Girl: “And, in the end, both of us will be free.”
On hearing those words said with a genuine on the speaker’s face smile, Sneha was left with no seeming way to respond. To someone who was so happy with this outcome, she couldn’t possibly try to tell them to live, not die. And even if she does, how would any of them be able to change the fate that awaits this girl.
Girl: “You don’t need to be that shocked.”
Seeing the expressions on the Aural’s face, the girl said so. She had gained a better understanding of a person’s feelings after having been confronted with the truth of her having human emotions. So, she could understand why Sneha was in shock.
Girl: “Although death may sound saddening to many, I would accept it wholeheartedly.”
Sneha: “But why?”
Sneha gave a question that was to raise an objection to her line of thinking.
Sneha: “Shouldn’t you rather try to live longer with the one you have come to consider a father?”
For a moment, the girl’s face showed surprise. It was surprise at the fact that this woman would actually care about her. It was surprise at the fact that this woman would have a dejected and sad expression on her face for her of all people.
Sneha: “Isn’t that what you should desire?”
Girl: “I-I …”
Seeing that kindness, she had become unable to speak. It was not that she had never seen someone with such empathy, but because she had seen people like that never direct it towards her. After all, she was a mass of energy and not an actual person.
No, that was not true. That had become untrue the moment the so-called god gave her human feelings. But, even she herself believed that she was just a mass of energy all this time. She wondered if even the dragon had noticed that change or not.
Girl: “I don’t have a choice.”
But in this moment, looking at the first and probably last person to ever show any real concerns for her, she had to brush all of those thoughts aside and answer her sincerely.
Girl: “The dragon would die and so would I. I think only a little more than two days are left. Even in those two days, one is going to go incredibly fast. So, this outcome is only inevitable.”
She knew the facts, and had no intention of running away from them.
Sneha: “But still,”
Girl: “Tell me miss, why are you so worried about me?”
Girl: “We have not talked much before, have we? In fact, the first time we talked was outside of the tomb two hours ago. So why have you started caring about me that much?”
Faced with a question she couldn’t answer, her gaze lowered. The girl saw that and smiled.
Sneha Stone could not tell her the reason for this empathy was not a very noble one. She could not tell that it was just because her childish nature reminded her of her peers at the shrine. She could not say that it was a selfish want to not see someone die again.
Sneha: “I …”
She struggled to form words. She could not tell that such a selfish reason drives her to ask to continue to live longer in this godforsaken world.
Sneha: “I just started seeing you as a human, somewhere down the line.”
So she said the part of the truth that she believed to be less selfish.
Sneha: “I just don’t see you as some mass of energy.”
The girl had understood that and was not benefitted by this answer, but she had a smile on her face and responded with a nod.
Sneha: “You said that we have not talked much. Maybe that is the reason.”
Sneha answered to the best of her capability.
Sneha: “Because from what I have seen of you, I never saw you acting like someone who isn’t human, I just saw you acting like an intelligent, little girl.”
And that answer, even if lacking, was enough for the girl. She wasn’t being deceived into thinking that was the real reason Sneha is so kind towards her. In fact, she understood that there is some reason for her kindness that she thinks is so bad she doesn’t want to reveal what it is.
And seeing that, she understood that this empathy is not a result of some fool’s kindness, but has a genuine reason behind it. And to this girl, that painted it as far more acceptable than a person who would be kind for the sake of being kind.
Girl: “Thank you!”
So, she could not do anything but thank her for this kindness.
And what she received in response was a confused face. In order to clear that confusion, the girl told her reason for thanking her.
Girl: “I am happy I met you before dying.”
Ethan Kales has finally started to understand the reason this Aural comrade of his is so down.
But even though he understands, he can’t muster up any words to say to her.
And neither does she look to be in any mood to talk anymore.
In that uncomfortable silence that had come about, the two helplessly shift their gazes from the ground to the ceiling to each other to the ground.
They are not uncomfortable in speaking to each other even though they have been doing it pretty easily so far. The problem is that they don’t know just what to say.
And as they try to muster up some words, a loud sound comes. This sound looked to have come from something falling to the ground.
As he stared in the direction the sound came from, which was the direction of the stairs to the next floor, he glanced at the Aural.
Sneha: “That’s suspicious, isn’t it?”
Ethan: “That it is. But, are you willing to go and see what it was from.”
Sneha looks down as she seems to consider for a second what she would do. And then, as if having made up her mind, she sighs.
Sneha: “I don’t think I have the legacy of refusing in such a situation.”
They are inside Ozyllus’ tomb and a black hole had suddenly appeared once out of nowhere about an hour ago. Considering the both of those alarmingly dangerous things, she has no choice but to investigate if any suspicious activity happens.
Ethan: “Yeah, that’s not wrong but, if you are not up for it, you can stay back.”
His voice is not comforting at all, mostly because of the anxiety of what that sound came from, but his intentions still get through to her.
Sneha: “Sometimes you almost sound like a cliché good guy.”
Ethan gets surprised as he sees her smiling on that remark, a remark using the word ‘cliché’ that he usually makes.
Ethan: “I guess you are ready then.”
Needless to say, that remark was meant to ease up the anxious and tense atmosphere around them and it did its job.
Before moving forward, both glance at each other and nod, and carefully start walking towards the stairs making sure to match their steps.
Dyne: “Is that so!?”
He tilts his head with curiosity.
Dyne: “You are telling me that powerless person who holds the Eyes of Truth is the one who inspired you two to go down this foolish path?”
His words were not for the sake of mocking the dragon, Barry, their intentions or Ethan. They were just words of plain surprise.
Dragon: “Yeah, even if it sounds stupid or hypocritical that people like us who had searched for more and more power to oppose Ozyllus were inspired to take our first steps by someone with no real fighting prowess, it is the truth.”
The dragon affirmed to his claim. He knew full well that Ethan Kales was responsible for the changes that had happened within him as well as with Barry. He would not withhold from giving him the credit he deserves.
Ro: “I … just can’t stand that bastard.”
Ro admitted his annoyance at Ethan.
Ro: “True enough he’s sharp and has done some rather beneficial things for us even if indirectly, but I doubt he really meant to help anyone.”
Ro looked at the ground as he recalled the moment of his death.
Dragon: “And why is that?”
The reason for that was simply because he was unable to accept his killer as someone that noble. Or, what will he, the person who was killed by him, be?
Ro: “I can’t say.”
If his killer was a noble person, then doesn’t that make him someone truly corrupt?
Dyne: “Well, that’s understandable.”
Dyne agreed with Ro even though he had no personal reason to do so. His instincts just told him that Ethan Kales is someone he should not trust.
Dyne: “He looks to me like a conniving meddler in the affairs of this war.”
That was his judgment of Ethan’s character, and truth be told, he was not too far off.
Dragon: “I won’t deny that.”
Therefore, the dragon accepted that evaluation. But, he continued,
Dragon: “However, he is someone whose meddling might as well bring something good out of this war.”
The dragon had seen a war about a thousand years ago. He knew full well how much tragedy something like that brings. So, looking at this rapidly approaching war, he could do nothing but feel despair for those who would be involved in it. However, the existence of this conniving meddler might as well turn things around. Obviously, a lot of blood will still be spilled but maybe not as much as the last time. That is his hope. And he assured himself that Barry too had this hope. Whether he really did or not, the dragon wouldn’t really know.
Walter: “His meddling will bring something good out of this war, huh?”
Walter repeated the dragon’s words with a curious gaze and folded arms.
Walter: “I don’t know if that will be the case or not, but I can definitely see some change coming about because of him.”
Dyne: “That so?”
Walter: “What about you?”
Seeing the rather unimpressed-at-Ethan face Dyne was making, Walter turned to him to ask.
Walter: “You did offer him to join us in this war. Why did you do that? Don’t you have any expectations of him as well?”
Dyne sighed and leaned against a tree.
Dyne: “I do have some expectations of him. That said though, it’s only natural to have some expectations of a man who has Eyes of Truth.”
Dyne’s words were, in no way, wrong.
Dyne: “But there was someone with those eyes in the last war too, wasn’t there? He couldn’t do all that much to be honest even though he was a genius.”
The person he was talking about had been the one who had created as well as mastered the use of the Eyes of Truth. His genius was undisputed throughout history.
Dyne: “If someone like him couldn’t do it, how can an ordinary person like Ethan make a difference?”
He had raised his point and although there were many things to say to argue him over his point, they didn’t do it. It was because they knew full well that there’s no way to really prove any point here, and even if there was, it would bear no real fruit. The results of this war are what will truly answer this question and till then, no argument has much credibility.
Sagax: “So you know?”
Sona: “Yeah, I do.”
In the darkness she was swallowed in, she could see two other people unconscious. They were, the nameless little girl and Kais. However, a few moments earlier, the girl had disappeared. Sona didn’t know what exactly happened, but she understood that the silhouette in front of her is somehow responsible.
Sagax: “So then, do you also know who I am?”
Sona: “Based on your eyes and you being in this black hole that was formed in the tomb, I have a guess.”
Her guess was right and Sagax just nodded to say that. He didn’t even need to ask her about her guess as it was pretty obvious for someone who actually knows somewhat about Sagax’s story that this silhouette is him.
Sona: “That all, however, gives me no clue as to what exactly is happening here.”
Sagax: “It’s simple. You have been sucked in a dimension that was created for my soul to reside in. The gates to this dimension could be opened from inside the tomb and I assume one of you must have opened it.”
Sona: “That’s all fine and all but what I want to know is what exactly happened to the girl?”
Hearing that, Sagax narrowed his hollow eyes and said,
Sagax: “Well, in simple terms, I gave her a choice.”
Sona: “A choice?”
Sona looked at him doubtfully as he continued.
Sagax: “Yes, a choice between death alongside the dragon or a longer life without him?”
As soon as she heard that, she knew the answer.
Sona: “She chose the former?”
Sagax: “She did.”
To that girl whose whole world was this island, the dragon was her only family. So, dying alongside him was a no-brainer in her book. Sona, having spent some time with her, had come to understand that.
She was, regardless, irritated to hear that.
Sona: “So, has she already died?”
Sagax: “Hmm … I don’t know.”
Sona: “You don’t.”
Her eyes saw him as someone suspicious and so she wouldn’t just readily believe him if he said he doesn’t know but,
Sagax: “I put a condition on her that she would die when she finds fulfillment in her life. I imagined that would be when the dragon had died, but I don’t exactly know.”
He told her the truth without any deceptions and she, well versed in contracts and conditions, could certainly not deny that what he said made sense.
Sona: “What if she doesn’t find fulfillment even after his death? Wouldn’t that be very bad for her?”
Sagax: “All that means is that there was something else she desired that she didn’t understand when she agreed to dying. She would just have to find that something else.”
Sona was about as sure as she could be that the girl would die when the dragon dies, maybe even before that, but she had learned to be skeptical and so couldn’t deny the possibility that there could be something else that may stop her from dying.
That, however, was and was not the case.
The girl offered her gratitude to Sneha. Sneha did not understand why. The girl told her she was glad to have met her. Sneha didn’t know why. And to that confused woman,
Girl: “If there is any regret that I have, it’s that I probably won’t be remembered by anyone.”
She scratched her cheek as a slight blush came to her cheeks.
Sneha: “What are you saying? Why wouldn’t we remember you?”
Girl: “Tell me, would you be able to remember a little girl you don’t know the name of?”
Sneha flinched as she saw her point.
Girl: “I don’t have a name and so there’s no real way to remember me.”
Girl: “I had, deep down, understood the value of names ever since I have had feelings. The proof is that I named all the animals on the island.”
She smiled in self-reflection, something a girl of the age her appearance shows, shouldn’t be very good at.
Girl: “But, because the dragon didn’t give me one, I didn’t understand the importance of my own name, at least not consciously.”
Now that she had come to accept all her humanity that Ozyllus had given her, she knows the importance of her own name, the one thing she doesn’t have.
Girl: “I wish I had one name people could remember me by.”
The dragon himself is not someone who ever understood the value of names. He didn’t mind others having one but never bothered to remember a name that people gave him. So it is only natural that she didn’t really understand their importance. But Ozyllus, someone who did understand it, made her realize their importance. So now she feels regret.
Sneha: “I … I see.”
Sneha understood her regret and knew, to some extent, what it feels like. Sneha herself had always had a name but there had come a time when, after everyone at the shrine died in the disaster caused by Barry, she had lost any place to belong. She had lost a part of her identity and so she understands, to an extent, the pain of someone who had no identity and felt a sense of loss for it.
Sneha: “In that case,”
Therefore, the one thing that Sneha could do, other than feeling bad for her, would be …
Sneha: “I will remember you as Lilly.”
… giving her a name. And the name she gave the girl was the name of her friend, the one this girl reminded her most of.
She was flabbergasted at what Sneha had just said.
Sneha: “That will be the name that I would make sure everyone who knows you remembers you by. And so,”
She said as the memories of her friend, Lilly, flashed before her eyes,
Sneha: “You can rest in peace knowing that you would be remembered.”
Hearing that, a teardrop fell off from Lilly’s eyes only to be multiplied very soon.
Lilly: “Ms. Sneha, thank you!”
It was said from the bottom of her heart and Sneha well understood that. Her eyes had started to tear up as well.
After a few moments, having her one and only regret diminished before her eyes, the girl would die and the energy she had been made of will disperse. As Ethan had planned, her believing that the island would get destroyed would, after the remaining time has passed, destroy the island.
And that will be the end of her story.