(The promise and the story that inspires hope)
“Be careful! Let me do it now.” – Ella
“No. Let me.”
He placed the small wooden bucket filled with water next to a basin. Then he placed both of his hands on the opposite sides of the bucket to lift it and then poured the water in the basin. Although he is small, he has a lot of power in those little muscles of his. In this world, the average human has 2-4 times the strength than the average humans in Earth. Given that, an ordinary child in this world can’t still lift all that weight, but Luke isn’t ordinary child. He can utilize his strength effectively and by amplifying it he was able to lift the bucket in a short breath.
“There.” – He sat next to her and grabbed a plate and washed it clean.
Seeing this, Ella is pleased and smiled.
Luke and Ella with the other children are currently washing the dishes. Though this world is medieval, there are some aspects that this world excels than the Earth’s medieval age, like: sanitations, architectures, transportations, bureaucracy, communications, and technology that the medieval Earth lags behind. Like soap for example, it was available and very effective that the soaps in modern times will look like they were joking in the commercials.
He is now 4 years old in this world and has grown into such an adorable young child.
“Today you learned about letters, will you teach me after this?”
“Alright… I won’t just teach you letters but numbers and how to count them and I’ll also teach you how to sew if you’d like.” – Ella
Ella is a brilliant girl. Among all the other children that were being taught in the orphanage, she excels the most.
“Then, teach it to me too.”
“Oh~ And tonight there will be storytelling.” – She happily told him.
“Really!” – He also showed an excited expression.
“Yes. I was told that it was a famous story from the North.”
“I wonder what kind of story it is this time?”
“Maybe it is about the valour of a knight that saved and married the princess. It is popular in the North.”
It’s some immortalized romance of a knight and a princess. It really makes a young girl yearns to be a princess or a young boy dreams of being a knight and someday they too can marry a handsome prince/beautiful princess.
The only forms of entertainment in this place are singing, dancing and storytelling. And the last one only happens once in a while, so everybody is pretty much excited and is looking forward to it.
Well he’s not. Having accustomed to the form of entertainment back in his previous world, this kind of thing won’t pick his interest.
“I’m going to be a knight someday!” – He proclaimed in front of her like the rest of the children in the orphanage would do.
He acts and pretends like a child as to not rouse any misgivings.
He learned about some of this world’s magic from the staffs during their conversations. And he’s been practicing his control over this mysterious energy a couple of months ago. He wasn’t able to practice it, the day he discovered this mysterious energy as it incurs more pain in his head.
However, magic is never openly taught to everyone. Only the select few can learn and practice this mysterious power.
But being a knight is anyone job as long as they persevere.
“Then you’ll have to train your body to become one.”
“Yes of course! That is why I am fetching water and washing the dishes with you.” – He answered her in a child-like manner.
“Fufufu~ Then you’ll become the knight of the dishes.” – She teases him.
“Yes! Then I’ll become the knight of the dishes.” – He proclaimed. Seeing this level of innocent, she burst into laughter.
He secretly smiled.
“Ella, when you’re done, come to the office, Sister Celia is requesting for your presence.” – Said by a staff
They looked at each other – confused.
“Yes madam.” – Ella
In the evening, the children of the orphanage gathered in one hall, it was the time for storytelling. And for these children, it is the most anticipated activity held once or twice a year.
The hall was old and big, but to fit a thousand children it is jam-packed. The hall has two open floors above that directs to the center-top corner of the first floor. At the center stage, a high podium that reaches the second floor, it is where the person stands when making speeches for everyone to see. There are high and strong columns that are perfectly lined to hold the weight of the entire building.
There are a few chairs in the room and used only by the staffs so the children are obliged to sit in the hard and cold floor.
Ella and Luke are sitting in the center most of the second floor.
Luke noticed that Ella isn’t part of the cheerful crowd which is out of her character that he knew of.
“Is something that matter?” – He asked her.
“No nothing~” – She said in a low and sad tone.
“What did you do in mother’ office?”
“Oh. She just told me some things, some new works. Right, it’s about work in the orphanage.”
“…” – He just stared at her. But, he already knew the reason and it pained him upon realising it.
Then, a middle-aged woman can be seen atop the podium with an old looking book which has a cover of old leather. As she stands at the podium the murmuring of the children stopped, showing eagerness and enthusiast in the activity.
However, at the end of all of it, Ella isn’t showing her usual behavior.
After the event, they return to their respective quarters, divided by gender.
Luke is now in bed with the other male children in the attic and they sleep in their own single bed. When the pain he experience subsided, he was made to sleep in a room together with the rest of the children.
An hour had passed, he still couldn’t fall asleep.
“Pssttt… Luke, are you awake?”
It was a soft voice that he is very familiar with, it was Ella.
“Yes… What is it?” – He whispered as to not wake the other children.
He readily stood up and walked besides her. They went down the attic and sat at the base of the stairs where the moon shines from the window.
He saw her troubled face being reflected by the light of the moon.
“Are you okay?” – Ella
“Is your head doesn’t hurt anymore?”
He nodded again. He’s not talking to her as he is intently observing her.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes~ it doesn’t hurt anymore.” – He assured her.
It has been a year since it stopped. However, there are times that he was attacked by mild headaches, especially when he’s practising manipulating mana.
“Then, how about your –“
“Is there something that you want to tell me?” – He asked making her stop in the middle of her sentence.
Then long silence enveloped them.
“It’s okay if you don’t speak up. I have known of it already.”
“You know? How did you know?”
“Well, it is a fact that everyone knows. And I just happen to learn of it the other day.”
“Mmm~ I’m sorry Luke.”
“No, you don’t need to be sorry. Don’t worry, I’ll be okay and besides we will see each other again. That’s for sure.”
“I will be serving a certain household far away. Then, I won’t be able to look for you? And~”
“… I am scared of those nobles. I really am.”
Her father had a conflict with a noble. Then the noble came to their house, charge them of stealing the horse of that noble. Then, the noble violated his wife and his 3 daughters in front of his eyes. Then the noble killed them, his 2 sons, his wife and his daughters, one by one in front of him, before he was given the permission of death. Only Ella survived as she was hiding in a corner. However, experiencing the brutal scene at such an age had traumatized her. She only overcomes it the day she saw Luke which reminds her of her younger brother. That is why, she is overprotective to him.
*Sob**Sob* – She cried for about a minute and he embraced her.
“Would you like to hear a story?”
It seems to pick her interest as she stops crying for a moment.
“You’re kidding me. Do you know a story, which I don’t?” – She pouted.
“This story is about a young ordinary maiden, about her struggles in the hands of her evil step-mother and step-sisters. How her fairy god-mother helped her to win the heart of a young prince. Which in turn, the prince saved her from the hands of her evil step-mother and step-sisters. This is the story of Cinderella.”
Then, she completely stops crying.
I win. – He thought.
Knowing that, this world lacks these kinds of story – a fairy-tale story. The most popular novels or story of this world, depict the story of a brave knight and the most beautiful princess. These stories only caters to those young nobles, while, the commoners can only yearns for such. It is understandable as, only the nobles had the access to all the necessary workings needed for publishing books, so they can commission it and only a handful of commoners know how to read and write.
“So would you like to hear the story of Cinderella?”
Teary eyed, she nods and wiped her tears away.
She is such a cute girl.
“Alright then, promised me you’ll never ever cry again and I’ll tell you the story.”
“Cross your heart?” – He showed her a gesture of crossing his heart.
“It means that your promises will never be broken, and if you do… well, it doesn’t really mean that you’ll die. But, we do this to make our promise, eternal.”
“Fufu~ Silly! Then, I promise. Cross my heart.” – She made the same gesture.
“Pinky-swear~” – He showed her his little finger and she looked at it, confused.
He grabbed her hands and entwined their pinkies then their thumbs touch.
“What is this?”
“It’s the same as crossing your heart. Then hear it goes…”
He looked at her one last time and he smiled at her.
“Once upon a time…”
They stayed the whole night together and they are both very happy.
She really enjoyed the whole story. She pause in the saddest part, she laugh when it’s funny, giggles at romantic part, anticipate when something happens, and most of all yearns for hope. Hope that she too is a Cinderella and her story is in the making. He revised the whole story fitting this world but the whole plot and the essence of the story is there. Though, he added some exciting twist to make the story more exciting and appropriate in this world.
After that, Ella returns to her normal self, a cheerful Ella. Knowing that she returns to herself, he was able to sleep.