Chapter 15:

Chapter 4.3, Luminous Flower Garden

Don't Worry, We Have the Best Supporter in Our Team

They ventured into the forest with Irene and Aiden as tour guides. Breathing fresh air and taking in the beauty of mother nature was an enjoyable experience for her. She looked to her side, where Jayce was. His expression remained calm and seemed to enjoy the tour. She then noticed his hand was placed on the hilt of his weapon, ready to defend themselves if anything happens. Bookmark here

“So, is there any animal you would like to see? I can’t promise that we had one but I’m sure there’s plenty of other animals,” asked Irene as she was walking ahead of them.Bookmark here

“Anything will do. I think the animals were still afraid of me and Jayce.”Bookmark here

“I’m sure they will come to you. Look, there’s one coming towards us, right now,” said Irene, pointing her finger ahead of them.Bookmark here

They looked at the direction she had pointed out. The animal she spoke of looked like a squirrel that had the size as a cat. It also had a horn protruded out of its forward. Its fur was emerald in colour, probably meant to camouflage itself with the forest to hide from its predators. Bookmark here

When their eyes met, Alice crouched low and extended her hand towards it, offering a few nuts to an adorable creature she had never seen before. Bookmark here

With her gesture, it approached her with caution and gradually began to trust her. When it was eating the nuts, Alice’s other hand reached out and pet it. Bookmark here

It let out a cute response.Bookmark here

“I’m amazed that it lets you pet it,” said Jayce, who stood by a tree behind her, watching the creature from afar.Bookmark here

“Why?” asked Alice as she turned around. Bookmark here

Before Jayce could answer, Irene, replied to Alice’s question instead.Bookmark here

“The creature you are petting right now is the leader of this forest, the Emerald Carbuncle. You don’t usually see it every day as it takes care of other animals in this forest for my family as it has a high affinity for healing magic.”Bookmark here

“It also asked other animals’ help to supply some mana to you and Alice,” said Jayce, approaching the carbuncle.Bookmark here

Carbuncle stared at Jayce momentarily and a few seconds later, it gave a nod to him, vouching to his words.Bookmark here

Everyone, except Alice, was surprised by its gesture. She could only guess that they were communicating with each other mentally, just like how he communicates with Noir. Bookmark here

Suddenly, carbuncle jumped and rest on Alice’s right shoulder. Bookmark here

Confused, she carried it with both hands and face it. Bookmark here

“Do you want to tag along?” Bookmark here

It let out a soft purr that seemed to suggest that she guessed its thoughts right. Bookmark here

“All right. Hang on tight.”Bookmark here

During the tour, they stopped occasionally here and there for carbuncle to cast its healing magic to other animals. After mending their injuries, the animals played with Alice and Jayce, although they probably as a thanking them for saving Irene and Aiden.Bookmark here

8:00 PM. They were back to the terrace, at the back of Irene’s house. Alice, Jayce, Irene and Aiden were at the open balcony, admiring the starry sky and the forest animals roaming around. Bookmark here

A moment later, Jayce returned with their dinner and placed them on a small roundtable. The meal this time was mushroom soup, grilled mixed vegetables, a bowl of rice and a cup of flower tea that was gathered from their tour throughout the forest. Bookmark here

Of course, he had to be careful not to gather too much from the forest, saving them for the animals and ensure there were enough to grow for the future. Bookmark here

As she gazed the silent forest while savouring her meal. There were some animals passed by occasionally. But what caught her eyes was a stream of mana released up in the starry night sky from the forest. Bookmark here

“What’s with the stream mana?”Bookmark here

Irene then explained to her the purpose of this forest. Bookmark here

“This forest meant to be a sanctuary for the animals that were close to extinction. Well, this was decided and done by my parents and Carbuncle was the first to be here. It was fortunate that Carbuncle helped us manage the forest while my parents were out for their quests. Of course, Aiden and I helped Carbuncle on gathering and planting herbs around the forest for medicines.”Bookmark here

After her explanation, Carbuncle, the creature she had mentioned, appeared on a handrail beside them. It dropped down from the handrail and walked towards them, glancing at them one by one.Bookmark here

“What’s wrong?” asked Aiden.Bookmark here

Suddenly, Carbuncle gave a theatric bow to Alice alone. Bookmark here

Irene and Aiden blew a whistle at its action.Bookmark here

“?” Bookmark here

Alice could guess what the gesture meant, but why would it do such a thing? She only just met it during their tour around the forest. Bookmark here

While she contemplates, it then sprung up and roared into the sky. The next moment, the mana that was dispersing out of the forest converge to it. It then creates a large magic circle beneath them. Bookmark here

Everyone but Jayce startled by its magic. Bookmark here

“Stay put. It won’t hurt.”Bookmark here

The emerald light emitted from the magic circle engulfed around everyone. Alice’s body began to feel lighter and lighter, and her fatigue slowly faded. Bookmark here

“It heals us?” Bookmark here

Before anyone could answer, perhaps she can’t hear them, she heard a voice inside her head. Bookmark here

Thank you. For considering the safety of Irene, Aiden, my friends and my home.Bookmark here

“!”Bookmark here

Don’t be afraid, my child. You have a bright future ahead of you. I will always be here if you need me.Bookmark here

After finishing what it came here for, it turned around disappeared into the darkness. Flowers began to grow around where it had stepped on the soft plain ground, the aftereffects of gathering some of the forest’s life force. Bookmark here

“That was quite a sight?” began Irene, folding her arms while leaning back to one of the balcony’s handrails. Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” asked Alice quizzically.Bookmark here

“Not many adventurers receive such an honour,” answered Aiden in Irene’s behalf. “That Carbuncle was said to be the mediator between gods and humans.”Bookmark here

“By any chance, it communicates with you and Aiden?”Bookmark here

“No. Did it communicate with you?” replied Aiden, placing his plate down on the table after finishing his dinner.Bookmark here

“Yes. It thanked me and Jayce for considering the safety of you, Irene, its’ friends, and the forest.”Bookmark here

“What?! By any chance, it gives you a blessing?” This time, Irene sounded slightly more excited than usual.Bookmark here

“It wished me a better future. That’s all”Bookmark here

“Aww. If it gave you its blessing, there’s no telling what kind of skill you will be having.” Her shoulders drooped in disappointment then got back up and her usual smile spread across her face.Bookmark here

“A blessing?” she repeated.Bookmark here

“A blessing was referring to a skill that was given to adventurers who were selected by the gods themselves. I heard that you have to either have to take the test from a mediator like Carbuncle or find their hidden temple. But I didn’t hear anyone took part those sort of tests and it wasn’t even recorded in the history up until now.”Bookmark here

“I see.”Bookmark here

“Anyway, it’s getting late now. Let’s clean this up,” said Jayce as he stood up to gather the plates.Bookmark here

“Wait! I still haven’t finished my dinner!” exclaimed Irene, who just finished the mushroom soup.Bookmark here

“I still can’t believe you’re not too fond of mushrooms,” sighed Aiden, shaking his head.Bookmark here

____________________Bookmark here

After their dinner, Alice and Jayce waved their goodbyes to Irene and Aiden and thanked them for the mock battle and dinner. Although, it was Jayce who took care of them after the battle and prepared the meals. Bookmark here

But still, these were offered by Irene from the first place, so he still had to thank them. He even made some notes to expand his vegetarian dishes for future meals. Bookmark here

As they travelled along the road back to the Moon Village, Alice turned to him.Bookmark here

“What is it?” Bookmark here

He turned his gaze back to her in askance.Bookmark here

“I was wondering… how did you beat Aiden? I mean… he’s an assassin and has better reflex than you are.” Bookmark here

She didn’t ask this question earlier because she didn’t want to embarrass Aiden.Bookmark here

“I made use of sound.” He said it curtly, keeping his eyes on her for a while then returned his attention to the surroundings.Bookmark here

“Sound?” she repeated, analysing his expression and waiting for an explanation to his answer.Bookmark here

“I transferred some of my mana into my sword’s vibration rune, and adjust the frequencies high enough to cause nausea effects to Aiden since he’s sensitive to sound.”Bookmark here

“But wouldn’t that affect you, too?”Bookmark here

It might be a right move to incapacitated Aiden, but with his sword at a point-blank range from its user. Surely, he will also experience the same effects as Aiden, but—Bookmark here

“I’m wearing the same necklace as you have. It provides protection against almost anything that affects your senses,” answered Jayce, showing her the necklace he had been wearing. Bookmark here

The necklace he wore was similar to Alice’s, except that the gem was jet-black, while her’s was a clear, transparent gem. She wondered is there a difference between her necklace and his.Bookmark here

As if reading her mind, he answered her unspoken question. Bookmark here

“If you are wondering about the difference, there isn’t one. Well, the colours are the only difference but they provide the same protection capabilities. As for the colours, I found these gems as the way they are now at the same place when I was scouring for gemstones for runecrafting. They are really difficult to find and not many gems were able to store as much protection runes like ours.”Bookmark here

“But that means…” Bookmark here

She was wearing a rare and possibly high-cost necklace all this time. Other than that, she imagined how much work it took for Jayce to craft all these runes into one tiny gem. It was true that he could have used the blank card to enchant the gems, but that means he had to create minute runes while maintaining the finer details. Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about the minor details. It would be a waste for that necklace if it weren’t meant to be wear. I feel like the necklace suits you more than anyone else.”Bookmark here

Suddenly, she tripped on a tree root. Bookmark here

Before she hits the ground, Jayce moved around her to block her fall. Her face fell to his chest, it hurt a little bit but at least it was better than a hard soil. Bookmark here

Unconsciously, she stood there for a while and took a whiff of his clothes. He wasn’t wearing his usual adventurer armour after their battle with Irene and Aiden in the forest. Bookmark here

“Are you all right, Alice?” Bookmark here

She snapped out of it, blinking a few times only to realize what she had done. Instinctively, she tilted her witch hat forward with both hands, covering her embarrassment. Bookmark here

What did I just do?! Bookmark here

Without a response from her, he then asked another question. Bookmark here

“Can you walk?”Bookmark here

She responded with a nod, still covering her face with her witch hat to calm herself. Bookmark here

What is he thinking about me?! Bookmark here

She can’t keep her mind rationale. Her mind was filled with possible words he would use in this situation.Bookmark here

Nevertheless, he didn’t say anything. She heard him moved around to her back and princess carried her. Her eyes widened and shocked, not that he could see her reaction. Bookmark here

“Hang on tight. If you feel uncomfortable, just tell me.”Bookmark here

She was about to rebuke, but her heart aches when words about to leave her mouth. She wasn’t sure what this feeling was and decided to let him carry her. Bookmark here

She peered under the hem of her hat and her eyes met his.Bookmark here

Thinking she might be okay with this, he continued. Bookmark here

“I’m going to imbue some mana to the weight runes to make us lighter, so hold on as tight as you can. We should be able to get to the Luminous Flower Garden in about forty minutes.Bookmark here

“Wai—”Bookmark here

Before her words reached to him, he dashed toward the Moon Village, not the usual route they had taken but he jumped from tree to tree. She held him tight around his neck, tears began to well up in her eyes as the cooled air hits them. Bookmark here

A moment later, Jayce kicked one of the tree’s trunk to lift themselves up higher in the air.Bookmark here

When they travelled to their destination, a gigantic tree that resides on the hill slowly appeared in their line of sight, the location of the Luminous Flower Garden. There were another ten minutes left to midnight, the time when the luminous flowers bloom. Bookmark here

They arrived at the garden. Five more minutes to midnight. They looked around for a perfect spot to view the scenery. They could have gone to the top of the hill for the sightseeing, but they weren’t sure how long the flowers will stay bloom, so they decided to sit at the centre of the garden.Bookmark here

There was no one at the garden but themselves. Probably because the blooming season came under short notice to the adventurers and the Moon Villagers. Bookmark here

They sat on the grass and leaned to each other’s back. Jayce kept his eyes on the surroundings in case of any nearby monsters that might bring any harm to him and Alice. Meanwhile, Alice wasn’t sure how to speak to him.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Jayce.” She mustered every courage she had and began.Bookmark here

“What for?” he asked, eyes still on the lookout.Bookmark here

“For doing these for me.”Bookmark here

“I’m just doing this what any guild masters would do.”Bookmark here

“But before our battle with Irene and Aiden, why would you place a challenge for me to use her bow? I’m not an archer class.”Bookmark here

“There are some situations where magicians can’t overcome with usual means. What happens when you are out of mana potions to replenish your mana?”Bookmark here

“I would make use of my dagger.”Bookmark here

“But what if you encounter an enemy who is either a magician or archer?”Bookmark here

“I would try to hide and locate them.”Bookmark here

“But you do know that Irene has the means to locate you from a safe distance, right?”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“To answer your question. The reason why I challenged you to use her bow was—” Bookmark here

Before he could finish his sentence, their surroundings began to illuminate as the luminous flowers around them bloom. Despite they have similar shapes, they gave off different varieties of colours when they bloom. Bookmark here

Alice gazed around the garden, the scenery was beyond what she had imagined. Countless light of orbs began to rise up in the air from the flowers. Bookmark here

A moment later, fairies began from a nearby forest and gathered around the garden, dancing through the air. Some of them played their flutes, brightening the atmosphere around them even further.Bookmark here

“Fairies?”Bookmark here

“These fairies were here to celebrate and pay their respects the goddess of the moon, Arthemis. This garden was created by her to collect the moonlight and convert it into mana for her people and the forest,” said Jayce as he didn’t sense any evil intention from them. “The fairies were here to collect this mana and distribute them to the forest, giving them life force to be able to grow throughout harsh seasons and able to provide food to the people.”Bookmark here

“Kind of think of it. Isn’t Irene’s spirit name after the goddess of the forest, Aria?” asked Alice, turning her attention to him while interacting with one of the fairies.Bookmark here

“The gods don’t mind about us using their names.”Bookmark here

“I see.” She placed a finger to her chin, pondering about Irene’s spirit. “But what about the fairies? Don’t they need food too?” Bookmark here

“The fairies are Artemis’ familiars. Just like how Noir is my familiar. All they need is mana which in this case, from the garden.”Bookmark here

Once he finished his explanation, one of the fairies came to Alice, about thirty centimetres from her face. Bookmark here

Its height was the length of her index finger. It had a pair of transparent wings on the back of her shoulders, a one-piece sleeveless translucent dress covering from her shoulder blades to her knees, and emitted a faint bluish-green light from its body. Bookmark here

It then reached out to Alice's hand and lift it as if asking her to join in their celebration. She glanced back to Jayce. Bookmark here

“Is it okay to join them?”Bookmark here

“I don’t sense anything from them, so it is safe to do—,” he answered. “?”Bookmark here

But then, another group of fairies did the same to Jayce. Bookmark here

Watching this scene made Alice let out a small giggle. Jayce wasn’t sure what the fairies had in mind, but he decided to go with it. The fairies then gestured them to dance together by having a demonstration done by another pair of fairies. Bookmark here

They watched and learned how the dance went and took a position. Bookmark here

Before they began, Jayce murmured, “I’m not too good with dancing.”Bookmark here

“Me, too.” She said with a smile.Bookmark here

They couldn’t help but laugh.Bookmark here

“Guess that makes two of us.”Bookmark here

“Yeah. So, do we have to follow their moves?”Bookmark here

“I’m pretty sure they are giving us a dancing lesson.”Bookmark here

With that, they danced through the garden, careful to avoid stepping on the flowers. They do make some mistakes here and there, but they laughed it off. Bookmark here

After gathering mana from the flowers, the fairies joined in the dance, turning the entire garden into a ballroom. The surroundings brimmed with life, excitement and beautiful scenery that might be considered be a rare sight to most adventurers and the Moon Villagers. Bookmark here

In Alice’s mind, she was glad she got the chance to visit this garden and most importantly, her first dance partner was somebody she could trust. Bookmark here

Without given some thought to it, she slowly leaned forward to him, close to the point she hugged him while dancing. Part of her wished they could do something like this more often, going out for adventurers while discovering things that they never had. Bookmark here

They swayed left and right.Bookmark here

Jayce thought Alice might be tired since it was midnight. Besides, they just slept for five hours last night. He was glad that he was able to bring her here, thanks to Irene, of course. Bookmark here

This garden bloomed on random occasions. He had stumbled upon some books regarding this garden during his research and found it interesting. That was how he began investigating further in many other research papers and pinpoint the exact day but was soon forgotten as he was too focused on improving himself. Bookmark here

In the end, he wasn’t sure when it was going to occur until Irene had mentioned it. Bookmark here

Guess I have to thank her for the next time we meet.Bookmark here

Before Alice fell asleep, the light around the garden simmered down, the fairies made their way home into the forest. She muttered “thank you” to the fairies who provided the entertainment and especially Artemis and Aria, for creating such an event. Bookmark here

Thus, the Luminous Flower Garden sightseeing ended.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.