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A Champion's Life

Chapter Text

The lands were calm all around. Birds were singing, the sun... which had a face... was shining, and in the center of it all sat a large tree comprised of three large upside-down pyramids, glowing with an unmatchable brilliance unlike anything else around. It was called the Tree of Life, for it gave life and meaning to this otherwise bleak land.

This land was a paradise. Fittingly enough, it was called Paradise. It was full of many diverse creatures and beings, but there was one thing that seemed to dominate the lands...

Music. Everything seemed to dance to the beat of its own song, from the rocks and the trees to the water itself. Those who were patient enough could stop and maybe hear a glimpse of this beat.

Off in the distance, on the side of a small mountain sat a small abode carved out into the rock face. It was a humble abode, nothing too special about it. It was a humble abode with four rooms: a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. In the living room, there wasn't terribly much: a bookshelf stocked full with books, a chair, a sofa, and a coffee table with a small blue sack on it. In the bedroom, snoozing in a bed, laid a blue humanoid with a floating square head and floating square hands, who was wearing a blue sweater.

He was a very special person, one everyone knew. His name was Azeon, and he was the oldest of the three Champions of Paradise, who were three legendary beings created by the Tree of Life to protect Paradise and its peoples. He shifted and slowly opened his eyes.

"Well, time for another simple day in my simple life."

He then smirked and floated out of bed. He looked around for anything he'd need to take with him before heading out for the day and stared at the bag on his coffee table. He walked over to it and pulled it open, revealing it to be full of small, white, glowing triangles that were clear in the center.

"Should I bring a power crystal with me? In case...?"

He put his square hand to his chin in thought, then shook his head.

"Nah, I don't need to bring any with me. There hasn't been an incident in decades. "

He prepared to fly out the door, then stopped.

"But... y'know... maybe I could just bring one, in case someone needs help or whatever. "

With his mind made up, he grabbed one, put it in his pocket, and flew right out of his humble abode.

A new day was another opportunity for him to enjoy life, and he planned to do so the best way he knew how.

Chapter Text

As he flew out into the outside world, he looked at the view in front of him. There was truly nothing else like it.

He saw the tree of life off in the distance and zoomed off toward it. Resting beneath it laid a girl with a cube head and wearing a small skirt, as well as having a tear under her right eye. His best friend, Melody. They'd been friends all their lives, and they were practically the same age, although Melody was a few months older... and she never let him forget it.

He smiled and landed next to her. She smiled at him.

"Hey, Melody," He greeted.

"Hey, Az," Melody greeted.

"Where's everyone else?" He asked.

"Lucas is busy... well... being a leader, and Isa and Percival went out to survey the area. You know, make sure nothing bad happens or someone shows up," She explained, then tilted her head. "Err... rather, Percival wanted to go out because he thought it'd be fun and basically pestered Isa until she came with him."

Azeon chuckled. "That sounds about right," He responded.

He sat down and looked up into the tree. Melody tilted her head.

"What's on your mind?" She asked.

"I don't know," He said, "I guess I just feel like it's been awhile."

"Since what?" She inquired.

"Since anything really interesting has happened here," He stated, "To be frank, it's getting kind of boring around here."

"You need a new hobby," She said.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"I try to help out around Paradise, but everything's going so well that us Champions aren't really needed," He said, "Doesn't leave much to do around here."

She chuckled.

"Maybe try socializing more. You only really talk to me and the others. The people love you and and the other champions, after all, you could meet some new people," She suggested.

"Err... you know what I'm like around people I don't know," He said uncomfortably.

She giggled.

"I'll be there with you," She said, "What kind of friend would I be if I wasn't?"

He nodded.

"Alright. I guess I could try socializing sometime," He agreed, "But for now I just want to relax."

She nodded slowly.

"I'm one step ahead of you, Az," She stated happily.

"You always have been," He responded.

So there they sat, nothing but the Tree's warm glow, eachother, and the sound of the wind blowing and the birds chirping to keep them company.

Azeon closed his eyes, cleared his mind, and began to listen. He took attention to everything around him, and as he did so he could faintly make out a calm, peaceful beat resonating throughout Paradise.

It was a familiar tone to him, one he remembered fondly. Ever since he was a child he would listen to it to help him fall asleep, or when he needed to relax. Now he was eighteen, and it still had that effect on him.

It really was a peaceful lifestyle, the one he and his friends lived.

"I guess it's better to live a boring life and wish for action than live a perilous life and wish for peace. Who knows? Maybe the Tree has something planned for me."

A smile crept onto his face.

"If not, at least I'll always have my friends."

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

As the day dragged by, Azeon found himself daydreaming.

Dreaming about the land, the Tree, his past, his future... he was completely removed from reality.

Back in reality, a flash of sky blue whipped around the tree, stopping in front of the two sleepyheads. 

There was a very soft... very mischievous chuckle, then suddenly...

"YAARGH!"

"AGH!"

They were wide awake now.

They both looked to see who had startled them from their sleep, and saw a blue ship with two eyes, two white sails and an eyepatch laughing hysterically in front of them.

Melody shook her head and smiled.

"Well, good morning to you too, Shipton," She greeted.

"Good mornin' indeed!" The boat, Shipton, responded, "Arr, ya should've seen the look on yer blue, cubed mugs. T'was worth more than any booty!"

"Oh, I bet it was..." Azeon muttered, shaking his head.

"What did you do this time, you old coot?" An annoyed, female voice shouted from above them. 

From the skies, a white, round helicopter with eyes descended with a very annoyed look.

"Hey, Helia," Azeon greeted.

The helicopter, named Helia, looked around, then stared right at Shipton disapprovingly.

"Never mind. I think I already know," She grumbled, "Why can't you just leave people be, you obsolete twit?"

"Silence, ya floatin' tin can! I'm a pirate, and I'll do whatever I want!" He retorted.

Azeon chuckled.

"You two can just never get along, can you?" He muttered.

"Never!" They both shouted.

There was silence for a while.

"So, um, what are you two doing anyway?" Helia asked.

"Nothing, really," Melody answered, "Just sitting here and relaxing."

"Or, rather, we were, before somebody showed up," Azeon muttered jokingly.

"It was yer own fault for lettin' yer guard down, matey!" Shipton countered.

"Want to join us? Or are you busy?" Melody asked.

"I have some time to kill," Helia answered

"Aye, so do I," Shipton agreed.

"It's settled then," Azeon said.

The four of them proceeded to sit by the tree and relax... at least for a few minutes.

Shipton got bored, and wanted to go prank some other people. So, he hopped into the sea and sped off, and Helia chased after him to make sure he didn't do anything rash.

Azeon chuckled, and Melody shook her head with a smile.

"I heard they're actually good friends," Melody stated.

"Really? But they're constantly fighting!" Azeon exclaimed in disbelief.

She shrugged her shoulders.

"Just because they're rivals doesn't mean they can't be friends, you know," She countered, "Siblings are like that all the time."

"I guess," He muttered, "I wonder when--"

"Guys! Guys! You won't believe it!"

He shook his head.

"Never mind," He said.

There was a flash of green from the sky, and in an instant, there was a green humanoid like Azeon, but with pentagons for hands and a head grinning madly in front of them with a green fedora sat atop his head.

"What happened?" Melody asked.

"A freaking miracle! I finally pulled it off!" The green champion stated proudly.

"Pulled what off?" Azeon asked, confused.

"You seriously won't believe it... I actually managed to make Isa smile! A true, genuine, smile!" He beamed, dropping to the ground.

"You're joking," Azeon said, "Her? Smiling? Impossible."

"For your information, Percival... it was a smirk," An irritated female voice hissed.

A flash of yellow, and the yellow champion was floating in front of them. She had a triangle for her head and hands, and she was wearing a dark golden cloak. Her face was unreadable.

The green hero, Percival, grinned even more.

"Same difference! It's a lot better than that foreboding frown you constantly wear," He countered, "It's only a matter of time before I get you to laugh next!"

The tiniest trace of a smirk appeared on her face.

"In your dreams," She spat.

Percival turned back to Azeon and Melody.

"So, what are you two up to? Anything fun?" He asked.

"Not really," Azeon declined, "Just sitting here. You can join us if you want to."

"Sure!" He accepted, then sat down next to the tree as well. "You joining, Isa?" He asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. "Not like I have anything better to do," She said, then floated over and sat down next to him.

"Oh, come on. You know you enjoy spending time with me!" He exclaimed.

"Don't push your luck, boy," She warned.

"Fiiine," He said.

"I wonder what Lucas is up to," Melody said.

Azeon closed his eyes and focused.

"He'll probably show up any second now," He muttered

There were lots of footsteps.

"Called it," He said.

They all looked to see a group of green people with spiked orbs for heads and hands approach them. In front of them, there was a slightly larger blue one holding a large white staff.

"Lucas," Azeon greeted formally

"Hero," They greeted back just as formally.

"What brings you here?" Azeon asked.

"I heard you were all gathering here and decided to visit," He answered emotionlessly, "Unless you wish for me to leave."

"Hey, you know what they say: the more, the merrier," Percival said.

Lucas nodded, then turned to the group behind him and handed the staff to one of them.

"Be off, let me be with my friends," He ordered, and they left.

When he saw they were all gone, he turned back to the group and smirked.

"Glad that's over. Putting on that stoic, brave look is exhausting," He muttered.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," Azeon said, "You are their leader, after all."

"Trust me, I know, but it's just... bleh," Lucas grumbled, sitting down next to the tree as well. "Still... I guess it's better than being nobody," He said.

Azeon shrugged his shoulders and leaned back against the Tree.

It was just one of those days, a perfect day to do nothing at all except relax and chat with his friends.

So they did. Well, at least Azeon and Melody did. Percival got bored and left, Isa simply disappeared, which she did often, and Lucas said he needed to get back to his people and left.

It was nightfall. Nothing dared to disturb the calm, not the birds, not the wind. The only things one could hear were the sounds of the sea and the ever so subtle tune that never ceased to play.

Azeon looked over to Melody to find her sound asleep.

He smirked.

"Heh, guess it was a bit too peaceful for her."

He then frowned.

"Well I can't just leave her here..."

He put his square hand to his chin in thought about what he should do. After awhile, he made up his mind and gently picked her up, then flew back to his house.

Inside, he walked over to his bed and set her down lightly in it. He then grabbed a book, sat down in his chair, and began to read the book. It wasn't long before he was asleep as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Azeon slowly woke up the next day, frowning to see a torrential downpour outside. He then heard a very loud crack of thunder.

"Guess I'm not doing anything today."

He rubbed his eyes groggily, then reached for his book and began to read it.

It was his favourite book; about the history of Paradise. How the Tree came into existence, why the Sun literally smiled down at the land, how Lucas' people came to be. It even gave some insight on Shipton and Helia's origins, although it didn't say much about them. Furthermore, it told him his story. How the Champions came to be. There were some... holes in the book that left unanswered questions, but he had no other way of learning the past. Who his friends were. Who he was.

Azeon... never really had a teacher, or guardian, growing up. He did have one when he was a baby, but they disappeared some time before he could remember, and that was all he knew about them. Only Lucas knew anything at all about his guardian, but he'd play dumb about it or straight up refuse to share information.

So, everything he learned, he learned from books, personal experience, or...

Well...

He used to hear a voice when he was younger. Now that he was older, he wasn't sure if it was real or simply an overactive mind. He only heard it, like, once or twice. He only heard it when he was hopelessly lost and desperately needed guidance.

Other than that... the only person he really had for support when he was younger was Melody. They'd been best friends for as long as either could remember. Yes, there was Isa and Percival, but he was never really 'friends' with them. They were mainly acquaintances. Yes, he knew them, and he worked with them (rarely), talked with them (also rarely), etc., but that was mainly because they were all Champions. Isa and Percival had eachother, and they each had their parent or guardian.

Err... Percival had their parent, but Isa...

Anyway, Azeon only had his current friends really because Melody introduced him to them. If it wasn't for her, he probably wouldn't have anyone.

One more thing he was eternally grateful to her for.

He flipped to where he last left off and began to read.

Until he heard footsteps and a door opening. He looked up to see a sleepy Melody leaning against the wall.

"Good morning," He greeted, "Have a nice sleep?"

She smiled and nodded.

"I did, thanks to you," She said, then sat down on the sofa. "Sleeping under a tree wouldn't have been very comfortable."

He smirked.

"Yeah, especially considering that it's pouring buckets outside," He joked.

She then got up and walked over to the window, then frowned.

"You weren't joking," She agreed, "Well now that I'm awake, I should probably go."

"In that weather?" He questioned.

"It'll be fine," She denied, "It's just some rain."

"'Just some rain'? It's going nuts outside! Also, there's lightning too. Doesn't exactly seem like ideal walking conditions to me," He countered, and she visibly frowned.

He shook his head and sighed. "Look, I just want you to be safe. Stay here, please. We can play board games to pass the time," He begged.

She tilted her head, thinking.

"Oh, fine," She conceded.

Azeon smiled slightly.

"Thank you. Would you like something to eat?" He asked. He himself never needed to eat, him being who he was, but he still had a kitchen in case one of his friends came over. Just like now.

She shrugged.

"I guess," She answered, "Just make something simple, though."

"Alright," He muttered, then got up and floated to the kitchen. He made toast and jam for her, and while she ate it he went back to reading his book.

"So you want to play board games, huh?" She asked amusedly.

Azeon grinned, then reached under his chair and pulled out, well, a board game. He then cleared the table and set it up. 

Melody sat down across from him, grinning at the board game he chose. It was a simple game, one where each player controlled five cylindrical pegs on opposite sides of the board. Using a 10-sided dice, the players would have to get their pegs out onto the edge of the board and across the perimeter of the board, then into a finish area. Whoever would get all five of their pegs into their finish first would win. However, there were a few elements of sabotage in this game.

"Are you sure you want to play this game?" She asked smugly, "You know I always win."

"Hehe, I let you win and you know it," He retorted, "I'll be winning this time."

"If you say so," She said calmly, clearly not convinced.

The day passed by quickly as they played game after game after game.

Strangely, the rain never quit. Even after they had finished, it was still pouring outside.

"You'd think the rain would have at least calmed down by now," Azeon thought aloud.

"You're just trying to distract yourself from the fact that I won. Again," Melody stated.

He chuckled.

"Whatever makes you happy," He stated.

Azeon then began staring out the window at the raging storm outside. The stom did seem to die down a little, but it was still going strong. It would be quite awhile before it really became suitable to go outside again.

He turned around to face Melody and shrugged his shoulders with a blank expression on his face.

"You might have to stay here overnight again," He said, "Nothing I can do about that."

"I'm fine with that," She responded, then smiled warmly. "It means I get to spend more time with you."

He smirked, then scratched his head.

"I have no idea why that sounds good to you," He said jokingly, causing her to giggle.

"Champion..."

Azeon looked around, confused.

"What's wrong?" Melody questioned.

"Did you hear that?" He asked.

"Hear what?" She responded.

"Champion of blue..."

"That!" He shouted, "That voice! I've heard it before, a long time ago."

"I don't hear anything," She said, "Are you feeling alright?"

"I'm perfectly fine," He said.

"Azeon, champion of blue, follow my voice."

"I... have to go," He said, "Just wait here, I'll be back soon."

He put up the hood on his sweater, opened the window, and flew outside.

He was immediately soaked, and it was in moments like these where he was glad he couldn't catch illnesses.

"Come to me."

He looked around. Off in the distance, he could see the Tree of Life. It sounded like the voice was coming from that direction.

He zoomed off toward it, and when he finally got there, he was expecting someone to be there, waiting for him.

But he was alone.

"Did I seriously come out in this atrocious weather for nothing?" He grumbled.

A small triangle fell from the Tree and floated in front of him.

A power crystal. 

It began to glow brightly, then it flew off in another direction.

"Well, that's new," He muttered, "I guess I should follow it." 

So he did. It led him into the forest, where he weaved through trees in an attempt to keep up with it. 

Eventually, it stopped, span in place, then zoomed off into the sky.

"Great," Azeon said, "Now where am I?"

He looked around for anything that could've justified him being brought there, and didn't see anything at first...

Until he saw something small and orange lying on the ground.

"What...?"

He slowly walked toward the orange mass. As he approached it, he noticed that it was moving. And he began to hear... it was tough to hear over the ruckus of the storm, but it sounded like... crying?

He stopped when he was right in front of it and looked down.

When he did, his jaw dropped.

It was a baby girl. A newborn.

But it wasn't just a normal newborn baby. No. 

It was a baby champion.

The baby's head was an orange circle. She was wearing a tiny orange dress, but it was covered in mud. Also, there was a bright orange bow wrapped around her circular head.

"Where is this girl's parents? Every champion has one or two. What happened to hers?"

He saw a white glow and looked up to see the crystal there again.

He looked down at the child. Infant champions were extremely fragile. It wouldn't take much to... well...

If she was left out in the rain, it left no doubt in his mind what would happen. And it was evident that her parent or parents were no longer present.

Seeing no other option, he gently picked up the baby and began to rock it.

"Hey, don't worry. You'll be safe soon," He cooed.

Slowly, she began to stop crying.

He looked up at the crystal, which promptly vanished into thin air.

It was still pouring hard. It didn't seem to be thundering much anymore, but still, he needed to find shelter. 

He couldn't return to his home. It was too rainy, and it would take too long to fly there at a normal pace.

He flew up, and saw the Tree of Life not terribly far away.

"Well, it's better than nothing."

He slowly flew to it, and when he made it, he sat down under it.

"What should I do? I've never dealt with something like this before, dammit!"

He looked down at the child in his arms, who was coughing and beginning to fall asleep.

"Maybe I should get Melody... she's good with kids, she'll know what to do."

He still wouldn't be able to fly home, though. He didn't want to risk anything happening to the child.

He remembered that he had a crystal in his pocket, and pulled it out. 

He'd have to use it to bring her to him. He didn't really have a choice.

He whispered a command to it, then tossed it into the air. It zoomed off toward his house, and he smiled.

As he'd hoped, a few minutes later, he saw Melody running toward the tree.

When she made it under the tree, she looked down at the ground and began panting.

"Ok, I'm here," She said irritably, then looked at him. "What's so--?"

Her eyes fell on the orange child in his arms.

"Is that...?" She asked.

"The fourth champion," He said, "She's the reason why I was hearing that voice. It led me to her."

"Where did you find her?" She asked.

"She was lying on the ground in the forest with nobody around. It's a good thing I found her. Not sure how much longer she would've lasted in this awful weather," He stated.

"What about her parents?" She asked worriedly.

He sighed.

"I don't know. Dead, missing... or something even worse... I don't know. All I know is that they're gone," He muttered, "I was hoping you'd know what to do. If her old parents are gone, we'll need to find a new one."

"If her parents are gone..." She thought aloud, then smiled warmly. "I can take care of her. I'm great with kids."

He looked down at the child and nodded. It seemed like the best option.

He stood up slowly, walked over to her, and handed the child to her.

However...

The child began screaming and squirming uncontrollably.

Melody handed her back to Azeon, and she quieted down instantly.

...

"Well..." He muttered, "I guess she found her parent."

Hearing this, Melody squealed and clapped her hands together.

Azeon looked down at the baby girl in his arms, who closed her eyes, nuzzled against him, and fell asleep.

And a soft orange glow began to emanate from her.

"What will you name her?" Melody asked.

He thought to himself. What should he name her?...

He smiled as he thought of a name.

"Phota. I'll call her Phota," He said.

Melody smiled even more.

"Don't worry, Phota," He cooed, "You're safe now."

Chapter Text

Not long after that, the storm finally calmed down from a raging torrent to a light drizzle. Azeon slowly stood up, being careful not to wake the sleeping child in his arms, and turned to Melody.

"Guess I should head back while the storm's down," He thought aloud.

She smiled and nodded.

"Tomorrow, I'll see if I can get some things to help you," She promised.

"Alright. See you tomorrow," He said.

"See you tomorrow," She responded, and they both walked off in different directions.

He'd have flown home, but it wouldn't exactly have been a smooth ride, so he opted to just walk home.

A little while later and he was back home, and he was exhausted.

He sat down in his chair, looked down to see the child--no, his child--still sleeping peacefully.

He took a deep breath, leaned back, and fell asleep with one last thought on his mind:

"I don't think life will be boring much anymore."

 


 

He opened his eyes and found himself in a dark, empty landscape. There was nothing for as far as the eye could see in every direction, yet he was stood on solid ground.

"Where am I...? "

Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw something other than the pitch-black emptiness.

He turned to face it, and he saw something that made him freeze.

A pink liquid was oozing out of the seemingly non-existent floor and rapidly began to fill up.

"No... no no no no no!"

He stepped back, but found himself blocked by a wall.

He attempted to walk around the wall, but found himself trapped on all four sides. The pink ooze was about to reach him.

He flew into the air just as the liquid completely filled the floor.

"What is this? "

"This..."

He turned around, but found no one awaiting him.

"Who's there?!" He shouted.

"This is your worst nightmare!"

His powers of flight vanished, and he fell into the pink sludge with a yell.


He awoke and found himself back at his house. The storm had passed while he was asleep, and it was a sunny day outside.

He looked around and took a deep sigh of relief.

"Just a stupid dream... I must've been really shook up."

He looked down to find the baby Phota still peacefully asleep.

"You must've been really tired, huh?" He asked quietly.

He took another deep sigh and began to think to himself about what responsibilities he'd be bringing upon himself by raising her.

The first thing that came to his mind was the obvious: he'd have to shelter her, provide for her, protect her, support her, everything a normal parent would do. He supposed that he'd be able to do that.

But he'd be no normal parent, and she'd be no normal kid. They were both Champions. He'd have to do more than just that.

He would also have to teach her everything he knew when the time came, and when she became old enough, he'd have to train her.

Now... this was what he was worried about. He didn't want to fail her as a teacher or a parent.

And considering he didn't really have his own teacher growing up... he wasn't really sure how he'd be able to pull it off. He had no example to go by.

He smirked.

"I'll do the best I can."

He heard a knock at his door and knew who it was immediately. He slowly got up and walked over to the door, then opened it to see Melody standing there.

"Good morning!" She greeted cheerfully, which caught him off guard.

"Wow, she really must be happy about this."

Melody. then looked down to see the orange child still asleep. "She's still sleeping?" She asked.

"Who knows how long she was left in that rain? She was probably exhausted," He responded.

"Right..." She said uncomfortably.

"So..." He muttered, "You said you'd look for some things to help me. How'd that go?" 

"Err, well, I thought about it and decided that you didn't really need much. If you need any furniture, you could probably just use some crystals to make some, and you Champions don't need to eat, so..."

"Yeah. The Tree of Life sustains us," He said.

"Exactly. So, I only found one thing for you," She said.

"Which is?" He asked.

"This!" She said happily while handing him a book. 

He looked down and found that it was a guide on parenting.

"Oh?" He muttered in confusion.

"I don't think I need to explain why you might need this," She stated matter-of-factly, and he nodded slowly.

"Well... thanks, I guess. I appreciate it," He thanked.

"Happy to help," She said.

"Can you take her for a minute? I need to do something," He asked. She nodded, and he slowly gave the child to her.

"What exactly do you need to do?" She asked.

"Well, I'm gonna need to add a new room to my house. To do that I'll have to carve it out of this mountain," He answered., "It's a demanding job and I can't be holding an infant while I do it."

"Oh, okay," She responded.

He then turned around and fumbled around for the bag of power crystals he had stored. When he found it, he outstretched his hand and ten of them flew into his grasp. He then walked around the small abode, wondering where to begin.

When he made up his mind, he smirked.

"You might wanna step outside for a minute," He suggested.

She nodded slowly and did so, leaving him alone in the small house.

He then threw the crystals up in the air and thrust his arm toward the wall. The crystals then went into the wall and began rumbling and glowing brightly. The telltale sound of stone crumbling boomed through the house. Through the light, he could see the stone being pulverized. When it had created a large enough gap in the wall, he stepped into it and walked around, willing the crystals to carve out more of the stone as he saw fit. Not long after, there was a new, empty, medium-sized room in his humble abode right next to his bedroom.

With their energy spent, the crystals broke into shards that disappeared quickly.

"And that is how you do it," He muttered smugly to himself.

He then walked back out into the living room and shouted: "You can come back in now."

The door opened, and a flustered Melody came back in. He could see that Phota was now awaking, squirming and whining in his friend's arms.

"I think you woke her up," She said, "She doesn't seem to like me." She then saw the new room and raised an eyebrow. "You really did that all right now?" She asked.

"It's amazing what you can do when you're connected to the Tree," He said.

She tilted her head, then walked into the new room.

Azeon got another power crystal out and threw it forward. It drifted toward the back of the room and flashed a white light. When the light faded, there was some basic nursery furniture.

He then frowned and shook his head.

"I can't believe I'm actually doing this..." He muttered.

"I can," Melody countered, "You'll do just fine. I know it."

"I'll need all the help I can get," He grumbled.

"And you'll get it," She promised, "We'll all be here for you, so don't worry."

He nodded slowly, and he took the orange child back, finally calming her down.

Melody then grinned as a thought crossed her mind.

"We should go introduce her to the others!" She suggested gleefully.

"Uh... uhm…" He stuttered.

She then grabbed him by the hood and began dragging him out.

"Oh, come on! You can't just keep her a secret! Let's go," She demanded.

He sighed deeply, seeing no way out of this.

"Fine, but let go of my hood!"

 

Chapter Text

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.

She shrugged.

"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.

Isa sighed.

"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?"

"Of course."

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.

Lucas cracked.

"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.

 

Chapter Text

Not much happened for quite a while.

After a couple weeks, Lucas finally came out and apologized for what he did. Basically everyone forgave him... more or less, but Azeon refused to.

In his eyes, abandoning a child was something that no one should forgive, let alone a champion. Not only was it a horrible thing to do, it was an insult to him, Isa, and Percival.

He was content that he apologized, but... some things just couldn't be forgiven. Or forgotten.

Not much happened for quite a while after that... the years began to pass by.

As he said he would, Azeon raised Phota as his own daughter... with Melody's help. It was another thing that he felt he owed to her, he didn't trust himself to make any big decisions and constantly had to seek her out.

And as the time passed, he found himself growing very attached to her. He truly did love her like a daughter... he called her his little sunray. 

When she became old enough, he began to teach her all the things she'd need to know. Basic education, history, things like that.

However... as the time passed, Azeon's nightmares didn't.

He'd have one like every month. He couldn't remember most of them, but he remembered waking up after each one gasping for breath and with a very ominous feeling.

There was one that he could remember, though. One that stood out from the rest.

He found himself near the Tree of Life. All seemed as it should be, until...

The sky darkened around him. Dark pink storm clouds rolled in. A pink... illness spread across Paradise, corrupting everything in its path, including the citizens. The corrupted citizens became empowered and evil, and attacked him on sight. When the corruption reached the Tree of Life...

All hell broke loose.

A loud explosion rocked the earth. The land trembled. The mountains crumbled. The trees withered.

And after it all, a void appeared that swept across the land like wildfire, leaving Azeon and the tree floating in nothingness as the tree broke into three segments.

Two of the segments disappeared into the void, and another created a portal. It then shrunk down and entered it.

He entered the portal as well, then woke up.

Azeon wasn't a fool. He knew that they were created for a purpose. If there was no threat to Paradise then there'd be no reason for them to exist, and thus they wouldn't.

Furthermore, he found it odd that, knowing there was a mavelovent being in the land, there was no insight about it in his book. It did mention previous champions sealing away some evil entity, but it didn't say what it was.

It seemed like quite an important thing to leave out.

Because of this... and that disturbing dream... he decided on that day that he would attempt to find out about this unknown evil.

He started by re-reading through his selection of books. He found no mention of either the colour pink OR the supposed entity.

One day, he decided to bring Phota to the public library of Paradise. She was now seven years old, and she'd never seen it before. Also, it would allow him to continue his search.

After all, if he'd find anything, he'd find it there.

So, when it was time to head out, he knocked on the young girl's door and opened it. She was lying on the ground, happily playing with some dolls.

"Hi, dad!" She greeted happily.

He smirked.

"Can you put your toys away? We're going somewhere," He asked her.

"Okay," She said, and proceeded to do so. "But where are we going?" She asked.

"You'll see," He said, "But I'll really need you to try and be quiet when we get there. They don't like noise there."

"I'll try," She responded.

She had finished putting away her toys, so he smiled.

"Are you ready to go?" He asked.

"Yep!" She answered happily.

"Alrighty then," He said, then picked her up and flew out.

On the way there, Phota asked him: "When will you train me how to fly?"

"Soon, Sunray, soon," He answered, "You looking forward to it?"

"Yeah!" She shouted, "I wanna be able to fly like you! It'll be so fun!"

"Well, if you're so excited..." He muttered, "We'll start tomorrow."

"Yay!" She beamed.

They arrived at the library, and she hopped down to the ground.

"Where are we?" She asked.

"The public library," He answered, "Most, if not all, of the books in Paradise are kept here."

"What about your books?" She inquired.

"I got them from here. I'm allowed to keep them, as they have, like, a million copies of them," He explained.

She'd stopped paying attention and wandered toward the building.

He quickly caught up to her and stopped her.

"Before we go in," He said, "People will be trying to read and study in here. That's why I really need you to try to be quiet and sit still. Okay?"

"Okay then," She responded.

Satisfied, he nodded. They entered the building, and Phota was amazed by the amount of books she saw. It made her father's collection seem completely insignificant in comparison.

Azeon quickly got to work. He got a few children's books for Phota, as he had taught her how to read and write, then began combing through the library for anything about this supposed pink evil.

He searched, and searched, and searched, and searched... and found nothing.

Eventually, after a few hours had elapsed, Azeon gave up. He quickly got Phota, returned all the books he'd taken out to their rightful places, then left.

Later that day, Azeon sat in his chair, deep in thought.

"Not a single mention of this thing in the entire library... it's like it's been wiped from history."

He frowned.

"Why? Is it too horrific to mention? A being so demonic and evil that it should not be named? Or--"

A thought popped into his head.

"... Or are they trying to hide something?"

He decided that he'd ask Melody about it sometime.

But at the moment, he had more important things to deal with than chasing ghosts.

He promised he'd start training Phota tomorrow. It'd be smart for him to get a good night's sleep.

Chapter Text

The next day, Azeon kept his word. He brought Phota outside to begin training her.

"Okay..." He began, staring at the Tree of Life, "Flight is a very important tool in a Champion's belt. It's the first ability a Champion learns, and possibly the easiest one to master. Without flight, a Champion can't really do anything."

Phota nodded as she listened intently.

"When did you guys start flying?" She asked.

"Me and Isa both learned how to fly when we were five. Percival started when he was six," He answered, "A Champion often learns flight right when they need it, to fly from great harm. Now, I'd be a terrible parent if I let you get into danger, so that's probably why you haven't learned on your own yet. But, hey, that's why I'm here, I can help with that."

"So how exactly are you going to train me, then?" She asked.

"I have a few ideas," He responded.

"So... how do you fly?" She asked once again.

He put a hand to his chin, thinking about how to answer. It was a very good question. How do they fly?

"Well..." He said, "I... can't exactly explain how. Trying to tell you how we fly would be like trying to tell you how to walk. I just... tell myself to go there, and I do."

"So I should try to... think about flying?" She asked confusedly.

"Yes, that's a good way to start. Focus on trying to do it, then once you actually do it, and start doing it more and more, it'll become easier until you don't even really have to think about it anymore," He replied.

"Okay then," She said.

She looked up at the sky and stared at it for about a minute.

"...It's not working," She said.

"Well it's not gonna come to you instantly, Sunray," Azeon countered, "It came to us in times of great danger. When it was either fly or... well, you get it. So you'll really have to will yourself to do it."

She closed her eyes, held her breath, and focused as hard as she could.

… Nothing happened.

She gasped for breath.

"It's not working!" She shouted.

Azeon frowned. He knew the kid could focus when she wanted to. When something interested her, she'd be all over it. So it came as quite a surprise to him that it wasn't working.

But he wasn't done just yet.

He grinned.

"Patience, Phota," He said, "We have all day, and I have lots of things planned that should help with the process."

The day passed as they began to try Azeon's ideas.

They tried flying together, so she could get a feel for it. That didn't work.

They tried meditation, to increase her focus. Once again, that didn't work.

They kept trying more and more and more ideas throughout the day, with Azeon even throwing her up into the air and catching her repeatedly.

But nothing worked.

Azeon was completely stumped.

He stood in front of the Tree of Life, deep in thought about what to do next.

He sighed.

"So that's it. We've tried everything I could think of."

He sat down and rested his head on his arm.

"We tried everything... and she still can't fly. Like a featherless bird."

He shook his head and quietly groaned.

"I've failed her. I promised to raise her and I can't even teach her the most basic of our abilities."

He stood up and tilted his head.

"Well... not yet. She can still learn on her own, and there's all the time in the world for her. So I guess it's not too big of a deal."

"Let's go home. We did our best, we can try again later," He suggested.

He received no reply from the girl. It was odd to him, as she was normally very talkative.

"Is she upset...?"

"Are you alr--" He began as he turned around, but he stopped.

He was alone.

Phota had disappeared.

"Phota?" He called.

There was no answer.

But he wasn't terribly surprised.

She often liked to mess with him, by hiding from him or pranking him. Sometimes both.

"This isn't funny, Sunray. Stop hiding so we can go home," He said.

...

He heard no reply, nor did he see her emerge from any possible hiding place.

He assumed she was still hiding, and continued to shout for her to come out.

Yet nothing happened.

He began to hyperventilate, and he screamed her name as loud as he physically could, enough to even hurt his voice...

But no response came, save for the sloshing of the tides and the gentle rush of the wind.

 

 

Chapter Text

He had to find her.

There was no way he couldn't.

He flew high into the air and scanned the area around him, looking for anything orange.

He saw nothing. She must've gotten far away, although he was unsure exactly how.

At this point, she could've been anywhere.

Comparing the search for her to that of a needle in a haystack would've been an understatement.

He needed help. Desperately.

Fortunately, he knew who to go to, and he flew away, keeping an eye on the ground as he flew just in case he saw her.

He didn't.

After a few minutes, he found himself in a very large city with people walking to and fro.

Floralia, capital city of Paradise. It was the oldest city in Paradise as well as the largest, and it was also where most of his friends lived.

He navigated through the streets until he found himself at a small house. It was where Melody lived.

He landed and walked up to the door, then knocked on it.


The small girl ran, and ran, and ran.

She wasn't lost. She knew where she was going.

She ran, and ran, and ran for what felt like an eternity, until she had completely exhausted herself. But she'd made it to where she wanted to be.

She looked out at the amazing view around her. She could see off into the distance, but there wasn't much to see other than the cool sunset off in the distance.

She thought to herself about the day's events.

She'd failed. She was supposed to fly, yet she wasn't. And it was the easiest ability she was supposed to learn?!

If what her father said was correct, she should've been flying awhile ago. Yet she still wasn't.

She was a disappointment to her father and everyone else.

No. She came to this place for a reason.

She wouldn't let herself be a disappointment to her father.

Ever.


An hour had passed. Azeon told Melody the problem, and they gathered the rest of their friends. Even Lucas was brought along, although not by his own will.

Now, Azeon was searching through the forest with a few people that Lucas had amassed to search in his place.

The sun had completely set by this point, and it was getting difficult to see. Azeon was relying on a life crystal's glow to be able to do any searching at all.

He was beginning to lose hope.

He heard a woosh in the sky and turned around to see a flash of yellow and green land in front of him.

"We searched the sky for miles around here," Percival said,

"Anything?" Azeon asked hopefully.

"Some small footprints. About the size that it could be your kid," Isa stated blankly, "Thought we'd tell you, but don't get your hopes up."

"It's the only lead we have. Lead me to where you saw them, please," Azeon begged.

"You're lucky your kid is one of us," Isa grumbled, "Come on."

He followed the two other heroes until they came back down into the forest. There was a small marker that they saw, and right beside it were the footprints he'd heard about. They led off into the unknown.

"Thank you," He said, "I'm going to go follow this trail of footprints."

They nodded.

"Hope you find her!" Percival wished.

Azeon nodded and took off.

The footprints lasted awhile. The spacing of them made it seem like she was in a full-on sprint for ages.

It worried him. Why would she need to run so far and so fast, for so long?

With this anxiety, he flew faster.


After following the trail for like 15 minutes, it stopped.

He looked around him. 

He was at the opposite edge of the forest, at the base another set of small mountains. Other than the mountains, there wasn't really anything around. No place where anything or anyone could be hiding.

Unless...

He flew upward until he got to the top of the nearest mountain.

There was no one there.

He looked around him once again, and lost all hope. His only trail had ended.

He looked downward in guilt and despair, and he saw something orange out of the corner of his eye.

He looked over, and he saw her. All the way at the bottom, lying on the ground.

Something twisted in his gut.

"Oh... oh no..."

"PHOTA!" He screamed, and flew down toward her.

He landed next to her, and cringed.

He couldn't tell if she was even conscious. A spiderweb of cracks ran all across her body that was slowly and steadily increasing, and there were... shards of her... broken off. Lying on the ground beside her.

It was in this moment he made a horrific conclusion.

She'd fallen all the way from the top of the mountain.

It was amazing that she was even alive. A fall like that should've shattered her body completely. Left her as nothing but a lifeless pile of orange shards.

But it didn't. He had to save her.

He gently picked her up, and cradled her in his arms. She stirred with a weak groan.

"Dad...?" She whispered weakly.

"Don't worry. I'm here now. You're safe now," He said, forcing himself to stay calm, "Let's get you home."

She closed her eyes and weakly nuzzled into his arms.

As slowly and gracefully as he could, he raised into the air, and began to make the long journey home.

Once they got back, he could help her. He knew it.

They just needed to be strong. Both of them.

Chapter Text

After what seemed like 1000 years, they were finally home.

He didn't really know how to heal people, because he never had to, but he knew they'd help her somehow. They had to.

He ran back into her room, then held one life crystal in front of him.

With nothing else to do, he whispered a simple command to it:

"Save her."

The crystal glowed and flew from his grasp, stopping above the injured girl.

It began to spin around, then began to release an aura in her direction.

After a minute, it stopped. Its power depleted, it stopped glowing entirely then fell to the floor, breaking.

Azeon slowly walked over to her bedside, one thought on his mind.

"Did it work?"

He looked over at her. She was still injured, a network of cracks still spread across her body, but to his relief, they were beginning to heal... although very slowly.

Phota shifted with a groan. Seeing that she was awake, he sat down on the bed beside her and placed a hand on her shoulder.

He smiled warmly.

"Hey, Sunray," He spoke warmly, "How are you feeling?"

She looked at him, and the expression on her face broke his heart.

For the first time in her life, she looked... hopeless. Defeated. Broken.

"It... hurts," She cried weakly.

"Where?" He asked.

"Everywhere," She responded.

Phota was a strong girl. She never complained, she never cried, she dealt with whatever came her way and did it with a smile on her face.

She must've been in agony, and it tortured Azeon that there was nothing more he could do to help her.

They sat in silence, no sound but Phota weakly tossing and turning or occasionally groaning in pain to disturb it.

After some time, she took a deep, shaky breath.

"I'm a failure," She whispered.

Completely shocked, all Azeon could respond with was: "What?"

"This was all my fault," She said weakly, "I didn't want to disappoint you, so I ran off without telling you to try... falling from a high place. I thought it would work, and this happened... all I did was hurt myself and make you worry. I'm a failure, and I'm sorry."

He got up and kneeled down in front of her so they were face to face.

"Phota. Listen to me," He stated, "You are not a failure. You are not weak, you are not... 'disappointing'. We will get through this together. If it takes you awhile to fly, who cares? Some flowers bloom later than others."

He placed a hand on her shoulder again.

"You're strong, Sunray. When you set your mind to something, you don't stop until you achieve it," He said, "Not often is the path to success easy. Sometimes you wish you could do better. Sometimes you get hurt. That's just a part of life. But no matter what happens, I'll always be proud of you."

She was silent as she took her father's words in.

"So don't lose hope. We'll get there someday," He finished, "Okay?"

Finally, she began to smile again.

"Okay," She replied.

"There's that award-winning smile," He said with a grin, then got up and walked over to the door. "Get some rest. You'll need it," He told her, then turn off the lights and walked out of the room.

He sat down at his chair and grabbed his book, but was interrupted by a knock at the door.

He quickly got up and opened the door, and Melody was standing there, looking very confused and worried.

"Did you find her?" She asked.

Something snapped in his head. He'd completely forgotten to tell them that he'd found the little girl.

"Oh, right," He muttered, "I did find her, but... uh... I didn't really get a chance to tell you guys. She was... pretty badly hurt."

"Oh, no!" She shouted, "What happened?!"

"She was upset that she couldn't learn to fly so she took matters into her own hands and tried... well... she thought if she could fall from a great height that it would help her. It didn't," He answered sadly, "Come in."

She did so, and they proceeded to sit down on the sofa.

"Something she said has me worried, though," He said, "She basically said she didn't want to disappoint me. I would never think less of her because of something like this. Did I do something to make her think otherwise?"

He shook his head in exasperation and anger toward himself.

"And it's my own fault this happened anyway. I should've been watching her, but instead I got lost in my thoughts, and she almost died because of it. Some father I am," He spat.

She grabbed his hand and smiled at him, causing something strange to happen.

He faintly felt butterflies in his stomach.

"But you found her, didn't you?" She countered, "You lost her, then you didn't stop until you found her. Nobody's perfect." She then scratched her head and looked down at the ground. "Honestly, I'm just happy that she's safe now. You should be, too."

He shook his head.

"But she's hurt. She was injured, almost killed, and it could've been avoided. How can I be content knowing she's in pain? Especially when it didn't need to happen?" He asked desolately.

She was unsure of how to respond. He had a point. She was his daughter. No parent could or should be happy knowing their child is in pain.

If they were... well... they'd be a terrible parent.

"I guess you're right," She admitted, "But it's not your fault. Don't blame yourself for this. She felt it as important to go off and try on her own."

"You're making it sound like it's her fault," He grumbled.

She cringed.

"No-- I... didn't mean it that way," She said, "Look, she didn't know this would happen, you didn't know this would happen, nobody knew this would happen. So don't be mad at yourself over this. I think it was destined to happen anyway, as sad as that is."

He took a deep breath.

"I... guess so," He conceded, "I can always make sure it doesn't happen again."

Melody smiled warmly and grabbed his hand again. He felt his heart flutter.

"Exactly," She agreed.

He smiled timidly.

"You're a really good friend, Melody," He said, "You've helped me more times than I can remember, and in more ways than one. I don't know how I'd ever be able to repay you for everything."

She shrugged her shoulders.

"Well, I mean... that's what friends are for," She muttered dismissively, "There doesn't need to be any 'repayment'. I'm just trying to help."

"But that in itself deserves a reward. You've brought so much joy for all of us, I wish I could do the same for you," He stated.

She smiled warmly and hugged him.

"Oh, Az," She said, "You don't need to do anything to make me happy. Just keep being yourself."

He hugged her back.

He then said something without even thinking:

"I love you, Melody."

She was unfazed, but her smile grew wider.

"I love you too, Az," came her reply.

And it sparked a special feeling of joy inside of him that he had only felt once before, seven years ago.

 

Chapter Text

Azeon and Melody sat with eachother for hours, nothing but eachother to keep them company. No words were spoken, none were needed.

Unfortunately, Melody had to leave, so they wished each other a good night, and Azeon went to bed.

He was greeted with another nightmare.


He found himself floating in a void once again.

Suddenly, music began to play. He recognized it as chiptune.

And a pink spiked ball whizzed by his head.

He turned around and saw more coming his way. They were materializing out of thin air, to the beat of the song.

It was unlike anything he'd seen before.

He dodged the projectiles until a segment of the Tree of Life flew in front of him.

He grabbed it, causing a shockwave and a blast of light to temporarily blind him and shake the void.

When he could see again, the segment flew away. The beat developed, and pink bombs were occasionally launching from above and below, exploding into pink shrapnel to the beat.

He dodged the foray, confused and determined to find out what was going on.

After awhile, the segment flew into his reach again, and he grabbed it again.

The same reaction occurred, and the beat further developed, this time with a drum-like tune causing lasers to blast from above.

He was sensing a pattern that he didn't like.

But, being the determined Champion he was, he kept finding and grabbing the segment over and over and over.

Until eventually, the segment never appeared.

He looked around, and saw pink all around him. Slowly coming closer as he sensed the song reaching a crescendo.

And when it did, chaos broke loose.

Shrapnel, lasers, walls of spiked balls, everything was launched at him from every direction. He wasn't quite sure how he was able to dodge it all.

After enduring the barrage, the tempo slowed, the projectiles stopped coming, and the segment flew into his grasp.

He was blinded again, and found himself coming back to consciousness.


He woke up dazed and confused, finding it to be morning already.

"The hell kind of dream was that?"

He shook his head, annoyed.

"Ugh, whatever. I have bigger problems than whatever that was."

He got up and stretched, then meandered over to Phota's room and quietly entered.

She was sound asleep, and she was already beginning to look much better.

A lot of the cracks were gone, any shards of her that were missing before had healed, and she didn't seem to be in pain.

He finally relaxed. Finally, he could say that she would be fine.

He took a deep breath, sat down in his chair, and put a hand to his chin. Now that Phota's injuries were mostly gone, he had some thinking to do.

"That was a really strange dream. Not like the other ones I had. Yes, something pink tried to kill me in the dream. Everything bad is pink. But this time I didn't see anything ominous or foreboding. It felt more like... some twisted game."

He frowned.

"I really need to figure out what's going on with this. I've never heard of Champions having dreams like these before..."

He narrowed his eyes, a thought popping into his head.

"But that doesn't mean it's never happened before."

He leaned back as he had an idea.

"I wonder if any past Champions kept a journal or something. It'd be pretty surprising if not a single one ever had one. So, I could go back to the library and ask."

He grinned slightly.

"I mean, I didn't find anything while I was there, but they wouldn't just keep something like thatout in the open. Someone's out-of-control kid could come in and rip it apart then. No, a Champion's journal would be extremely valuable, so they'd probably keep it locked away in storage. But I'd probably be able to convince them to lend it to me."

His smile widened more. He was finally getting somewhere.

"I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner."

He was interrupted by a knock at the door.

"Come in," He invited.

The door opened, and in walked Melody.

She seemed very, very happy.

"Hiya, Az," She greeted.

"Something happen?" He asked, "You seem different today."

She did nothing but laugh.

"Oh, wait..." He muttered, putting it together.

He'd completely forgotten about last night. How they'd confessed their feelings to eachother.

"How's Phota?" She asked.

"She's healing rapidly. She'll probably be back to normal by tomorrow," He answered.

"Really? That soon?" She exclaimed, "That's amazing!"

He chuckled.

"It's a miracle," He replied. She nodded rapidly.

She then had a look of suddenly remembering something.

"Oh, by the way, I had an idea," She began, "I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner, but I realized that we don't really have a good way to communicate with each other. We always have to find each other to talk to each other. So, I have a little something for you!"

She walked up to him and put something in his hand.

He looked down at it and realized it was a flip-phone.

"Ohhh," He said, "That's a brilliant idea, Melody. If we ever want or need to talk we can just phone each other."

"Exactly," She responded happily, "No more long travels just to talk with each other."

He smiled. Now he could talk to his best friend--err… hm...

He could talk to her whenever he wanted.

"Is something wrong?" She asked.

"Huh?" He said.

"You look... off," She said, "Is... everything okay?"

"Oh, it's nothing," He muttered.

"Az..." She said, "You know that I know that isn't true."

He said nothing.

"Can we talk outside?" He asked.

She nodded.

They walked out the door, stepping out onto the mountainside.

"So, uh..." He began, "Last night... we... uh... said some things."

She nodded with a patient smile.

"I meant what I said, and I know you did too," He explained, "It's just... well. We're best friends. We always have been. It's kind of... strange, I guess.."

"I know what you mean," She reassured him, "We don't have to take things fast, Az. We can still just be friends for now, if it makes things easier for you."

He took a sigh of relief, and nodded.

"Alright," He said, then smiled warmly at her. "You're the best, Melody," He stated.

"You are, too, Az," She responded.

They sat at the mountainside for a few minutes, not saying anything. Just enjoying the view and each other's presence.

But then Azeon remembered something.

"Oh, uh, are you busy?" He asked.

"No, not at all," She answered, "Why?"

"I want to go to the library to look for a certain book but I don't want Phota to be alone, nor do I want to wake her. You've babysat her before, so could you maybe watch over her until I get back? Please?," He asked, "I won't be gone long."

"Of course!" She said.

"Thank you," He thanked her, "If she wakes up before I get back, just tell her I went off to do something and didn't want to wake her."

She nodded, and he flew off.

A few minutes later, he was at the public library, which seemed to have just opened maybe half an hour earlier.

He entered and looked around for the library's curator. He'd met the guy before, he was an old blue flower with a blue cloak commonly seen reading old history books and whatnot.

It didn't take him long to find him. He was sat at an old wooden desk reading an old, dusty book that Azeon didn't recognize.

He approached the curator, and he turned to him.

"Ah, the blue Champion," He greeted quietly, "I take it you're looking for a book?"

"Yeah. In fact, I was wondering if there were any journals written by previous Champions," He stated, "And if so, if you had them and if I could maybe read them."

"Well, I can assure you that if a book exists, we have it," The curator muttered, "And, yes, we do have something of that sort. There is one book I know of that would peak your interest: a journal written by the very first Champion."

Azeon grinned from ear to ear.

"That'd be perfect," He said.

"However..." The curator said, "I'm afraid I cannot lend it to you."

That put a dampener on Azeon's mood real quick.

"Curator, you know I'd be extremely careful with it," Azeon assured him, "Have I ever damaged a book you lended to me?"

"Of course not. I know you wouldn't damage it," The curator said, "But... it's a forbidden text. Nobody is ever allowed to read it, and nobody even knows why."

"Says who?" Azeon asked.

"It's been law for as long as this library has existed," The curator explained, "If I let you read it, we would both be judged very harshly."

Azeon snorted.

"They can't judge me," He grumbled, "I'm a Champion. It's not their place to judge my decisions. And if anyone gives you trouble, I'll defend you. But I need that book badly."

The curator sighed.

"Alright... follow me," The curator ordered as he closed his book and stood up.

Azeon followed the old flower through many hallways and passages until they came to a room labelled 'DO NOT ENTER'.

The curator fumbled around for a keychain, found the correct key, and opened the door.

Inside was a single, unlabelled book inside of a small frame. It was removed from its frame and passed to Azeon.

"Here you go," The curator said, "I don't know what business you've got with that bloody thing, or why it's so important, but I hope you find what you're looking for."

The curator then smiled.

"And remember, don't tell anybody," He said light-heartedly.

"Of course," Azeon responded, "Thanks, Curator."

The old librarian nodded, and Azeon quickly left and returned home.

When he got back, he saw Melody in the living room playing with dolls with Phota.

"I'm back," He said.

Phota got up and jumped him in a hug.

He chuckled and hugged her back.

"Well you're feeling a lot better, aren't you?" He stated.

She nodded rapidly.

"I'd better not see you jumping off any more cliffs," He warned jokingly, causing the little girl to giggle.

He set her down and looked at Melody.

"Did you get what you were looking for?" She asked.

"Yep," He responded, showing her the old journal.

"What's that?" She inquired.

"The first Champion's journal," He answered.

"Well, that's not something you see every day," She replied, "Out of curiosity, what do you need it for?"

He said.

Instead, he looked down and saw Phota sat on the ground, playing with dolls again.

"Phota, could you go play in your room for a minute, please?" He asked.

"Okay," She said, picking up her dolls and walking away.

Melody gave him a questioning look, causing him to sigh.

"It's a long story," He stated.

"A long story you don't want your own daughter hearing?" She countered questioningly.

"I have some things to explain. Things that might scare or worry her if she hears them," He answered seriously.

Melody adopted a look of very deep concern.

"Oh..." was all she could say.

"Let's start with the beginning," He muttered, "On the night I found Phota, something strange began to happen."

"What do you mean by 'strange'?" She asked

"Well, y'see..." He explained, "I began to have really weird nightmares like once a month."

She gave him a disapproving glare.

"Everyone gets nightmares, Az," She deadpanned.

He shook his head.

"You don't understand," He countered, "I don't think Champions are supposed to get nightmares. I never heard Isa or Percival say anything about nightmares, and before that night I never got them either. And I'm fairly certain Phota hasn't had any."

"Oh... I guess that makes sense, then," She said.

"Also, every nightmare I've had that I could remember was the same. Something pink tries to kill me or cause havoc. But I almost always end up waking up in a panic," He explained, "I didn't really worry about them until recently, because I had two nightmares that I can remember vividly, and one of them had me really concerned."

"What was it? Or do I even want to know?" She asked, concerned.

He quickly told her the events of the one dream, how a pink infection spread across Paradise and infected all of the people, turning them into hostile monsters. He also told her that when it reached the Tree of Life that it broke into its three segments as the world crumbled.

She was dumbfounded.

"Are you absolutely sure this isn't your mind playing tricks on you?" She asked, "But everything being pink... that's really weird. Especially considering there's not a speck of pink in Paradise."

"Exactly. That's what I'm hoping this book will answer. My books mention an evil entity being sealed away for eternity by four Champions, but it's so vague that for all practical purposes it might as well not even be there. There's also no mention of the colour pink anywhere," He rambled, "I even checked the library multiple times. Nothing. Quite something strange to leave out, huh? To put more emphasis on this, this book is forbidden to read by law. I had to convince the Curator that nothing bad would happen before he let me have it."

"That is extremely peculiar," She muttered.

"Exactly. And because of that, I'm positive this books contains answers to all of my questions. My nightmares, the lack of pink, the entity, everything," He finished with confidence.

She nodded slowly, then chuckled.

"I can see now why you didn't want Phota hearing this," She said light-heartedly, "It'd worry the poor girl to no end."

He laughed.

"I told you!" He exclaimed.

She then scratched her head.

"Well, I guess I should get going," She muttered.

"Alright, see you later," He replied, "But don't forget to say goodbye to Phota."

"Of course!" She said, walking toward the girl's room.

He picked up his book and faintly heard Phota and Melody talking, but he couldn't make out their words.

He took a deep breath and flipped to the first page of the journal.

Finally, it was time for answers.

Chapter Text

He began to read.

He read through about a quarter to a third of the book, and found out many things.

The first Champion's name was Termini. He was a navy blue square who wore a long robe. He also found out that all four of the first champions were the same shapes as the four current ones. Square, triangle, pentagon, circle.

So he assumed that it was the same for all generations of Champions.

He also found out that Spectre's best friend was the second champion, a golden triangle named Stella. He couldn't find out from the book what she wore.

All of this was interesting to Azeon, but it wasn't exactly what he was looking for.

He found no mentions of pink or nightmares in the book.

But then he read the next page.

"So, today, me and Stella went to Floralia. We'd heard something was going on there, and we wanted to check it out. When we got there, we talked to the flower leader. They said that supposedly there was a large group of red flowers picking fights with other, non-red flowers. He gave us a direction and we quickly found the troublemakers."

He stopped there.

"Red flowers...? There's not a blotch of red in all of Paradise!"

He kept reading.

"When we approached them, they didn't seem happy to see us. I didn't wanting to escalate things further than they already were, so I called out to them and asked them if there was a problem. One of them said that the other flowers were treating them like garbage so they were taking a stand against them. They all cheered."

"Well that's... interesting... I guess."

"Stella told them that coming to either of us would've been a better option than taking matters into their own hands, but they just laughed. I got annoyed and warned them that they'd have to stop what they were doing or that we'd have to get involved."

"That was possibly the worst thing I could've done."

Azeon raised an eyebrow.

"They all went berserk. What was originally a street fight ended up escalating into a riot. And to make things worse, a group of twenty ambushed us before we even had a chance to react. They had me completely pinned down. I tried my absolute hardest to escape, but there's no getting back up when there's ten people stacked on top of you."

He had a feeling where this was going.

"I heard Stella shouting at them to stand down, but nothing happened. She shouted that she didn't want to have to fight but that she would if she had to."

The rest of the sentence was indented into the paper, almost like the writer had put a lot of pressure on the paper with their pen.

"The next few minutes were the worst minutes of my life. They attacked her. I could see it out of the corner of my eye. She tried to fight back, but it was just too much."

"They knocked her unconscious, but... they didn't stop.... they didn't stop. They wanted her dead..."

Azeon felt a lump form in his throat.

"and they didn't stop until she was. I watched before my own eyes as she slowly broke into a million pieces."

"This... is beginning to concern me. I don't know if I should keep reading this... but I guess I don't have a choice."

"... You know, there's nothing quite like watching the person you care the most about die slowly and painfully, knowing there's not a single thing you could do about it. It instills such a special feeling in you that you, so special, in fact, that you would, never, ever, ever feel it otherwise: pure. Rage. And something happened. A new source of strength found itself in me, and I effortlessly threw them all off of me. And guess what?"

"And I vowed to kill every single one them. Then we'd be even."

"What the hell...?" Azeon muttered

"And guess what? I did what I said I would. I hunted them all down. I wanted them all gone. Some of them tried to fight, others tried to run, and others tried to hide. But it all failed. In the end, the other Champions came and tried to stop me, first with words. I didn't listen, so they tried to stop me by force. And if they didn't get in my way, I would've gotten all of them, but a child escaped into the forest while I was occupied. 'So be it,' I said. A single flower is insignificant. I'd killed the rest of them, so it didn't matter. I'd never see the colour red again."

Azeon snapped the book shut and put it down.

"Holy. Shit. What the absolute hell was that?"

He shook his head.

"So that's why the book is forbidden. Sweet Criminy! But what does it all mean? There were red flowers? And they were basically all wiped out because a group of them killed a Champion?"

A thought entered into his head, giving him a very bad feeling.

"One red flower lived..."

"... and pink is made with red."

He picked up the book again. He didn't want to, but he had to keep reading.

He picked up back where he left off and began reading with a sigh. He flipped to the next page and started reading.

"A week has passed. Looking back on... well... do I regret my actions? Do I feel like a monster for what I did? Well... yes and no. The idiots who fought us got what they deserved. But they didn't all deserve to die. I was just. So. Angry. I miss Stella. The world feels empty without her."

Azeon felt depressed just reading it.

"And... people look at me in fear now. The other two Champions look at me with disgust and hatred. Like a monster. Honestly, I can't blame them. I'm afraid of myself."

"You should be."

"There's no fixing what happened. No changing the past. This will forever be a part of our history, never to be forgotten, never to be erased. And it didn't even need to happen in the first place."

"Yet it was erased anyway, and I can see why."

With nothing left to see for this day, Azeon flipped the page and kept reading.

He read for hours. He got to the end of the book without anything special happened.

Until...

"I woke up tonight in a blind panic. I didn't even know why at first, there was nothing happening. I took some time to think and realized I had... a nightmare. It was full of... pink. But... why? I've never had a nightmare before this!"

Azeon's heart skipped a beat reading that.

Determined, he kept reading more.

Spectre kept having more and more nightmares, just like Azeon was now.

Unlike, Azeon, though, he never really remembered any of them.

But eventually, he made it to the end of the book. The last entry was... poorly written.

"Today will mark the final entry to this journal, as I will no longer be around to keep updating it. I lay on my death bed as I write this."

"What happened?"

"Today seemed just like any other day. Ironically, I didn't have a nightmare last night, so I thought today was going to be a great day. I couldn't have been more wrong."

Azeon cringed.

"A pink monstrosity attacked Paradise. It spread a pink... disease throughout the land as it went, and it either corrupted or killed everything in it's path in a blind rage. I confronted it, and I thought it couldn't get any more angry, but when it saw me... it was possibly angrier than I was that one day ages ago."

"Is this going where I think it's going...?"

"I asked it why it was attacking Paradise. It roared that I killed everyone it knew and loved, and that nobody ever did anything about it, so it was taking revenge. It then shouted a variety of... horrific threats toward me."

"Yep... it is. This isn't going to end well."

"I asked it if that if I died, if it would stop its assault. Unfortunately, it said that it wouldn't stop until all of Paradise was under its control as a withered pink ruin. So, I had no choice but to fight it. The other Champions joined me in the battle. It was far stronger than we were expecting, it was like it was specifically designed to kill us. Merely touching anything pink was agony. Thankfully, we were almost able to kill it and we purged it of its pink, but... I'm not going to survive the injuries I've sustained from doing so. I've tried healing myself multiple times with a life crystal, but I'm just too weak. The other Champions are too drained to help either, and I doubt they'd want to help me of all people."

There was one sentence left.

"I can feel Death's approach as I write, drawing nearer and nearer. It's time. I will finally face the consequences of my actio--"

The last word was left unfinished.

Azeon closed the book and placed it down.

"A red flower turned into a pink beast that killed at least one Champion. And it's hellbent on destroying Paradise. It's sealed away and powerless, but then why am I getting nightmares now? What does it mean? Is this going to happen again?! Has it attacked multiple times in the past?!"

He shook his head.

"Nonononono, that can't be. If it is somehow still alive, I'll have to track it down and destroy it once and for all. Simple as that. I'm stronger than they were. It'd be easy."

He then took a deep breath.

"Or maybe I can try to talk some sense into it instead. It'd at least be worth trying. But I don't have to worry about that right now. I should just tell the others and try to train Phota again before trying anything. Just in case."

He grinned.

"But the good thing is... my questions are finally answered. No more uncertainties. I have a foolproof plan, I'll either kill it or pacify it."

His grin widened.

"There's absolutely nothing that can go wrong!"

Chapter Text

A couple weeks passed.

Azeon found himself getting more strange 'nightmares', and they happened awfully often. There were three more in a row where he went through portals and faced gauntlets to rescue a piece of the Tree of Life. It was annoying, and he didn't understand why it was happening, but he made it through each gauntlet with ease, not getting hit at all. 

He knew now that touching the pink projectiles would hurt a lot, even in a dreamscape.

The gauntlets he went through had names. First, he went through Chronos, then Milkyways, and lastly Logic Gatekeeper. He wasn't sure if they were named after the songs they used or what, it was odd that he could get a name for them anyway and that he could hear music blaring so loudly. Normally, the natural music was so quiet that most people couldn't even hear it.

But anyway, after he completed the Logic Gatekeeper gauntlet, he found something else happening in his dreamscape.

The pieces he found in dreams past unlocked a way to a pink portal, which he entered.

He found himself in a small, somewhat rectangular cave with pink mushrooms growing out the walls and no exit. There was also small trickles of pink magma flowing along the walls.

Nothing happened for awhile. No music began to play, nothing attacked him, nothing.

"Well, well, well," A deep, monstrous voice muttered. 

Azeon looked around, but saw no source of the strange voice.

"I'll admit, I'm mildly impressed. You made it through my levels with ease. You didn't even so much as flinch, nor did you even get hit," It said, "It's actually quite a surprise."

Azeon narrowed his eyes.

"These nightmares aren't natural, are they?" He hissed, "You're manipulating my mind to try and throw me off and make me stress so that I can't do my job as efficiently. Aren't you?"

The voice chuckled.

"You're smarter than you look, kid. I think I should finally introduce myself," It stated.

A beat began to play, and a pink, circular, horned, and one-eyed entity appeared in the center of the cave and began lobbing spiked balls from its horns, changing direction to try to confuse him.

He dodged them all with ease, even as it launched large volleys of spiked balls at him.

Eventually, it stopped shooting and instead began to absorb spiked balls, which began to make it grow. 

Eventually, once all the spiked balls were absorbed, the being grew an angry face, snarled, and sprouted two arms. The beat suddenly stopped.

"So that's what you look like," Azeon grumbled, "Honestly, I was expecting the monster that killed the first Champion to be bigger. And uglier."

It smirked evilly.

"So you know who I am, do you?" It asked, "Then you should know that you'll never beat me. I am Anniil, your worst nightmare! I will destroy everything that cannot be made pink, including you!"

Azeon snorted, which caused it to frown.

"Confident, are you? You can't even fight!" It spat.

Azeon was unfazed.

"You know what? If you're gonna be so annoyingly smug, then you shouldn't mind making a bet. If you beat me, I'll leave you alone. No more nightmares. But If I beat you, you have to do EXACTLY what I say," It stated.

"Sounds good to me," Azeon replied confidently.

The beast, Anniil, grinned evilly.

"Oh, you're gonna regret your arrogance," It cackled, "You'd best prepare for live as a servant."

"We'll see about that," Azeon countered.

He dashed toward the monster and dropkicked it, colliding with it like a bullet and sending it flying.

Anniil was knocked back far, but caught itself and growled angrily.

"Let's make this quick," It snarled.

The music kicked up again, and it began to punch the ground angrily, sending pink debris flying everywhere.

Azeon flew to the ceiling to avoid the debris, and Anniil then grabbed onto the ground and began to nod to the beat as lasers began to blast from the walls.

Azeon wasn't expecting this and a laser slammed directly into his side.

An agonizing pain exploded through his whole body, causing him to scream.

He looked down to where he was hit and saw pink cracks all across his body, especially near where he was hit. The pink vanished, but it still felt like he was hit by a bus and doused in acid.

Anniil laughed.

Azeon looked over at the beast and saw it pointing one of its gigantic arms at him.

Expecting some sort of blast, he dashed out of the way, but was surprised when he saw the monster detach its WHOLE ARM and launch it at him like a missile.

The arm burrowed into the walls, releasing multiple shockwaves, and Azeon couldn't see it anymore.

Anniil began to swing its arm around in circles, attempting to swat at Azeon. Azeon retreated to a corner of the cave and stayed there, watching as the detached arm flew around the room randomly.

After awhile, Anniil adopted a bored look, then suddenly regrew its arm, and began swinging them both around.

He felt a sudden urge to move and dashed out of the way before the arm could come down on top of him, then dashed again before the monster could whack him with its remaining arm.

He had an idea. He couldn't attack it again directly, but what if...?

He flew directly in front of the beast, and heard rock crumbling behind him.

Bingo.

He dashed out of the way, and the detached arm slammed right into Anniil, causing it to shout out in pain.

"Who's laughing now?" Azeon taunted.

"Don't get cocky, kid!" It snarled.

It suddenly sprouted two more arms, giving it a whopping total of four, then began to spin all four of then around rapidly in a cartwheel of pink death.

Somehow, the detached arm survived its collision and still kept flying around, so Azeon once again retreated to a corner.

Suddenly, everything toned down.

Anniil returned to its simple form, shooting spiked balls at Azeon once again.

Azeon was suspicious of this and kept his distance. The music began to kick up, until Anniil once again adopted its perpetually angry face and stared at him.

"Are you ready for THIS?"

It suddenly grew two times as big and moved to the top of the cave, then began spinning horizontally and blasting lasers rapidly from its mouth as it descended quickly. Azeon took no chances and dashed upward.

Anniil then flew up andgrew an arm, then launched it at him while he wasn't looking, but he dashed away just in the nick of time.

It floated to the top of the cave again, then blasted a huge beam of pink light that swept from left to right across the cave, forcing Azeon to dash through it.

Anniil wasn't done yet, though. It then blasted lasers all the way down again, this time much faster, but Azeon dashed through it again.

When it reached the bottom, it shot out a bunch of lasers in every direction, but they all missed.

Both Azeon and Anniil were tiring greatly.

"Just die already!" It hissed.

It repeated its barrage, this time faster, leaving Azeon little room to dodge.

But he dodged it all again, and shot Anniil a cocky smirk.

"DIE!" It roared, then grew all four of its arms and threw all of them outward in a rotation, a last ditch effort to gain the upper hand.

But it lost control, and the detached limbs came back down and smashed into it from all sides, killing it.

However, before it disappeared, it managed to mutter out one last message:

"You'll regret this."

Azeon took a deep breath.

"Don't play with lightning if you aren't ready to get shocked," He said confidently, grabbing a life piece that flew toward him.

The cave began to crumble, and a blinding light filled in, causing him to shield his eyes.

He woke up once again, this time with a smirk.

He took a deep breath, then checked the time. It was near midnight. Far too early to get up.

"It's over. I can finally sleep in peace. No more nightmares, provided that damn thing keeps its promise."

He shook his head.

"Nah, it will. Unless it wants to get decimated again."

So, with that thought, he grinned, turned over, and closed his eyes, soon falling back into unconsciousness.


He didn't get much sleep, as he was awoken later that night by Phota calling for him.

Groggily and slowly, he came into consciousness and got up with a sigh.

"What could she possibly need at this time of the night?" He asked himself.

He saw her sat up in her bed... but she looked... afraid.

"Did something happen?" He asked.

"I... had a dream... a-a bad one," She said shakily.

He frowned deeply.

"That's some weird timing."

"What do you mean by a bad dream?" He asked.

"A-a monster chased me... I woke up when it attacked me," She cried.

A lump formed in Azeon's throat.

He had a very bad thought, but pushed it down before he could finish it.

"I'm... sure it was just a dream," He muttered, then walked up to her bed and sat down next to her. "You're young, and you've got a very imaginative mind. It's not that surprising that you'd see some things when you're sleeping, as that's when your mind is the most active."

She gave him an look of uncertainty, to which he responded with a warm smile and placing his hand on her shoulder.

"Go back to sleep," He told her, "Nothing will hurt you, not with me around. Okay?"

She took a deep breath and seemed to calm down.

"Okay," She replied.

He smiled and kissed her on the forehead.

"Good night," He said as he got up and walked to the door.

"... Wait," She muttered, "I... have a question."

"And I have an answer," He said, "Ask away."

"Um... why is there nothing... pink?"

Chapter Text

Azeon froze.

"... What?" He said.

"I... didn't realize it before, but... there's nothing pink anywhere. No pink flowers, or trees, or people, why?" She asked.

"... Why do you ask?" He countered, failing to keep the anxiety out of his voice.

The young girl scratched her head uncomfortably.

"In the dream... a giant monster chased me," She said, "And it was... pink. Why? And why are you... scared?"

He stopped and groaned quietly.

"That bastard! I should've known he was planning something!"

He shook his head and sighed.

"Well, I guess it's time I finally told her this stuff. Even if it scares her, she needs to know what is happening. If I kept it from her, it'd just be a straight up lie. I'd never lie to her."

"Do you remember the history lessons I gave you?" He asked.

"Yeah," She said.

"Tell me what you remember," He muttered,

"Before the Tree of Life, Paradise was nothing, just a black, empty landscape. No music, no objects, no people, no colours, nothing. But then, somehow, some thing came and sprouted into a magical tree that turned Paradise into what it is today, and allowed life to thrive," She narrated, "And after everything was created, the tree created four beings to watch over the land and help life thrive even more; us."

"Very good," He applauded, "But... there's a little bit more."

"Huh?" She muttered.

"In these lands, there lives a very dangerous monster bent on revenge and destruction. It wants to turn everything pink and destroy what he can't corrupt. I believe he's attacked Paradise multiple times before, but I could only barely find a mention of the first attack," He explained, "The first Champions defeated it... but... it's still out there. Slowly regaining its power for another attack."

"A-and what does this have to do with my nightmare?" She asked worriedly.

A lump formed in his throat. How was he supposed to say this?

He sighed.

"Before he attacked for the first time, the first Champion made notes that he'd been getting nightmares. Pink nightmares. Unlike anything else he, or anyone for that matter, had ever had before," He explained sadly, "Before, it was giving me nightmares, but I guess it decided to bother someone else after I beat it up in a dream."

"So there's going to be an attack?!" She shouted, "Is it going to go after me?!"

He shook his head.

"I have a plan," He stated, "If we don't do anything, an attack will come, yes. But... it's still not at full power, and taking a beating in the dream world might've weakened it. Maybe. I also know its story, so... I'm going to find where it's hiding. Then I'll try to talk to it and convince it to join us. If that doesn't work, well, I'll destroy it, once and for all."

"Are you sure that will work?" She asked worriedly.

He knelt down in front of her and smiled.

"As sure as I am that you will fly," He cooed, "Now go back to sleep."

"B-but what if I get a nightmare again?" She stammered.

He frowned. It was a fair concern.

"How about this: I'll stay and watch over you. If it seems like you're getting a nightmare, I'll wake you up," He suggested.

"Really?" She asked hopefully.

"Of course," He replied, "Anything for my little Sunray."

She smiled warmly.

"Okay," She said, "Thanks, dad."

He nodded.

"Good night," He wished her, and she closed her eyes.

As he promised, he watched over her as she slept to make sure she didn't have another nightmare. Fortunately, she didn't, and he fell asleep as well.

When he woke up in the morning, he found her still sound asleep, but eager to uphold his promise, he waited for her to wake up.

Until he heard a knock at the door.

Curious who'd be there to bother him at such an early time, he got up and opened the door, revealing a very worried Melody.

"Is... something wrong?" He asked.

"Yes..." She responded worriedly, "People are spreading rumours about a cave. They say they've heard... horrifying sounds coming from deep inside, and people have went in to investigate and haven't returned."

"You sure they're not just busy? Maybe it's an irritated animal and they're trying to lead it elsewhere," He suggested.

"They described the sound as... something an animal wouldn't make. It sounded almost... like a person, yet still like a monster," She explained anxiously, "I would've phoned you, but... I thought it would've been better to talk face-to-face."

"... Did it say anything?" He asked.

"I think I heard someone say that it talked about pink," She answered.

A look of horror crept onto his face.

"O-oh," He stammered, adopting a dead serious look, "Where are Isa and Percival? We need to find them and get to this cave IMMEDIATELY."

"They went away yesterday, I don't know where they are," She whispered.

He clutched his head and growled.

"Of course they did!" He hissed.

"... Az?" She asked, "What is this all about?"

He shook his head.

"A person-like voice... pink... living in a cave, it's a beast that has killed Champions... or at least a Champion," He said, "If it's not defeated... it will devastate this world. Just as it has come close to doing in the past."

He heard footsteps behind him.

"Dad?"

He turned around to see a sleepy and confused Phota standing there.

"What's happening?" She asked.

"I have to go somewhere," He responded, "It's... very important."

"Is it what I think it is?" She asked worriedly.

"... Yes," He responded.

"Can I come with you?" She begged, "Please?"

"Well, I can't exactly leave you home alone," He thought aloud, "Alright. But you will sit and wait like a good girl when we get there. Got it?"

She nodded.

"Good," He said, grabbing a couple life crystals for the upcoming conflict, "Now Melody, lead the way."

She nodded, and they ran off.

She led to and past the Tree of Life, down through the plains, through a small section of woods, and through a river.

In the river, they were stopped on a small rock that split said river into two, by a worried green flower.

"Are you here for that cave?" They asked in a feminine voice.

"Yes," Azeon said, catching his breath, "Can you tell us anything about it?"

"I was sitting here by the river when I felt a rumble through the earth. It was like a really short earthquake," The flower explained, "I then heard a... horrible voice roaring and yelling from the cave over there, and when I peeked inside, I felt like I was being stared back at, and not in a nice way."

"And what happened next?" He asked.

"It said that it was going to gladly turn me pink, for whatever twisted reason, and then I ran to get help. A couple of my friends went in there to check it out... and they haven't come back," The flower sobbed, "They could be dead!"

"I... don't think so," Azeon said awkwardly, "I bet they're fine, or they will be once I'm done. I'll get to the bottom of this."

"Thank you, Champion," The flower said.

Azeon, Melody, and Phota then crossed the remainder of the river and stopped at the entrance to the small cave.

Azeon sighed and turned to Phota.

"Stay here," He ordered, "If something happens, just shout."

"Will you be okay?" She asked sadly.

He put a hand on her shoulder and smiled warmly.

"Of course I will, Sunray," He reassured her.

The little girl took a deep breath and nodded.

Azeon then turned back to the cave and stopped when he saw Melody smiling warmly at him.

"What?" He asked.

"Nothing," She replied, "It's just heartwarming watching you two interact. She's lucky to have you as a father."

"I'm lucky to have her as a daughter," He replied, "Well... let's go."

They walked inside.

"Stay behind me," Azeon directed.

The cave was dim and dark, illuminated barely by some blue mushrooms growing out of the walls, ceiling, and floor.

Azeon brought out a life crystal for illumination, but strangely it hardly shone brighter than the mushrooms.

They advanced with caution.

After a couple minutes of spelunking without discovering anything, they made it into a larger chamber, a dead end.

In the center of the chamber, a gray, colourless flower lay, eyes and mouth closed, hardly moving except for an occasional twitch.

Azeon cringed.

"I didn't know it could do this," He muttered, "A tiny bit of healing from a life crystal would probably fix them up. And the thing isn't here, so... I guess it's over."

He levitated the crystal closer to the flower, then stopped.

"Wait--"

The flower suddenly jerked, causing it to stab itself with the life crystal.

To Azeon's horror, hot pink blood oozed from the wound, and the flower seemed to absorb the life crystal's power.

A dark, evil grin crept onto the plant's face.

"Az?" Melody asked.

"It's... over?" The 'flower' mocked with a warped voice.

Suddenly, it began to grow and gradually glow white as its face began to glitch.

"Oh... it's only just begun."

Suddenly, the plant turned into a familiar, giant pink arm as a certain song began to play faintly.

A loud BOOM shook the cave as Anniil, fresh and anew, blasted out of the floor, launching rocks and mushrooms everywhere.

Melody screamed, and Azeon fell to the floor in panic.

"Thanks for the powerup, DUMBASS!" It roared.

Azeon stared in pure horror.

"WHAT HAVE I DONE?!"

Chapter Text

Anniil reared its arm then lunged it at Azeon, who was barely able to roll backward in time. The punch smashed into the floor where he was, crumbling some stone into dust.

It then reeled back to attack again, but he wasn't looking at Azeon.

Azeon tackled Melody to the ground, saving her life, then quickly got up, grabbed her by the hand, and bolted out of the cave.

It was stronger than it ever had been before, he knew that. Him alone wouldn't stand a chance. 

He ran as fast as he could, dodging attack after attack from the menace until he tripped and received a punch to the gut, sending them both flying out of the cave.

Phota saw this and immediately panicked.

"What's happening?!" She shouted.

Azeon ran over and grabbed Phota by the hand, then continued running again, hopping across the river.

"Run as much as you want! You won't get far!" Anniil boomed.

The flower from earlier was still there, panicking as well.

"Time to make this place a little better," Anniil taunted, then slammed the ground.

The sky darkened. The water turned pink. Pink meteors fell from the sky.

It then pounced on the nearby flower, punching it repeatedly.

Azeon attempted to fight the beast back by harnessing a life crystal's power to shoot a small laser at it.

It was completely deflected, and Anniil countered with a laser of his own, which the three were barely able to dodge.

"I can't fight this thing alone," Azeon said, flying the two over to the mainland, "Melody, you need to find Isa and Percival NOW."

"I-I'll try," She said, then ran off.

"W-what about me?" Phota asked.

"You just need to stay out of harm's way," He ordered.

"But I want to help!" She pouted.

He sighed.

"I'm sorry, but you're not ready for that. All that matters is that you stay safe. Please, go find a safe place to hide," He begged.

She looked down sadly, then nodded before running off herself.

He looked around to see that Anniil was making a beeline for the Tree of Life.

"Oh, shit,"

He zoomed into the air and chased after the beast. He had to make it there first, he could set up some sort of forcefield or something.

But Anniil was really close. Azeon wasn't.

Without a single thought, Azeon flew forward as fast as he physically could, creating a sonic boom.


Anniil flew toward the Tree of Life with a look of rage and determination.

"Finally, after so long, I can fulfill my purpose. Turning everything a nice shade of red... or at least pink, which is just light red."

Its eye narrowed.

"I honestly wasn't expecting a single life crystal to give me that much power. I wonder how powerful I'll be once I have the source under my control, heh. I'll crush those pathetic Champions like the murderous scum they are. And they're hailed as heroes? Do they not know the havoc they caused for the people they were MADE TO PROTECT?!"

It shook its head.

"Whatever. It's just a little bit longer before I don't have to worry about that anymore. I'll rule over Paradise like a king, or a boss. All of my subjects will love me, whether they want to or not. I'll have a nice crown, and a guitar fit for someone like myself, so I can show everyone just how badass I am."

His thoughts were interrupted when he saw a flash of cyan zoom by him and plow into the Tree of Life.

"What?!" It yelled, "That kid again, what the hell is he doing?"

He was gone.

Instead, the Tree of Life was beginning to glow brighter.

Anniil settled in front of the tree and had to shield its eye against the radiance.

"... What did that jackass do?" It grumbled.

Suddenly, a flash of blue was shot out of the top of the tree, accompanied by countless life crystals.


Azeon, after being spouted from the tree and feeling more power than he felt he ever should feel, floated down to block Anniil's access to the tree. The life crystals had assembled into halos spinning around his hands and feet, and his eyes were glowing white.

He stared at the beast, who stared back.

"You think that you can just... come in here and wreak havoc? Kill and terrify people, infect the world with your... disease, and even attack the Tree of Life, and that nobody will have anything to say about that?" He boomed, his voice magnitudes more powerful.

"Nah, I just don't think any of you will stand a chance," Anniil retorted.

"I am one of the four guardians created solely to protect this land. I am linked to power you could not even BEGIN to imagine," Azeon shouted with confidence.

Anniil did nothing but snort.

Azeon began to shake with rage and clenched his fists.

"Who do you think you are? You think you're some sort of supervillain? 'The Pink Death'?" He spat, "You are nothing but a broken husk with power you can't even understand, terrorizing innocent people because you just can't get over the past. I wanted to make peace with you, but no more. You are not worth saving. So..."

Anniil looked bored.

"I won't let you terrorize Paradise... EVER AGAIN!"

His hand suddenly became surrounded by white fire, and he threw it as a giant fireball against the monster. 

Anniil's eye widened and it threw up an arm to block the attack. The fireball exploded into a brilliant white explosion, and knocking Anniil far away as it howled in intense pain.

Azeon smirked at seeing his attack actually hurt the beast. 

Anniil got up feeling pure, intense rage.

"You little shit!" It shouted, then blasted a laser from its eye at him. He threw up his arms defensively and the life crystals formed into a shield in front of him, reflecting the beam into the sky.

Azeon was pushed back with a grunt as he struggled to maintain the shield, then threw out a life crystal and made it shoot a laser of its own at the beast. It was enough to distract it and make it stop, which Azeon took as an opportunity to fly up and dropkick it into the ground.

It quickly got up and swatted at him with its arm. If it could get close, then it'd be able to overpower him with its raw strength alone.

Or... so it thought.

Azeon blocked Anniil's arm with his own, completely stopping its attack. It tried to attack him with its other arm, but it was blocked as well.

Azeon smirked.

"It's not gonna be that simple," He taunted, then blasted it with a giant laser of his own.

It was launched so far back that it landed deep in the forest, which was beginning to wither slowly.

Azeon followed it, and saw that where it had landed, there were many trees bowled over in a line, and the ground was moved out of the way.

It seemed like it was tiring.

Until its eye locked on something.

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" It cackled as it reached into the trees.

Azeon heard a shrill scream that made him go cold.

Anniil flew into the air, and Azeon saw a tint of orange floating in the air behind it, tied with pink strings.

He froze solid.

It had Phota. In its grasp.

"A little girl, is it? And it just so happens to be one of the four Champions! Huh! Fancy that!" It taunted, "What a pathetic excuse of a Champion... can't even fly. Pfft."

"No, nononononono…" Azeon muttered. He silenced his growing fear and stared cruelly at Anniil. "Let her go. NOW."

It smirked evilly.

"Oh, what's the matter? Lost all your hot air?" It cackled, "This little brat wouldn't happen to be someone IMPORTANT to you, would she?"

Azeon began to shake.

"Ohhh, she IS! Perhaps you even consider her as FAMILY!" It mocked, "That'll just make crushing her into powder all the more satisfying!"

Azeon clenched his fists and pointed at Anniil.

"I will only say this once more," He warned, "LET HER GO!"

It grinned maliciously.

"You want me to let her go?" It asked cruelly, "Well, you asked for it!"

It grabbed her with one of its giant arms, then turned around and winded up its arm, throwing the poor girl into the sky as she screamed.

Azeon didn't think. He just acted.

He flew after Phota as if upon instinct, because it was.

He managed to catch her high in the sky, although he had no idea where. He also knew his power was gone. But he didn't care anymore.

He quickly broke the pink strings digging into her body and hugged her close.

She opened her mouth to speak.

"Shh, don't say anything. You're safe now. The monster isn't here anymore," Azeon cooed.

"But... what about the Tree?" She asked.

He just patted her on the back slowly.

"You're safe now. That's all that matters."

Chapter Text

The young girl sat atop her father's back as he floated down to the ground. This time, he was making sure she was far away. He dropped her off at an island off the coast and told her that he'd come get her once it was all over.

She understood and promptly took shelter beneath a small, withering tree, and Azeon flew back to confront the pink menace once again.

When he got back to where the Tree of Life was...

The scene was not uplifting.

Anniil had uprooted the Tree of Life and had it in it's grasp. The ground beneath it had been completely turned pink as well.

It noticed him and smirked.

"Back again so soon? You really have a death wish, don't you..." It muttered.

"A job is a job," He responded calmly, "I plan on fulfilling mine."

"Well, you're definitely welcome to try!" It laughed, "I bet not even you know what true power this thing contains."

"Well... you're not wrong," He responded.

"Hmm, I know," He said, "I'll show you the power of the Tree of Life, firsthand! What do you think, eh?"

Azeon smirked.

"Sure," He taunted.

"Then let's get this started. Game Over for you, Champion," It said.

Music began to play. The Tree of Life began to slowly flash pink and shoot lasers, as well as launch a variety of spiked orbs in every direction. Azeon distanced himself and flew out of the way of anything that came near him.

It occurred to Azeon that it was being corrupted. He knew he had to stop it... but he wasn't quite sure how. If he got too close, he'd be shredded.

"I've saved a special surprise for you!"

Before Azeon could ask what, the beast implanted the Tree of Life forcefully into the ground, causing a large pink shockwave to resonate from it.

Then, to Azeon's disgust and anger, it began to punch the sacred tree into the ground, with no respect to what it was.

"How DARE you treat the Tree of Life like this?! You wouldn't exist if it didn't!" He screamed.

It seemed to ignore him and continued to punch it.

Azeon pulled out a life crystal, only to realize he pulled out one. He was about to attack with it's power... but saw that what power it had left was already being used on him... for some reason. He thought about a physical attack, but one look realized that all it would do is annoy the beast. It was far stronger than it was in his dream world.

What little ideas had left would be futile.

The situation suddenly seemed very grim indeed.

The Tree of Life was fully implanted into the pink ground, and Anniil stopped.

"There, you can get your precious tree back. But it might be a bit more... dangerous than you remember!" It cackled, then flew away into the sky.

Azeon turned back to the Tree to see it fly out of the ground glowing a sickly shade of pink.

Any remnants of hope that he had left were crushed.

But he wouldn't stop now. He couldn't. He caused this mess, he would fix it. Somehow. Or die trying.

The Tree then began to... construct a tower...?

It slowly dropped floor after floor of a pink tower, until it sped up and began shooting lasers and spikes as it built higher and higher. Azeon was forced to fly up with it or be sliced to ribbons by the spikes.

And in the chaos, a laser struck him right in the chest.

It struck him with an unholy rage unlike anything he... or anyone else... had ever felt before, like being struck down by an angry god.

He looked down to see pulses of pink fissures stretching all over his body.

He was half surprised he wasn't dead.

He pushed through the pain and flew atop the tower.

A pink forcefield encompassed the top of the tower. He was trapped. He then looked ahead of him.

The Tree of Life had split into three segments, and were beginning to spew corrupted life crystals from their corners, which he was very mindful to avoid.

"Still alive? You won't be for long."

Anniil flew down and grabbed one of the segments, then held it over its mouth.

As if Azeon's situation couldn't get any worse.

Countless numbers of pink life crystals flooded into its mouth. Its eye shot wide open and began to glow pink. Its arms disappeared, yet the segment continued to rain crystals into its mouth. Multiple horns sprouted from around its circular body. Its eye split into two.

It began to shake and glow white, turning the sky pink as the music finally reached a drop.

Its mouth changed into a giant toothy grin, then it began to bop to the music, then dropped to the top of the tower and grew four arms, doing some weird dance as meteors rained from the sky. Azeon dodged them, although not as elegantly as usual as he was still impaired by his injury.

It then slammed into the wall and formed its arms into a roll cage, then bounced around until it jumped into a pipe, crashing down atop the tower with a shockwave. It was just Azeon's luck that he didn't get hit.

It then shot one of its arms out and morphed into a strange figure, then ate its own arm with a weird sound effect and releasing another shockwave.

It repeated this pattern, but Azeon dodged it all.

A life crystal fell from the sky, that Anniil ate and grew in size, with an... oddly familiar powering up sound playing as it did so.

"You can't beat me, I'm stronger than you could even imagine!" It shouted, "Just give up! Go home! Play games!"

"Never," He responded, "Not until you're dead."

It seemed intrigued, then shook its head and grinned.

"How gallant, how brave! Fighting 'til the end! I'll be sure to give you the hero's rest you crave so much!" It shouted.

It then morphed into a circular cannon, and began shooting streams of spiked balls in vertical. The spiked balls also spread out in three dimensions as well, so Azeon couldn't just sidestep out of the way.

However, he merely stepped between each stream and dodged easily, he didn't even need to activate his flight.

Anniil seemed to notice this and created a swarm of pink squares to orbit around it slowly, in groups.

However, because they were separated into groups, it didn't change Azeon's tactic much. He just made sure to step between the groups of squares as well.

His confidence was beginning to grow again. Did the power destroy its thinking or whatever?

It absorbed another life crystal, growing even more.

"Alright, enough fun and games," It said, then opened its mouth. A vortex of air began to suck everything in, Azeon included.

Caught off guard, he activated his flight and tried to fly away with all his might, but it was useless.

With a scream, he found himself in a dark space. He knew full well where he was.

"Let me out of here, you creep!" He yelled.

"You want out?" It asked, "Well, you asked for it!"

He saw an opening appear, but it looked like a cannon barrel.

One thought took his mind:

"Oh, shit."

He was blasted far, far away with a scream.

He landed on his head and blacked out.

Game over indeed.