Chapter 5:

Personal Trainer, The Princess

The Ghost of OtherWorld Vol. 1: The Flame Knight of Ember Palace


Harada was exhausted. She might not have looked like it, her appearance wasn't something that said she'd barley slept in the past week, but that was the case. She'd took it upon herself to care for Souta and his house while he was in his weakened and serious state of a coma. She had Ambriel manifest food and other things for her, but she was having trouble with more then her thoughts. Even while she was restless and couldn't stop hoping that that boy would wake up already...wait, why did she care? Harada wasn't known for her compassion, but she wasn't a heartless demon either. Could it be that he was fighting for her?

Her face eminently turned the shame shade of her hair at the thought. No one had ever really stood up for her before, so the fact she enjoyed the foolish, yet admirable actions of Souta was no surprise. She stood at his bedside, glancing out of the window, she admired the buildings and scenery. How their shadows were cast upon on another, how the risen sun stood dominate.

"..."

Souta, who was still laying unconscious, groaned. This causing Harada to abandon her examination of the outside and focus on him. She removed the wet washcloth that she had on his head and felt his temperature. Bending over him she pressed her forehead against his. The action, while it was for Souta's well-being, she couldn't help but notice how close the two were as of now, and the fact that she'd never done anything of this matter for anyone. As the pressed her head to his, she found that his fever was gone. This was a great sign that he was recovering, and that all the effort she'd spent in the last week trying to heal him hadn't been for nothing.

"Please," she whispered. "Wake up soon, so I can thank you properly."

"..."

With his head still touching her's Souta gave a deep exhale, followed by a small grunt. Then, his eyes snapped open.

"..."

"..."

There was an awkward silence between the two, as Harada appeared frozen in place, her face becoming increasingly more flustered.

"Um.." Souta said. "Princess, what exactly are you doing?" His cheeks began to heat up. "You're a little close.."

Harada immediately pulled away at his words. "I was taking your temperature!" She almost yelled in a defensive manner. "It's only natural since I've been tending to you for over a week an--"

"Thank you."

Harada stopped her rambling and faced Souta with a look of confusion. "Huh?"

He sat up, wincing at the pain he suddenly felt, but managed a compassionate smile. "Thank you. Without your care I surely would have died. Even though you had no obligation to help me, you did. So, thank you."

Harada averted her eyes, as if her bare feet were suddenly very interesting. "That isn't true," she said in a quiet voice. "For reasons I don't know, you fought for me. I owed you already for saving me the first time, then there was the second time. My obligation to save you was great."

"You were innocent and needed someone." Souta said as he glanced out of the window at the morning scenery. He leaned back on his arms for support. "That's why I helped you. I couldn't just let that guy take you away. You don't owe me anything."

Harada watched as Souta carefully stood up from the bed, every inch of him shaking from strain.

"You stay down!" She said, supporting him, and helping him to sit back down on the bed.

"You don't need to stay," Souta said.

"Huh?"

"I mean you can leave. I'll be good and able after a day or two of rest. Your only here to tend to me, so I won't keep you here."

"Have you forgotten?" Harada asked as her eyes made contact with Souta's. "You saved my life by giving me a portion of your soul. We're bond by a rare, and no less, serious contract. I cannot just leave. Even if I desired so."

So she doesn't want to leave? Souta asked himself.

"But..." Souta looked down, unable to face Harada as new thoughts surfaced.

"What's the point?" he clenched the bed sheets in his palms at the question. He was ashamed of himself. He'd gotten beaten. He'd almost died. He wasn't worth much of anything as of now.

"I tried my best to help you. Out of nowhere my boring life was redone and I was given this power.." He stared at the golden seal that was placed on his hand. "But even so, I lost. I couldn't do much more than almost die. Having you tend to me for almo-"

*SMACK*

As Souta continued to degrade himself Harada didn't think similar. Silencing him with the palm of her hand, she began to tear up in the corners of her eyes. "You are stupid?!" she yelled. "Stop speaking so badly of yourself when you've accomplished something not many have!" The tears were flowing down her cheeks now.

"My brother is one of the strongest warriors of Ember Palace, and you made him run away. I'm still here am I not?! In reality you won! So stop!"

"Princess...?"

"Stop it!" she screamed. The dramatic effect of their conversation had indeed taken a drastic increase. "I have a name! In your world I'm no sort of royalty." Harada whipped away a few stray tears that were sliding down her cheeks and rushed from the room. She rushed into the hall and proceeded into the bathroom, locking the door behind her.

One room over, without considering his condition, Souta jumped onto his feet, immediately straining himself. Without his consent, Souta fell to the floor, unable to pick himself up. Every part of him hurt, and he felt as if he would pass out from the pain. Which was exactly what happened.

"Princes--," He caught himself as his vision began to blur, and the colors of his surroundings mixed together into one blob. "I'm sorry!" he yelled, loud enough for her to hear across the hall.

Hearing those words, her eyes widened, but she remained locked away for the moment. Oblivious that Souta was on the floor.

***

"You really are stupid.." Harada smiled down at Souta. After locking herself away and realizing that he didn't understand, she found him on the floor. He didn't need to push himself so much, so then why?

[I understand the boy is just waking up, but it would be most appropriate to explain things to him.]

Harada was caught off guard at her spirits sudden comment. She sometimes forgot he was always watching over her. Harada pulled the blankets over Souta and left him to rest. Walking down stairs into the lower areas of Souta's home she spoke. "Ambriel," She said. "Take form."

At her words, In a vortex of flame, a man was suddenly before her. He towered over her in height. His hair was cut short and a light brown. Looking her down, his dark green eyes met with hers. Sighing to himself he concealed his hands within the pockets of the tan trench coat he wore.

"M'lady," He keeled to her.

Harada smiled. It was nice to see him. She couldn't remember the last time he'd manifested for her, that aside she remained serious.

"What is this you're saying?" Harada crossed her arms over her chest.

"You know very well what I mean." Ambriel said with a smile. "You haven't told the boy about the knowledge he's given you. This is something that should at least be mentioned. Don't you agree, lady Harada?"

She would agree to that. It was only fair, and appropriate no less that she mention what she had learned. But she didn't understand everything herself. Unwillingly, she'd committed one of the worst deeds and been driven into the depths of Souta's mind and his life. What he liked, didn't like, all his memories, his personality. Everything that made him Souta Okada was ironed into her mind.

"The boy saved you, for that I am forever in his debt, but when he did so he gave a portion of himself to you. It's appropriate to say he handed you a book. Inside everything about him was written. Including his memories. Even if it isn't your fault, you have invaded his only pure sanctum. His mind."

"I know this!" Harada said defending herself, followed by blush. She accidentally remember several of Souta's most embarrassing moments.

"I understand that I need to tell him!...I just don't know how he'll take it. Even though we haven't spent much time together, at least when he was awake, but I know him. I feel as if I'm the closest person to him. I understand that he isn't the horrible pig I thought he was."

Ambriel raised an eyebrow. "He has no desires? M'lady, with all due respect, I have read up mortal men. I would appear that they are consumed by anger, greed, lust, etc."

Harada blushed as she recalled several memories of Souta reading certain magazines with his friends when he was younger.

"He is normal.." Harada said. "But..when we first met I didn't understand everything and assumed he wanted to do things to my body. I almost killed him because of that."

Ambriel took a moment to reflect on her words. Biting at his lower lip as he thought.

"And what of Tobias?" he finally asked. It was the one question they'd both been wondering about for the entirety of the past week. Ever since her brother left her, she had continuously wondered what was going to happen. Technically she was treasonous, that one aspect was all it took. Her father would send for her sooner or later. After all, she knew his secret. He'd do anything to keep it safe, that included killing her. His own daughter.

"He is the stubborn type, It is obvious he will not just allow me to live peacefully anymore." As she spoke to her spirit she paced around the room. Making an attempt to gather her thoughts. "We need to get to Astral Zero, as we had planned. This detour is most annoying."

Harada did mean that, but she also felt as if it had some amazing results as well. The newly formed bond with Souta, It was quiet literally one in a million. As far as she knew, no one had a similar contract. She put her hand against her chest. As she thought about those certain events and other things, the beat of her heart began to increase at a rapid rate.

"What is this?" She asked herself. However, as she didn't seem to notice, she had asked herself the question out loud, leaving Ambriel to answer.

"M'lady, can I offer my most logical answer?"

Harada nodded, leaving him to attempt an explanation at what she was feeling.

"We are linked, yes?"

She nodded.

"I feel and understand how you feel and understand, no?"

She nodded, now wondering what he was getting at.

"Your heart races at the thoughts of the boy, thoughts you've been having very often, and..." he paused for a moment, then raising an eyebrow at Harada with a smile. "You're having some inappropriate thoughts no less."

Harada took a step away from Ambriel, her face consumed with fluster. "W..w...what are y..you saying?!"

He replied with a smile, smug smile. "Nothing at all. But from experience I'll say this; It's best to pursue your dreams and desires."

Without another word he vanished in the same flaming vortex he's spawned in, leaving Harada to think. "Follow my desires..." She murmured to herself, her voice was faint as she glanced to the outside world. It was silent and dark.

"Very well!" Her face was still crimson, but her expression was determined. she would do as Ambriel had suggested. Her long red hair swaying as she walked, she quietly crept up the stairs, and back into Souta's room. She'd only talked with her spirit for ten or so minutes, so nothing had changed. Souta lay on his back, peaceful in his sleep.

As carefully as she managed, Harada climbed on top of the bed with Souta, To her surprise she even managed to rest herself on him without breaking his sleep. Spreading her legs across his waist she rested herself. But her blush never went away, and why would it? When she was making very personal contact with a male.

She'd never done anything like this before. It wasn't right, was it? So then why was she almost overly enjoying herself? As her thoughts began to spin out of control, her breathing became slow and heavy. Her body began to get extremely hot, which she didn't understand because of her birth at Ember Palace. Biting at her bottom lip she moved her hands forward and managed to lift up the bottom of Souta's T-Shirt. She stared down at the bit of his exposed skin with confusion, and then understanding. "So this is the stomach of a man." She whispered as she placed her hands on his abdomen.

Carefully feeling around his body, she was surprised to find he was surprisingly muscular. But, as she continued to do so, her body continuously increased in temperature, and she began to feel odd in certain areas. The lower regions of the princess were beginning to express an emotion she has never felt before, what was this?

"W..what's happening to me?.." Harada bit at her bottom lip as she asked herself the question. However the sudden reply was totally unexpected.

"I should be asking that question," Souta reply calmly. He stared up at the princess with a blank expression. "Princess, what are you doing?"

"...!"

Harada couldn't move, and she couldn't speak. But most of all she couldn't think as she stared down into his blue eyes. They reflected the moonlight which shone trough the window so well.

"Um.. do you think you can let me up? I need some water.."

Souta made an attempt to raise his body, But Harada's hands, which were still placed on his stomach pushed him back onto the mattress. "No." She said. She seemed to be deeply embarrassed, which was understandable, Souta was doing his best not to freak out. "I haven't repaid you," she said. Harada stared down at Souta was determination in her eyes. "Please, at least let me give you something small. No matter how insignificant it may be."

Perking her lips together she leaned down, closing her eyes together as she closed in the small distance between them.

She's going to kiss me! Souta mentally screamed to himself as she continued to get closer.

"Souta.."

Harada leaned down the remaining rest of the way, but was surprised when she felt that the texture that her lips met was not that of another pair of lips. Opening her eyes she saw that Souta had simply placed the palm of his hand in between their lips, preventing any kissing that might have occurred.

"Harada," Souta said, his tone still incredibly calm for the situation, "I'm afraid I can't allow you to go to such lengths. A kiss is one of the most precious things two people can exchange, I haven't done anything on such a level to receive one, and... we aren't in love. It isn't okay that we do such things."

Souta gently wiggled out of the position they were in, leaving Harada sitting on the bed, looking at him in the way of the moonlight.

He took a moment to stare out of the window. Then, before leaving the room, said two things to her. "I'm sorry," He steadily made his way to the door. Harada noticed no limp in his step. In fact, he seemed completely healed. Was this the work of Gadreel?

Harada stared down at the bed's sheets. Clenching a handful with as much force as she could manage, She was embarrassed, Ashamed, but most of all she felt sad. Souta had rejected her on such a level. When even though she just wanted to repay him for all his kindness. She felt bad that he had said no to her kiss.

"Princess Harada."

She looked up as her name was said. She saw that Souta was in the door's frame and ready to leave. "Thank you, I appreciate all you've done."

With his words, he disappeared down the hall, His footsteps could be heard descending into the lower levels of the house. Harada didn't move. She probably should have, but instead she lay down on the bed, before falling asleep, her last thought was of the scent she inhaled.

So this is the scent of a man, She wondered to herself.

***

"!..."

Harada rolled over, herself now half awake from a sudden noise.

"!.."

There it was again, Harada groaned to herself and sat up. Wondering where the noise was coming from and what it was. She didn't see anything in the room, which she took a moment to recall belonged to Souta.

Getting up from the bed, she stretched, followed by looking out of Souta's window. It was then that she found the source of the strange noises. She saw Souta in a jumpsuit. He was straining himself in his backyard, holding his body off the ground with one of his two arms, his other behind his back. Continuously he lowered his body close to the grass then rose again.

What is he doing?

With her curiosity getting the better of her, she decided to investigate. Moving swiftly, she quickly fond herself in the backyard of Souta's house. She had made her presence known, but Souta didn't stop his elevating techniques.

"Souta," she asked. "What are you doing?"

"...!"

Souta let out a deep exhale and made another attempt to move closer to the ground. Once he did so his arms gave out, and he collapsed on the soft grass, taking quick, short breaths. After a moment of recuperating he sat up on the grass. "Morning, Princess Harada," he said at last.

"What are you doing?" Harada repeated her question.

"Oh.." Souta looked around the yard. It appeared he had forgotten where he was and why. "I was training," he admitted. " After my loss against Kazami I wanted to get stronger." Souta began to look into the sky. As if it held the answers to questions he asked his entire life. "I want to be strong so I can protect myself and everything I care about."

"In that case," Harada smiled and held one of her arms as high as it would stretch. She looked like a student who knew the answer to question.

"Come to me, Gram!"

In a shower of embers and a vortex of flame, a large double edged blade formed in her hands. She twirled it in an elegant manner, and when she stopped the tip was pressed against Souta's throat.

"Souta Okada," She said. "You should be honored, for I, The Flame Knight of Ember Palace will train you in both body an mind, in magic and soul. When i'm finished, you'll be the strongest Aalok in history."

"Princess?" He whispered.

"I don't want to hear any complaints. She brought her sword away from his neck. "From this point on, I will be your master, and i will train you to be the strongest that you can."


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