CHAPTER 12 - Of a Starry Night

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"Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"Eleni, relax. What are you worried about?"

"I just...I can't really put my head around the fact that this smart woman, wants to be friends with some strange commoners, who belong to a different Realm than her?" I finally voiced my doubt as the lane full of empty carriages came into view.

"Oh," Serena's smile wavered a little but she answered thoughtfully, "I think she is just lonely. I mean, did you see her chatting with anyone? And didn't she say that Prince Nova was her friend and isn't anymore. I am sure she just wants some company; I can feel it."

She had a point.

"Besides, she is also sweet, the way she stood up for me back there," saying that Serena made an 'I-rest-my-case' face and started walking. I nodded to myself and walked after her.

Lady Una walked ahead over to the area where the Autumn Realm's carriages were parked. She fist-bumped the driver who had gotten down to greet her. The young boy grinned at her, as though they had done this many a time, and walked off to sit in another carriage behind.

"I am guessing you must neither know how to ride nor the way to the hill Stellus, so I'll be driving," she said as she climbed up to the driver's seat and we stared. "Hop on, then, ladies!" she added with a ghost of a smile. And I couldn't help but let some of my doubts loose and climb up behind her.

It had been easier for the Defensor to climb the high step of the carriage since she was decked in intricate green surcoat and trousers. But Serena and I had taken a moment longer as we were dressed heavily than before. Lady Una had used her magic to manipulate the threads of our dresses and had widened them, making the dress thicker and warmer. It wasn't uncomfortable as I had imagined it would be, but it was warm enough for me to hike up a snowy hill without freezing to death.

The Elementation of the Earth people amazed me more and more; having such a control over solid objects, was a very chilling power. I could do it too, if I wanted, the thought rang in my head. And I shook my head. The scent of my magic should always be hidden, Serena had warned me.

The pair of the handsome horses kicked off as the Lady pulled on their reins. "So, Una, tell me more about these meteors," Serena asked putting her arms on the railing that separated the driver and the passengers, enthusiastically. She always knew how to keep the conversation going.

"Well, there's this huge tourist spot, on hill Stellus and on nights as clear as this, there are surely going to be a few shooting stars in sight. But the fact is, the Winter Gala is built around this meteor showers, as you know, of course. On the main evening of the Gala, the night sky is full of countless falling stars. A few are visible in other Realms' too, but here in the winter land, it is quite different. Nothing compares to the beauty of this sky."

She spoke and it felt surreal. I was suddenly grateful yet for another reason that I was here, and I would still be here on the that magical night, which was fast approaching.

"Have you ever seen it?" I asked.

"Yes. When I was a kid. I had traveled with my family for the occasion and I still remember the star-fall clearly, as though it was just yesterday," she said, her voice lulling.

"I can't wait to see it," Serena clapped her hands.

"Yes. On the last day of the Conquest, you'll get to see it." Lady Una sighed inaudibly.

"Are you nervous about the duels?" I asked leaning forward.

"Well, yes, of course," her voice seemed rough and she suddenly pulled the reins tightly, and the horses stopped.

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