Episode 48 – Ring Crafting
Kiel’s eyes widened, realizing what she was doing. She intended to craft the ring herself!
Elaru stretched out her other hand towards him. “Give me your right hand.”
If she had requested his hand in any other situation, Kiel would have snorted and ignored her. But this time was different. This time, Kiel understood the reason behind her actions.
With a slight frown, but no reluctance, he offered her his right hand. She took it into her own smooth hand, turning his palm upwards.
Soothing warmth spread from her flesh onto Kiel’s. Her actions seemed so tender and careful as if his hand was a fragile piece of crystal that with a single wrong touch would shatter.
At a normal state of mind, Kiel would have found her actions amusing. But when the silky surface of her palm rubbed against the back of his own hand, when her velvety fingers came into contact with his own fingers, his state of mind was anything but normal.
A strange sensation came over him. The touch was extremely comfortable, even pleasant, yet at the same time, this innocent touch seemed strangely… erotic.
When that word entered his mind, Kiel’s entire body shivered, and he averted his gaze elsewhere, trying to find something else to distract himself with.
Yet, the hands were among the most sensitive places on the body; no matter how he tried to ignore her touch, he was unable to focus his thoughts elsewhere.
The mark of the bond, residing on the back of his hand near the wrist, seemed restless. It pulsated as if calling Elaru’s fingers to move just a bit downwards. Just a bit down and they would come in contact with it.
While Kiel was trying to understand the strange behavior of his mark, Elaru picked up the ring-shaped marble and slid it on his ring finger. When it reached the base of the finger, she tightened it until it fit perfectly, then loosened it a bit so that it didn’t touch his skin. When she estimated the size to be right, she removed the ring and placed his hand down on the table.
The sudden loss of warmth jolted Kiel awake from his contemplation. He blinked a few times, clearing his thoughts. His eyes rose up to see Elaru picking up her needles from the table.
“Something strange happened just now. My mark was responding to your touch.” Kiel’s voice came out huskier than intended.
Elaru’s actions paused, and she stared at him with an unreadable look. Her lips tightly pressed together, trying not to show that she found the current subject unsettling. Her throat suddenly dried up, and she grabbed a glass of honeymead to take a sip.
Kiel inspected his mark of the bond and abruptly his eyebrows furrowed. “Look! The mark has grown a bit.”
Still wearing a poker face, Elaru looked down at the black mark and nodded. “Yeah. It grew a bit.”
Kiel’s eyes lit up. This is excellent news! The distance they could be apart from each other would most likely grow too! “Quick!” Kiel extended his hand towards Elaru.
“Touch it. If it grew like this just because you held my hand for a few seconds, maybe it can grow further if you touch it directly.”
Elaru’s eyes widened into saucers, without any warning, she spat out the honeymead she was drinking straight in Kiel’s face. Her grip on the needles loosened and they slipped out, their fall creating a melodic high pitched ding.
She quickly covered her mouth and nose with her hand, leaving only her eyes visible, which seemed to be tearing up.
Kiel’s hand stood frozen in the air, his eyebrow twitching, honeymead dripping down the side of his face. What’s with that reaction!?
Sluggishly, he wiped the spit off of his face in disgust, shooting a chilling glare in Elaru’s direction. “Can’t you, for once, behave like a proper lady?”
She looked at him with a wronged expression. She opened her mouth to say something several times, but in the end, she decided against it and covered her eyes with the palm of her hand. How can you say that with a straight face?!
After wiping off the honeymead and spit with a napkin, Kiel went to wash his face in the bathroom. Internally he was grumbling and swearing the entire time. Granted, he was annoyed, and not mad. As he remembered his own outburst a few days ago, he couldn’t be too angry at her.
After washing his face, Kiel looked at his own reflection. The crystal clear droplets of water were sliding down the sides of his face, parts of his hair were also wet, sticking out as if he had used hair gel.
His mind returned to the mark of the bond, replaying what happened. As he reached the part with Elaru spitting her honeymead in his face, he froze in horror. Suddenly, he felt dizzy, as if someone had just hit him with a heavy hammer. He slumped down to sit on the toilet seat, covering his face with his hand.
But even his long slim fingers couldn’t cover the pink blush covering his usually pale cheeks.
Why is it that you never realize your own inappropriateness but when I say something you pick up on it right away?! Are you actually just pretending to be stupid in that area??
He stood there petrified for a time. Until the sound of knocking reached his ears. Followed by that irritating to the mind yet pleasant to the ear voice. “Iceblock? You ok? Are you taking a dump?”
“Then why are you still in there?”
“I hate you so much…”
When Kiel returned to sit at the table, both of them decided to pretend like the previous situation never happened. Truthfully, Kiel wanted to bring up the matter of the mark growing, but he felt too embarrassed to do so.
He wore a cold, emotionless mask on his face, and Elaru returned to what she was doing before he had interrupted her.
She picked up the needles she had dropped and cast a Morph spell on each one. Her spells were incredibly dense, so dense that Kiel’s eyes widened in disbelief.
If he could see mana, her spell would surely be so blindingly bright, eclipsing everything else.
Elaru paid no attention to Kiel’s shock and moved the roots of the spells inside the needles bit by bit as if it was awfully difficult to do so. As she exercised the control over the spell, the needles melted and blended into a single blob of metal. This process of melting was sluggish, unlike the prior process with the black marble.
Sweat slowly slid down the side of Elaru’s face, yet her expression showed nothing but deep concentration.
Kiel didn’t know what the needles were made out of. Initially, he thought it to be silver, but since the material obviously had a high mana resistance, it couldn’t be silver. High mana resistance was the only reason that came to mind which could explain her slow and arduous process of spellcasting. Is it made out of Pitium?
Pitium was a titanium-platinum alloy that retained the benefits of both metals – hardness of titanium and high mana resistance of platinum. The degree of hardness and mana resistance depended on the ratio of titanium and platinum.
If Kiel had known that the silvery metal was actually pure platinum, he would have spit out the honeymead he was currently sipping. Among the 6 million people inhabiting the lands of Halnea, the total count of people capable of casting a spell on platinum absolutely didn’t exceed 2 digits.
Luckily, he didn’t find out. Otherwise, he would have felt especially awkward for scolding Elaru’s previous outburst while doing the same several minutes later.
After the needles had been completely melted into a blob, Elaru moved the slim black ring close to it. The blob gradually grew many tendrils. It wrapped itself around the black ring like vines, giving it a silver frame and an inner pattern very similar to the black diamond ring they saw in the jewelry shop.
After the ring was completed, Elaru let out a long breath of relief and wiped the sweat off of her forehead with the napkin.
She took hold of Kiel’s hand, appearing even more careful than the last time. The suddenness of the move made Kiel’s heart skip a beat.
She gracefully slipped the ring onto his ring finger.
It was a perfect fit.
Kiel’s lips pressed into a thin line. Why do I feel like a girl in this relationship?
Elaru didn’t seem to notice the sourness on his face. Instead, she smiled in satisfaction and looked at Kiel with glittering eyes. “What do you think?”
Kiel suppressed the rising frustration and looked at the ring deeply. The pattern had slight differences when compared to the ring in the jewelry shop, but to him, this pattern looked even better.
He was about to let out a rare word of praise when he noticed a serious issue.
“Why in bloody tarnation did you put it on my ring finger?!”
Elaru stared at him gobsmacked. “Ugh… People usually wear rings on the ring finger?”
Kiel slammed his hand on the table creating a loud smacking sound. “Idiot! Those are engagement rings! They wear engagement rings on the ring finger!”
He took the ring off and tried putting it on his middle finger, however, the ring was too tight. It couldn’t even reach the root of the middle finger. He then took it off and tried putting it on his index finger, but the texture of the ring was too smooth so being even a little loose made it easily slip off.
Elaru’s eyebrows furrowed slightly, and she finally responded in an apologetic voice. “Why didn’t you mention anything previously?”
Kiel’s cheeks imperceptibly reddened. He couldn’t say that her touch was too distracting, causing him not to notice which finger she put it on.
He chose to not answer her question. “Fix it. I can’t wear it on my ring finger.”
Elaru sighed in resignation. “It’s too late now. You should have told me that earlier.”
Kiel’s lips pressed tightly into a line, a vein started pulsating on his forehead. “Can’t you just Morph it a bit to make it fit on my middle finger!?”
Elaru responded with a deadpan expression. “No.”
“I don’t have the ability to do so.”
Kiel frowned. What does that mean?
Elaru sighed again and took the ring back. She placed it into the small platinum box the black marble was formerly in. She looked at Kiel’s sullen face and scratched her head looking quite apologetic. “Ugh… look at the bright side. The ring finger of your left hand is still empty. You can put an engagement ring there in the future.”
Kiel covered his eyes with the palm of his hand and growled in a deep, husky voice. “You are, again, missing the point. I don’t want people to think I am involved with a female.”
Elaru stared at him blankly. “Why? Don’t tell me you are gay?”
“I won’t dignify that with a response.” He shot her a glare through the fingers of his hand that were covering his eyes. “Also, if I by some remote possibility, end up marrying someone in the future, people would think I have two wives.”
Aren’t you overthinking things? Elaru grimaced. “It isn’t that unusual for nobles of high status to have several spouses.”
Kiel’s eyes abruptly turned icy, his aura agitatedly dropping down in temperature. “Devoting yourself to a single person is the whole point of marriage. If you can’t even do that, how can you expect that person to devote themselves to you? My father might be scum, my brother might be scum among scum, but don’t you dare group me together with them!”
Sore spot, huh? Elaru’s mouth twitched, her eyebrows raising up giving her a sheepish look. “I take it you are against polygamy?”
Kiel snorted coldly. Elaru chuckled wryly. At least we are not talking about the rings anymore? Yay?
An uncomfortable silence enveloped the room.
A few moments later, Elaru coughed awkwardly and tried to ease the hostile aura. “I agree with you. While it is possible to love multiple people very much if you try to sit on two chairs you won’t be able to fully occupy either one.”
Kiel nodded his head in agreement. “At last, we agree on something.”