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Aethernea Episode 17 – Experienced

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◈Sat.u.r.day, 25th of August 1449 A.W.◈

Days until the Muni exam: 2

 

Kiel woke up to the morning light caressing his face. He tried to cling on to sleep just a bit more. He didn’t feel like getting up. His current predicament was too comfortable, too enjoyable. It was cozy, relaxing, and made him feel… happy? Well, regardless, he couldn’t remember the last time he slept so well.

The temperature was just right, and there was even a nice warm breeze tickling his neck…

Breeze tickling his neck!?!  Kiel’s eyes snapped open.

The sight that greeted him made his face freeze in horror.

The sheathed sword that he set up last night as a fence in the middle of the bed was still there, in the same position that he had placed it in.

Which isn’t a wonder considering the fact that it was supported by weight from both sides. Kiel’s body was pressing onto the sword from one side, and he even had an arm draped over it. Elaru was pressing onto the sword from the other side.  Both of them had somehow converged to the center of the bed. And the only thing between them was a thin sword. It might have as well not been there!

It’s not like it helped at all! Elaru’s head managed to sneak under the sword and she was nuzzling his neck. His arm was going over the sword and it was comfortably resting on her back.

Other than his mother, Kiel had never hugged a female before. The entire notion of being intimate with someone (in any way) horrified him. He didn’t like anyone! He didn’t want to be close to anyone!

Kiel gritted his teeth, one could almost see fumes coming out of his ears.

I knew it! I knew it would turn awkward! This is why two people of the opposite s.e.x shouldn’t sleep in the same bed!

Are the G.o.ds making fun of me? Are they laughing at my futile attempts of fighting their set fate? What kind of a miserable turn of events is this?

Luckily, he was the first to wake up. He didn’t know how he would face Elaru if she found them in such a position. He wondered if she would be bothered by it, or if she would just laugh it off.

Surely it would be the latter. That thought annoyed him.

He carefully and steadily retracted his arm and then he used it to support Elaru’s head as he moved away quickly. In fact, he moved away so abruptly that he ended up falling off the bed.

It was unclear whether Elaru was woken up by the string of curses or the thud, but soon after, she stretched like a cat and smiled from ear to ear.

“I feel great. I don’t remember the last time I slept this well. I even had a dream. A dream!” She turned to Kiel, who had just gotten up from the floor, and emphasized it like a miracle had occurred.

Kiel looked at her strangely. She elaborated: “I am a light sleeper. My sleep is rarely deep enough to have dreams.”

He didn’t answer her, he was still wearing a scowl on his face.

Elaru looked at the sword that was still lodged between them. “Why are you in such a foul mood? See, your contraption even worked! I stayed on my side, and you stayed on yours. Just like I said, there’s no problem with sharing a bed.”

Kiel didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

* * *

It was a quiet morning in the tavern. There were not many people eating breakfast.

Elaru was feasting on bacon and fried eggs, while drinking caramel-cookie milk. Kiel was surprised that she would drink milk for breakfast. That was something  that children did, or girls that hoped the milk would make their breast grow larger. He heard the girls in Beyd Academy talk about it. It sounded ridiculous at the time, but seeing Elaru drink it, he couldn’t help but wonder if all that milk was the reason her chest grew to its current generous size.

The funny thing about it was that Kiel drunk milk too. Chocolate milk to be exact. He felt the need to explain himself and claimed it was because he practiced martial arts so he needed his bones and muscles to get as strong as possible. Of course, he wouldn’t have admitted actually liking the taste of milk. That would be just inviting the ridicule of others. Well, maybe Elaru wouldn’t laugh at him since she was drinking milk as well, but still, he needed to keep his image of a cool guy. Cool guys didn’t drink milk for breakfast.

Kiel had finished his meal quickly and he returned back to the room. He didn’t want to give Elaru the chance to turn this meal into yesterday’s fiasco. And also, that freckled waitress going by the name of Pixy, was burning holes into him with her gaze.

When Kiel left the hearing range, Pixy, the freckled waitress, slowly approached Elaru and nonchalantly leaned her back on the table next to hers.

She wore a coy smirk on her face as she asked in a naughty voice: “Sooo… did you sleep well last night?”

Elaru grinned brightly. “I don’t remember the last time I slept so well! I feel refreshed today.”

The girl’s face flushed, the color reaching even her ears, and she gave Elaru a knowing smile. “Was this the first time you two… shared the same bed?”

Elaru wasn’t surprised that the Pixy knew that she shared the room with Kiel. Pixy was an outgoing person who always had the latest gossip. She must have heard it from Mira.

Elaru didn’t bother to deny it and nodded. “Yeah. We didn’t have the chance to spend the night together before.”

Pixy smirked slyly before asking. “How was he?”

Elaru looked at Pixy confusedly, trying to determine what she was really asking with such a vague question. Her eyes lit up in realization. She must be asking about her experience sharing the bed with Kiel.

“It was great. He is still. He doesn’t make any noises and he doesn’t hog the blanket. About time I ran into someone who doesn’t kick, snore or grab b.o.o.bs in his sleep.”

Pixy stared at Elaru dumbfounded. What? His performance in bed doesn’t sound amazing at all. “Ah… it must be that he isn’t as experienced as you.”

Elaru gave Pixy a strange look. Experienced? The girl sure switched conversation topics fast. What does Kiel’s experience as a mage have to do with the previous conversation?

“Of course not. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone as experienced as me. He is already quite excellent. He has been training since childhood. Experience will come with time.”

Pixy froze and stared at Elaru, gaping. The fingers gripping her tray slipped. It was only when the tray hit the ground that she awoke from her stupor. Her whole face and ears were beet red.

“Y… you are?? H… how did he train?” She stammered, fidgeting on her feet.

Elaru took a sip of her chocolate milk before responding. “How else? By exercising and casting magic over and over.”

“There is a magic even for that?!” Pixy’s voice raised even higher than her usual voice.

Elaru gave her a confused look and was about to ask something, but Pixy suddenly looked past Elaru to some other table and stammered out “I’ll be right th… there!”

She smiled nervously at Elaru and explained. “Sorry. Duty calls!” Then she ran off like the wind.

Elaru stared at the place where Pixy was previously standing in shock. “What was that about? I didn’t notice anyone calling for her… ”

Elaru didn’t dwell on it for long and eventually she shrugged, continuing with her meal.

She had no idea that this seemingly insignificant incident would give birth to various strange rumors.

* * *

Kiel was walking back and forth in the room, thinking about all the things he needed to do before the exams. He couldn’t practice magic here in the room. He needed an open s.p.a.ce, somewhere where he wouldn’t be worried about the potential damage. Something like the forest clearing he used to practice magic in.

He could find such a place on the outskirts of Ashar. However, he couldn’t go there without Elaru because it was pretty far away and he didn’t know their current distance limitation.

That’s it. That was the most important thing, he needed to find out how far apart they could be. Other effects of the Aetherneal bond could wait until he pa.s.sed the exam, but this couldn’t wait.

Luckily, this was the point when Elaru walked back into the room, smiling brightly like the sun. Kiel had the urge to shield his eyes from the imaginary light.

He wasted no time and went straight to the point. “Elaru, I’ve been thinking about the bond. We need to test out how the distance affects us. We can’t go on without knowing how far apart we can be.”

Elaru snapped her fingers and pointed at herself. “That is exactly what I’ve been thinking. I have to go fetch you that artifact I promised you, but I can’t take you with me. So I need to know how far apart we can be.”

Kiel nodded approvingly. She didn’t forget about the promised artifact. “I thought one of us would stay here, and the other would go towards the outskirts of Ashar. We could then carefully observe what we feel as the distance increases.”

Elaru smiled. “Excellent idea. You sit tight and keep notes about what we experience at what distance and I’ll set off.”

Kiel was about to protest. He wanted to be the one to run around. His goal was to find a suitable place where he could practice magic. However, before he could protest, Elaru continued.

“When we are satisfied with the experiment, I will just use my Beacon to teleport back to the city. Hot Pot is close to the Gate, so it would be the most effective way of traveling back. A quick way back is necessary in case adverse effects appear.”

Elaru grinned wide. “Also, this is an excellent chance to practice two things. The first is telepathy. We should practice it until it feels easy and natural to use. That way, in the future, we can converse about ‘you-know-what’ without fearing someone would overhear us. Using this chance to practice telepathy is ideal because we will also be able to test out if our telepathic ability degrades with distance. It will also be helpful for us to converse about what we feel at what distance. When you feel something, you can ask how far I moved and write it down.”

Kiel was impressed. “Did you think of that just now or were you thinking about it for a while?” He wondered. He hoped the answer was “a while”, because if she managed to think of such a good plan this quickly, he would feel threatened by her intelligence. He had never felt threatened or even considerably challenged in that area before.

She grinned. “Thank you for the compliment!” She understood the thoughts behind the question. Kiel narrowed his eyes. “I was not complimenting you… ” He growled.

Elaru ignored him, her grin not fading even though she clearly heard him.

 

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Aethernea Episode 17 – Experienced summary

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