestly they look extraordinary from up here." I replied, blushing. "I don't think I've ever seen anything like this."Bookmark here

"You humans are all naive. Do you think it's easy to maintain such beauty? You don't give a damn. Hmph." she snorted, turning and moving her thick silver hair.Bookmark here

"Why do you hate us humans so badly? In short, I find it difficult that you have been able to talk to a human being besides me in the past."Bookmark here

"I didn't but I studied books and books about your species. You see, silly, we beings of the Skies have always been relatively peaceful people. My predecessors quickly invented methods to ensure a living in the clouds, then they lived at peace for centuries. The only war of succession happened years before I was born. And my daddy won it. Oh, you should have heard his tales of how he drew his shining magic sword, Exskylibur! " she exclaimed, putting her hands to her red cheeks.Bookmark here

"You mean Excalibur." I specified, with an annoyed expression. Not that I was that bothered but her manners seemed exaggerated.Bookmark here

"Not at all, I think I was very clear. Ex-sky-li-bur!"Bookmark here

"I certainly haven't read that many books, but I know, after all the medieval-themed roleplay games, that there is only one magic sword named Excalibur. You know, King Arthur and all that stuff."Bookmark here

"Nonsense, I'll never believe it. And now you will tell me that there was some wizard and that it was an impossible sword to take, stuck in some rock." Mivrea chuckled, making fun of me.Bookmark here

I put my hand to her face, as if to say, 'Of course she's silly.' But I didn't want to say it out loud; I already knew, even though I had only recently met her, that she was an easily irritable person and I didn't feel like making her angry.Bookmark here

Suddenly, a loud noise interrupted our conversation. I felt almost glad it wasn't going to continue for a while. The sound was similar to what I had previously heard: a large number of small bells that were quickly shaken. Then silence reigned for a few seconds. Over the speakers, a coarse voice announced that it was lunchtime.Bookmark here

"Perfect, I was just starving." the girl said, then emitting a moan of lamentation.Bookmark here

Alder showed up moments later, with a small movable table. After stiffening his slender body, covered by the pitch black tuxedo, he began to speak in a quiet voice.Bookmark here

"Master, Your Excellency, what do you want for lunch? You will have to pay absolutely nothing for your information." and he winked wittily.Bookmark here

"Roasted wukuthi." announced the princess, putting her gloved hand on the pink corset of her dress, "The greatest and most precious you have."Bookmark here

"It will be done." Alder wrote quickly in a notebook, then turned his gaze to me who, sweating, said I didn't know what to eat and that I preferred something simple.Bookmark here

"I'll report to the cook." And he walked away, slamming the door behind him.Bookmark here

I was about to ask Mivrea what a wukuthi was, when I heard a noise coming from outside. It almost looked like two individuals were arguing.Bookmark here

"Oh, don't pay much attention to them," Mivrea explained, "they are probably two ridiculous noblewomen."Bookmark here

'You're a bit ridiculous too.' I thought, rolling my eyes.Bookmark here

Besides the girl, Alder also didn't let me hear what it was. In fact, the butler returned as fast as light, with the movable table full of delicacies. On one side was a large roasted bluebird adorned with the white leaves of some unknown plant; on the other, some food that looked like a stew. Almost shining water had been served in silver cups. I thanked him warmly as Mivrea greedily brought the vehicle close and began to devour the blue bird. That had to be wukuthi.Bookmark here

I found the stew strangely delicious. I was later explained by her that it was a Gutsun, a species of animal that fed on clouds and was very rare to find.Bookmark here

Talk about simplicity!Bookmark here

"In any case," the young woman resumed the conversation after she finished eating, "while we in the Skies have always respected our limits and cultivated positive feelings, you foolish humans have continued to wage war on you for centuries without ever stopping. Your reasons could be absurd, but you sacrifice everything and everyone for your stupid wishes. "Bookmark here

"If war is all you think about, then you are VERY wrong. All the different cultures and traditions, the different foods, the different languages. How can you generalize this way?" I hit the table with my hands by the plates, fed up with the princess's complaints. "You think you know everything when you don't know anything."Bookmark here

I absolutely did not want to make myself the hero of mankind, but I thought, once again, that her ways were stupid.Bookmark here

"Idiot! How dare you !?" and she was about to slap me when she suddenly stopped and sat up again, putting her hands on her lap.Bookmark here

"Ah .. sorry."Bookmark here

There was a minute of silence as I tried to calm myself.Bookmark here

"..I shouldn't even be on this train, what am I discussing with you for?" This confused me, and I promptly answered her with another question.Bookmark here

"What do you mean?"Bookmark here

"You know ... actually, I secretly took a certain amount of money to buy the ticket and escaped from the castle without permission." The young woman covered her face, full of shame, and she began to sob.Bookmark here

I felt impassive in front of that cry: first of all, I did not even know her and, secondly, what could I have said anyway if I thought that her behavior was so childish and exaggerated? So, I was silent for a while while listening to the young woman's moans. Bookmark here

Why did she even tell that to a stranger? Maybe a part of her saw that my ways were friendly.Bookmark here

After a while, however, I began to speak, stunned.Bookmark here

"I've never met anyone like you." I said with a sigh, sinking into the comfortable chair. "I dream of a life like yours and you seem to always complain. I dream of a big city, big buildings, people who can respect me and be my friends. And you, who have everything ..." I stopped and glimpsed the princess looking at me without saying a word.Bookmark here

Her tears rolled down her cheeks and lit up her yellowish, almost gold eyes. Her untidy hair fell across her forehead, while her cheeks were red and swollen. I blushed violently and covered my face.Bookmark here

"Y-your Excellency! If you look at me that way .."Bookmark here

"Mivrea-san." the girl said, "Call me that .. i-if you wish."Bookmark here

I didn't answer and turned away.Bookmark here

 I had only spent a few hours with her and it was already difficult for me to understand her! I remembered Kyouko's sweet face, which conveyed gaiety and sincere appreciation.Bookmark here

'If only she was like her ...' I thought.Bookmark here

The air in the cabin became heavy and neither of us dared to say a word, Mivrea with her feelings of guilt and me with my embarrassment.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, the hours passed around us and the sky was getting darker and darker. The meeting at the restaurant cabin would have happened shortly and I didn't know what to expect. I wondered again and again what would be said to me that was so important.Bookmark here

My heart was pounding in my chest. Everything still seemed like a dream to me. Yes, maybe I would have woken up early and found myself in my bed, with the blankets on the floor and the drops of sweat on my forehead. I would have walked down the stairs to the kitchen and found my mother, Mrs. Tomoko, who was preparing breakfast and, between one bowl of rice and the other, I would have said 'Mom, I had a very strange dream. I got on a flying train. 'Bookmark here

Locked up in my labyrinth of thoughts, with the young princess in front of me sleeping with her face close to the window, I fell into a deep sleep and forgot everything for a while.Bookmark here

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Konoko Asada
Marshall Eastman
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