Aiseia Myse Valgalis is quite a suspicious girl. She always uses that artificial sounding laugh to hide her true emotions. When her friends get hurt, or even when she loses them for good, she never removes that vague mask of a smile.
As a result, many of the little ones who don’t know her very well mistake her to be cold hearted. Because she keeps smiling no matter what happens, they get the impression that she doesn’t really care about anyone other than herself.
Now, that Aiseia was in the reading room, doing some research. She pulled thick books off of the shelves, spread them out on the desk, flipped through their pages, hung her head, muttered ‘nope’, then put them back.
“I knew from the start, but the stuff you can learn from these really is limited,” she said with a sigh.
“Do you want to know something that you can’t learn here?” Lantolq suddenly said from behind, causing Aiseia to jump up with a scream. “Theology books? You don’t seem like the type to read those.”
“W-W-What are you doing here Lan? Don’t surprise me from behind like that!”
“How am I supposed to come from the front when you have your face down on a desk? … you seem pretty into this research.”
“Ah, haha, it kinda feels like I’m not getting anywhere though.” Aiseia said with a chuckle as she scratched the back of her head.
“… my room is right next to yours.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, that’s true.”
“I admire your strength to never cry in front of others, but, if you’re going to do it in your room, please keep it down a little. These walls are pretty thin, so I can hear.”
“Seriously!?” Aiseia seemed genuinely panicked, a sight that Lantolq hadn’t seen in awhile. “Uh… ah, I’ll be careful from now on, so I’d appreciate it if you could forget you ever heard anything…”
“I wasn’t going to tell anyone anyways. I won’t let all that effort you put into your laugh mask go to waste.”
Kutori and Nephren.
A little more than half a month had passed since they lost two comrades — no, two friends. They all knew it was about time to get over it already. They knew, but doing so proved to be rather difficult.
Also, Lantolq heard that up until just recently, a man named Willem Kumesh had lived in the warehouse too. Just walking around, she found traces of him everywhere, whether she wanted to or not. A hanger for a male army uniform. A razor for shaving facial hair. Large boots. Bottles of spices. A few new bullet points had been added to the list of bathing rules. At the bottom of the cafeteria’s menu, a new ‘Today’s Dessert’ item had been added, then crossed out.
The fairy warehouse was their home. The place where they belonged. Their effective birthplace. Yet, in the short two months that they had been gone, a complete stranger had come in and transformed this precious place. Why did they have to endure feelings of alienation and discomfort in the sole place in the world which gave them peace and nostalgia?
Lantolq couldn’t accept it. That man was their enemy all along.
“You met and talked with him, didn’t you?” Aiseia asked. “You should’ve been able to tell what kind of person he is. He can’t hide anything to save his life.”
“Unfortunately, I only saw the skilled and devotional sides of him.” Lantolq shook her head. “I’m afraid I can’t draw conclusions on such prejudiced information.”
“You really are a bother… well, I always knew that.”
“The best ones always die first. That’s what Grick said,” Noft said, taking her hands off of the old piano in front of her.
Since Kutori took Desperatio down with her, Noft was now temporarily a swordless fairy. Also, on a maybe unrelated note, ever since that day half a month ago, she hadn’t cut her hair. It was slowly beginning to catch up with the other girls’.
“So I’m sure that Emnetwyte must have been a good guy.”
“That logic is full of holes, but, considering that Aiseia and I are the only compatible users left, it’s rather persuasive,” Lantolq said.
“Hey, count Tiat too.”
“… oh, that’s right.”
To be honest, Lantolq only ever saw Tiat as a little fairy who never did anything but chase after Kutori. She never even thought about the fact that Tiat would one day fight alongside them. But, in the end, that’s life. Time never stops moving along, and nothing ever stops changing. Those who stand still either get left behind or pushed along by the ever flowing current.
“And also, I’m not done yet either. My life was saved, and I’m not going to let it go to waste,” Noft said as she began to play another song.
A cheerful and slightly fast tempo melody sounded forth from the piano. Did the song reflect Noft’s mood? Or did she choose it to try to make Lantolq feel better?
“It seems like giving up on the past and living a new life would be a lot easier,” Lantolq mumbled, then lay her head down on a desk and enjoyed the comfortable music.
On a vast, ashen plain, Willem opened his eyes.
He quickly closed them again. His senses felt off. He couldn’t see properly. Nor could he hear, feel, or do anything else properly. It was almost like his body had been transformed into a completely different creature. His senses and consciousness didn’t seem to be working with each other very well. The uncomfort almost made him want to puke.
… no, not ‘almost like’. I was transformed.
Somewhere deep inside his mind, a flame like object burned continually. It was rage. It was hatred. A mysterious and terrifying urge to decimate anything filled with the despicable force known as life.
Ah, so this is what the Beasts carry. He now understood why they destroyed the world.
There were still people not yet slaughtered, things not yet smashed to smithereens. That very fact occupied the forefront of his mind as an unforgivable sin. They were nothing more than specks of filth on the great ashen mother earth. They could not be allowed to exist. They needed to be cleansed.
This impulse was no doubt carved somewhere deep within his being. If he wanted to resist, the only way would be to trap himself in a dream.
Slowly, he opened his eyes once again.
He stood up.
The plains of beautiful ashen sand spread out forever and ever under the starry sky.
At the same time, feelings of joy and serenity at finally returning home spread out from his heart.
Shrouded in the darkness of night, surrounded by vast stretches of gray, a Beast emitted its first cry.