Episode 26 – Coincidence or Fate?
As far as her eyes could see, he wasn’t wearing any artifacts or objects of value. But if he wasn’t in possession of an Aetherneal artifact, why would the pendant be pointing towards him? Is he a wielder of an Aethernea?
As far as she knew, there existed 5 different Aetherneal gifts. (Excluding Aetherneal bond which she speculated to be another Aetherneal gift, however, she was unable to confirm it.)
Impossible. She concluded. Out of the five, four would have allowed him to detect her presence in different ways. Yet he was still clueless about it. And the last one would have given him extraordinary healing rate, which, judging by the state of his fists, he didn’t possess.
No surprise there, Aethernea wielders don’t grow on trees.
After eliminating the possibility of him being an Aethernea wielder, she concentrated on other options. Did the pendant consider him a threat to her?
She watched the boy get pissed about something and furiously beat a tree into a pulp. She covered her mouth to stop a giggle. The boy seemed harmless, even cute. Dangerous? Him?
Alright, alright. I shouldn’t dismiss the possibility so easily. Who am I to question the proper function of an Aetherneal artifact?
She continued observing him as he practiced his martial arts.
He didn’t have a specific martial arts style. His style was formless and flexible. It looked like something he developed while trying to make sense of a basic hand to hand combat manual. Elaru’s keen eye could tell he neither had a good teacher nor battle experience. However, from his adaptable and flawless usage of the basics, she could tell he had talent.
He has a good sense for martial arts. Pity that he had no one to guide him.
The time moved slowly as she continued watching him.
The blazing sunlight rained down from the clear sky. The tiwi hid in the shadows of the trees and chirped a relaxing melody.
The body of the boy soon got drenched with sweat. His clothes stuck to him like glue, revealing all his fine muscles. The sunlight danced on the clearing, making the sweat on his body glisten like pearls.
Elaru sighed inwardly. I wish I had some snacks to nibble on. This is going to take a while.
After calming his breathing, the boy switched to practicing magic.
And as he did so, he seemed to turn into someone else.
While practicing martial arts, he already looked like he was dancing, but now…the glittering light of magic made it seem even more ethereal. When he weaved magic, it was as if every pore of his body exuded elegance and beauty. His magic was flawless, intricate and pretty.
To Elaru, who could see mana, this side of the boy looked absolutely enchanting.
This person…is incredible. Elaru’s eyes glittered. Why haven’t I heard about a younger generation genius of a Rroda family?
Soon she got her answer. She had thought it to be strange from the start, but her suspicions were confirmed after a while of observation.
This guy’s mana regeneration is almost non-existent…This guy…is he a non-mage?
Suddenly everything made sense. Why he was here alone, in the middle of nowhere. Why she had never heard of him before. Why he had no one to guide him and teach him martial arts.
He was a non-mage. A disgrace of the Rroda family. It would be considered merciful if they didn’t disown him.
They deliberately kept him away from the spotlight. He might even be someone’s bastard child.
Nobles were very picky with who they married. It had to be someone with high status or ability. It would be almost impossible for a legal son of a noble to be a non-mage. The only explanation would be if the noble had an affair with someone with low magic ability.
What bad luck. To be born into a Rroda family as a non-mage.
Elaru shook her head, yet what she felt at this moment wasn’t pity, but a sense of comradery.
◈ Thursday, 23rd of August 1449 A.W. ◈
(8 days later)
For eight days, Elaru had stalked Kiel Rroda hoping to find out the reason why they met. In that period, the only thing she managed to find out was that the pendant was definitely reacting to Kiel Rroda himself and not an artifact on his body.
She confirmed this fact when he was taking a bath.
Of course, she didn’t peek on him.
She had her Aethernea of Sight, there was no need to see him with her actual eyes.
Her mana vision wasn’t considered as peeking!
It was always active, there wasn’t anything she could do about it. She couldn’t not see him.
Ok, fine, she would have peeked even if she had a choice to not peek.
But it was purely to confirm whether the pendant was reacting to him. Really.
Ahem! The point is, in this time, she managed to find out so much about Kiel Rroda that he felt like an old friend. However, no matter how much she thought she knew, she couldn’t find anything that would warrant such a reaction from her pendant.
Currently, Elaru was sitting on top of a large canyon pillar. Just out of pendant’s range. If she came any closer to Kiel, the pendant would start glowing and shaking again.
She was lost in thought, completely disregarding the distance. She could see him clearly, as though he was standing right next to her. Aethernea of Sight, besides giving her mana vision, also improved her regular sight, making it even better than the excellent sight of an argel.
All of this seems to be too big of a coincidence.
I am looking for an argel to become my soulmate. And you just happen to need this bond just as badly as me.
No, it isn’t just the bond that you need. You need an elibu with a large enough mana pool. It is…as if…you need me specifically…
Elaru furrowed her eyebrows.
The coincidence doesn’t stop there…Our situation…is different…yet quite similar…as if we were two sides of the same coin…
Is this truly a coincidence?
Her eyes narrowed. Tsk…tsk…knowing the person who gave this to me, all of this has something to do with fate…
Fate… Elaru rubbed her chin in thought. Am I connected to him by fate?
And if that is the case, is the fate connecting us the one I yearn for or the one I am trying to change? Is meeting you a good thing? Or is it a bad thing? Should I be fighting against this fate, or embrace it?
The crystal in her hands changed colors beautifully depending on the angle one looked at it. Her face revealed a soft smile as she spoke to it. “What is it? Are you asking me to come closer or are you telling me to stay away?”
She had to make a choice quickly. Time was running out. She needed to return to Ashar to take the Muni exams.
My involvement with non-mages tends to always be a matter of life and death. That time, I almost died so he could live. This time, will it be the same? Will I die so you could live the life you always wanted? Or will you be the one to forfeit your life for mine?
This time, her smile was not directed towards the pendant. “Call of life or call of death, it matters not. Those that are not truly alive need not fear death.”
She grinned widely. When has Elaru Wayvin ever been afraid of a gamble? This chance…I won’t give it up! If I can’t stay here with you, then I just have to take you with me.
But…her destination was Muni and the only way for him to follow her there is if he had qualifications to enter on his own. However…
A non-mage can’t pass the entrance exams.
Elaru continued passing the crystal between her fingers. This gamble…It’s all or nothing. Aetherneal bond is unavoidable…Is this what you want me to do? Is this why you brought us together?
To be bound to him for the rest of my life…
The thought didn’t cause her reluctance or apprehension at all. I need a soulmate, yet I am running out of time to find one. I don’t even have an another candidate in mind.
Elaru searched her memory of every argel mage she had ever met or heard about. She considered each one of them before confirming her initial feeling.
Kiel Rroda…isn’t a bad choice at all. In fact, he is the best choice out of all of them.
She chuckled musically.
I wouldn’t mind him becoming my soulmate.
I wouldn’t mind it at all.
Her heated gaze almost bore holes into the boy. Kiel Rroda. I pick you.
The boy must have felt her stare because he turned around and returned it with his own chilling gaze. He was doing that more and more often. Meeting her gaze.
A while back, after covertly tailing him for some time, she still didn’t notice anything strange about him. That’s when she decided to stop hiding and reveal herself out in the open. She had multiple reasons for doing it. She was sure that he would notice her soon, and after a while, he would even recognize that she was looking at him specifically.
If he had something to hide, he would feel under pressure, and it would increase the chance of a slip-up. It could help her unveil the secret behind the reaction of her pendant.
If he didn’t have anything to hide and didn’t change his behavior, then there was a large chance that she would need to interact with him to find out the reason. However, since he was living in an all-argel town, he might feel uncomfortable around elibu. So if she wanted to interact with him in the future, she needed to make him get used to her.
He might even approach her on his own – that would be ideal. If he approached her instead of her catching him off guard, he would be less vigilant.
She could have chosen to head into town and monitor him from there, but this way she could avoid interacting with other people. And her pendant wouldn’t be on the fritz the entire time.
An entire week had passed, and he still showed no signs of being under pressure or any intention of coming over.
A whole week! If her clothes didn’t cover her entire body, she would have been roasted by the blazing sun. Thankfully, they were made out of high-grade meep wool, which had special heat isolation properties, that kept both the heat and the cold outside, making them appropriate for all seasons.
What a stubborn guy. Elaru chuckled. If you won’t come to me, I guess I’ll have to come to you.
She looked down to the crystal in her hands. And you, my dear, are going into a platinum box inside my backpack until you stop behaving like a lupax in heat.
◈ Saturday, 25th of August 1449 A.W. ◈
( Present )
In the room located in the attic of Hot Pot, Elaru stood in front of the bed on top of which a sleeping figure could be seen. She was holding her pendant deep in thought.
The pendant was lifeless, it neither glowed nor shook.
She remembered how restless it had been right before they established their Aetherneal bond. Yet, after the deed, it turned deathly still, no different from a mundane rock.
It hadn’t shown any signs of life ever since.
Did it decide to stop wiggling because there was no more need for it? Because she understood the message? Was the pendant telling her to make Kiel her soulmate and now it had nothing more to say?
Or did Aetherneal bond seal her fate so that not even the pendant could do anything to change it?
Elaru shook her head, dispersing the thoughts, and looked up at a wooden pendulum clock on the wall above the storage cabinet.
He should regain consciousness soon. I have no time to waste.