The door to the backyard creaked open, and a woman clad in teal dress walked to the sunny day outside her warm house. She was holding her staff on her right hand, and on her left hand, a bracelet with deep blue jewel reflected the sunlight. Behind her, small feet were stepping happily on the ground as the owner, a little girl in clear blue sky puffy dress, following her mother’s steps. A smile painted on her face as the wind played with her blue hair.
The girl’s mother put several shiny things called “gem” in a certain formation and started chanting a spell. Her staff and the jewel on her bracelet shone as the reaction from her spell, and so did the gems. A blinding light enveloped the backyard for a while. Slowly, a silhouette of a gigantic door appeared from that light. As the light faded away, the little girl could see what the silhouette was: a giant, obsidian black gate. The girl looked excited as her mother walked towards the gate, then touched it. Another blinding light emanated from the gate, and this time, a figure of human walked out from the gate. This human clad in black suit and silver armor. He wore dark blue trousers, black hat, and he had green hair. To complete his look, he wielded a pair of something like scimitars. As the girl looked into his golden eyes, something in her veins tickled her; her hidden power was starting to crave for realization.
Aozora was looking at the green-haired man.
“So… I’m able to visit this world again.” said the man. “I’ll work to repay you for calling me here. I’m a man who repays his debt, after all.”
Suddenly, an uneasy feeling attacked her. She looked at the man cautiously. She felt familiar with this man, although this was the first time they meet. A glimpse of the nightmare she had suddenly running on her mind as she stared on his weapons; a silhouette of a man pointed his weapon to a baby.
“Mom…?” the girl, Alice, peeked to see her mother’s pale face. The man gasped as he looked at the source of the little voice he just heard. What he saw was a little girl with blue hair, a familiar blue hair, looking at the woman who just summoned her. That girl’s aura, he could tell, was nostalgic. But when he was trying to recall the nostalgic feeling, suddenly he was struck by… what is this? Fear? Guilt?
Aozora looked at the man, still with caution. “Judging from your appearance… were you an assassin in your past life?” asked her.
The man looked back to his Summoner and nodded. “How do you know?"
“I have a feeling.” Aozora replied. The man then looked at the girl, who was peeking from her mother’s back. He could feel a peculiar power from that girl, yet he knew, he was familiar with that power. But what kind of power did the girl possess?”
"Alice noticed the stare of the man, and she hid herself again. Something inside her very blood was calling her.
“She is my daughter.” Aozora gestured to hide Alice better from the sight of the green-haired man. “Anyway, what is your name?”
“Serge,” he answered, still looking at where Alice was.
“What business do you have with my Alice?” Aozora asked.
“No, uh… I think… I’ve had a terrible past with children… or a child, my memory is clouded.” answered Serge.
“I see,” was the only reply from Aozora.
That time, Alice peeked again, and she suddenly grew a pair of blue wings, icy blue horns, and blue tail. Her new appearance was of the blood of dragon demon, which she inherited from her father’s lineage. Alice looked at Serge with her odd-eyes, then she looked at Aozora.
“Mom?” asked Alice, "Who is this man, Mom? He looks scared when Alice turned into demon."
“This is Serge, and he is a former assassin. And he seemed to have a bad experience with demons, Alice. Since he looked scared when you suddenly transformed.” Aozora explained. “But why did you transform, though?”
“Alice felt not good when Alice saw Serge, so poof.” Alice replied.
“I see…” Aozora patted Alice’s head, then she turned to see Serge.
"I-is that a dragon on your back?" Serge asked.
"This is my child. A quarter-dragon tho. Why?" Aozora asked back.
Serge doesn't answer his Summoner. The little humanoid dragon in front of him revoked a traumatic experience inside him. Furthermore, now that the little girl turned into her demon form, Serge could also feel a familiar power from her. A familiar power that he was too scared to remember…
"Aozora? Did you just summon a new Unit?"
A blue haired man appeared from the door. He looks at the green-haired man in front of his wife when another man, way older than him, appeared. This old man has silverish-white hair and beard, and Serge’s face was filled by fear upon recalling who the old man was, along with the memories before he died.
"Ho ho ho." Grahdens smiled, "It's a good day to summon a new Unit, eh, Aozora?"
"Yes, Gramps." Aozora chimed her answer as Alice ran towards Grahdens, and raised her hands. “Although, I did this to wipe out the uneasy feeling I felt since two days ago.”
"Here, with Daddy~" Karl lifted Alice. "Wait, why did you transform?" he asked when he looked at Alice’s appearance, before he turned to his wife. “Was it about your nightmare?”
“Nightmare?” Alice looked at her mother. “W-was that scary?”
Aozora nodded again.
“What kind of nightmare was it?” asked Grahdens.
A humanoid dragon ran away from where she left a baby in the ruins, with the hope that her pursuer followed her instead. With this sacrifice, she hoped, the baby from the man she respected would be safe.
However, in where the baby was hidden, there was another shadow creeping on the baby. As he raised his weapon, a one-eyed man appeared, shielded the baby from the mortal danger.
“I don’t know what the meaning of that nightmare is, but it feels so real. It was scary, and it became scarier as I dreamed about the exact same thing three times in a row.” Aozora looked down after she explained her nightmare to Grahdens.
“Ho, interesting.” Grahdens nodded. “It could be a sign of something, since it was not quite a ‘dream’.”
“Huh?” Aozora startled. Grahdens only smiled at his daughter in-law's puzzled face.
“Anyway, Alice,” Karl looked at his daughter, “why did you suddenly transform?”
"There is someone from that Serge man that ticked Alice, so poof!!" Alice raised her hand and answered her father’s question.
“You mean ‘something’?” asked Grahdens. Alice’s cheeks blushed as she laughed shyly.
"Serge?" asked Karl. "Ah, the Unit your mother summoned..." he looked at Serge, who was terrified.
That silverish-white hair and beard... Serge remembered seeing that shortly before he died. Aozora, completely oblivious to Serge's fear, smiled.
"This is my husband, Karl, and my father in-law Grahdens." said her. "Now... shall we begin to fuse these crystals to you?"
Serge backed away. "How about no?" he asked, "I-It scares me just to think of what you're going to ask of me..."
Aozora looked puzzled, "Hey, I just wanna make you stronger..." she tilted her head.
“Ho! Now I remember!” Grahdens suddenly said.
“Remember what, Grandpa?” asked Alice.
“About a story I often told your father when he was around your age, Alice.” Grahdens patted Alice’s head, then squeezed her cheeks, much to Alice’s pout. “About what happened when I found a baby boy in the ruins of Mistral before I took him to Elgaia.”
“Ah, I remember Karl told me… but I can’t quite remember now…” Aozora replied.
“Grandpa, please tell Alice~?” Alice asked Grahdens.
“When I crossed the gate to Grand Gaia, I heard the voice of a baby crying. When I arrived at the baby’s place… the messenger who was sent to meet me had gone. Instead, I saw a man was about to end the baby’s life. I stopped him and we fought until I managed to defeat him.” Grahdens explained.
Aozora’s face was filled by shock soon after she noticed something in Grahdens’ story.
“Gramps, that’s… that’s what exactly I dreamed of…” she covered her mouth, her eyes widened as she was trying to control herself. “So that means… the baby inside my dream was…”
She looked at Karl, then to Grahdens. When she turned into her father in-law, she looked uneasy.
“But why… did I dream about that for three nights???” Aozora asked, a bit panicky.
“Calm down, Aozora.” Karl patted Aozora’s back as Alice floated down from her father’s embrace, and she hugged her mother from the side. “And… how did you suddenly remember that, Gramps?” he asked Grahdens.
"Ho ho ho." Grahdens laughed, "I don't really know, but seeing that man your wife just summoned made me suddenly remember. The fight was intense, but… well, at least that baby is safe now." He patted Karl’s head, much to Karl’s annoyance.
“I… I see…” Aozora replied. “But still, why would I get such dream…? And how could that person wanted to kill an innocent baby? He must be an awful person.”
Looking at his wife’s face, Karl patted Aozora’s head.
“Calm down, Aozora, dear.” said him. “Anyway, I’ll make something for Gramps in the kitchen.” He turned to Alice, “Wanna go with us, Alice?”
Alice shook her head. “Alice wants to stay with Mom…”
“Okay then~” Karl smiled. “We’ll wait for you in the living room, dear!”
Aozora smiled shyly and nodded as her husband and her father in-law entered the house. However, after she closed the door, she suddenly stopped.
“Mom?” asked Alice, as she turned back into her human form.
“Ah, right, I have to fuse these crystals to Serge. Eh?” Aozora turned to Serge, who backed away from his Summoner and her family, much to her confusion. “What happened, Serge?”
Serge shook his head as the answer.
“Is that so?” Aozora looked worried. “Well, it can’t be helped if you aren’t in good mood, then let’s summon another Unit…”
Aozora put the gems on the ground and started to chant the spell. When the light vanished after she touched the gate, a white-haired woman clad in red dress and black armor and a torn beige cape was standing before her. She also wore a mask on her lower face. Serge’s face turned pale as he realized who the unit Aozora just summoned was.
“I don't care who or what you are... If you're fighting against those worthless dragons, then I'm glad to help you out!” said her.
“Wha-?” a sudden anger burst inside Aozora upon hearing the woman’s insult to her husband’s tribe. Alice’s eyes widened a bit and she hid herself again behind her mother.
“So you are my Summoner, huh? Now let’s go hunting some dragons!”
“I think it’s good to introduce yourself to us first.” Aozora replied.
“Name’s Sonia, from Lion Tribe.” Sonia chimed.
“I see.” was the only response from Aozora.
“By the way, where am I? I remember I ordered Serge to kill that dragon’s son while I ambushed the dragon who took it through a portal…”
Aozora’s body twitched. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, that dragon tribe’s leader, that jerk killed my father. So Imma get my father’s revenge by killing his son. I would like to kill that jerk too, if I can.”
Aozora covered her mouth with her hands. Finally, finally the puzzle had completed. Now she understood the meaning of her nightmare, as well as Serge’s attitude. At that time, Alice peeked to see the Unit her mother summoned.
“Oh, is that your daughter?” Sonia asked.
Aozora gasped as Alice looked at her, then to Sonia.
"Mom, can Alice play with this person too?" Alice raised her hand to touch Sonia. Alice could form a contract with her mother's units by touching them. But before she touched the unit, Aozora slapped her palm.
“Ouch!” Alice cried, and looked at her Mom, almost crying. “M-Mom?!”
But before Alice could protest, she suddenly felt the temperature of the backyard decreased.
“Mom…?” Alice murmured, and that time, she noticed that her mother was emanating a cold, icy aura.
"So, you are saying... you wanted to exact your revenge of your fallen father by killing an infant who is the dragon tribe leader's son... eh?" Aozora asked.
"Ya, can't you hear what I just said?" Sonia answered.
Aozora exhaled, “One more question: if you meet the baby, and if the baby has grown into an adult, would you still kill her, even if I ordered you to not do that?”
“Ya, of course. I have to exact my revenge.” Sonia answered without a slightest doubt in her voice. "Now that you mentioned it, you have the aura of that dragon jerks, and so does the child beside you..."
As Sonia tried to reach Alice, Aozora quickly positioned herself between her daughter and Sonia, shielding her daughter from the lion demon, and she pointed her staff to Sonia's neck.
“Eeeep!!! Mom?!” Alice squealed in shock.
“Don’t move Alice!” Aozora scoffed. “Stay behind Mom, and don’t even dare to transform!!!”
The icy aura Aozora exerted quickly froze everything in the backyard, excluding the humans and the units there.
“Mom will deal with this bitch alone. Once you transform, this bitch will harm you for sure, considering she hates the very dragon blood that runs in your veins."
Aozora’s voice was shaken by anger, and it was as cold and as harsh as a snow hitting someone without thick sweater. And Alice, despite her young age, knew that her mother was immensely angry; she never seen her mother called anyone with names before. Once Aozora used that, it means the problem was very serious.
Aozora looked at Sonia with the intention to kill.
“If that so, then as the wife of the son of the leader of that dragon tribe, I shall never accept you, as well as never allow you to lay a single strand of hair to my family!!!” Aozora swung her staff, raising several ice pillars, which all evaded by Sonia.
She landed right beside Serge, and she noticed her underling immediately.
“Oi, Serge, help me to defeat this ‘Summoner’!! She is married with the jerk we were about to kill and we must eliminate her in order to exact our revenge!!” Sonia ordered.
Serge was standing still.
“Serge! You dare to disobey me?” the lion demon yelled, surprised that her underling didn’t immediately obey her.
“Your opponent is me, bitch!!!” Aozora raised her staff. The lapis lazuli on it was glowing brightly, then an ice snake appeared from behind her. “Crush it!!” she swung her staff then pointed at Sonia, commanding the snake to hit the demon.
Sonia raised her hand, then her body was engulfed by purple aura when she swung her hand, crushing the ice snake. But as the ice flakes fell, Aozora, who changed into a blue kimono during the attack, swung her katana in a fit of rage.
Aozora’s attack managed to cut through Sonia’s defense, as the latter fell on her knees with blood flowing from a wound across her chest. Aozora’s attack also managed to break her mask that covered her lower part of her face. Sonia gritted her teeth when she looked at the blood dripping down from her body.
“You… damn… summoner…” Sonia panted as she clutched on her chest, where the blood was flowing down from her wound. Slowly, she stood and inhaled, “I don’t need someone who formed any kinda bond with those dragon jerk! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you and then I’ll also kill your husband and child!!”
“…..ggghhh…!!!” Aozora stabbed the ground with her katana, so she could keep standing in the middle of intimidating aura that Sonia exerted.
“Die along with that little girl!! Variance Wheel!!” Sonia threw the shield she held on her left hand directly to Alice.
“Oh no… Alice!!!” Aozora screamed. She pointed her katana to her daughter and shouted, “Rosen Cage!!!”
Ice flakes gathered near Alice and quickly took form of rose and its vines, covering Alice from the attack, but soon scattered as smaller flakes when the shield Sonia threw hit it. However, the cage had prevented the worst case, as Alice stood up in fear. Her body shivered. If that lion wanted her life, she had all the rights to transform and fight back. However, her mother had already said no, and Alice wasn’t careless enough to disobey her furious mother.
“Selena, Elza, come forth!!” Aozora changed back into her teal dress and swung her staff. Two women appeared from nowhere. One clad in blue dress and she had light blue hair, wielding a sword. Another one clad in crimson long coat that covered a black tube top and black pants. She wielded a scythe and has a pair of butterfly wings. “Please protect my daughter!!” she pointed her staff to her terrified daughter.
“M-Mom…!” cried Alice as Selena and Elza approached.
Aozora smiled to Alice as she swung her staff again to lock the door to the house, as well as raising the barrier to protect the house from the attacks. From inside, she could hear Karl’s voice.
“Aozora, what happened?! Open the door, Aozora!” said him.
“I’ll tell you later, dear!” Aozora shouted her answer, then she turned to face Sonia.
“Is that the way you tribe live?” asked the summoner, “killing infants and children just for the revenge?” then she smiled mockingly. Alice looked at her mother walking to the demon on the frozen ground. She was shaken by anger, yet her voice when she spoke to the demon was perfectly calm and clear.
“I’ve never seen such heinous, mortifying act in my life. I think I know why your tribe was annihilated, they are… really… really… disgusting! Lowest among the low class demons!! Oh, I would cry in embarrassment if I ever became the part of it!!”
She emphasized every words she spoke, as if she was trying to not give in to her anger. Even so, her voice was increasingly loud on each words, to the point she literally screamed her last sentence. Her tone was calm, but it was very different with her usual calm and gentle tone. This was the kind of calm that could freeze the spine upon hearing it, sending freezing sensation to the body, yet it forced the legs to fall on the knees, as if it melted.
“What did you say?!” Sonia replied, but Aozora turned her head to see Serge.
“Now I know why I dreamed such thing for three days straight. It warned me because I would summon both of you; the ones who almost killed of my husband. One of you even went too far by trying to harm my child. Our child.” said Aozora, then she looked at Sonia again.
“I shall banish you back into the abyss. If you dare to cross that gate to appear in front me again, I shall simply kick you back into the abyss. You pathetic lion cub.”
“Enough your mockeries, you damned woman!!!” Sonia shrieked. “I’ll never let anyone mock the great lion tribe! Especially you!! You slut, who sold her body to that dragon!! Argh!!!” she yelled as ice needles scratched her arms, leaving two deep wounds on each of her arms.
“Shut up, bitch.” Aozora walked closer to Sonia, and this time, an ice snake even bigger than the previous one was floating behind her. “Shut up and accept your punishment.”
“Not if I kill you here.” Sonia’s body started to glow.
“The question is… can you?” Aozora chuckled as she emitted a golden light from her body, and her outfit changed into an armor. On her hand was no longer a staff, but the Radiant Longsword. She raised her longsword and took her stance, ready to unleash her attack. She could feel it as she glared at Sonia, who was gathering power: this would be the last attack. Either she would die, or she could defeat Sonia. Aozora closed her eyes. She could see her nightmare flashed in her mind clearly now…
Sonia chased a humanoid dragon who just hid a blue-haired baby in the ruins on Mistral, with the hope that she could buy some time until the human from the land called “Elgaia” came to take the baby. The baby was… he was the child of someone she respected very much. She respected both of them, and naturally, when the baby was born, she had the call to guard his safety.
“I have to… protect him… Lord Barion’s son…” said her as she clashed with Sonia.
Meanwhile, in the ruins where the baby was left, there was a shadow approached.
“If I can’t kill it, then you must do it in my place.”
Serge looked at the baby. His blue eyes were looking back at him innocently. He never knew what happened when Serge master was killed, of course; he wasn’t even conceived by that time.
“Should I really do that…?” Serge remembered his question, only to get a scolding from Sonia. She insisted to kill that baby as her revenge to Barion.
“You know we could just kill that Barion-“ was what he said that time, but Sonia ignored him, deaf for every reasoning Serge tried to say.
Serge looked at the baby, with pained expression on his face.
“I have no grudge to you. But I am indebted with Lord Viktor, and I swore to serve Lady Sonia after the death of Lord Viktor.” said him.
He then lifted his scimitar. His body trembled as he continued to speak.
“I know you are innocent. But I am indebted to her… therefore…”
“Guargh!!” the attack hit Serge’s back and he fell on his knees. He looked to his back to see an old man in long, silverish white hair approached him. This old man has an eyepatch on his eye.
“Ho ho ho.” He smiled, “attacking an innocent child is not allowed in my sight, lad. I never allow that.”
He swung his spear to Serge, which Serge countered with his scimitar.
“I was tasked to take the child before someone harms him.” Grahdens explained before Serge could ask. “It seems that I made it on time. Barely.”
The green-haired man and the old man engaged in the fight afterwards. However, all time that Serge spent in Ishgria proved to be no match for Grahdens’ experience, as Serge fell soon after, his body covered with blood.
“Ghaaargh!!” Serge coughed and vomited blood as he fell. Knowing that Serge was unable to fight anymore, Grahdens left his opponent and took the baby, who was crying. He lifted and held the baby carefully, and that was when he saw the splitting image of the Princess he met once in Elgaia on the baby’s face. He looks around, but there was no sign of the demon who took the baby to their meeting point. That time, a portal opened near him, as if calling him back to the Summoners’ Hall…
Grahdens then took the baby and crossed the portal, back to Elgaia.
The nightmare she had for three nights straight… would end today, along with the attack she was about to unleash.
Aozora opened her eyes. Sonia was in front of her; both of them were facing each other now, waiting for one’s opening so they could slay each other. None of them moved even an inch. Aozora stayed on her stance as she watch Sonia gathered energy. When the lion demon emanated a bright purple light once again, Aozora could feel a different pressure from her. Sonia’s pressure was much more intense, it froze the already cold air around them.
Slowly but surely, the sounds around them stopped; Aozora couldn’t hear the muffled voice of her husband, nor her daughter’s cries. Every single sense of hers were focused on the being in front of her, the very existence she hated and cursed wholly. Her fury was hidden beneath her calm gesture, and it was ready to explode anytime. She hated everything about the demon in front of her. The hatred was huge; even the worst insult couldn’t describe, nor the worst expression of anger. It was a pure hatred, triggered by what she had done to Karl years ago.
A leaf danced as it fell from the tree. The cold wind decided to play with the leaf, and they danced in the midair for a while before the leaf realized that it was too close to the ground. It then bid the farewell to the wind as it gently landed on the ground…
A loud “clang” echoed as Sonia and Aozora clashed with each other. Sonia pushed herself to force her way to tear Aozora’s body, but Aozora withstood the attack with her greatsword. The impact of their attacks caused the ground around them cracked; the ice on the ground turned into flakes, floated around Aozora, then left deep scratches on Sonia’s body as the sharp ice flakes injured her.
“Die!! Die die DIE DIE DIE!!!” Sonia growled.
“I… won’t die…!!!” Aozora gritted her teeth as she resisted.
“Give up already, you damn human!!” the lion demon mocked.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhh!!!” slowly, Aozora made herself repelling Sonia’s shield, sending it flying and then it stabbed the ground, right before Serge ─ who was standing and watching his summoner fought his former mistress. He would like to do what Sonia ordered him, as he was indebted to her father, but his position was a unit that Aozora summoned that time; he couldn’t, and didn’t have any intention, to disobey his summoner ─. Aozora then quickly repelled Sonia’s claw on her longsword by cutting it, leaving another injury, then she turned and swung her greatsword with all her might.
“GUAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!” Sonia screamed in pain as Aozora’s attack sent her flying. Blood flew everywhere from her wounds all over her body.
“Not yet!!!” Aozora screamed and raised her hand. The jewel on her bracelet shone brightly as she commanded the ice snake behind her: “Swallow it, oh Ice Snake! Swallow the purple moon of haunting grudge!! Moon-Eater: Bakonawa!!!”
The ice snake roared as it rammed towards Sonia, who didn’t have a chance to guard herself because her shield wasn’t on her hand anymore. Sonia directly took the critical hit, and soon after her body made contact with the ice snake, the ice flakes from the hit quickly mixed with her blood and turned into red needles and pierced through her body mercilessly. Sonia vomited blood as the ice snake sent her flying, even higher than Aozora’s previous attack.
“Gu-hargh!” she coughed up more blood as her head hit the top of the fence of the backyard, then she fell and hit the ground with a loud sound. She vomited more blood soon after her body made harsh contact with the solid ground. Her body convulsed several times as Aozora walked towards her. Slowly, as her body trembled due to the pain, she tilted her head to see her summoner, who was walking wobbly towards her.
Aozora looked vulnerable as she panted, must be because she exhausted most of her power on the last attack. Looking at the summoner, Sonia could just kill her with one simple slash from her claws, but… the ice snake has severed both of her lower arms. Sonia has no strength left to even move an inch. All she could feel was pain, a freezing pain that stabbed every millimeters on her body, and stabbed her spine deeply she could feel that her spine was replaced by dry ice.
The sound around suddenly reached her ears again, as if someone pressed the unmute button on the remote control. She could hear the sound of the door unlocked, and Karl arrived, asking Alice what happened. Alice frantically summed up the fight, then Karl looked at his wife, who was standing in the middle of the muddy backyard. Meanwhile, Aozora looked at Sonia, who lied down on the ground. The lion demon’s condition was horribly pathetic; she had lost both of her lower arms, her abdomen and legs were crushed by the attack Aozora just unleashed. Her body covered with mud and blood, and the stench of death wafted around her. Warm blood flowed from almost every inch of her body, only to be froze by the remains of ice and the cold aura that Aozora exerted. She coughed more blood as Aozora stared at her.
“This is the end.” said Aozora coldly to Sonia, as she raised her left hand, where the bracelet was. “I hereby severe all kind of contract that would bind us as Summoner and their unit, as well as forbids you to even re-appear. Should you re-appear from the gate, you shall never resist when I send you back.”
The jewel on her bracelet shone brightly in response to Aozora’s command. The light enveloped Sonia’s entire body coldly, as cold as Aozora’s complete indifference to Sonia’s current condition, and forced Sonia to turn into a purple orb, which she secured with an enchanted sphere from her bracelet.
“Now begone, evil cub. Begone and I pray endlessly that you’ll never come back.” said Aozora without the slightest hesitation. A low, anguished scream reached Aozora’s ears as the orb vanished slowly. After the orb vanished, the magic sphere sparkled once and disappeared. That was when Aozora’s body couldn’t take it anymore, and she fell to the ground.
When Aozora opened her eyes, she was lying on her bed. A warm sensation on her body told her that she was covered safely within a blanket, and she could feel wet sensation on her forehead. Slowly, she raised her hand to touch the wet cloth that compressed her, but another pair of hands caught hers first.
“Mom…!!” Alice cried as she rubbed Aozora’s hand on her cheek. “Thank goodness, thank goodness!! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah…”
Aozora caressed her daughter’s cheek gently, “Sorry, Alice… for making you worried…” she whispered as Karl and Grahdens entered the room.
“I heard from Alice… that a Unit refused to obey you and even tried to attack Alice…” said him. Aozora nodded.
“It’s rarely happen,” Grahdens stated, “But once it happen, then a Summoner must fight the unit or they would be killed by the unit before it vanished, waiting for new master. But for a Unit to attack the summoner’s child…”
“It was because Alice’s blood.” Aozora replied, her voice was still weak, but Grahdens could hear her still. “The unit I summoned was the lion demon from the nightmare I told you…”
“She swore to kill you and Alice, even if I, as her summoner, forbids her. How can I stay calm after I heard such determination? But… I really lost it when she tried to attack Alice…” Aozora closed her eyes. “It pained me just to think that she targeted Alice…”
“Mom… if only Mom allowed Alice to transform and helped Mom… Mom wouldn’t exhaust Mom’s power like this…” Alice wept.
Aozora patted Alice’s head. “It means that you would become a bait for her, and Mom wouldn’t allow that. Besides…” she woke up slowly and sat, then smiled to Alice, “Mom ended like this because Mom used too much power and that’s all. Mom only needs to rest today and Mom will be as energetic as before.”
Alice still pouted.
“Besides, it’s once in a while that Mom used a big offensive ice magic like that, hehehe…” Aozora smiled shyly.
“It was your first time?” Grahdens asked.
Aozora nodded. “I am more of a user of supportive and defensive magic. I prefer to use barrier or ice pillars to halt enemy’s attack. The ice snake I used was the enhanced, offensive version of my ice pillars, which took form of a snake because I wished the ice pillar to move freely and attacks my enemies. But… it seems that I went overboard. I think I prefer to be a support than an offensive Sorceress.”
“Is it an excuse to not polishing yourself, Aozora?” asked Karl.
“You just not used in offensive magic.” Karl replied, “You can use offensive magic during your fights to an extent, but your mindset was ‘I am a support, not an attacker’, and thus, once you turned your power into a powerful offensive spell, you quickly exhausted and passed out.”
Aozora looked down, unable to counter her husband. That was what she felt when she fought countless monsters during her time of duty. She was too conform in her defensive style, only attacked either with her units or by sending sharp flakes to her enemies.
“You just need to train, Aozora.” Karl patted Aozora’s head. “Train yourself so you can use that kind of magic without exhausting your power.” His forehead then touched Aozora’s forehead, and Aozora blushed when he smiled. “Promise?”
Aozora mumbled her “yes”, only to roar shortly after because Karl ruffled her hair, much to her annoyance. Karl laughed then he pecked Aozora’s forehead.
Alice wiped her tears as she looked at her parents and smiled, then she climbed the bed and rested on Aozora’s lap. “Then Alice will sleep here with Mom.”
“How about Daddy?” Aozora chuckled.
“Daddy can sleep somewhere else,” Alice pouted and rolled around Aozora’s lap.
“Wha-? Alice, nooo... it’s cold outside!” Karl replied. “Let Daddy sleep here?”
“No,” Alice put a playful pout on her face.
Aozora laughed, then her eyes caught the image of a green-haired man. He looked down, his expression was a mix of sorrow and guilt.
Serge…” Aozora called, very carefully.
Serge looked at Aozora’s firm face, then looked down to the floor.
“Now that you know what I’ve done…” he replied, still looking down, “It’s totally up to you, as my Summoner, to punish me. If you decide to exterminate me like what you did to my former mistress… I’ll accept it.”
“One question then: What did you honestly feel that time?” asked the summoner.
Serge looked at Karl, then to Alice, then he looked to the floor. It looked like he was struggling with whatever he was feeling inside. Aozora knew that, and she didn’t push Serge to answer immediately. She just sat on her bed, waiting. So did Alice, Grahdens, and Karl, who were also waiting for his answer.
“…I was conflicted.” Serge finally opened his mouth. “…..in one side, I was aiding her. So I had to carry any order she told me, no matter how dirty it was. But in other side…”
He bit his lips before he continued, “…..in other side…” he looked at Karl, “I knew that you had nothing to do with the whole conflict. You were born after your father killed Lord Viktor, so you weren’t to blame…”
He looked down again, recalling the memories from his past. “I tried to reason with her. Several times. But she just insisted that she… we need to kill the child of Barion so we could avenge the fallen Lord Viktor.” stated him. His voice weakened severely, although Aozora and the rest still could hear his words.
“And that time…” Serge continued, “I was constantly asking myself: ‘Do I really need to do this?’. Even when I was about to kill the baby… I was still hesitated. I was torn. I couldn’t decide between my former mistress’ order and my conscience… but I had to choose at that very moment.”
Serge then looked at Grahdens.
“That was when Gramps arrived to take the baby, wasn’t it?” asked Aozora. Serge nodded as the answer.
Another silence fell upon the room after Serge answered Aozora’s question. Alice glanced at Serge, then to Aozora. Aozora didn’t reply immediately, as she was contemplating. From the way Serge answered her, she could feel his honesty. But nevertheless, she could feel the same, freezing hatred in her chest; it told her to deny the honesty in Serge’s voice, to be blind from Serge’s anguish, and to be deaf from the guilt and regret reflected in his voice. However, at the same time, Aozora knew that the freezing hatred in her heart wasn’t as intense as she faced Sonia. Should her forgive Serge for his decision he made to her husband years ago?
Don’t. He’s still a dangerous man.
But she could feel his honesty, as well as his pain from regretting his choice back then.
He can ambush Alice when he has a chance.
But he was scared when he saw Alice. Especially when he knew that Alice was a dragon demon.
A sinner like him, who made such grave mistake, should never be forgiven for eternity.
But to end the cycle of hatred…
Alice suddenly transformed into her demon form, then she walked to Serge, who looked scared as Alice approached him.
“Alice?” Aozora asked, surprised that Alice suddenly stood in front of the green-haired man.
Alice raised her right hand, offering it to Serge. “Take Alice’s hand.” she said, much to Aozora’s shock, “take Alice’s hand and form a contract with Alice.”
Serge looked at the hand that Alice offered, then looked at Alice's face with puzzled face.
“What you did to Alice’s Dad was bad. Terrible. Disgusting. But deep in your heart, you didn’t want to kill Alice’s Dad, did you?” asked her, staring at Serge with firm face.
Serge looked back at Alice. Her determination was reflected clearly on her odd-eyes, a determination to bring the end to the cycle of hatred once and for all. To that purity reflected on the little girl’s eyes, Serge slowly nodded.
“You were just bound to you former mistress.” said Karl. “And that same demon who was your mistress has been defeated by my wife. I think… we can call it even now.”
“Besides, that lion demon was the only bad person here. She was the one who wanted to kill Alice’s Dad in the first place, and she just dragged you to this whole mess, wasn’t she?” asked Alice, then looked at Karl, who nodded as his answer. Alice then turned her head to see her mother.
Aozora exhaled, closed her eyes and with solemn face, she finally nodded.
“I shall forgive you, Serge. I can feel your honesty in your reasoning. I know you were reluctant to obey that lion demon’s order since I saw your reaction when I faced her earlier.” said her. “I don’t like what you almost did to my husband. I really hate that. But now I have heard your reason. Thus, I decided to give you a second, last chance.”
Serge raised his head to see his summoner. He couldn’t believe what he just heard. He was forgiven? This must be a dream. But then what he saw was Alice smiling for him.
“Along with a new task, and this is your first order from me, as your summoner.” Aozora commanded.
“Anything, Summoner.” answered Serge. “I will carry out anything you ordered.”
“Take my daughter’s hand and become her partner, and aid her during our missions.” said Aozora.
Serge instantly held Alice’s hand. “Wait, what?” he looked at Aozora, whose lips formed a smile; the first smile Serge saw painted on his summoner’s face, as Alice’s body started to glow, sealing the contract between them.
Alice smiled to the puzzled Serge. “Now the contract has been formed!” she chimed happily, looking at Serge. “Alice now has a partner!”
“As Alice’s partner, you are now bound to her, and must protect her at all costs.” Aozora explained. “I can still summon you to help me, but that’s after I assigned another unit to protect her in your place.”
Serge looked at Alice, whose face was gleaming.
“If that’s what you say.” Serge replied, then kissed the back of Alice’s palm. Alice blushed instantly then squealed.
“BUT YOU CAN’T DO THAT TO MY DAUGHTER!! SHE IS TOO YOUNG FOR THAT!!!” Aozora and Karl yelled together.
“Ho ho ho.” Grahdens smiled. “From grudge, there is only destruction. However, you can always craft a whole new relationship just by forgiving someone.” He then looked at Serge. “I am relieved after knowing that you didn’t mean to kill that baby. Now you can enjoy your new mission with my daughter, Serge. I’ll leave the protection of my granddaughter to you.”
“Uwah, Grandpa can talk good sometimes.” Alice replied.
“Fwo?!” Grahdens looked surprised. “Of course, Alice. I am an old man after all.”
“So… Grandpa is gonna admit his real age?” asked Alice, as she beamed to her grandfather.
“I am forever 50, Alice!” stated Grahdens quickly. Alice laughed to her grandfather’s playful pout.
Karl and Aozora looked at happy Alice and Grahdens, also Serge’s face. Serge looked relaxed, as he was free from the guilt and regret that bind him from years ago.
“Hm?” Aozora looked at Karl as the latter embraced her. She entwined her hand to Karl’s, and laid her head on his shoulder.
“Now you can relax too, dear.” said Karl. “Maybe that nightmare told you about the rebellion you had to face earlier. That you would meet the people who tried to kill me before I even remember anything. But now… it’s over.”
“Mmm-hmm.” Aozora nodded. She looked at Alice and Serge, who were talking to each other, and her gaze caught Serge’s glance. She smiled to him, as if telling him that he was finally found his place; it was here, with the people clashed with him years ago, but now decided to overcome the grudge and agreed to craft a brand new, healthy, and mutual relationship.