Melody dragged Azeon all the way down to the Tree of Life, then told him to wait there as she gathered the others.
He frowned and did as he was told, sitting down at the trunk of the great tree.
It was awhile before she returned, yet strangely she had no one tagging along with her.
"Thought you said you were gonna get everyone?" He asked.
"Busy. They'll get here as soon as they can," She responded.
She then sat down away from him, and they sat in silence.
"So..." She began.
"I wonder how they'll react to seeing her," He muttered, "She came awfully late. In the past, the four champions of each generation would be born at around the same time. I was almost beginning to think that there'd only be three champions before last night."
"They'll be overjoyed," She replied, "And why wouldn't they be?"
"Dunno," He said, "I'm just nervous. Don't know why."
She leaned over and patted him on the shoulder.
"Relax. Nothing bad will happen," She reassured him.
He sighed and nodded without a word.
After a little bit of waiting, they heard faint talking that gradually got louder coming from the sea.
They looked over at the water, and sure enough, Isa, Percival, and Helia were flying across the water with Shipton sailing across the waves.
They both noticed how Lucas was missing, but assumed that he was busy with... well... whatever leaderly duties he had and dismissed it.
They both waved at their four friends, and they landed on solid ground.
"Now, what was so important that you had to--oh," She said abruptly, interrupting herself as she saw the orange child laying in Azeon's arms.
"No way..." Percival said, "Is that the last Champion?"
"'Last' is a rather ominous way to put it," Azeon countered, "But yeah, she is."
"Mate... how'd this happen?" Shipton asked.
"Found her lying on the ground alone in the woods last night. There wasn't a trace of anyone for as far as the eye could see," Azeon explained, "No clue what happened to her parents, but it seemed evident that they weren't gonna be raising her anymore, so I took her in."
"Oh... what's her name?" Helia inquired.
"I named her: Phota," He responded.
"What a lovely name," She said to herself.
"Aye, she seems like she'll be quite the little lady," Shipton agreed.
Azeon smiled and looked around. Just like Melody said, everyone seemed over the moon.
Well, oddly enough, Isa was the only one who didn't seem happy.
"Something wrong?" He asked her.
"I don't hate your kid, if that's what you're thinking," She said blankly, "I'm just wondering who's the sick, twisted imbecile who abandoned their own kid to die alone."
"Right... cause her own father... yeah."
"I wouldn't jump so quickly to conclusions, Isa" Melody butted in, "We have no idea what happened. We can't just blindly assume things when we don't know what happened."
"We'll see about that," Isa said.
"Uh... anyway," Azeon muttered, eager to change the topic, "Did any of you see Lucas?"
"Nope," Percival answered, "They said he went somewhere, but nobody knows where."
"Did somebody call me?"
Everyone turned to see the leader casually strolling toward them, staff in hand.
"Took you long enough," Azeon muttered.
"Where were you?" Melody asked.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" He responded, "Why are you all here anyway? Something happen?"
"Well... kinda," Azeon said, then turned to face him.
His eyes immediately locked onto Phota, and his face twisted into an expression of shock... and horror...?
"Well that's strange..."
"Um, are you alright?" Melody asked.
"Uhm… yeah, I'm fine," Lucas lied poorly.
"Dude, you look you've just seen a ghost," Percival said.
"I'm fine!" He shouted.
Azeon narrowed his eyes. This was extremely peculiar. And suspicious. Everyone felt it.
Isa stood up and walked over to Lucas.
"You suck at lying," She said, "Spit it out."
"You're all delusional. I'm perfectly normal," He said.
"You are acting EXTREMELY suspicious," Azeon hissed. He then gave Phota to Melody before getting face to face with Lucas. "Cough it up."
"N-no!" He shouted.
"Do it!" They all shoutetd.
"She should be dead!" He screamed.
There was silence as everyone processed Lucas' outburst.
"What...?" Azeon said.
"That kid should not be alive! I left her there for a reason!" Lucas shouted.
"YOU left her there? On PURPOSE?" Azeon shrieked.
Lucas looked down and nodded.
Azeon clenched his fists as he struggled to hold back a growing rage.
"Why?" He hissed.
"The Tree of Life picked me to be the parent of that kid. I have no idea why. I'm far too damn busy to be bothered with caring for a stupid baby! I have places to be, things to do!" Lucas yelled.
Isa stood up and stared cruelly at him.
"You--!" She hissed.
"You could have given her to one of us..." Melody said.
"Ha, no!" Lucas spat, "If I did that, all of my citizens would find out! For YEARS I've been the strongest among them! I couldn't have something as stupid as this change that!"
Azeon rushed forward and barely stopped himself from punching him in the face.
"You ungrateful bastard!" He snarled, "Do you have ANY idea what we do for you?! We devote our ENTIRE LIVES to keeping you safe! And THIS is the thanks we get?!"
"I have a job to do, skyboy. That comes before anything else," Lucas hissed, "Not to mention, you haven't done any 'protecting' yet. What a great hero, spending his days chatting instead of getting anything done! Truly someone to be admired."
Azeon was in disbelief.
"You'd better shut up right about now," He warned, "One more word out of you and I'm gonna punt you all the way across Paradise."
"You're welcome to try," Lucas taunted.
"That's it!" Azeon roared, then picked him up by the neck.
"Both of you stop!"
Melody separated them and turned to Azeon.
"Back off!" She shouted, "He was confused and scared, I can tell! People do stupid things when they're scared! Fighting him won't solve anything!"
"Abandoning a child is inexcusable," He grumbled.
Lucas chuckled to himself.
Melody's expression darkened.
"As for you..." She said darkly.
She suddenly turned around and backhanded him.
"That's for abandoning a baby!"
She smacked him again.
"That's for being rude about it!"
He fell backward in alarm.
"And lastly..." Melody said, kneeling down beside him, then smacked him one last time in the face.
"That's for being proud of it!"
Lucas slowly got up, dazed by the sudden assault. Everyone else was just as alarmed.
Melody was never violent. She was always the calm, caring one. The one to break up arguments and make friendships.
"I-I was just doing what I thought was right!" Lucas shouted.
"Well guess what?" Azeon hissed, "You. Were. Wrong. Apologize."
All was silent.
Lucas looked around to find all his friends staring judgmentally at him.
"I... can't," He said, "Not now."
"I'm not letting you leave without apologizing," Azeon warned.
Lucas raised his staff into the air and disappeared with a flash of white light.
"Dammit!" Azeon yelled.
Once again, there was silence.
Only two things could be heard: the rushing of the wind, and crying.
"I... I think that's enough for today," Melody said, "Phota is upset now. You should probably take her home to rest, Az."
He nodded silently, then sighed deeply. He then took Phota back into his arms.
"Well, see you guys later, I guess," He said somberly.
They all said goodbye, and Azeon silently went home.
What used to be one of his best friends was now his worst enemy.
He never wanted to see his smug, arrogant face ever again.