Chapter 17:

1.5: Long Nights And Tuxedos - Preparing For The Ball

Train in the Clouds


Chapter 1.5Bookmark here

I spent the first hours of the night feeling the pleasant breeze on the terrace, together with Cleya and Heathcliff, who joined us later. Bookmark here

We talked about many things: between food, traditions and little stories I came to know various things about Valendella.Bookmark here

It was one of the oldest cities in Nuvoland and also one of the largest. Perhaps it was also the first one founded by a human being up here. Human being, that's right, because the inhabitants of Nuvoland were not that different from us.Bookmark here

"The only important difference, besides a probable correlation with a certain evolved species - which is said to have been born from the union of a normal human being with a winged being - is related to our body. Simply, it's a lighter constitution." Explained Heathcliff, between drinks, leaning back in his chair and with his hair tossed by the wind.Bookmark here

"...Winged beings existed in the past?" I asked, with my arm stretched out over the balustrade of the terrace.Bookmark here

"It's not certain; after all, we have no written evidence. Perhaps you should try looking when you happen to go to the human world, since you humans have existed for much longer."Bookmark here

"So you know next to nothing about this species?" I leaned in, looking thoughtful. He let out a sigh from behind.Bookmark here

"Be careful not to lean too far out, you idiot. If you push too hard, you might fall." I backed away a little at that rebuke, embarrassed. Bookmark here

"Anyway, all that's known is that they may have been called Tenlin and were relatively few in number." He resumed, with a hand on his chin, as if trying to remember more.Bookmark here

"You've picked up a lot of things from humans, though." I said, "You know, when I saw those trees they reminded me of a species found in Japan."Bookmark here

"Oh?" Cleya showed some interest, "Really?"Bookmark here

"Yes, they are called sakura trees. They are distinctive for their delicate pink flowers."Bookmark here

"Sounds interesting!" She sighed then resignedly. "I wish I could go there."Bookmark here

"I wonder why there are so many boundaries between Humans and you." I reflected aloud. "I mean, if you're relatively peaceful people, what's the big deal?"Bookmark here

"I don't think mixing with Humans would be a good thing, Heiji-kun." Heathcliff replied all serious. "Besides, our bodies aren't suited to move on the ground for too long."Bookmark here

"I see." I let out a groan of resignation and Cleya gave a small laugh.Bookmark here

We stood in silence for a while enjoying that quietude - or at least I did, because the two brothers had already started to argue about something.Bookmark here

Then the girl, tired of his words, began to look away until her eyes reached mine. At that point, as if she had a sudden realization, she came out with, "Heiji-kun, why don't we try dancing?"Bookmark here

"Huh?" I blushed. "But... I've never danced in my life."Bookmark here

"Huh? Not even once? Yet it's so much fun. Look, I'll teach you!" She rose from her seat and positioned herself in front of me, with a triumphant little smile.Bookmark here

"Cleya, I swear-if you want to take him to bed to do you-know-what ..." Heathcliff squared her and she laughed. Bookmark here

"You're such a bore! I don't think only of those things. Rather, you find someone yourself, you virgin." And she stuck her tongue out at him.Bookmark here

I coughed, to make clear my embarrassment given by their conversation. Bookmark here

"Oh, excuse me, Heiji-kun. So-" She put her arms behind my neck, making me blush, "I'll stay like this first and you put your hands on my hips."Bookmark here

I felt her breasts rest on my chest, half uncovered because of the robe, and my face colored a thousand shades.Bookmark here

"I-I don't know if I can do this." Bookmark here

"Oh, come on! Find some courage, pretty boy." She said, sullenly.Bookmark here

I swallowed loudly and rested my hands on her slender hips, covered only by the silky surface of her robe. Heathcliff, meanwhile, looked at us boredly.Bookmark here

"Now move your left foot forward. Yes, that's right- ah, no no! Not that far forward! Wait, don't take your hands off my hips!"Bookmark here

After a thousand excuses I made and as many uncoordinated movements that almost made us fall several times, I finally managed to compose myself.Bookmark here

"You're calmer now, I see." Cleya said, amused, "Of course you're such a klutz."Bookmark here

"And to think I used to enjoy teasing Mivrea about her behaviors.." I reflected aloud, caught up in the images of the princess in my head.Bookmark here

In fact, her figure appeared to me several times, even in my dreams. Several times I happened to see that face of hers, wet with tears.Bookmark here

"Mivrea... Seiler?" Cleya broke away from me. "Ah...I see. From the look on your face, you care about her."Bookmark here

"What look are you talking about?" I asked, confused.Bookmark here

"Heiji," Heathcliff interjected, "when you mentioned her you literally started blushing and biting your lower lip."Bookmark here

Cleya touched her half-naked arm, somewhat awkwardly. "Well, I can't blame you. But, um, tomorrow at 6 p.m. be ready in your room in your tux!" Bookmark here

And she ran off like that.Bookmark here

'Why do they all run away?" I asked myself mentally. I wanted to chase after her, but, in the end, she and I had only known each other for a short time. And maybe I really did like Mivrea.Bookmark here

"I guess I'll go to sleep, too, since it's after midnight." Heathcliff stood up and patted me on the back. "Don't overthink it, Heiji-kun." Bookmark here

I stood alone on the terrace for a while. Every now and then, some maid would come by to clean or just to use the passageway to move items. I almost didn't notice them, caught up in various thoughts.Bookmark here

I thought about all the traveling I had done in that moment and all the different facets I had seen of that place, so peculiar but interesting. But also my parents and my school. What were their thoughts at the time? I wondered if the video game salesman, whom I often passed by, had also noticed my absence. Bookmark here

So many questions were still unanswered and I still didn't trust various things one hundred percent.Bookmark here

And who knows if angels had really existed. If so, was my grandfather watching my adventures? Was I doing the right thing or was I doing something wrong?Bookmark here

"Master Heiji..." Someone shrugged my shoulder and I, half sleepy, came to my senses. It was Marianne, standing behind me with a large cloth. "It's 2 o'clock in the morning. It would be better to go to sleep."Bookmark here

"Oh...is it that late already? Alright, please guide me to my room, Marianne-san."Bookmark here

Once I reached my destination, I fell dead weight on the bed, tired and my head completely drained. I fell asleep within minutes.Bookmark here

The next morning, I was awakened by Benedith, who alerted me to the arrival of my new tuxedo. It was a dark suit but not completely black. The sleeves of the jacket had various fine decorations, although the tight pants were completely free of these little things. The shirt was white and simple, but still elegant.Bookmark here

"So I have to wear this thing..." I said to Benedith, who was checking me out from head to toe. Bookmark here

"That's right. Also a tie." Specified the woman, as she showed me the object, still dark in color. "It's not difficult, mister. Just in case, I'll help you."Bookmark here

"Thank you, Benedith-san." Bookmark here

"Oh, it's nothing, really. Ah- besides, in exactly three hours, you have an appointment with the hairdresser. So Miss Cleya told me." She warned me as she left the room.Bookmark here

"Hairdresser...?" Bookmark here

"That's right. You're lucky to be the young lady's date!" She clapped her hands, elated. "And I suggest you take a bath because your body doesn't smell good." Bookmark here

"Did you have to say it like that, Benedith-san?" I asked, embarrassed. She giggled a little at my innocent behavior.Bookmark here

"I'll guide you to the bathrooms." Bookmark here

And so, we made our way to the villa's bathrooms. She asked if I wanted to use the garden tubs and I agreed, ready to feel immersed in that semi-oriental atmosphere. Bookmark here

And, in fact, it looked very much like a Japanese style garden: a large hot water basin was placed in the middle of an oval made up of Yakuha trees, which made their petals fall on the surface of the water and all around, on the bluish stones that surrounded it. Bookmark here

Briefly, it was a day dedicated to the care of the body: I relaxed with a long bath; I went to the Spa towards the outside of the villa and received massages that made me feel as if I could do somersaults; my body was filled with regenerating oil so I was forced to take another bath; I blessed my eyes with the vision of Cleya taking a bath on the other side. Bookmark here

I was then told that the hairdresser, a certain Sir Valdorbanden Heiz, had arrived at my destination and I had to wait an hour before Cleya finished her hairstyle. When it was my turn, I stood agitatedly in front of him in a room full of mirrors.Bookmark here

I told him I wanted something simple but he insisted for a while on using some strange wig. Eventually, I managed to convince him and, after the long treatment, I lifted my face to look at myself in the mirror.Bookmark here

"Uh la la~ You look fantastic, boy." He applauded, all sweaty but still enthusiastic, "Let me tell you, your hair was hell. Absolutely terrible! Terrible, I tell you! But with my talents, look what a sex symbol you've become." He spun me around in my chair, making me dizzy.Bookmark here

"Heiz-san! That's enough, let me look!"Bookmark here

"Only when I'll have added-"Bookmark here

"It's okay, don't!" I begged him. "Ah-what the hell is that thing!? Don't spray it in my eyes!"Bookmark here

"That's it." He turned me around one more time, and once I was able to see, I noticed the change. I was...glowing.Bookmark here

"Who's that?" I said.Bookmark here

"Silly, it's you." Heiz giggled. "Do you see what golden hands I have?" Bookmark here

Benedith entered the room at that moment and turned her gaze to my figure. She stood in amazement, her hand over her mouth.Bookmark here

"Master Heiji, but...you look absolutely adorable! Oh dear, more than a knight, you could become a prince." Bookmark here

Heiz showed a satisfied face and I blushed for the umpteenth time, not knowing what to say. Bookmark here

"Anyway," the woman bowed, "It's time to go change, you don't want to be half naked all day."Bookmark here

"I mean, if he stayed that way, I wouldn't object." Coughed Marianne, who I hadn't even noticed before that moment. Bookmark here

"Marianne! The dishes!" Benedith scolded her, and after the other had left, I thanked Heiz for his service and was led to my bedroom.Bookmark here

I got dressed and could hardly recognize myself: I usually put on the first thing I found in my closet, whether it was a t-shirt representing some video game character or pajama pants. In that instant, all dressed up, I looked like... an adult. It was like I was suddenly 10 years older.Bookmark here

Cleya knocked on my door and I let her in; whereupon, she looked at me from bottom to top, biting her lip.Bookmark here

"You're cute." She said, "Too cute."Bookmark here

"C-c-cut- I mean, t-thanks for the compliment." I turned away. "S-so are you."Bookmark here

Her hair was tied back, adorned with small floral decorations. Large gold earrings hung from her ears, while around her neck she wore a thin chain of precious materials. Her dark dress came down to her knees and left her back bare.Bookmark here

She was truly a treat for the eyes. I was probably the luckiest guy in the world.Bookmark here

She was silent for a few seconds, staring at me. Then, she opened her full, shiny lips.Bookmark here

"We should go to the lobby. The Vanker will be here soon, you know."Bookmark here

"Y-yeah, we should."Bookmark here

Konoko Asada
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