Chapter 14:

With a Love Sorceress, I’ll Commune with the Trees

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

Madam Claire tapped her nail against the polished wood of her armrest, while I told her everything that happened during my dinner with the Faralinds. Claire had seemingly limitless magic. I thought for sure she would know an answer to Mia’s problem.

But as I finished my story, the beautiful Love Sorceress narrowed her hazel eyes and proclaimed:

“I’m against this.”

I practically lost my balance in my surprise. I grabbed onto one of the Victorian tea tables to keep myself steady.

“But why?” I asked, confused.

The sorceress flipped a strand of her blonde hair, frowning. “You should focus on taking Mia on dates, Roki. That’s what I told you to do. Make her forget about the Painted Moon Festival.”

“Madam Claire,” I said resolutely. “With all due respect, you were the one that told me to treat Mia like an equal partner, instead of just a girl I need to win over — and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to help her save her family name.”

Madam Claire let out a long breath, gripping the armrests of her chair and trying to control herself.

“Hiroyuki,” the sorceress finally spoke. Her voice was gentle, and perhaps slightly...scared? “I’m not saying this to hurt you or Mia. I’m saying this because I can see the stars.”

She pointed to the dome overhead, and all its twinkling constellations.

“The future is always changing,” Claire informed, “but by viewing the stars, I can guess its direction. If you do this — if you help Mia bring a tribute to the Painted Moon Festival — then I promise you,” her voice grew quieter, “your chances of being with Mia will reduce to nearly zero.”

My breath went cold. Madam Claire said the words with such honest concern. She meant it.

And with only a slight hesitation, I knew what I had to do.

“Nearly zero is still something,” I chuckled. “After all, Mia isn’t Amamiya. That’s what you meant the other day, right? When you told me I’d start to feel the differences between this world and my own.” My voice wavered. “I already had the chance to love Amamiya for a year, and I...messed up.”

It hurt to admit. But I bit down on my cheek and kept talking.

“Mia is her own person. I want her to have a good life. If that means she’s supposed to fall in love with someone else, then,” I let out a slow sigh, “I guess that’s how it should be.”

I held up the book of Mia’s Language towards Claire, showing the entry I’d added: ‘Mia is Mia.’

Madam Claire’s expression slowly fell, as she dropped her face into her hands. She regarded me with such sadness, as though it was her heart that was breaking.

“Oh Jun...” she mumbled in an exhausted whisper.

“Y-yes?” I stood up straighter from the use of my first name.

The Love Sorceress stared at me for a long time, and I couldn’t help but wonder: had Claire and I met before? Somehow?

“Fine then,” Claire decided with a huff, jumping to her feet. “Let’s do this.”

Her aqua-tinged heels tapped across the carpet, marching to my side. She grabbed my hand and dragged me towards the purple door that would lead out of this dimensionless space.

I glanced to our held hands, smiling.

“Let’s go save Mia’s family name,” Madam Claire determined.


In the middle of the night, the village of Rivasvale was long asleep and the fires were burning low. Yet in that quiet darkness, Madam Claire and I meandered through rows of fruit trees. The Faralind Orchards spread an impressive distance. Some of the fruit was already in bloom: the blue, star-like fruits hanging from the branches. They were starting to ripen, and would be at their peak in two week’s time: right during the Painted Moon Festival.

“They look fine to me,” I said through a yawn.

Madam Claire let out a hum under her breath, and ran her hand along the tree bark.

“I can’t sense any curse over these trees.” The sorceress then tapped her chin. “But I’m not a farmer. If insects or illness were to blame, I wouldn’t be able to tell.”

I shook my head. “If it was that kind of thing, Mia and her dad would know about it. Mia says the trees always seem healthy enough, but right before the festival the fruit just...rots.”

Madam Claire narrowed her gaze with suspicion.

Someone is interfering,” Claire determined. “The question is who, and when.”

She tapped the tree trunk, then turned around to address me. Personally, I was hoping we could go home and get some sleep. But the determination in Claire’s expression told me that the sorceress had other ideas.

“I can’t always keep watch by myself,” Madam Claire informed. “So to that end, I’ll need you to channel magic.”

That woke me up.

“Magic?” I couldn’t hide my boyish grin. “You mean I actually have magic?”

I wondered what I would get. Wind spells? Magical archery? Flight?

“Uh, no,” Claire said rather bluntly. “Although I’ve transformed your body into an elf, you’re still a human from Earth on the inside. You don’t have any more magic than before.”

I leaned against a tree branch and sobbed. “You mean I got transported to another world as an elf, and I still didn’t get any magic?”

Magic was always going to be out of reach for a common office worker like me, wasn’t it?

“Come on, now. Don’t look so sad,” Claire consoled. “I’m going to let you borrow some of my talents.”

The sorceress waved her wrist, and a sparkle of dust fell over my hands. I stared at the shimmering lights, waiting to feel some kind of surge of mystical power. I kept waiting.

“Should I shout a spell name?” I tentatively asked. “Like, uh...Magic Arrow!”

I pretended to draw a bow. Nothing happened. Cicadas filled the silence. The only thing I managed to shoot was my own pride.

Claire slowly shook her head. “Look at the trees, Roki,” she gestured towards the orchard.

When I turned to see the fruit trees, I expected them to be as dark as before: barely visible in the late hour of night. Instead, they were glowing. I could see the threads of water coursing through them, almost like veins. Some of the trees were bright green in color, vibrant with life, while the older trees were a faded yellow.

“You can see their connections to life,” Claire explained. “When those start to change, we’ll know someone has sabotaged the plants.”

I blinked a few times, taking in the orchard anew. “This is amazing,” I whispered. “Madam Claire, you really can do anything. Are you sure you’re not a goddess?”

She tucked a strand of strawberry-blonde hair behind her ear. “It would be easier if I was,” she whispered.

“If you can do this,” I said in my excitement, turning to her again, “why don’t you cast a spell over the trees? Make them invincible!”

But Madam Claire let out a huff, putting her hands on her waist. “I cannot use my magic to interfere, Roki, only to enhance your senses. I’ve done enough meddling as it is. If I do much else,” she glanced aside, “I fear we’ll be found.” She then regained herself. “Besides, magic might call Mia’s tribute into question. You don’t want the people to accuse the Faralinds of overcoming their curse only because of an elf’s magic, would you?”

“Erk,” I choked. I hadn’t thought about that. “I guess not.”

Still, I was stuck marveling at the trees. Their mystical glow over the fields was truly magical. It wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped, but it was something. I had some kind of magic!

“You like having magic that much?” Claire guessed, noticing my staring.

I nodded, too overwhelmed by the sight to respond.

“Oh fine,” Madam Claire gave in. She waved her wrist again, and another dust of sparkles fell across my hands. “Here, I gave you a little something else. Try shouting fireball.”

Fireball? Fireball?! My face lit up with a childlike glee.

“Fireball!” I yelled to the skies, holding my hands straight up.

Above my palms, a flare shot out. It traveled a few centimeters up, before bursting in the saddest little explosion of colorful sparks.

“Tiny...fireworks?” I blinked in surprise.

Madam Claire laughed. She laughed and smiled, trying to hide it, but she just couldn’t help herself.

“T-that’s how you manifest fireball?” she grinned, wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes. “Oh Hiroyuki, never change.”