Train in the Clouds
If the garden around the mansion looked fantastic from a distance, it was crazy up close.
I later found out that those sakura-like trees were called Yakuha, which, in their language, meant Gemini. The aforementioned name derives from a small legend centered on these ancient shrubs.
About 400 years earlier, two newborn twins were placed under the branches of the first Yakuha specimen. Their parents lived in a state of absolute poverty and decided to leave them there so that someone would find them and raise them decently. This happened, because they were found by an upper middle class family who decided to adopt them.
The children grew up and their appearance became more and more pleasant: the girl's hair was soft and clear as silk and her eyes were the color of the most precious diamonds; the boy of the two, on the other hand, had a strong build and was very handsome. One day, they were visited by an Angel, who was actually jealous of their qualities: the Angel told them that he would have made a wonderful gift for their fifteenth birthday. The gift turned out to be one of these trees that, through the creature's powers, turned the two into ugly and hunchbacked people.
The two ended their lives begging on the streets, while the winged being was burned by the hot fires of Hell.
The Yakuha are plants that represent the perdition of the soul, but I certainly couldn't have known that at the time. And, of course, asking about the story wasn't something that particularly interested me. They were just beautiful and reminded me of Japan and quiet spring afternoons.
In any case, after passing a small street adorned with these trees, a thousand other delights showed themselves to my eyes: amazing specimens of flowers had been neatly planted on various flower beds. Several fountains decorated the wide lawns and I even glimpsed some maids who were about to prune these little beauties through certain transparent containers.
We walked for a while and then reached the entrance of the beautiful villa, adorned with intricate decorations on the facades and mighty columns of a Corinthian-like style.
A young woman came to welcome us and, as soon as she noticed me, she showed a friendly smile .. or so it was supposed to be, because she seemed quite cold. I just thought she was exhausted from all the duties she had to perform.
"The Lady is waiting for you in the Guest Room." Communicated the young woman after a long bow.
"Rather, where is my sister? Shouldn't she be the one to welcome, as a rule?" Heathcliff asked, arms crossed.
"Miss Cleya decided to use the large tub in the back garden." The maid replied, "I would not want to interrupt her moment of relaxation, Master Heathcliff."
"It would be better not to keep the Mistress waiting." Benedith stepped in, looking clearly worried. The blond then put his hands to his pockets and began to walk. I followed the two, stunned by everything around me.
The woman led us into several long corridors, where very long reddish carpets embroidered with gold were arranged on the floors. On the walls, from time to time, some family portrait appeared. I glimpsed that of a child Heathcliff among many.
The little boy had a lighthearted smile and his hair was medium length, plus he wore a white blouse with some jewel on his black tie.
"My Lady, the young Master has returned." The maid freed me from my thoughts with her weak voice and with her knocking on a large door, with handles representing two angelic faces.
"Let him in, dear." Ordered the mistress and the door was thrown open.
Before my eyes, a lady with long dark hair and silver eyes sat comfortably on a velvet-covered sofa. She wore a gemstone collar on her slender neck and a knee-length dress showed off her soft curves and bursting breasts.
She gave me the air of being a serious and sophisticated woman, but her playful smile on her plump red lips made her less distant.
"My name is Olga, young knight." She stood up and moved towards me in a sinuous way. "Show yourself, child."
She took my face with her hands and I blushed. 'She is very beautiful and she appears to be young too.' I thought as her long fingers squeezed my cheeks.
"You are such a handsome young man. Jena, show him the room where he will be staying for the night." Mrs. Olga said after she had gone away from me.
"Eh? I didn't know that-"
"Oh dear, you look so tired. Of course I want you to rest in one of my guest rooms. Plus, you can use all the facilities." She interrupted me after a little chuckle.
"Well, yes. In fact, I didn't sleep." I said, embarrassed. Meanwhile, Heathcliff was watching our conversation with a strange look.
".. To tell the truth," continued the lady, "there is also a spa service nearby and you can relax there too. Obviously, all offered by me."
"Mother, don't you think you are exaggerating?" Heathcliff stepped forward with a confused face, "The spa service .."
"We have to make a good impression with guests of a certain level, right?" She replied, "Come on, Jena, to work. And, Benedith, I need you for something." Benedith nodded and the little meeting ended like that.
I, Jena and my noble friend walked through other infinite corridors; which made me think that the house must have had a labyrinth shape. I should have gotten some help with everything because it seemed very dispersive.
A large door of a dark red material appeared before our eyes. Jena stopped and, from the pocket of her white apron, took out a large key with a strangely cubic shape and then inserted it into the lock.
A large four-poster bed with ivory sheets, embellished with long pale curtains, resided in the huge room. All around was the luxurious furniture and even a carpet, embroidered with silver threads, of an exaggerated size on the floor.
I almost fainted in front of that unbridled luxury. All that… how could it be reserved for me?
"Is it of your preference, sir?" Jena asked, pursing her rosy lips.
"It's absurd. I have no words .."
"Rather," Heathcliff showed a bored face, "Cleya can't just do what she wants just because she's beautiful and gifted."
"-Is someone talking about me?" We suddenly heard a soft voice and turned in the direction it was coming from.
The voice belonged to a girl with long dark hair, held together by various pretty clips, and with thin, piercing gold-colored eyes. Her red cheeks, her perfect, delicate features, and her sweetly contoured lips made me blush until my face turned into a tomato.
Besides, it wasn't just that that attracted me. The young woman showed her large breasts through the triangular top of a bathing suit. Under that, she wore a cloth that partially covered her bare legs.
"What an improper outfit, sister." Grinned the blond, "Already eager to show your curves?"
"No, not really. I was just sunbathing, but staying there for a few minutes is dangerous. So I take a break from time to time." She said. "Besides, this is totally new, don't you know? The other day, some weavers saw a Human wearing this thing and decided to copy the style. With the Glasher, you know."
My friend pretended to be interested in the subject of his sister's talks.
"..And so, I decided to try this Swamun too, as they called it."
Then the girl looked at me and focused mainly on my embarrassed face.
"You are…" She points her index finger at me, amazed.
"Heiji-kun, meet my annoying little sister. Cleya, this is Heiji Yamamura."
"I see," then she gave a mysterious smile, which didn't make me quite understand what kind of emotion she wanted to show, "You look bad. You should get some sleep."
"Y-yes, I think I'll take your advice." I said, with my eyes turned towards the bed so as not to look too much at her body.
"Heathcliff," Cleya later stated, "Do you know that tomorrow the Festival of Lights will take place in Valendella?"
"I did not know."
"Well, I really want to go. They say there will even be a masquerade ball." She explained, with a twinkle in her eyes, "I even had a dress prepared for the occasion. And I think Heiji-kun should come too."
"Huh? I really-"
She took my hands and I felt the steam come out of my ears, completely red. 'Wasn't she supposed to be a cold girl?' I thought.
I noticed that even her brother was as shocked as I was at that behavior.
"I want to know everything about you." She told me, with an intense look. "Therefore.."
"Little sister, that's enough. You're making him uncomfortable." She pulled back, with a slight smile.
"Okay. I'll go back out then." And she went away, leaving me all dumbfounded.
"Master Heiji," Jena, who had watched the whole scene in silence, took a step forward, "If you wouldn't mind, before your nap, could I lead you to the terrace for tea?"
"Oh, with pleasure, Jena-san." As long as the tea lets me sleep, I added mentally.
So we went to the terrace belonging to the Alstons. It was reachable through various spiral staircases, which then all met a certain point - which obviously was the balcony.
From there, I could enjoy a delightful view of the entire front of the garden; in addition, the numerous squares of the nearby town could also be glimpsed.
I sat down in an armchair, located near the fine marble balustrades, and was served hot tea. The cup was quite small, but the quality of the drink made me very satisfied. It was sweet at the right point.
"You are so lucky to live in such a place." I thought aloud, "It's all so new to me. It still feels like a dream."
A dream. It was all it could be, after all. However, I wanted to never leave that place.