Chapter 4:

With a Love Sorceress, I’ll Become an Elf, I Guess?

With a Love Sorceress I'll Make My Romance Last!

“My stars are challenging?” I exclaimed, at a loss. “What does that mean?”

Madam Claire stepped across the red carpet of her room, away from the window showing the endless void. Secretly, I was glad to move away from the nothingness outside, because the sheer lack of, well, anything out there was making me uneasy.

The Love Sorceress took to an armchair in the center of the room, sighing as she sat. She raised her chin and waved her hand towards the ceiling. The wooden boards parted aside: revealing a glass dome above. Tentatively, I inched closer. As I peered into the dome, I saw a map of the stars above us. But unlike any map I’d ever seen, these stars weren’t painted into place — they were glowing and moving ever so slightly, as if staring directly into outer space.

“These are the stars of your world, Mister Hiroyuki,” Claire explained. Two constellations in particular suddenly illuminated: one in red, one in blue. Claire pointed to the red one. “These are your heralding stars,” she said. She then pointed to the blue set. “And those are the ones for Amamiya Inoue. Your stars hang in direct opposition.”

“And...what does that mean?” I asked, a bit nervous. Direct opposition’ didn’t sound good.

Madam Claire shrugged. “To put it in simple terms, you and Miss Inoue have a 5% love probability.”

I reached for a nearby chair to support myself, as I heard an imaginary death-gong ring out in my head for my poor romance. “Five percent?” I exclaimed. “Are you of those love tester arcade games? Are my chances really so abysmal?”

Claire chuckled, but didn’t answer my question. Instead, she swished her hand again, and suddenly half of the dome overhead changed. The half holding my red constellation stayed the same, but the other hemisphere suddenly showed a lighter blue sky and a new set of stars. A purple constellation now lit up.

“Though uncommon,” Claire began, “cross-dimensional stars can still align. These purple stars are Mia. When I compare them to yours, the love chance raises to 32%.”

“That’s it?” I heard the death-gong again, as my head dropped in despair. “I suppose that’s closer to a one in three chance, still a failing grade though…” I mumbled through my broken heart.

“That is why I brought you here.” Claire then put a hand on her chest, gesturing towards herself. “With my advice, I intend to help you make the most of your 32% chance in this world.”

Upon hearing Claire say ‘this world’ my thoughts halted. I realized something vitally important.

“Wait,” I raised my head, “if I’m here, and this really isn’t a dream, then what about my life back on Earth? What about work? My parents?”

Madam Claire let out a haughty ‘fu-fu-fu’ of confidence. “Fear not, for Madam Claire thinks of everything. I’ve sent one of my familiars to act in your place.”

She floated her hand-mirror closer to me. As I stared within, I saw an image of myself at my workplace. I was typing away at the computer in front of me. Ohta passed by my desk. Suddenly, my workplace-self stood up from his seat and walked towards the wall, coffee in hand. He proceeded to walk directly into the wall, spilling coffee all over himself and the floor. Ohta jumped in surprise. My workplace-self kept repeatedly walking into the wall like a broken NPC character.

The mirror suddenly went blank. Madam Claire grabbed it and coughed, hiding the mirror behind her back.

“Oi,” I grumbled.

“It’s fine! It’s fine!” Claire assured. “I’ve put an enchantment over the familiar so people will think things like that are normal.”

Oi,” I repeated, louder.

“It’s fine! No one will notice.” She looked sheepishly away. “Probably.”

I let out a long breath. There was no point in worrying about it now. As long as I hadn’t become a missing person on Earth, I could probably explain my weird behavior when I got back.

If I was going back.

“Madam Claire,” I interjected with a seriousness, “if things do work out with Mia, would I have to stay here?”

Claire put aside her embarrassment and folded her hands. “That’s up to you two. Star-crossed romances have been around for awhile, surely you’ve heard of Orihime and Hikoboshi? Inter-dimensional romance is almost passé at this point. I’m sure my magic can adapt you to either world.”

After seeing how poorly Claire’s magic made a familiar for me, I was a little more concerned about her promises. “Please tell me we won’t be cursed to only meet on Tanabata.”

“No no, nothing like that!” Claire said with a reassuring flip of her hand. She cleared her throat. “For now, let’s focus on making you presentable in Farelle. First, you’ll need a name.”

I brought my hand to my chin. “A name, huh?” I suppose ‘Jun Hiroyuki’ didn’t sound much like an elf in this world.

“Jun is acceptable enough as your first name. It’s your family title that’s the problem. Hiroyuki, Hiroyuki...Hi-ro-yu-ki,” Claire mumbled. She then clapped her hands together. “I know! Ro-ki. We’ll call you Roki! I swear there’s an elf family named that.”

Somehow, I felt like Claire was naming her pet dog. “Roki?” I wasn’t too excited about it. “I guess if that makes me an elf.”

“Jun Roki it is,” Claire decided, hopping to her feet and waltzing across the room. She pulled open the wooden doors of a large dresser, and a flood of scrolls fell out of it. The mess tumbled against her and piled upon the floor. Somehow, my image of Claire as a frightening enchantress was fading.

Claire quickly recovered from the mess. “A map of the area, a book about elven heritage, and a copy of Farelle’s 'Customs and Laws for Children.’” Claire tossed the items at me in turn, and I struggled not to drop them. “Read those by sundown.”

“For children?” I wondered. Then I realized. “Wait, sundown?” My mouth gaped even further. I wasn’t sure exactly what time it was here in the void, but it had been afternoon when we left. That only gave me a few hours to read these heavy books!

“Also!” Claire tossed me one more item. With two books and a map already in hand, I barely managed to balance this newest arrival on top of them. When I looked more clearly, I noticed the new item was a metallic key.

“A key to your cottage, just down the street from Mia,” Claire grinned. “Be grateful. It wasn’t easy to convince the mayor to lend that house to an elf.”

I stared the key, seeing a blurry reflection of myself in its iron metal. I looked at my dark hair, reminding myself it would be blonde the moment I returned to the village. This was all so much to take in. Part of me still thought this might be a dream. Yet, when I looked at the sorceress in front of me and saw her smiling with such excitement, I almost didn’t want it to be a dream. She was so enthusiastic, so genuine, about wanting me to reclaim the love of my life. When I thought about it that way, reading these books didn’t seem all that bad.

But there was still one question she hadn’t answered.

“Madam Claire,” I looked her in the eyes, “who are you?”

Her enthusiasm dwindled. For once, I saw something that looked like sadness flash across her expression. But in a second, it was gone.

I decided to press further. “You can move people across worlds, you can summon things from the air. And I get the feeling that isn’t normal, even for someone from Farelle — you just told me that people from this world don’t trust sorceresses.”

She didn’t reply.

I softened my tone, not wanting to insult her. “If you can’t answer that, then I just want to know...why me?” I shifted the weight of the books in my hands. “Why go to all this effort for me? You could’ve left me to deal with my break-up.”

Madam Claire put back on her scheming little smile. She lowered her witch hat and then tapped her fingers together in a plotting fashion. I was starting to wonder if this sinister look of hers was real, or just a mask.

“That, Mister Roki, is a se-cr-et,” she eased the words, emphasizing each syllable with a smirk.

She twirled her wrist, and a purple door appeared on the wall. It swung open, letting in the afternoon sun. The brightness of the village beyond was blinding after the darkness of Claire’s hut.

“Find your cottage and read those books,” Claire commanded. “And in the evening, we’ll discuss how you’re going to ask Mia out on a date.”

“Date?!” I blushed. Certainly, Amamiya and I had gone on dates before, but Mia didn’t know me yet! It would be like asking her out for the first time all over again. And I'd already royally messed things up by proposing to her out of nowhere!

“You heard me,” Claire chuckled. She used her floating hand-mirror to prod my back and nudge me closer to the door. “Good luck, Roki-kun.” She smiled. “We’ll make an elf out of you yet.”