Author’s note: Sorry for the delayed chapter! Well it’s not that delayed, since it’s still Wednesday anyway xD I was busy writing chapters the whole day >_<;;
The mermaid’s narrow waist was severed upon impact, and everyone’s eyes were glued to it in horror.
Alenaire was too stunned to even move, let alone cry. It was her most prized possession, and to have it broken right in front of her by Luce was the most painful emotion she felt.
“Awi…I…” Luce said stiltedly as he carefully took the mermaid in his hands and placed it back in the box. Bastian had already scurried away and had hidden himself behind a bookcase.
“Awi…I’m sorry…I’m gonna fix this, I promise…” Luce turned pale, and his hands were shaking as he closed the lid of the box and tucked it in the crook of his elbow.
“Luce…” Alenaire was both enraged and disconsolate, but her mouth was dry and she couldn’t say anything else.
“I’m sorry, Awi! I’m sorry!” He hugged the sitting Alenaire with one arm, and after a few moments, he felt her sobs against his chest. He felt incredibly awful.
Miss Oona sighed when she saw this scene. “Luce, I don’t know why you broke the princess’ sculpture, but you should know how precious it is to her.”
Luce stroked Alenaire’s head while she sobbed against his chest. “I know…” Luce said, his voice strained.
Miss Oona gathered her things from the table. “Luce, I will not take part of this drama between you both. It is my own belief that children should learn from their own mistakes in order to grow. Thus, I will be taking my leave for today.”
“It is my mistake,” Luce said with his head bowed. He bit his lip in frustration.
“You are an honest and sensible child, Luce.” Miss Oona smiled at him and proceeded to walk to the door. “I reckon everything will be alright tomorrow?” She looked back at the still crying princess in Luce’s arms. “Or perhaps a few days from now?”
“I’ll try my best,” Luce replied.
Luce skipped his sword fighting lessons with his father in the afternoon. His father was bewildered, but upon seeing the determination in his son’s eyes as he said, “I have something important to do”, the General did not have the heart to dissuade or berate him.
Luce went to the smithy workshop at the back of his father’s manor. There was a smith who used to work for his father a long time ago, but had relocated to the provinces to live a more peaceful life with his new wife, leaving behind a workshop full of tools that had not been used for a long time. He went to the smithy’s work desk and carefully retrieved the broken mermaid from the box.
He wanted to repair it himself. He could ask for help, but letting someone else answer his own problems made him feel averse to the very notion. He wanted to fix the sculpture himself or there would be no meaning to it. He owed Alenaire this much.
As he looked somberly at the mermaid who was now in half, he wondered if he could piece them back together using something sticky. His mother used to make adhesives using starch and water, but he wanted something prettier. Something gold to fit the gold painted tail. A lightbulb lit up in his head. Could he melt gold and use it to stick the mermaid together?
He could only try! He rushed back to his room and took out his piggy bank, an object that held the money his parents gave him on his birthdays. Sometimes they gave copper coins, sometimes it was silver. Recently, it was gold! He smashed the piggy bank without thinking twice, and clutched the gold coin to his heart as he rushed back to the workshop.
He took a crucible from the counter, placed the gold coin in it, and stood in front of the kiln.
How was he going to work the kiln?! He cried out in anguish as he felt his heart plummet down to his stomach.
If only he had the power of fire so he could call upon it anytime he needed it. With sorrowful steps, he placed the crucible on his desk. Maybe he should just go to an artisan and ask him to mend the sculpture for him. That would seem even more plausible than obtaining the flame element.
After another lightbulb lit up in his head, he wanted to smack himself on the face. Why was he giving up now when he hadn’t even tried? What if he really could obtain the flame element? There was no harm in trying!
He had often been told by the elemental mages that true power came from the heart, and its constituents were borne from the mind. He knew he was born with mana to fuel his imagination, as all of the people born in the upper echelons did, but the strength of power may also depend on one’s aptitude to it. Many of the mages he knew had awakened their powers during their adolescence instead of childhood, as they lacked concentration during their early years. If he were to put his mind to it now, would he be able to do it?
He closed his eyes, imagining a small flame in his palm.
After some time, he opened his eyes to a slit, but did not see anything happening in his palm. Feeling a bit disappointed, he closed his eyes again.
He imagined once again, this time with a more vivid detail. It’s flickering form, it’s orange-red color, its trails of smoke.
He tried again and again, and this lasted him a few hours of futile attempts until he remembered Alenaire’s crying face. Although this scene hurt his heart, it strengthened his resolve, and he was even more determined to gain this element.
As he closed his eyes, with mana warming his veins, he could feel something tickling the middle of his palm. He slowly opened his eyes and he saw a small ball of reddish hue dancing just above his hand. In panic, he tried to extinguish it right away by blowing it, afraid that he was going to burn himself. He tried his very hardest, even including an amount of saliva in the mix, but when he realized that he was actually unharmed by the flame, he started laughing at himself for being so silly.
He looked at the flame in his hand with something akin to endearment. He felt immensely proud of himself, but the flame had to be bigger and hotter. After a few hours of trial and error, he had created a medium sized blue flame that split into miniature versions when he willed them to the tip of his fingers.
No, wait. Perhaps he needed just one big flame on the tip of his index finger.
With a torch-like flame, he held it above the gold coin inside the crucible and slowly worked the flame in circular motion. Once it heated up and turned red, he began to work the torch in slowly until the coin was reduced to a nugget.
When it was done, he took an iron spatula and dipped it in the melted gold, transferring it over the solid stumped edge of the broken waist. He made sure only to transfer a small amount so that it wouldn’t spill over once the mermaid’s torso was attached. Then again, even if it spilled, he could easily blend the gold over the mermaid’s already gold tail.
It took him the whole afternoon and night to do all of this, and he hardly noticed the time until the workshop was bathed in a red-orange light, signifying the sun’s rise.
Luce was startled. He hardly even felt fatigue the whole time, as he was both excited and in too much concentration.
He placed the repaired mermaid in its box and tucked it in his arm. Without even bathing, he headed towards the castle.
The drawbridge was thankfully drawn down, and he passed by the Royal guards with a salute. The Royal guards did not ask why Luce arrived so early in the morning, as they pegged it to be caused by peculiar whims of a young boy.
Luce walked to the south side of the castle, carefully treading the soft grass and earth, afraid that he would trip and destroy the mended porcelain sculpture that he had worked so hard for.
He stopped in front of a huge balcony that was about five meters above him. The beautiful purple wisteria vines twisted around the trellis that led to the balcony, and with one hand, he climbed upwards as he used the steps as a ladder, while the other hand held on tightly to the box.
Once he finally reached the top, he extended his arm to grab onto the balustrade of the balcony, and he swung himself over to land almost soundlessly on the floor. He knocked on the hand painted windows until he heard shuffling inside the room.
“What’s that?” He heard a sleepy voice from within.
“I’m sorry Awi,” Luce apologized again and left the box by the glass door.
He quickly climbed down the trellis and ran back to his home to take a bath. Fatigue finally hit him, and he smelled a bit fishy.