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Moving On: Lapis Cluster Conclusion

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“So you wish for sanctuary, is that it?”

 

Millium looked down upon the man standing before him. Though Alhama’at had been defeated, the floating nation of Altea had continued to loom over his kingdom, watching over it as the people rebuilt from the battle. It had been weeks, but now the remaining Luminaries stood before him, heads bowed as the one named Sol spoke. “In effect, yes. Lord Alhama’at has guided us for so long, without him we are unsure of where to go, and even if we did three of our members have been killed. We do not have the power to leave.” Sol bowed like the rest of his colleagues, through clenched teeth he spoke. “Please, we beg of you.”

 

Millium rested his arms on his legs and pressed his fingers together. This was a tough decision. The Luminaries were formidable foes, and from what he had seen with Mercurius and Mars, proud of their powers and loyal to their master. For all he knew it could be a trick of some kind, though without Alhama’at there was a very real chance they were desperate enough to come to him like this. He looked to Lumia, who stood by his throne. Her face was blank, clearly trying not to be involved in the conversation. He was the king now, this was his decision and he couldn’t always have someone there to help him make it. He straightened up and scratched at the back of his head. He had to be firm. “Very well. The Light Palace will welcome you and your people with open arms.” The Luminaries looked up, differing waves of relief strewn across their faces. “However.” This snapped them back to the reality of the situation. “In exchange for our protection, Altea must be willing to act as a safe haven to my people should another disaster occur.”

 

Sol nodded, “That seems fair.”

 

“Additionally, you and your people are to share your knowledge on the production and use of Mana, as a sign of good will between our peoples.”

 

“What?” Millium’s attention was drawn to Sol’s students. Mercurius had straightened up, a look of anger on her usually reserved face. “You expect us to just accept those terms?”

 

Her colleague joined her, his expression a bit more wild as his demon companion appeared beside them. “If you think we’ll just hand over the secrets of mana, you’ve got another thing coming pretty boy!” His statement was accentuated by a “Yeah!” from the demon.

 

“Pretty boy?”

 

The pair went to step forward, hot and cold air circling them as they did, before Sol raised a hand to them. “Both of you. Enough.” His voice was cold and hard, an order from teacher to students.

 

“But-” Mars started.

 

“Master…”

 

Sol shook his head and turned to Millium. “You must realize not everyone has the aptitude to use mana, even if we teach your people only a few may have the potential for it.”

 

“Indeed, but sharing such power may help prevent a future disaster.” He stood, “It will also demonstrate the trust between our people, a symbol of our two kingdoms becoming one.” As he spoke he walked towards the hierophant, “Together we will stop another tyrant like Lapis from rising, and protect this land from evil.” Millium held out his hand, “Can we agree on that?”

 

“We can.” Sol accepted Millium’s hand with a firm shake, “For the betterment of both our people, but on that note.”

 

“Hm?”

 

“Whatever happened to Lady Viola?”

 


 

 

Ryula walked through the cold halls of the north tower. Her time at the Light Palace had placed her in the lap of luxury, enjoying her life for the first time in the longest time. She giggled to herself, thinking of how cute Millium was when he had asked her to stay with him. The past month had been amazing, helping him tend to his kingdom and repair after the Final Battle, as it had been called, but she had her own matters to attend to. She spotted the guards standing by one of the grand doors, knowing that she had arrived. Both stood at attention to greet her, but she was quick to put them at ease. One guard opened the door for her given her hands were occupied by a tray and she walked into the room. It was lavish, much like the other rooms of the palace, though it was much smaller by comparison. The bed was neat and tidy, almost untouched. Sitting at the vanity was a dark-skinned woman, her hair tangled and ratty, staring blankly at her own reflection. Ryula set her tray down on the bed, next to the one that she had brought that morning. The meal on it had barely been touched save for a few small bites out of the bread. It was progress, to say the least.

 

“How are you feeling, Viola?” Her voice was quiet. This had been her routine every day. “It sounds like Millium has made peace with the Luminaries, we may be able to move you back to Altea.” Nothing, not even a glance. Ryula sighed, it hurt to see her this way. She pulled up a chair she had brought herself a previous day, sitting behind Viola so she could see her in the reflection. Ryula absentmindedly ran her fingers through Viola’s hair, working out the knots that had formed. “You know, it’s funny,” she mused to herself. “Being stuck in a tower like this, almost reminds me of way back then.” She paused for a moment, hoping for a response.

 

“You were always so eager to get out of there, wanting to see the world and be free.” She stopped tidying her hair, “I… I don’t blame you for leaving Viola, and I never hated you for that.” Ryula grit her teeth, “But what you did to our people, I’m not sure I can ever forgive you.” Viola’s gaze didn’t shift, Ryula wrapped her arms around her. “But I’m still your friend, and I’m willing to do all I can to help you. I promise.” There was no change in her expression as Ryula went about braiding her hair with a familiar dexterity. As she did she looked out the window at the colossal tree towering in the distance.

 


 

“OKAY!” Pricia yelled from amongst the group gathered under the great tree, Yggdrasil. Sitting amongst the roots were her fellow Seven Kings, or what was left of them at this point, save for Arla who was napping in the upper branches. Also joining them were Faria’s siblings and Machina’s assistant. Pricia clapped her hands together, “I’m glad you all decided to come today!” Her audience shared an accepting glance with each other, having been summoned by the girl just then. None of them decided to remind her that as resonators, they had no real say in the matter.

 

Faria broke the sudden silence, “We were glad to be called upon.” This earned her a sharp look from Melgis and Machina. “Er, you mentioned you wanted to speak about something?”

 

Pricia’s eyes lit up as she started bouncing in place, “Yes! Right.” She took in a breath to calm herself, attempting to appear professional to her peers. “As you all know, we’ve been staying in the Light Palace up until now and frankly it’s been boring.”

 

Machina spoke up, “Haven’t we been helping rebuild the kingdom?”

 

Pricia scratched behind her head, “Yeah, but that’s work. It’s not fun or exciting.”

 

“So you’re asking us to be okay with you slacking off.”

 

“Close!” Pricia leapt up, landing on one of the larger roots in order to stand above her former colleagues. “I want to explore this world, meet the people of it, and maybe fight something really big along the way. That’s why I’m proposing that you all join me, so!” She stretched out her wings, creating a brilliant display of flame as she pointed down at them, “Who’s with me!”

 

There was a silence as the Kings exchanged awkward glances. Eventually Melgis was the first to speak, “Eh, why not? Could be a good experience, and I feel I’ve been getting rusty in my swordplay.”

 

“I shall attend as well.” Rezzard stood from the shady spot he was in, “I would love to see what this world truly has to offer in its culture and customs.” His expression turned grim, “And perhaps find the proper resting place for my tortured, wayward soul.” The looks he received caused him to look up with a smile, “I am kidding, of course.”

 

“That’s two!” Pricia looked up and screamed, “Hey Arla, wanna come adventuring with me?” A distant thumbs-up was answer enough. “And that’s three! Leaving…” she turned her attention to Mariabella, jumping down from her perch and landing before the girl, “You coming along, Mary?”

 

Mariabella looked away and rubbed her arm, “I, uh…” Pricia’s intense stare did nothing to remedy the awkwardness.

 

Machina then spoke up, “Actually, Pricia, I believe neither of us will be coming.” Mariabella was quick to nod in agreement, grateful her master had given her an out.

 

Pricia’s expectant look dropped immediately, “No!” She took Mariabella’s hands, “Please say it isn’t so! You have to come!”

 

“Well, I-”

 

“I won’t be coming either.” Pricia turned to Faria and her siblings, “This is the first chance I’ve had in a long time to be with my family, and I for one wish to embrace this peace. I feel Machina and Mariabella feel the same way.”

 

Pricia moped at this revelation, “Oh, I guess.” She stomped her foot, “But I don’t wanna travel with a bunch of useless guys!”

 

“Useless? I doubt that’ll be the case.” Melgis stood up, a confident, almost arrogant grin on his face, “After all, I managed to give Princess here a run for her money in our last bout.”

 

“True, but I doubt being mind controlled counts for much with your brains.”

 

The look on his face caused Charlotte to recoil into her brother’s arms, “Then you’d best not slack off, otherwise I may have to teach you a thing or two when I get back.” He held out his hand which Faria took in a firm shake.

 

“Only thing I’ll have to learn is anything worth teaching.”

 

The intensity of their handshake lasted for several seconds, at which point Rezzard sighed and shook his head. “They will never change, will they?”

 

Pricia laughed with Machina, “Guess not. Oh, and by the way?”

 

“Hm?”

 

“Have any of you seen Alice around?”

 


 

Alice sat across from Scheherazade as the wanderer furiously flipped through the pages of her book. Several new pages had been added long after it was supposed to run out, the blank ones having been filled in. “I don’t understand,” she choked, eyes brimming with tears, “How? How is this possible? It was blank, it should have been the end!”

 

“I suppose you gave in too soon.”

 

“No!” she snapped, “There was nothing written, it was fate for it all to end!” Her head hung, tears falling onto the pages, “How? How could that have changed?”

 

Alice sighed, she didn’t know what to tell her. Scheherazade had given up during the Final Battle, telling her allies to side with Lapis as there was apparently no point in resisting him. Their despair had driven them away from the hope of a solution, and the shock of Lapis’ defeat seemed to have rocked her back to her senses. Even she couldn’t tell how the battle would have ended, it seemed like sheer luck that their cards had fallen into the right places, what with Excalibur and Ryula being the child’s undoing. She shook her head, “I really don’t know what to say…” she felt a nagging feeling in the back of her mind, “But to be honest, I expected better from you.”

 

Scheherazade looked up at her in shock. Alice tended to be softspoken, it was bizzare for her to be so curt.

 

“You have the ability to read what will happen next, you know how events will end and the one time that it goes awry you just give up?” She stood from her seat, the red and blue of her eyes gaining a light shade of purple, “You are our leader, you are the one meant to inspire hope in all of the wanderers and the one time that you lose your confidence you lead them to the villain? Worst of all, Lapis!” She walked over and kneeled to be at eye level with her, “What kind of person just does that, after seeing everything he did?”

 

“You don’t understand-”

 

“NO.” Alice’s left eye erupted in a shadowy aura, “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.” Scheherazade recoiled in fear, desperately trying to form words as she continued, “You sided with Lapis. You know? The person who enslaved my planet, Attoractia and tried to do the same for Grimm’s world! You expect me to just be okay with you taking his side?”

 

“Alice please, just sit down-” An arm of shadows emerged from Alice’s side and smashed the chair she had been sitting in, her eyes showing no intention of being calm. The glare she received made her want to escape, falling backwards in her own chair and scrambling away. “Please, no,” she begged as Alice walked forward, the arm of shadows merging with her own into a clawed appendage. Scheherazade closed her eyes and looked away, crying as Alice raised her arm with an unfeeling glower.

 

A pair of slender arms draped themselves around Alice’s neck. “Now now, Alice, no need to go and lose your head.” The gentle whisper was enough to snap Alice back to her senses, the shadows dissipating as she slumped into the Grinning Remnant’s arms. “My my,” he mused, “She really did a number on herself.” She looked to the quivering woman, giving a soft smile, “So sorry about that, she hasn’t gotten the hang of that mad little part of her quite yet. It’s difficult to keep the two balanced at times.” He lifted Alice onto her back and turned away, “You and your friends really did on number on our confidence in you, if I hadn’t had help who knows the damage you all could have done.”

 

Scheherazade hung her head in shame, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

 

The Cheshire Cat shrugged, “It’s too late for apologies now, the damage has been done.” He looked back, “But if you have to apologize to anyone, tell it to Kaguya.”

 

“Kaguya, why?”

 

“Because I know that you were aware she’d be ambushed by Gill, and her aunt paid the price for it. You could have stepped in, but instead you left that poor woman to die.” A joyous smile came over her face, “You drove her to kill that innocent little self of hers.” Scheherazade went to protest, but Cheshire was already leaving, “I’ll bring Alice back to Earth for now. Give you some time to hide before she decides she’s not ready to forgive you again.”

 

With that the two disappeared, leaving Scheherazade alone in her empty dimension.

 


 

 

Kaguya stood in the graveyard, holding back her tears as she stared at the marked grave. Many lives had been lost in defeating Lapis, the cemetery had been erected as a memorial sight to those who had died. Sitting high amongst the gravestones was a great monument, a marble sculpture of a woman resting on her knees with a sleeping cat in her lap. Before an inscribed stone tablet sat a cracked monocle, all that remained of the one who was laid to rest there. She bowed her head, fighting back the urge to cry as a quiet breeze swept over the area.

 

Scheherazade stood behind the moon priestess, unsure of what to say.

 

After a moment of silence Kaguya took in a deep breath to calm her nerves and spoke with a slow, controlled tone, “What do you want?”

 

She shifted on her feet, looking away as she tried to find the right words. After a long silence she spoke, “I… I’m sorry.” Another pause permeated the air. “I… I’m not sure what else to say.”

 

Kaguya took in another breath. “It’s fine. Fate intended it to be this way.”

 

“No it-” Scheherazade cut herself off, “I could have changed it.” She clenched her fist, “I failed you. I failed Wukong, the twins, even Adelbert seems to think less of me now.” She put her hand to her chest, “I should have come to you and warned you of everything that was coming, that Feithsing was in danger.” Kaguya was silent. “It’s my fault, Kaguya. I don’t know if there’s any way that I can express how much I regret everything I did and didn’t do but-”

 

“Enough.” Scheherazade was taken aback as Kaguya turned her head, her eyes glistening with tears, “Please, don’t say any more.” She sniffed and wiped her eyes, letting out a sad laugh as she did. “If you really feel sorry then you can do something for me.”

 

Scheherazade perked up, “Yes, of course! Anything, just name it!”

 

Kaguya turned away, “Please, tell everyone that I’ll be leaving this world.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“My purpose for being here was to warn everyone of Lapis’ arrival, then to defeat him. With him gone, I have no reason to stay any longer.”

 

“But what of Zero?”

 

“Her too.” Kaguya’s voice had become uneven.

 

“Why not tell everyone yourself? If they mean so much to you why just leave them all behind without a final word?”

 

She turned towards Scheherazade, a hurt smile on her face as tears streamed down her cheeks. Her words were choked back, spoken as each one pained her more than the last, “I can’t bear to say goodbye.”

 


 

Elsewhere in the graveyard a girl in a red hood stood in front of a grave. She scowled at the similar red cloak tied to the tombstone that belonged to its owner. She wasn’t convinced. There was no way that lying fake was gone. She may have fooled everyone else, but not her. The Cthulhu had stolen her identity and memories, lived as a human for decades with no one being the wiser, and had convinced them all that she was on their side. Faking her own death would be child’s play by comparison.

 

“Well? Come on.” She stared at the cloak. “You’re not fooling me.”

 

With a stiff breeze the cloak came undone, flitting gently on the wind and past Little Red. Her eyes followed it as it stopped, its owner appearing beneath it from seemingly nowhere. “Nyeheheh, guess I couldn’t fool everyone.”

 

“Of course not. I know you better than anyone else.”

 

“Oh really?” Before her eyes Nyarla had vanished. As Little Red whipped her head around the girl in red was hanging off of the tombstone. “Because I know me pretty well to, and last I checked I was down here.” She grinned, “It’s no lie.”

 

“And yet here you are.”

 

“Mmmm, I guess.” She rolled onto her back, not breaking eye contact, “Of course you could just be insane, nyeheheh.”

 

Little Red scoffed, “I’m not insane.”

 

“Are you sure you aren’t lying to yourself, or can you just not let go of me that easily?” A look of hesitation was all Nyarlathotep needed before breaking into a toothy grin, “Then maybe we should test this, nyeheheh.” In the blink of an eye she was gone again, Little Red turned to see her tormentor sitting high in an old oak tree. “Maybe I should start running around as you again. If people think I’m you you’ll take all the blame for it, it’s no lie.”

 

“You wouldn’t.” A sly laugh steeled her resolve, “Then I’ll have no choice but to stop you.”

 

She raised an eyebrow, “Really? You’ll chase down a figment of your imagination.”

“No, I’ll be chasing you. Because you are alive, and you will keep making my life difficult.”

 

“Well then,” in an instant she was gone, her voicing floating on the wind, “catch me if you can, nyeheheh.”

 

With that Little Red took off, following her imitator’s voice east.

 

 


 

The remaining Three Sages sat patiently, waiting for their guardian to arrive. At this point they had been out of their stones for far too long, any longer would surely cause problems for the world. “I’m telling you, she’s not coming.”

 

“Oh hush, Milly,” Moojdart spoke, “Just give her time.”

 

“It’s been too long,” Milest protested, “And stop calling me Milly!”

 

“Moojdart, stop teasing him.”

 

“Oh, but dad,” she pouted.

 

“He’s right, Moojdart,” Grusbalesta said, “We cannot afford to wait on Zero any longer. At this point I feel she’s too far gone, all things considered.” The trio looked down, Feithsing’s death had weighed heavily on all of them. “I hate to say it, but I’m going to miss her.”

 

Moojdart laughed, “Remember that time that we had to seal away The Devourer of Worlds? We were almost done and-”

 

“Feith fell asleep during the ritual.” Milest chuckled. “We almost lost the bastard had Zero not yelled at her loud enough.” The three shared a laugh, reminiscing on their fallen comrade. “Things really won’t be the same without her.”

 

“Indeed, they won’t.” Grusbalesta sighed and took a pocket watch out of his cloak, seeing the time he was quick to put it away. “I suppose it’s time we be going.” He looked to the corner of the room, where a pale skinned man leaned against the wall looking fairly impatient. “You will have to suffice as our guardian for now, Lilas.”

 

He seemed to perk up at this, “Oh joy! You can rely on me.” He was quick to cover his mouth with his sleeves.

 

Grusbalesta sighed, “We expect you not use use us for your own devices, you know.”

 

“Yes, of course.”

 

“That means no using me for barbeque.”

 

“I mean-”

 

“Use me to create doppelgangers of yourself and you’ll be in deep trouble.”

 

“To be fair-”

 

“And no using my powers to fuel any new chimeras of yours.”

 

“Okay, okay, I get it,” Lilas interjected, “Do you want me to protect you all or not?”

 

“Well now that we say it…”

 

“Moojdart, enough teasing.” Grusbalesta chuckled to himself, as much as he enjoyed his seclusion from the world he was going to miss little moments like this just as much.

 


 

Millium yawned as he made his way through the corridors of the palace. The day had been long, overseeing reconstruction of the town and hearing out a few nobles about concerns regarding his rule, but the Luminaries coming to offer a peaceful arrangement had truly made his day. The papers had been worked out and signed, hard evidence that the Alteans had agreed to his conditions. While the others didn’t seem too appreciative of it, Sol seemed relieved to know his people would be safe. He smiled to himself, being king was no easier than he had anticipated. It took him some willpower to get over what they had done, but to see his past adversaries so humbled gave him hope that he would be capable as a ruler after all. His smile quickly faded as that thought crossed his mind. It was getting late, Ryula was likely waiting for him by now.

 

“Millium.”

 

He turned to see Lumia coming up behind him, “Oh Auntie, I’m glad you’re here. I wanted to thank you for helping today.”

 

Lumia gave him a warm smile, “It was no trouble, you handled things well on your own. I only stepped in when needed.”

 

“And I’m grateful for that. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d be doing so well without you to guide me. This… all seems to be going so fast.” Millium looked away awkwardly, “In fact, I don’t think I’ll be half the king my father was.”

 

“Don’t say that.” Millium looked up to a stern-faced Lumia. “You’ve only been in power for a month now, you have plenty of time to catch up to Brother.” She stepped forward, her expression softening, “And even then, you’re already twice the fighter he was. You know when to take matters seriously.” She took opened her arms and took Millium into an embrace, “You are your own person, you have the kindness of Brother, but the sternness of Pandora. You just need to have faith in yourself.”

 

Millium rested his head on his aunt’s chest. “Thank you.” The two stood in the hall for several moments before he pulled away. “Good night Auntie, thank you for everything.”

 

As he turned to leave Lumia called to him, “If you ever need to talk, or anything at all, please do not hesitate.”

 

He opened the door to his room before giving her a confidant smile, “I will, trust me.” With that the door closed, leaving Lumia to grimace with a sniff.

 

He did not see this, entering the room to see Ryula sitting on his bed quietly dozing off. She was dressed in an elegant white nightgown, one that the royal tailors had suited for her. He went through the arduous process of undressing, stripping away his robes and cloak and casting them aside. He left his boots next to the door and gloves carelessly tossed onto an end table. His crown was set on his nightstand as he sat down onto the bed, Ryula drowsily crawling over to him. She rested her head on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around him. Millium quivered as he tried to hold it back, but Ryula whispered to him, “It’s okay, I’m here.”

 

The king bowed his head as the tears started to fall, his partner whispering gentle words to him.

 

Elsewhere, Lumia closed the door to her room as gently as she could. Her back was pressed against it. She hated the thought of bothering Millium, he was already under enough stress as is, but she wanted him to remember that she was here for him. Then again, he had Ryula, and she seemed to be doing a better job supporting him than she ever could. She felt herself sliding down the door, coming to rest with her knees at her chest. It must have been hard, becoming king so quickly. Without the support of his mother or father. Tears welled up in her eyes. Without them to guide him. Care for him. To help her. Lumia shook as she broke down on the floor, covering her mouth with her hand to try and muffle her sobs. They were gone. Lunya… Nyarla was gone… Her sobs became more violent as she gave up trying to quiet herself. She knew Millium needed to become his own man, but in that moment she begged for him to help her as well.

 


 

Zero ran through the woods, branches and thicket lashing at her skin as she tore through the underbrush. She couldn't take it. She didn’t know where she needed to run, she just needed to. Feith was dead, Kaguya had disappeared, she’d let Pandora and Grimm die, Millium was too busy for her, she didn’t know where to go. What to do. Her mind flashed back to Mikage, that grin of his when he revealed her “past”. She couldn’t bear it. Tears welled in her eyes at the thought that she was Reiya. She wasn’t Mikage’s daughter, she wouldn’t accept it, and yet the thought lingered in the back of her mind. Her foot became caught in a root, sending her crashing into the ground. Bloodied, dirty and crying, Zero lay there, grasping at the dead leaves littering the ground. “Who am I?”

 

“You are Reiya.” Zero shot up at the sudden voice. Tearing herself from the ground she found a horned girl staring at her with curiosity. “Aren’t you?”

 

“Who are you?”

 

The girl pouted, “Aw, you don’t remember me?” She stepped forward, “After everything you went through the get rid of Gill and I.”

 

“Gill, you mean Lapis?”

“That brat? Please.”

 

Zero took a step back, “I’ll ask you again, who are you?”

 

“We’re really going to do this?” The girl sighed, “Alright, I’ll play along. It’s me, Flute!” She took another step forward, only for Zero to retreat back. “Oh come on.”

 

“Stay back,” Zero put her hand to her sword, her voice quivering as vague memories of the girl’s name began to come to her. “I’m warning you.”

 

“Hm, oh really?” Before Zero could process the girls words she was standing before her, mere inches from her face, “And what’s making me?” Zero panicked, drawing her sword and swinging it at the girl. The blade cleaved through thin air, Flute having disappeared. “Tsk tsk.” Zero turned. “You should know that won’t work.” Zero swung wildly, doing everything she could to hit the girl, but each time her blade would fall short. “What’s wrong little vampire?” Zero’s eyes went wide and she grit her teeth. Changing her tactics, she began to chant a spell as her assault continued. With one final swing Flute found herself against a tree and Zero continued finished her chant. She stumbled over the words, her mind catching up to her mouth as the spell fizzled in her hand. “Bat got your tongue?” Before Zero could respond she found herself stumbling backwards, a sharp pain ringing from her temple. Flute stood there with a smug grin, “You’re making this too easy, you know.”

 

“Shut up!” Zero charged forward, chanting another spell as she did. She found herself rolling against the forest floor, gasping for air as she clutched her stomach.

 

Flute shook her head, “I swear, you have to be doing this on purpose.” In an instant she stood above Zero. “I mean really-” She stopped as she heard Zero muttering to herself. This time it was too late, as the Sage sprung forward with a harsh light charged in her fist. She struck her opponent square in the forehead, sending her flying across the forest floor and crashing into a tree. Her mind still wasn’t steady, but she was figuring out what Flute was capable of. Zero dug her sword into the ground and lifted herself up, grasping it with both hands and preparing for her next move. It was possible, she could win against the Sage sprung forward with a harsh light charged in her fist. Expecting this, Flute grabbed Zero by the wrist and before she could realize what had happened, slammed her into the ground.

 

Time froze for a moment as Zero felt her body bounce from the impact. She knew she had landed that punch. Her body ached as her lungs pleaded for air as her breathing became erratic. Flute looked down at her, “Really, is that all you’ve got?” Zero couldn’t respond. She was tired. She was hurt. With nothing left, tears rolled down her cheeks. Flute raised an eyebrow as she sobbed between gasps for air. Her hand grasped for her sword before it was kicked away. “I think I’ve had enough of this.” She knelt down and straddled Zero, holding her wrists down and staring her in the eye. “Why are you acting like this? Struggle, dammit! You’re not supposed to give up this easily.”

 

Zero tried to look away, but the girl’s piercing gaze kept bringing her back. Finally steadying herself enough to form words, she spoke, “Please.” Flute’s eyes widened. “I don’t know you. I don’t know- who I -am.” Her words were broken up as she started crying again.

 

“Wow. You really don’t remember, do you?” After a moment she put her forehead to Zero’s causing the Sage to gasp in surprise. “One second, I’ll give you the general picture.” Zero’s eyes rolled back in her head as images began to flash in her mind. A dark castle. The oppressed elves. The Demon King. A powerful magic stone. A genius corrupted by his own ambitions... And herself, amidst the chaos.

 

Flute reeled back as Zero came to. “What- what was that?”

 

“Hold on,” Flute shook her head, “I’m not done yet.” She tilted her head back, “Now let me fill in the spaces.” There no time to protest. Flute cracked her forehead against Zero’s

 

And everything went white.