Chapter 46:

Ex: A Woman for Tomes

Lovely kNight


Near the end of mine and Ophikka’s rendezvous I’d remembered one more request I’d promised I’d raise up to the king. That requested by one cat eared girl I’d crossed paths with recently. She too was promised that special attention would be given to her case. As he’d promised me his assistance, he’d nodded with nothing but warmth and understanding.

Eventually he’d plead for me to carry on my day. He’d laughed heartily while being astonishingly candid to state that if he’d failed to practice self control, he could easily find himself shirking his responsibilities to carry on speaking with me for the remainder of the day. I’d laughed a bit nervously as I was overwhelmed and flattered by his words of praise.

Taking my leave, I’d found myself harboring doubt. Speaking with his majesty as a friend was too unbelievable for me to simply accept it without a fight. After all of my life serving the knighthood sworn to the kingdom and his majesty, drawing so near to our lodestar was an indescribable experience. The sheer disbelief inside of me begged me to peer back to his majesty for one last look. As I’d glanced over my shoulder, he’d sent me a wave and a smile. I’d stumbled to begin, but I’d reciprocated his gesture with a warmth glowing in my heart.

While I navigate the halls of the castle and endlessly repeat my time spent with Ophikka in my mind, I’m forced back to as I cross paths with Urania. She carries a set of books tall enough to form a wall in front of her eyes. Not only does the stack appear heavy, but it’s also dangerous for the fact that she’s struggling to so much as watch where she’s stepping.

I meet her with her barrier of tomes set between us. In order to pay her a fun surprise, I silently lift more than half of her set and take their burden into my own arms. As she sees me, her brows lift an iota to display her modest intrigue.

“To your office, I take it?”

“...Yes…” She answers while she continues to stare.

I begin walking onward. Though she’s a bit late to the party, she catches up to me and claims my side as we stride through the halls.

✩ ✩ ✩

“There we are.”

I set my own share of books onto Urania’s desk. She places her lot down beside it.

“I hadn’t expected that I’d receive such sudden assistance.”

“With how you were going I’d say you were setting yourself up for future back problems or even a spill. It’d be a shame for you to end up in misery. Plus it would likely cut you even deeper if anything happened to these tomes.”

“There are times where I would carry as many books as you had seen. There is much that I both desire to study and am required to study so the number can raise quickly. Rather than waste time with a series of trips to my office, I am more partial to efficiency in carrying what I take. Though I must admit that I often forget to make use of a cart even if there are a number available for use.”

“I should have expected that something like tomes and books would be what it takes to get you eager. It seems you become so eager that you rush out of the library and forget everything else. That’s a side I wasn’t expecting to see from you; to be that forgetful. I’d guess you do have so much to handle in your day so you must have plenty on your mind already.”

“Eager?” She looks up to me with curiosity teeming in her blue eyes.

“Maybe that’s the wrong word for it but you truly are a serious person through and through. I suppose that even when you’re eager you’re still sharp. I’d be grateful if you took it a little bit easier next time and reminded yourself to make use of the cart. But of course if I catch you wandering through the halls while you’re putting yourself into such immense danger like that I’ll have to come to your rescue.” I chuckle to myself lightly.

“You’d desire to repeat your assistance?”

“I would. Even though it’s something I’d like to do for the sake of itself, it’s the least I can offer in return for all that you’re constantly doing to help. A knight is meant to help anyone in trouble so I’ll do everything I can to live that honor.”

“A knight’s way…”

She tilts her head quizzically and dives into thought. As she reaches an understanding, she takes a step to close the distance between us. She offers her hand to me in an exceedingly elegant fashion and lets her eyes hook deeply into my own.

Though I’m puzzled, I give mine to hers. She closes her eyes as she bows her head. Holding onto the golden trim edge of her skirt, she lowers herself into a refined curtsy. With the grace of her uniform and the serene placidity of her soul complimenting her gesture, my heart leaps high at the sight.

“Thank you so very much for your assistance, Celestial Knight, Khiron.”

“You really didn’t have to do anything so formal… I was just doing what anyone would.” I bumble my words as I turn away from her with a snap of heat clicking on my cheeks.

“It is uncommon to receive such gracious help. I can reason that it was done out of a depth of kindness that is yours alone. Thus I am deeply grateful.”

“Seems today that I’m being… treated quite differently than I’d ever been before. It’s probably for the best to help me get toughened up for my duties, but…” I trail off in thought but force myself back. “You’re welcome, of course.”

A new frontier for my shyness being tested. More than ever, even counting most of my time spent with Vestil. I find the silence that comes to be as tense as a bowstring bound taut. So I begin to peer to the books Urania had been carrying.

“S-So a book about ancient economy? Haven’t ever thought about reading something like that before.”

“When looking to the future it’s often a useful metric to recognize the patterns which had played in the past. Though the kingdom’s economy is faring well in this time there is always the chance that it could face troubles in time to come. In order to be adequately prepared to act as an adviser in such times, deeper studies are required.”

“That sounds as serious as I’d expected it would be. Had you at least grabbed a book for fun or is everything in the name of your duties this time around?”

“A book to read for leisure? I had found a curious volume of epics among the shelves. A collection of tales of a hero from a far off land. It had been obtained through a rare trade agreement with their land. It is the only copy of the book which exists within the kingdom. It will doubtlessly serve as a rare insight into another culture outside of Celestia’s own.”

“A book from another kingdom? Now that’s something I don’t get to hear often. Which would it be?”

Shuffling through the stack, she brandishes an unexpectedly recent looking book. Its cover isn’t some dusty old leather back but is rather a hard covered tome. It reveals a light blue insignia of sorts with strange symbols arranged at its clock points. The language is entirely foreign and I can’t even begin to decipher its characters.

“This is the collection in question. I’ve heard told that it is a fairly popular collection in their kingdom, even in the modern age. Though the last official contact we’d shared with their land was a decade prior. Due to the Reaffirmed Borders Act our contact with any and all outer kingdoms has since ceased.”

“Ten years ago… It’s all because of The Day of Eclipse that we’ve become so distant from other kingdoms.”

“You would be correct. An executive order had come from the king himself. Not desiring any opportunities for Eclipse to spread its influence outside of our kingdom, any and all trade and communications had been severed. The final act was a deportation of all non Celestians. They had been boarded upon various vessels and sent back to their lands without word of prior written notice. It was reckless of his majesty but it’s understandable given the duress he had been pressed under during that time.”

“I’ve been told that it borders on illegal that any foreign citizens would be in our kingdom. Yet I still happen to meet a few even after all these years.”

“That would be due to very rare instances. The first is the incredibly rare case of foreigners being allowed entry. Most often such a decision comes from whenever we would rescue distressed sailors or shipwrecked persons. Otherwise if an agreement could be made with any approaching travelers for temporary or permanent visitation, they can make port. Then there is the possibility of those who have entered the kingdom through secretive means.”

While I listen to her explanation I wonder to myself how Mia had ended up in Celestia. Given how she’d spoken with me it would seem that it was from causes outside of her control.

“As for foreign goods; those would be gained through rare allowance or smuggling.”

“That may explain a few things…”

“But ultimately there is little to no punishment for those who have come to the kingdom through fair means. All foreigners are eventually found and accounted for. His majesty himself has strongly voice his desires that no violence would come towards anyone. Those who do come through illegal means are forced to stay within the kingdom for good and become permanent citizens.”

“That does seem troublesome for those who could wind up homesick. Though that’s not nearly as grievous as it could be if it was by the decision of anyone else but Ophikka.”

“Truly.”

She glances towards me while eyeing the cover of the book. Her expression is as calm as ever but I’ve learned enough about her to realize that she’s amused. Sure as I’d expected, the way she looks to me reveals her excitement clearly in her still features.

“If you were ever curious, when the day comes that I’ve read through all of this collection I would be more than willing to share its contents with you.”

“The opportunity to learn of a foreign culture and its stories? I couldn’t imagine anyone not being at least a little bit curious. I look forward to when I can hear it all from you.”

“You’ll truly listen?” Her still features have an even deeper light of elation. “It’s rare that a student would be so desiring to partake in such off topic discussions. I apologize if I seem forward with my conduct, but the prospect of having a conversation over such niche topics is of great interest to me.”

“It’s something you enjoy so I’d like to hear whatever I could.”

Unlike her cool, restful self, she quickly dips into a deep bow.

“Once more I am grateful for your kindness, Celestial Knight, Khiron.”

Our conversation finds its end and I meander my way towards the door. Taking my first step outside, a stray thought crosses my mind. Against my better judgment it kicks its way to my lips.

“You know, that uniform is quite ornate, isn’t it? I think you look… elegant in it. It suits you incredibly well.”

“This uniform? That would be the first time I’ve ever heard such a statement. I am astonished to have been paid such a generous compliment.”

Her eyes unabashedly lock into my own before she shows me one last elegant curtsy. I find myself staring long after she has risen. I flinch hard when it slams against my head just how discourteous I’m acting.

“Well, i-it’s the truth. That’s exactly what I think when I see you so dressed up. Have a wonderful day, Urania.”

I let her be and wipe the heat from my face as I make my way to the city.