SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 1
Chapter 1 – Gathering
In the center of the room there was a rectangular table. Three chairs were placed along its left and right sides. Five important individuals for the country were sitting in those chairs, facing each other.
“Let’s start, then.”
After the maid served a cup of black tea to all present and left the room, a red-haired young man — Welles May Rinchelle — started the meeting.
Sitting on Welles’ right side was a young lady with red hair tied in a chignon, Lychaine May Rinchelle. On his left side, a man with scruffy hair in a white lab coat, Rowle Zwelg.
Facing Welles on the other side of the table was the first prince of the Diestburg kingdom, Grerial Hanse Diestburg. On his left side sat Feli von Yugstine, wearing a knight-like outfit, unlike her usual mode of dress.
“May I ask one question first, please?”
The question came from the youngest of the present, the young girl who timidly raised her hand—
“What’s wrong, Lychaine?”
—the very mysterious second princess of the Rinchelle kingdom, Lychaine May Rinchelle.
“I had heard that four people would participate in today’s meeting.”
Lychaine was looking intently at Feli.
She was focusing particularly on one of the two swords hanging at Feli’s waist, a shadow-colored blade, with clear disgust on her face, as she asked the question with a harsh tone in her voice.
“I had my subordinate Feli participate too, due to certain reasons. I can vouch for her abilities. Does Welles’ esteemed lady sister have any objections?”
Feli had opened her mouth to reply, but while she was thinking how to answer in a way that would not offend the princess, Grerial spoke in her stead.
“…not at all.”
Lychaine replied to Grerial’s confident statement that they had no ulterior intentions with lingering remains of her feelings towards Feli, but it all only lasted a second. She put a lid on the heavy emotions that started swirling in her chest and affected an exaggerated cough.
“I understand your circumstances. I have only one request, then.”
Lychaine instantly considered her options and selected the most inoffensive one. The conclusion she reached consisted in making a request, just as she had said.
The princess, Lychaine May Rinchelle, possessed an innate ability that allowed her to *see* various things.
Normally, sight is only allowed to recognize objects possessing a shape. The other four senses functioned to complement it.
Lychaine’s body, however, was different.
Her eyesight was vastly superior than what humans were normally equipped with. It could *see* the information normally received through the other senses.
She could see it all. People’s emotions. The past. The future. People’s voices. People’s memories. The inside of people’s minds. Their hate, their ill intents, their good intentions. And also their death. An unstoppable flow of information normal people could never tell via sight, poured into her almost forcefully.
As she grew older, however, she learned to exert some control over her ability. Maybe it was her instinct of self-preservation, but if she concentrated to not “see”, she could subdue her *eyesight ability* to an extent.
Even so, at times she ended up “seeing” all the same.
For example, masses of emotion with overwhelming presence were impossible to ignore, regardless of her intentions.
It was like Lychaine intentionally wore clouded glasses because she could see “too well”. This improvised filter, however, could not shut out everything, so no matter how much she tried not to see, her eyes would catch certain things no matter what, like what was happening to her now.
“The black sword at your waist…could you leave it in another room?”
Lychaine’s request was clear.
Feli, officially speaking, was present as Grerial’s escort.
For that reason, she was allowed to carry a weapon. In the same way, Rowle was armed too. Not because the meeting could end violently, of course, but because they could be interrupted by intruders with ill intentions.
Lychaine was not displeased with Feli being armed: her disgust was only directed towards the black blade.
“That sword is a bit too stimulating for me.”
Because of the situation they were in, Lychaine picked her words carefully. In different circumstances, she might have clearly stated how the sword disgusted her. Despite her words, her inner emotions were currently twisted by repulsion.
In response to Lychaine’s words, Feli’s lips simply pursed slightly.
If the black sword Lychaine spoke of was a weapon of no particular importance to Feli, she would have surely complied to the princess’ request without delay.
The shadow-colored sword, however, had been entrusted to her by someone. Feli wished to carry it with her at all times. Thus she failed to reply immediately. The extreme choice, for her, prevented her from acting.
In that moment…
“…that sword…belongs to that young man, yes?”
Because of Lychaine’s words, Rowle probably realized the black sword’s, the “Spada”, real nature.
After making this realization, he thus joined in the conversation.
The words “that young man” pointed to only one person in Feli’s mind. The fact that the “young man” and Rowle shared some sort of connection left her slightly puzzled, but she replied with a subdued nod.
“What is it, Rowle?”
Their relationship seemed to be somewhat close.
Lychaine was a member of the royal family, a position above the clouds compared to Rowle’s, but there wasn’t any such restraint in their exchange. Rowle’s direct way of speaking could be easily considered disrespectful, but Lychaine showed no signs of reprimanding him. Their exchange clearly expressed their relationship.
“It would be a bit harsh to order someone to relinquish a weapon *just* received from their master, wouldn’t you think? We are in the position of making a request, but could you please bear with it?”
“…I asked such a thing also out of consideration.”
“I am aware of that, of course. I must ask all the same.”
Rowle already knew of Lychaine’s particular eyesight. He could surely imagine what kind of thing would inspire such disgust in her. Despite this, he still asked Lychaine to withdraw her request, so she frowned.
The sword, wrapped in a heavy black mist of negative emotions, forced itself in her field of view no matter what.
Lychaine thought the sword couldn’t be anything good as she looked intently at the sword, and static-like sounds started reaching her ears.
It was something she had felt before. Something she didn’t want to remember, if she could. It was the sensation she felt when *seeing* a past experience of indescribable pain and—
As soon as she realized it, Lychaine closed her eyes.
She shut down her thoughts, trying to cast away the information she had received as quickly as possible.
After a couple seconds of silence, the surroundings regained their original calm.
“I am the second princess of the Rinchelle kingdom, Lychaine May Rinchelle. May I inquire about our esteemed elf guest’s name?”
“…my name is Feli von Yugstine, Your Highness.”
“I shall call you Ms. Feli, then. About that black sword—”
Lychaine’s words stopped.
Lychaine looked for the right words to express herself, a troubled expression on her face, but probably could not find the most appropriate ones—
“…I do not think it is auspicious at all. Please be very careful when handling it. I withdraw my previous request. My apologies for derailing the conversation.”
Lychaine continued, in an inoffensive manner, then bowed her head lightly.
“N-not at all! Deepest apologies for my impertinence!!”
Feli had forced the royalty to bow their head: shaken by guilt, she apologized and bowed her head too.
Welles judged that their problem was solved and returned to the main topic of the meeting.
“Our goal is one: to retrieve the Rainbow Flower growing on an isolated island located within the territory of the Saldance kingdom.”
The legendary flower said to heal all sickness.
Its effects were tremendous, as it was extremely difficult to acquire it. Apparently, many immensely powerful monsters lived on the island, some said to be strong enough even to endanger the lives of those called “Heroes”. Because of this very few people dared to visit the island and there was little to no actual information about it. In order to recover the flower, a large amount of military strength was necessary.
“I believe that the members present here are the greatest military force we can gather at present.”
Welles spoke while looking around the table.
The “Hero” Rowle Zwelg.
A unique ability that, if fighting power was not considered, put her far and above most Heroes: Lychaine May Rinchelle.
The man said to be close to if not on par with Heroes: Grerial Hanse Diestburg.
In addition, the prince’s exclusive maid, serving the house of Diestburg since the previous generation, Feli von Yugstine.
“I was the one to propose this plan, and I have no intention of being a burden.”
Welles crossed his arms, as if to show them off to the others.
A tattoo-like pattern was engraved on them.
“My honored brother Welles…you’re such a…”
Welles did not pay attention to the sighing princess on his right side and continued.
“This is “Phaeresia”, an engraving technique handed down in Rinchelle.”
That technique, passed down through generations, would normally be used only on the heir to the throne. Welles had decided on his own discretion to undergo the engraving, as the current king and the first prince, heir to the throne, were confined to their beds.
It was natural for Lychaine to sigh.
“We thus have three members of “Hero” status. But I’m just a fake, after all. In order to be absolutely sure we can obtain the Rainbow Flower, we need one more ‘Hero’.”
Rowle had been saying this since the beginning. Even if they could take Lychaine with them, they would need at least three “Heroes”.
However, they couldn’t take what they didn’t have. No matter how much they wished, there was no way another “Hero” would just come falling into their laps.
Welles thus reflected.
If there were no other “Heroes” in the kingdom, he would just have to take one from outside.
“We thus plan to contact a certain ‘Hero’ once we are in the Saldance kingdom.”
Rowle spoke on Welles’ behalf.
The Saldance kingdom might seem like a remote, isolated location, but that was not the case.
Its tales and legends were well known, and many were led by them to visit the kingdom. “Heroes” sought after by teams trying to retrieve the Rainbow Flower started residing there too, as well as many other individuals originally unrelated to Saldance.
“The ‘Hero’ we plan to contact is the man called ‘Faraway Hollow’.”
An ability to move instantly in a 200 meter radius, which could be used not only on the user but also on others. A specialist of movement, existing anywhere and capable of disappearing instantly, as if he never was there in the first place. A truly “hollow” existence.
That is the reason that inspired the “Faraway Hollow” nickname.
“He belongs to the upper ‘Hero’ ranks in terms of fighting ability as well. We plan to have Princess Lychaine and the ‘Faraway Hollow’ focus on the search for the flower, while the others will keep the monsters at bay.”
“…can that man be trusted?”
Everyone present knew very well who the most important member of the team was: it was without a doubt Lychaine May Rinchelle.
Grerial’s question, whether entrusting her to a person they knew so little was a valid choice or not, was completely natural.
“This plan hinges on Princess Lychaine. We cannot allow her to die, no matter what happens. Thus we have to pair her with the most powerful member, who can also ensure her escape if necessary.”
Rowle then continued.
“Once we’re there, you’ll be forced to understand that, in order to retrieve the Rainbow Flower, there is no ability more precious than the ‘Faraway Hollow’s’ instant movement.”
Words spoken by someone who actually went to the island and returned alive.
In the current situation, Rowle’s words had more credibility than anyone else’s. Grerial felt the painfully gained confidence in his words and said nothing more.
“We don’t have much time left.”
Time left until what?
No one needed to ask.
Because everyone knew it was the time left for the sick members of the royal family, confined on their beds. This mission was for their sake.
“We will leave two days from now, in the morning. A ship has already been prepared.”
The kingdoms of Rinchelle and Saldance were separated by the sea. Sailing by ship was the only way to enter Saldance.
Once there they would have to petition the “Faraway Hollow” for his collaboration, then go through the necessary procedures to be allowed to step onto the island. There was much to do.
The reason for Grerial’s trip to Rinchelle, the third prince’s birthday celebration, had already been postponed because of the latter’s sickness.
Welles had sent the invitation letter to Diestburg a few days before the third prince fell ill.
It was still fresh in his memory how they laughed bitterly together, wondering if the timing of the invitation had been good or bad.
“Then, let us meet again in two days—”
The meeting, held with the objective of introducing each other and sharing information, was closed by Rowle’s words.