“Why the Young Master?”
Out of the blue, Nainiae was looking back at Riley. Wondering what it was about, Sera asked.
<Nainiae, it cannot be…>
Heliona realized why Nainiae was looking at Riley. Heliona, in disbelief, vacantly opened her mouth.
“Young Master is the key.”
“What do you mean?”
Because Nainiae and Heliona were having incomprehensible conversation, Sera was the only one who still had confused look on her face as she tilted her head to the side.
<Still, Nainiae, the place you are talking about does not match the sentence I told you.>
“It may appear to be… from the outside.”
<That spirit is nowhere to be seen either…>
“The spirit is at a place that is hidden from sight.”
<Um… are you saying, like the old proverb, the spot just below the lamp is the darkest?>
Heliona mumbled, and Nainiae nodded.
“Excuse me. What are you talking about? Could you two please explain to me too?”
Sera got tired of just checking what they were up to. She got right between Nainiae and Heliona and asked them to explain to her too in detail.
“Please explain it in a way that I can understand too.”
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
Nainiae realized she didn’t explain enough. She apologized and got to the main point right away.
“I found where the summon spirit who will help me is at. I found the place, but… I think the place is related to Young Master.”
“Related to Young Master?”
Nainiae nodded and pointed at her right eye. She briefly explained the power of the right eye and looked at Riley who was lying on the bed.
“The problem is that the location is somewhere that cannot be seen with ordinary methods.”
Sera looked confused. Nainiae explained in a simpler way.
“It’s inside a dream.”
“In a dream?”
Sera tilted her head to the side. Heliona, who had been fiddling with her chin, also asked Nainiae as if she didn’t get it either.
<Nainiae, but how could the summon spirit that I met only a few months ago be in Young Master’s dream? What would be the reason? I really don’t understand this?>
“We should find that out from now on.”
<Are you going to enter?>
<No, wait… Just wait a bit.>
Nainiae tightened her fist and relaxed it as she walked toward Riley. Heliona barely grabbed Nainiae and said as if she was trying to calm Nainiae down.
<Do you know what entering a dream is? It could lead to a serious problem! If it goes wrong, your illness may end up being the least of your problems, you get it?>
Sera was surprised after hearing what Heliona just said. Sera also grabbed Nainiae’s shoulder and shook her head out of concern.
“Wait, Nainiae. Are you intending to overexert yourself again?”
Nainiae looked at Heliona, who was pulling at her own hair, and Sera, who was pulling at Nainaie’s shoulder.
She then lightly bit her lips and struggled to say,
“Please let me go.”
“Young Master is suffering. Despite having known that all along, I only stood behind and watched him. Let me make up for it.”
“Ms. Sera. If I don’t find that spirit, I won’t be able to cure my illness either. Of the things that Young Master told me, there is one that says it is better to receive punishment sooner than later. Now, I want to do what I can right now.”
Her voice was wet. However, her face looked determined and desperate at the same time.
“I don’t want to just sit back and watch anymore.”
Having seen the look on Nainiae’s face, Sera sighed big and retrieved the hand on Nainiae’s shoulder.
“… All right.”
Heliona flapped her wings big and started to cause a ruckus.
<You should be stopping her! What are you doing? Stop her!>
“No. Ms. Heliona, we cannot stop her.”
Sera shook her head. Watching Sera, Heliona ballooned up her cheeks as if she was saying she just don’t understand humans. To stop Nainiae on her own, Heliona started to nag Nainiae with verbose lectures.
<Entering another person’s dream means losing your own consciousness. That place is intertwined and jumbled up like a maze. It is not even your dream. You are going to enter another person’s dream? That’s like trying to say you want to be on coma forever, like a vegetable! You get it?>
Nainiae nodded. Heliona looked at her as if she was questioning Nainiae’s sanity.
<If you lose your consciousness forever, my master might turn me into a guardian doll, have you thought about that? Do you want that?>
“I am prepared for that.”
<Are you fine with me getting scolded by the master?>
“My teacher is not that kind of person. He will understand.”
<You are thinking too highly of him!>
Heliona started to pull out her own hair. She looked at Sera, seeking help. However, it seemed Sera already had made up her mind as well. Sera only shook her head.
<I am going to go insane! Seriously! I can never understand you humans!>
<Nainiae, please think about this carefully once more.>
Heliona pleaded with Nainiae. However, Nainiae kept silent. It appeared she had no intention of changing her mind.
<… Ah, ah ah! Seriously!>
Because Heliona was with Nainiae, she shared the emotions with her through their connection. Heliona had been pulling her hair out. Now, she started to scratch her head hard.
<I don’t know anymore!>
Heliona had tears hanging near her eyes. She snorted and turned her head away quickly. Nainiae raised hear hand carefully and started to brush Heliona’s wings.
<Nainiae, can you just not go? From my perspective as a spirit, I think you are more than enough to be…>
Sitting on Nainiae’s palm, Heliona was letting Nainiae pat her wings. Heliona looked as sad as a child who was about to part way with her mother.
“I’m not going into Young Master’s dream simply because I need to become an artificial summon spirit. Young Master had been asleep for several weeks now. I must go.”
“Actually, I agonized over this. I wondered if I should have used this method sooner… We cannot afford to hesitate anymore. The reason why Young Master is unable to wake up… I need to go find it myself in his dream.”
Nainiae looked at Riley who was asleep and occasionally struggling. She was aware that he was thinking about someone. However, she didn’t know what kind of nightmare he was having.
This was why she was trying to confirm what it was.
Finding out what kind of nightmare Riley is having, and finding out why he is suffering so much… These were far more important than finding the spirit that would turn her into an artificial summon spirit.
Heliona looked gloomy as if she had given up. Nainiae gently brushed her wings. Nainiae turned to look at Sera and said,
“I’ll leave the rest to you.”
<Entering a dream means, as I said earlier, it is a magic where she will need to put her consciousness on the line to walk in to the dream. So… while she is using the magic, she will become defenseless for the duration.>
“I’ll probably fall asleep like how Young Master is.”
Sera understood the explanation. With petrified face, Sera nodded and opened her arms to hug Nainiae.
Sera, without saying any words, embraced Nainiae. She released Nainiae from her arms and said,
“I’ll wait for your return. Come back with Young Master Riley.”
In stiff voice, Sera said to Nainiae to come back. Nainiae also said she will come back later in stiff voice as she walked toward Riley who was lying on the bed.
Nainiae looked back at Heliona and Sera for the last time. She nodded lightly and started to move the mana inside her.
It was a magic that she learned after becoming Seven Circles mage. Nainiae’s body started to get surrounded by feint silver light.
‘Just a little while longer…’
With gentle look on her face, Nainiae looked at Riley. She got on her knees in front of the bed and brought her hands together to lightly grab on to Riley’s hand.
‘Wait just a little while longer.’
The silver light, which was surrounding Nainiae gradually, slowly moved, and it moved toward Riley through the joined hands.
As if she was sending a prayer, Nainiae was on her knees with both of her hands together. Her body looked like it was about to tip over to the side. Sera barely supported her before it happened.
<… I think the spelled worked correctly.>
Asleep, Nainiae was in Sera’s arms. Heliona looked at Nainiae and redirected her gaze toward Riley who was still asleep soundly on the bed.
<Have Nainiae lie on the side. From now on, all we can do is wait.>
* * *
Nainiae opened her eyes inside the darkness.
The darkness came to her so suddenly, and Nainiae was not used to it yet. It was not easy for her to regain her sight. She extended her right arm to the front and recited a spell.
She used Light, the most basic magic where the caster floats a sphere of light on the palm. Although she cast Light, for some reason… nothing appeared above her palm.
‘I cannot use magic here?’
She could not feel mana either, so she realized she could not use magic here. She lowered her arm and started to look around.
She looked everywhere, but the entire area was just darkness. She started to strain her eyes.
It was in hope that her eye would get adjusted to the darkness sooner, even if it was just a little bit. Unfortunately, she could not see anything even though several minutes have passed.
“… Young Master!!”
With her vision still not restored, she decided to try sound. She put both of her hands together in front of her mouth and called Riley in loud voice.
Only echoes came back. She didn’t get any other response. She started to walk aimlessly.
‘As Ms. Heliona said… This place is like a maze.’
It didn’t feel complicated like a maze, but the fact that she couldn’t tell the directions apart, left, right, top or bottom, was the problem.
All there was just endless darkness. It was to the point where she was not certain if she was walking forward, backward, on land or sky.
‘I don’t have any other way in particular.’
Nainiae tried stepping hard on the floor. She also tried hopping on where she stood. She tried many ideas, and she came to the conclusion that walking would be best. She started to move her legs.
‘For now, walking aimlessly is the only thing I can do.’
Inside dark space where she could not even use magic, Nainiae walked alone for quite a long time. Instead of sense of fear, sadness and pity came forward on Nainiae’s face.
‘Young Master was in a place like this all by himself…’
Because the place she entered was Riley’s dream, Nainiae naturally was concerned about Riley first. She bit her lower lips and tightened her fist.
‘Don’t blame yourself, Nainiae. You have made up your mind, haven’t you?’
Nainiae shook her heads left and right and was about to walk again. However…
“… Huk. Huhuk!”
She heard the cry of a child coming from somewhere. Nainiae raised her ears.
She looked around everywhere, and the space was still filled with complete darkness. However, she could hear the cry clearly.
She slowly walked toward the direction where the cry was coming from. The sound was becoming more clearer as she walked, and she started to walk faster.
“… Haaah, haaah!”
Soon, she found a small firefly light at where the sound was coming from. Nainiae was having hard time catching her breath as she looked at the firefly light.
‘A firefly light?’
Nainiae thought the crying sound was coming from the light. She slowly extended her arm out to the front.
Perhaps it got scared because Nainiae had horrid looking face with scars, her hand was missing fingers and her voice was torn a little from exhaustion. The firefly light tried to go away into the distance. Nainiae vacantly opened her mouth.
Watching the light moving further away, Nainiae blamed herself who was lacking in many ways. From behind Nainiae, a small butterfly flapped its wings and approached her.
It came flying in silence. Nainiae, who had gloomy look on her face, turned and looked at the butterfly.
The butterfly’s wings were black.
The black winged butterfly came flying like that and sat on Nainiae’s shoulder. As if it was resting, it started to flap its wings lightly.
The wings were moving in a regular pattern. It was like a clock work.
Nainiae was watching the butterfly on her shoulder. Out of curiosity, Nainiae carefully reached for the butterfly with her left hand’s index finger.
<… You are Nainiae, right?>
Breaking through the silence, the voice could be heard, and Nainiae flinched her shoulders. She started to look around the surrounding.
At the same time, it seemed the butterfly on her shoulder was surprised. It started to flap its wings and fly away from her.
“Who is it?!”
It was not Riley’s voice at least.
It sounded like she had heard the voice before. The voice was beautiful like a pearl rolling on a silver plate. It was a woman’s voice.
<I am sorry. I must have startled you.>
Nainiae started to look around her surroundings.
It was still all nothing but pitch-black. As if she became weary, Nainiae narrowed her eyes and said,
“Who could you be?”
When she asked, the black butterfly that flew off from Nainiae earlier started to spread small firefly lights around with flaps of its wings.
<… Please follow me.>
The butterfly lightly flapped its wings and flew toward her back as if it was trying to show her the way. Nainiae looked back at a firefly light where the crying sound could be heard. She eventually could not help but to follow the black butterfly.
<Ah, before we go, first…>
As if it forgot something, the voice said that.
Nainiae was following the butterfly. Now, she vacantly blinked her eyes.
The scenery, which was nothing but black until now, started to become brighter slowly. This was why.
‘Number of firefly lights are increasing?’
The firefly light where the crying sound came from, the firefly lights that were being spread by the black butterfly… their numbers started to increase one by one, and the scenery was starting to form.
<It would be good for you to see this first.>
Along with the voice, the view in front of Nainiae’s eyes became completely clear. Nainiae, in disbelief, vacantly opened her mouth.
<The world that he used to live in.>
The place that she saw after the darkness cleared was the place where ‘the black wings fly between white snow’ and where ‘bright song surge without sound.’
It appeared to be winter. There was snow falling on the street.
The road was covered in small, dark pebble like substance. There were carriages that looked similar but where different from each other. The carriages were moving around very quickly.
There was a building with chimney that was bigger than a house. Black smoke was coming out of the chimney. It was piercing through the snow like ‘wings.’
There were buildings that were soaring to the sky, as if they could reach the sky’s ceiling. They had signs and windows that exuded various lights. They looked like they were ‘singing’ together.
They were the darkness and the firefly lights that Nainiae ran into when she first entered the dream.
“… By any chance…”
Nainiae vacantly mumbled.
<Yes, this place is…>
The voice answered,
<… his past life.>