Chapter 30:

With a Love Sorceress, the Night will End

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

The after-party was quieting down, and the bonfire was starting to burn low.

I briefly escaped the festivities for a moment and sneaked off to the town square, to borrow a bamboo stalk from Mia’s tribute. Claire and I were having a miniature Tanabata party after all, and a bamboo stalk was necessary to complete the wish-making ritual.

When I returned to the bonfire field, I found Mia seated at an outdoor picnic table. Next to her, Toren was slumped against the wooden tabletop.

With a small hiccup, Mia covered her mouth. “Torfen-nii,” she slurred. “Why is the world so beautiful?”

“I dunno,” Toren replied in an equal stupor, staring upwards. “The sky is so pretty…”

“Torfen!” she cried. “You finally spoke to me!”

“I know!” Toren laughed back giddily, completely red in the face.

I approached, raising an eyebrow. I turned towards the lovely Madam Claire, who was standing by their table.

“Claire what happened? I was only gone for a minute.”

I held up the bamboo stick triumphantly, but somehow everyone had gotten plastered in my absence. Even Claire was a bit unsteady on her feet.

“The villagers were cleaning up,” Claire mumbled, “and they were gonna throw out the warm ale Mia said we had to drink it.”

Mia propped up her chin, sobbing. “Think of the wheat the farmers put into that ale! We couldn’t waste that!”

I sighed, shoving the bamboo stalk into the ground. I wasn’t exactly sober myself, but these lightweights were way too far gone.

“The bamboo!” Madam Claire grinned. “Now we can have Tanabata! Yay! Tanabata!” She clapped her hands excitedly, then paused. “Wait, we don’t have any paper.”

“Can’t you just summon some?” I wondered.

“Not in front of all these people!” Claire refused, shoving me along. “Go on, go find some paper Roki. And hurry, it’s going to be dawn soon.”

“Right, right,” I mumbled, leaving the trio of bumbling drunks to discuss the beauty of life. I shook my head and smiled.

I stumbled through the village, wondering where I would find paper at this hour. It had to be nearly five in the morning, maybe six? The sky was starting to brighten overhead. Everyone was either asleep, or nearly passed out drunk.

A little dizzy, I used a building for support. When I looked up, someone was front of me. I jumped in surprise.

“Sorry, didn’t see you there,” I mumbled to the young girl. At least, I thought it was a young girl? I squinted through my stupor.

She looked to be around twelve years old, wearing white robes, with facial features that were a bit foreign compared to everyone else here in Rivasvale. Her long, black hair was tied up in intricately-woven red ribbons. She was barefoot too, which was unusual. Was walking barefoot some other kind of tradition around here?

“Akaventus,” the girl said.

I just stared at her blankly.

“Uh,” I stammered, “I no speak other-world English?”

The young girl sighed. “I see. She hasn’t told you yet.”

I was way too inebriated for this.

I tried to clear my head. “Do you, uh, have any colorful strips of paper?” I asked her.

The girl gently reached up to the ribbons in her hair, and tore off a few pieces. Surprisingly, I found that they were made of paper. Before I could marvel at that fact, she also handed me a stick of charcoal for writing.

“Thank you! How did you know I needed—” I looked up.

She was gone.

“Okay,” I mumbled to myself. “Tanabata ghost in another world. I’ve definitely had too much to drink.”

I slowly made my way back towards the bonfire, watching the sky lighten overhead. By the time I found Mia’s table, the strange event with the girl was entirely forgotten from my mind.

“Paper!” Claire called, seeing the red strips. “Roki, you’re the best! Where did you find this?”

My head felt foggy. “I don’t remember...” I mumbled, blaming my memory loss on the alcohol.

I smoothed the paper against the tabletop.

“Wha’s this?” Toren slurred, barely awake.

I handed each of them a strip. “We write our wishes on these, then we wrap them around the bamboo stick. It’s an elven tradition. Probably. Somewhere. In some world.”

Each of us took a turn writing, then knotted our papers against the bamboo stalk. I tried to read what everyone’s wishes said, but my vision was starting to blur. I resigned myself to reading them later, when I was more awake.

“Jun!” Claire called. She sat down at the picnic table and patted the open seat next to her. “Watch the sunrise with me. Then, I’ll teleport everyone home.”

I scoffed. “Teleport? And you wouldn’t summon paper! Teleporting’s much more visible than that! Why would—”

Claire grabbed my arm and made me sit next to her. Being so close, my complaints stopped instantly. I heard soft breathing behind us. Mia and Toren had fallen asleep.

Gradually, the sun made its way above the treetops. I shielded my eyes as it dawned, wincing from the brightness.

Madam Claire turned to me. “Good morning, Jun,” she smiled.

Seeing her in that golden morning light made me feel like everything was right in the world.


When I next awoke, an overwhelming headache split through my skull. I nursed my head, groaning, wishing I hadn’t drank so much. Thankfully it was dark outside, and the soothing coolness made the hangover a little gentler.

Wait. Dark? Cool?

I opened my eyes, realizing I wasn’t in my cottage, but rather in Madam Claire’s hut. I was on a purple sofa with a comforter draped over me. I gently pulled the blanket aside and breathed in the chilly air.

Across from me, Madam Claire was sitting on her armchair, legs crossed, reading a book. When I moved, her hazel eyes glanced upwards.

“Good morning again,” she greeted, “or rather good evening. You slept most of the day.” She chuckled. “Did you have fun?”

Last night’s events rushed through my mind: the tribute, the bamboo, the festival, the dance.

My face lit up in a wide smile. “More than I ever could have imagined.”

Madam Claire met that smile with her own. Then her gaze hardened.

“Do you still want to go home?” she asked.

I didn’t know the answer to that question. I loved both worlds. Any reasoning for why I should stay in one or the other just felt like hollow excuses.

Seeing my hesitation, Claire ran a hand through her wavy hair.

“Nothing about this has gone to plan,” she sighed. “You were supposed to take Mia on dates, win her heart, and marry her — then whisk her away from her family’s problems. Yet how did we end up here?” Claire laughed. “The second phase I had planned seems so silly now, but I want to teach it to you all the same.”

“Second phase?” I repeated, vaguely remembering that Claire mentioned the term before.

She held up the book in her hands, and began to read.

“The book of Jun’s Language,” she spoke aloud. “Entry one: he doesn’t know when to give up.”

I felt a blush rise to my cheeks. She had a book about me? Just like I had one about Mia?

“W-why do you have that?!” I asked, my heart fluttering.

Claire didn’t answer my question, she just kept reading.

“Jun doesn’t care much for roller coasters, or kelpies,” Claire grinned. She flipped a few more pages. “He doesn’t have an interest in farming.” Another page. “His favorite foods include ginger and rice.” One more. “He secretly is very excited about the idea of having magic.”

My face grew hotter, embarrassed.

Then, Claire said somberly: “And Jun wants his partner to enjoy going to movies with him.”

That one made me freeze.

An image of Amamiya flashed through my mind: a picture of her shoving flowers into my face, as she rejected my offer.

Mia did nearly the same, though more gently. Mia frowned and admitted to her fear of crowds.

The pain of those rejections still hurt as much as ever.

“Why…” I whispered, “Why are you bringing that up now?”

Claire waved her hand, and the book floated to me. I took the journal into my hands, amazed by the number of entries within.

“Because, Jun,” Claire spoke gently. “Phase two was always about you: about finding what you want in a relationship. It was about learning your wants and desires, so you can wholeheartedly enter a romance — with compassion for your partner, and yourself.”

I stared at the book numbly. What was Claire trying to say?

Claire folded her hands together in her lap. “I was so focused on solving your romance with Mia, that I didn’t stop to think about you, Jun. I failed to understand you, yet again.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Mia might not be the person you want to love. As a Love Sorceress, I should have noticed sooner.”

“But,” I objected, “I just wanted Amamiya to smile…”

Even as I said that, my heart told me I was wrong. It wasn’t Amamiya’s smile that I wanted.

“Talk to Mia,” Claire commanded, waving her hand. The purple door leading to Farelle opened. “Talk to her, and find out what your heart truly desires. That’s my last advice. After that, if you want to go back to Earth, I’ll do everything I can to help you.”

My thoughts were spinning. I reached for Madam Claire. I wanted to say something more.

But she just smiled and snapped her fingers, and I found myself tumbling out the door.