Within the dark woods came a figure of a girl, clutching her long skirt with her thin white fingers. Weaving through the trees, her unworldly tea-green clothes were decorated with leaves.
Please leave me alone! The girl thought as she spurred her legs, carelessly snapping twigs and thin branches along the way.
Closely following behind were frenzied hoof-beats carrying lights that flickered in the dark. “Halt!” A man in armor shouted, bearing a crest of a cross turned sword. “By the order of the church, halt!”
Gasping for breath, she replied. “I don’t want to!”
In response, the man leading the unit of horsemen replied. “Hero Meiko! You’re to return to the church and serve as our champion of light!”
Unbelievably, her speed was on par with the horses galloping through the forest. As she turned around to face the unit of horsemen chasing her from behind, she replied. “I’m sorry!”
Reading the words that floated before her eyes, she chanted. “Manifest, Earth Wall!”
The earth rumbled as a thick wall of dirt slowly emerged from the ground, uprooting the trees along its path, disrupting the peaceful night of the birds at rest. Out of fear of the falling trees, the horses neighed in harmony with the snapping branches. After the trunks crashed onto the ground, a man shouted. “Hero Meiko!”
Urging her weary legs, she began running, chanting a magic along the way as her black hair fluttered in the dark of the night. “Manifest, Body Reinforcement!”
I don’t want this! I don’t want this! She repeatedly thought. I was only making tea at home and now I’m being called a Hero to slay the enemies of the humans? Where am I even! And What’s wrong with those three! What’s a Virtual Reality Game?!!! Is that a game card for the GBA?! I don’t understand anything! And what were they smirking for! Especially those two men! They were eyeing the princess and the priestess! Can I punch them?! No, I will punch them! Those normies! No, I don’t think they are even normies! But they are slowly becoming one! Go explode!
Darting her eyes around, she continued thinking. Why am I even summoned wearing my tea making kimono! This is absurd! I just wanted to try making tea like those in the television! The next moment I’m inside some great summoning hall then we were forced to meet the King and the Bishop! Wait, Why am I even thinking about all these myself?! Can’t I find someone I can talk to?! I want to return!
As she vanished deeper into the forest, Celes, with closed eyes, observing through a bird’s eyes muttered with a grin. “It seems like she’ll be a good pair for Amelia.” She chuckled playfully, lifting her eyelids as she observed the heroes.
Taking a light step one at a time, she approached the root of a tree spanning at least 10 kilometers wide. Just before its trunk, was a large white wolf curled beside a grave decorated by swords of different lengths, colors, and sizes.
“Four new heroes on the human side,” She muttered with a sorrowful smile. “I wonder how their stories will end.”
After confirming with a look, she raised the palm of her hand and muttered. “Now, to observe Amelia.” As she muttered, the twinkling dust that emerged from the ground gathered, forming a thin oval-shaped mirror made of mana.
Displaying a scene on its surface, it showed a cave floored by a thick layer of ice, a captivating scene of a naturally formed slide within a cave. Above the slide’s surface was a woman skidding, holding a sack and a pick, with an unnatural looking horn on her head.
As Celes smiled at the thought of Amelia willingly using her horn, her smile turned to a frown as she heard a giggling voice from the background. Thinking it through, she replayed the events recorded by the crystal.
Going through the possibilities of the Fairies presence in the caves of Alabaster, she slowly clutched her arm into a fist. “It’s possible...” She muttered. “But I have to confirm it.”
Silently, Celes watched the events unfold through the mirror and as soon she confirmed it, “Deplorable,” She muttered, glaring at the mirror as if wanting to crush it. “For Titania to do such a thing, deplorable, despicable, unforgivable!”
As she clenched her fist tighter, the ground rumbled.
[Celestia, calm yourself.] The wolf muttered after lifting its head. [You’ll only harm this place if you continue.]
Gradually, the rumbling of the earth calmed. “You’re right,” Celes replied. “I’ll be taking my leave.”
[Give my condolence to Titania for me.]
With a whisk of the air, Celes’ figure vanished like mist.
“Trick of the century?” Celes playfully voiced through the necklace at the moment before Amelia entered the Devourer’s maw. “That’s quite a trick for it to fail at the last moment.”
Manifesting a rift in space, the Devourer vanished inside. After interrupting the plan of the Fairies, Celes toyed with their bodies out of anger.
I should’ve known. She thought as she repeatedly destroyed and healed the Fairies, slowly breaking their sanity as they wailed in the depths of agony. Their limbs burst, twisted, torn, skinned, mutilated, and forced to rot before their hollowed eyes as the scent of blood and urine wafted into the chamber.
I slipped up. Amelia would have never gone through such madness if I had known. All these years I thought they understood the consequences of the rule I’ve set, but to think that Titania would pull this in the shadows…
“It’s time to visit Titania,” She muttered as she viewed the blank expression of Amelia tightly grasping her rapier. “Amelia, I’ll leave this Fairy here for you to judge.” She said, pointing at the Fairy named Talya. Slightly, Amelia’s expression softened as she listened.
Unsatisfied, Celes made it a point to not easily end the lives of the trio. Deciding on what to do next, she made use of the lingering mana in the air to manifest a hand that dragged the Fairies into the void.
This should save Amelia some slack. She thought as she cast a recurring magic on Talya, again, making use of the mana in the surroundings. After confirming that everything is in place, Celes’ figured vanished.
Shortly after, Celes’ figure reformed in an overgrown forest. Lush green patches plastered the trunks, twisted vines snaked the branches, moss painted the round stones, roots peeked through the cracks on stone lanterns, peat coated the stone stairs as roots cracked it from the side, and a temple gate standing tall, covered in a mix of vines, moss, and plants.
Unperturbed, Celes trampled on the weeds that grew on the stone pavement, approaching the long-standing temple gate. Beyond it were stairs that lead deeper into the overgrowth, but contrary to that, she halted before the gate. Raising her right arm, she placed her hand on an invisible wall. With a slight push of her palm, cracks appeared in the space, shattering a barrier into countless pieces. As the barrier dissolved into dust, the space distorted, revealing an unusual structure across the gate.
With determined steps, Celes neared the said structure made of entangled roots and vines in a form similar to that of a twisted castle.
“Titania!” Celes called in front of the twisted castle, home of the Fairies. Adamantly, Celes waited, but contrary to what she expected, Fairy knights at 5 inches tall emerged from the gates wearing a complete set of engraved mithril armor that left their backs open.
[[The Queen wishes you to leave!]] The Fairy knights, hoisting their small silver lances into the air, said with a glare.
[Please leave.] A Fairy commander said, as her red hair peeked through her helm while her armor reflected a bluish silver hue. [We do not want any trouble.]
“Oh, I didn’t know that.” Playfully, she placed her had over her lips, acting surprised. “But I’m sorry, no one is leaving this place.” With a snap of her fingers, a barrier formed with a white glint, encompassing the twisted castle and its vicinity.
“I tried to play nice Titania,” Irked by Titania’s response, she said playing with ends of hair. “But this cowardly attempt threw your chance away.”
Realizing the situation, the Fairy commander ordered, raising the tip of her lance on Celes. [Stop he-!] Abruptly, the commander stopped speaking. Her head leaned to a bow as the light in her eyes vanished. Subsequently, her colorful wings dulled as it grounded to a halt. With a soft thud, her body left a depression on the overgrowth along with the Fairy knights that met the same end.
Standing before the castle, a flickering white flame hovered beside Celes.
“Titania, the longer you cowardly hide, the more souls I’ll collect.”
For every second that passed, the flame grew as white mist-like flow gathered underneath the flame.
After 11 seconds, a woman bearing a long golden hair tied to french braid appeared from the balcony. With determined blue eyes and a motherly face, she looked down on Celes before she flew down from the balcony. Wearing a shoulder-less white gown laced with mithril, she asserted her ample chest by crossing her arms.
[I’m here Celestia.] Said Titania, fluttering her transparent patterned wings that gleamed in a rainbow hue, hovering before Celes. [Now, return the souls of my Fairies.]
Unsmiling, Celes gathered the flame on the palm of her hand. “These souls are already lost Titania,” Celes said as she grasped the flame, turning it into a clear marble. “This is repayment for your impolite greeting.”
Titania, unable to move, clenched her fist and gritted her teeth in anger.
“I gave you an option, and this is what you chose.”
[you’re misusing your power.]
“I don’t want to hear that from you who broke the only rule I’ve set as the guardian of this world.”
[What made you think that it’s right for you to set a rule?] She continued. [We have every right to do what we wanted in this world. You were never supposed to intervene.]
“Aren’t you supposed to be happy that I've set a single yet simple rule? It only indicated that forcing my children to develop their horn is unforgivable. All this time, you’re the only one who finds it hard to obey such rule. For a Queen of the Fairies blessed by their God, such a pitiable insect you are.”
[We’ll see who’s pitiable.] She smirked as she brought out a black sash and vanished.
“Indeed we will.” Opening a rift above the castle, molten magma started pouring in, burning down everything it touched. “I wonder how long it’ll take before this sealed space is filled with magma.”
Bursting from the ground surrounding the twisted castle, three woodland dragons emerged. Coated with bark-like scales covered in moss, the dragons roared as it displayed its majestic tree-like horns, raising the ground to contain the flowing magma.
“Do you think I’ve never considered that Titania?”
Peeking its large diabolic head covered with thick rugged scales, a molten dragon roared, eyeing the woodland dragons as prey. Entering from the rift, the molten dragon revealed its jet black body patterned with the pulsing red lines underneath its scales. With a deafening roar, the molten dragon raised geysers of magma, gradually breaking the woodland dragon’s containment.
“I wonder who’ll win? Three high dragons and the Fairies or one ancient dragon?” Molding the earth beneath her, Celes took a seat, waiting for the battle to unfold.
The molten dragon, more than twice the size of one woodland dragon, leaned its neck and opened its jaw, gathering a mass of red light. The Fairies, donning their complete set of armor, helped the woodland dragons by chanting a ceremonial magic. The woodland dragons, realizing the next move of the molten dragon, raised several layers of earthen walls to defend.
True to its name, the molten dragon vigorously flapped its wings, forming a wave of magma that tore down the earthen wall before unleashing its breath. At the same time, the Fairies finished their ceremonial magic and manifested a thick beam of water that tried to oppose the molten dragon’s breath. As the water beam and breath met, it created a huge amount of steam that immediately shrouded the surroundings.
The dragons, not wanting to lose against each other, voiced their thunderous roars, blasting the steam away, and forcing the poor Fairies to cup their tiny ears.
“Such a premature show, the molten dragon just began to warm up,” Celes muttered, crossing her legs in wait.
As the amount of magma increased, the molten dragon’s red pulse gradually turned white. Moving first, the woodland dragons manifested towering earthen spikes that succeeded in bashing the molten dragon. Irritated, the molten dragon once again erupted the magma, randomly taking down Fairies whose unluckily hit by the splash.
Taking flight, the molten dragon flew high before diving into the center of the pool of magma, creating an eruption that ravaged the entire area. The woodland dragons wailed as they tried to shake off the magma that stuck on their bodies. Quick as a bird of prey, the molten dragon whipped its searing tail against a woodland dragon before rushing to another one with open jaws. Catching the next dragon by the neck, the molten dragon crunched it and hoisted its dead body over the magma pool.
[P-please stop.] Titania voiced.
“What are you talking about?” Celes muttered as she shifted her legs in boredom. “The show's about to end.”
[You have to stop this, our home, the eggs.]
“Why bother? There’s still a lot of Fairies roaming around the world uninfluenced by your rule.” Celes said without glancing on Titania who dropped the Sash of Invisibility. “In fact, the Fairies would be better without you. I could always nurture a befitting Fairy to be a queen. Maybe, that way, the image of the Fairies would turn for the better.”
Surprised, Titania quickly replied. [Impossible! You’re not a God!]
“I did say that I’m not a God, but I didn’t say that I am capable of feats only known to Gods.” Nonchalantly, Celes said. “This is one of the reasons I refused to intervene in this world, but the consequences before you is the punishment for that single rule that I’ve set. So take a seat and wallow in despair.”
[The system! You should’ve been held down by the Gods orders!]
“How long did you think have I lived to not try meddling with the system? Aside from that, I'm still doing what I'm ordered to do. Apart from that, eliminating a number of a race does not constitute this world's destruction.”
While they conversed, the molten dragon finished off the last woodland dragon, tearing its wings and digging into its exposed back with white-hot claws while holding its head down with its jaw.
“I’m done recording.” Celes playfully said. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to let you watch it for at least a decade.”
With a thunderous roar, the molten dragon rejoiced over its victory, dragging the three woodland dragons into the pool of magma. Closing the previous rift, a new one appeared below the pool of magma, transferring the molten dragon and its prey.
“And the show has officially closed,” Celes announced as she stood from her seat with a smile. “And now for the prize.”
Similar to the trio of Fairies, Celes dragged Titania into the void.
During the battle between the dragons, Celes collected the Fairy eggs and Sophia’s Mirror. “Unborn beings are innocent.” Little by little, the eggs appeared on the surrounding overgrowth. “That should do it. I’ll just hope they turn out different.”
Afterward, Celes returned to the chamber within Alabaster to meet Amelia.
When Celes arrived, Amelia was holding down the unconscious Fairy on the damp ground, with a quivering dagger raised above the Fairies neck.
“Are you hesitating?” Celes asked, but Amelia did not respond. “Will it satisfy you when you end that Fairy’s life at this moment?”
With a sniff, Amelia raised the dagger and quickly brought it down. “I Don’t know...” Missing her mark, she muttered shaking her head, facing the ground. “I want to prolong her suffering, but something inside me cannot forgive what she’d done...”
“That’s a natural response.”
“Celes,” She cried. “Was my whole life a lie?”
“Aha… Ahaha...” She laughed weakly. “This pain, would it leave me if I end my life here?”
“Don’t let the pain blind you.” Celes consoled. “Think, what would the others feel when you’re gone?”
“Amelia, you're still alive. And while you're still alive, you could turn that lie into a story that drove you to live, a life beyond lies.”
“So, Amelia, would you like to try to live once more? To continue the story that’s supposed to end?”
“...” After a minute of silence, “… I’ll try.” She replied.
Smiling at her response, “Then...” Celes continued.