Dance of the Shining Stars on the Shore of Memory

Chapter 5

Chloe: … hey. If you’re worried, would you be less nervous if you didn’t go alone?

Fran: Huh? I mean, yeah, but…

Chloe: Well, then if you don’t mind, I’d like to come with you! I want to meet Layla, too.

Fran: R-really?

Arthur: I would like to meet her as well. But, I think it might be a little bit troublesome if too many people all met her all at once…

Fran: I’m sure it will be okay! Layla is a very kind person, after all. I’m sure she’d love to be friends with all of you, too!

Cain: That being the case, count me in as well!

Heathcliff: If everyone is going, I would like to as well…

Fran: Everyone… thank you! I feel a lot better now! Ah… it’s been a while since I last saw Layla… I’m so excited…!


[ext: City street, daytime]

I offered to accompany the group of wizards that were going to meet Layla, and soon we arrived at the town she lived in, the City of Stargazing.

Akira: The sky sure is cloudy…

Heathcliff: Thanks to the development of magical technology and its proliferation through the Western country, I’ve heard that both air and water pollution are becoming a serious problem. From Fran’s story, I thought that maybe the cloudy sky was just regular weather, but I don’t think that’s the case.

Arthur: Fran, is Layla’s house nearby?

Fran: Well, to be honest, I don’t exactly know precisely where it is. But she did tell me what it looks like! She said she lives in a house with a sloped red roof and a weather vane on top.

We set forth into the city, using Fran’s recollections to look around for our target.

Cain: You know, there sure are a whole bunch of star-themed decorations all around town.

Arthur: I wonder if it might have something to do with the fact that the name of the town is the City of Stargazing?

Fran: That’s what Layla said. She said that because the town is on top of a hill, it used to be a major destination for stargazing in the past. But these days, you can’t see the stars at all because of how the sky is.

Chloe: … ah! Isn’t that house over there the one we’re looking for? Right next to that house with the yellow roof. A weather vane on top of a sloped red roof!

Fran: … ! Yeah, that’s definitely it! … that’s… Layla’s house…

Even though the home of the person he’s longed to see again is so close at hand, Fran’s steps are getting slower and slower. Walking close to Fran, Chloe looked into his downcast face with a gentle smile of his own.

Chloe: Fran. We’re all here to support you, so if you have any concerns… if talking about it would help you feel better, then I want you to feel free to tell it to me, okay?

Fran: Ah…

Fran’s ruby-like eyes were wide open and flicking from side to side. Then, his tense expression began to grow calmer, and he slowly opened his mouth.

Fran: To be honest, I’m a little afraid to see Layla again. When she said she wanted to see the White Bridesveils, I said I’d find them quickly and be back soon, and I just took off like that… I didn’t even say goodbye properly. At that time I was around Mitile’s age, and now I’ve grown up as much as I have… so I was worried that Layla might be mad at me, and I didn’t know what I’d do if she was… I just didn’t have the heart to face her… haha… I’m really a coward, huh…

Cain and Heathcliff:

Arthur: … I think it’s understandable to be nervous after you’re been apart from somebody that you care about a lot for a while. Not that long ago, I was in a similar situation to the one you’re in, Fran, so I feel like I kind of understand how you feel.

Fran: Huh? You, too, Arthur?

Arthur: Indeed. I hadn’t seen somebody for a long time-- someone who had taken care of me since I was very little. I felt very lonely and anxious; I felt like I was doing something unfair. Being concerned about the heart of somebody you care about isn’t a sign of cowardice. It’s something that everyone feels at some point. I don’t think you should be so cruel as to call yourself a coward.

Arthur said all of this to Fran with a gentle smile and blue eyes full of compassion, willing to shoulder some of his pain even when he had pain of his own to contend with.

Fran: … Arthur… that’s… I don’t have to think of myself as a coward…

Fran took a deep breath and lifted his head.

Fran: … I’ve made up my mind. If Layla is mad at me, then I’ll just have to do my best to apologize until she forgives me. Even if she gets mad at me, not being able to see Layla at all would be far worse. Thank you, Arthur, Chloe. Thanks to you, I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough!

Arthur: Alright!

Chloe: Yeah!

Fran: And of course, Cain, Heathcliff, and the Sage—I really appreciate all of you guys coming along, too!

Fran gave us a smile, and we all looked at each other with relief. There was more of a spring in Fran’s step as he approached Layla’s house. When we arrived, he still had a bit of a nervous expression on his face as he knocked on the door.


Mitile: Ah… I wish I could have gone with the Sage and the others to Layla’s house…

Mithra: Absolutely not. Please stay within my sight at all times.

Rustica: Our job is to locate a nice place somewhere in this town. When Chloe and the others befriend Layla, then we can have a lovely reunion party there.

Mitile: Ah! That’s a good idea!

Rustica: First things first. How about a sandwich from this corner shop?

Bradley: You got a sharp mind, don’t’cha?

Mithra: [munch, munch] … this is pretty good.

Mitile: Yeah! This is really tasty!

Bradley: If you like it so much then here, you can have some of mine. Here ya go.

Mitile: Whoa, thank you very m-- … hey, this is just all of the vegetables from yours! You can’t just give me all the things you don’t want to eat! And here I was thinking you were being nice…

Bradley: Hey, am I not being nice? Giving away lots’a healthy food is a good thing to do, right?

Mitile: I mean-- … … um, where’s Rustica-san?

Mithra: He’s gone.

Mitile: Did we get separated from him?

Bradley: Not like he doesn’t wander off all the time… well, he can’t have gotten far.

Mithra: You got anything else you can offer me? I’m still hungry.

Mitile: Hey, Mithra-san! If you just wipe your mouth with your hands you’re going to get your hands all dirty!

Townsperson: Oh, wow, look at that hot man eating in such a wild and sexy way…! Hey, mister redhead over there! Why don’t you join in our Star Dance Festival?

Mithra: Star Dance Festival? What’s that.

Townsperson: Here in the City of Stargazing, it’s a big festival. I’m supposed to be in charge of organizing it this year. This town used to be famous for our view of the stars, but now, since the air is so polluted, you can’t really see them at all. Since we don’t get that many tourists around here anymore, we figured we would be able to attract more people with something new and different. Hence: the Star Dance Festival. We decorate the whole town with stars and dance the night away. Some people put on impromptu shows and a big crowd will gather around them.

Bradley: Hm? Isn’t that the festival that the Fuzzball Herder was talking about?

Mitile: It definitely sounds like it.

Townsperson: The Star Dance Festival is two days from now. If a sexy guy like you took part, I’m sure it’d be a roaring success. And there are lots of delicious food stalls to enjoy, so you should look forward to it! You should think about participating!

Mithra: Hah… just going to say all of that and then just wander off without waiting for an answer. People in the west are really impulsive.

Bradley: You are the last person I wanna hear that from.

Mitile: But even so! To be singled out and called out to by the organizer is really something! And he called you a wild, sexy hot man…

Bradley: So around these parts a dude with sauce all over his face is “wild and sexy”. I don’t get you people at fucking all.

Rustica: Oh, everyone, here you are.

Mitile: Ah, Rustica-san…! We were worried about you!

Rustica: My apologies. When we were walking around the streets, I realized that I’ve been to this town before. … oh my, Mithra. It seems to be that the sauce from your sandwich is quite taken with you. It’s being very naughty and insisting on lingering around your mouth. Might I offer you a handkerchief?

Mithra: Hah…

Rustica: Like a proud wild beast that has killed its prey, you are truly a wonderful man full of undeniable wild sex appeal, but… it would be quite a shame to cover up those attractive lips with stray sauce.

Mithra: … … pfft. Well, that’s correct. I’m a wild and sexy beast, after all. It doesn’t matter to me, but if it bothers you, I’ll wipe it off.

Bradley: so anyway, where’d you end up getting off to? You wandered off.

Rustica: Ah, that’s right. When I was last here, I had eaten some star-shaped cookies that I quite enjoyed. I thought I might go find the store they were sold at, in order to buy them some a treat for everyone, but… unfortunately, the store is already gone. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a few decades since I was last here.

Mitile: That’s…! You act like that’s just a little while, but I haven’t even been alive for a “few decades”!

Mithra: Well, you’re practically an infant. For us, that’s basically no time at all.

Bradley: … a few decades, huh.

Rustica: Is something the matter, Bradley?

Bradley: … nah. I was just thinkin’ about how that happens all the time. When you live for a long time, unless you’re the real sentimental type, that’s just what ends up happening.

Rustica: …?

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