The Story of Orion and Ai


"Hmm... So this is the capital, huh? I see..."

Orion had just entered the capital, after a few days of travelling. He had been meaning to go to the capital for a while now, as it was one of the few places in the world he had not visited yet. Supposedly the capital had a lot of jobs available for adventurers, perfect for a travelling mage like him. However, there was something he did not expect...

"IT'S HUGE!!!!!"

Though it was to be expected, the capital was incredibly large, even larger than Orion expected. Everywhere he looked around there were houses and roads, unlike the villages he had visited before which were surrounded by woods. Not to mention the giant castle at the center of the city, which was still miles and miles away, despite him already being in the capital. He was bound to get lost in these streets, so his first priority was to look for a map he could get...

As mentioned before, Orion is a travelling mage. He's been one for a very, very long time... He himself lost count how many years ago he started travelling. He enjoyed travelling. Discovering new places never stopped to amaze him, like how he was amazed by the size of the capital for example. Every place truly was unique and it was one of his goals to discover every corner of the earth. However, travelling alone would be impossible... As he needed money to buy food. Yes, he knew a little bit about hunting, but he was not the most stealthy of people, so it was a lot easier to just earn money and buy food himself. And so, every time he visited a new place, he looked around for quests he could do so he could make a living. However, figuring out where he could do some quests would be a hassle in a city as big as this one...

Fortunately, near the gates, he found a shop that happened to sell maps. And so, he immediately bought one. "Alright, so I'm here..." Of course, a map alone wouldn't be enough to find the way. He needed to know where he was at all times. So he thought of a simple magical solution... He placed a magical dot on the map, which showed where he was and moved with him as he moved around the city. According to the map, the bulletin board where quests are put on was on the west, and so he headed there.

He was about halfway there, when suddenly he saw there was a little bit of a commotion... There were bandits raiding a store. There was a bit of a panic as the bandits were quite overwhelming and the vendors did not know what to do... "My, this is quite troublesome. I suppose I'll help out~" He entered the store as if he was just a casual customer who knew of nothing, when suddenly the store was shining in a bright, white, light-like aura. Nobody really saw what happened, but the bandits were laying on the ground, unconscious. Orion was just casually smiling as he walked towards the vendor. "So... May I have a cup of tea, please?" He put down some money as he patiently smiled some more.
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A shiver chilled Ai's spine. She could feel the eyes on her, staring a mixture of sugar and daggers in her general direction. She'd chosen to wear more subdued clothing- a simple white button up blouse and a brown maxi skirt that nearly touched the ground. The problem was she had gone and left her hood at home. In the capital, just about everyone knew her from her bright red hair and emerald eyes. It was she, the elder princess of the country.

It wasn't the stares that bothered her, however. It was the bulky man following her in heavy armor, his chestplate painted over with the royal family's coat of arms. "Can't you walk a little further back?" The princess groaned, having stopped in front of a textile shop, her brows furrowed. Before she could wait for a response, however, a ruckus just a few meters away caught her attention.

"Bandits, in the capital?" She mused. She felt her knuckles whiten as she clenched her hands into fists. "I'd better give them a piece of my mind."

Ai began to walk back towards the shop the bandits were in. The warrior following her rushed after her, though was slowed by his armor's weight. Once at the door, Ai pointed to the bandits with a scowl on her face. "Hey you, you'd better stop causing trouble right now or else I'll have to-"

Something strange happened. It was as if, out of the blue, she was pointing simply at the opposing wall. On the ground, the bandits lay sprawled out. Ai was certain she'd seen a bright light right before she could finish scolding the bad guys. The knight in charge of her protection had finally caught up, all too late.

"Princess, please tell me you didn't beat up bandits again..."

"I didn't get a chance, Ludo." Ai replied. Raising her hand in the air, she looked around the room, seeking the one who could possibly do such a thing. She was about to demand they show themselves, when she noticed an unfamiliar face in a sea of ones she knew from her many visits to this store. She let her hand fall and took the money the stranger had put down in front of the vendor. "I'll be paying for his share, so please return his funds. Also, I'll have one milk tea." She handed over a fair amount of funds- enough for both their drinks and a small but gracious tip for the shopkeeper. Turning to the white haired man, Ai gave off her most friendly grin. "Sir, if I may have a word for a moment?"


The shopkeeper obviously was very confused about what happened, as a strange, white haired man just eliminated a group of bandits in a heartbeat without breaking a sweat whatsoever. Not only that, the elder princess of all people then approached the young man and paid for his drink... Truly a strange day it was today.

Orion was a little confused why the red-haired girl had approached him, though... But he got a free drink, so it did not bother him too much. "Why, thank you!" He patiently smiled as he took his cup of tea and took a sip from the cup. "Ah, tea... Truly refreshing. I do not think there is a beverage out there that I will love more..."

He put down the cup and smiled some more. It was almost as if his neutral face was a cheeky smile... It wouldn't leave his face whatsoever. He seemed to be a little carefree for someone who was in the presence of a royal figure... And the words he spoke next showed exactly why. What he said just now was basically the equivalent of suicide.

"So, young lady... Who are you?"

The audience that had gathered up wondering what was going on was left in shock. Did the strange, white haired and white cloaked young man seriously just ask who the princess, one of the most famous people in the world, was? It was not just shock, either. It was outrage. Orion was confused by the furious comments the people made... "Uhm... Did I say something wrong? I did not say something offensive, right?" He looked in the eyes of the young princess, hoping for an explanation.


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She felt the stares on her as she paid for the stranger's drink, but it mattered little to her. Her parents, the king and queen, would understand why she'd do such a thing once they heard the bizarre scenario she'd witnessed. And, if they didn't, the worst they'd do was lock her in her room for a number of days. Sure, that was hell in and of itself to her, but Ai felt it normal to thank one who may be a hero in some way by showing gratitude in small gestures like the one she'd done.

Unfortunately, her actions backfired. He got curious about who she was, which surprised her- but it had led to a crowd gathering in and around the tea shop. With a big gulp, she downed her milk tea as quickly as possible, turning towards the knight that had finally caught up.

No words were spoken between the two. Ludo, the princess's personal guard, had already made a code using body language with princess long ago. He immediately cleared a path amidst the people, which is when Ai stood from her seat and grabbed hold of the white haired man's wrist. "You're coming with me. Ludo, keep the crowd busy."

She yanked on the arm she'd grabbed hold of and began to lead the stranger through the crowd, taking him down a few dark alleys until they were in a small, quaint park that was considered castle property due to its distance from the castle gates. Because it was considered part of the palace, commoners and even most nobles avoided this particular park.

With a deep sigh, she let go of the man's wrist and took a seat on a swing. "Tell me, sir, do you really know not who I am? If you do not know that, then do you know at least where we are right now?"


The red-headed lady did not give him an answer... Instead, she grabbed his arm and dragged him with her as she ordered an armored knight which had just arrived in the shop, telling him to keep the crowd busy which looked like they were after Orion's head. "Oh dear, this is quite the commotion..." Despite the fact that the crowd was after him, he still was rather carefree. His innocence was extreme...

"My, that was quite the experience." He chuckled a little. "Maybe this is like one of those stories to tell to your offspring... Not that I have an offspring, though." Once they were in the park, he stretched a little. "Phew, that was quite the walk... Wait, aren't we quite close to the castle right now?"

She asked him if he really didn't know who she was, or if he at least knew where they were right now. "Nope! Not a single clue! But can you blame me? I have never seen you in my entire life! How am I supposed to know you?" He tried to figure out who she was, but he couldn't come to any conclusion yet. "Well, no matter... To answer your question, we are in Rhelia, the capital, right? We're currently close to the royal castle, if the map I have tells our position correctly..." He pointed towards the map, the dot currently in the park only a few miles away from the castle.


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The man told her the name of their capital and pointed at a map to describe where in the country they were. While one hand held onto the swing's chain that she began to ride back and forth, the young woman put her other hand on her chin, asking rather forwardly, "The way you're using that map... Are you a foreigner by chance?"

True, people not from the capital didn't see the princess nearly as often. Even those in the capital only really saw her when she'd fled from the castle to get some fresh air, such as that particular day. With a deep sigh, she jumped off the swing and twirled herself on her left toe to face the man.

"I only assume such because, even at the far reaches of the kingdom, seldom is there a person who wouldn't know my name. After all, I am Ai Tsukimori, elder princess and second heir to the throne."

With an awkward yet elegant curtsy with her long skirt, the redhead held out her hand to the stranger. "I've given you my name. It's only right you give me yours, mister...?" She trailed off, hoping to get an answer forthright.

Before he could answer, however, she remembered he'd asked about their proximity to the castle. "And don't worry about how close my house is. This is still a public park- just no one really uses it because it's so close to the palace, though I still don't understand why. It's such a nice park."


"A foreigner? Well, I guess you could call me one, yes!" He laughed a little once again. "I've never been in the capital before. I have seen many parts of the world, but the capital of this country is somewhere I have never been before. That's why I'm using this map, you see. This place is much larger than any place I've ever been at before, so I need something to find my way here..."

When she revealed her identity as the princess of the kingdom, Ai Tsukimori, he froze a little. Now it was obvious to him why the people were so upset when he asked her who she was... Of course, that is a very rude thing to ask. "My, this day truly is strange. To think I would meet the princess the first day I enter the capital... Truly a strange fate indeed!"

She asked him for his name in return, but before he could answer she apparently wanted to ensure him that this is a public park, and not one of the private parks from the castle itself. "Well, that is reassuring! Do you think the people avoid this park because they think it is private property? It wouldn't surprise me considering how close we are." He looked around a little, so he could appreciate the scenery. "My, it truly is a nice park indeed! The ground filled with flowers blooming in the grass... The trees which green leaves are blooming with life... The ponds which are flowing together with this spring breeze... I could lay down and take a nap already."

"Ah, I'm getting off-track, aren't I? Let me introduce myself." He bowed down a little to formally introduce himself. "My name is Orion. Just Orion! I am but a humble, average traveler. Pleased to make your acquaintance!" He once again patiently smiled. The princess seemed like a good person, so he was glad about that. He had poor experiences with royalty in the past... The princess from another country he visited was quite the stereotype. Arrogant and stuck-up, she thought she was superior over everyone. She was not nearly as popular as the princes here, though...


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The man's bow was far too formal in Ai's mind, but at least he'd finally told her who he was. She was almost glad to find someone that didn't recognize her walking down the street. Normally, the only way she could hide herself in the crowd was to wear a long hooded cloak to keep people from seeing her red hair- but even that only worked from afar.

The princess fell back onto the swing and began to push herself off the ground with it. She listened to the man mentioning fate, and laughed. "A strange fate, hm? That sounds like something Brother would say. He's always believed in destiny. The last time he went into town with me, we went to a fortune teller... She gave him a bad fortune, and he locked himself in his room for days because he was depressed and worried over it. That's why I like to think it's not fate... Because fate can be cruel, and no one wants to think that meeting them is cruel of the world to make you do, am I right?"

She was speaking a bit briskly as she tried to keep her conversation with the man going and enjoy the swing at the same time. A few minutes into their talk, the knight had returned from his role in their escape, taking his helmet off as he sighed, watching the princess. "The reason no children come here to play is because they want her highness to be certain to have a swing to enjoy. She's always liked them, for some reason." Ai smiled, letting go of one of the chains again to reach her hand out as she got to the highest point she could going forward.

"When you swing, you can get closer to the sky. To fly in the sky... Certainly, that's freedom." Her lips curled downward ever so slightly, and her hand balled into a fist around the chain she'd let go of. She dug her heals into the dirt to stop herself, staring at the ground.

With a sudden change in demeanor again, she glanced up at Orion with a bright smile. "To travel is also to be free! Please, tell me about some of your travels! There must be more to the world than this stuffy city!"


"Hmm, well... Though destiny and fate can be cruel, it doesn't always have to be, no? Good fates most certainly are a thing, too." He patiently smiled once again as he stopped bowing towards her. "Of course, fate should be taken with a grain of salt. As it is not in our control to determine what fate falls upon us, all we can do is accept it for what it is. I've read stories about people trying to challenge their fates and it succeeding, though! They truly were beautiful in their own right."

"Swings, huh..." He watched as the princess swung forwards and backwards. He wondered if he should push the swing so she could go even higher... But then again, there was a guard standing there now, so he couldn't just do whatever he wanted without his permission. So he decided not to. "Anyway, your name is Ludo, right? I already introduced myself to the princess, but I'll introduce myself to you, too. My name is Orion. Just Orion! I am but a humble, average traveler. Pleased to make your acquaintance!" He bowed towards the guard as well. Seems like it just was something he did when introducing himself, not specifically because he was introducing himself to someone of royal blood...

He was a little surprised to see her so sorrowful as she was speaking about the sky and freedom, but he did understand why she felt that way. The life of someone of royal blood cannot possibly be easy. You have to worry about etiquette at all times and you need to suppress your true personality if it doesn't match the etiquette. You cannot go outside without nobody knowing who you are. Truly, it would feel like a cage at some points... So he would happily share his stories with her. So she truly knows what it is like in the outside world, of which she probably only has seen very little of.

"My, but of course I will share my travels with you! It would be an honor. Don't mind me, though..." Before he was about to share his stories, he sat down on his knees and closed his eyes. "My, yes... I've been to many places indeed. Mountains, tundras, deserts, forests... All kinds of places. Let's see... Any landscape is beautiful, but I think my favorite place has to be the Waterfalls of Restoration in the north of the kingdom. As the name implies, it truly replenishes both your body and soul! The waterfalls are huge, too. I'll probably want to go there again... Maybe another day! It is quite a trial to go there, though. Of course, it's not always easy to travel... You need really strong legs and arms to climb mountains, the heat of the desert and the cold of the tundra are unforgiving... Traveling most definitely is not for everyone. But it's all worth it, as it all looks beautiful!"

He sighed a little and opened his eyes once again. "You see, all places are really beautiful, but there is one specific place I wish to go to. I have no idea where it is, though. In fact, I don't even know if it exists, as it is a place only described by legend..." He raised his arm, hand palm facing upwards. He projected an image using his magic, which showed a large tower surrounded by millions of blue and pink flowers. ""From the stars of the inner sea, from the tower of insight, from the four corners of paradise, let them know; their story is filled with blessings. Only those free of sin may pass..." This is the tower of Evergarden. Of course, the Evergarden is the huge field of flowers surrounding it. It's been my lifelong dream to find this place, but I've had no success so far."


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She felt as though he was rambling in response to her distaste for fate, but his words did ring true somewhere in her mind. She wanted to hear the stories of people trying to challenge their fates from him, but she decided not to ask. She'd already asked for stories of his travels. Asking for more at one time wouldn't be logical, and though she was known for not being such, she still had some sense of sanity.

"Ludo here is basically my bodyguard. Mother and father demand he join me whenever I requeset to go into town. We've been together since I was a little kid- so he's sort of like a big brother more than a bodyguard in some ways."

As the princess spoke, Ludo did nothing but salute the bowing stranger. He was not used to such pleasantries and etiquette directed towards him- he was, after all, a knight. He was not royalty, just connected to it. Forgetting he'd taken his helmet off, he couldn't help but smirk just a bit because of it. Ai noticed, smiled at him with a giggle, and returned to giving Orion her undivided attention.

As he told her about the waterfall, she jumped off the swing again, turning to look at him. "A waterfall... It sounds beautiful. I've only seen paintings of them myself. Our family doesn't go to locations within the kingdom much. Our vacations are always business trips, really. I'm a bit jealous of you for getting to see these places."

Then, he began talking about the evergarden, a legend passed down by the generational game of telephone. Ai's eyes lit up at the mention of it, her hands clenching together in front of her as she felt her lips pull into a large smile. "Evergarden! I've always loved that legend. I'd make my brother read it to me night after night to help me sleep. If it truly exists, surely I'd like to see it someday. That said... How did you just show that to me? Are you some sort of street magician?"
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"A bodyguard, huh... Honestly, I don't think the role of a bodyguard would suit me. I tend to dwell off in thoughts a lot and I would probably forget about the person I'm supposed to be guarding..." He giggled a little. "Oh well! Considering the princess calls you more of a big brother than a bodyguard, you must be a pleasant person to be around. You must be doing a great job!"

As she mentioned that she thought waterfalls sound beautiful, he decided to describe them just a little more. "Oh, they look beautiful, but that's not the only part about them that is stunning. It's the sound of the water falling that also makes it beautiful. It's like rain hitting a window, except a lot louder as there is a lot more water falling, of course! Oh, and the light reflecting the water drops also looks incredibly beautiful. You can often see a rainbow if the sun shines."

He was surprised to hear that she knew about the Evergarden, but it was a pleasant surprise. He looked really enthusiastic as well when she talked about the Evergarden with as much passion as he did. "Oh, you know of it? How splendid! Ah, it truly is one of my favorites... I really hope to find it, but so far I haven't even found as much as a clue of its whereabouts... But I'm determined to find it. I'll do anything I can in order to. Well, unless it's a sin... Considering only those free of sin may pass after all." He laughed a little.

"Oh? Didn't I tell you already?" He was certain he told her, but maybe she missed it... "I'm a mage! Projection magic like this is a rather basic form of magic." He showed her a different picture. This time, it was of a mountain valley located in the east, a picture he took from memory alone. "I can basically project anything I want just by envisioning it! It may not be fully accurate sometimes, but it can be really helpful regardless."


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Ludo stiffened a bit when the stranger decided he had to be a pleasant person. He knew the prince of the kingdom was far from pleasant to many people, so he couldn't comprehend how a big brother of the princess would sound like someone easy to be around. Then again, only those on the inside knew the prince's true character, and Ai would agree he was easy to be around since, around his sister, the man was surely pleasant.

"I prefer not to be thought of as a big brother," He finally stated. "That role is for the prince only."

Ai shrugged off her bodyguard's thoughts. Whether he liked it or not, she already decided he was one of her honorary family members. Her parents had always told her that close friends and allies were virtually family. Her main question was if Orion would be family in the future as well.

Her eyes sparkled when he described the waterfall in more detail. "I've heard of people in books training their minds and bodies by sitting beneath a waterfall. It must be a shame for them to not be able to see the beauty of it while they train!" She was jealous of them since childhood, but now she had a reason to actually feel some form of solemnity towards those characters. "It must hurt a lot to do that too if it's really moving that loudly."

When Orion showed surprise that the princess knew of the story of the Evergarden, Ai blinked a couple times before speaking. "Of course I know about the Evergarden. It's one of the country's greatest legends. As I said, it was my favorite bedtime story. If you want to meet someone who likes it even more, you should meet my brother."

Ludo stiffened at the mention of Ai's brother and tried to laugh it off. Luckily, the princess got distracted almost immediately after mentioning it by the projection magic used before her. "That's truly amazing! And you really just show it from your mind? Do you think I could learn to do it if I tried? It'd be great for adding to stories for my little sister's bedtime. Plus I could escape the castle without being caught since I'd still be in my room!"


"I think you don't give yourself enough credit! If the person you're supposed to be protecting thinks of you that way, then it's a good thing. Yes, she may have a real big brother, but that doesn't mean that you cannot be thought of like one." It was apparent to him that the guard did not think too highly of himself, or at least Orion thought he didn't. So he wished to encourage him a little. Of course, he did not know his life story, so he had to keep it rather simple, but any little bit may help out a lot.

"When I was there I didn't exactly train... But I did meditate there. Being one with nature can really ease one's mind, so it's rather easy to meditate there. The sound of the water falling, the sound of a fish jumping out of the water and falling back in, as birds chirp... Even the smell of the forest is refreshing. All of it is. Ah, just remembering it is refreshing on its own..." He closed his eyes yet again as he vividly remembers the experience he went through, breathing in and out deeply as if he was envisioning the smell of the forest itself.

"Well, I'd like to meet your brother, then! Though I guess it isn't that easy, huh? He probably has a lot of royal business to attend to, so maybe I should not pry." He laughed a little once again as he scratched his head.

She was quite intrigued by the fact he could use magic, to the point that she wondered if she could use it herself... "Hmm? You want to learn how to use projection magic? I know I said this was a basic form, but even the most basic magic is very complex in its own right, you know? It takes a lot of dedication, training and knowledge to even cast a simple image from your hand." He decided to show a different form of magic this time. He opened his palm once again, using pyrokinesis this time... Or, as any normal person would call it, fire magic. He created a small fireball. "However, if you work hard enough, then I'm sure you can do it. You will need a proper instructor, though. Trying to learn magic on your own is almost impossible."

The young princess has piqued Orion's interest... Seeing a young princess that was so eager to learn more about him was quite a rarity. "I must say though, princess, you are quite interesting... You're nothing like any other princess, or anyone of royal blood I met. Back when I was in Tristanar, the princess I met there was quite a hassle... She kept bragging about how wealthy she was and how everyone was inferior to her. She would never let me finish my sentences and did not even bother to listen to my stories about travelling. A lot of royal families were the same... You're nothing like that. I quite enjoy that about you, if you don't mind if I say that."


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"I prefer to be seen as the knight I am over the brother I'm not," Ludo explained as precisely as possible. "I'm grateful the princess regards me highly, as I've been watching over her since she was such a little thing-" He held his hand low to distinguish roughly how small Ai had been when they met. "...But while I'm her protector, I'm still a knight. I have my pride."

Ludo's words made the princess pout ever so slightly. "You can be both at the same time, you know." She turned her head away for just a moment, before hearing Orion begin to return to his memories of the waterfall. When he mentioned meditating there, her eyes opened a bit wider.

"I like to meditate in nature as well! I often climb one of the trees in our yard and meditate there... Though for some reason I get really sleepy when I try meditation, so I usually just end up napping in the tree instead."

Ai was known throughout the kingdom for being rambunctious, so it came to no surprise, at least to Ludo, that she'd have trouble with something meant to calm. The knight chuckled ever so slightly, covering his lips with his gloved hand when he saw the princess's eyes starting to narrow.

"Tell me, traveler," Ludo soon stated. "What sort of stories have you heard of the elder princess of this country? Surely you must have heard something about her on your travels towards the capital."

When Orion responded to her question about magic, Ai shook her head just a bit. "I don't specifically want to learn projection magic- though, I can see it being useful for telling stories to my sister at bedtime, when it's my turn. I just meant I want to learn magic in general." Hearing him point out that magic required learning from a proper teacher, the princess's heart sank slightly. But then, seconds later, she stood tall and smiled to the man before her.

"Couldn't you potentially be my teacher, at least while you're in town?"

When the man called her 'interesting', she felt her pale skin redden as an awkward giggle left her lips. She was used to being told she wasn't like normal royalty, but being called 'interesting' first was...Well, it was a first. He explained his encounters with other royal figures in his life, and that lead to Ai feeling a need to explain herself.

"I suppose I was just raised differently. Father, the king, has always felt a good way of ruling is to know the people you're ruling over. Before I started leaving the castle on my own with Ludo, Father would take me into town for 'errands', which just consisted of going to some of the local shops he'd made friends with and introducing me to them. Unfortunately, it leads us easily into the spotlight, which I'm not fond of... I prefer to lead a laid back sort of life, if I can. I do enjoy traveling, which we do to see how residents of the far reaching parts of the country are doing, but... My favorite times are when I'm roaming the city hidden in my cloak so that people are less likely to see me as 'the princess' and more simply as 'Ai'. That said, I'm glad to hear you regard me well over badly. But I do prefer not to have my status be what people see me as, when at all possible."


"Well, each to their own, I guess! Either way, keep up the great work. She obviously enjoys your company." He decided to leave it there. He probably wouldn't take any compliments anyway.

"Well, I suppose meditation and napping are similar in the sense that your conscience is somewhere else. Whether that be looking at your inner spirit or just in a dream. I think dreams are wonderful things, along with the mysteries that surround them. I'm actually a lucid dreamer, you see." Lucid dreaming... The act of knowing when you are in a dream. He's practiced it a lot and can pretty much do it on command now.

"Hmm, well... There are indeed stories of the royal family, yes. I know of a few of them, but those are only the kinds that I looked for myself. So fiction, basically. I highly doubt that the princess in those stories is the same as the princess from right now. I don't really listen to the rumors that other people spread around either, so before I got here I had no idea what the princess is like." He expected the guard to be a little upset about that, but he was merely speaking the truth. There was no point lying about it.

"Hmm, well, I can see why magic is interesting to you! I mean, I'm a mage, if I didn't find it interesting then I would be a failure at my occupation..." He noticed that she was a little saddened when he mentioned that you need a proper instructor to learn how to use magic. He felt a little bad afterwards, realizing that maybe he should have worded it a little differently. "Ah, well, let me say it differently... Though it is very hard to do it without an instructor, it's definitely not impossible! It just takes a very long-"

Before he finished his words, the girl stood tall and asked him to be her instructor, for as long as he is in town.

"Hmm? Me? An instructor?" The mage was surprised to hear her ask that. He has never been a teacher before, as nobody ever asked him to... But here was the princess, wanting to learn magic so badly that she asked him to teach him despite having met only minutes ago. And so, he thought deeply... What should he do? He does have finances to worry about so he had to do as many quests as possible to earn enough money to move on to the next place... He felt like he should at least explain that to her. "Well, I will warn you, though. I obviously am here because I want to see the world in its entirety, but I of course cannot afford to only travel and do nothing else. I need money, and in order to earn said money I often am out to do the quests that the place I currently am at has to offer. Because of those quests, I most likely will not have a lot of time to teach you... Even so, do you still want me to teach you?"

She explained that she is the way she is because of how she was raised by her father. Her father was obviously a very caring king, so much that he'd go out of his way to meet up with friends at a local bar, in the public eye, despite of his status. "I see... Your father must be a very good man. The people probably are grateful to have a ruler like him. That said, though... I also completely understand why you would not want to be in the spotlights. Being constantly looked at because of your status does not sound very pleasant indeed. I think that people are people before they are something else. Before you are a princess, you are a person. I'm afraid that not a lot of people share the same thoughts on that, unfortunately."


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The man made a fair point, but Ludo merely nodded with no words. He knew the princess didn't always feel joy from his company- but then again, with her relationships with her siblings, it wasn't odd that she'd have rough patches with a man she considered to be similar to one.

Ai, meanwhile, paid no heed to Orion's compliment to Ludo. She was too busy being giddy over learning about new things, including magic. But, when the man mentioned something about lucid dreaming, her mind stopped. "Lucid dreaming... I think I read those words in one of my brother's books, but I still don't understand what it is. Brother said it's essentially being aware of the fact you're dreaming, but... Doesn't that just take the fantasy out of it?"

It was likely to the princess that she was missing some information about the topic. It just didn't seem to appeal to her because of her own understanding of the words. To Ai, dreaming was a great escape from the reality of day to day life. She often dreamed of going on adventures or going into town without being recognized, and being treated as just a normal one of the townsfolk. The idea of being conscious it was a dream sounded depressing to her- even if waking up was like that too.

"Oh, I see. So if I work hard enough and practice, even I might be able to learn how it works?" She clapped her hands together. It was exciting to hear, though she did like the idea of having a teacher- and having this stranger be her teacher, though possibly dangerous and risky, was still her preferred method.

When Orion explained how he made money during his travels, a light bulb went off in the princess's head. "If you're going on quests to help the townsfolk, wouldn't it be fine if I just came along with you and learned in the process? It's my royal duty to help the kingdom prosper, or so my father and brother say when it's their idea to do something for the kingdom. Wouldn't it be fine if I join to help the people out too?"

"Yes, my father is a very good man. My brother is too! He's a fair bit older than me, but he still always makes time for myself and our little sister. Father and brother are always teaching us. Mother teaches my sister and I how to do things too, but it's more boring things... My father has been teaching me swordplay recently, while mother is trying to push me into 'proper' hobbies like embroidery."


"Hmm... Well, I'll try to explain it the best I can. It's rather difficult to explain, though... So I'll need some time to think of the best way to explain it." He turned around, putting his thumb and index finger on his chin. He thought deeply about the best way to explain what made lucid dreaming so fun. In the end, he came to a conclusion.

"Lucid dreaming, you see... Indeed, it means that you are aware that you're dreaming. But that also means that you can take control of what happens in that dream. So basically... If you are in a dream and you want to fly, then you can control that. After all, a dream is something that plays in your head, and you can make your head think whatever you want, of course. It also means that you can control what happens into that dream. Do you want to be a heroine that saves the people from a scary monster with your amazing sword wielding? That's possible! Do you want to be a damsel in distress saved by a handsome prince as the two of you fall in love? Why not? It's all possible in a lucid dream! I have quite a passion for good stories, so in my lucid dreams I often play out stories that I've read, or sometimes stories I came up with myself. Usually I don't play the protagonist myself, but rather an observer as I watch how the story unfolds..."

She seemed to be even more motivated now to learn magic when he said it was possible that she could learn it herself. "I think anyone has the potential to learn magic! So yes, that would include you too." He wondered where to start when it came to teaching her. But more importantly... Would the king allow her daughter to learn magic from a complete stranger?

"Well, I would take you with me, yes. But are you really sure that your father will be okay with it? I mean, even if you like me, I'm still a complete stranger to you. It wouldn't surprise me if your father would be against it. Though if he is okay with it then feel free to join me on my quests!"

He was glad to hear that her father and her brother are good men, at least. He wondered what her little sister and her mother were like, though... "What are your mother and your little sister like? I can imagine embroidery being quite boring indeed... But that doesn't mean that your mother is boring too, of course. Each to their own hobbies!"


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Ai listened carefully to the man's explanation with a sparkle in her eyes. His explanation, though not explaining how one can do it, was mesmerizing. The idea of changing herself or the story her mind portrays at night was truly intriguing. Finally snapping out of her daydream of being able to do such a thing, she asked boldly, "How do you do that, though? How do you make yourself aware in a dream?"

There was more to the story than Ai was letting on. She wanted to change her dreams because they were too 'real' to her. She could see, hear, smell, taste and touch everything. They were mostly memories or dreams of things she believed could happen in her life- not necessarily things she wanted.

After clearing her head of the memories of that night's nightmare, she returned to the talk of magic with a heart filled with courage. "Father would probably not mind it too much. It's true you're but a traveler, but you've been kind to me, and he'll know that. Father has always believed in having education in all aspects of life. That's why he let even me, his daughter, learn swordplay. Surely magic would be something he'd agree to let me learn as well."

Then, the man asked about the queen and the second princess of the country. "Mother is very... old-fashioned. She was really upset when father had me learn to swing a sword, as she felt that was a man's job only and that girls should sit pretty and only do very feminine things. The only hobby of her's I enjoy is the parties she loves to host. The food is tasty and there are always nice people to talk to. As for my sister Rino... She's generally more like the kind of person you expect from a princess. She's a spoiled little brat that always demands her way, and will blackmail you despite her young age if you try to deny her request. I snuck out of the castle when I was supposed to have a flower arranging lesson once, and she tried to make me buy her an expensive gift or she'd tell Mother. I'd already been honest with Mother about it because the teacher told her I skipped. I admitted where I'd gone and whatnot... and Rino apparently had no idea. Such a foolish child."


"How do you do that, you ask?" It didn't surprise him that she wanted to know. After all, being able to control your own dreams is fascinating. However, it was certainly not easy to do it, even Orion had to practice for a very long time before he was able to. "Hmm, well... There are different methods to lucid dream, but regardless of the method it's very difficult to do. First off, regardless of method, you need to remember what you dreamed after you wake up. A common way to practice remembering is by writing down what you dreamt right after you woke up. Then... I think the most common technique is to imagine what you want to dream in your mind, and try to sleep with nothing else on your mind. It will take a lot of practice though and you'll need to be aware of common things that happen in a dream, else you won't succeed. Well, just give it some time for now!"

He still wasn't sure if the king would let a stranger teach her, as despite the fact that her father let her learn how to swing a sword, it still most likely was taught to her by trusted people. But if he could prove himself to be a trustworthy person, then Orion would definitely not mind teaching her. "Well, perhaps you could introduce me to the king at one point, to see what he thinks of it. That is if he will allow such a thing, of course!"

"Hmm... I see..." So that is what her family was like. Though the father and Ai were quite atypical, the mother and Ai's younger sister were about what you'd expect from royalty. "Well, I'm not really a party person myself, but I agree that good food is always a pleasant thing, yes!" He giggled a little. "Seriously though, Rino seems rather... Frightening... I don't know how old she is but if she still is young and is already blackmailing people into doing things, then..." He realized the guard was watching him, so he decided to keep his mouth shut for now. "Well, I think some things are better left unsaid!"


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Ai listened intently to the man's explanation of the steps to learn lucid dreaming. She'd actually started a dream journal a year ago upon the recommendation of her brother, who she'd told she was having repetitive dreams that bothered her. That was step one already set. The trickier part would definitely be step two, based on the way Orion said it. "So I need to think of my desired dream... and not think of anything else? But how do you stop your brain from bringing up other topics?"

"Might I recommend meditation, princess?" Ludo chimed in. "I'm sure Master Langley would be able to teach you about it."

Knowing Orion probably had no idea who Ludo was talking about, Ai cut in partway through Ludo's idea. "He's talking about my brother's friend Lance. Lance is also the one that taught me swordplay. It really upset my brother that I was learning it, but he knew it was Father's orders, even if I'd shown interest before to Father. Lance and Micah went to school together from a young age, so he's like another brother to me."

"The Princess sees a lot of people as her family, as you can see." Ludo chuckled as he spoke. "She's quite stubborn about it, too."

Changing the subject to one of more interest to Ai than her own pride, she began to listen to Orion's reaction in learning about the queen and second princess. "Rino tries to blackmail at her young age, but she really doesn't know the basics to blackmail... Like knowing if someone else, especially the person you plan to spill the secret to, already knows the secret you're using against someone. The fact she tries to do so quite often is pretty worrying though. I think it would be good if Father had Lance teach her swordplay as well. It can be quite good for disciplining yourself. How do you keep yourself disciplined?"