༺ The First Letter (35) ༻
“When I’m troubled, whenever I encounter any difficulties, Senior Ian will always be there…….”
As Seria continued talking to herself, the light in her eyes gradually became dim. The sight of a beautiful girl repeating the same words like a hypnotized doll was a sight that in itself brought goosebumps.
It was around that time that I felt an indescribable sense of crisis.
It would be fair to define it as some kind of intuition. A voice from the depths of my heart was telling me to stop her.
I instinctively called her name.
“…Anyway, Seria. Are you alright?”
“A-Ah! Yes, of course! W-What was I talking about?”
It was only then that Seria suddenly was brought back to her senses. She realized that she had just behaved rudely, so she got nervous and lowered her gaze.
It seemed that she didn’t notice it. Was she still dizzy, having just woken up from her deep trance?
It was possible. The deeper you immerse yourself in meditation, the harder it is to return to reality.
I shook my head and pretended that nothing had happened.
“Did you listen to what I said? Did you still not fully wake up from your meditative state?”
“…… Yes I did.”
Seria’s face blushed again, probably embarrassed by her own actions. Today, she was expressing her feelings quite well. Usually, I would have to look closely in order to read her emotions.
It must be because we have gotten a lot closer. Thinking like that, I tapped her on the shoulder.
“Let’s swing our sword for now. It seems I myself am not fully awake yet. I feel like I would yawn any moment…….”
Having said that, I pretended to yawn. It was because I wanted Seria to feel a little less awkward. Perhaps having seen through my intentions, a mellow light flashed across Seria’s eyes as she looked at me gently.
As if she had no other choice, she opened her mouth slowly.
Her warm voice resounded. However, she still didn’t forget to address me with proper respect.
“…… Yes, Senior.”
After that, Seria behaved normally.
As if the appearance she had just shown was a lie, Seria, as usual, began practicing with a serious and cold expression.
As always, she is a straightforward and upright swordsman. Even though I was accustomed to training for a long time, lately after I started hanging out with her, my training time had gradually increased.
Certainly, my style and hers were completely opposite. While I enjoyed sneaky and irregular patterns, Seria often preferred to stick to conventional moves.
Some may point this out as a weakness, but tradition was akin to a library of techniques from many generations deemed to be the most effective. Naturally, if one compares two swordsmen of similar classes, a swordsman who was loyal to tradition would have an edge.
It’s just that it’s rather hard to stick to the established norm. Every human has an innate tendency to deviate from the norm, but in order to follow the traditions, that desire must be curbed.
Seria was demonstrating the simplest way to do that.
Training until that notion gets etched in every one of your muscle fibers, until it’s engraved into your subconscious.
It was an incredible feat. A determination which goes beyond resolve and borders insanity.
I suddenly remembered a conversation I had with Seria a while ago.
On the day her mother was kicked out, Seria said she had heard this from her step-sister.
‘If you can’t prove your worth, you will be next.’
What was Seria thinking as she saw her mother crying, as she saw her mother reaching out to her while being trampled on, as she saw her being dragged away miserably?
It seemed clear that the memories of that day had stirred Seria’s emotions. Maybe that’s why she has been wielding her sword so desperately until now, maybe that was the reason.
Sometimes a certain memory, like a curse, could make a human feel like he is trapped inside a maze.
From that day on, she must have been living a life of restraint and happiness must have become a luxury for her, it became something she could never escape from. I only had one wish.
I hoped the memories of that day wouldn’t haunt Seria anymore.
But no matter how much I wished for it, I couldn’t help but be worried. If you went through something like that when you were young, it would inevitably leave grave scars in your heart.
However, Seria hasn’t spoken to me about it since then. So, I decided not to open my mouth unless I felt it was the right time to talk about it.
Delving into someone’s secret memories entails a lot of responsibility. I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to carry that burden.
It was then that I discovered another strange thing about Seria.
Seria was holding her breath while infusing Aura into her sword, but its color was subtly different from before.
In the past, a clear azure aura was formed, but now the aura has changed to a slightly darker shade. I’d say it’s a bit of a light blue color.
The aura was the embodiment of the swordsman’s own image in his mind. Most swordsmen concentrate on their image while creating a mana core inside their body, so it was rare for someone’s color to change.
Even if it did change, usually it would happen gradually over a long period of time. The color of your aura, being the incarnation of your image, was a very sensitive subject for a swordsman.
When you reach the realm of mastery known as ‘Sword Expert,’ each aura possesses different characteristics depending on its color.
Swordsmen call this ‘Innate Color’. If there were thousands of Sword Experts, one could see thousands of different shades of Aura. Therefore, the color of the Aura was sometimes treated like a swordsman’s fingerprint.
Witnessing such an important sight where a swordsman’s color changed, I couldn’t help but panic. I immediately called Seria.
“… … Ehm, Seria?”
As if nothing wrong was going on with her, Seria tilted her head and looked at me.
Her innocent face contained not a hint of doubt or fear. So I decided to ask due to my ever-growing curiosity.
“Did you notice that the color of your Aura has changed?”
As if she had noticed just then, Seria widened her eyes and looked at the color of her Aura.
However, even after noticing such a significant change, Seria didn’t seem to be perturbed.
“…… I think so.”
“You think so. No, you aren’t thinking at all! It’s a big deal!”
As I groaned, I inferred the reason why Seria’s innate color would have changed.
Have there been any changes to her lately? A drastic shift of ideas needs to occur in order for your image to be changed. It doesn’t regard the superficial level of your psyche, instead it needs to affect the depths of your very own subconscious.
Although the color had only slightly darkened, in order for such a change to occur, it required a level of shock that changed the foundation of your values and the way of thinking.
Image becomes increasingly important the higher you climb. I heard Seria had barely stepped into the realm of ‘Sword Expert,’ so a change in her image might have severe effects on her fighting style and her existing way of sword.
It was due to this reason that I was taken aback by Seria’s nonchalant reaction. How could her sword style remain the same, even when the color of her aura had changed?
Despite my reaction, Seria smiled softly, as if it wasn’t really a big deal. That confused me even more.
Because it was the first time I saw her smiling.
“I don’t think there are any problems, so don’t worry, Senior Ian. I’ve just reached the expert level, so my Aura’s traits haven’t even bloomed yet.”
When such a beauty smiled at me, my heart couldn’t help but skip a beat as I was a man, too. I felt as if I was being attacked by her allure. So I avoided my gaze and pretended to cough.
“Ahm, Ahmm… Still the color of your aura has changed, so you should be more concerned. Hang on, I think I know…….”
Recent events flashed through my mind.
The appearance of Seria, who was holding back her tears.
Perhaps because she recalled the memories of her mother being trampled on, there was a change in Seria’s heart. When I thought as such, I felt a little less confused by this development.
After all, they had purposely dug into her scars. I heaved a sigh and after hesitating for a moment, I finally opened my mouth.
“Seria, your…your mother.”
Seria’s eyes widened as if she didn’t expect me to bring up such a topic. It seemed surprising to her.
And soon she lowered her gaze to the floor. Power drained from her body.
It was a miserable and lonely look. She kept her mouth shut.
I carefully asked her.
“…… Are you alright?”
“I want to say yes, but…….”
Seria shook her head as a bitter sorrow lingered in her eyes.
Yes, she had to bear such a severe wound since her childhood. It would be a lie if she said that those scars had healed. Even recently, dozens and hundreds of people have rushed to pry open her wound.
It would be strange if that wound did heal. My mood also turned grim.
“I have lied to Senior Ian… No, it was really hard.”
“Your sword emulates…….”
“After that day.”
Anyway, if that was why her aura color has changed. Since it was a problem close to the heart of her sword. If the wound were to heal, it might ….
I didn’t dwell on this matter anymore since now was the time for Seria to speak.
“Do you remember what you said to me that day? Senior Ian.”
I nodded my head, nearly choking on my breath.
“I remember, why?”
“Back then I used to think, ‘I must prove my worth in order to survive.’ That’s what being kicked out of your house at that age does to you, doesn’t it?”
My mind fell into radio silence. In fact, I couldn’t actually understand her words, despite having rigorously trained from an early age, my family was rather harmonious.
I grew up showered with love, so there was no way I could understand the feeling of a detested daughter.
The wounds, the solitude, and all the struggles of a girl who had to survive alone at that age.
I don’t know, but instead of giving her that answer, I chose to remain silent as I tried to empathize with her feelings as much as possible.
Seria seemed to be busy reminiscing about her past. Her sword slowly pointed towards the sky. The sword gleamed in the morning sunlight.
“With this sword, I wanted to prove my worth because without the last name of ‘Yurdina’ I’m nothing.”
“Even if you aren’t Yurdina, you’re still an excellent swordsman.”
“I’m still not as good as Yurdian’s true great swordsman.”
It was only when she blurted that answer out I could understand Seria’s heart a little.
I opened my mouth. It was a hushed tone.
“…… So, do you want to beat your sister? Do you want to prove to the family that no Yurdina is better than you?”
“No, it’s a little different.”
Various emotions swirled in Seria’s eyes as she said that.
Slight fear, anticipation, and resolve.
“I didn’t want to prove it to my family, I wanted to prove it to myself.”
I remained silent and looked at Seria.
Why does such a strong and proud girl seem so fragile?
It would be right to describe her as a craft made of glass. It’s beautiful yet so delicate that it feels like it’s going to break the moment you touch it, so you can’t make up your mind.
“That I was no longer the kid who could only watch and cry like back then.”
That’s probably why.
I have no choice but to look after her.
Seriously, I hoped for her wish to come true.
That day’s training ended a little early. However, Seria and I talked for quite some time. When the training was over, a warm light returned to Seria’s eyes.
I thought all’s well that ends well. So I didn’t know.
How big of an error it was for me to prematurely conclude that the reason her innate color changed was due to her mother’s memory.
If so, it would have already changed at the time she was bullied. If that had been the case, I wouldn’t have seen that side of Seria for the first time today.
Then there was only one answer. From yesterday till this morning, she must have had some intense emotional change.
However, I didn’t know that back then. And as such, it will probably remain a mystery for a long time.
After leaving the woods with Seria, we were greeted by sunshine.
The radiant evenly spread its golden halo throughout the world. Blinded by the sunlight, my eyes squinted as I covered my yawn with the palm of my hand.
It was time to part ways with Seria since I usually had breakfast with Celine or Leto.
However, today Seria, who seemed to have started hesitating again, didn’t leave my side. And the moment I took a step, I felt a force pulling me toward her.
My bewildered gaze turned to Seria. She was tugging the hem of my clothes. When my curious eyes turned to her, only then Seria seemed to realize what she had done.
She got startled and let go of my sleeves. Her face began heating up again.
“Th-Th-That… Ehm, Senior Ian. This i-is… so… uh… therefore…….”
Seeing embarrassed state as she bit her tongue, I chuckled at her adorable appearance
“Why? Do you want to stay together more?”
Seria, who waved her hand as if embarrassed by my straightforward question, lowered her head in resignation. A voice bursting with shame came out of her mouth.
Surprisingly, Seria seemed to get lonely quite easily. I thought she would be more independent since she had been alone for a long time, but on the contrary, having her first friend might have made her more sensitive to loneliness.
There was no particular reason to have breakfast with Celine or Leto. We would just implicitly gather together at that time, but we would often skip breakfast when we suffered from a severe hangover.
Therefore it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have breakfast with Seria for a change. I was also worried about whether the bullying towards her had completely disappeared.
The moment when I was about to nod my head like that.
From afar, someone waved her hand as she called out my name. Her smile and liveliness that could be seen from miles away.
It was Celine. She waved to me with a beatific smile as she called my name. She then got sulky as if she suddenly recalled what had transpired yesterday.
Aren’t you being too much? I looked at Celine with a puzzled look.
It was at that time that Seria’s body flinched and stiffened. She couldn’t keep her eyes in one place. She was feeling particularly uncomfortable, not knowing what to do with Celine.
So was Celine. Celine, who was approaching me with her characteristic swift gait, realized who the person next to me was and then frowned.
And soon her expression turned cold. She once again smiled at me as if she had already decided to ignore Seria.
Although, a tinge of sorrow lingered in that smile.
She delightfully patted me on the back with her palm. However, the force exerted was formidable, so without realizing, I let out a groan.
“Ugh! H-Hey, Celine……!”
“It’s such a coincidence, isn’t it? It’s quite the coincidence, Ian Oppa. Are you going to go eat now?”
I shut my mouth for a moment. I was going to do that as I was just about to propose to Seria to have breakfast together.
However, given this situation, it would be awkward if I offered Seria to join us, since she seems to be uncomfortable around Celine.
Seria looked nervous. Since Celine didn’t hide her dislike for her, such a sense of distance must have felt like a hurdle to her, who wasn’t good at interpersonal relationships. Celine chose to ignore her existence, but she was still a woman who was quite close to me.
In the end, I sighed as if to surrender and decided to put Seria at ease.
“…… Uh, so be it.”
“Yes. Then let’s go quickly~ half of Ian Oppa’s share of food is mine, right?”
What is she talking about? Today, I felt puzzled by Celine’s strange choice of words, but I quickly smiled and decided to follow Celine, who was dragging me along.
Yes, I was about to do that.
If only I hadn’t felt the force of someone tugging my sleeves once more.
The source of that pull was Seria.
Celine sensed this too as she came to a standstill. She turned around and looked at Seria, who was standing there, holding my sleeve.
Just looking at Celine was enough to make her freeze in nervousness. I don’t know what kind of emotional change she went through. However a cold glint lingered in her eyes.
Even my body shuddered a little.
Sapphire and hazelnut eyes clashed for the first time today.
And at that moment, I had the illusion that the surrounding temperature had just dropped by several degrees.
At least, that’s how I felt.
It seemed like something big was about to happen.
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