Editors: sleepchaser, ASplashofMusic
“Everyone will feel a deep envy towards you, the brightest star. Eternal loneliness will await you, will follow you until the end of your days. Oh, the torment. How horrible. How pitiful…”
Despite these words, she chuckled, shoulders shaking.
Then, she gripped her strangely twisted black cane, and lowered her eyes as she made a praying gesture.
The jet-black pupils peeking from her narrowed eyes were dim. Hazy. It were as if her soul had been transported to some distant place.
“Ahhh… What a truly horrible fate… Within two years, your karma will be set ablaze, burning and taking everything away from you… Of course, it will depend on your willpower… If you can endure it, then you will achieve supreme glory…”
“You… What are you saying!?”
I couldn’t help but take a step forward. Her words were becoming unbearable for me.
Yet the woman didn’t so much as flinch.
Her grip on her cane grew all the more forceful, words so soft and barely enunciated that I would have just missed them if I weren’t standing so close. “Oh my? How is this… ”
Prior to this, she had been expressionless, as if stuck in between reality and dream. Now she furrowed her brows.
After a while, the creases among her brows disappeared, and instead, her lips curved into a large smile.
“Hehe… Oh, how surprising. This is the first time I’ve seen this. It looks like he will change the future of your star…”
“…The goddess was filled with deep lament after trying yet failing to change your fate repeatedly. No, it should be this world’s fate… This time, it seems she placed another star by your side.”
“…This is… somewhat unusual… That little star was summoned from another distant universe. A small shooting star…”
“Hehe, it’s quite interesting. The goddess threw in this little star into your life to accompany you, to illuminate your dark path. What a kind thing to do…”
The woman lifted her gaze. Stared me straight in the eye.
She once more appeared as if she were deep within a dream. But then, for the first time since we met, she gave me a gentle and affectionate smile.
“That little star thinks about your loneliness, afraid that you will be burned by your own flames. For this reason, it stays close to your side, and orbits around you. Such a gentle star…”
For some reason, Lian came to mind.
That boy is gentle, too gentle. I seriously worried for him.
“Because that little shooting star came from another universe, my star reading can’t discern its origins nor its destiny. Even so… I can still read this. That star is a star that doesn’t revolve…”
“A star that doesn’t revolve?”
“The stars in this universe will continuously revolve, forever and ever. However, because that shooting star came from another place, it is something that shouldn’t exist, the only star in this universe that won’t ever revolve. Therefore, once it leaves this universe, you won’t be able to find it again.. So please be careful. If you don’t want to lose this gentle little star, don’t let it burn out. Cherish it…”
Was she finally done, I wondered. Proof seemed to arrive in the form of the woman lowering the tip of her cane to the ground, bowing her lead wordlessly.
But it seemed I was too quick to celebrate.
“Thank you very much for this very unusual star reading. I will stop here. Please forgive my rudeness… I sincerely hope that you will overcome that trial that awaits you in two years, and heal from your loneliness and grief…”
The woman smiled once more, and slowly blended into the crowd.
My mind was in a daze for a while.Once I came to my senses, I immediately chased after that woman.
I searched the whole market, but in the end, I couldn’t find even a shadow of her.
＊ ＊ ＊
The bell rings, signaling the end of my shift.
I rush to tidy up and bid goodbye to the construction chief as I dash from the construction site, continuing my sprint all the way to the carriage station.
I forcefully stop the stagecoach from departing, and hop inside.
If I rush back home now, Lian should still be at the church.
Once I’m at the Leis Village station, I sprint to the church, determination fueling my every step.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
As I run, I can faintly hear a bell ringing.
P vlgfma ws ujhf abkjgv atf rbecv. Jeaalcu atgbeut j ilcf bo agffr lr j rabcf ragemaegf abkfglcu bnfg atf ugffc. Pa’r atf Ykfc ojwlis’r mibmx abkfg, ibmjafv bc atf tlutfra tlii lc atf nliijuf.
Ktf qgfnlber ofevji ibgv rqfmlolmjiis tlgfv j ojwber fculcffg ogbw atf gbsji mjqlaji ab mbcragema j yfii, bcf atja rbecvfv fzjmais atf rjwf jr atja bo atf mjqlaji’r mibmx abkfg. Pa kjr ab mbwobga tlr yfibnfv klof ktb tjv ugbkc eq atfgf.
The engineer’s skills truly matched his reputation. For over a hundred years, the bell and clock tower has not once been put out of operation.
I study the tower.
I can’t see the numbers on the clock, but I know that the hour hand is currently positioned at four.
I’m glad I rushed home. I will definitely make it in time.
Sure enough, the sky above has yet to grow orange when I reach the church.
The kids should be finishing their dinner now.
Lian should still be there as well.
It’s as I have predicted. The kids are clearing the dishes the moment I enter the dining room.
The kids rushed around me.
“I’m home,” I say, stroking their heads. “Where’s Lian? Is he still here?”
“Lian-sama? Uh huh, he is still here!”
“Lian-shama is cleaning plates with Marie-shamaa!”
Doubting my ears, I turn to the kitchen. Like what the kids said, Lian is washing the dishes with Marie in matching aprons, chatting happily.
Marie notices me first. She smiles, cheeks reminiscent of apples. Shortly after, Lian also notices me and places the washed bowl and plates into the basket next to him.
“Ah? Oh, it’s Al. Welcome home. Aren’t you fast today?”
“W-welcome home… Er, you’re quite early…”
“Yeah. I’m home.”
Of course I won’t mention that I sprinted all the way back home from the station.
“…What are you doing?”
“Y-you can tell just by looking, okay? Since I ate dinner here, I helped Marie-sama wash the dishes as a thank you!”
“I told him that he didn’t have to fuss about it, but he helped anyway. Lian-sama is really good at washing dishes tooー”
Lian blushes from head to toe. Then he rips the apron from his body, folding it on the side table with care.
I fight the urge to burst into laughter. His act of keeping up appearances while blushing hard is too hilarious.
“T-then, I should get going!”
“Wait, I’ll give you half of the stones. I’ve already finished charging them.”
“Eh!? Are you kidding!? Y-you’ve finished that much!?”
“A-amazing,” says Lian, staring at me in astonishment. He completely forgot his embarrassment prior.
I tell him to wait for me as I look for them in my room, but he insists on following along.
One by one, he carefully places each blood-orange stone into the bag as he counts it.
Carefully, like the way he washed the dishes moments ago. Pale, thin fingers brushing the stones in a gentle manner.
Marie praised his competence in washing dishes too.
Watching Lian cleaning the plates with ease is somehow very nostalgic.
He seems so accustomed to doing it that I can’t believe it’s his first time.
This kind of job should have been left to his family’s servants.
“…There are fifty-two pieces. You’re really amazing. You finished them in no time. Err, I counted it correctly, right?” He waves a hand near my face. “Alfred?”
As if sensing something strange with my weak response, Lian tilts his head while looking up at me.
My silence causes his pale eyes to cloud with worry.
“…Did something happen? You seem a little tired.”
Whenever I see this side of Lian, the words of that strange, black-haired woman replay in my head:
Because that shooting star came from another place, it is something that shouldn’t exist.
That little star thinks about your loneliness, afraid that you will be burned by your own flames. For this reason, it stays close to your side, and orbits around you. Such a gentle star…
…The only star in this universe that won’t ever revolve. Therefore, once it leaves this universe, you won’t be able to find it again.. So please be careful…
“Alfred? Tell me the truth. What’s going on with you? Did you deplete your magic power after charging these stones? I mean, you’re the type that doesn’t know when to stop.”
“…That might be the case.”
I slowly approach him. Attempt to wrap my arms around his waist to pull him closer.
Contrary to what I expected, he doesn’t try to resist. Instead, he settles within my arms. Seems like he’s too worried about the state of my magic power, so much that he doesn’t notice my actions.
When our lips are only centimeters apart, he finally comes to his senses and widens his eyes.
“Can you give me some?”
I press a light kiss to his lips to assess his response.
Lian’s face burns. He keeps on stuttering, his words full of ‘ah’, and ‘uh’.
Actually, my magic power wasn’t depleted to the point where it would affect me adversely.
The reason why I look tired is because I sprinted all the way back. Definitely won’t mention it though.
That said, I’m currently tired and hungry, so my magic power should be diminishing. So I’m not completely lying. Let’s just leave it at that.
I lean my forehead against his shoulder, pretending to lose my balance. It causes Lian to tremble in surprise.
This is sneaky even for me, but…
I just really want to touch him.
I want to touch him, to confirm his existence.
Lowering his head, Lian grips my sleeve and breathes out a sigh. My ears catch a light groan from his lips.
As I thought, we can’t? Is he going to run away again?
I lift my face and stare at him.
He meets my gaze, cheeks still red. Then he furrows his brow as if in thought, before lowering his gaze in a fluster.
After a while, he lifts his face once more. His expression somewhat hesitant.
“…A-are you that exhausted?”
“Yeah. My head feels heavy. I’m also a little dizzy.”
I’m not lying.
Seeing him fret over my condition that much, to the point of considering intimate physical touch with me, makes me feel giddy. Dizzy. So my words were the truth.
Not giving me a chance to even respond, Lian throws his arms around my neck, dragging my head down.
Lian’s face is so close to mine that our noses are practically touching. Gaze still lowered, he presses his soft and warm lips against mine.
Upon contact, his tender magic gradually flows into me.
Gently penetrates me.
I can’t believe he actually did it.
I thought that he would say something like ‘what are you saying, idiot!’, and then back away, scolding me with a red face as usual.
Yet he’s actually sharing his magic power with me using the ’Mucous Membrane Touch’ method he hates the most.
I guess I made it seem like I wanted this specific method. Well, I also asked him for it in the past, so that might be where he got the idea.
I personally admit that my measures are cunning, but I can’t help it. I’ll do anything for more of his touches.
I pull his thinner body close, wrapping him in my embrace. Then I bit him. Hard.
Lian jumps in surprise.
He opens his mouth as if wanting to say something. I take the opportunity to slowly insert my tongue in between his lips, to entangle our tongues together.
His lips are soft and pleasant, his magic power warm and with a tinge of sweetness.
So is the inside of his mouth.
Although he squirms and trembles in my arms, he doesn’t show a hint of wanting to flee.
He looks pained, however, so I pull back a little.
Lian wheezes. His shoulders and chest move up and down as he desperately tries to catch his breath. He was probably holding his breath as we kissed. I’ve told him time and time again to breathe through the nose, haven’t I? He should just listen to me.
Once his breathing settles, I bring my face closer..
“Can I have a little more?”
He surprises me once more by opening his lips in silence, lowering his gaze, and nodding. Not before raising his brows in anger with a red face, of course.
Looks like he still isn’t planning to escape. He stays in my arms obediently.
Is this a ‘yes’? Well, let’s just interpret it as so.
As my lips brush against the corner of his, he jolts yet again. He glares at me.
“Y-you! C-can’t you do it normally… Nnh…”
The moment I kiss him, his magic power trickles into me again.
The flow is very unstable and sporadic, probably due to his agitation.
Still, I’m happy that he’s sharing it with me. On the other hand, I feel anxious over it. He’s being too generous.
It makes me feel as if everything that strange woman said will prove true.
Lian always tries to lend a hand to those who seek help, even if he says otherwise.
Like right now. Even to someone like me.
Lian is kind. Terribly so.
To the point of giving everything he has. To the kids, Marie, me, and so on.
He should be popular. His life should be smooth sailing. And yet, it feels like he has loneliness etched deep inside his heart. Like that one night when he wept and clung to me.
I faintly remember that day in which he suddenly had a 180 degree flip in his personality.
Lian told me to wait two years for him.
The strange star-gazer also mentioned a two-year period, that my karma would scorch everything in that time.
Why did Lian say ‘2 years’?
Is this just a coincidence?
Who is the star the goddess sent into this world to help me?
What is their purpose?
A few suspicions come to mind.
Is Lian aware of something, like the incoming disaster two years later?
dun dun dunnn *rollsincliffhanger*
ASplashofMusic: Whenever I read jet-black woman, I remember this
I CAN’T BREATHE 😂😂😂