Hanako nods. ”Yes. Most boys learn at least a little alchemy because it makes so many commonly used household items, but I’m much better at it than normal and I can make more complicated and specialized things. For example, if you combine silk, moa down, enchanted powder snow, and some difficult-to-cast magic, you get this.”

Hanako raises one of his arms, both of which are clad in white elbow-length gloves. Aside from the lace trim and pastel yellow ribbon bows on the upper sleeve, most of the slight, frail-looking glove is made of a soft white fabric.

”Angelwing. Angelwing cloth is much more durable than silk and is so feather-light that it feels completely weightless, but its heavenly-feeling softness is what gives it its primary use. It’s mostly used in boys’ clothes; gloves, socks and stockings, ribbons, and as an internal lining for dresses, for example. It’s also a good example of how Belsedori alchemy works; you make it by combining the desirable physical and magical properties of its ingredients, and then enhancing them and fusing them together using magic. Sometimes the mixing process creates new properties, which might be helpful, harmful, or both; in angelwing’s case, the resulting cloth is nearly completely impervious to both unintentional stains and attempts to dye it.”

Hanako lowers his arm and removes a small pastry from his bag.

”Aside from cloth fibers, you can make all kinds of things with alchemy; relatively mundane things like soap can be made by practically anybody, but alchemists of all skill levels can create ingredients for food, crystals and alloyed metals, medicines, and all sorts of other things. Most alchemically manufactured objects require further refinement, and the difficulty in making something quickly scales with its magical complexity, but alchemy overall is a wonderful kind of magic that’s an integral part of Belsedori society. Beyond that, it is a very broad topic to discuss; is there anything in particular that you wanted to ask about?”


“Yes, that is essentially what we learn with alchemy in Aur Spectra.” Ryesli chirped back, rustling her feathers out.

… mostly used in boy’s clothing…

While there were certainly societies in Aur Spectra that do have specifically gendered clothing and otherwise express dimorphism in the species like humans and the Belsedori do, the Riaaki were not one of those. Neither did the academy have any room for gendered roles among the knights, who were expected to perform at the same level to even be able to join in the first place. The concept was extremely confusing to Ryesli now that she was presented with the concept for the first time.

“… aren’t boy clothes and girl clothes the same though…?”

Fortuna visibly rolled her eyes. Even though she may be the younger Riaaki here, Fortuna had a much better grasp on etiquette than Ryesli, most likely due to the fact that their careers were vastly different. Ryesli was a knight in service, known to be kind to a fault but very blind to social norms outside of the knighthood. Meanwhile, Fortuna was Riaaki royalty, representing her kind to the collection of Aur Spectra kingdoms all her life. Such an important task required knowledge on how to interact with so many others outside the Riaaki.

One of the things dignitaries must never do is ask blunt questions about each others’ societies. Laws and magic were completely fine topics, but further societal discussions were best saved for the researchers, who may then pass on the knowledge of each others’ respective biologies and societal norms to better understand one another.

“Please forgive Ryesli here, she is simply curious about many subjects.” Fortuna spoke only after she was able to regain her composure. “The knights do not study social etiquette in their academy as they have more important things to learn.”

Lumina and Kade seem to cross their arms, squinting in Fortuna’s general direction.

(The truth here is, while the knights don’t study social etiquette as extensively as any politician would, they still study the topic. This simply was one of the topics that Ryesli did not excel in.)


”Well,” Georgia said, ”I’ve been told that humans usually think that women’s clothing and boys’ clothing look very similar, but they vary drastically in terms of material, style, and clothing type; I could explain the differences now, but it might be easier for you to see the differences for yourself when we get to Teranata. Most Belsedori women don’t wear armor all of the time, naturally. Although, speaking of Teranata, we should be getting close to it by this point.

Georgia then turns her head to address Hanako.

”Did you finish those bells that you were making, sweetie?”

Hanako nods.

”Yes; I had actually just finished making them when you called me over.”

Hanako reaches into his bag and withdraws a small set of calling bells that are similar to the ones that he and Georgia are carrying; the most noticeable difference is the significant increase in the intricacy of their decorations. The one that resembles Hanako’s is already attached to a plain white collar with a small bow on it.

”I was testing how easy it is to put it on and take it off. Were we going to deliver it today?”

Georgia giggles slightly upon seeing the bells.

”That bell looks absolutely adorable. You’ve done a very good job making it, sweetie; I’m sure Yukari will just love wearing it.”

Georgia tenderly pets Hanako on the head while they walk.

”But, to answer your question, yes; our companions here have business at the royal palace, and I thought that it would be a good idea to take you along since you have some errands to do.”

”The royal palace? What for?”

”They’re representatives from another country, like that other one that visited not too long ago. Well, sort of; it might be better to let them explain.”

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“It has been a very long time because at some point in history, the Riaaki and the Belsedori lost contact with each other. To make matters worse, all the knowledge we know about your people were very clearly lost in translation over the years, as the Riaaki only have a lifespan of 15-20 years. Most other species live far longer than us.” Fortuna’s voice took on a bit of a more official tone, her chirps were higher pitched and slightly louder. “While ending up here may have been a natural error on the navigator’s fault, this is now a wonderful opportunity to re-establish friendship with long-lost friends. And correct the mythical knowledge that has been passed down through the years.”

“It’s also probably because Fortuna is the queen of the Riaaki.” Lumine quietly added.


Hanako responds, seemingly not having heard Lumia.

”That sounds nice; I hope that you enjoy talking to Her Majesty.”

A few minutes of walking later, the group finally reaches a side gate in the the modestly sized outer wall of Teranata. Near the gate stands a handful of Belsedori knightesses wearing shiny silver armor decorated with bright red ribbons, who quickly approach the Aur Spectrans and their Belsedori escort upon noticing them. One of the knightesses wearing fancier ribbons steps out from the group and approaches Georgia and Hanako.

“Georgia. I presume that these are the guests?”

”Yes. My consort also has a delivery for Yukari, as you can see.”

Hanako holds up the bells from his bag again.

”Aww, Yukari’s bell looks so cute. And you look just adorable too, my sweet little amayuki-amie.”

The knightess steps over to Hanako to pet him enthusiastically, which Hanako seems to be enjoying. After cooing over him a few moments, the knightess addresses Georgia while continuing to pet Hanako.

”Since you have an important figure with you, the royal guard recommended that you fly to the palace instead of walking through the city. I’m sure that you can all fly with wings or magic, but I was provided these flight assistants to help ease any fatigue that any of you may be experiencing.”

The knightess holds up a handful of enchanted harnesses with glowimg gemstones fitted to them. All of them were adjustable, and could fit anybody except the Riaaki.

A few minutes of flying over the mist- and snow-covered Belsedori capital of Teranata later, the group arrives at the balcony doors leading to the air-accessible entrance hall of the royal palace. Most of the knightesss in Georgia’s squadron depart after escorting the Aur Spectrans to the royal palace, leaving just them, Georgia, and Hanako. Queen Dana L’aderina, ruler of the Kingdom of Belsegallia and one of the most fearsome magic users in Aurora, stands just behind the metal-bound doors.

At least, that’s what she’s supposed to be doing.

After having the door into the palace opened by the guards, the group is afforded a view inside. The room inside was made of reflective, eternally frozen ice with intricate patterns carved into it, and a large crystal chandelier was fixed to the ceiling and filling the room with the reflections bouncing off of a thousand faceted stones. There is not, however, a queen in sight. After taking a quick look around the room, Georgia addresses the Aur Spectrans.

”Hanako and I have to deliver something, so we must depart from you now. Her Majesty should be here shortly; we hope that you enjoy your visit here.”

Georgia and Hanako then proceed to exit the entrance hall through a door on the right after speaking with a guard. As they do so, a short, lavender-haired Belsedori wearing a ruffly white apron and a cream colored sweater over a pale yellow dress similar to Hanako’s walks into the hall from a door on the left. After taking notice of the guests in the waiting hall, he approaches them with a small tray of some sort of beverages and offers them to everybody in a soft, hushed voice. Despite the fact that he’s wearing the same kind of white, face-covering veil as Hanako, it’s clearly apparent that he’s avoiding making eye contact with any of the Aur Spectrans.

”My apologies to all of you for the wait; Xana’s busy with something else right now, but she’ll be right with you in a few minutes. In the meantime, did any of you want some orange cream milkshakes? I just made them a few minutes ago when the guards said that you’d be here soon, so they’re still fresh.”


Fortuna dipped her head to Georgia and Hanako respectfully as they departed.

“I appreciate your assistance, thank you.”

Once they left, Ryesli let out a slight sigh, releasing Lumina and Kade from their bubble, leaving them exposed to the ambient temperature of their surroundings. She didn’t seem keen on re-bubbling her fellow knights either, so Lumina held up a moderately-sized ball of light now, huddling close together. Consistently holding up a reality-breaking bubble so friends don’t freeze to death for so long is a lot of hard work, after all.

Kade was first to notice the new Belsedori approach. He did his best to retract his claws, using his now-flat palm to pat Ryesli, who in turn drew Fortuna’s attention.

“Hello, I will hold, thank you. But my companions may want.” Fortuna nodded towards the new Belsedori, gesturing towards the rest of the group. “There is no need for apologizing for the wait either, we absolutely understand.”

“I will pass, thank you though.” Ryesli spoke pretty quietly now, though at a glance she seemed perfectly ok, standing at attention as was normal for a knight on duty. “Lumina and Kade might want, they’re always hungry and love to eat anything they see that is edible.”

“Hey, we do a lot ok?” Lumina crossed her arms together, turning to the lavender-haired Belsedori. “I would love to try your milkshakes.”

“As would I.” Kade seems to move closer to Ryesli now, away from the one source of warmth. He crouched to the ground, shivering, until his mouth was right against Ryesli’s ear tufts. He seemed to whisper something quietly. Ryesli whispered in return, shaking her head. Kade stood back up, retreating back to Lumina’s ball of warmth.


Yukari quickly gives milkshakes from the tray to Kade and Lumina.

”You seem cold. There’s a heated parlor over here that’s meant to better accommodate the temperature needs of terrestrials…”

He gestures to one of the doors and then swaps to addressing Ryesli and Fortuna.

”…but I don’t think that any of the cooling necklaces that we Belsedori wear in it are small enough to fit you, so you might be a little uncomfortable in it unless you wrap them around yourselves. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything in your size.”

After saying this, Yukari gives a silver necklace to Fortuna and Ryesli; each one has a locket attached to it, inside of which seems to be some kind of switch. He then leads the guests to a moderately-sized parlor with no fewer than four active fireplaces in it. As he steps into the heated room, he reaches up to a necklace that he’s wearing, identical in appearance to the ones that he gave to the Riaaki, and toggles the switch inside of it. Yukari quickly finds seats for all of the Aur Spectrans, taking special care to put the non-Riaaki close to one of the fireplaces and the Riaaki further away from it.

”Xana should be here very shortly. Please let me know if there’s anything that I can do to make you more comfortable; I can make ice cream, tea, milkshakes, biscuits, tea sandwiches, and many other dishes if any of you want refreshments, rearrange your chairs if you’d like, or any number or other things.”

Yukari seems to have suddenly remembered something.

”Oh! I’m so sorry; I forgot to introduce myself.”

The lavender-haired Belsedori quickly does a curtsy with the pleated skirt of the dress under his sweater and apron.

”I’m Xana’s consort; my name is Yukari L’aderinie. It’s very nice to meet all of you.”


Fortuna and Ryesli both switched the locket on once both Riaaki managed to wrap it around themselves. Ryesli seemed to observe everything with her talons, as if she were trying to figure out how it worked. Despite the room being warm enough for the terrestrials, Ryesli didn’t suffer the disgusting heat that Sylar was known for. In fact, she felt comfortable.

Magically-infused locket… with a switch?

“We appreciate your hospitality, Yukari-” Fortuna opened her beak to speak. Riaaki interrupted almost immediately.

“How does this work? Did you guys manage to make some sort of circuitry with magic? Magically-infused wiring? Is the amulet-”

“Ryesli, quiet.” Fortuna bat the other Riaaki with her larger secondary wing. It was obvious that she did not appreciate Ryesli’s interruption, from her squinted glare to how slowly she folded her wing in. Turning back to Yukari, Fortuna seemed to tilt her head to the right, closing her eyes and drooping her wings slightly.

“Apologies for the interruption. As I was saying, thank you for your hospitality. It is a pleasure to meet you as well. My name is Queen Fortuna Airana of Himkinda-Gulthii. The elf you see is Captain Lumina, in service with the Order of Knights of Aur Spectra.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Lumina smiled, nodding her head briefly. As soon as she confirmed that Fortuna was no longer speaking, Lumina continued. “The academy consists of several orders of knights united to serve the kingdom. I am from the Order of Margano’s Legion, Captain of the Aural Knight Brigade Three. The Aylani next to me is Kade, my third-in-command from the Order of Claws.”

“The… rest of the brigade is probably wondering where we are, since we were supposed to rendezvous at the safe house a while ago.” Lumina seemed to squint at Ryesli, who suddenly looked up from the locket she was carefully observing.

“Oh, introductions? Sorry, uh… I’m Ryesli…?” The older Riaaki fluffed her feathers out, tapping her feet on the ground, the talons clicking against the floor softly.

“Ryesli is of the Order of Skyfeathers, she is the Spectral Warrior, currently serving with the Aural Knight Brigade Three. She is… special, please forgive her.”

Lumina never had patience for Ryesli’s lack of social etiquette. Elven societies were always so intricate with social rules, similar to the Riaaki, normally. Yet the one Riaaki capable of fighting with more than just talon swipes seems to be unable to comprehend any of the elaborate rules of social interaction. Not to mention, she was awfully terrible with directions. However, it was rude to voice displeasure in front of guests, so Lumina simply settled with side-eyed squints for every social faux-pas Ryesli committed.


Yukari shook his head as he gave his reply to Lumina.

”Oh, no, it’s no trouble at all to me; I promise. Please feel free to interrupt me as much as you want if you so wish; I’m used to being talked over during conversations, and I would never want my presence as a host to be a burden to you while you’re here. After all, I’m supposed to be here to make all of you more comfortable.”

Yukari raised his hand to softly brush the large white bow in his hair and draw attention to it as he spoke to everyone in the same gentle, hushed voice that he always tried to use when addressing women.

”And to answer your question, Lady Ryesli; the inside of the locket contains two halves of a small enchanted gemstone that generates the cooling effect. Moving the switch brings the halves into contact or separates them, which turns the locket on or off respectively. It’s a very mechanically and magically simple enchanted device relative to others that you can find in Belsegallia; the hardest part of making one is cutting and enchanting the gemstone properly.”

The sounds of muffled conversation began to emanate from behind one of the doors leading into the parlor as Yukari finished his explanation. He began to briskly walk over to the door in order to open it for whoever was walking over to it, but it was opened from the other side before he could so. Hanako then walked into the room, followed by a tall Belsedori woman with bright crimson hair and a pair of crystalline swords partially obscured by long cloths.

”So these are the visitors that you have brought to me, Georgia.”

”Yes, your Majesty.” replied Georgia, who was waiting for everyone to pass into the room so that she could close the door behind them.

”In that case; I bid good day to all of you. I am Xana L’aderina, queen of Belsegallia, and it is in my house that you now stand. You must be Queen Fortuna, correct? It is a pleasure to meet you, and to be able to entertain another monarch; Belsegallia does not receive many visitors, and the few that do come here are rarely of your stature.”

Despite looking at and addressing Queen Fortuna, a large portion of Xana’s attention seemed to be focused on Ryesli instead. Hanako and Georgia were merely waiting to be addressed after both they and Xana were already assigned more chairs by Yukari, who had also somehow found the time to retrieve a bowl of ice cream from somewhere and set it onto a small table in front of Xana.


“It is a pleasure to meet you.” Fortuna slightly floofed her feathers out, standing up to greet Xana. “It is funny how this chance meeting could happen-”

“I believe it to be fate, actually. Fate being the force that drives time and space-”

In a few short seconds, Lumina grabbed Ryesli, holding her beak shut while the small bird fought against the much larger elf.

“Please forgive our companion, she did not mean any disrespect.” Fortuna spoke up again once Ryesli was quiet. “Frankly, we were surprised to find your nation by chance after so many years. It has been so long that everything we may have once known seems to have been utterly distorted beyond sense-”

Once again, Fortuna was interrupted, this time by Ryesli playing with the locket. One of her talons seemed to be tapping the locket at random intervals, somehow affecting just how cold she felt from wearing it. In fact, she seemed to shiver almost as violently as the terrestrials in the party did when they first arrived.

Fortuna almost reached her limit, wondering why she ever requested Ryesli to accompany the brigade of Aural Knights. Surely the dangerous evil villain or whatever wasn’t that powerful and evil that would warrant such a punishment. Then again, she knew what this villain was capable of, she had seen the remnants of her family with her own eyes.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

“Ryesli, you are on duty. Did you not sense Tamunar’s presence not too far from here?” Lumina whispered to Ryesli, who shook her head.

“No, it was a ways away… but I should try to see if I can spot him out.” Ryesli seemed to become much more serious now, standing at attention, the locket operating as normal now. In fact, she seemed to become entranced, as if mentally not present anymore.

Kade couldn’t help but let out a tiny mrrow at the situation, though he was doing his best to avoid interrupting the royal people further. The tiny lighthearted moment was immediately silenced by a singular glare from Lumina, however.

“… as I was saying, all the knowledge Riaaki Landing had about Belsegallia seems to be very incorrect, that is how long it has been since our domains last interacted.” Fortuna maintained her composure as she spoke once again.