As everyone in the castle was busy with the preparations, the festival came in the blink of an eye.
The town was teeming with people since the morning, with music everywhere. There were also a lot of foreigners, and the prosperous Farsas castle town became even more bustling.
It was Farsas year 526, the 187th Aitea Festival.
Tinassha had come to town since early morning and toured around the stalls. When it was nearly dusk, she came back to the castle’s moat for her duty.
There were also stalls lining up right in front of the moat, and a lot of people were walking around. Within the crowd, she extended her hands towards the moat and voiced a simple chant. Five evenly-spaced light spheres lit up beneath the dark water.
Passerby cheered at the flickering bluish-white lights coming from the water.
The magicians in other areas also lit up the light at the same time, highlighting the castle walls in the twilight. As Tinassha looked at the area next to her, a person in magician robe noticed and walked over, waving his hands.
“How is it? They came out to be quite beautiful.”
“Fortunately, they did. Thank you very much. Uhm,”
“I’m Temis. Nice to meet you.”
The man said and offered his hand. A magical diagram was engraved on his right arm in black ink.
She smiled and shook his hand.
“I’m Tinassha. Nice to meet you.”
“I’ll be here for quite some time, so just call me if anything happens.”
Temis walked away, casting his friendliness around all the while.
Her initial duty had finished for now, but it would last well into the night. What to do until then, Tinassha wondered.
“Festivals are so nice, aren’t they? I want to drink though.”
“We’re on duty.”
Amongst the hustle and bustle, a tall man was walking lazily beside a woman, who walked with a straight posture. They had completely opposite auras but the same no-redundant movements, and they walked in the crowd as smoothly as gliding.
The coats of arms on the man’s waist and the woman’s chest were both of Farsas, and showed that their ranks were commanders or higher.
The red headed man with a friendly face that still retained some boyishness was Art, the one who had climbed to the position of General at a young age thanks to his skills with the sword. The beautiful woman with the neatly-trimmed shoulder-length blond hair was Meldina, who was commanding her own platoon despite being a woman.
They were lightly equipped so as not to intimidate people more than necessary, but as they were patrolling the festival, they still carried their swords.
“Where is His Highness?”
The stall selling grilled pork seemed to have caught Art’s interest, and he kept looking back after passing it.
But Meldina ignored that and didn’t slow down.
“Is there anyone guarding him?”
“He said it’s not necessary. I hope he trusts us more, but…”
“It’s needless to say that His Highness is strong.”
The man shrugged, then suddenly clapped as if he suddenly realized something.
“Ah, Meldina, you want to be his guard, don’t you?”
“Is your head alright?”
Both were childhood friends, born and raised in Farsas, and their relationship was good.
Art was older by four years. He was now 24, but he had entered the castle as a soldier at the age of 18. Years later, Meldina had also arrived as if to chase after him.
At first glance, no one would be able to guess that they were on good terms. But they usually worked together, and many misunderstood that they were lovers.
“It’s getting quite dark.”
Meldina looked up at the sky; stars had begun to faintly appear. They continued on the main street and approached the castle moat.
Just then, they heard the scream of a woman tearing up the noise of the crowd. Art and Meldina ran towards the direction of the voice.
“My child… My child!”
By the moat, a woman was bending over the water and screaming. Art rushed up to her.
“What’s wrong?! Did your child fall in?!”
The woman was as white as a sheet. She looked at him, but her voice was lost, and she could only nod.
Having gotten her confirmation, he quickly took off his sword and jumped into the moat without hesitation.
Even though there was light, it was still dark underwater. Art strained his eyes and dived to the bottom.
The moat was as deep as the height of four people; there was no current, but just that fact made the outlook quite bad.
Art’s vision was full of mud slowly wriggling under the light. As he looked around and started to feel impatient, the dim light spheres suddenly increased in intensity. The range of the light expanded in the blink of an eye and eroded the darkness away, making it as bright as noon underwater.
The sudden incident surprised him, but Art continued to look around and saw a boy about two years old drifting a short distance away.
Holding the boy’s unconscious body, he kicked at the water to rise to the surface. When he broke out of the water and took a breath, there were cheers rising from the surroundings.
He entrusted the boy to Meldina. When he got out of the water, she immediately took the child and laid him down, checking his breathing and pulse.
“He’s alright. There’s a pulse, and it seems like he didn’t drink any water.”
The mother cried and thanked them, and hugged the child close.
“I’m glad I didn’t drink…”
After sending the mother and child to a physician just in case, Art, who was dripping wet, sighed in relief and squeezed the hem of his clothes.
“I couldn’t see well under there at all. Ah, that said…”
He raised his voice and asked the crowd:
“Who’s the magician making the lights in this area?”
A hand rose up within the crowd of spectators.
“It’s me. I’m sorry for my inattention.”
Tinassha said and walked out of the crowd. Art was entranced for a moment when he saw her.
“Ah no, that’s not what I meant… You helped by strengthening the light. Thank you.”
Tinassha quietly bowed.
As Art looked over her head, he saw the robed magician in charge of the neighboring area raising a tattooed arm and meeting his eyes. Was he worried about the commotion?
Seeing that the disturbance had been settled, the crowd began to slowly disperse. Meldina gave Art his sword back – she had been looking after it for him.
“First of all, get a change of clothes.”
“Ah… Got it.”
As they walked towards the soldiers’ station, which was quite a distance away, Art said.
“That surprised me! What a beauty. I have never seen one like that…”
“She’s a magician from the witch’s tower. His Highness brought her along.”
Meldina’s face was distorted as if the words she spoke were ominous.
“Ah, aaah! I heard about that. No wonder.”
“No wonder what?”
Art shook his head to get rid of the water in his hair. Next to him, Meldina grimaced as if in annoyance; she was probably sprayed.
“Nah, I thought His Highness isn’t interested in women, so it was unexpected to hear that story… But if it’s her then it’s understandable.”
“It’s unattractive to be jealous, Meldina.”
She hit his back from behind with all her strength.
It was the middle of the night, and the festival was coming to an end. Tinassha was floating in the sky above the castle and looking down at the town below.
The town, illuminated by colorful lights, looked just like a jewel box made with jet black cloth.
Her black dress was gently changing shapes in the wind, but her own white body was cleverly blended into the night.
Recognizing the voice from below, she slowly descended. Oscar was looking up at her from a balcony in the gallery.
“Your eyes are quite good.”
She got down and stood beside him without a sound.
“I could see a faint light about you.”
She looked at her clothes in wonder. She wasn’t wearing anything luminous, so what did he mean?
But Oscar seemed to pay it no mind and changed the topic.
“Is it good with your duty?”
“I’m maintaining the lights properly. By the way, I also created a wall in the air so that no one falls into the moat.”
“What is that?”
She didn’t answer, just combed through her disheveled hair with her fingers. She looked fondly at the night view spreading below her.
“The town is really beautiful. It seems like a lie that there are people under all those lights.”
Her smile was calming. Oscar stroked her head.
“So was it worth coming down from the tower?”
Tinassha chuckled as if there was something funny about those words, and floated up into the air again.
Just then, Oscar suddenly grabbed her hand and pulled her down.
Tinassha was about to complain when she noticed Razar running towards them over Oscar’s shoulder.
“Your Highness! There’s trouble!”
Seeing how upset Razar was, they looked at each other curiously.