Visitor Elq Harksten
She just wanted to be ‘someone’. That’s all she wished for at first.
A young child lay fast asleep inside a small, solid barrier. In simple terms, the barrier created its own little world isolated from the outside. The child had never taken even one step outside that barrier her entire life.
“You Visitors have such a large presence that, just by existing, you’d overwhelm the minds of all living beings in the outside world.” One of the child’s family members, Ebo, told her that once.
“Almost all of your parents and other elders had to break their souls into tiny fragments in order to live on this land. But we don’t want you to follow the same path. You’re our last master. We want you to stay like this forever.” Those were the words of another family member, Carma.
“We three Poteau exist to guide you Visitors — or, now that almost all of them have left this ship, we exist to guide you alone. We will risk our bodies and souls to protect you from anyone who would cause you harm, master Elq Harksten.” Those words came from yet another family member, Jay.
From the moment the child, Elq, gained consciousness, those three had always been by her side. They kindly supported her. They taught her much. They listened to her wishes, except, however, for just one thing. They never granted her permission to leave the barrier, to see the outside world with her own eyes.
One day, Jay disappeared.
Then, even Ebo stopped showing up.
When Elq asked Carma where they went, she never gave a proper answer.
“Once they complete their missions, they’ll come home,” she would say, then avert her eyes.
Mission? What could that be? Elq thought. However, her ignorance prevented her from pondering the question any further, and her youth prevented her from thinking about her ignorance.
Before long, Carma went off somewhere as well, leaving Elq all alone in the tiny barrier. She felt no anxiety nor bewilderment, only boredom. However, those days of boredom continued for far longer than she expected. Inside her sunless and moonless miniature world, she simply waited for her family’s return.
Elq soon ran out of toys to play with in her barrier. All her stuffed animals developed wear and tear from her rough treatment, so she put them by the wall and left them alone in order to prevent further damage. Once Jay got back, he would surely fix them.
When the outer wall of the barrier broke, it made a loud rupturing noise. What’s that? Elq thought. It certainly wasn’t Ebo and the others. They wouldn’t cause such a ruckus when entering. But who else could it have been?
The answer soon appeared in front of Elq’s eyes. A red haired human, sixteen years old, wielding a strange, large sword which looked to be made by tying together many metal fragments. Named Leila Asprey, she was a type of weapon, called a Regal Brave, sent by the Church of Holy Light to kill the tremendously powerful Visitor Elq Harksten.
Leila didn’t have much longer. Wounds covered her body. Blood flowed down her armor. Countless tears infringed upon her clothes and her skin beneath. Any of them could easily have turned into fatal wounds with one wrong move.
“Who are you?” Elq sent a simple question in the form of a thought.
Her question contained no hostility, but, no matter how innocent her intentions, it carried an overwhelming amount of power. The thought released by Elq rapidly echoed throughout the closed off interior of the barrier and fiercely battered Leila’s mind.
Leila writhed in agony, letting out the screams of a strangled bird. Ebo had not been exaggerating. When a giant whale simply twists its body, it causes little fish nearby to be swept away. Against Elq’s immense soul, Leila’s puny human soul amounted to no more than a speck of dust.
Leila’s knees buckled, and she almost collapsed to the ground. However, using her sword, the Kaliyon Seniolis, as a walking staff, she managed to barely support herself. One small step at a time, as if dragging her feet along, she advanced forward.
Elq didn’t know what to think. Still young, she did not yet understand the concept of death. The reality of the situation occurring before her eyes, Leila being on the verge of death due to none other than Elq herself, completely surpassed the limits of her comprehension. But precisely because she could not understand it, Elq grew interested. What in the world is happening? What is she trying to do?
“What are you doing here?” Elq sent out another thought.
This second impact sent Leila flying into the wall. Still, even as her blood dirtied the walls and floor, she stood back up.
Wow. I don’t know what’s going on, but this is amazing. Elq’s interest only intensified upon seeing so many new things for the first time. And her excitement only made her waves of thought even stronger.
“I…” Leila started, but then paused to cough up the blood welling up from her throat. “I am Leila Asprey. I’m just a Brave who’s going to kill you and save the world.”
“That sounds like a lot of trouble.”
Leila’s entire body trembled as if struck by lightning. But still, she managed to say the words, “It is.” As blood streamed down from the edges of her lips, she smiled fearlessly.
Elq did not understand the concepts of death, pain, or suffering. Looking at Leila, however, Elq could sense the amount of determination she held as she stood there. Ebo, Jay, and Carma, all being too powerful, never showed Elq that kind of emotion.
“Why do you want to save the world?” Elq asked.
Clinging onto her sword for support, Leila took a moment to think. Well, I guess if I’m ever going to be honest, it might as well be now, she mumbled silently to herself. “There’s someone I love.”
Leila’s expression at that moment. Her smile. Her gentle and dazzling smile. Seeing that, Elq suddenly wanted to be like her. A seed of aspiration took root inside Elq.
“I do realize it’s a stupid reason to go and kill a god, but what am I supposed to do? He’s even stupider. If I don’t act stupid first, he will. Willem really is stupid, after all.”
The effects of the impacts all overlapped with each other, working to shatter Leila’s consciousness. Her eyes seemed to be losing focus, as if entering a dream, but she continued walking closer, one step at a time. Eventually, she arrived right in front of Elq’s face.
“Well then, little god. I don’t have anything against you, but good night. Hope you have sweet dreams.”
Leila raised her sword, then, slowly, and cleanly, thrust it straight into Elq’s chest. The blade pierced Elq’s small body gently, as if patting a baby’s head.
Elq blinked in confusion. The Visitors, being immortal, could not meet death unless in their homeland, and the road there had been lost long ago. So even though they could sense pain, their bodies couldn’t recognize it as dangerous. Blood flowed out of the wound.
The cracks running through the blade widened slightly, and faint light began to pour out of the gaps, signifying the activation of the Talent held by Seniolis, the highest ranking Kaliyon ever forged by humanity. Its ability to convert any being into a mortal admitted no exceptions.
After a brief time, the faint light weakened, then disappeared completely.
Leila, her heart and mind thoroughly decimated, at long last ran out of strength and closed her eyes.
Elq’s vision suddenly turned black, as if a curtain had descended before her eyes. A floating sensation enveloped her body. She seemed to be falling forever and ever. Down, down into a vast blackness. Deeper, and deeper she went. With that, the young Visitor fell into the long sleep known as death.
The Braves succeeded in defeating the evil Visitors, eliminating the great threat hanging over the world. Just like in all the tales of heroes, justice had prevailed, and the strong had protected the weak.
Unfortunately, lives were lost, but certainly not in vain. Their sacrifices enabled humanity to survive. Every single death had meaning. The only thing left to do was celebrate this wonderful happy ending…
But while the masses all rejoiced innocently, one night, Quasi Brave Navrutri Teigozak stole the corpse of Visitor Elq Harksten from its sealed storage vault and carried it off in secret. The fragments of the Visitors’ souls not only served as one of the ingredients which created humanity, but also the key to saving humanity from destruction. Aiming to unlock the door to salvation, True World extracted the soul from the corpse which Navrutri brought and tried to smash it into pieces.
However, it didn’t go too well. There were many reasons for this. At the time of the decisive battle, no one knew the whereabouts of True World’s founder, Nils D Foreigner. An association of doctors stole a number of True World’s researchers, realizing that their work could lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of many diseases. Furthermore, groups of adventurers attacked the organization, fueled by their sense of justice and their conviction that True World was an evil group which posed a threat to the empire.
All the various reasons interfered with each other in complex ways to produce the inevitable outcome. The soul, which needed to be smashed into pieces as fine as grains of sand, kept almost half of its original form, while the other half broke down into pieces only the size of pebbles. Of course, that proved insufficient to be the key to salvation.
The tales of heroism no longer had any use. No one prayed for a miracle or attempted to reverse the situation. The ancient wisdom capable of solving everything never awoke. So naturally, humanity stayed on its original course to devastation.
Three things were left behind in the aftermath.
The terrifying Beasts which carried a deep hatred for all life and continued their violent rampages until no prey remained in sight.
The few refugees who barely survived the first year before seeking safety in the sky.
And lastly, the shattered fragments of Elq Harksten’s soul, lying abandoned with nowhere to go.
“I had another dream about the land up in the sky.”
Inside an illusory space created by the Shiantor, a red haired girl spoke to the empty air in front of her with a yawn.
“That fairy again? The one that dragged a beast child into a lake?” Out of that empty air, a large flying fish appeared.
“No, that one got punished right after that. This dream was about different ones. A bunch of fairies gathered inside a forest and caused a ruckus. They couldn’t speak, but they cried and laughed and yelled.”
“Sounds like a neighborhood disturbance.”
“Yeah, others were annoyed,” the red haired girl said, and the fish nodded in approval. “… I wonder who they were.”
“Hmm? What do you mean?”
“When I dream, I’m in a nostalgic place. Inside that small barrier, at a time when Ebo and Jay were still there.”
“Ah, our ship, huh.”
“There, it’s like there are stories scattered about. In holes in the walls, or stuck between cabinets, in the illustrations of picture books… when I find them, I learn about those children. What they do, what they think about, what they feel… just like reading a book, I can read their lives.”
“This barrier we’re in is already like a dream, but you’re still having dreams on top of that? I guess you’re getting to that age…” the fish commented, but the girl didn’t really understand. “Those children are all you, Elq.”
“Those idiots that smashed your soul didn’t have very much power or skill. Basically, they didn’t finish the job. The fragments were all different sizes, and they still remained connected with each other. Those fairies in your dreams are the outcomes of parts of your soul… like hair that you cut off a long time ago or something. Since you didn’t die properly, those fragments of your soul couldn’t just sit still. And through that connection, you’re seeing their lives as dreams.”
“So my dreams are really happening, outside of this barrier world?”
“Those girls playing pranks and getting punished and causing a ruckus… all that really happened?”
Ah, I see, Elq thought. That’s interesting. The barrier world created by the First Beast which she resided in provided the naive Elq more than enough entertainment, but the ephemeral lives of those fairies in the sky provided a completely different kind of stimulation. She enjoyed her dreams, or rather the lives of the fragments of her own soul, as a sort of amusement which allowed her to experience short and pleasant stories.
After that, time passed.
Inside the world created by the Shiantor, however, the passage of time held no meaning. Each day passed by in exactly the same way as the previous one. The common sense that with every cycle of the sun’s rising and setting tomorrow becomes today and today becomes yesterday didn’t apply. A constant today simply continued forever and ever.
Amidst that never ending monotony, Elq’s dreams alone changed bit by bit. Floating islands fell at the hands of the drifting Teimerre. Some fairies prevented those attacks by making their Venom run berserk. Some people noticed that and got the idea to use the fairies, who had previously been nothing more than neighborhood disturbances living inside forests, as weapons to protect the islands.
“Recently, my dreams have been a little upsetting.”
Seeing the fairies devote themselves to chasing their ambitions made Elq’s dreams fun, but recently she hardly got to see that anymore. Now, she only saw fairies who killed themselves in order to save the lives of others, as if mere tools.
More time passed.
As always, when night came, Elq viewed the fairies’ lives. She watched as the fairies learned the language of the island people, received swords, and became like soldiers while still being treated as weapons.
At that point, some of the fairies began to hold a sense of self and the desire to live. For some reason, Elq couldn’t see those fairies for some time after their birth. Only after they grew up did their stories connect to her dreams. According to Carma, those fragments, after passing through many reincarnations, had moved closer to existing independently, weakening their connection with Elq in the process. That meant Elq’s amusing stories would eventually disappear altogether. She wasn’t too happy upon hearing the news.
Then, one day, a particular fairy appeared in Elq’s dreams. That fairy had hair the color of a clear blue sky and eyes the color of a calm ocean surface. She held great strength, and furthermore her usage of that strength was already firmly decided. She would wield the Kaliyon Seniolis and defeat an especially large Teimerre, losing her own life in the process. She existed for that sole purpose.
Ahh, not this again. Just by seeing the beginning of that simple and closed ended story, Elq fell into a bit of a depressing mood. That fairy would turn out exactly the same as all the others. She would throw away her short life without ever knowing fun or happiness. Elq easily predicted the conclusion.
Her prediction would have been exactly right, if not for three turning points. First, the fairy suddenly got the desire to walk around in a foreign city. Second, a mischievous cat snatched her precious brooch and ran off. And third, after falling from a high building, she landed on top of and almost crushed a black haired young man.
Are you hurt!? Are you alive!? Are any organs crushed!? A–
The two ran all around town, then parted, then met again.
Well then, nice to meet you, Mr. Supervisor.
Eventually, the fairy noticed the feelings inside of her.
… if I asked for a kiss or something. What would you do?
Her determination to die undone, she fell into a confusing whirlpool of resentment, but still, she held her head high and decided to chase after her aspirations.
Elq became engrossed in the story of that fairy, that life which had once been a part of her. She felt like that fairy had taken something important of hers, but she didn’t know what.
The fairy loved someone and gave up on her own happiness for that person. She went without hesitation to a battlefield where certain death awaited her. Ah, that’s right. Elq realized: the girl reminded her of Leila, the human Regal Brave who once killed Elq Harksten. Elq had died while wishing to become like Leila. She took that admiration with her to the grave.
That wish came true. All the fairies in Elq’s dreams threw their lives away without a single thought about their own happiness. She just never paid much attention to those elements, since she herself didn’t understand the concepts of love or one’s own happiness very well. Her dreams had gotten boring recently, but now Elq realized that resulted from her own wish. She wanted to interact with the outside world. She wanted to wave a big sword around and sacrifice herself just like Leila. The whole time, those childish desires of hers had been fulfilled over and over again, consuming countless lives in the process.
But now, this blue haired girl… Kutori Nota Seniolis broke the pattern. Instead of simply following Elq’s wishes, she had her own aspirations. She loved someone, and didn’t hide those feelings. She wanted to bring that person happiness and find her own as well. She headed off to a perilous battle despite the fear and turmoil inside her.
Inside her dreams, Elq was no more than a young child sitting inside the ruins of the Visitors’ old ship. She didn’t understand what she had done, nor did she feel anything. However, when she woke up in the barrier world, she grew angry at herself. How could she have been so evil? She wanted to puke. The Church of Holy Light was right. Elq Harksten was a wicked god who deserved to be slain.
“You shouldn’t worry about it,” Carma said casually. “All those girls dying and being born are you, so you aren’t actually harming anyone. Not only that, but those islands in the sky are being protected with your power, right? You’re doing a good thing.”
No, Elq thought. Kutori might be me, but I’m not Kutori. Even though the fairies were all parts of Elq, they each held their old individual personality and aspirations. Elq wasn’t fighting desperately for anything like them. She couldn’t. She could only watch from a distance and admire those who could.
Elq watched as Kutori broke down from within during battle. At first, her dreams were no more than a form of amusement where she could experience short, pleasant stories. They were no more than a way to get stimulation she couldn’t otherwise get inside the barrier world. So why? Why was this happening?
“I have one wish. This is probably going to be my last one,” Kutori said.
I know, Elq thought.
“I can’t remember precisely, but I feel like there’s someone I want to save. There are feelings I want to convey.”
I know that too. I’m not you, but you are me. I’ve watched you chase after Willem this whole time.
“I understand everything now. But still I’m asking you.”
I figured you’d say that.
Elq couldn’t bring herself to tell Kutori that she wanted her to stop, to live a little longer, to let Elq see a little more of her story. So she simply saw her off one last time.
Elq didn’t shed a single tear in her dream. But still, she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the story of the blue haired girl and the black haired young man until the very end.