Chapter 2:

Royal Tour

Lovely kNight

 “I can’t believe it! Somehow it’s even more grand than I'd ever imagined!” Juna's eyes were lit up with stars as they’d soaked in every single centimeter of her surroundings.

Having come to the castle, the two of us waited in the lobby set aside for special guests. While I'd seated myself in one of the posh and comfortable chairs, she was too antsy to sit down for even a single moment. Instead she continued to pace about.

“This is the first of many times you'll be in this castle. Soon enough you'll be here all the time as a mage knight. And someday soon you’ll be an Elite Mage Knight.”

“Thank you so, so much for taking me! This is a dream come true! All the time spent studying in the academy and now I finally get to have my first visit to the castle!”

“Of course I'd take you along. You're the best friend a guy can have.”

“A-Ah. Friend.” Her pacing stopped and she'd faced me. “You're a real miracle worker, Khiron. I hope I can repay you for everything someday.”

“Repay? You don’t have to worry about anything like that. Never. Besides, it's payment enough to see you smiling right now. And like I’d said yesterday; it’s because of your support we’re here now.”

Tenting her fingers, she peered down to her boots while shifting her weight back and forth between her feet. I could tell she had something to say, but was falling short of the words. Yet before she could get it out, a woman strode into the room and broke her concentration. Carrying a strong presence about herself, she immediately took mine and Juna's attention in full.

Her hair was a raven black which fell down to her hips and lightly flared out at its ends. Violet eyes which held a dignified shine within them. She wore a royal purple mantle upon her shoulders which secured with a threaded knot at the front. Her dress reached to the mid of her leg, its buttons sewed into its fabric were a violet that paired with her eyes and her mantle. Long gloves on her hands and long, black heeled boots for her legs. She had quite a noticeable appearance.

“Oh my. Hello there, handsome. It’s my pleasure to meet the kingdom’s newest hero.” The woman greeted me.

“Good morning. I’m Khiron. Though I'm still not quite used to saying it, I suppose I am the hero.” I responded to her a bit sheepishly.

“Pardon my lack of etiquette. Introductions should come first. I'm Plutia. I was sent by his majesty to be your guide for this morning.” At last her vision had turned to Juna. “And don’t worry, dear. I wouldn’t go without greeting every and any special guest. It's a pleasure to meet you, young miss.”

“Juna. I'm Juna. It's a pleasure to meet you as well.” Juna seemed oddly defensive of herself as she shook Plutia’s hand.

“I'd been told to expect you, Juna. It seems that his majesty was likewise anticipating your visit today.”

“He was? How could he be expecting me?”

“I believe that it will all become clear to you soon, my dear. Relax and enjoy yourself on this special tour. And don't be shy. You are our esteemed guest after all.”

“I was told that I'd be learning my duties as the hero today. To be forward, I'm really excited to start. So whenever you're ready to begin, I'm all ears.”

“Ah. What an eager knight we have. Certainly do not lose that spirit you have beaming inside of you. However, our time spent teaching you about this castle will be a bit more than speaking, handsome. So hold on and we'll get you started on your way to serving this kingdom.”

With a motion of her finger, Plutia beckoned me to follow. Juna joined close by my side as we pressed forward.

✩ ✩ ✩

Tall and robust antique bookshelves lined the way. The gentle blue morning sky was visible through the crystal clear windows far above head. Stained glass wrapped around the entire length of the room, letting in a gleaming light which painted the tables resting before them in an array of vivid colors. A plush red carpet lead the way to a grand staircase with old oak banisters. The second floor peered down to the ground level from above, it too was lined with full bookcases. This entire broad and majestic building glowed with a fittingly regal grandeur for the castle's library.

It was overwhelming to take in. Both Juna and myself were reduced to dumbfounded, agape staring. Plutia smiled to herself seeing our bewildered expressions.

“It seems that you two have found yourselves smitten with the library already. I too had my own time where I was silenced by the beauty of this building. Go ahead and take it all in. Have your fill. We can wander about as we talk. I'm not such a stickler for stiff manners. I’m sure you’ll realize that soon enough.”

“It’d be difficult to find the words to do justice.”

“I can tell you and your friend are more than eager to wander freely, so why don’t we talk while exploring?”

Juna didn't need to be told twice. After a fast nod, she skipped to her own beat. And so Plutia began her lecture.

“The honor to visit this library will be yours for your studies as the Celestial Knight. This building has stood for centuries and in that time it has collected a wealth of tomes. Studies ranging from information for the Dark Seeds to the rare details about the previous Celestial Knights. The skies are the limits. All of this and more will be yours to help you fulfill your duties.”

“That's extremely generous. I can promise you that it will go to great use.”

“But of course. We couldn't expect anything less but the best from such a stellar knight.” Plutia leaned in closer to me as she began to whisper calmly my ear. “I can already sense just how well you will do with your… job. It’ll be a pleasure working with you.”

“I promise you that you won't be disappointed. I have plenty of confidence in myself and my abilities. I believe I'll be able to exceed your expectations.”

“That's just what I like to hear from a man. I await that moment, hero. “

Try as I might to wave away the sneaking feeling that I had, I couldn't deny that it felt like I was losing something in translation with Plutia. Not to mention the tone she’d carried in her voice. I did my best to shelve all those suspicions away as a case of overthinking.

✩ ✩ ✩

Our guide continued from point to point. While Juna made herself busy with soaking in all that Celestia Castle had to offer, Plutia spoke with me about my tasks as the hero. All had been pleasant despite that that peculiar feeling which continued to hang on me.

We made way to our final destination for the evening. It was a fine manor resting near the castle proper. Regal in appearance yet subtle enough to be less overwhelming than all the beauty we’d bore witness to beforehand.

The interior of the building was an excellent balance of refined and relaxed as I’d imagined. A central staircase in the commons. Hallways and doorways leading to the many different rooms.

“Solus...” I whisper to myself as I take an eyeful of the building. But I collect myself and ask of Plutia. “This is quite a departure. There’s something special about this building?”

“Welcome to Celestial Manor. This manor will be of great importance to you. After all, this will be your new home from today onward.”

“My new home? That’s… very sudden.”

“Khiron is going to be moving from his home?” Juna is left just as shocked as I am.

“Don’t worry, handsome. This place will be wonderful for you. We’ll be taking care to transfer over your possessions into your room to make sure you’re much more comfortable during your stay. Come tomorrow morning, a few assistants of the kingdom will come by to gather your belongings.”

“You’ll be tasking assistants for that? There’s really no need. I don’t have much that I particularly must have.”

“Don’t mind it. It’s what our kingdom’s assistants are for. It won’t be a long wait for you either. So there’s no need to worry about feeling to alien in your new environment.”

“I suppose I don’t mind changing my living situation too much if it’s a part of my duties, but I’d rather gather my belongings myself if you’d let me. I would like to see my home all together one last time as well before moving out. I wasn’t prepared to be given a new home.”

She was contemplative for a moment before she’d showed me a pleasant expression seeming to be delighted in my request,

“How sweet. If that’s your wish, then I have no will to tell you no. Especially when you’re so adamant.”

“Thank you for understanding.” I turned to Juna. She peers to me with her face yet painted with awe and confusion. “There’s still some daylight left. Want to come with me to pay one more visit to my old place?”

“A-Ah! Sure! Of course! But… I’ll be missing you if you’ll be moving so far away.”

The sound of Plutia’s giggling turned out attention back towards her.

“Pardon. You two are just so darling, it’s a hard task to hold back.” She righted herself and continued. “You will be living here, but there’s more importance to this manor than being your new home.”

“Truly? It was presumptuous to think it would end there. What else is special about this manor?”

“I believe it’s finally time I’d introduced you to the lovely people who live here. Or rather: the lovely women.”

“Women?” Juna was a touch apprehensive and her voice made that clear.

“Yes, my dear. They’ve been waiting for our handsome hero within the lounge room. So let’s not keep them waiting a moment longer.”