Chapter 10:

Losing Something You Can't Replace

One Wish They Never Wanted

Back in Toragai, Amelie and Takuma were in the break room. Since the store was barren (Takuma could almost imagine a tumbleweed passing by between the neat white shelves) due to the time of day and nothing else needed to be done, they'd gone on lunch break early.

Takuma's skinny fingers pinched at a piece of lettuce in his sandwich, once, twice, three times. Amelie watched him as he finally pulled the whole lettuce leaf from its grain-laden wheaten trappings and stuffed it into his mouth.

"I saw a hyper lady the other day in this store, just as I was done with my shift," she suddenly told him to break the silence, choosing this moment to prop her elbows on the table and roll a green apple on the flat surface in front of her. "She had some really obviously straightened hair in a tight bob, but every other bit of her looked a lot like you." For some reason, Takuma got a sinking feeling from hearing this. "So I ask her who she is, and it turns out-"

"She's my mother," Takuma finished, having finished the lettuce but not even eyeing the sandwich in his hands. Amelie halted as he spouted this, letting the apple roll off the table.

"How'd you know?"

"She does that sort of thing. Tries to scout out places in uninterfering ways to see whether I'm doing alright. You know how mothers are."

" you have anyone else in your family." Her sky-blue eyes fixed on picking up the apple at this point, so this, while intended to be a question, didn't come out as a question.

Takuma, his mouth full of sandwich, shook his head.

"I've got a sister, but she's much older than me. She's been having a hard time lately..." Amelie's voice dropped off as she punctuated the sudden silence with a crunch of her apple.

Takuma cocked his head at her, suddenly realising she'd never spoken of this sister before.

Just then, the short haired lady from Takuma's interview - who was almost never present in the store itself, due to organising stock, opening boxes of books and whatever else bookstore owners normally did - poked her head into the open doorway of the break room, then used it to gesture outside. Her hands were busy with a cardboard box that was only partially visible from inside the room itself, but covered up most of her uniform shirt.

"Better get back to work soon," she told them, repositioning her grip on the box. "Prepare for the event that's coming soon if you're not busy."

"What event is this?" Takuma enquired just as she disappeared into the back room where she normally took the deliveries.

"Didn't you know?" Amelie chucked the core of her apple into the bin after a prolonged silence filled with more eating. "Hiromasa Mutsumi's coming for a signing event."

Takuma's face lit up.
Unlike what happened normally, this time Takuma wasn't accompanied by Ember. She'd stayed home, lying in bed and twitching with the need to do...something.

She finally got out of bed in the afternoon, produced her wand and started twirling it on the floor with the pointed end being the pivot.

Ever since she'd gone up the coast to get away from Quartz and to refine her magic, she'd lost her spare wand. The last time she'd seen it was this human suburb, so this was why she'd been sticking with Takashiro for the moment.

However, there had been no signs of the wand or its magic anywhere in this area for as long as she'd been searching.

She buried her face in her hands and berated herself softly before she caught sight of the rose-haired figure, her fingers tented behind her back.

For some reason, Ember had a hunch this figure had been created by the aftereffects of magic, but according to what she could tell from the manga she'd been residing on for the past almost-month, there were way too many people involved in the creation of the franchise involving this one rose-haired figure. It would be too hard to individually investigate all the people who could have caused this one hunch. Moreover, she could easily be wrong about this hunch anyway...

With a scowl at the wand holster on her leg that should have held her spare wand, Ember slid herself back into bed and tried not to think too hard about the figure. She only needed to concentrate on her desired item's location.