7

Noel

"...One day, my sister wanted to surprise me for my birthday, so she and Serah went to the woods to gather some flowers to make a flower crown. We usually never ventured too far inside the woods, as my parents said that there might be wild creatures lurking inside them. As she and Serah were busy gathering the flowers. My sister noticed some beautiful bug and wanted to show it to Serah, when she turned her back to find her, she disappeared."

Noel continued sipping the hot chocolate as he heard the story.

"Panicked, my sister searched high and low for her whereabouts. We even called in the police for investigation yet in the end, she is still missing, until now."

"And you thought that Serah was kidnapped by fairies, that's why she is missing?" Noel guessed.

Joseph reluctantly nodded.

"I was very convinced that she was kidnapped by fairies. I mean, how can it be possible to disappear without a trace in a blink of an eye? Even if she were kidnapped by humans or even animals, there should be some traces indicating it. Yet in Serah's case, we didn't find anything of her belongings in the woods."

Noel pondered and caned his chin.

Cases of humans lost in another world are not a rarity. But the rare ones are the fact that most lost people came back years later...

Or worse, they didn’t return home at all.

"Joseph."

Joseph stopped sipping the hot chocolate and faced Noel.

"Yes?"

"Have you ever thought about the possibility, that your friend Serah won’t ever be found?”

Joseph’s eyes twitched. He lowered his head, lost for words.

"I’ve also thought about that before. I mean, I've been searching her for more than 20 years now and still couldn't find her. I just…"

He gritted his teeth in frustration as he scrunched his brunette wavy hair. The neat style of his hair was immediately destroyed by that single scrunch.

“If only I went there with her, I could at least protect her.”

Noel fell silent.

Everything that he spoke out of his mouth, every single one of them were the words of someone who’s in love. He’s desperate, and he wished so bad for Serah to be alive and well. Same like Noel before, when he wished for his loved person to be well, when she suddenly…

Noel closed his eyes shut, dispersing those depressing thoughts away.

“…I’ll try helping you in any way I can.”

He said, giving a bit of hope in Joseph’s eyes.

“Thanks.”

After finishing the hot chocolate and the cookies, Joseph excused himself to go back home as it was already 3.30 o'clock in the morning.

"Oh, and by the way..."

Joseph turned around to face Noel and spoke.

"If you find anything regarding her, please tell me. I'll wait."

He smiled and waved his hands as he walked away.

Noel heaved a sharp sigh.

"Don't say that you'll wait. You made it sound like you'll wait for her for eternity."

Noel then called a pixie, who’s also a worker for the library.

"Luna, I want you to follow that guy and inspect his life. Tell me what you got, okay?"

The pixie named Luna nodded enthusiastically and flew towards Joseph. Noel shrugged his shoulders.

He then cleaned the mug before calling a gremlin to bring it all to the back. As he wiped the table clean, another chime was heard.

He tilted his head up to see the douche entering the library, looking strangely calm.

Noel immediately choked a curse for him and glanced at the clock, 3.35 a.m.

Is this what they call 3 a.m nightmare?

He stepped backwards for a bit when the douche sat—almost calmly—on the stool that Josaph had formerly sat. Just as Noel thought that the douche just discovered his identity, a gentle waft of whiskey hit his smell receptors.

“Waiter, another bottle of whiskey, please…” He hiccuped, before caning his forehead on the table.

Noel’s eyes twitched and he sucked a sharp sigh.

“Why are you here?” He asked in an annoyed tone. His patience had long been gone since the time he mocked the douche in front of everyone. Though he still wondered why the douche would always successfully be able to find the entrance to his library, even though he had transferred it to another location.

“Hey. That’s a rude way to address your regular customer, Ricky Kruger, you know?” He mindlessly blurted while pointing his index finger to Noel.

Noel repeated a slow breathing motion, trying to repair his snapped nerve so he didn’t butcher a man tonight.

At the very least, he got to know which one was the douche. Before enrolling into Saint Iriha, he would take time to read the students biography; from the engineering students until the botanic students, all of their basic infos that were written in the student yearly magazines is etched into his mind.

The voice at the back of his head immediately whispered this douche’s basic biodata; his name and his course, his age, his student year, and the sport he’s into.

While Noel was analyzing the situation, Ricky again pointed at him. “You…You look familiar somehow…” He squinted his eyes and his face twisted into a grimace.

This is one of the moments where Noel wished that Ricky’s henchmen were nearby him to drag this pitiful friend of theirs out from the library. Fortunately though, he’s looking quite sane compared to his condition about two weeks ago, where he had to bathe him.

What are the odds of them meeting again?

Their separate lives are pretty good without them seeing each other anymore. Why did this douche appeared in front of him?

He stared at the douche’s head, as he’s now resting his head on the newly wiped and clean table. The longer he stared, another zap interrupted his anatomical Mana system. He quickly averted his eyes away and frowned.

“Mister, it’s almost dawn, you better get going.” Noel glanced at the clock which displayed 4 o’clock in the morning. He didn’t care whether he wanted to drink himself until he’s wasted or whatsoever it is, however, please just don’t come to the library in that condemning state.

Ricky jerked his head and frowned at Noel. “What did you say?! Don’t you know I am the…” His voice died down, replaced with a dropped jaw. His eyes locked with Noel’s, as if he’s mesmerized by it.

“…You’re really pretty, huh?” He muttered.

Under normal circumstances, Noel was supposed to roll his eyes in perplex as a response to a bastard like him, but somehow, there’s this thrill shooting up from somewhere inside his heart, filling his mind with an unknown attachment. His face twisted into an uncomfortable frown.

“Pardon me.” Noel straightened all of the fingers of his right hand, his focus transferred to the circulation of Mana on the ends of his veins before he brought the tip of his fingers to Ricky’s forehead.

“20th tier spell: Amnesia!”

He chanted.

Immediately after that, a lightning bolted from where his fingers touched Ricky’s forehead. He jolted in surprise as he automaically held his hand, a throbbing pain spread from his fingers to his palm. On the other hand, Ricky gazed at Noel with a confused expression.

“What are you doing?...”

Before he slowly gave in from the alcohol and fell unconscious on the table. Noel paced his breath as he glanced at the douche who’s already out of it. In his head, a question circled his mind.

What was that?

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