“What do you think of Heroes?”
“You’re asking me that after showing me this?” I said as I leaned my back on the twisted-tree-bench. “Please give me time to re-evaluate them. The fact that you asked while I gaze at these countless tombs is… unnatural? Or at least I think.”
Beside me was Celes. We were sitting on a tree twisted and formed into a suitable bench for two. Regarding how it happened, or how it was done, I had no idea. In any case, it was useless for me to mind such mind-boggling event. After all, it was made by none other than a being that far surpassed my logic—no, a being that far surpassed the logic of this world.
Before us were countless grave markers, or tombs. What lied beneath were the bodies of dead Heroes and their companions. And the reason why I was gazing upon this unnatural sight was caused by—obviously—Celes.
I intended to hide in that room in order to give my horn some time to grow, but when I clutched the necklace, this is where I ended up. In front of these graves, and in front of the massive tree that pierced through the sky in the distance. Its gigantic roots slithered across my field of vision, leaving small patches a land for the graves. It was a sight to behold.
At first, Celes asked me what I thought about the tree. I answered with: Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, and World Tree. However, just as I suspected, I was wrong. Although I based my answer on the books I have read thus far, there was never any evidence or claim what the tree was. It remained as an unknown tree throughout history. A tree accessible only once in every five years. A time when portals around the continent manifest to invite beings to unravel its mystery.
However, perhaps, I was the first partially ordinary being to know its true name. It was called Tree of Origin. But its mystery stayed the same, how it worked and what it was for was unknown. I tried asking Celes, but she refused to give me an answer other than, “It doesn’t concern you right now.”
“So?” again, she said. “Isn’t it a sight to marvel at?”
“If I were to consider these countless weapon-turned-markers, which each had their own uniqueness, then I guess it is a sight to marvel.”
The countless weapons were different from each other. Some had veins pulsing on its blade, block-like and root-like. The types also varied. Knuckles and claws, spears and halberds, great swords and long swords, bows and crossbows, staves and rods, all the types of weapons I could think of. Lastly, some weapons emitted a glow while some were somewhat translucent. The only similarity they shared was the vines that entangled itself on the weapons as it reached out to the black marbles resting on top.
After a few moments of trying to appreciate the sight before me, I answered, “A civilian? A civilian or a stranger dragged into a world waiting to become a place for their graves.”
“I see.” She smiled. A breeze passed by and rustled her silver hair, carrying away the pink petals that fell off of her horn. It was another sight to behold.
“Why ask?” I shifted my sight to the group of gryphons soaring the sky. It was the complete opposite of the night sky where I had previously been.
“Nothing. I just wanted to know.”
“...” In my silence, I thought, Is she trying to check whether I will change my mind on how I would treat Hero Meiko?
“Maybe? Maybe not?” She answered. She then stood and walked a few steps forward.
“I forgot you could read my thoughts...”
“There’s no need to sulk.” She giggled. “And to answer your question on why I brought you here, come, I’ll let you meet someone.” She turned around and offered her hand.
Needless to say, I grasped it. By the next moment—as opposed to my expectation of being transferred to a different location—my perspective changed.
“Wha?!” I yelped. I blinked my eyes a few times, no, it wasn’t the eyes I owned. It was different. The view was different. The range of colors that I could see and detect was entirely different. There were also a few lights of different colors swirling from one place to another.
“Surprised?” Despite my view changing to that of an unknown creature, Celes’s voice was clear as day.
“What is this?”
“I’m letting your consciousness borrow one of my puppet’s body.”
I tried moving around, and she was right. The body moved just like I willed.
“Amazing...” I muttered. A warm sensation was circulating throughout my real body. It felt unreal, illogical, but excitement welled inside me. It was similar to the times I figured out how magic tools worked.
A thought then quickly struck me. “Celes, is it possible to transfer your consciousness to a golem?” I asked like a child with gleaming eyes. The thoughts of how I could use a golem that had my consciousness was endless. Just the thought of a golem working without care for stamina was exciting.
“Yes, it is. But it’s preferable if the golem had a mana source of its own.”
Dasbalite and a Crystal Thread. If Mola and Glasses manage to work with the Dasbalite and the Crystal Threads I brought back, then it’s possible. Yes. It’s possible. The only problem now is how to get raw mana from those Dasbalites instead of energy.
This time, Celes remained silent as I go over the ideas that came to mind. But after a few moments, “Come now, Amelia. You can rummage through those ideas later.”
I snapped from my delusions and said, “Ah, right.”
Afterward, I followed after Celes—or at least an illusion of her. The place was the same, but we were on the opposite side of Tree of Origin. It was a wonder as to why Celes made me have my consciousness transferred into a puppet if she could have just transferred me completely.
Nevertheless, we walked through an aisle in-between graves similar to the opposite side. Shortly after, a silhouette of a large white wolf entered my vision. It was waiting at the end of the aisle, sitting up as tall as a two-story building.
The moment we arrived before the wolf, it spoke.
[So this is Amelia.] Its jaws didn’t move even in the slightest.
“She’s a bit similar to Elena, isn’t she?” Celes smiled, unbothered by the size difference before her and the wolf.
[True.] The wolf turned its golden pupils towards me. [But it’s a wonder why you had brought her just now.]
“The circumstances right now are different.”
[Nevertheless, you boasted Elena in front of me and the True Divines as if nothing concerns you. That in its own sense is ridiculous.]
Celes tilted her head with a finger pressed on her cheek. “Well, Elena back then had no ties to any race so it was fine. However, this time, Amelia is tied to humans.” Then she turned around and met my eyes. “At the least, you’d save your kingdom when faced with a disaster, right?”
“… That’s obvious,” I answered. “I’m a Royal. It is my duty.”
“See?” Celes turned her eyes to the wolf. “Unless she cut off any ties she had with any race, I can’t help her. And right now, her circumstances are completely unrelated to the rule I’ve set. In case I help her despite everything,”
[You’d go against the rules set by the pact formed in the Divine Assembly.]
“Right. And it won’t be fun seeing the kingdom Elena worked hard to build destroyed in mere seconds.”
“… But didn’t you help Elena in any case?” I asked puzzled.
“Yes, I did, but that’s as my daughter. The day I’ve set her free, and to love like all the other humans desired, I stopped meeting with her.” A reminiscent smile floated on Celes’s face. “Ah, I could still remember Elena getting curious about a man adventuring in the mountains. I shouldn’t have let her meet him.”
“Then… why didn’t you made her attain the same state as I?”
[Impossible,] the wolf unexpectedly answered. [Celestia had never let a single scratch reach Elena. That’s how protective she was. Not even death dared approach someone under Celestia’s careful watch.]
Celes laughed. “You put it like I was a doting parent.”
Perhaps, maybe, the history of our family having numerous doting parents sourced from Celes herself?
“Oh, so you’re blaming me now for your overprotective father?”
I shuddered the moment Celes turned to me. “It’s just a thought. Haha… Anyway, why am I here for?”
“Right, then, Fenrir, I’ll leave things to you.”
“Eh? you’re leaving already?” I asked Celes.
“There are things I need to quell for that three months I gave you. I’d be busy for a while so Fenrir here will play with you for some time.” She then waved her hand and vanished like smoke.
Then her voice resounded through my mind.
Oh, another thing. The next time you come here, it’ll be through this puppet, but I won’t assist your movements the next time. That aside, your body would still be transferred to the same room you always end up with the necklace.
[Now then, where should I start.]
“Uhm… Wouldn’t it be a problem if you taught me? Doesn’t that amount to Celes indirectly helping me through you?”
[No, it doesn’t. Although I’m originally a divine made to protect the elves, I’m not part of the pact. Besides, the other divines don’t know I’m still alive aside from Celestia and the True Divines.]
Humans had the Angels and Elves had these White Wolves?
“Then it’s fine if you teach me directly instead of giving hints like Celes did?”
[Indeed. Celes is part of the assembly, and thus have limited capabilities to teach you. Another reason is if the other divines considering you as Celestia’s direct kin.]
“Why?” I tilted my head, or in this case, the puppet’s head.
[Celestia have numerous enemies outside of the group of the True Divines. If they knew you were her kin, an infant Divine at that, you might become the target of their hatred.]
I heaved a sigh. “… How many times does my life have to be in danger.”
[You shouldn’t mind the problem with the Divines for now. You’d only be peeking your head in unnecessary danger.]
“You’re right, but I already have.”
[Partly. Be thankful you have guardian willing to break a few rules for you.]
“Yeah, I really am.” I laughed dryly. “But at the same time, it makes me feel powerless...”
I can’t live my life with Celes lending a hand every time it gets far worse.
[Anyone is like a powerless child to Celestia. You shouldn’t mind it.]
“Somehow, that makes me feel a bit lighter.” Then after a deep breath, “I have a lot of questions on how you ended up here and vanishing in the face of the elves, but I’ll put it aside for now,” I said.
[Maybe after you grew up to face an Angel barehanded, then I’ll tell you.]
“That’s too much to ask. I don’t think I’m that good enough to face Divines like the Angels. The last time was lucky. And right now, there’s no trick up my sleeve to deal with them—and so I have to get stronger, better, faster.” I gazed at Fenrir with burning ambition.
Things have been heading south for me. But that doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t just stand and let the waves push me to whenever it wanted. I shouldn’t let the wind dictate where I should be heading. For the people I care for and for me, I should keep moving forward.
[Then let me tell you, though Angels are Divines, they aren’t as strong as you think individually. Angels work with numbers, but the thousands they used to be are now in the hundreds. But numbers itself have an advantage, but at the same time, a disadvantage. Pick them off one by one, and they’re a goner. And the fact that they signed the pact is a sign they’re conscious of their number. It is an act of shielding themselves from needlessly depleting themselves to extinction.]
“Are you saying a Divine’s abilities is inversely proportional to their number?”
[Yes. The more they are in number, the less powerful they are. But be careful, though Angels are weak individually, the higher stratum is in their choir, the more powerful they are. The highest is Hayots followed by Ophanims and Erelims.]
Fenrir continued to explain the ten stratas of the Angel choirs. And so far, it seemed the Angel I defeated last time was ranked sixth, a Malakim. Nevertheless, me having to trade off the rapier wasn’t pleasing.
Our conversation went on as Fenrir explained things to me one by one. Calmly, I listened and noted what I heard. It didn’t take long before time drifted and had made me remember Erina still waiting in my room. At that point, I cut-off my studies with Fenrir and went back to my room.
When I arrived, at around three in the morning, I saw Erina asleep on a chair.
I went overboard…
A messy and curly brown hair dangled at a girl’s back laden with a white coat. She wasn’t tall, but she wasn’t too short either. However, her slightly roundish face bore a charming smile. It was Mola, and she looked several years younger than her actual age of twenty-one.
“Where are you going, Mola?” Kanna asked. Her feet were playfully kicking underneath a chair like usual.
“Academia,” she answered. She grabbed another one of her writing implements and placed it inside a leather bag. “Orders from above.”
Kanna suddenly stood from her seat. “Oh! Then did Lia say anything for me? When would she arrive?” She barraged Mola with one question after another. Her questions revolved around Amelia’s late arrival.
“Nothing in particular, but she said you and Meiko can come with me to Academia. The papers for your entry had also been prepared so things would go smoothly in our transfer.”
Kanna pouted. “So Lia won’t be back soon huh.”
Meiko, on the other hand, raised a question. “I thought I should wait for her to hear my answer?” She wore a puzzled expression.
“Well, right now, Her Highness Elaine is within the Duchy. Soon, His Majesty and his Royal Mistress will arrive. So if you want to keep on concealing your identity, it’d be best to leave now. In any case, if you stay behind, you have to keep your creed of shutting yourself in this room firm. The moment you leave this room, the risk of—”
“Coming!” Kanna walked to the door and opened it. The figure that appeared behind the door was the least that Mola expected.
“Y-your Highness.” Mola bowed. Sweat immediately formed on her body. “What brings you here?” she said with a strained smile.
It was none other than Elaine, a girl wearing a frilly blue dress laced with white. Her short brown hair was neatly tied to the side of her head with a black scrunchy.
“Pleased to meet you, Hero Meiko.” She curtsied, wearing an innocent smile. “Don’t worry, I had Elder Sister’s permission to come here. Though I may not be as worthy as Sister, I’ll hear your answer in her stead. But please rest assured, I didn’t come here to spark any needless battles.”
Elaine’s eyes gleamed with excitement. The great stories regarding Heroes that Amelia used to tell her flashed inside her mind. And right now, she was facing a real one.