Episode 20 – Distance Test – Aftermath
Or was this…resonance? Their emotions were combining together into something with much higher intensity than the original emotion. Was it because their emotions were the same, because they were going through the same experience? Was this resonance through empathy?
If the mark acted as a wormhole between their Minds, it would be like a portal connecting two different places in space. No matter how far apart those two places were, they would always be right next to each other because of the portal. That would explain why the physical distance between them didn’t make their telepathy weaker. Their Minds were always right next to each other.
But the distance did have an effect, it improved their telepathy. The only explanation Kiel could think of was resonance. It wasn’t that the distance affected their telepathy, it is that the situation they were in affected it.
And how come each time he heard her voice he felt better? Could it be that the negative effects of physical distance could be countered by mental closeness?
Kiel’s pain gradually lessened, and his aura started appearing again. Elaru was getting closer. With each step she took towards him, he felt more excited, exhilarated. As if every fiber of his being couldn’t wait to reunite with her again.
His fatigue slowly evaporated, replaced with a newfound energy.
This feeling, it was just like getting out of mortal peril intact; the entire body in overdrive, bursting with power. The heart beating a hundred miles per hour; the body shaking with vigor.
With trembling hands, Kiel wrote down the conclusion into his notebook. “Distance limitation confirmed. Optimal distance: less than 5 km. Max distance: 20 km.”
He stroked his chin. Five kilometers was a manageable distance for the time being. And the allowed distance would increase with the evolution of the bond. But how could they make it evolve? What did they need to do?
Elaru imparted her (unclear) opinion on the matter: “Papa says that an emotional closeness between mates positively affects the bond. He says that as long as the mates spend enough time with each other, the bond would naturally evolve. Should we try this experiment again in a few months’ time?”
Kiel thought about it. He didn’t feel keen on experiencing this horror again. It was truly unpleasant. But he was curious whether the time would increase the max tolerable distance.
“It depends. We’ll think about it then.”
Kiel’s legs itched for some action so he got up from the bed. He felt restless, fidgety. Elaru was almost back. He could feel it deep down, inside of him.
As if on cue, Elaru burst through the door, she looked at him like a wild lupax seeing a piece of meat. Kiel froze, startled by the look.
She gave him no time to think before she leaped across the room and latched onto him. Kiel’s surprise turned into shock.
Her hands clasped tightly around his torso, her head was nestling under his neck. Her two mounds went splat when pressed against his chest.
She rubbed her cheek around, left and right, like she was trying to rub his scent in. Like he was a healing tonic. Like, she was burning, and he was the water. She let out a sigh of relief. “Ahh…this feels much better. Yes! Yes! I can feel my power coming back!”
She didn’t stop with the rubbing. With each rub, Kiel’s temper rose higher and higher. His eyebrow started twitching, one could see his veins popping out on his neck.
Too damn close! Had she no sense of personal space?! Though it did feel quite pleasant. His body did respond quite positively to hers. Warm tingles everywhere. No, no, no!
He tried to push her away. He asserted more strength than should have been necessary, but her grip on him was too tight. She didn’t move an inch. Her face still looked blissful, as if she didn’t even notice his revolt.
Soon he was trying to peel her away from him with all his strength. She didn’t budge, clinging onto him like a python. “Fates, you’re strong!” Kiel cussed under his breath. How the heck is your slim female body stronger than mine?! Freak!
Elaru suddenly noticed steam coming out of Kiel’s ears and figured out that he disliked the closeness between them. She frowned and gave him a look that clearly stated “Geez, childish much? I am just curing the damage caused by the experiment. What’s the big deal?”
Kiel glared at her venomously and gritted his teeth, trying to find the right words to make her let go of him. Though, before he could say anything, she suddenly let him go on her own. Which caused him to lose his balance and he stumbled back, falling over the footboard onto the bed.
Elaru sniggered at his glare. “Kiel, are you actually…shy?” She asked with a devious grin.
“I am not shy!” Kiel spat out, grabbed the nearest object he could find and threw it at her. Unfortunately, that object turned out to be a pillow. Luck had abandoned him ever since he crossed paths with the tricky woman. “I just don’t like people invading my personal space!!”
Elaru caught it in reflex, her grin only widening. “What personal space? I’m already inside your head, it doesn’t get closer than that.” She teased him.
“Boundaries! We need some boundaries. You can’t go around touching everywhere you’d like!” This time, he threw his notebook. It wasn’t a big upgrade from the pillow…
“You are acting like a shy girl that had her butt pinched. It was just a hug.” She caught the notebook flawlessly too, her grin never wavering.
“Not shy! I just don’t enjoy physical contact with people I don’t like. Which includes you, and everyone else I know.” Kiel grabbed the porcelain pechuh that was decorating the night table. Finally, a good weapon!
Elaru didn’t panic at all. “You might want to accelerate the next thing you throw if you really want to hit me.”
Blatant provocation! Kiel’s eyes glowed dangerously as he accelerated the ornament towards her. He didn’t use all of his mage prowess, he didn’t want to cause any major damage. Alas, his attempts were in vain. Elaru had no trouble catching his throws. And more of them she cached, the more annoyed Kiel got.
Once the “fight” started, it was hard to stop.
In only a few minutes, their tidy room was trashed.
Well, they didn’t break anything, just turned it into a mess. Although it wasn’t out of Kiel’s lack of trying, but because Elaru found it more fun to attempt to save all thrown objects from doom than to avoid them.
She had fun teasing Kiel. He was actually quite easy to rile up. He had many years’ worth of pent-up frustration inside of him, and Elaru took it upon herself to give him excuses to let it out. Kiel didn’t over analyze her behavior. He was too busy trying to understand his own. He used to be a calm and collected person. Yet this redhead could rile him up with such ease it was embarrassing.
He didn’t even try to bury it all down and plaster on his mask. With Elaru, he didn’t need to hide behind his false persona. She seemed to like his true face much more.
She was such an unusual girl. She preferred fighting to peaceful times.
Kiel would never admit it, but he enjoyed their fights too, in a weird way. Even though he growled, glared and cursed her, deep down, he was having fun.
It was such a bizarre relationship.
Yet, at that moment, neither one of them minded it.
And as the two were preoccupied with their mini-war, neither one of them noticed a change happening on Kiel’s right arm. Like a seed letting out a sprout, the black stripes moved slightly, slowly, up his arm.
After the peaceful resolution of the war (Kiel ran out of things to throw), they decided to find a secluded place on the outskirts of Ashar where they could practice magic. They traveled to the west, where a dense deciduous forest spread as far as the eye could see.
The day was sunny and warm, the bright rays of sunlight made everything they touched glitter. Though only occasional sunrays managed to pass through the bright green leaves of the deciduous tall trees towering over them.
Even though it was still technically summer, the temperature was lowering every day with the approaching autumn. Currently both the temperature and humidity felt just right. If Kiel wasn’t in a rush to increase his power, he would have enjoyed taking a stroll.
Instead of strolling around, Elaru used her eyes to scan the surroundings until she found a secluded clearing near a small waterfall. The clear droplets of water created a small but beautiful rainbow as the fell down.
The clearing seemed very peaceful, not much could be heard besides the sound of the waterfall and soft singing of the birds. However, Kiel wondered how long it would stay peaceful. They might run into quest seeker parties, hunters or beasts living around the water source. The forest around Ashar was bursting with wildlife, and it was a popular hunting ground for all sorts of creatures. Even herbalists often spent their time searching the forest for various herbs.
Elaru claimed this place to be too close to Ashar. All the good stuff was deeper in, therefore herbalists and hunters wouldn’t stick around here. The only people who would dwell on the outskirts would be mages using the forest as their practice ground, just like them. However, the forest was large, so the chance of them stumbling onto the same clearing was slim.
Kiel stretched and thought about what he should practice first. Elaru sat down against a tree, making herself comfortable. She took off her backpack and pulled out a red book with leather covers. The cover had no letters, marks or anything else that could give away the contents. However, Kiel could instantly tell that the book was anything but ordinary. It was enchanted by a long, obscure spell that Kiel didn’t recognize.
Elaru performed a quick trigger spell that was so fast that the only thing Kiel managed to catch was a pulse of magic power. As soon as she opened the covers, the easygoing expression on Elaru’s face vanished and was replaced by deep concentration. She was completely absorbed into the book, her face showing no other emotions. It was blank.
Kiel had gotten used to seeing her mischief and serenity all this time, this seriousness felt unnatural. And yet, there was a certain charm to it. People were said to be the most attractive when they were working hard. Kiel could finally understand why.
Elaru kept flicking her fingers, poking the book and tracing various patterns with her fingers.
Kiel concentrated his mana sense on the book and realized that the pages were coated with a thin layer of crystalline ink. It was an invisible liquid that had a special property – the crystalline structure of the liquid was easily changed by magic. And changing the crystalline structure of the ink resulted in changing the color of the ink. That transparent ink had the possibility to turn into any kind of color. After its initial discovery in ancient times, it had started a revolution in art and literature.
The spell to change the color of the ink was one of the first spells they were taught in school. Of course, the spells differed between argel and elibu since the two had different principles behind their magic. But nevertheless, it was an important spell that Kiel could recognize instantly, and that was exactly the reason why Kiel deduced that the book was coated with crystalline ink – he felt Elaru casting the ink altering spell over and over on the pages of the book.
Was this book…her diary?
It was none of his business. He had no right to take a look inside. It was embarrassing how curious he felt, he – a person that never used to care about other people. His pride didn’t allow him to ask about it though, so instead he took several sneak peeks at it, from the corner of his eyes.
His skill in taking nonchalant sneak peeks was quite formidable.
He was startled to find the pages of the book completely blank.
Was Elaru actually…changing the transparent ink into the same color of the paper? Could her Aethernea of Sight see the writing even if it couldn’t be seen with normal eyes? Or was the book enchanted with some kind of spell that would prevent him from being able to see what was written in it?
Elaru was a treasure-trove of fascinating artifacts. At this point, he shouldn’t be surprised by it. So surprise wasn’t one of the annoying emotions he was currently feeling.
He found it hard to concentrate on his own business. The more difficult it was to find out what was inside, the more Kiel wanted to know. There is nothing that tastes sweeter than the forbidden fruit.
Elaru didn’t look up from her book at all. It was as if he wasn’t there. As if she had entered her own world, separate from the rest. Periodically, she would stop writing in the book and start weaving a spell around her arm. She would then disperse the spell and continue writing in the book.
What was she doing? Kiel’s curiosity ate at him to the point of turning unbearable. He had never seen Elaru so serious and absorbed in something before. After several minutes, he couldn’t hold it in anymore, his pride all but forgotten. “What are you doing?”