Arashi stood watching the storm as it passed by overhead. He’d grown up in Mag Mell. Such storms did not take place in the realm where clouds stayed so low to the ground. Since his arrival in this realm, he’d taken to watching the sky; with its changeable array of clouds avidly.

He stumbled as a girl ran into him. He caught and steadied her before she fell and then smiled down at her as she stood, panting, before him. “Sorry,” she said. “I don’t really like thunder.”

“Thunder’s just a sound,” Arashi said softly. “Lightning is the dangerous part and it comes first.”

“That’s reassuring,” the girl muttered.

Arashi shrugged. “Sorry,” he replied. “Let’s start over. I’m Arashi Meilir. You are?”

“Asuka Hamasaki,” the girl said. She moved closer to him when thunder rumbled overhead and then blushed suddenly, darting away, with a quickly muttered, “Sorry.”

Arashi shook his head and beckoned her toward the doorway. “You don’t like thunder. Let’s get inside, away from the porches. You won’t hear so clearly then. Do you play chess? A game might take your mind off the storm.”

“That sounds like a plan,” she said as she followed him inside.

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