Hey, Sorey. It's been a while, right?
Hard to believe it's been two years already since, well, since you left us.
I know. I know. Purifying Maotelus and all that. I trust you're taking real good care of him in there, right? Heh. Of course you are, otherwise I won't be standing right here talking to you now.
You've always been like that, ever since the day we met. Darn, that felt like such a long time ago.
That day on the bridge into Ladylake…just you standing there and just talking into thin air while a dog barked at you. You're such a weirdo back then.
But then you pulled out that sword...and the entire world changed. The rest, as they say, is history…which I think should be enough for today. Time to get back to the present.
Darn it, shut up in there already, you two!
Sorry 'bout that. Edna and Zaveid are up to their own tricks again. Argh, even after all these years, I still can't get used to them being in my head! It's like I have someone else living inside me or something!
Still…I'm glad that they're here with me. I don't know where my life would be without those guys, especially since now I have to fill in the big shoes you left behind, Sorey, playing a peacekeeper and purifier of malevolence. All that baggage, eh?
Happy to report that Hyland and Rolance are still keeping that hard-earned peace that we've fought tooth-and-nail for. I swear, heads are gonna roll if we went through all that hell only for them to end up fighting each other again. Thank the Prime Lords for Sergei and Alisha keeping those snobs in high places at bay.
Heh, Alisha…she's really something else, huh? I can see why she's your first choice as a squire.
Ever since we dealt with the anti-peace treaty Hyland radicals, she has been taking a more proactive role in her princess duties…whatever the hell royalties do, anyway, to convince her people that peace is a good idea and all that jazz. Seems to have worked out so far by the looks of it, as the Rolance Royal Family seems to take a liking to her as an ambassador of goodwill. Probably thanks to Sergei's good word, too, and when words aren't working or someone needs their asses kicked, the Scattered Bones are always ready to move at my command.
I know, I know. You'd probably tear me a new one with that 'no killing' policy, and you know what? It's totally cool! I guess your sense of justice really does rub off on me somewhat. I actually try to avoid killing people if it's not necessary now. Getting' down and dirty isn't really becoming of a Shepherd, after all. That being said, sometimes there just isn't any choice.
You remember Lunarre? Turns out the bastard somehow survived our showdown in Pendrago. He was the one responsible for instigating the masses of anti-peace radicals in both Hyland and Rolance and restart the war all over again, not to mention turning people into hellions, all for the petty revenge of getting back at me. Ah well, sometimes people just won't learn their lessons, huh?
I tracked him down in Plitzerback Wetland a few months after I and Alisha paid you a visit the last time we were here. I tried to reason with him, I really did, but in the end, I had no choice but to put him down, for good this time. Can't say it wasn't a bit sad to see him go, considering our past and all, but hey, he asked for it. Good riddance, I'd say.
Anyway, aside from that little drama, things are pretty much normal. Nowadays I just kinda hangs out, fighting hellions and stuff. Gets pretty tedious after a while, to be honest, but at least it's way better than wading through all those mazelike underground ruins out there. Goddamn, I freakin' hate them! Those things all look the same and they're everywhere. I don't know how you could stand it!
Come on, Lailah. You know I'm right! Ah, fine…You're such a mom, you know that?
Anyway, being a Shepherd and all, Lailah said it should be in my interest to at least check those places out and learn from history…what little left is there to learn, anyway. Yeah, yeah, even if I'm like this, I did do my research from time to time, and you know what I learned? Things aren't that much different now than it was a thousand years ago! Wouldn't you at least expect that we should at least change a little bit from since then? But it's all the same story over and over. Makes you think just how much we actually learned from history, huh?
Ah, well, I'm rambling nonsenses now, and it's getting pretty late. Gotta go back to 'shepherding' for now before good ol' Meebo starts lecturing me again.
See you later, Sorey. Keep looking out for us in there, alright?
Hello again, Sorey.
I see that you're still doing well so far. That's good. I'm happy to see you at peace like this.
I'm sorry that Rose couldn't be here with me today. She said she had to go deal with some personal business in Zaphgott Moor. Something about investigating a cave that's a resting place for a 'Mayvin'. I suppose you would know who she's referring to.
I learned from…from Maltran…a long time ago about this particular name. Supposedly it refers to a line of keepers of the world's history that can be traced all the way back to the era of the legendary Shepherd Claudin Asgard. Did you know that Hyland and Rolance used to be part of the same nation? An empire so vast, it spanned across the seas and filled every corner of the map. I wish we could've seen how life was like back then. Did the various groups of people around the world live together in peace? Could humans back then can see the hellions and the seraphs, and if they could, did humans and seraphs live together in harmony? So many questions with many potential answers!
I'm sorry…I'm getting carried away again, aren't I? That was unbecoming of me.
My duties as a princess often take me to numerous places rich in history, but I rarely have the time to fully immerse it all in before I am required elsewhere. Such is the price to pay for my social status, I suppose. It's not all that bad, though. My words still hold influence among the common people, and these days the right words can go a long way in getting something done, and without Lord Bartlow and his cohorts to dictate me like they did when they were here, I've been gradually pushing for new changes and corporation with Rolance to finally do something about the state of the world.
General Sergei has been a big help as well. He managed to convince some of the Rolance Royal Family members to support the corporation, citing the great battle at Glaivend Basin as an example of what we could achieve if we work together towards a common goal. It's still too early to confirm a proper alliance, but it's a step toward a right direction, something that I'm very thankful of. It's always a nice feeling to gain new allies you can truly count on, especially in this day and age.
Speaking of allies, Rose made sure that the Sparrowfeathers are always at my disposal whenever I require to get something to somewhere quickly, and Lucas and his Woodsmen group proved to be invaluable in our campaign against the anti-peace radicals. I try to…not think about too much about what they had to do behind-the-scenes in order to keep the fragile peace as it is, though. Both you and I know how we felt regarding bloodshed. I'd rather avoid it if I could, but sometimes hands need to get dirty. Even after everything…it still doesn't make it any easier to deal with the blood on your hands.
Especially since that day when Maltran…
I'm sorry. I had to make it depressing again, huh?
Even though it's been five years already.
I guess that's one thing I still have to learn to move on from.
Anyway, I've taken much of your time already, Sorey. Maotelus probably needed you more than me…and I'm pretty sure that he'd be needing you for a long, long time, so I won't keep you any longer. I have to get back to my duties as well.
But I promise that I'll come by to visit whenever I can, okay?
And if you ever needed me or our friends, we'll always be ready to help, Sorey. As for now, rest well, my friend.
Hey, Sorey. Sorry to interrupt your beauty sleep again, but something big just came up.
God, I wish you were here right now. I really need your help with this one.
A few weeks ago, we paid a visit to Mayvin's grave at Lohgrin. We found some notes he had written during his time there inside the tower ruins and it detailed many details of the world history that was lost to time. I was especially interested in one particular section that detailed the story of Innominat. You know, the guy whose crest we found in Artorius's Throne when we were on our way to fight Heldalf? Yeah. He was the Great Lord who's Maotelus's predecessor, if I remember correctly.
I really want to know more about the guy, with him supposedly being connected to Maotelus and all, so I asked Lailah about it. That's when things get weird. You remember how she used to make jokes and bad puns to deflect from talking about topics she can't talk about thanks to her oath? Yeah, this is pretty much the same, except she didn't even make any jokes. Her face just turned pale and her expression blank, like something triggered a horrible memory inside her, and she excused herself away to be with her own thoughts.
I think Edna and Zaveid would know something about it, but they refused to tell me about it, too. It's almost as if they didn't want to talk about anything related to Innominat, even though there's no oath preventing them from doing so. All I got out of them is that 'it's better for you not to know". Heh, so helpful, right? Can you believe these guys?
Hey! Don't you dare make a fuzz about it in my head. I'm actually trying to do my job here and you won't help me doing it, so you don't get a right to complain. Unless you have anything useful to say, then shut it in there!
Ugh, I'm so pissed off right now.
Anyway, since my own friends aren't helpful, I'm thinking about seeking my answers from an enemy instead. I have been keeping tracks on Symonne for quite some time now, making sure she doesn't cause any trouble again since our last run-in six years ago. She's a nutcase, but I reckon she had seen a lot of the world during all her time messing around with people's lives. I'm gonna get my answers from her one way or another. Hopefully I don't have to beat it out of her.
That was not my first choice, though, because if it is then I wouldn't be here talking to you right now.
You're in there with Maotelus, Sorey. Been with him for years in that deep slumber. Chances are you two would've been exchanging lots of stories with each other by now, so if either of you know anything about Innominat, I'll appreciate it if you could share them with me right now.
Come on, Sorey. Don't be a stranger, damn it. I can't do my job properly if you won't help me, 'kay? And it's actually supposed to be your job, you know? I'm filling in for you here, so help me. I've already got my hands full with other things, alright?
Please give something to me.
So that's how it's gonna be, huh?
Fine. Have it your way, then. Enjoy your precious sleep, damn it!
Leaving me here alone to deal with all this mess by myself.
Everybody always leaves me behind…my parents, Dezel, and now you. That's just typical, huh?
I'm outta here.
Sorey, can you hear me? It's me, Alisha.
A lot has happened recently, and none of it good.
Just yesterday, Lailah came to my home in Ladylake. She told me that Rose has renounced her contract with her and her friends. She's no longer a Shepherd.
It's…apparently something to do with the truth she discovered about Innominat. Lailah was still bound by her oath so she couldn't tell me about it, but she brought her friend with her, a long-lived normin seraph who goes by the name of Grimoirh, and it was her who explained the truth to me. The hidden truth that was lost to time, and for a good reason.
It's…it's overwhelming, Sorey.
I…can't believe how humanity had treated seraphs a thousand years ago. How they were used and discarded like tools, being little more than slaves. How Shepherd Artorius and his cohorts assisted Innominat in ruining many lives in their quest to purge the world of malevolence…by taking away our individuality and completely submissive to their will.
And how a Lord of Calamity was actually the one who saved us all back then.
A young girl by the name of Velvet Crowe, whose life was utterly ruined in one tragic night where her most trusted family members betrayed her and turned her into a therion against her will, and her path to vengeance was meticulously engineered by the Shepherd, her former mentor, to suit his purposes instead.
I didn't want to believe that all of this had happened, but Lailah, Edna, and Zaveid confirmed it to be true. All of them had lived through this dark period of history, and the less they have to be reminded about it, the better. What happened back then is the reason why humanity and most seraphs never lived alongside each other again.
It had the same effect on Rose as well. She was completely at a loss of what to do. She was already struggling trying to adjust to her role as a Shepherd, and now she learned that even one of the most revered Shepherds in our history is fallible to corruption. She told Lailah that she didn't want to turn out like Artorius and Michael. The patience and pureness required from a Shepherd is something she does not have. If better men than her have tried and failed, then what chance does she have?
That was why…why she decided to quit…to stop being a Shepherd entirely.
And it couldn't have come at a worse time.
There was a succession crisis in Hyland. Queen Helenes suddenly passed away a few months ago and the claim to the throne was contested by princes and politicians in a ruthless backroom politics…something that Maltran warned me about a long time ago. The people are looking for a leader and a majority of Hylanders wanted me to ascend the throne. I became a target, and there are many people who wanted me dead. I've survived two assassination attempts on my way here to talk to you. It's only thanks to Lucas and his Woodsmen's protection that had kept me safe so far.
A Shepherd could've brought a temporarily peace to the kingdom while everyone tried to sort their problems out, but with Rose quitting…I don't know if there would be something that can bring people together.
And that's why…why Lailah came to me with an offer…an offer that could be potentially dangerous.
You see…when you became Maotelus's new vessel, both your connections with the world increased resonance in normal humans like us, and me…well, my journey has led me to come into contact with many seraphs, and I'm thinking that my resonance has increased to the point that I can see and talk with them normally now.
Which is why Lailah…wanted me to become a temporary Shepherd.
It's… I won't lie, Sorey, it's a tempting offer, but you know my experience while I was your squire. You almost go blind! I know, things have changed since then, but this is too sudden. What if it's going to be a mistake? What if I screw up and end up making everything worse? I have made too many big mistakes already.
I…I don't think I'm cut out for the Shepherd's duties, Sorey.
But…if we are left with no other choices, then I…I'll try to do my best.
I just…wanted to let you know about it first, to tell you that I won't let you down.
I'm going to try to resolve this succession crisis as best as I could, and I'll try to help Rose out regarding the things we learned. We'll sort this out and get through all this together.
I really missed you, Sorey. I missed you so much.
Take care of yourself, okay?
I…I wanted to say sorry. I've let you down, big time, and that's just one of many things I have to apologize to you and so many others for.
These past few years, I've been away. I just abandoned being a Shepherd and just go back to my friends in Sparrowfeathers, back to being just me…before I met you and before I got involved in all this. This is all something so much bigger than myself. I…just don't know how to deal with it all.
I'm pretty sure Maotelus had told you the truth already, right? About what happened a thousand years ago? How the rift between humanity and seraphs began and how the world almost ended because of one Shepherd's madness? Sounds kinda similar?
Shepherd Artorius and the atrocities he did…made what Shepherd Michael did looks like child's play in comparison. Seriously, treating seraphs like slaves? Sacrificing his own family member to release a mad Great Lord? Working with said Great Lord to cleanse humanity of everything that makes us humans? It's just…madness.
Symone was there as well when it all happened, you know? She was a slave working under this crazy old guy named Melchior, who cruelly experimented on her to perfect his illusionary abilities, and she was the sole survivor of all the seraphs he had under his employ. No wonder why she's such a screw up nowadays. I could understand why she wanted to help Heldalf wiping out everyone now, even if I don't condone it. She has been through so much hell throughout her entire life.
And so did Zaveid, Edna and her brother Eizen, and Lailah…they've been through it all, too. That's why they don't want me to know about it.
I can't even armatize with them anymore after I learned the horrible truth behind its creation. I just can't bear the thought of it. To think that it began as an experimental arte used to fuse a seraph with their human masters to gain access to their powers against their will…it makes me sick.
Knowing the consequences of Shepherds losing it to the pressure, it makes me afraid. I'm afraid that I'll end up making the wrong decisions, letting my emotions getting the better of me, doing something that I'll regret for the rest of my life. The thought of that is…terrifying.
That was why I quitted. I don't want to be responsible for ruining the world. I'm not like you, Sorey. I'm not idealistic, not as much as you, anyway. I lie and kill people for a living. I don't inspire hope for others, I put fear in them. I have a harder time purifying malevolence than you ever did. I don't even care about exploring ruins and learning from history like you did, even though it's supposed to be a part of my duties. Hell, Alisha is more interested in ruins than I do and she's a freaking princess!
Can you really see me being someone who would make a good Shepherd? I only took up the job because I was your squire, and since you're not here anymore, someone had to take up your mantle…even if it's not really what I wanted to be at all.
It was only a matter of time before I screw it up, and I don't want that.
But I've been selfish, Sorey. So stupidly selfish.
I wasn't there to stop the Hyland Civil War from breaking out. I could've prevented countless civilians from being caught in the crossfire. I could've stopped the Hylanders from succumbing to malevolence and turning into more hellions. But I wasn't there.
And because of that…Alisha was hurt, and it's all my fault.
Yeah, yeah. I'm okay, Mikleo. I just…need a moment. Goddamn it, why am I like this?
Dezel would've chewed me out hard if he was here.
It's okay. Nothing serious happened. It's just...a month ago she was almost killed in an assassination attempt; some Bartlow loyalists are still looking to overthrown her and put the power back into their own hands. The bastards ambushed Alisha while she was travelling to Pendrago. Luckily, Sergei was there to help, but she…
By the time I found her, she almost did something terrible. If I was only a few minutes late, I would never forgive myself.
I can't help but feeling that she's at her breaking point, Sorey.
Ever since Maltran's betrayal, nothing ever goes right for her. To be honest, I don't think anything has ever go right for her once in her life, and yet…she soldiers on. She never gives up, not even once, no matter what crappy hand life has dealt to her, but everyone has limits, and I feared that she's reaching hers.
Instead of helping her, I ran away to wallow in self-pity until Lailah finally knocked some sense into my head. What kind of friend am I to leave her alone like that? To abandon her in her time of need? Even when I already promised to be there for her when she got in trouble?
Heh…I used to tell her once that I have a policy against giving up, back when we were traveling together, and yet it's me who ran away while she remained committed to her duties. I guess that makes me a hypocrite, huh?
But then again, realizing that even I have limits and that nobody should brave through anything alone is why I finally get it into my head that I have to be there for her this time. It's about time I get off my ass and do what I'm supposed to be doing.
I'm still afraid, yes. Afraid of messing up again. Afraid that history would repeat itself. Afraid that I could turn out like Michael or Artorius…or even Heldalf, but I can't let that stop me from being there for my friends when they needed me. So what if I don't know what the hell I'm doing? Even you don't know what you're doing most of the time we're together, but it didn't stop you from doing what's right.
The Sparrowfeathers need me. The people of Hyland need me. Alisha…needs me.
And I'm going to be there for them. I won't abandon them again. Not this time. Not ever.
I promise this to you, Sorey.
Hello again, Sorey.
I must apologize that I have been away for so long, my friend. Dealing with the civil war and the aftermath has been…exhausting, to say the least.
Councilor Morgan, Bartlow's former right-hand man, was the one who convinced half the country to turn against me. He put out assassination attempts on me multiple times over the past few months. Their latest attempt actually would have succeeded, were it not for the efforts of General Sergei and his troops. But not everyone was as fortunate. Many good Hyland knights died because of me, Sorey…they died fighting their own countrymen, just because I became a target.
And I…I have to kill some of my own people, too. I still remember the blood of that poor man that strained my hands after I…defended myself. I was yanked back into that forest again, on that day when Maltran…
It never gets any easier, Sorey.
I admit, there are too many times where I thought about giving up…that I can't take it anymore.
I wanted all this pain to end already. I don't want to see any more deaths happening because of me.
But Rose saved me. She saved me from doing the unthinkable…
Rose…what would I do without her, Sorey. If she wasn't there when she did, I'd probably…
I'm so hopeless, right?
But that's the thing. Rose isn't so different.
She told me everything, how she really feels about her Shepherd's duties and the dark truth she learned, how she felt overwhelmed by everything that's going on, how she…doesn't know what she should do. She never wanted to be a Shepherd, nor do I wanted to be a princess, and we both find ourselves trapped in the roles we have to play…roles that we aren't meant to be.
Maybe Rose could do better than me as a princess, I don't know. She knows how the world works, she knows many people and how to work with them, she knows how to think outside the box and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty…
Or maybe I'm just finding excuse not to be me. I don't want to be what I am, do what I do every day and feel like all of it means nothing, that it doesn't make any difference. All of it makes me afraid.
Afraid that one day I'll turn out like Maltran.
Rose understood that. She knows exactly how I feel about it all…the feeling of being lost all the time.
And she told me that a Shepherd named Eleanor Hume was once like that as well.
She too was disillusioned by the horrible truth she learned and what her superiors were actually planning. She struggled trying to do her duties in a chaotic world that won't give her a break. She was pushed to her limits and would've lost herself to malevolence many times…but she didn't.
Not because she's stronger than us. Nobody is incorruptible, after all. Even the noblest person can fall.
She didn't fall because of the people around her. People who cared for her and be there for her when she needed them most. They stayed by her side through the worst of everything that comes their way.
Maybe that's all Rose and I needed; someone that we can trust and depend on, to remind us that we're not fighting through our battles alone, and it's okay to ask for help when we need it.
She promised never to let me go again, and that's all it takes to bring me back from despair.
I became her squire once again, and we gradually work our way through our problems one by one, trying to resolve the civil war. And we weren't alone. Our seraph friends, the Scattered Bones, the Woodsmen, even General Sergei and his troops came to our aid. Together, we finally ended Morgan's reign of terror and brought the civil war to an end at long last.
All this is a testament to the bond we shared, and how we could overcome great odds with it, and I have Rose to thank for teaching me to believe in it. Funnily enough, she said that I was actually the one who taught her that…back in Elaine Ruins when we first travelled together to find you.
I guess there are times where the sheer pressure of everything life throws at us can make us forget about that, and it's alright. All we have to do is to remind each other that there is someone who still cares. Simple as that.
And I care for Rose so much, Sorey.
With her by my side, I feel like I can do anything, and I think she feels the same way.
So I wanted to thank you for bringing us together, Sorey. Thank you for making her a part of my life.
Heya, Sorey! Nice day today, isn't it?
Happy to report that things around here are finally beginning to settle down around here. About damn time there is peace and quiet, at least as much as this crazy world could get, anyway. Those hellions just keep popping up everywhere I go! There's no end to them for as long as there is malevolence, which basically means they're gonna be here forever! Cheers, right?
Well, a Shepherd work's never done, I suppose.
I've been thinking a lot about Shepherds lately, you know? About what they actually are and what they stood for. I know, I know, we're here to be the mediators between humans and seraphs, purifying malevolence and hellions, blah blah blah, stuff that you'd probably find in every library that's worth a damn, but is that really all that we are?
I mean, we're called Shepherds, right? Aren't Shepherds supposed to guide people? And yet every time one of us try to lead anyone, we risk guiding them down the wrong path, as Artorius once did. To be able to guide people means you must have some power to influence them, and power eventually goes to your head once enough people followed you. Then you can justify doing anything you want because you think you know what's best for them, even though – let's face it - us Shepherds don't even know what we're supposed to be doing most of the time.
History has seen its fair shares of Shepherds who come and go, each affecting the world in their own ways. Sometimes we got pricks like Artorius, Michael, and that Asura dude in the Water Shrine, and sometimes we got, well, you, and you're just somebody who up until you arrived in Ladylake that fateful day hasn't even seen the outside world before! Shepherds can literally be anyone who can come from anywhere, and their world outlook and experience won't be the same. For every Shepherd may believe we can cleanse the malevolence without violence, there will be another one who'd say 'screw it' and burn it all down before starting over.
And then there's me…just a random girl from nowhere who happens to tag you along for a ride and happens to have a high enough resonance to be your squire. Fast forward a few months later, and I'm suddenly a Shepherd. Strange how it all works, huh?
Point is…ugh, I'm not good at this stuff. Anyway, what I want to say is that Shepherds are just normal people. We aren't special and we're sure as hell aren't perfect. We're capable of doing extraordinary things nobody else can't, yes, but we're not above making stupid mistakes that we should've really known better, and the rest of the world would pay dearly for it.
And that's why I…I talked with Lailah and the others. And with Alisha and Sergei as well, for that matter.
Maybe it's time we expand our Shepherd business, Sorey.
You saw it in the iris gems, right? There used to be a time where there were many Shepherds who existed in this world, back before Maotelus disappeared. Now that he has returned and more and more people are developing resonance within themselves, I think there's a good chance that I could find someone else who's up to the task. Someone that could make all this…easier, so no one single Shepherd will strain themselves to their limits and break against the pressure again.
I'm not saying this because I want to avoid responsibilities, you know? I've learned my lesson from the whole thing with Alisha a while ago. Nothing good comes from running away from your duties, but there is also another lesson I learned: there is strength in numbers. Nobody is perfect, and everybody has a role to play. That's why we can all help each other to fill in the flaws that we have individually. That's how I ran the Sparrowfeathers and make it a success to this day. I suppose being a Shepherd won't be that much different.
I know my limits. I also know that I'm not getting any younger. There will come a day where I have to let all of this go and leave it in the hands of someone else to take up our works, and there are lots of works when it comes to being a Shepherd. Hellions are still rising in numbers, someone has to keep an eye on Symonne and any potential Lord of Calamities, the Scarlet Nights, and there's the subject of mending the rift between humanity and seraphs. Even if I live forever, I couldn't solve all of them on my own. I need someone who could fill in my shoes, and I figured I might as well prepare for it now. That's when I thought: why not go with it all the way and train new Shepherds-to-be instead of just one?
Maybe that's what being Shepherds are really about: we aren't meant to change the world; we just do what we can and inspire others to do it by themselves.
And if this thing goes sideways and we end up with another Artorius or Michael? Well, there'd be ten more Shepherds who would remind them that they don't have to carry their burdens alone. That way, none of us had to leave behind the flaws that makes us humans while we strive to advance ourselves together.
And one day, when I was lying six feet under somewhere, I could rest easy knowing that there will always be good people in this world that makes it worth dying for.
Unless I come back as a seraph, anyway. Heh, it'd be hilarious to be a voice in someone's head this time around.
Ah! Darn it, Edna! I'm so gonna get my revenge on you for that prank eventually! Ghosts, my ass!
Anyway, I guess that's it for today, Sorey. It's been a good talk, buddy.
Don't worry about us, okay? We'll be fine like always.
See you again sometimes, sleepyhead!
It's nice to see you again, Sorey. I apologize that I haven't visited you for a long while.
There has been a lot of changes lately. So many that it actually startled me a little, to be honest.
About a few months ago, there was a Scarlet Night. The moon turned bright red as the dark crimson sky filled the night. Hellions across Glenwood multiplied drastically and many villages were threatened by malevolence.
Fortunately, Rose and I had been preparing for such an event for a while now, thanks to what we learned from our seraph friends. I guess I should consider myself fortunate that I'm a student of history, and there are many lessons to be learned in all those ruins.
We know that humans are far more likely to be overcome by malevolence during Scarlet Nights, so Rose worked with the Lord of the Lands to give significant blessings to areas most vulnerable and remote. Somewhere like Marlind, Lohgrin, and Goddondin. The blessed domains allowed some protection against the effects of the Scarlet Nights. And if that's not enough, Rose and her fellow Shepherds will be there to purify anyone who was transformed.
Oh, I forgot to mention. Rose has recruited some more promising people to become fellow Shepherds to assist her in maintaining peace and unity across Glenwood. There's only so much she could do on her own, after all.
I…am sort of an unofficial Shepherd, too. Ehehe.
Thanks to you and Rose, my resonance is now high enough that I've finally able to see the world as it really is. All its wonders and horrors. Though I'm a long way from being as powerful as you or Rose, I'm at the very least strong enough to make a contract with a Prime Lord and a Sub Lord seraphs of water and wind elements, and being able to armatize with them. It nearly got me passed out most of the time, but I'm trying to get a hang of it, and my squires Ian and Sirel are always there to take care of me every step of the way.
I know that I've said once in the past that I'm not cut out for the Shepherd's duties, but that was when I believed that being a Shepherd means carrying a heavy burden alone, when in reality it doesn't have to be like that at all. Like Rose said, there can be more than one Shepherd and we can all achieve greater things together if there are more of us, and we don't have to sacrifice our entire identities to become someone else entirely.
I still have my duties as a princess, of course, and now that I'm actually in line for the throne now, my responsibilities are greater than ever. However, I also realize the need to do what I can to assist my friends as well, lest they become overwhelmed by the undaunting tasks given to them. Rose would've done the same for me, so why shouldn't I? She already got her hands full trying to purify malevolence, after all. I can assist her with tasks she's not yet available to do.
One such task is finding a way to free Velvet Crowe from her predicament. It has been more than a thousand years since she has to pay for the sins committed by her relatives, and it breaks my heart to see her continued to be punished like that forever. I want to find a way to free her, Sorey, in any way that I could. She showed us that not all hellions have lost themselves forever, and in the end, they only succumb to malevolence due to circumstances they could not control.
I may not live to see it resolved in my lifetime, but I will make absolutely sure that nobody will forget the truth of her sacrifice again. I believe that's what Maotelus would have wanted.
And I have hope that one day, we can finally learn not only to live with seraphs in peace once again, but also with hellions as well.
So that nobody has to end up like Maltran…or Heldalf…or Velvet again.
I know that it's just a wishful thinking right now, but I believe that if we put our minds to it – if all of us truly put aside our differences and try to understand each other – if we really learn from history so that we don't end up like all those ruins out there – if we all help each other and do our parts to make this world a better place to live in…
Then I believe that there is a bright future waiting for us all.
"A politician. A woman of royalty. A knight. A regular young lady. A friend to everyone gathered here."
And now a Shephard.
My answer is still the same, Sorey, after all this time. I want to live as all of these people, and I don't need to throw any part of myself away to perform my duties.
There may be times when things get rough, when I feel like I've had enough, when all hope seems lost, but I'll find a way to get through it somehow, Sorey.
I may fall, but I won't be alone, and my friends will pick me up and move forward together.
Because it's what you taught us, Sorey.
I'm very thankful that our paths have crossed each other in that ruins at Mount Mabinogio, Sorey.
Because of you, Rose and I, and all of us…have come this far against all odds.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything, my friend.