Chapter 1: New Friend on the Train

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"Eh, I didn't imagine nature was this beautiful in Rosenweld... Sure the most beautiful country in the whole realm of Zariel, as they say..."

Tamie was looking out the train window, watching evergreen trees and colourful flowering fields slide by as the train roared forward.

"Yeah, feels good to be here again..." she heard a foreign, deep manly voice.

She started and looked aside, spotting a giant, robust man before her, nearly two metres tall, with that weird long bushy blond hair and two tied bangs framing his face from both sides, and those sky blue eyes, blazing with inner fire... Truly a weird one.

 Truly a weird one

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"U... Um..." her lips formed a polite smile as they often used to when meeting up with talkative strangers who broke her peace.

"Whoops, sorry, I think that came out loud..." the guy chuckled, scratching his bushy hair. 

"Oh, it's fine, really," Tamie smiled politely again, and got back to looking out the windows.

"But sure it is awesome to be back here again..." he spoke once more, apparently wanting to start a conversation with this tiny brown-ponytailed cute girl he had just stumbled upon. "So many years..."

"Aha..."

"So, I assume, you're new to Rosenweld?"

"Oh, yes..." Tamie shrugged, turning to him now - no, he didn't plan to give up... ugh...

"May I ask which country you're from?"

"Mandragore".

"Oh, quite a tiny country, that one... Anyway, it is nice to meet you. I am Erik," he stretched his hand out.

"Tamie," the girl shook it, a little timidly. 

Then the guy caught a glimpse of Tamie's brass-chained Libra sign necklace, and a weak smile twinkled through his lips, remaining unnoticed by the girl:

"So you're a Zodiac Mistress?"

"Oh..." Tamie fixed his gaze unto her necklace. She blushed, "Yes, but I'm only a beginner... I came to Rosenweld to join an order..." she now opened up to the guy, as she already knew his name and had long rushed into a conversation with him.

"Ah, that's quite nice, being a part of an order... So many pleasant memories..."

"Oh... So you are a Zodiac Master too?" Tamie gasped - wow, she had just met a fellow Zodiac Master! "So, where's your medallion?"

"I don't like showing off so I keep it hidden. But as you ask..." Erik chuckled, grabbed a golden chain strung on his neck, and pulled out a sun medallion with a red gem in the center.

"No way... You're not only a Zodiac Master but a Celestial Lord?!" Tamie couldn't believe her eyes - there were only twelve Celestial Lords, those who had achieved the supreme power of their respective sign and had thus received their planetary necklaces, and as this guy wore the Sun medallion, it meant he was a Leo. One of the strongest Zodiac signs he's travelling in a third-class wagon?!

"Yup! So I guess you understand why I hate showing it off..." Erik hid the necklace back behind his red kimono.

"B... But why? You'd receive recognition from everywhere!" Tamie was truly stupefied - if she had such a necklace, she'd show it broad open! She even boasted with her current miserly brass-chain Libra amulet...

"Well, I prefer to have a calm life... I don't want crowds running on my tails every time".

"Oh, you're quite modest, then..."

"But, I'm very pleased to meet you, Tamie. Who knows, once you grow stronger, you might be a good challenge..."

"Huh? Wh... What makes you think that? You don't even know me!"

"I have a hunch," Erik winked.

Tamie laughed. This guy seemed somewhat... charming now... Duh, to think she would actually like some boy after all these years! But Rosenweld was a cool country...

"So, which order are you planning to join?"

"Well, I got an invitation from the Rose Cruce. My brother's a Sage there, so..."

"Woah, a Sage of the Rose Cruce? You don't mean Nick Wingfield?"

"Yeah, it's him. W... Why so astonished?"

"Celestial Lord of the Moon?!" Erik was shocked. Then he chuckled and shook his head: To think that guy's got a cute little sis such as this girl... But out loud, he only smiled politely: "Well, not all Celestial Lords know each other, but Lord Nick and I often had matches. Water and Fire are opposite elements, but when the opposite zodiacal planets - the Sun and the Moon - add up, you get complete turmoil... you understand, right? Your brother is one of my rivals, Tamie!"

"Oh, my, so that's why you got so worked up! I knew Nick was considered a genius Zodiac Master, but to be this serious... Amazing..." Tamie pressed her hands to her chest, blushing with pride - she had such a cool brother!

"Well, now when I know you're Lord Nick's sister, all I can say is - here's my signal," he touched Tamie's electronic bracelet - the calling gadget that worked as a cell-phone in Zariel realm - people could talk to each other when putting in each other's 'signals' - special signs that identified them.

When Erik let go of the gadget and Tamie looked at it, she noticed three symbols - the Sun, the Lion, and the Dragon (this latter was apparently his spirit sign, determined by the year one was born in, as far as she knew).

Amazing... she thought. Such a strong combination...

Instantly, Erik got Tamie's signal on his own gadget - two symbols - the Scales and the Tiger.

Hmm... Quite an interesting combination... he thought. This girl has a lot of things to choose from...

"Whenever you find yourself in trouble and Lord Nick's not around, ring me up for help, Tamie Wingfield!" he winked again.

"Haha! Thanks a lot, Erik!"

Ringing such a guy for help... That would surely work out!

Suddenly the train gave out a whistle and stopped. They had arrived at the station.

"Woah, we've arrived. Well then, I guess it's my time to go. Until next time, Tamie Wingfield!" Erik shook her hand again and then slowly walked off.

"Goodbye!" Tamie waved a hand and then hastily grabbed her bag, rushing out of the train, to meet the new world she would soon start to live in...

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