The Happiest Girl in the World
When she came to, the girl found herself standing amidst shadowy ruins. A familiar child on the verge of tears stood before her.
What’s wrong, Elq? The girl’s memory vaguely recalled that name. Did you have a bad dream?
Elq’s body suddenly shivered. “… Kutori…” She looked towards the girl and murmured someone’s name.
The girl wondered whose name it was. It sounded strangely familiar. After a moment of thought, she realized that it was, in fact, her own name. A nostalgic feeling overcame the girl, as if she were meeting an old acquaintance. Hearing it now, it sounded like a rather weird name. It was hard to remember, hard to say, and, most importantly, not very charming.
“Sorry,” Elq said.
“I knew it would turn out like this. I knew it would be rough.”
Ah, don’t worry about it. In fact, I should be thanking you. Because of you, because you kept your eyes closed, I was able to keep my promise. I was able to return home to the place I longed for. Although it looks like I lost a lot of things I didn’t want to lose…
I have one wish. This is probably going to be my last one.
I can’t remember precisely, but I feel like there’s someone I want to save. There are feelings I want to convey.
“No matter what?”
No matter what.
“This time, you’ll really be gone, you know?”
I mean, I’m already pretty much gone. Besides, I understand now. That’s just who I am, right? That’s the real reason I was chosen by Seniolis, isn’t it?
I understand everything now. But still I’m asking you. Please. Just one more time. Let me go back.
A red haired girl slowly raised herself up from bed.
Where am I? Who am I?
She couldn’t remember a thing, as if a heavy fog blanketed her mind, or more like it had been clogged with mud. With a loud rumbling, the whole world seemed to shake violently. From somewhere off in the distance, she heard the clanging sounds of metal clashing upon metal. Is this a battlefield?
The girl found her way to the exit and stepped out into a narrow hallway. She wandered around aimlessly until she found a place with a nice view. The wall had almost completely been peeled away, revealing the vast sky beyond. Much of the vivid blue had already darkened to a light purple, and some of that had already given way to a deeper red. Twilight.
“Kutori…?” A voice almost like a groan sounded from behind her.
Turning around, she spotted a girl collapsed onto the dirty hallway floor, lying with her legs and arms spread out. A large, intense amount of Venom seemed to emanate from her, but the heavy wounds all over her body must have rendered her unable to move.
“Are you dumb? This is dangerous… if you’re awake, go hide somewhere.”
Do I know this person? the girl thought. The person on the floor seemed to recognize her. The girl, however, hadn’t the slightest recollection of the new face. Perhaps that fragment of her mind had long since disappeared.
Through the large hole in the wall, outside in the rolling shades of blue and red, the girl spotted the tiny figure of a person. With every second, it grew smaller and smaller, threatening to disappear at any moment.
The girl remembered. It was him. She couldn’t recall his name, but he was a very important person. She couldn’t be certain, but she vaguely got the feeling that he was the type of person to needlessly pile more trouble and work onto his own plate. But anyway, why was he currently in freefall? She was pretty sure that he didn’t have wings or anything of the sort, so if he continued on his course, would he not collide with the ground and perish?
“Guess I have no choice.”
A nice looking sword was just lying around nearby, so the girl picked it up. The name engraved onto the hilt read ‘Desperatio’. Severed Hope. A fitting name, the girl thought.
“Stop. Don’t go,” the one on the floor said. “You don’t need to fight anymore. You don’t need to sacrifice yourself. We’re here to fight for you. So–” Perhaps because her lungs had been wounded, she needed to pause to let out a heavy cough. “– If you don’t need to fight anymore, then don’t. You’re finally able to chase happiness, so do it. If you don’t, what are we fighting for?” She desperately pleaded. It looked like her consciousness was beginning to waver, probably from over ignition of Venom.
“Sorry. But I’ll never be able to become happy now,” the girl said as she began pouring Venom into Desperatio. The blade accepted the power smoothly, as if it had always been a part of the girl’s body. “Because I realized. I’ve already been happy for a long time now.”
Then, after showing the stranger a cheerful smile, the girl took one step over the remains of the wall and dove out into the endless sky.
Her hair fluttered wildly. The Venom inside her body was already overflowing at full potential.
Lots of burning books falling. A snake swimming through flames. A crumbling silver moon.
Strange images and voices filled the girl’s head. Fragments of her mind were disappearing one after another.
A ship crossing through the stars. A row of coffins. A broken dome.
Everything was leaving. Fun moments. Painful moments. The girl could feel her mind steadily fading into a plain, white piece of paper.
A smile naturally spread across the girl’s face.
Willem now really regretted never completing his study of air dashing techniques. Well of course, it’s questionable whether he would be able to produce results even if he did finish training, given his lack of talent, but he couldn’t stop thinking ‘what if?’.
He had driven away the surrounding Beasts and secured the unconscious Nephren in his arms. Then, with the absolute maximum amount of Venom his body could ignite, he had managed to negate a large amount of the fall impact. Nevertheless, the collision with the ground messed his body up pretty badly. Now, he was simply rolling around on the ashen sand, still holding Nephren. The friction from the said scratched away at his skin, splitting it and then biting at the exposed flesh underneath.
Finally, he came to a stop. He managed to cough up a nasty mixture of air and blood from his crushed lungs. A sense of numbness had overtaken every part of his body. That was probably something to be thankful for. If his pain receptors were working properly, he would probably go insane. That’s how much damage had been inflicted on his body.
This is bad.
Willem had long surpassed the point where he could make one last desperate effort. Most likely, he would never be able to move again. Unfortunately, however, the immediate danger hadn’t left at all. The Beasts he didn’t kill during their fall were beginning to rouse themselves from the sand surrounding them. On top of that, the Beasts left behind on the ground when the airship took off were beginning to draw closer. They probably numbered no less than a hundred.
Something. There must be something.
His consciousness felt like it could cut off at any second, but for the time being he managed to barely keep it connected and desperately force his thoughts to run. But nothing popped into his mind. All possible situations lead to the same ending: their death. He clenched his teeth, of which almost half were broken.
I can’t… I can’t give up on their future now.
“And then you’ll stay by their side and protect them forever, right?”
His master’s smile suddenly found its way into Willem’s head. Shut up! This is not the time to be remembering you. The image, however, didn’t go away so easily.
“Rejoice, Quasi Brave! You will never ever be able to become a Regal Brave.”
When he had been told that, Willem kind of half listened and didn’t think much of it, but what did his master mean? To become a Regal Brave required a special background. Willem, however, had absolutely nothing unique about his birth, raising, or destiny. And he knew that all too well. So why did his master feel the need to say it again?
Who cares about that now!?
One of the Beasts closed in right in front of his eyes. Willem wanted to fight back, but he couldn’t even lift a single finger. It was over. A small bud of resignation began to sprout inside of him. At the same moment, his consciousness began to fade rapidly.
I’m sorry, Nephren. I couldn’t protect you.
I’m sorry, Kutori. I couldn’t bring you happiness.
In the split second before total darkness swallowed Willem’s consciousness, he thought he saw someone land right next to them.