Since he arrived--time outside was sparse in between his diligent effort in learning the common language of this world. As soon as he left the backdoor of the mansion, the warm light of the sun caressed his pale skin, breathing much needed life into it.
The back of the manor held a vast garden, not used for the monetization of fruits and vegetables but more so of a beautiful landscape that Althaus took pride in. The amount of land Althaus owned was large enough to nearly forget that they were in the middle of a bustling city--he could only imagine what the citizens thought of such an over-the-top estate.
"Here," Meinhard tossed a handful of something over to Ren.
He barely managed to catch the thrown objects, holding them in the palms in his hand to inspect what it was. They were small and round, plump fruits of some sort with a smooth texture of bright pink skin.
"What are these?" Ren sniffed the fruit. The fragrance was a mixture of bubblegum and strawberries.
"Elemo berries, they're not really used in any dishes since the sweetness overpowers just about anything you try to pair it with--but people sometimes use it as a dessert by itself," Meinhard explained, popping one of the berries into his mouth.
He shrugged his shoulders before sitting down on the wooden bench, sweeping the green leaves that had strayed from the tree looming above. Staring at the berries for another moment, he decided to try it out, taking a small nibble.
His lips instantly puckered at the extreme taste of sour that flooded his mouth, feeling as if his cheeks and tongue were going to cramp.
"Gah!" He spit out the skin of the berry, wiping any residue off of his tongue.
"Hm? You don't like it?" Meinhard seemed almost in disbelief that someone could dislike the berry, chewing away and swallowing his portion without so much as a flinch.
"You call those sweet--? I've never had anything so sour in my life," Ren spit onto the grass with a grimace.
His hopes of filling his empty stomach were squashed by the unbearable sweetness of the "Elemo berries" as he tossed them back at Meinhard, who graciously accepted another share of the berries with a smile. Looking around--his eyes met with the pearlescent gates that outlined the estate, the ever-present gates continued to remind him that he was stuck in this estate whether he liked it or not.
"Hey--when do you think Althaus will let me go into the city? It's been a month since I got here and I still haven't been able to do anything…" Ren complained, leaning his head back as he sat on the bench.
"You know, the lord is only keeping you in the estate for your own good. Well, I'd say it's for all of our good. If you got found out, I'm sure the Argonauts would have no problem wiping out everyone in this manor," Meinhard sat on the bench, crouching on it with his shoes placed up.
"Argonauts this, Argonauts that--really, do they even exist? I bet you're all just being overly cautious," Ren whined.
He got up from the bench and began to explore the extensive garden, picking at trees and tasting the various fruits that grew naturally--all of which tasted similar to those on Earth. Somehow, going outside only made him feel more cooped up, feeling as if had used up all of the options available to him--finding that his "last resort"—the garden, was a boring disappointment.
"Just be patient, the world isn't going anywhere, you know," Meinhard tried to reason with him, following behind the bored young man.
"How about we do something actually interesting then--teach me about magic," Ren turned to face Meinhard.
"What- I'm not really qualified to be teaching anyone about magic. I told you before, I can only use the most basic forms of healing spells, and that's really it. It's not just about not being able to help you really learn anything--it could be disastrous," Meinhard answered, shaking his head as he swatted the low hanging branch away from his head.
"Come on, I'm an otherworlder, right? So I should have some innate talent for this sort of thing," Ren smiled confidently, giving him a thumbs up.
Meinhard stared at him for a moment before finally giving in to his friend's unwavering confidence with a defeated sigh. He kicked some leaves up before he began to march towards the mansion once again--putting his hand up as for Ren to wait there.
"I'm going to grab a book, just wait a minute--I don't really trust myself to teach, let alone just off of memory," Meinhard disappeared into the mansion.
While he waited for him to return, Ren continued to wander around the garden--now with the goal in mind of trying to find any critter he could.
"Come on, there has to be like magical bugs in this world, right?" He muttered to himself, trying to excite himself in his waiting boredom.
Nothing--all he could find were the same insects that existed in his world as well. Ants, worms, ladybugs, overall--a failed search. Defeated by the cruel boring nature of the magnificent garden, he sat down on the bench to continue his waiting. He watched the tree above him sway in the spring wind as the droplets of green danced about in the air, slowly cascading down onto the ground below.
"Greetings," A high-pitched yet calming voice suddenly spoke up.
To match the voice, a young girl suddenly stood over him as he was looking up at the tree--blocking his view, causing him to instinctively jump. It was getting old for him how often people managed to sneak up on him in this world. He felt his heart was going to deteriorate through all of the stress.
The girl looked to be no older than a middle schooler, wearing a white, fluffed dress and no shoes to speak of. Her skin was pale, paler than even his--and that was saying a lot. She had long, flowing silver hair and big, blue eyes to match her almost otherworldly appearance.
"Did I frighten you?" She spoke in a quiet tone with a slight smile.
"No…" He fruitlessly tried to hide his cowardice, "anyways, who are you? Althaus' daughter?"
"Heh, sorry--that is just quite an amusing guess," The girl sat herself down next to him on the bench.
"Amusing? How?" He looked at her, not quite sure how to handle this situation or how the girl stood in regards to rank.
"Is it not amusing to think somebody would be the child of a person they're outranking in age vastly?" She answered him, still holding her slightly unnerving smile.
He gave her a slight chuckle after hearing that joke--or what he assumed to be a joke. His laughter was quickly silenced as he noticed her sharp gaze in response to his laughing.
"Urr, you aren't joking?
"No, what makes you think that?" Her voice was much sharper now as she watched him carefully.
"It's just...you know," Ren failed to find the words, "...Althaus looks...older."
That was the best way he found to make his point without directly referring to her. Somehow, it seemed his answer pleased her as her expression softened into a smile. He didn't let his guard down--with her frivolous attitude and the lavish-looking dress she wore, offending someone who may be high-class such as her could spell his end.
"Well, I'm Andromeda—pleased to meet you," Her words came out as cold as snow.
"I'm Ren, I—,"
"I know who you are. I've been watching."
Before he could question those concerning words from the playful girl, his sudden glance in her direction was meant with nothing.
—…Weird. Really weird. Where the hell are you, Meinhard?
Patience was never his strong suit, especially when he was so out of his environment that he honestly didn't know how to make entertainment out of the outside world. As he dazed away into boredom, he finally heard leaves crumble under approaching footsteps.
"What took you so long?" Ren lifted his head to see Meinhard walking over, holding a large book in his arms.
"Hey, you haven't seen just how large the library is--you would have quite a bit of trouble finding a specific book in that maze of literature," Meinhard sat down beside him, setting the book down on his lap.
"Oh--by the way, I met a little girl out here, what was her name again...Andrea? Annie?" Ren rubbed his chin, trying to remember the name.
"...Andromeda?" Meinhard said, finding the name for him.
"Is that her name? Hmm, sounds fitting for someone so...creepy," Ren clapped his hands.
Meinhard looked at him as if he had just gravely offended something akin to his own religion or mother. The young chef ran his hands over his face before looking over at Ren with his green irises that seemed to shine under the sunshine.
"You seriously need to be more careful--spirits are wildly powerful entities, and if you make an enemy of one, you might just meet an early grave. That or a spirit can just torment your soul after death. You're lucky Miss Andromeda is a carefree spirit, from what I've heard--most powerful spirits like her tend to have a bone to pick with humans," Meinhard explained, ruffling his hair.
"Aren't spirits just like, ghosts or something?" Ren asked.
"Urr..no, and please don't ever say that to a spirit. Well, there are normal spirits that are the spirits of the dead, but what I'm referring to and what Andromeda is, is a "High Spirit". They're beings from the Astral realm born of powerful magic and curses--most spirits never materialize in the living world, so to see one like Andromeda only signifies her status as a High Spirit," Meinhard explained as he opened the book that was on his lap.
--"Astral realm", "High Spirits", I swear, most of the time he manages to create more questions every time he answers one. Ren watched him flip through the pages of the book.
"I guess we should start out with the obvious--"Affinity Divination", we'll find out what your magical affinity is," Meinhard explained, tracing his finger along the page as he spoke, "it's pretty simple, even I can handle this."
"My magical affinity? So, what options am I looking at here?" Ren glanced at the page, unable to discern the text from his viewing angle.
"Well--there are a lot of different magical types, but the main type of affinity you will have will be between the main six. Feuer, Wasser, Erde, Luft, Dunkel and Licht. The last two are much rarer, so don't expect either of those," Meinhard brushed his hair away from his eyes, "however--in other nations they call these elements--"Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Dark, and Light, respectably."
"Yeah, I'm definitely going with the latter."
Ren nodded his head fervently.
"Urr, can you give me a quick explanation of what these magical types mean? I just want to know what to expect," Ren pressed his palms together as he pleaded.
"You're a headache, you know that? One thing at a time, let's just figure out what your affinity is first," Meinhard closed his eyes for a moment before closing the book and standing up.
Ren watched as the blonde male extended his hand forward and closed his eyes, feeling the air shift as the fallen leaves began to subtly spiral around Meinhard.
"Stand up and give me your hand," Meinhard instructed.
He nodded his head nervously and stood himself up, extending his hand until it met with Meinhard's own. As soon as Meinhard grasped his hand--for the first time, he truly experienced what magic really felt like in this world.
It felt as if his pores had opened up, taking in the natural mana that hung in the air, flowing through his body as if it was blood through his veins. Anything tiredness he was feeling had quickly vanished as his body truly awakened for the first time.
"What...is this…" He spoke in a whisper, the boisterous wind carrying his voice off into the sky.
He could make out the subtle movements of Meinhard's lips as he seemed to be speaking some sort of magical incantation, but the wind made it impossible to make out what he was saying.
Within the next moment--his vision faded completely into black. He was still conscious--alarmingly so. The sound of the wind was dulled and replaced by a constant deep humming that rang through the empty darkness.
"What the…" He couldn't even hear his own words as they vanished into the formless void.
Raising his hands in front of his eyes--he couldn't even see his own hands. Before he could further freak out, with another blink of his eyes, he was standing in front of Meinhard once again as if nothing happened.
"Um...what the hell was that?" Ren looked at him with wide eyes, adjusting to the sudden return of light.
"What did you see? Whatever was shown to you will tell you what your affinity is," Meinhard asked. The wind settled as the mana in the air faded once more.
"Urr...just darkness, I didn't really see anything besides a complete void of darkness all around me," Ren recalled what he had just seen, rubbing his head.
Meinhard tilted his head slightly as his blonde hair fell over his eyes somewhat, not stopping his emerald irises from locking onto Ren. He pulled his hand away quickly, realizing he was still holding on to it.
"What's that look for--?"
"You have an affinity for dark magic--that is pretty incredible," Meinhard told him, brushing his hair away from his eyes.
"A dark affinity, huh? That isn't fitting of the heroic person I wanted to be, but I'll take it. So what can I do with dark magic--? Curses, necromancy--what?" Ren pestered him, feeling a sense of confidence in his newfound special attribute.
He watched as Meinhard sat back down on the bench, flipping the white-leathered book open as he searched for a specific entry pertaining to dark magic.
"Hm...it's honestly pretty vague, well, I mean--there are just a lot of variations on what type of magic you might be able to use when it comes to dark. Curses seem to be an option for all users, but it isn't exactly useful in combat, necromancy requires...outside resources. It seems what you're likely going to be capable of is "Down Spells"--which is what dark magic generally specializes in. Down spells focus on weakening certain aspects of the target, kind of like the opposite of spells that you would use to increase your own strength," Meinhard ran his finger across the text while explaining.
"Urr...so I can use...debuffs? That's lame," Ren puffed his lip out in a complaint.
"Well, there are a lot of ways to use down spells--you can put people to sleep, take away their sight temporarily, make them sick, drain their mana--the sky's the limit honestly. However, down spells aren't necessarily guaranteed to be your strong suit," Meinhard tried to assure him, feeling somewhat annoyed that he found something to complain about in this blessing of an affinity.
"So, how about helping me learn some spells?" Ren nudged his elbow against his friend's arm.
Meinhard gave him a raised eyebrow before shutting the book, the puff of air blowing his hair up slightly before he stood from the bench.
"I was only allowed to borrow this book because it only presents knowledge on the most basic teachings of magic--it doesn't even begin to tell how to perform magic," Meinhard told him, "If you really want to try and learn magic, then go to the library yourself and speak to the librarian. Just a warning--he is...different."
Meinhard suddenly left to resume his culinary duties within the manor, leaving Ren to wallow in his boredom once again.
--The library, huh? Might be worth checking out if it results in being able to use magic.