A Reverie for Another Eternity
"Foolishly exercising the power of one's authority inevitably leads to even greater sadness."
- A king from a far off isle
Mikuta stood outside the booth. Glossy marble floored the walkway. Large, numerous pillars lined the side with a garden out front. She saw the butterflies float and the birds tweet in the gorgeously manicured garden. It was a wonder why more people didn’t come to visit. Then again, there was a certain charm to be had in being alone with this environment, though she hadn’t paid much attention ever since she was forced into that booth.
She tentatively looked down at the envelope in her hand. There was something hard inside.
What case is this exactly supposed to be? Is this even the case? It’s an envelope right?
Maybe whatever is inside is a case?
She tore the envelope open, a small ring falling out and rolling across the floor. Walking over, she picked it up and inspected it. Much like the bracelet imposter Miyori had, it had the same ugly color and yellow veins. Looking at the inside, there was a sun emblem - the same as the one on the case and the cannon it later transformed into.
For now, she decided that she’d keep it on her person. There was no harm in just holding something small anyway. She looked back at the booth and back at pillars, an urge to leave growing ever stronger. It wasn’t fair that she alone was stuck in this ambient atmosphere with nothing to do.
Her stomach growled at the right time. It wasn’t a fault of her own if she got up and left to eat, right? If anything, it’d be Erika at fault for sending her down to eat without breakfast, now to be lunch.
Quickly, she made her way down the spacious and well-lit hallways. The paintings that lined the walls were very jaunty, much to her dislike. Most, if not all actually, were full of joyful expressions, faces of which she couldn’t stand looking at. And so, she ignored the rest of them.
In the midst of her brewing hatred of this specific hall, the ring slipping out of her pocket intensified that feeling, mildly inconveniencing her as she picked it back. Clutching it tightly in her hand, it dug into her sweaty palm as she reached the cafeteria.
As usual, the white seats were vacant, yet on the table sat a piping bowl of meat stew, meant for one person. Inside the porcelain, it was full of the fresh vegetables she and Helena had bought yesterday. Sampling the deliciously soft, well-cooked meat, tangy onions, and chewy carrots with a large wooden spoon, she sat down and scooted her chair in, completely engrossed in her meal.
I seriously wonder who prepares these meals. It’s superb.
But, ah, I have one other business to attend to.
Put simply, Mikuta was bored from the time she spent in the booth and wanted someone to vent to. In a few hours, it should be after school for Helena.
Ah well. A light workout after eating is just what I need anyways.
Quickly scarfing down her meal and leaving the clean bowl on the countertop, she headed down the corridors once more, this time not bothering to look at the paintings on the walls. Rounding another corner, she took out her visitation card and hole-punched it at the counter before heading out around town.
God this is such a pain.
No sooner had she left to go see Helena, the hand that grasped the ring tightly began to hurt. She had completely forgotten about it, her knuckles and fingers were completely white and unfeeling. But, the lingering annoyance from earlier was still there.
Painfully releasing her slightly atrophied fingers one by one, she quickly pinched the ring with her other hand from the purple spot and slid it on her ring finger. An electrifying sensation coursed through her body, numbing her once more just like it did upon contact with Miyori’s bracelet. But, she felt another surge; this time of an indescribable sensory overload, the yellow veins from the ring digging through her skin and reaching her neck. At that point, the colors she perceived and the everyday sounds she listened to suddenly splattered all over her body. It was as if the world itself became one huge paint bucket, and she alone was drowning in its colors. It was painful, and most of all, slow. In her mind, time seemed to stop as her body slowly teetered to the side of a wall, collapsing onto her knees.
Helpless to watch through her eyes akin to a film reel, she eventually shut off her eyes and ears, the heart still thumping in pure, uncontested fear. She had wished the world itself had gone silent. But, it didn't.
The muffled noise continued to buzz on, the light percolating through her eyelids. She gradually got used to the weird feeling, the surges becoming weaker by the second. Soon, she could feel her body again, her sense of touch returning to normal.
Upon opening her eyes and ears, the surrounding buildings, the very sunlight that bathed on the people, the shadows they cast, everything that she could possibly see and grasp with her senses, she did. It was as if she had been reborn with a new set of extrasensory organs, this time fully aware of, quite frankly, everything. And she felt alive, more alive than she ever had before.
Even the once intelligible signboards were now legible, not to her surprise. That sudden acceptance, however, in itself already surprised her a little. The overwhelming feeling of omnipotence made her feel as if she could do everything and anything. But even then, her goal remained the same - she wanted to talk to Helena.
Though, there was a slight issue to be had at hand.
How do I kill some time before meeting up with Helena? I’m definitely not going back to the booth, that’s for sure.
A sudden scream could be heard from the distance as her ears perked up. Strangely enough, everyone else around her continued on with their day, mindlessly going about their lives without heed to the blood-curdling sound. Mikuta became intrigued, and out of morbid curiosity, she took off into the direction of the northern side of the slums, the direct opposite of the abandoned cathedral.
As expected, once she got through the better part of the neighborhood, the familiar ugliness of the slums came crawling back. Not that she felt any different about it. For where the sun shined and the air was fresh, it didn’t matter where one lived.
She soon approached a two-story-tall building and found writing on the wall, written in the native language of the land. She recalled seeing the same letters in Helena’s book.
Let’s see… "She is here. Bring the girl." Definitely not foreboding in any sense, yep.
Without hesitation, Mikuta entered the building; the familiar cry from earlier echoed throughout the halls, coupled with the new addition of phrases like “shut up” and “you should’ve done it when you had the chance.” It was a familiar voice, one that she couldn’t bear listening to even in her refreshed form.
Creeping up to the second floor, the old dilapidated stairs somehow not giving out, she looked beyond the rails and saw Maya kowtowing, trembling for some reason. Mikuta’s eyes widened at the sight of the person in front.
“So, you failed to bring that brat here again.”
“M-Maya’s most heartfelt apologies sir.”
Her head took a deeper bow while groveling underneath the ugly guard, his nose still just as prominent with that little wart, if not a little crooked.
“You couldn’t get the ring, let alone the girl? How freaking pathetic can you be?” He paced around the room, covering two laps before standing in front of her again. "Do you know how mad his highness would be at this failure? At me? Think about it."
He drove his heel into her shoulder from above; Maya could only whimper in agony as blood welled up. But there was hostility in her eyes, a glint of hatred that could be used to kill. Mikuta decided to use this to her advantage.
The bolt of light slithered through the rails and penetrated through his ankle, wrapping itself around. Surprised, he toppled over, slamming onto the dusty ground.
He attempted to scramble back up, but a sprinting Mikuta landed a dropkick squarely onto his side, sending him flying.
“I’m here. Pervert.”
Once her lasso of light disappeared, she, too, stepped onto and dug her heels into his back, preventing him from getting back up. He quickly turned his head to Maya.
“Y-You TRICKED ME! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW LITTLE TIME IS LEFT?”
She only hissed back in indignance.
“Maya knew she shouldn’t have trusted anything that came out of your mouth. ‘Imperial mandate’ or whatever. You get what you deserve for attempting to manipulate those unfamiliar with the law.”
She got back up, clutching her shoulder.
"Ok. I guess it's time to find out what the two of you've been up to." Mikuta let up her foot. "Speak, you bastard."
Snarling, with foam in his mouth and eyes delirious, he began to shout. “YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS! THE BOTH OF YOU! HIS HIGHNESS WILL MAKE SURE - GHACk”
With a thud, Mikuta stepped against the back of his head, forcing him to kiss the floor. This effectively shut him up for the while she needed.
His snarling was unsightly, but luckily Mikuta wore her boots today before coming outside, and so she just drove her foot down, even more, causing his face to completely flatten. Even his long nose didn’t survive the treatment, as it too was pancaked. She clearly would've gotten no information from his overly paranoid self. She turned back to Helena.
“ So… You got anything to say to me?”
“No… Not really.”
She looked to the side, not facing Mikuta’s somewhat elated face.
“Should I tell Helena about it?”
“If you want… This is just Maya’s business with him and him alone, and I’d appreciate it if you left us be.”
The same murderous glint was back in her eyes. Mikuta gave a disapproving “hmph” at her but relented.
Below her foot, she could feel the unsightly guard floundering. Not wanting to be around him any longer, she let up and kicked him with all her might. She could hear a few bones creaking in her leg as he propelled across the room, Maya just barely dodging out of the way as he crashed into the wall. Dust floated down from the ceiling.
“Have fun with him I guess.”
Mikuta walked back to the stairs, soon noticing Helena’s claws already out through the rail openings. She left her with a smile, one that was mutually assured by another cheeky grin.
Humming while making her way down the stairs, she pretended to not hear any screams that ensued after her leave.
The long and winding cobbled road meandered its way past the decrepit buildings, eventually passing through well-maintained roads and shrubs. The transition from one place to another was jarring, but she made sure to not get sidetracked.
Hustling through the crowds of the town square, crossing various roads and stop lights, she finally arrived at the much larger plaza, a complete opposite of the slums from just 30 minutes ago. Teeming with life and beauty, even the flowers were in full bloom. It was the perfect afternoon to be outside and enjoy the sun’s warmth.
A heavy groan could be heard, the huge doors in the front opening. From there, a steady flow of students passed on by. Mikuta sat on the bench in the distance and waited.
Before she realized it, the most eminent establishment in the area was emptied. The students continued to chatter on the grass or in the nearby cafes. But there was no sign of Helena. Perhaps she was still on the inside.
Mikuta hurried across the grass and pavement and started down the path leading to the open doors. Though, suddenly, a hand grabbed her sleeve from behind. Whipping around, she was confronted with a diminutive demi-human. Oversized floppy ears sat on the top of her head. Upon closer inspection from above, she could see the short bushy tail with a curl upward. Short yet slim, childish yet prim, the girl gazed into Mikuta, her sleek black hair falling forwards.
“Are you a student of this academy?”
“Well… Yeah. Why else would I be here?”
She let go of her sleeve and took a step back, hands on her hips.
“Could I get some ID with that then? Also your year's ribbon.”
Mikuta fished around her tunic pockets, a cold sweat forming on the back of her neck. She knew she should’ve brought the ribbon when she had the chance, but there certainly was no ID of her person. Regardless, she wanted to continue on her way into the academy.
“Would it suffice to just… say my name?” An idea formed in her mind, supported with doubt, anxiety, and a need to complain. “Actually, who are you to ask for my ID and anything? In the first place wouldn’t it be proper for the person stopping the other to introduce themselves?”
The ears on her head twitched, revealing flaring white fluff. “My name is Elaina. Elaina Arce Utgaard.” She paused dramatically, a smile creeping on her face. She flung her arm out proudly, with Mikuta just barely dodging it. “And I am the president of the student council. That should give me at least some authority to check a nobody, right?”
Mikuta took slight offense to that insult but didn’t mind. She was used to this after all.
But man, normalization really is a terrifying thing.
“Well, I am Mikuta from the church right over there on the hilltop.” She pointed to the building not too far away from the academy, easily seeable from the distance. Looking back, Mrs. Utgaard was on her tippy toes, attempting to capture the same sight as Mikuta.
“Would you like a hand?”
Her face scowled at the mention of help.
“Do you think I can't-”
Before she could finish her sentence, Mikuta scooped her up onto her shoulders, the lightness of her frame not inconveniencing her in the slightest.
“Just right over there.”
With one hand on her thigh and the other pointing in the direction, a soft breeze came by, ruffling both of their hairs. The late afternoon sun gently cast its warm rays on the two. A few petals even floated about at this moment. Elaina was speechless. But soon regained her composure.
“Ok, that’s good enough for me. The sun’s getting in my eyes.” Letting out a defeated sigh while on her shoulders, Mikuta obliged and bent down, feeling her slide off her back.
“You sure that’s good enough for you”
“Yes.” She squirmed around a bit before speaking again, jabbing her finger at Mikuta once again. “But who doesn’t bring their ID? At least bring your ribbon next time, ok?”
Mikuta could only nod along as she was being berated. “Yes Ma’am.”
“Good. I take it you were here to look for someone?”
“Uh, yeah but-”
Her own hands were clasped from the outside by Elaina’s tiny hands, her fingers firmly sinking through the crevices of her fist.
“I’ll lead the way then. You probably have no idea about the layout of this place anyway, given how you froze up when I called you out.”
“You’re telling me I could’ve just… gone in?”
“Of course but-” She began to drag Mikuta from behind -”I just know you’re gonna need me!”
This is such a pain. But whatever.
Those were her last thoughts before heading inside, completely giving in to this new girl.
From afar, a bluebird leaves its nest, rustling the leaves and shaking the air as it took flight.