Chapter 22:

Second Opinion

Lovely kNight


“You seem to be quite preoccupied today.”

Urania’s voice snaps me back from my own little world. My attention returns to her office where I’m being lectured.

“Apologies. I’d gotten lost in thought for a moment.”

“Have you been resting yourself well for your duties? Being deprived of sleep will do you no good.”

Though the words would naturally bear a tone of care in them, it’s a touch harder to discern with her stony and monotone voice and expression.

“I’ve been resting well enough, but everything has been quite busy lately. I promise that it’s uncharacteristic of me to lose focus like this.”

“I understand, but it is of the utmost importance that you would be attentive during these lessons.”

“You’re right. I need to focus.”

“If you’d so desire, I may be able to give you special medication to bolster your ability to concentrate. Either through a small tablet or usage of a magic spell I have studied.”

“A magic spell? There’s a spell for focusing nowadays?”

“There is and it is quite useful, might I add. I had learned it during my times as a student. I’d administered it unto myself as well. I believe that with my own research I have been able to improve upon its effects. Though there are still side effects to the form I’d learned.”

“What kinds of side effects are those?”

“For the first; one will become so keenly focused that they may lose all sense of space between themselves and the subject of which they give their attention. Once when I had cast it upon myself, I had not noticed that my study partner had entered into my room after knocking. They had found me in a state of undress while I was busy tending to my studies. Not once had I paid them any mind so they had departed for the evening and notified me of the incidence upon our next meeting.”

“That really sounds like a potent dose you’d given yourself.”

“It can be difficult to gauge the strength of the spell accurately. So if you were to approve usage, it may take a moment to reason the potency required to assist yourself without overdosing your mind.”

“I’m going to give it a pass for today. I believe I’ll be able to focus well enough with a little more effort.”

“If you change your mind then we may experiment. It would be fine practice for my own studies into improving the spell and I would be grateful for your participation.”

“Are you intending to publish your findings?”

“Why, yes. Another responsibility I take upon myself outside of my work as a tutor and royal adviser is to study spells and medicine for application within the kingdom. I often have a hand in the development of technologies as well. Perhaps you may already have heard of or know for yourself spells that I’ve written.”

“I had no clue that was a part of your workload. But it should have been fairly obvious given your wisdom that you’d be tasked with jobs like those.”

“Now that we’ve had ourselves a bit more trivial chatter, shall we refocus upon the task at hand?”

“Let’s.”

✩ ✩ ✩

The forms Dark Seeds take are labyrinthine and even maze-like in structure. Their architecture often descends deep into the earth. Though there have been cases in which they have grown into towers that reach into the skies, these situations are more uncommon. No matter which direction the Weeds may spread, the Roots are found in either the highest or deepest point of the nest. Therefore it is the mission of the Celestial Knight to navigate the labyrinths into their deepest points to do combat with the Roots.

However, the Roots are not to be underestimated. It is no trifling matter to dispatch of Roots. If the Celestial Knight does not have the strength required to overcome the enemy, then it will quickly regenerate upon defeat. If that is the case, then no amount of combat will be able to purify the Root from the world. When that situation arises, there is no other option but to fall back until the strength may be gathered to finish the purging.

It is possible for the Loveless spawned from a Dark Seed to be slain by the hands of an ordinary person, but it is a much more difficult task without the magic of the Celestial Knight and the Celestial Maidens.

An important duty belonging to the Celestial Knight is the elimination of any Loveless that appear outside of the labyrinths. However, an even more important task is that he would eliminate Loveless present within the Dark Seeds themselves. Even if he lacks the strength to topple the Root, it is of utmost importance that the Celestial Knight would still investigate the currently active Dark Seeds. So to prevent the possibility of Loveless escaping the confines of the Dark Seed, threatening the lives of the kingdom.

The Loveless take countless forms but the most common characteristic uniting all together is a hollow vortex which takes the shape of a heart upon their bodies. Because of their incredible physiological variety, there is no definite, completed record of the possibilities of their morphology. There are resources chronicling data on Loveless previously encountered. There is as well theories and sciences making advancement in growing understanding of Loveless’ biology.

The general public’s knowledge in regards to Dark Seeds and Eclipse overall is restrained in favor of protecting innocence so not to cause panic or chaos. Knowledge on such topics is reserved for those who require it. These orders being the kingdom’s highest ranking knights, researchers, and the anti Loveless task force which is to be deployed in wake of any incidence. Most undoubtedly, the Celestial Knight and the Maidens too are to be tutored regarding Dark Seeds and Loveless.

✩ ✩ ✩

“So the maidens have been taught about the Loveless as well?”

“Correct. The only maiden who has yet to be formally taught is your friend, Juna. That is in part due to the fact that she is a newcomer. Since she has made herself quite busy with her studies for mage knighthood, I have been given a formal request to allow her time for her studies before the official lessons are to be administered.”

“Have you taught the maidens yourself or were other tutors responsible for that?”

“I was involved with a few including Marcia, but I have met with each individual on at least one occasion for other lessons they are required to learn for their duties.”

“You’d taught Marcia? What was that like?”

“She was uncooperative at times and at others she would take opportunities to play practical jokes. Though perhaps practical would not be the correct word to describe such tomfoolery.” She sighs and tents her fingers.

“I-I’d thought as much. I’m a bit curious; has she ever used an adhesion spell on you for one of her pranks?”

“That was an issue in the past. She’d cast it upon me through a handshake before she’d left my office. It wasn’t until I’d placed my hand onto my desk that I’d realized what had happened. After a bit of assistance from a fellow scholar, I’d studied a spell to undo adhesion just in case there would be another attempt at a prank. I take it you’ve had a similar experience?”

“Y-You could say that.” I blush as I recall the unorthodox situation we’d wound up in.

“Marcia truthfully has the potential to be a magician or perhaps even a knight if only she’d give the efforts to do so. She is a woman of potential beyond her childish attitude.”

“She did learn plenty of magic on her own. It isn’t exactly everyday someone is able to do that without formal training or time in an academy.”

“Precisely as you’ve said. Her and her sister would make for fine students but I feel their minds are too preoccupied with other matters for them to give it a proper attempt. They may have plenty that is starkly contrasting about their characters, but they are twins in the end.”

“Venna would be preoccupied? Why do you think that?”

“She is very interested in her work as a maiden and even she has difficulties focusing when the topic is something outside of her duties.”

“H-Her duties, you say. I confess that I have a question I’ve been wondering for a long time now. Ever since I was inducted to be the Celestial Knight.”

“Please do feel free to ask. This is a time of learning.” Her intrigue picks up as a shimmer on her glasses as she leans towards me.

“Th-That’s… How would I say…?”

“There is no need to be concerned nor reserved. I am here to help your duties as the Celestial Knight however I may.”

“Y-Yeah. Thanks for that. Well...”

I take a deep inhale in hopes to calm my nerves. It doesn’t benefit me very much, but I continue no matter.

“About my… duties… as the Celestial Knight...”

She peers deeply into my eyes without a sign of breaking away, expecting and ready to hear what I have to say.

“K-Kissing… Er, that’s…” I pause again while I struggle to best my own tongue and bring it into submission. “Is it really the Celestial Knight’s duties to do that… with the maidens?”

“I believe Plutia was the one to have first revealed your duties to you?”

“She was. When I’d first met the maidens.”

“Though she may seem to be one that may enjoy jetsing from time to time, what she’d told you was correct.” Despite the sensitive topic, Urania doesn’t even bat an eye as she responds. “Though I have reason to question the methods in which she’d delivered that information.”

“Just like that, huh? I… really have to do such a thing after all.”

“It is the honorable duty of the Celestial Knight to secure the future of our kingdom. There is no shame in such a thing. I believe it is something to hold great pride in.”

“It was really hard for me to believe that given that I’d heard it from Plutia… And she has quite a character to say the least. So I’d wanted to ask you for confirmation since you’re not the type to joke around and pull any legs for all I know. It seems like it’s final. This is my duty.” I involuntarily slink down into my chair as the many vivid thoughts intrude on me. “..With Juna and the others.”

“I promise with full confidence that such duties are not a prank nor a ruse of any manner. You are to kiss the Celestial Maidens in order to be gifted the strength that is required of you to do combat with Eclipse’s influence upon this world.”

“I understand. If that really is how it has to be, then I accept this duty for all it is...”

“Are you concerned as to the means of contact to have the magic imparted upon yourself.”

“Wait. What was that?”

“Kissing maidens and showing affection. Surely your long past as a knight must serve as a stark contrast to your current objectives. Allow me to elaborate. Kissing is the act when two would display affection to one another. You and the maiden of your choosing would draw near to each other and-”

“N-No! No explanations necessary! I’m quite aware so there’s no need to draw it out!”

“Are you certain? Perhaps you could learn something new if I were to continue my small lecture. Our kingdom is in your hands and your studies are of great importance to your Celestial Knighthood..”

“Th-Thank you, but I’m knowledgeable enough in that regard. I promise I’m capable to do it on my own.”

“So may I ask of you if you have yet been successful in having fulfilled your first act?”

“Y-Yes, I have… I think. It’s just that… I’m not exactly used to anything like this.”

“It is still the very beginning of your duties. If you are still shy, that is understandable. However, if you feel like you could use assistance in overcoming those nerves, I believe I could help the process along. I have medicines and spells which can improve one’s own courage for a small time. It may be small but-”

She seems more than eager to prescribe some concoction or remedy.

“That’s fine! I’m doing good enough!” I stop her dead in her tracks before things can get too carried away. “I won’t deny that I’m naturally shy on a subject such as this, but I believe that I’ll be able to manage well on my own devices.”

“I understand. May I ask which maiden you’ve been able to draw magical strength from?”

“There… have been a few so far, but most of all would be… Juna.” My voice shrinks as I speak her name.

“I couldn’t quite hear who the maiden you’d mentioned had been, but I am elated nonetheless to learn of fine progress already. I can see clearly that you are well focused on the task at hand despite reservations. But my offer remains. If you could use any of my knowledge in any way through counseling, lessons or any of my other specialties, I am more than willing to assist.” She begins reaching into her drawer.

“G-Got it! No need to break out any vials today!”

“Vials?” She lifts her hand from her drawer and withdraws a lunch box. “I was getting ready to have my afternoon meal.”

“O-Oh.Pardon me. I’d thought…” I sigh with relief.

She raises her brow quizzically, but I let the explanation slide.

“There was one other issue I was tasked to speak with you over. The special communications device that was being prepared for you has fallen behind schedule. Regrettably, you won’t be able to receive it today, but it should be soon that you will be given it.”

“It’s no issue to me. To be honest, I’ve rarely ever used communication devices before. Neither Juna nor myself have ever owned a personal one ourselves. Partly due to our priorities with our funds and partly due to the fact that we’ve both been nearly always been in contact range daily.”

“Truly? That’s… unorthodox. I’ve rarely ever heard of a modern person like yourself that has been without a communicator.” Her brows raise ever so minutely enough to display a minor expression of shock.

“If I were to be given one, I’d likely not know much of what to do with it.”

“That can be remedied with some lessons. Perhaps you could even make use of the operations manual. Though beside that point, every maiden will be given specialized communicators for the kingdom. Juna will be receiving one alongside yourself.”

When I peer to the clock and see that we’ve met the hour mark of our conversation, I prepare to go on my way. Though I hesitate. Thanks to our talk of technology, I remember a particular objective I’d had in meeting Urania.

“Before I leave on my way, I’d had something I’d intended to give to you.”

“Something for me to receive? Is it a packet of data you’ve collected relevant to your current progress as the Celestial Knight?”

Somehow there’s a twinkling in her eye as she asks me that absurdly specific question.

“N-Nothing like that. I don’t know how I would chart something like that to begin with, but...” I hand her the knickknack I’d purchased from Mia’s store, “this is what I’d had in mind.”

She takes it into her hands and begins giving it her eyes which bear a sharp, investigative edge.

“What is this? A sort of doll? Do you need this to be researched?”

“Nothing like that. I’d just thought it’d be nice to give you a gift for all of your help.”

“A gift? I… suppose this is a rarity. I don’t believe I’ve ever received a gift from any of my students. But what is this meant to be?”

“It’s a bug.”

Her eyes lift to me before she resumes looking over the item. That face of her is as stoic as I’ve ever seen it while she ponders to herself. But so suddenly a crack forms across her lips and upturns. She begins to giggle to herself, breaking the stony and serious character she’d long presented to me. The very light of elation fills her eyes behind her glass lenses.

Yet when she sees the shocked face I wear, she covers the smile on her face and closes her eyes to recover her calm mask.

“A-Ah. Pardon me. I didn’t mean to be so untoward. I-”

“N-No. Don’t mind at all. I’m grateful... That’s the first time so far I’ve ever seen you lighten up like that.”

“Lighten up?” Her tone is overcome with a deep sense of curiosity.

“You’ve been really serious all of this time since I’d first met you, so it’s something new to me to see you smile like that. I… really don’t mind it at all and wouldn’t be completely against seeing that again. Er, well… That may be a bit of an odd statement.”

“Smiling…?” She falls pensive.

“I’m grateful you’d enjoyed the gift. I wasn’t sure if you would. Though I should let you get back to your duties and go off to my own. I have a meeting with a maiden coming.”

“Yes. Please continue your fine work. I’ll send notice of our next meeting to be in days to come.”

I get up and get out of the room with a parting wave.

Outside of her office, I find a nice, empty space to be alone. After a deep breath, all of the feelings I’d held back before her come rushing out with a roaring force. I feel my face spark ablaze and my heart charge ahead into a sprinting race.

“H-How…? How is that possible? She’s so… so cute when she smiles. How was she so cute?!”