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"A Glint of Passionate Steel: A Memoir" by A Thors Student

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July 31, 1204

At the conclusion of Heimdallr’s summer festival, there is usually a parade that runs through the streets of Heimdallr to celebrate the end of July and the beginning of August. It is usually a riot of color, noise, and people, and it is a parade that Princess Alfin loves as much as it loves her. Unfortunately, given the recent events at the Crystal Plaza, it had been decided that it would be best for both the Princess and the Crown Prince to remain away from the parade, with Prince Olivert to take their place.

Instead, that morning Elise and Princess Alfin went to the rose garden at the back of St Astraia’s, where they would both be safe from any terrorist threat and also be free to read their new favorite genre. The scent of roses was both heady and very appropriate, Elise thinks as she reads Franz’s heart-rending confession of love towards Jozef, her heart thrilling at the descriptions of his emotional turmoil and the delicate way that Jozef assured him that his feelings were reciprocated.

“Oh, Elise,” Princess Alfin says sweetly, looking up from her own story. Elise marks her place in the book carefully and places it face down on the table in front of her, hiding it in amongst the tea and sweet biscuits in case a teacher comes in to check up on them. Some of the teachers disapprove of the latest literary craze to sweep through the young ladies of Erebonia, and Elise does not want to have her book confiscated.

“Yes, Your Highness?” Elise asks warily when Princess Alfin does not say anything more. She has learned that when Princess Alfin has that particular note in her voice, it usually means that she’s about to cause some mischief.

Her suspicions are confirmed by the merriment in Princess Alfin’s eyes as she tosses her long hair over her shoulder and smiles at Elise.

“I wonder …” Princess Alfin muses, “Is it possible that the reason why your dear brother doesn’t want to dance with me is because his heart is set on another?”

Elise sighs. “Your Highness, you already asked him that, and I wish you hadn’t.”

“I did,” Princess Alfin agrees, “but I asked him about whether he had a lady in his life. Now that I have seen all the fine, upstanding gentlemen in Class VII, I think I might have been mistaken! Do you remember the story we read last week together, A Glint of Passionate Steel?”

Elise does remember the story in question. A package had come from Thors Military Academy addressed to Princess Alfin, containing only a bound manuscript and a note promising more should she enjoy its contents. The two of them had poured over its pages over the last week, their hearts thrilling over the tender and touching affair between the affable Leon and the icy Prince Yuri in the halls of Thors Military Academy.

“Yes…” she says, and suspects that she knows where this is going. Now that she thinks about it, Leon does share quite a few similarities with Rean: they’re both swordsmen with dark hair and purple eyes. They even have similar speech patterns, which at the time had simply made it easier for Elise to imagine the way that Leon would say certain things. She shoots Princess Alfin a quelling look. “I don’t like what you’re insinuating.”

“Oh come, come, just think about it a little,” Princess Alfin chides. “After all, the author does say that it’s based in truth!”

“That doesn’t mean that it’s about my brother.”

Princess Alfin smiles winsomely. “Why don’t you ask?”

“Me?!”

“Of course! It would be unseemly for me to make enquiries about your brother’s romances. But you’re his sister! That’s far more appropriate.” Her winsome smile takes on a teasing quality. “Besides, don’t you want to know if you have a rival?”

“Y-Your Highness, please!” Elise stammers, feeling the blush from the base of her throat to the tips of her ears.

Princess Alfin laughs. “You don’t have to, but I think we’re both very interested in what he has to say.”

Elise sighs as she reaches across the table for the writing paper and a pen. The paper had been placed there for Princess Alfin to write thank you notes for all of the galas that she had attended in the last month, but Elise is sure that Princess Alfin would not mind her using it for this purpose. She knows that Rean keeps things from everyone, not just from her, but she would like to know more about whether there is any truth in the story. If there is … then she supposes she can be happy with it. If there’s not, then there’s hope too. She puts pen to paper and begins to write.


 July 31, 1204

Dear Rean,

I hope that you are doing well now that you are back at Thors. I am doing fine, thanks to your rescuing me. I dare not think what might have happened had you not come when you did! I know that you’ll say that it was nothing that I need to thank you for, but I disagree. You saved my life, and I’m truly grateful.

Have you been listening to Abend Time? Princess Alfin and I managed to find a radio and we’ve been listening to it while we study. It’s really very interesting listening about all the things that happen in Trista. I had no idea that your class was so popular with the people there! Though I am not surprised; your classmates all went out of their way to make me comfortable while I was visiting you. Is there any truth in the rumor that two members of your class are becoming closer? It sounded like it was you and Lord Jusis, but that would be silly.

You must be nearly ready for another one of your field studies. Do you know where you might go this time? It sounds like you’ve been working your way through all the major cities in western Erebonia, so maybe you’ll go to the east this time. Or even Ymir, though I would think that Father would have told me at least if that was happening so that I could come too.

Do you think you might be able to come and visit me again soon?

Your loving sister,
Elise


 August 6, 1204

Dear Elise,

I’m glad that you’re okay after everything that happened at the Summer Festival. You’re right, I don’t think I did anything special. You’re my sister. I’ll always protect you.

I didn’t know you could pick up radio signals from Trista in Heimdallr! You learn something new every day. It’s a tradition here too to listen to Abend Time every Sunday while we’re studying. It’s a bit embarrassing how often my classmates are mentioned on the show, and it’s always weird to hear how other people see you.

I hadn’t heard that rumor about Jusis and I. We do have a lot in common though, we spend a lot of time together, and he’s surprisingly easy to talk to once you learn where he’s coming from, so I can see where it comes from. It’s a little embarrassing to find out that people are talking about that. I hadn’t heard that rumor on Abend Time though, so when was that submission made?

We will have a field study soon, you’re right, but we won’t find out where it will be until the Wednesday of the week we go out. I don’t think it will be to Heimdallr again, but maybe it’ll be to Ymir. I’m not sure whether I’d want to have a field study there or not — I don’t feel like I’ve made any real progress towards finding where I want to be, and I don’t know that I want to go back until I do.

I’m not sure when I will next get time to come up to Heimdallr, but when I do you’ll be the first to know.

Rean Schwarzer.


 August 17, 1204

Dear Rean,

I’m not sure how the radio works, but if we position it in the right place we can hear Abend Time. It might have something to do with the septium veins, but you’d know more about how orbal technology works than I do. Or perhaps Miss Reinford would?

I don’t think it’s embarrassing. It’s good that you have such a close relationship with him. I don’t really recall when I heard about it, just that there was a rumor and you fit the description.

I think that you overthink things. You don’t have to know right away where you should be for the rest of your life. You just need to know what you need to do to be happy now. Please, don’t forget to focus on the relationships around you that make you happy. You are my brother, and I want you to be happy. But if you went back to Ymir, I’m sure Mother and Father would love to see you.

Remember, it’s only fifty minutes from my school to yours. Surely you can spare that time?

Your loving sister,
Elise


 August 20, 1204

My dear beloved brother,

I have found myself in a terrible difficulty. You see, Elise and my hearts have been thrilled by the wonderful adventures written by a student of Thors Military Academy. These stories have touched our hearts with their depictions of the tender, passionate love between handsome young men. We were very surprised to read the latest one, as it seems to be about two members of Class VII! It’s a beautiful story, and I enclose it for your reading pleasure.

We have, however, run into difficulties in confirming the truth of the story. Elise has been asking her brother, but he does not seem to understand what she means. Would you be able to help two fair maidens in distress?

Love,
Alfin ♥

Included with the letter is a rather loved copy of A Glint of Passionate Steel


 August 22, 1204

My dear sweet sister,

Never fear, for I do know the cause for your difficulties. I learned in my travels to fair Liberl that one must be almost painfully direct when communicating one’s affections to young Erebonian gentlemen. I imagine that young Rean suffers from the same blindness of vision.

I have read the story, and I agree both with your assessment as to its merits, and the likelihood that it is, in fact, referring to two young gentlemen in Class VII. I have a meeting at Thors this afternoon to discuss their field study, and I will make arrangements for a copy of the book to be delivered to Rean this evening.

Forever in your service in the pursuit of love and beauty,

Olivert ♥


 August 22, 1204

Greetings and salutations, my dear Rean,

I hear that some members of your class have taken my words to heart. It fills my heart with joy to know that the future of Erebonia has seized their future with such alacrity. Why, I didn’t start seducing most of my classmates until second year! Color me impressed. ♥

Please find enclosed a thrilling tale of two members of Class VII forming the kinds of bonds that ARCUS could only dream of. My sister lent it to me, and it has proven to be quite the read! I only trust that you let me know should your class provide fertile ground for future installments.

Yours,
Prince Olivert.

Enclosed with the letter is a very well loved copy of A Glint of Passionate Steel


 August 22, 1204

It’s been a long day, and Rean has been training in preparation for the combat exam that would be coming up soon. As such everything aches as he forces himself to take one step and then another as he makes his way from Thors to Class VII’s dormitory, a struggle made all the worse by how humid it is outside.

He sighs with relief as he crosses the threshold to their dormitory, closing the door behind him. It’s only fractionally cooler inside than it is outside, but that’s enough to take the edge off.

“Oh, Master Rean,” Sharon calls from the kitchen. “A package arrived for you this afternoon. I’ve taken the liberty of leaving it in your room.”

“Thanks, Sharon,” Rean says. “Did it say who it was from?”

“I’m afraid not,” Sharon says and Rean looks up at her sharply. Her voice has taken on a teasing quality that suggests that while the package does not say directly whom it is from, Sharon has a very good idea and is currently refusing to tell him for her own amusement. He has a new sympathy for Alisa’s frustration at Sharon.

“Well, thanks. I’ll go up now and look at it,” he says mildly, choosing not to bite. Sharon looks amused, but says nothing more as Rean makes his way upstairs to his room. Sitting on his desk is a boxy object wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, with an envelope sitting jauntily on the top.

Rean opens the envelope and reads the letter, his frown deepening as he reads Prince Olivert’s words. Then he unties the string and unwraps the brown paper to reveal a very well-loved book. Written on the cover in bold black writing is the title ‘A Glint of Passionate Steel: A Memoir'.

“Oh no,” Rean sighs as he recognizes the binding and typeface of the book. The memory of editing Dorothee’s manuscript is still very vivid and he shakes his head sharply to get the mental pictures out of his mind. How did Elise and Princess Alfin get hold of one of these — no, that’s not important. What’s important is finding out who it’s about so I can warn them. He checks to make sure that his bedroom door is locked before sitting at his desk to read the book.

The main characters are described in increasingly lurid terms, and it is only when Yuri’s hair is described as cornsilk, with eyes the color of a frozen sea that Rean recognizes who he is inspired by. Then, as he continues to read Yuri’s dialogue, he has to admit that for all of the faults in the prose — of which there are many — Dorothee does have a good ear for how Jusis speaks.

This doesn’t stop him from being equal parts amused and appalled by everything else in the story.

“Really?” he says aloud at the fourteenth description of how ‘Yuri’ exposed his fragile glass heart after Leon melted away his protective layers of ice. “This is how she describes Jusis? I’m not sure if he’s going to be offended or amused by this. And what does 'something uniquely him' smell like, anyway?”

He flips to the back of the book, with it opening to a dog-eared page. He reads the top paragraph several times, gesturing vaguely with his hands as he tries to picture what is described on the page with his imagination. Finally he gives up. “No one is that flexible,” he comments, shaking his head and feeling himself blush. “And I can’t believe I just did that. I’m spending too much time around Dorothee.”

He continues to read, trying to identify who ‘Leon’ is, but is coming up short. He supposes it could be someone in the Riding Club. It would fit in with the other innuendos that are laced throughout the book, and Rean is dismayed that he recognizes all of them. He reads to the end of the first part before deciding that he needs to seek outside help. Further, Jusis should probably know that Dorothee is writing about him.

He hides the book cover inside his jacket and walks down the corridor to Jusis’s room. Jusis opens the door when Rean knocks, frowning politely at him.

“I need your help,” Rean says.

“Oh?”

Rean looks around the corridor to make sure that no one is standing nearby and then hands the book to Jusis. “It looks like Dorothee is writing stories again.”

“Who is it this time?” Jusis asks as he gestures for Rean to come inside his room.

“It’s about you, but I don’t know who the other person is. Do you have any idea?”

Jusis takes a seat at his desk and begins to read the book. His expression shifts from impassivity to a kind of sick fascination before settling on dry amusement. He looks up at Rean, eyebrows raised skeptically, and asks, “Ignoring the crimes against good taste, are you sure you can’t recognize this person?”

Rean shakes his head. “Why, do you?”

“Naturally,” Jusis says. “It’s you.”

“What?” For a moment, Rean thinks that Jusis must be kidding, but there is nothing in his expression to suggest that.

“Who else could it be?” Jusis began to read aloud from the book, his voice heavy with mockery. “‘Leon stood straight, his hand pressed to his chest, his amethyst orbs flashing with fervent passion, his midnight hair in disarray. ‘Together, you and I can overcome any obstacle.’ he said, his voice breaking with emotion. ‘Let me help you!’”

“I do not sound like that,” Rean protests. “How was I meant to work it out from that?”

Jusis leafs through the book, his smirk growing wider the more he reads. “Honestly, Rean, I’m surprised you needed me to identify it for you. Have you never looked in a mirror? You are literally the only person it could be describing, and that’s before the friendship speeches. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were deliberately trying not to see it.” He pressed the book down on the desk, eyes bright with repressed laughter, and is clearly about to read another passage, to Rean’s utter dismay.

“Right, right, I get it! You don’t need to labor the point!” Rean says quickly. “What’s important is that Dorothee needs to be stopped.”

“I have no objections to that,” Jusis says, standing up and brushing down the lines of his vest. “Let’s attend to that now, before she gets further … ideas.”


 August 26, 1204

Dear Elise,

Somehow I suspect that the source for your rumor was not Abend Time but instead a certain book. Prince Olivert sent me a copy, which I think belongs to Princess Alfin. I’m not sure what you’re studying at St Astraia’s, but I don’t think my classmate’s books are on the curriculum. Next time you or Princess Alfin get one of those books, let me know before you read it.

Our field study isn’t to Ymir, but instead Legram. Do you have a preference for souvenirs?

You don’t have to worry about me. As strange as it sounds, I think I am happy right now. There’s a lot of work to do here, and Prince Olivert’s words made it clear that Class VII exists for a purpose but … the people here are really very special to me. You’re not the only one making close friends at school! Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to go back to Ymir, if only to introduce them to Mom and Dad.

Anyway, I’ve got to send this off before the post closes. Take care, and please don’t believe everything you read.

Rean Schwarzer

Ps. Amethyst orbs? Really? This is what you’re reading now?

Enclosed with the letter is a very, very well loved copy of A Glint of Passionate Steel.


 August 27, 1204

Dear Princess Alfin,

I am greatly in your debt for bringing it to my attention that a classmate was publishing salacious material about me. Rest assured that steps have been taken to ensure that you will not be sent any more material from this source.

Jusis Albarea


August 31, 1204

“Aw,” Alfin pouts as she folds the letter back into its envelope. “It seems that there won’t be any more books from that delightful writer any time soon.”

“I can’t believe you encouraged me to do that.” Elise sighs. “Now Rean thinks I’m a silly little girl.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Elise,” Princess Alfin says, and to make matters worse she does sound genuinely sorrowful. “I’m sure he doesn’t think that — anyone who has seen the two of you can see how much your brother loves you.” She looks down at the envelope resting on the table. “Still, it doesn’t look like I was completely wrong. It looks like you do have a rival, even if he is too shy to admit it to me.”

“I - I do?” Elise stammers, butterflies in her stomach. “Who is it?”

“Hmm, I think it’s best that you wait for them to come forward in their own time,” Princess Alfin sings out cheerfully. “But they are from a good noble family, and it seems that your brother likes them. They’ll make a good rival for your dear brother’s affections.”

“You can’t even give me a clue?” Elise suspects that she doesn’t need one, and from the wink that Princess Alfin gives her, there’s only really one option available.

I only wish that Rean would tell me these things… Elise thinks mutinously to herself. She makes a note to give him a cold shoulder the next time she sees him — whenever that will be — for withholding information about his romantic life from her. She also makes a note to speak to Jusis when she next has the chance to find out his true intentions towards her brother. She can put her feelings for Rean aside if it means securing his happiness.

She smiles sweetly at Princess Alfin. “I’m sure that they will indeed, if they want to date my brother.”

“Ooh, how thrilling!” Princess Alfin says, clapping her hands together in glee. “I look forward to seeing how this unfolds.”