Chapter 12:

1.0: Dumb Decisions and Mysteries

Train in the Clouds

Chapter 1.0

I was the first human who did not show up at a meeting organized by the Royal Council.

At 8 am, when I was supposed to meet someone related to the Sovereign, I pretended to be sick, just like children who complain of stomach problems to avoid going to school, for fear of not being ready for the test.

It was definitely one of the stupidest things I've ever done.

When I told Alder that I was feeling a certain pain in my stomach, he panicked and began to sweat profusely, so much that large stains dirtied the dark fabric of his tuxedo - always the same one. He had to have in his room 7 elegant suits that looked all the same, with the addition of shirts of the same color.

"Oh God, help us! It's the end!" He began to say as he paced back and forth across the room. "Rahul! Noel!" He called the other butlers in a broken voice.

I was in my room, but Mivrea wasn't there. To tell the truth, when I had returned from the restaurant cabin the night before, I had only seen her for a millisecond outside the half-open door. Then she was gone and I, half asleep, decided I wouldn't go looking for her at that moment.

"I don't think I will be able to go to that meeting in this state, Alder-san .." I said and let out a half moan of false pain. I felt a little sad about doing that, but there was a reason.

And the reason was that, after Heathcliff's words, I felt almost frightened to have anything to do with that King, described as so ruthless and power-hungry. I was afraid of what I might have heard and the fact that perhaps it would have all been nonsense, recited from memory by those people, who helped him so much. Or maybe they respected him and were absolutely obsessed, like Mivrea.

Those were my ideas at the time.

As I pondered all this, Rahul and another white-haired servant appeared next to an agitated Alder. He had blue eyes that invoked an innocent and young look.

"Noel," Alder looked at the new boy, "I need some Pekunia juice and some Erica leaves. They should be in the kitchen, hurry up!"

"Yes, Alder." And he ran off as fast as the wind, half sweaty too.

"Rahul, you go to the Remedies car, box number 14. Come on!" And the other went to the opposite position of the previous one while he bit his lip.

"There's no need to panic that much, Alder-san, m-maybe it's a short-lived thing." I said, half agitated too.

"No, Sir. All the passengers on this train must be in excellent health at all times! Especially a Human like you, sir! Ah- I feel as if I'm about to faint."

"Come on, come on, I'm starting to feel better .." I said as feelings of guilt spread. "If I have to go, I'll go."

"No, we don't even talk about it. I'll tell the guest right away to see you at another time! Wait for me here." He ran away too, leaving me alone in the room.

A few seconds later, Noel returned in front of me with a tiny bottle containing a yellowish liquid and a few blue leaves, also small in size.

"Where's Alder?" He asked me, visibly undecided on what to do.

"He ran to cabin 263 for a moment, if I remember correctly." I warned him. "B-but I really didn't want to scare you so much. In fact, I feel better now."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, seriously." And I bit my lip, sad.

Rahul also came back quickly, with his usual blonde hair pulled back and a smile similar to those smiles that people who just want to prove they are okay have. He was holding another container of some liquid. Once all three were reunited, they left me to go somewhere unknown and reappeared with a full silver cup.

"This will do you good, sir. And you two, at work now!" Alder ordered. Meanwhile, I drank that bitter liquid that I struggled to swallow. It was so bitter that it brought tears to my eyes but I held them back and, once the cup was emptied, returned it to the butler.

"I'll stay out the door for a while longer, in case you get sick again. And Secretary Rubvy said he'd postpone the meeting for three days."

'Rubvy? What about Duval-san?' I thought.

But my thoughts were interrupted by Alder closing the door and making it slam.

My day was rather boring without Mivrea around: I had breakfast and lunch in my room and, since I didn't even have any comics at hand, I just slept when my appetite was satisfied. I then thought of asking if there was some sort of library on that train: they were so advanced to have those scrolls, why not have some easy-to-read books? But then I told myself that they would be written in their language and I gave up on solitary reading.

I had seen a few written engravings in Noslepums before and they were slightly different from the ones on the cloud catcher my grandfather stole. For example, the sign of that shop, which I had asked Mivrea to translate, had symbols a little more geometric in shape. Perhaps, it was a kind of popular accent, spoken by those who had not had a sublime education like that of the royal family. Mivrea still knew how to recognize the message, though, so it wasn't all that different from the standard language.

Anyway, it occurred to me to go see that lovely Benedith again. So I went out of my room towards evening and knocked on Heathcliff's door but no one answered. So, I asked a nearby butler if he remembered which way they had gone.

So it was that way I discovered the 'Document Wagon', as the passengers and staff called it: it was a wagon full of bookcases made of a material similar to wood, but darker. There I found Heathcliff, seated in an armchair, with a strange bundle of papers in his hands and in the company of Benedith, standing beside his austere figure.

At first they didn't notice me, but when I called them they immediately turned to me.

"Oh, Heiji-kun." He said, "What are you doing here?"

"I was bored," I shrugged, "and I can't find Mivrea-san anymore."

"Miss Seiler got lost?" The maid thought aloud.

"Maybe I should go find her. But I'm kinda scared since the last time I saw her she looked like a devil, with that red face." I felt the hairs on my body raise when I remembered that expression. "She can't have gone too far."

"I wouldn't even dare." Heathcliff stepped in, his gaze still focused on the papers. "Who knows how that crazy woman would react."

I was silent for a while, with my thoughts fixed on the mental image of the princess. That little body of her wrapped in that dress, tight under her breasts. The rosy ribbons on her silver hair that had the same hue as her cheeks when she made a pouting face, similar to a small child. I blushed a little but immediately shrugged to get rid of that feeling.

"I wonder why she's like that. Could the Seiler brothers and sisters be so strange too?" I wondered in a faint voice, though Benedith could hear me.

"The Seiler family is a very special family." She commented and, strangely, her and Heathcliff's faces darkened. What were they ever thinking? I immediately ventured to think it was some other wrong done to the Alston family.

Getting involved in such royal affairs made me a little anxious. Those were certainly not things to be taken lightly.

"It will be dinner time soon." Heathcliff suddenly broke the silence that hung in the room and got up to put the papers back in a nearby bookcase. "Better go to our tables."

"I think I'll go later." The absence of Mivrea was beginning to make me anxious.

Benedith looked at me in a very strange way at that moment: it was a mixture of terror and anger. Whether they were directed towards me or not was unknown to me. Her master ordered the woman to move and they soon left the room after greeting me.

'What on earth are the Alston family and the Seiler family hiding? Something is wrong here. ' I thought and felt little chills.

I felt compelled to find out at all costs. I didn't know why but I knew that I had been chosen as a Knight of Honor and that those two families would have been close to my future reality and what I should have become.

But I was such a coward after all. The scene from that morning had been a truly shameful thing and made me want to hide my face with my hands.

So, I decided to stop thinking and, determined to find her, I left the carriage and began to wander.

Konoko Asada