Although his father and Sebastian had been drinking since earlier, Fharom, retaining his full composure, began to speak behind the square’s podium.
"Everyone, thank you for gathering to celebrate our fruitful year."
All of the guests then applauded as they expressed their pleasure.
“Our humble estate has flourished with the guidance of both Aurora and Magi. Naturally, this feat is worthy of annual toasts and cheers.”
Naell too was smiling, even he felt their warmth and joy just from that moment alone. As he was about to immerse himself with the thought of resting after his father’s speech, Lily lightly pushed him forward with a big grin on her face.
Beside him, Lilia and Sebastian were also smiling. Drew and Andrea who just arrived were also looking at him warmly.
Naell felt his confusion growing by the second. Only when Fharom offered a toast did he realize what was happening.
"As fate would have it, we are also here to celebrate my son's birthday, my heir, Naell Beryldot."
Crowds then began lifting their drinks, happily cheering with the music.
‘Ahhh.’ Naell thought to himself as he smiled wryly.
The festive celebrations still loomed under the long nights of winter. Fires were lit through torches and campfires soothing the lively beings inside Beryldot.
The food, souvenirs, and even the activities were still as plentiful as could be. The high energy seemed endless like the stars shining upon Naell’s tired eyes, gazing under the dark horizon of snow falling on the ground.
Truth be told, it never crossed his mind that he would ever celebrate his birthday, especially since back on Earth, no one, not even he, celebrated his own birth.
To make matters worse, Naell felt quite ashamed knowing it wasn't really him that the others happily gave toasts for.
'It doesn’t feel right for me to be here.’
Under the night sky and music that flowed through in harmony, Naell had closed his eyes.
All the socializing he had done truly exhausted him, yet unlike his companions who were more physically worn out than him, Naell was immensely tired from the guilt.
"Don’t sleep now noob, HOOT."
"You can't hide it Owly, but I know you're tired as well."
"Not as tired as you, HOOT."
Owly’s words were weary, far unusual from his energetic HOOTs. Naell then added on, jabbing back at the young owl,
‘’Aren’t you supposed to be nocturnal?’’
Owly only shrugged, too tired to even correct him that he was really diurnal. Lily at that point was already half asleep, seated beside Naell with the young owl on her lap.
Her head was already on his shoulder, eyes half-closed, trying her best to stay awake.
‘’This is what you get for exploring all the stalls, and eating all the sweets behind mother’s back.”
The same goes to you, Owly.’’ Said Naell enjoying the silence of the two kids who could only accept his words.
After a while, Sebastian, with hot beverages in hand approached the three as he spoke,
‘’It seems the young miss and Owly had a big adventure.’’
They each took a cup as Sebastian offered them the drinks.
‘’We sure did Grandpa.’’ Replied Lily with a big sleepy smile on her face.
Sipping the hot ginger flavored drink gave her some energy, the same went for Owly and Naell who both looked like old men huffing and puffing on the steaming drink.
Sebastian chuckled upon seeing the similarities in their behavior. He was glad they became much closer after months of being together.
Currently, they were all at the party’s far left, where picnic blankets were laid atop the grassy area.
Most of the guests and even the villagers preferred to be seated at the chairs, as it was where the actual party was. That was why they gladly occupied the grassy area, partly away from the music and dancing.
Of course, most did speak with the Beryldot siblings, especially with Naell who they wished to greet, yet the young master could only thank them awkwardly everytime.
‘’Are you done socializing Sensei?’’ Asked Naell who motioned if he wanted to take a seat with them.
Yet with a HOHOHO, Sebastian declined as he said,
‘’We aren’t done yet Naell.’’
Not soon after, Lilia came. Seeing Lily and Owly’s sleepy faces, she then asked them to go back home.
Sebastian also spoke softly as he added on, hoping they’d retract their tired pleas to stay.
‘’It is best for you to sleep already, little one.’’
Yet Lily pouted in response and said to the both of them,
‘’But I don’t want to sleep yet, my brother and Owly won't stay for long.”
Sebastian and Lilia gazed at them warmly, they didn't really mind if she slept late that day yet it was noticeable how she and the young owl were already dead tired.
Naell then noticed Lilia’s eyes looking at him and asking for help, so therefore he called out his sister’s name as he smiled while patting her head.
He then began reassuring her that tomorrow and until their last stay in Beryldot, he and Owly would play together with her all day.
“And I intend to keep that promise.’’ Naell added on earning him nods from Lilia, Sebastian, and Owly who then began laughing at him.
Naell could only smile wryly as he thought,
‘I guess I deserve that one.’
Yet as Owly and Lily got up to leave, his sister’s brown eyes shined as she smiled and said,
"Happy birthday brother!"
By the time the two children were escorted back to their residence, Sebastian and Lilia had dragged Naell back to the party.
He tried to politely hint how he was with Lily and Owly the whole time. Yet Lilia and Sebastian ignored his excuses as they said,
"It's your birthday, you should be at the party."
Back at the party, Fharom was glad to see his son return. He immediately sat by his side, pouring some alcohol and offering it to him.
‘’I hope you find the party enjoyable, son.’’ He said with his face showing a reddish hue.
Naell held the glass hesitantly, swirling the ice cold drink in his hand. He was only then reminded that the age of adulthood in Mundo truly was 15.
Beside him were Sebastian and Drew, cackling their hearts out at anything and everything. Watching them were Lilia and Andrea, sighing from their pitiful drunken state.
Naell too was bewildered as he thought to himself in confusion,
‘You were still okay just a moment ago, Sensei!’
As they saw surprise in his face, Lilia and Andrea whispered in his ears.
‘’Your sensei’s tolerance to alcohol is really low.’’
“He lost to a trainee in a drinking match when he was still a captain.”
The three of them chatted behind the drunken men’s backs, chuckling to themselves before being noticed.
With a laugh, Drew pushed several bottles to Naell. He fumbled at each as he moved. Seeing this, Fharom protested, claiming it wasn’t as good as what he had to offer.
Yet both of their choices were mocked by Sebastian who stood tall and glared at the bottles. He then picked out only a select few that he deemed worthy of drinking.
As a ruckus formed between the three, Andrea slowly took the bottles and stood up. Resolutely Lilia followed, gesturing for Naell to not tell that they left.
Naell could only put on a fake smile at the trio’s hearty offering and the duo’s tactical robbery. Without much resistance, he took curious sips from each drink that was offered.
The first beer was malty with hints of sweetness in its aftertaste.
The second had a fruity flavor reminiscent of various cocktails on earth, while the other tasted stronger and much more bitter than the rest.
Even back on Earth, Naell found alcoholic drinks, not at all to his taste. Not to mention, they were often too expensive to even be considered.
Yet as he was in Mundo, and he certainly could now afford it, he would occasionally drink to teach himself how to not get drunk from situations like that.
‘Still, my taste buds don’t agree.’ He thought as he tried the last drink.
When the trio saw that, they immediately poofed out more bottles infront of him. They then began to pitch their favorite brands by insulting each other's choices.
‘Mom.. there’s more..’
Naell felt tipsy after several taste tests, his usual pale skin was flushed and his eyes had gone drowsy. Yet instead of stopping themselves, the trio of drunkards grew too drunk to notice.
The only saving grace was Lilia who upon returning scolded the men immediately. Andrea also supported her friend, scolding her husband in a lovey-dovey fashion, thus only amplifying the bitterness that Naell could already taste.
‘’It’s alright to drink, it is winter afterall, HOHOHO,'' Said Sebastian, whose face was now a beaming red.
Drew on the other hand was distracted from drinking and was already flirting with his lovey-dovey wife.
Fharom looked at his friend’s betrayal with disdain, and tried to support Sebastian’s words,
‘’He is at the age to drink, Li---.’’
‘’Moderately dear husband, moderately.’’
Lilia’s words made both Sebastian and Fharom gulp. Without any protest, they nodded and began poofing away some of the drinks they brought
Seeing this, Naell couldn't help but chuckle. Lilia on the other hand saw his face, and with a warm smile she softly said,
Naell tilted his head, in a manner of asking what she said.
Yet Lilia only patted his head while saying,
"Happy Birthday Naell."
The sun pierced their senses as they walked through the grassy fields.
Naell found it hard to believe that the party had lasted until the morning. If it weren’t for his excuse that he would be accompanying Lily and Owly, he would have not been excused from the said party.
‘’Are you okay brother?’’ Asked Lily gently. She noticed how light-headed and askew Naell was as he walked.
Naell simply smiled and took another long sip of his herbal drink. It was a hot mix of black and yellow herbs, a drink he made to counter his blaring headache and drowsiness.
‘’You’ve been drinking a lot of that, HOOT.’’
Lily nodded at Owly’s words, they were both concerned as somehow Naell looked paler and much weaker.
‘’It’s my DIY hangover drink.’’
With that, both of them grew much more confused. Yet before Lily or Owly could even question what he was talking about, Naell stopped before the greenery and clasped his hands together,
‘’Well, then dear sister, ready when you are.’’