Chapter 18:


Train in the Clouds

Chapter 1.6Bookmark here

FESTIVAL PART 1Bookmark here

Count Arnaud Floshery was a man of tall and sturdy build, who had participated 50 years earlier in the famous War of Succession as Captain of the Third Medical Assistance Squadron. He clearly liked to display the results of his participation, through all the medals he had attached to his uniform.Bookmark here

He was the first one I saw, once I got off the Vanker after Cleya. The mustachioed man kissed her hand warmly, then looked at me and motioned me to approach his imposing figure.Bookmark here

"Human, I've heard a lot about you. You know, we in the Medical Union are in close contact with the Royal Council." And he shook my hand with a mighty grip. Bookmark here

At the mention of the Council, I stiffened and my mind went back to the terrible figure I had made on the train. I managed, however, to shake off those worries and make a good impression.Bookmark here

"I see. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Floshery." I shook hands and then walked away. Whereupon, Cleya latched onto my arm, causing me to blush.Bookmark here

"It is equally a pleasure for me, Master Yamamura. And I see that you are also in the pleasant company of Miss Alston." He said, puffing up his chest a little.Bookmark here

"Yes," Cleya spoke for me, "We look forward to seeing what you have planned for this masquerade ball, Mr. Floshery."Bookmark here

"Let me just call the caregiver- Corina! Come here and escort these two precious little ones."Bookmark here

Promptly, a woman with blond hair, tied in two very long braids, and dark eyes came towards us, with quick step. She wore a dress with an osé-style décolletage and a pink pinafore on top. Bookmark here

"Corina at your disposal!" She squinted one eye, showing all her radiant personality, "Follow me, please. Oh- and please also wear these." She handed us two black masks, adorned on the sides with small decorations.Bookmark here

We wore the masks and let the girl lead us into the lavish mansion, which already seemed to be teeming with people. Outside, small groups were gathered to converse, while from inside the building came sweet music.Bookmark here

Once inside, we immediately found ourselves trapped in a sea of people, dancing close together. The room was huge and a large chandelier, even larger than the one in the Alston mansion, reigned over the ceiling. Intricate stairs led to the top of the room, where a silver-haired girl sat, holding a large fan.Bookmark here

'Silver hair... Mivrea-san!' I thought immediately and took a step forward to go towards her, but Cleya blocked me.Bookmark here

"Heiji-kun, where do you think you're going? We still have to go to-"Bookmark here

"There's Mivrea-san up there!" I affirmed, out of breath, "I'd like to go talk to her."Bookmark here

She looked down and bit her lip for a second. Then, she released her grip from my arm and allowed me to move freely.Bookmark here

".. That's fine, but come back here later, please." She said, in a semi-spoken voice. Then she disappeared into the crowd and our eyes lost sight of each other.Bookmark here

Without delay, I began to move between the couples clinging to each other, unconcerned with their complaints in case I stepped on their toes or ruined their dress. The further I went, the tighter the space became and it was harder to avoid annoying someone.Bookmark here

After struggling and getting complaints from at least ten people, I grabbed onto the handlebars of the spiral staircase and climbed with heavy steps, trying to get some distance from the people coming down.Bookmark here

I reached the top and there I saw her: a dark princess dress, a tiara on her straight, silver hair and those golden eyes, not completely hidden behind the mask.Bookmark here

"Mivrea-san!" I called to her. She didn't answer because the music was loud. So, I called her louder.Bookmark here

"Who dares interrupt me?" She jumped up and stopped moving her fan, but I didn't recognize her tone of voice very well. It was similar but not the same.Bookmark here

"Mivrea-san, it's me, 'stupid human' Heiji." I said, stepping closer. "Jeez, you always disappear."Bookmark here

She made a confused face, wrinkling her fine eyebrows. "What are you talking about? Look-"Bookmark here

"I thought it would be hard to find you in such a big place, but instead-" I said blushing, but was interrupted by the noble.Bookmark here

"I'm not Mivrea, heavens! I'm Guinevere, her older sister." She almost shouted, "Enough of this. I'm here waiting for my date."Bookmark here

"Huh...?" I widened my eyes, "Sister.."Bookmark here

"Rather, I'd really like to know where that spoiled child has got to as well. Our father is furious, I bet someone will forcefully take her back to the Palace soon. My goodness!"Bookmark here

'Ah right. To catch on the train, she had escaped from the castle.' I recalled at that moment, grieving for my mistake.Bookmark here

"I'm sorry. It's just that you're so similar.." I apologized, with a surrendered face. "May I ask you a question, Guinevere-sama?"Bookmark here

"Certainly, human." And she began to air herself again as she spoke.Bookmark here

"Why did Mivrea-san run away?"Bookmark here

She looked around. "Well, I wouldn't want to talk about it with all these people around. You never know. Come on, let's go somewhere more secluded."Bookmark here

I followed her until we reached a doorway, which she opened wide. It was the entrance to another large ballroom, with large windows from which you could clearly see the sunset.Bookmark here

Once the woman arrived in front of one of the windows, she stopped and began to speak hastily.Bookmark here

"You see, let's say there was some discussion in the palace. She's not exactly the nicest person-and you may have noticed that. Let's say that she's a bit of the black sheep of the family, because, you see, there are eight of us and each one has reached rather important positions. For example, Kujo, the eldest son, rules a certain part of Kurrmur, one of the western parts of the Empire, and so on. She, on the other hand, is too stubborn and spoiled to have such privileges.Bookmark here

"Being so, she is often ignored. I feel sad to say this, but we avoid carrying on important meetings with her around. This behavior of ours has made her a loner in a way.Bookmark here

"Anyway, back to the main reasons for her running away.... It had happened on her 16th birthday. She had been summoned to our father's office, and she was excited because, she told me, she felt she might have finally gotten a privilege. Our father, however, summoned her to tell her that the age had come for her to find a noble mate, to whom she could marry later, and that she would have probably never received this privilege.Bookmark here

"She went into a rage, but restrained herself in front of our father, whom she so highly esteems. She ran out of the room and I followed her. I heard her crying, but I didn't go to reassure her, because that had been a decision of all of us, who are part of a second council, assigned to matters of security and organization of the territory.Bookmark here

"That night, she argued with all of us and blamed us for always treating her badly. We tried to be reasonable but she just wouldn't hear of it and even broke a plate. Our father found out about it and got angry; the next day, he went to her room to give her her punishment, but she was already gone."Bookmark here

I listened carefully to her words and did not dare to interrupt her. When she finished, however, I hesitantly stepped forward.Bookmark here

"She must have suffered a lot." I said, "But I believe that despite her arrogance and her little vices, she is a girl with a heart of gold who doesn't back down in the face of trouble and who deserves something more. You know, she has helped me several times. The only thing I don't understand is..."Bookmark here

"Human, attaching yourself to a girl like that, what are you thinking? What's that twinkle in your eye? You..."Bookmark here

"I like Mivrea-san." I affirmed, convinced. (Initially, I couldn't believe my own words.) "I don't know how, I don't know why, I just know that I have these feelings and, even now, I want to find her."Bookmark here

".. When was the last time you saw her?" The woman suddenly asked, biting her lip.Bookmark here

"Will you make her return to the royal palace if I tell you?" I asked cautiously.Bookmark here

"I don't want to wrong you, but...she is a noblewoman who is destined to marry a young Earl our father found for her. And you will take care of other matters if you do well in the final trials. So get out of this happy world you've created for yourself."Bookmark here

An awkward silence took place between our almost completely darkened figures as the sun went down and the shadows changed shape.Bookmark here

"I'm sorry, Miss Guinevere, but I will not give you any information regarding Princess Mivrea." I announced, with a small bow. "And please do not report what I said to the Sovereign."Bookmark here

"I don't know. I can't promise that." She replied solemnly, then walked away. Her heavy footsteps created an echo in the giant, empty, silent room. The only thing that reconnected us to the others were the distant voices and muffled music.Bookmark here

I stood alone for a while, completely red: I thought back to the words that had just come out of my mouth. Bookmark here

"What a figure!" I crucified, my hands in my hair. "I'm a fool..."Bookmark here

I quickly walked out, acting like a dork, and, after a while, I managed to find Cleya, who was sipping a drink from a cup.Bookmark here

"Heiji!" She noticed me and walked over to me. "You came at just the right time."Bookmark here

"What do you mean?"Bookmark here

She walked over to me and put her hands behind my neck, then quickly clasped her body to mine. "Heiji-kun, several people will be leaving the hall for some event held outside. They're also going to test something new: it's basically things that ka-boom in the air and then lots of colors come out."Bookmark here

"O-ok, I know what you mean. But why put yourself so close to me?" Bookmark here

"It's the last dance of the night. Please dance with me." She pleaded with certain big, sparkling eyes that made me nod. I didn't want to make her sad.Bookmark here

The music started: it was a sweet melody that, as it went on, increased its intensity until it became a music full of passion and feeling, that would bind even the most conflicting souls.Bookmark here

We danced, in the center of the room, in the middle of that sea of people, who occasionally scrutinized me and observed my abilities. At first, we were uncoordinated and Cleya blushed with embarrassment several times. I took her hand after a while and she seemed to enjoy it very much, but I enjoyed it too and forgot for a while what had happened before.Bookmark here

But I didn't know that the torture waltz had just begun. And she was beginning to drag me along, like a puppet on a string.Bookmark here

Konoko Asada
Train in the Clouds

Train in the Clouds

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