"Stella! Stella, where are you?"
"Stella, if you don't come out, I'm going to eat your portion of dessert!"
"Nocturne, don't you dare eat my strawberry-chocolate yogurt parfait!"
"Ah, up in the tree again, are you? I told you that it's dangerous up there. What would you do if you fell down?"
"Urgh....you're such an annoyance! Why can't you just leave me be?"
"I'm your bodyguard--it's my job to protect you," he replied as he set down the cup of dessert on the elegantly carved, willow table.
"Humph...you're more like a fly that won't go away," I mumbled under my breath as I made my way towards my treat.
That's right. This man with black hair and yellow eyes is my bodyguard, as well as my childhood friend. We've been together since we've been able to walk. I had a pretty weak body when I was younger, so my parents thought that it would be a good idea for me to have someone to watch over me. Well, I guess I am in a position that allows the service of a bodyguard though. In the Kingdom of Animus, I am a part of the nobility which serves the King. To be more precise, I belong to one of the six houses of nobility which are in direct service to the King's household. The houses of nobility are a group of mages which have been around for centuries. It's been said that the ancestor of the nobles are actually mediators of the Ancestor King's powers. Although I really don't understand why the ancient King decided to separate his powers to his followers. Well, I guess it's because of him that I get the opportunity to belong to one of the nobilities...though I'm not quite sure I'm so happy about it. And "why?" one might ask; well, each house of nobility specializes in a particular type of magic: water, fire, earth, wind, light and dark. The family I belong to governs over the power of light. But the light magic is only useful for healing/ buffing people and purifying the undead. But there haven't been ANY sightings of undead creatures for at least a century! In other words, my family is VERY weak. SIGH.......
"What's wrong? You're letting out a pretty long sigh there," he asked with a concerned tone.
"Hey, Nocturne, aren't you too overqualified to be guarding me? I mean, you are now a high ranking knight who's even praised by the King for your service. You'd be more qualified to be guarding a stronger noble or even the prince or princess."
Nocturne looked at me, unimpressed, and even let out a "humph" as he turned his head to the side.
How rude! I was only praising him. His skills are unparalleled to anyone around his age. But he just decides to stick to me like glue.
I suddenly jumped as I felt my hair being held.
"Your hair has gotten pretty long now, hasn't it?" Nocturne spoke as he caressed my hair in his hand. "It's such a beautiful color--a pale blue, like fresh snow on a moonlit night." He then gently pressed his lips against the locks of hair.
I could feel my face get hot. Why would he say and do something so embarrassing? I quickly pulled my hair away from his hand. "Stop teasing me! I'm not a little kid anymore. You're only two years older than I am. I don't need to be constantly watched by the likes of you." I suddenly felt my body freeze. I've never seen that look from Nocturne before. Did I finally make him lose his temper?
Nocturne let out a long sigh. "Anyways, are you ready? The Kingdom is preparing for your coming-of-age ceremony. You shouldn't be frolicking around in the garden."
I frowned as I finished the last scoops of my dessert. "There's no point in having a ceremony for the weakest of the nobles. What's so great about being a light mage? I'm weak and I can't do anything on my own," I muttered.
"Don't sulk about it. You've got all the other young nobles and me by your side," he grinned as he patted my head. "Anyways, go get dressed. I'll meet you at the entrance to the grand hall." With those words, Nocturne got up from his seat and made his way back into the manor.
"Hey, I told you not to treat me like a child!!"
I swiftly made my way to my room, passing by all the maids and butlers cleaning and decorating the halls. Grand ceremonies like these are such a hassle. Everyone gets all excited for nothing. It's not like coming-of-age ceremonies are as important as the coronation of the next King.
"I guess the only good thing about these ceremonies is that I get to wear such elegant dresses," I smiled cheerfully as I began browsing through my closet. "Oh, this one will do. A white, knee-length dress with frills, a long v-neck front and open back, and to top it all off-- wide open sleeves. This is definitely cute enough to impress all the nobles!"
"That dress definitely brings out the color of your hair and your violet-blue eyes, Stella," spoke a soft voice from the doorway.
A girl with shoulder-length, light-brown hair began walking towards me. This girl is named Aeris von Terra. She's another noble, just like me. Her family governs over the magic of earth. She's probably the one I get along the most with out of all the nobles.
"I brought you a flower from our garden, a blue rose, for this special occasion. I hope you'll use it as a hair ornament."
She's definitely the kindest out of all the nobles! Blue roses are already difficult to grow, even for earth mages, yet she's willing to give me one. "Thank you, Aeris. The flowers you grow are the most beautiful!" I replied as I weaved the rose into my hair, allowing it to sit at the right side of my head.
"We should hurry now. We don't want to keep everyone waiting."
I quickly nodded my head in reply and we made our way towards the grand hall. As we walked, I noticed that everything had been completely decorated. The halls were sparkling due to the valiant efforts of the maids. Everyone is so great at their jobs, as expected by the maids serving in the castle.
As we approached the doors to the grand hall, Nocturne leaned against the pillar with his arm crossed, as he watched Aeris and me approach. "Took you long enough to get ready," he scoffed. "Everyone is already inside except you two."
I hasten my steps to meet Nocturne in front of the door. "Well you didn't have to wait if I was taking so long. Plus I'm here now, aren't I? Anyways, how do I look? Aeris let me have one of her blue roses."
Nocturne looked me up and down. I noticed his cheeks turn a light shade of pink as he quickly looked away from me. "It suits you well."
I smiled appreciatively in return. "Alright, let's get this thing over with."
As we approached the entrance to the grand hall, the two knights open the doors and we entered. The room was filled with all the past mages of every house of nobility as well as a few high-class families consisting of other occupations such as merchants and exceptional blacksmiths. Of course, at the end of the room sat the King and Queen as well as the Crowned Prince and Princess at their parents' sides. I walked down the open path laid out for me, towards the royal family. Part-way down the path, Aeris joined her family in the crowd. Nocturne still followed behind me. I hate these customs. I much rather have Nocturne walk beside me. I'm not so important that my friend can't be by my side.
Throwing my thoughts aside, I kneeled before the King and Queen. "Greetings, your majesty and your highness. I, Stella von Lux, have come before you on my eighteenth birthday to accept the honor, and responsibility of joining the circle of noble mages as the next mage in line in the house of light. I swear to protect and guide the Kingdom with the powers of light."
The King left his throne and stood before me. He hovered his hand over the top of my head. "As witnessed by all the noble houses, I accept you as the next to inherit the line of light. I look forward to the bright future that you may bring us, Stella," the King smiled down at me.
I stood and smiled brightly back to the King. "I will do my best!"
After the ceremony is completed, a large banquet is prepared for all the mages. However, since all of the next generation of nobles has finally reached the age of eighteen, there are only six nobles to attend the banquet, in addition to the royal family. I really don't understand why we're essentially kicking our parents out from attending the final banquet for the coming-of-age ceremony until the next generation starts coming in... All our ancestors must have been weird in the head or something! We're all family and we should be celebrating and having fun together!
"Finally, the little squirt is all grown up!"
"Hey, I'm not a squirt!"I yelled back as I took my seat at the dining table. This irritating fellow sitting across from me is Ace von Ignis. He controls the magic of fire. But all I see is that he's just a big hot-headed idiot who thinks with his muscles and not his brain. Even his hair just looks like a messy fireball! Those locks of light blonde hair are just everywhere! Does he just leave his room with a bed head? He treats me like a kid just because he's one year older than me! He's worse than Nocturne!
"Ace, don't be rude. This is a celebration for Stella. At least show a bit of restraint." This man sitting on the other side of the table and furthest away from me (not counting the royal family) is Olber von Ventus. He's six years older than me but he's definitely has the "kind, older brother" personality. His entire image just depicts his personality with wavy, brown hair and kind eyes. He's also the same age as Aeris, who is sitting across the table from him. She's also six years older than me, too. Both of them have a very caring and empathetic personality. And the individual sitting between me and Aeris is Zeno von Aqua, who is twenty-years old.
"Where's Ren? He's the only one not here," I asked, looking at the empty seat between Olber and Ace. Ren von Tenebrae uses the magic of dark. He's a really quiet guy and usually keeps to himself so I don't really know a lot about him even though I've known him for all my life, like all the other nobles.
"He said he wasn't feeling well after the ceremony so I brewed him some herbal tea and told him to go rest in his room," Aeris replied.
"Don't worry, Stella, my father has already been made aware. And congratulations again on your eighteenth birthday," the Crowned Prince smiled as he and the Princess made his way to the head of the table where the King and Queen sat.
"Prince Odin, Princess Rosa! Thank you very much!"
The sound of glass being hit took our attention. The King stood from his chair and placed his glass back on the table. "This is a momentous day. The next generation of mages has now passed their eighteenth birthday. Now that you have all joined the ranks of full mages, your powers will grow to carry the full strength of your ancestors. I believe you will all be able to depend on each other and help nourish each others' strengths. So, a toast to you all, for the future!" the King ended his speech and raised his cup. All of us followed his actions and began raising our cups in toast and drank the wine. Soon after, large amounts of high-class and elegantly-prepared food were brought out by the castle's chefs.
"Ah, I'm stuffed!"
"Hah, you better watch yourself so you don't turn into a little piglet!"
"Shut up, Ace! I won't!"
The knights opened the door exiting the banquet hall and I saw Nocturne standing nearby. Like usual, he stood against the wall with his arms crossed.
"Nocturne, were you waiting for me this entire time? Did you get a chance to eat yet? It's already late."
Nocturne walked forward, his arms relaxing from their previous position. "Of course I did. If I had to wait for you to finish a banquet every time, I would be nothing but skin and bones."
I could feel my ears heat up. "Anyways, why are you here? I've already turned eighteen. I don't need a bodyguard anymore." I briskly walked past him and made my way back to the Light manor. But yet, he immediately followed behind me. Irritating... "Stop following me!" I quickly turn to shove him away but he reacted and grabbed on to my wrist. "Let go!" I tried to hit him with my other hand but he held on to my other wrist. His grip tightened and I flinched. But suddenly, his grip weakened slightly and I looked up at him. His eyes were hidden behind his hair. Why does he have such a sad expression?
"You're such a cruel woman," he whispered. "Can't you understand that I don't want to be with anyone else?"
"O-Okay, I get it. Do what you want since I can't stop you anyways."
Nocturne let out a long sigh. What's he sighing about now? "It's late. You should get back to the manor. It isn't safe to wander out at night."
"Oh? But I have my very capable and persistent bodyguard with me."
"Heh, don't forget that I'm a man before all else."
I looked at him with a puzzled expression. What's that supposed to mean? Gender doesn't define who one is. "Ugh, fine. I'll do as you say and go home. It's been a long day."
"Good. Then I shall escort you home, milady."