The explosion site has turned into an oval black crater.
Garen made his way carefully along this area, while at the same time checking for places that might hide bodies.
There was only a slight spillage of moonlight that night. Garen could barely see the silhouette of the objects in the woods.
The air was cool, but the site was still a little warm from the explosion. The ground was hot to the touch, he could feel it through his boots.
Garen checked the place thoroughly around the oval crater. Nothing. He widened his search area.
It was getting late by the second. He checked everywhere, in the bushes, behind trees, between boulder cracks, under the branches etc. He has searched everywhere that could hide people, but there was not a single sign of anyone hiding.
He did, however, almost stepped on a nest full of black swan eggs.
Slowly, his search area widened to include the lakeside.
Garen believed the person he saw in the memory is the Luminarist called Emin.
This was an opportunity of a lifetime, it’s also the most practical. If he could could find the Luminarist called Emin and save him, then he could request him to be his teacher, that’s the idea with the highest success rate.
Garen didn’t show any impatience searching for Emin even if it’s taking a long time. When he was training his Martial Arts, he had to constantly repeat the same movements, some were not only uncomfortable, but painful as well, but he persisted.
It can be said that even without the help of his special ability, he’d be able to become a decent Martial Artist within a certain timeframe. His special ability merely gave him a key to reach the peak.
Compared to those days, this was nothing.
He had decided to fully utilize the night to look for the Luminarist Emin. In an explosion like this one, he would’ve been badly hurt.
Walking along the lake, he started to examine the water. Soon, a dark silhouette entered his sight, it was floating on the water, unmoving, but it still looked like a human shape.
Garen hurried over, and threw a pebble at it.
No movement, the pebble sounded like it hit flesh.
Garen had a slight suspicion. He closed their distance to better make out the silhouette’s true shape.
It was a charred, curled up body. Floating beside it was a short cane covered in soot.
"This might be him." With a little hope, Garen approached him waddling through the water.
Flipping him over, he revealed a soot-covered pale face, it was the Luminarist Emin.
"It’s him!" Garen sighed in relief. "Hey, are you alive? Wake up!"
He patted Emin’s face and pressed his stomach, he wasn’t bloated, he didn’t drown. He gave Emin two slaps on the face. No reaction.
He used his fingernail to press hard against Emin’s philtrum point*.
After a few tries, Emin finally groaned weakly.
"How are you doing? Do you need treatment? I’ll send you to a hospice." Garen pretended as if he didn’t know him. He felt weird saying that.
"No… No need…" Emid said weakly. "Child… I just need a some antibiotics*… Just a little would do…"
Garen touched Emin’s forehead, it was cold.
"You’re too weak. There was an explosion here just now, it’s not safe. I’ll bring you to where I live."
Not waiting for an answer, Garen dragged Emin back on land before piggybacking him home slowly.
Within moments, Emin was out cold again, not making any sound.
Garen managed to return to his house without waking anyone up. He removed the lake seaweed on Emin and set him down on the recliner. Then he started the fire in the fireplace and placed Emin near it to dry.
Adding firewood to the fireplace, Garen fiddled with the fire. He looked at Emin who was on the recliner.
"This is my first time looking after people. If you don’t repay me when you wake up, I will not let it go." He murmured. He wasn’t sure if Luminarists have any way to investigate the past, so he continued his act even when Emin was unconscious, including the way he murmurs.
Emin wasn’t moving much on the recliner, but his face was slightly redder because of the fire.
Garen continued playing with the fire. He thought it weird how Emin had no burn marks from the explosion, only a slight bruise.
After making sure the fire would burn a while, he went to get the first aid kit, got out a few white pills and poured a glass of water from the water room.
When he returned, Emin was awake. He sat up straight in the recliner, watching the fire crackle. His expression didn’t give away what he was thinking.
Hearing the footsteps, he turned to Garen.
"You saved me?"
"Who else did you think save you out there?" Garen threw the question back at him, "This are the pills you wanted, take it." He walked toward Emin and gave him the pills and the glass of water.
Receiving the pills, Emin swallowed them with a huge gulp of water.
"Thank you." He returned the glass to Garen.
"How were you floating on the lake? The lake water is bone-chilling at night, you should choose a better time to swim if you really want to. Afternoon’s great, some of the my guards like swimming in the lake too." Garen set the glass down on the table, "Not Black Swan Lake though, if you’re found out by my father, you’d be dead meat!" He shrugged, pretending to not knowing anything. "My father hates it when the water source was polluted. Oh, he’s the viscount that owned this land. If you were found to have dirtied the lake, it’s probably a light punishment to be sent to the gallows.
"I’m sorry… I don’t actually like to swim at midnights, but this time I just had to." Emin shrugged the same way Garen does. After drinking the water and dried off by the fire, his speech was much smoother. His accent was melodic, obviously he wasn’t local.
"I understand, it’s okay." Garen nodded, "Unfortunately, I saw your fight with that guy. Losers deserved to be pitied."
"You have a sharp tongue…" Emin was speechless at that comment.
"You should be happy because you’re alive, and he’s probably dead."
"This is true." Emin nodded, his face expressing wonderment. "You said you saw our fight?"
"Of course, it’s so intense, it’s like bardic tales." Garen replied honestly.
Emin sized Garen up.
"If you can see our fight, it means you’re also someone talented. You also saved me, is there anything I can do to repay you?"
"Of course," Garen answered. "I would like to learn that fighting ability from you."
"You know what that is?" Emin asked, surprised. He regained his composure soon after. "Right, you have the talent, you must know about it already. Your parents or someone in your family must be one of us. But why do you ask me, a stranger, instead of your parents?"
"My father won’t teach me. My family is poor." Garen answered without hesitation. Being poor… If only Viscount Vanderman had heard about this… Even among the Luminarists, the Trejons Family is one of the wealthier ones, they’ve got a long way to become ‘poor’.
Emin’s face froze, and suddenly started reminisce.
"It’s true… I used to be poor…" His gaze toward Garen turned soft, "Don’t worry, since you saved me, I will pay for your future studies."
"You agreed?" Garen showed a surprised look. If he’s still being deadpan at this point, it’ll look very put on, it doesn’t suit youngster like him.
"Call me teacher." Emin nodded, "I will teach you until you’re also one of us, think of it as a thank you gift."
"It’s that simple?" Garen was stunned.
"It’s that simple."
"I thought it may be a little too casual…" Garen muttered under his breath.
"You’ve got the talent, you don’t look stupid, and you’ve saved my life. I have the money, I have the knowledge and experience. Everything would be based on those, what else do you want?" Emin said, wryly.
"What if I don’t have the talent?" Garen asked suddenly.
"Then it’s not gonna work. Answer me this, did you save me because you want to become a Luminarist?"
"Of course, who else would have the mood to take a walk in the wood at midnight? Do you think I’m crazy?" Garen mocked.
"Fine…" Emin has no comeback to that. He suspected this young man to have ulterior motive when he saved him. Hearing him admitting it frankly, it made him feel as if he’s the one at fault.
"Well then, last question." He looked straight at Garen’s eyes. "Tell me your name, young man." He raised the slightly charred cane as if he’s going to point at something.
For a moment, Garen was dazed, but he gave a calm smile right after.
"Acacia, my name is Acacia Trejons, but I like people calling me Garen."
He genuflected as a sign of respect toward Emin.
The cane touched his right shoulder and momentarily flashed silver.
Emin stared at Garen, his face full of gentle reminisce, as if seeing himself on his knee back when he was initiated.
"With this ancient ritual, I swear to never reveal any of teacher’s knowledge and skills. May the Silver be ever-luminescent."
Two immature voices rang in his mind, overlapping, it was hard to tell Garen’s from his own.