“While they enjoy gossip, they don’t seem to share important information like rifts. Are they often behind in terms of information?”
Sol Noctis sighed at Axen Arc’s words.
“There’s nothing to hide at this point. The spirit realm is perpetually beautiful but unchanging. After the war ended and the divine tree went into hiding, those who don’t venture out of the forest inadvertently live in a suspended time. Those living such lives view the opposing branches as branches that need to be pruned.”
“So, they’re just old-fashioned folks who can’t keep up with the times. Cowards, in other words.”
Chryselua suddenly chuckled.
This was possible because Sol Noctis was speaking without any ill feelings. Perhaps he had a bit of sympathy for the fairies.
“No, I mean, sorry. I was wondering why your tone had changed so much. I guess you had a hard time among those folks. You weren’t like this when you were young.”
“…Anyway, let’s focus on the rift.”
The rift in the sky, although distant, was clearly visible.
Even though they had heard that a rift could form, they hadn’t expected to encounter one so quickly and at a closer distance than anticipated.
Chryselua couldn’t take her eyes off the newly formed rift for a long time. The space between the torn sky held a pitch-black darkness as if it could shatter the world into pieces with its ominous appearance.
Rifts were a phenomenon where the world was breaking apart. If left unchecked, the world would disintegrate and be destroyed.
Long ago, in the distant past, the rift was what brought an end to the battles among the dragon race, fairies, and devilkins. They had seemed destined to forever tear each other apart until the appearance of the rift, a common enemy that finally made them cease their fighting.
As the Lords of each realm focused on resolving the rift, it was essential that no rifts appeared in the place where their powers were strongest.
Naskan squinted his eyes.
“It’s not that large in scale. Could it really be because the tree is decaying and not fulfilling its role?”
A rift had emerged here, where the power of the Parent Tree, the Lord of the spirit realm, was at its strongest.
No matter how small it was, it was a concerning matter.
“We don’t have time to waste here.”
Chrys muttered, and Naskan moved closer to her.
“Twilight, you stay here safely. I’ll take care of this quickly.”
“You’re going alone?”
Chrys, who had intended to handle the situation together with them due to the responsibility of bringing them along, froze and stopped her movements, her expression stiffening.
Suddenly, she was reminded of Naskan’s original temperament. Just like the Lords, Naskan had a tendency to be overprotective of her. As a young child, Naskan was one of the things she wanted to avoid at all costs.
His reaction was natural, given his position in participating in the selection, as the rift could affect the fetus due to Twilight’s special circumstances.
Still, even knowing that, Chrys felt uncomfortable, thinking about old times.
“…Naskan, are you really the same as you used to be? You—”
At that moment, Sol Noctis interrupted her abruptly and stood between them. It was a very unexpected attitude from someone who usually didn’t act that way.
“Chryselua, don’t you have other tasks to attend to? I brought you to the spirit realm with difficulty. Believing in your prior agreement, so please focus on my matter before heading to the human realm. You haven’t forgotten about my task, have you?”
She was taken aback. It was indeed true that due to her own issues, she had genuinely forgotten about Sol Noctis’s matter.
The place that had previously been uncomfortable because of Naskan had now turned into confusion. Especially since Sol Noctis spoke with a more nervous tone than he did when he was in Sedition, it only added to the bewilderment.
“No, no. I’ll finish your task before leaving for the human realm.”
“Then, please. There’s no one else I can trust.”
Sol Noctis seemed to conclude what he wanted to say, and he headed towards the site where the rift was causing chaos, taking Naskan with him. Even as he was leaving, he looked back at Chryselua, and she nodded.
“Hmm… fairies are quite skilled, aren’t they? I might have to learn a thing or two.”
Axen Arc commented.
“Though you’re not going?”
“If you want my active involvement, I’ll go.”
“…I was just asking. What is a devilkin going to do in the spirit realm with that necklace around your neck?”
“Huh? No, this just keeps coming up.”
She replied absentmindedly but then snapped back to reality and playfully flicked Axen Arc’s arm.
“Chryselua, you seemed a bit off earlier.”
‘Is it obvious?’
It was because it reminded her of mostly painful and melancholic memories from long ago.
“It’s because of the Dawn. It reminded me of when I was a child.”
“May I ask what happened?”
Chryselua shrugged her shoulders. There was no need to hide anything.
“When the devilkins invaded the divine realm. Oh, I’m not blaming you for being a devilkin now… There were many times when I was seriously ill. The Lords and other dragonkind, they tried to keep me hidden, you see.”
She still remembered it.
The castle was located in the deepest part of the divine realm, and going up to the highest point of the castle, all that could be seen as an isolated, vast forest. While all the blessed races fought against the rift, the Twilight Dragon Chryselua was excluded from duty simply because she was physically weak.
The sky was always woven with rifts, and Chryselua, with her hands and feet tied, only became more depressed.
“Even when I tried to do something, the dragonkind would take away my duty, saying they didn’t need me to exert myself. They don’t expect anything from me. They say I don’t need to do anything difficult and should just live comfortably and happily, just like what Naskan did earlier. I know. This time, I’m pregnant, so if I get affected by the rift’s influence, it could be a big problem. I understand. I know, but…”
Usually, she wouldn’t even converse with the devilkins. Although it happened by chance, Axen Arc could be considered the first devilkin she had ever interacted with. It was a being she would never have had any connection with in the past or in the future.
Chryselua was sharing this story with someone for the first time.
“Still, I really hate that. You might see me as a spoiled brat who keeps talking like this, don’t you?”
In reality, even when she tried not to, she kept worrying. While in Sedition, she fretted over insignificant matters, and during her journey, she couldn’t sleep properly. The only decent sleep she had was last night, thanks to Sol Noctis.
“I still feel like that. The Lord entrusted me with a simple task, and I couldn’t even do that properly, so I feel like I’ve messed everything up.”
“Not at all.”
“What do you mean?”
She raised her head to look at him.
“It’s not something you chose, Chryselua. You have every right to feel that it’s unfair.”
Being born as a Twilight Dragon, she was told that she didn’t have to do anything. She was told to receive love.
Twilight Dragons were weak. From a young age, she had many illnesses, and she could become endangered if she performed difficult missions. There was always a seemingly valid reason for it. Nonetheless, no one ever asked Chryselua first.
No matter how good the intentions, it was useless if the other person didn’t want it.
“If you find that strange, it means they don’t really understand Chryselua.”
As he said this, Axen Arc made a playful expression.
His eyes were completely folded, forming a gentle curve. His smile seemed to lift others up, but for some reason, Chryselua felt comfort in that smile.
“If it were me, I’d ask. What do you want to do, Chryselua?”
“I’d like to ask. What do you want to do? You have the power to decide this time because it’s all about your choice, Chryselua.”
He didn’t bring up the topic of selection. He didn’t mention whether she was a Twilight Dragon, divine realm, or a devilkin.
“What would you like to do?”