Sirin's offline meeting! Nothing dramatic or emotional happens, just friends being friends.
(This chapter ended up 18 pages long, I got carried away, I was aiming for 10, I swear.)
Chapter 2 Edit
A hellish week. No other words can properly express her feelings. From 7am to 1pm, every day for five days. A total of 50 minutes of break time during each of these days. Out of these fifty minutes, twenty-five of them are dedicated to a lunch break, which she ended in around ten minutes. Which means despite being 'free' from class, she still had to idle on her seat for the forty minutes, as there is no other choice for her, nothing else for her to do. 'It's a prison. School is a prison, that's what it is. I'm a poor lost lamb jailed among a bunch of wolves,' all she could do to spend her free time was indulge on such delusions.
“At least I have you now, my dear partner in crime, my beloved sidekick, my-” She swarms Magna with thoughts when she's very bored.
“Pay attention in class,” he's strict, ignoring her attempts to start conversation when they happen during a lecture. If she complains, he talks about how important an education is.
“What would you know, you're a battling giant dragon!” She pouts, throwing an internal tantrum.
That's how she spends her entire week. She didn't wake up early any other day, so she only finds the notes her mother writes before leaving for work, which she replies by writing and leaving her own too, always either on the fridge or the table. Since they're alone together, it's a way they found to not go long times without talking, as her mother leaves early and returns late, extremely tired. During school she talks to no one other than Magna, save for small exchanges like 'what is that word written there?' and 'can you pick up my pencil, I dropped it.' When she gets home, she takes a shower and then straight to the computer.
“You're much better with words when you're using that machine, huh?” Magna comments, seeing her write long wall of texts and beautiful encouraging sentences.
“Well... Anyone would... Most people do, it's nothing big...” She responds, a little embarassed. He means to compliment her, but she realizes the other meaning of what he says. 'In the real world, you're terrible with words.'
Siririn: Tomorrow finally, yay~!
She sends the message to her friend the moment she comes online. 'This is what I lasted an entire week for, I thank the gods for letting this week come to an end, after ten long years,' she clasps her hands in a praying position. Magna comments that it didn't last ten years, but she ignores him.
Elos: So you managed to not skip for a single day?! Congratulations, congratulations!
A small yellow character appears on the screen and pets the head of a red one. Magna is shaken by the sight. 'What just happened?!' he asks. If he had a physical form, he'd be like a cat who's afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Sirin explains that those are their chat avatars. The red-headed girl is hers, the yellow one is her friend's. That avatar system is installed on the chat program, most people find it obnoxious, but people who met through the internet like using it as a substitute, as they don't ever truly touch each other.
Siririn: It was nothing, we are strong!
The red girl appears, posing triumphantly with lots of stars shining around her. 'You almost didn't make it, though,' Magna's comment is met with a rasp 'shut up.' She laughs a moment after saying it though, he knows she's just playing.
Siririn: A line I picked up from some cartoon, don't mind~!
'Is it fine to lie to your friend?' Magna asks. 'Look, I can tell a beliavable lie or say an unbelievable truth. Put yourself in my shoes,' she sighs, hoping he understands. 'Getting in your shoes is less possible to me than shaking hands with you,' he's mocking her. He understands that it's a figure of speech, but he likes that sort of joke regardless. She just shoots another 'shut up, idiot,' and continues typing.
Elos: We already agreed on the place, so... how do we identify each other?
Siririn: My beauty is unmistakable, when I walk past you, you'll know.
She can hear Magna laughing, which makes her terribly self-conscious. He was already laughing by the time she was done typing, but she only felt ashamed after hitting enter. 'Are you saying I'm not cute?' that's her one pride, if he denies that, she'll abandon the quest to protect the world just like that. 'No, I do admit you're cute, but... it's just the gap between your online self and your real self that I found funny,' he'd be wiping a tear away if he were a human. 'I'm sorry if I can't act like this in real life, I don't know when I went wrong.' He becomes silent. 'Don't worry, it happens to everyone. Who they are within and who they are outside...' for a moment, his voice sounds melancholic, which makes her pause for a moment. 'Take it easy,' is all she says. It's all she can think of saying in order to cheer him up.
Elos: But seriously now...
Siririn: Uh, let me check my wardrobe, let's see if there's anything that can make me stand out here.
The chair she uses while on the computer has wheels, so she just rolls away, towards her wardrobe. She has lots of plain clothes, some cartoon shirts which she wouldn't wear to her first meeting with a friend. A huge red trenchcoat calls her attention though. That is actually part of a costume, but she never got the rest of it. She just changed her mind after realizing she doesn't look like the character.
Siririn: I have a red trench coat, maybe that could work for me.
Elos: It's summer, can you really afford to go out with a trench coat on this heat
Siririn: If it's just until we find each other, it'll be no problem.
Elos: I have a sun hat with a sunflower on it... I'll be wearing that. Probably a sundress too. Since it's summer. Since it's hot.
Siririn: Does my wearing a trench coat offend you
Elos: I worry that you're overdoing it for my sake.
Siririn: What do you mean?
Elos: You hate school. You hate going outside. You hate hot days. You hate waking up early morning. You put up with all of that for five days because I wanted to see you offline. Now since your only piece of clothing that stands out is a trench coat, you'll wear it on day that the forecast said is gonna get to 32°C. You're really going all-out just for me, that makes me happy, but... I can't help but worry, aren't you hurting yourself?
Sirin takes her fingers away from the keyboard and lays back on her chair. She got it for her birthday, it's a very comfortable chair. So comfortable Sirin has fallen asleep on it countless times, it's a serious rival to her bed. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.
“Is it fine to leave her hanging?” Magna asks. When she has her eyes closed, she can almost see him. It's like he's a reflection on an agitated pond or a hallucination from being heatstroke. In other words, something that can't be seen very well, but that might or not might be there. When she has her eyes open, he's nothing but a voice and a presence she can feel.
“It's better to answer carefully than quickly,” she answers him in a quiet voice, calmer than she's ever been.
“You don't have all the time of the world though, she'll probably feel bad in just a few moments. If she isn't already.”
“For a dragon, you sure are good at reading humans, huh? What is your secret?” She mocks him, but her peaceful tone doesn't change.
“I've had my share of interaction with humans. On a world and time beyond your knowledge.”
“Huuh, how deep,” she leans forward once more. It's been nearly two minutes, Elos hasn't sent anything more. 'Good,' Sirin thinks.
Siririn: I'm not hurt. I might be too excited about it though, I admit. Since I have nothing else, is it fine if I just find you there? And our code can be something like 'We are strong' or 'deliciousness is justice,' just so you know its not an imposter trying to pick you up.
The yellow character appears and bows many times in a row, drops of sweat around her head. 'There's nothing to apologize for...' Sirin sighs, her eyes alone show how upset she is. Magna doesn't make any commentary. As awkward as she might be, she handled the situation well, he believes. And he'll respect the sadness in her eyes and let her be alone for a while.
Elos: I'm gonna do some chores and then head to bed. I want to be in top condition for tomorrow.
Siririn: Ah, okay. Good night, I'll try not to sleep too late too.
Elos: Siririn, sorry if I made you sad. I really like you. Sorry.
The yellow character appears and blows a kiss, then waves goodbye as it disappears. Only a pulsating pixel heart is left on her place. Sirin sighs once more. She looks at the chat once, then reads it again, stares at the ceiling for a while then closes the window. She slowly spins around on her chair for a while, just for the sake of it.
“Was that girl hitting on you?” Magna tries to lighten up the mood.
“No,” she coldly replies. Just like a person who pokes their toe on the water and find out it is boiling hot, Magna retreats, for real this time.
A knock on the door. A single one. Thinking she's about to be murdered, Sirin looks at the time. '8pm? Pretty much three hours until mom is back, they can get rid of the body by then... cursed be the day these robbers were born.' However, not deciding to give up hope, she quickly throws herself on the floor and rolls to under her bed.
“It's me, not someone about to murder and steal all your cartoon merchandise,” her mother enters the room, laughing. 'Even if I were a robber, the loud sounds you made when rolling would give out your position.'
“Ah. What are you doing home already? Did you get fired?” She crawls half of her body outside, and rolls to a face up position to face her mother. Just seeing that stupid face lying on the floor, her legs hidden beneath her bed, makes she feel leaving early was worth it.
“Hm, I had some extra hours piling up, so I could leave earlier. Since tomorrow is the big day, I figured this was the best timing to use them.”
“Hm, I see,” she nods. That's all she says, that's all she does. Her mother's expression becomes a mix of puzzled and worried.
“What got you so upset?” 'What a woman!' Magna screams from within Sirin's mind. That's all it took for her to read through Sirin.
“...” Sirin tries to put up a front. But her mother's eyes break through her masks faster than she can create them. By the time she notices, she's already crying. The moment she feels the warmth of tears on her cheeks, she hides beneath the bed again. “Why am I so bad at making friends?”
“Because... you don't speak with your real voice,” she didn't think much about it, it's like she had the answer within her for a long time.
“What does that cartoon-like line even mean?!” She hears Sirin yelling between hiccups.
“You're always either trying too hard or too little. You worry too much about your image. It's... probably my fault, because of the childhood I offered you. I'm guessing you fought with your computer friend?” She feels she'll never manage to make up for the damage she left on Sirin, but for the past week, she felt something was changing. Not because she went to school, but that something on her eyes changed, something had grown within her. That's the feeling she had, at least, from the few times they manage to see each other across the week.
“Not really... I made her sad, that's all. I'm no good...”
“Then take the chance and apologize face-to-face tomorrow. If you honestly feel you did something wrong, look her in the eyes and talk about it.”
“...Are you trying to say something?” Mother finally relaxes. If Sirin is talking like that, she's back to normal.
“It's fine not to look me in the eyes because I'm your mother, but not everyone is that privileged,” she stands up and walks out of the room, but stops by the door to say one final thing. “Go to bed, dork.”
Magna is speechless. For him, power is everything. Power over people, power to fight, power to destroy, any and every sort of power is of interest to him. Which is why he scolds Sirin into paying attention in class, knowledge is also power, knowing how and where to apply knowledge is an important display of power. And her mother has great power. 'Mothering power? Parenting power?' Whatever it is, he admires it.
“What is your mother's name?”
"She... never told me.”
“I'm joking. It's Delphine. Her friends call her Delphy.”
“Ah, so your mom has friends. I feared it could be a family thing,” he bluntly says, not really thinking about his words.
“...” And it hits her with maximum power. 'Hearing it from myself is one thing, but when a dragon does it, I... I feel such a complex pain in my chest.'
'Well, let's sleep,' she removes her clothes and wears her pajamas, this time putting extra attention into the buttoning to make sure she doesn't mess up. Somehow, she still did, but decided not to bother. That's when something hits her. Something she didn't think about until now and didn't worry at all.
“Magna... When I'm changing, showering and stuff like that, are you still watching?”
“Hm? Yes. My eyes are generally where yours are.”
She plays it cool. Deep within, a voice so private that even Magna's presence can't hear it, she screams. A long, embarassed scream. Her ears become red as tomato, her hands shiver for a moment. 'I was seen naked by a dragon. Multiple times, considering how often I change clothes and shower.'
“Magna, what type of girl do you like?' She's lost it already, her mind has become noise and chaos.
“I don't understand the question,” he'd tilt his head if possible.
“Tall? Short? Buff, frail? That sort of thing,” she, at first, thought he was playing with her, but soon she realizes this time he wasn't pretending to not understand.
“...I like people who are strong. I guess that's it,' she figures he still didn't get it, but gives up. It'd take a while for her to realize a dragon that, apparently, comes from another world probably wouldn't have much of a concept of romance or anything.
“Am I strong?”
“...Are you asking if I like you?”
“N-no, just... curious about my powerlevel.”
“You have... potential, I'd say,” 'if you truly are your mother's daughter, certainly you'll grow to be very powerful,' is the reasoning behind his answer.
They had this conversation while she was lying in bed already. She manages to say 'thanks,' and falls asleep. Much earlier than when she usually sleeps, but all the tiredness she accumalated across the week plus the emotional burden makes it happen very quickly. Though she is fast asleep, Magna remains conscious. He can see her dreams and some of her surroundings. He could also enter her dreams if he wanted, but refrains from doing so. 'Sleep is an important rite, I must not disturb her during such rite,' he says, as if he hadn't done it once already. And like that, he spends over eight hours alone with his thoughts.
Somewhere else, a girl doesn't manage to fall asleep. 'Did I make it awkward? I certainly made it awkward for her. Especially when I know she's bad with people. She probably cried, even though she acted normal in front of me,' she rolls over her bed in regret. Not an average bed at that, a king's size mattress. All for herself, obviously. 'I hope she didn't see through me, I didn't have any chores to do, I just wanted to run away... Ah, I'm so awful!' the girl covers her face in shame.
And like that, Sirin, the one who sleeps at dawn, was already asleep by 9pm and Elos, who's often thought to be a child online due to her habit of never staying until late night, didn't sleep until almost 2am.
Sirin wakes up feeling completely refreshed. Not that she forgot anything that happened before she went to sleep, but her doubts concerning any of those have been cleared, somehow. In other words, she wakes up feeling happy. Just genuine and earnest happiness. She looks at herself in the mirror and, seeing the incorrectly buttoned pajama, she clicks her tongue. 'Why does this keep happening?'
“Mom, is it the afternoon already?!” She runs downstairs at high speed. Normally, attempting that would be a death flag for her, but she's a level above her usual self on this morning.
“Not yet,” her mother sits by the kitchen's table drinking a coffee mug. She yawns, almost falling back into sleep.
“...Huh. Did you have a bad night of sleep?”
“I guess I was excited for the offline meeting and couldn't sleep,” she speaks very slowly, her head hanging like a fishing rod.
“...That doesn't even make sense,” Sirin laughs.
“You wouldn't understand the heart of a mother,” Delphine grins. If she had enough vitality, she'd laugh, but as that isn't the case, a grin is all she can pull.
Her mother decides to nap for a while, to complete the sleep she didn't get. Sirin spends a few hours playing online games and posting on imageboards, then takes a shower with her eyes closed and puts on clothes which she had on a sanctuary during the entire week. 'Nothing must happen to these clothes, if they aren't available... I might die this time.'
A white shirt that's a size or two larger than her. There's a drawing of an abstract hummingbird on a rose, really artistic. A cyan blue skirt that almost gets to cover her knees and white sandals that are thick enough to make her look 2cm taller. That's the ultimate combo she devised, her personal best look.
“Fashionable and cute,” she says. Not just for the sake of saying it. She wants commentary. But her partner remains quiet, much to her disappointment. “Right?”
“Hm, are you really able to tell what's cute and what isn't?” After their conversation last night, she's become unsure about Magna's opinions on this topic.
“Of course. Children are cute. Little animals are cute. Demons, disemboweled bodies and corpse-filled battlefields aren't,” 'as expected!' she yells internally. Not for a moment she didn't think he wouldn't give an answer like that.
“Well... You're half-right, judging by what appears when you search for 'cute pictures,' so five points out of ten.”
Sirin hears her mother calling. It is time for them to leave. Thinking about that, she feels a little anxious. Until now she endured it fine, but now that it's time to actually leave, she can't help but become nervous. She heads to the computer to turn it off, and there's a single message from Elos, who's offline now.
Elos: I'm leaving already. See you soon!
Reading that makes her settle down a little. 'It'll be fine,' she says and opens a smile. She turns off the computer and heads outside. 'It'll be fine... we are strong,' she clenches her first, as if her anxiety were on her palm and she wanted to smash it.
They've been driving for thirty minutes. Well, Delphine has, Sirin is just on the passenger seat, looking through the window. It's the first time she goes this far away from home. Or at least the first time she remembers, her mother said they came from an even more distant town, a long time ago, when Sirin was just a baby.
“And you're meeting by the new shopping mall's entrance?”
“Yeah. She's gonna be wearing a summer attire.”
“...And that's supposed to make her stand out? I mean, it's summer. Anyone can be wearing summer clothes.”
“Well, if I get the wrong person, I have eight different scripts prepared. It'll be embarassing, but at least I came with a plan,” Sirin snickers.
“At times like these, I'm proud to be your mother.”
“Aw, really?” She turns to her mother, pretending to be moved.
“No. Because I'm always proud,” without any playfulness, in all seriousness, but without taking her eyes from the road, Delphine answers. Sirin feels as if she got punched straight on the heart, but in a good way.
After a long trip that didn't take an hour, they find the place. Leondall Mall, 'a mall for the brave'. In other words, for the rich. It's a famous branch, can be found in any big city. Which isn't the case for the city Sirin lives in, nor is Sirin rich in any way. Elos said 'nobody is gonna arrest us for sight-shopping, it's fine!' and thus they decided to meet there.
Sirin walks out of the car, rigid as a robot. Her anxiety came back at full power. 'Don't forget to breath,' Magna says it more times than he'd like to have had to, this way it feels like she's actually going to die. Taking mechanical steps, she heads for the entrance. Every few steps she turns around and her mother is looking at her, offering nothing but a thumbs up and a smile. 'I want to drive around this town, it's sort of nostalgic to me. When you're done with your date, just send me a mail and I'll come so fast the police will come after me,' is all she said before dropping Sirin off.
Sirin looks around. The grand opening already has happened, most people have gone in already. By this hour, the people around fall under a few categories. They're either waiting for others, are couples and friends fooling around or people considering going in just because they see it's new. 'Isn't that her?' Magna says. She had seen her. But that's exactly why she couldn't step forward.
A bright sundress. Whether it was light yellow or white wasn't clear to her, but the impriments of flowers certainly were yellow. She faces the floor, making the huge hat with a sunflower on it cover her face entirely. She holds a small purse tightly on her hands. 'She got here much earlier... probably, damn,' Sirin clicks her tongue.
She casually approaches. And by casual we mean she looks like a suspicious person to anyone watching. She tries to make it natural, looking around, whistling, taking carefree steps. But by the point one has to try to be natural, it's already clear they're being unnatural. They had agreed on a code, on a exchange to make clear they could identify each other. In her nervousness, Sirin forgets. Her mind is blank. Therefore, she attempts something different, something she saw not long ago.
She stands in front of the girl. The girl is distracted by her own thoughts and her hat blocks some of her vision, Sirin goes unnoticed. But that's what she counted on, actually. She slams her hand against the wall, her arm right over the girl's shoulder. The sound of her slamming the wall makes the girl raise her face like a scared animal.
Short white hair, eyes which are just a pair of blue beads. Her skin, too, pale like a sheet of paper. Her lips tremble, her eyes quake. She doesn't know what is going on, but she is scared. Sirin panics when meeting eyes with her, which makes her go into maximum overdrive. She holds the girl's chin with her other hand.
“Are you here by yguh-,” the girl hits Sirin's stomach with her knee, then grabs the arm that is by her shoulder and flips Sirin, throwing her against the ground. 'Marvelous!' Magna claps, awed by how smoothly she connected all of that. Hurt, but figuring she needs to save face before the cops take her, Sirin smiles. “As expected of Elos, you never lower your guard.”
“S...Siririn?” The scared girl stutters. Not because she can't believe that's her friend, but because she can't believe she just pulled a judo throw on her.
“The one and only,” putting up the front of her life, she stands up, making it seem like her back and stomach don't hurt at all. 'At least that broke the ice, I don't feel a drop of nervousness.'
“Ah... I thought... I was getting... hit on.”
“Huh? Do I look like a boy?”
“A pretty one. At first sight, I mean, not anymore” her demeanor changes when Sirin reveals her identity. 'Well, it was inevitable, anyone would react that way being approached all of a sudden and getting wall-slammed,' Sirin nods in agreement with herself, doing damage control for the two of them.
“But... Alright, fine. Shall we go?”
The girl smiles and turns around majestically. The kind of movement where it's normal to find white feathers at the place she walked past, hinting that's she's actually an angel. But, of course, such things wouldn't happen on the real world. Just to make sure, Sirin takes a quick look around. As she expected, no white plumes of any sort fluttering. She follows the white-haired girl into the mall.
“Do you mind if I ask?” She points to the girl's hair. As much as she likes it, it's not every day she sees a real person with white hair.
“Do you think I've been cosplaying or something?” She playfully asks.
“Not really, you'd have told me about it, hopefully.”
“Of course I would. I've got albinism.”
“Wah! That's... Is it fine to say it's cool? I think it's cool. I mean... white hair,” she's a child at heart, but with enough awareness to know albinism has negative effects. Saying it is cool might end up hurting Elos.
“There are downsides, but it is pretty cool. I can derail threads just by posting half of my face,” she opens an evilish smile.
“Ah, that's powerful! You don't even need to say 'btw i'm a girl'?!”
“If I post the white hair and that I'm a girl the thread gets deleted in seconds.”
“Wow... I'm jealous.”
“What is it?” While for Elos it's terribly embarassing to call her by her internet name, it doesn't deal any damage to Sirin.
“Could you tell me your real name now? It's... hard to call you Siririn.”
“You might get a little disappointed, but my name is Sirin.”
“Yeah,” Elos thinks for a while, her hand against her mouth.
“Did your mother never tell you not to use your real name on the internet?”
“She might have, after I already had five accounts with that name. What about you? Isn't your name Eloise?”
“No! That name sounds pretty terrible, I won't lie. It's Erika.”
“Erika... Nice to meet you, Erika,” she offers Erika her hand.
“Nice to meet you, Siririn,” the two happily shake hands. 'So she decided to continue with my online name? Didn't you just say it was hard to...?' Sirin asks herself, but as it doesn't matter, she lets it pass.
There isn't much to say about their afternoon together. Erika takes a pair of sunglasses and wears them along with the sun hat as they walk around. Some stores have very strong light, she either has to wear sunglasses or avoid these stores, but for the sake of looking around, she chooses the sunglasses. They talk just as they do when online, they have no problem breaking through the barrier of meeting for the first time.
They visit technology stores, hobby stores, talk about figures and series they find interesting. After a while they buy ice cream for themselves and sit on the food parlor for ten minutes, just to rest. Then, the two head for the second floor, to see what sort of store can be found there. It's a truly huge mall, they spent two hours looking around and barely got to the second floor.
“Rich people are absurd, aren't they?” She turns her gaze upwards, counting the remaining floors. Three of them, but one, supposedly, is just a bunch of movie theathers, so that one doesn't count, in her opinion.
“W-what do you mean?” Erika almost chokes on her drink, she finds that line so sudden.
“I mean. Look at the size of this place. It has everything, but pretty much it's all expensive. People that come here don't really come to buy just one thing, do they? They buy from lots of places. If me and mom lived like monks for a year, maybe we'd manage to afford to have a spree here.”
“Would you say something like 'richfags should just explode'?”
“Nah. It's just really otherworldly to me, I don't think there's anything wrong with them,' Sirin shrugs.
When she thinks there's still half the second floor and the third floor left to explore, she feels exhausted. Erika is having fun, though, Sirin can see she's enjoying herself. Therefore, Sirin won't say she's tired already. She is curious about what else they can find, but not to the point she wouldn't manage to live without knowing it. 'But for Erika, I must...' she steels her resolve.
“Sirin,” Magna calls for her. He's been silent for so long she completely forgot about him.
“What is it?” She almost says it with her outer voice. She's been talking nonstop, it felt natural to do so. She remembers it's her inner voice is the one that must be used moments before saying it out loud.
“You probably didn't notice, but there's been someone following you for a good time now. Don't look too abruptly... Seems like a male, the one on a green hoodie. He's been covering his face and hiding his hands on his pocket ever since he started stalking you, I'm suspicious.”
“You mean... he might be the next assassin from the cult?”
“What should we do?”
“Try to split up from Erika, then we'll deal with him.”
“Siririn?” Erika removes her sunglasses and gets her face close to Sirin's. She didn't notice her approaching and jumps back in surprise.
“Woah! What is it?”
“You got all serious suddenly, is there something wrong? Do you need to go to the toilet?” 'That's a good excuse, take it!' Magna yells from within.
“Y-yeah, could you wait a minute? Don't move from this spot, please?”
“Haha, don't worry, there's nowhere for me to go without you,” Erika giggles. 'An angel. Truly an angel,' Sirin admires her and, walking on an increased pacing, heads for a toilet.
But the hooded person doesn't go after her. They continue walking slowly on the same direction as before. They increase the pace as well, however, moving something within their pockets, gripping it tight. 'Sirin! The target is-!' as fast as a thought, he transmits it to her. She turns around mid-sprint, now running towards Erika. Hooded person doesn't mind that's coming back, it's too late to turn back now.
Erika is puzzled as to why Sirin is running back if she didn't even go to the toilet yet. Sirin screams 'Erika, come!' while reaching out for her. Erika takes two steps forward, a little scared again, she doesn't understand why Sirin is acting weird. She looks around, conscious of people looking. That's when she notices the hooded person coming towards her. But what truly makes fear settle in is the silver flash that hits her sensible eyes. Had she not removed her sunglasses, she wouldn't notice it. A knife.
She doesn't know why she makes this choice, but she walks towards Sirin instead of running away. She holds her hand, and with amazing force, strenght she never showed before, Sirin pulls her close, within her embrace. The person with the knife leaps towards her back, they're bent on not giving up. 'They can't slit her throat when she's like this with me, but a knife to the back still hurts a lot... I'll protect Erika!'
“Gate Open! Release!!” A stream of red light shines around her and expands, taking her, the hooded person and Erika to another world. For everyone else on the mall, time has stopped.
They're transported to a pine tree forest. The trees are an odd shade of purple, and mist blinds them from seeing too far away. This place feels extremely eerie, as if it were haunted. Erika opens her eyes. Sirin is tightly holding her hand, still hugging her. She feels warmth across her entire body, regardless of being taller than Sirin. Standing five meters tall behind her, a red dragon in golden armor. Erika tries to run away, but Sirin holds her hand. With a sweltering serious gaze, Sirin stares at Erika's blue eyes.
“Trust us. We're gonna protect you,” her first thought is an honest 'who is this?' Her mind has a hard time believing that's the same Sirin from before, she feels so... so much more confident. And yet she doesn't manage to do anything but believe her. She already would entrust her life to average Sirin, imagine what she wouldn't confide to this one. She nods, still not letting go of her hand. “Thank you. Magna, can you see the enemy?”
“The mist is blocking my vision. It's likely the same applies to them, though... We have no choice but proceed blindly,” Erika quakes from hearing the dragon's voice, but she supresses her fear with ease, by thinking 'He's Sirin's friend, it's gonna be fine.'
“We're going. I'll ask you to come with us. Getting you caught up on the battle is dangerous, but leaving you behind is even more, I'm sorry.”
“Don't worry, Siririn. Proceed as you normally would, don't mind me,” she doesn't want to be a burden. 'Whatever is going, Sirin seems used to it, I can't have her making mistakes because of me.'
“Actually, this is just my second time here,' she's blunt about it. Erika pretends to have not heard it and continues to believe she's sure of what she's doing.
They walk forward for a while, without anything happening. They fear the possibility of walking in circles, but Magna is leaving clear footprints of crisped vegetation wherever he walks past, there's no mistaking they're moving to places they haven't been before.
Singing. At first a quiet humming, but gradually going louder and louder, until turning into a clear song. They can't understand the words, but it's so high-pitched it hurts they ears. They can't even tell where it is coming from, as it echoes all around them.
“A purple forest, purple mist, and now this cowardly tactic... How fitting, exactly what I'd expect from a stalker and murderer,” Dragna comments to the girls. He isn't truly affected by the singing, but he can tell it is damaging them.
“Is purple related to it at all?” Sirin yells. She didn't mean to speak so loudly, but, reflexively, she talks in a voice loud enough for her to listen to herself.
“Each color has their own aspect and way to battle... Purple makes use of psychological war and murder, they work the shadows, darkness and everything like that,” he explains, looking around. He wants to detect their foe before the girls pass out, he'll be troubled without Sirin.
“What does Red do?” Sirin herself asks, it doesn't take a genius to figure Magna is red.
“Destruction, rage, ruin. We're all about strenght and how to wreak the most havoc with it,” he seems to be smiling. Sirin is sure he is smiling.
“And that... that nature is a match with Siririn's personality? Since you said purple matches with the murderer...” Erika asks him, but her voice doesn't reach, the singing gets in the way.
“I think I spotted a target! Sirin!”
“Drag-Magna, attack as you wish!” She doesn't even know where to point, so she just lets him do his thing.
He flaps his wings once and only a trail of swirling mist is left behind. It's like shooting a cannonball through the mist, it creates a hole in it, but in just a few seconds, the mist 'closes' it again. The mist blocks her vision, the singing blocks her hearing, she has no idea what might be going on. 'This is how purple fights, huh...'
The soundwaves coming from the direction Drag flew towards have stopped coming at them, slightly easing the damage they sustain, but not enough for them to feel secure. And just as quickly as he flew away, Drag flies back. He seems slightly out of himself, and for good reason, there's a bolt deeply engraved on his chest.
“What is that?!” Sirin thought of him as someone who beat everyone without getting hurt, fooled by his display of power on the previous battle.
“It was a trap! The target I found was simply a mask, a hollow shadow of a spirit. That was one of the sources for that ear-piercing song, but clearly not the real enemy. When I broke it, I was hit by this,” Sirin can see he has gotten angry. His expressions aren't that expressive, as he is a dragon and all, but she can somehow read into them.
“Can you bleed out from it? I mean, when compared to your size, that bolt is just...”
“It's not killing me that purple aims for with this. This arrow saps my very soul, my vitality.”
“What do we do then?!”
“My soul is as strong as you make it. My limit depends on you,” he looks at her with burning eyes. She feels trusted, as if he were trying to say that he can survive out of this battle because she's the one feeding him with energy. “I'll break the remaining masks now.”
“But if it's a trap...!” Erika doesn't understand why he would leave whilst knowing it's just bait to shoot at him.
“Red only knows one way to fight, there's no other option for us. Right?” Sirin smiles. Ragna does an awkward thumbs up. He saw Delphine doing it earlier and figured he could try as well.
Once more, he flies away, leaving only a trail of emptiness on the mist. All this time, Erika didn't let go of Sirin's hand. Or perhaps Sirin didn't let go of Erika's hand. A second source of soundwaves stop. 'He managed, but...' Sirin worries. Magna returns, this time the bolt is lodged deep on his left arm. It's like it completely ignores the armor he wears and just pierces through, like if it were a ghost. The lava which normally flows through his armor is slowly stopping. That's like seeing a human whose blood is pumping slower, very worrisome.
“I judge that there's three more...” He strains his ears, but he can't make sure of it, it's nothing but a feeling.
“You'll endure it! I can guarantee it!” Sirin nods with determination, and Drag nods back, then once more shoots himself towards another mask.
While before he flew away and in a matter of seconds the singing would decrease in loudness and he'd return, this time it doesn't happen. The singing continues, Magna hasn't returned. Each second that passes, the girls feel more and more uneasy. This mist thickens, the noise continues. They wouldn't hear someone approaching, no matter what sort of huge monster it turned out to be. Sirin can imagine the bull from the previous battle sneaking on them, that's how awful she finds the situation to be.
She believed they wouldn't notice, but they did. He walked right out of the mist, right in front of their eyes. The hooded person is a man, apparently close to his twenties. Blond hair, very short, almost a shaved cut. He still has a knife in hands, but looks much more deranged than he did back on the real world. He takes a step forward. Erika cowers, she wants to run away. But Sirin holds her.
“What are you doing, we have to...”
“If I let fear settle in, Magna will waver too. Right now, I'm sure he is fighting as well, I can't betray him,” she simply feels that. She can't explain why, but that feeling burns within her like a sun.
“Siririn... I won't go anywhere without you,” Erika smiles and faces the stalker, with the same resolve as Sirin. She can't be as confident as her, but she can believe in Sirin as much as Sirin believes in herself.
The stalker takes another step forward. The girls don't falter, they don't shiver, they don't even blink. He was walking step by step because he wanted to inflict as much despair as possible on them, but if they're gonna play courageous, he won't bother. 'First the girl that got in my way before,' he runs and tackles Sirin. Her feet are lifted off the ground, but before she even is knocked back, he continues his attack by stabbing her chest twice. 'What the...?' She falls to the ground.
Erika, still holding Sirin's hand, let's out a mute shriek. She can't believe what she just saw, she can't believe what just happened. She gets on her knees, tears streaming down her face. 'Did I... make the wrong choice? Should I have forced you to run with me? What is... gonna happen...?' She completely forgets the stalker is still right there, still right behind her.
“You know what you have to do, right? It's residing within you already, you've done it countless times before,” a familiar voice rings within her head. A caring, sweet and soft voice, a voice that feels like a mother.
“Yes...” As if in a trance, her eyes go blank, her conciousness wavers, she's partly awake and partly asleep. She's recovering it. A program that was installed long ago and she never could use.
“And now for the main dish...” The insane stalker lifts his knife once again, aiming straight for Erika's neck. He swings it down. A white light surrounds his body, but goes unnoticed by him. The knife stops an inch away from her nape, the white aura around it stops it from piercing through her skin. Her white hair and eyes become a bright, shining yellow.
“Absolute Zero,” she is powerful enough to have the effect of her spell take place before she even is done casting. Or at least with a low-level spell like this it happens this way. “Disappear, I have no intention of killing you.”
“Huuh?!!” He tries to stab her again and again, but his knife simply doesn't go through her skin. Seeing it is failing, he tries to knock her with a swing of his knuckles, but it doesn't even faze her. Nothing he does injures her, all the force from his attacks are deadened by the white aura.
“I've made you unable to hurt anyone else. Go away now,” she doesn't even bother to face the stalker, her eyes are locked on Sirin and Sirin alone. Her hand still feels warm, so she's sure it'll be fine. There's no way it'll be anything but fine.
“Erika, it doesn't hurt at all,” Sirin smiles.
“Try not to talk,” she caresses Sirin's head with her free hand.
“Can't you see that light? It's probably...”
“Stay with me, Siririn!” She's on the verge of tears, it's all happening too fast for her.
“No, seriously. Look up,” her tone hasn't changed at all. She talks as if she weren't... bleeding out? Erika only now notices that, while her shirt has two slashes in them, there are no bloodstains.
A woman sits on thin air with a leg crossed above the other. She looks down on the two girls, a wide smile on her face. Countless golden birds fly around her, chirping a comforting song. She wears a white dress that covers from her chest and downwards, her arms and shoulders are bare, as are her feet. She has two pairs of large wings sprouting from her back and a smaller pair on her waist. On her lap, a golden scepter whose extremity is shaped like a heart.
An angelic figure, nobility overflows from her presence. The chirping of the birds around her are in no way as loud, but they completely nullify the high-pitched singing of the masks. Undeniably beautiful. While Erika has the charm of her pure whiteness and Sirin has her above-average looks and endearing personality, this woman is the definition of gorgeous, everything about her, her face, her skin, her long and fluid hair, feels like perfection.
“Don't let go of her hand, no matter what,” she says. Even her voice rings on their ears like a pleasant massage, wiping out the stress and tension from their bodies. “Otherwise, she won't make it out alive of this.”
“That's... pretty extreme, I think,” Sirin jokes.
“Our magic is what keeps you alive on this moment, that's why you can't let go,” the woman flutters down and graciously lands in front of the two girls.
“I wasn't planning on letting go either way, it's fine,' Erika smiles. 'Your hair has gone yellow. Are you actually from a race of battling space monkeys?' Sirin wants to make sure she doesn't forget this joke, she keeps repeating it within her mind.
“That reminds me, Magna still isn't back? What is keeping him, he should just destroy the guy already...!” Sirin clicks her tongue. Whenever she orders him to attack, the connection between them breaks, she can't hear or contact him anymore.
“That... brute, has been fooled by the illusions of the mist. He won't find his way back, unless...” The woman stares deep into Sirin's eyes, reaching all the way to her soul. “Ah, he is as wise as he is brutal, as usual.”
“Hm, excuse me?” Sirin tilts her head.
“Erika, help her stand,” the woman turns around. Sirin doesn't really need help, but as they have to continue holding hands, Erika gives her support anyway. “Red child, do you know of magic?”
“Magic? Like sleight-of-hand?”
“Not quite. As a battler, when things become hard for your spirit, it is your function to help them by using magic. At times, you'll have to use it to protect yourself too,” like a mother lecturing her children, the woman explains the functions of magic.
“Can I protect others with it too?” 'I want to protect Erika,' is what she's thinking about.
“Certainly, if you're strong enough to be able to shoulder the safety of others...”
“We are strong! Tell me how to use magic, please!”
“You already have it installed within you, your ally probably put it in there foreseeing this situation,” 'He always was that sort of being. Almost as if he could see into the future...' she leaves this comment to herself.
“Hm, sorry, but even if you tell me it's installed, if I don't know where the .exe is...”
“Perhaps a kiss from a loved one would help you awaken,” she looks over her shoulder, quickly motioning her eyes between Erika and Sirin.
“Eh? For real? That's the condition?” It feels like too convenient a twist, fanservice-wise, to her. 'Is this some sort of Sleeping Lily thing?'
“Ahem, ahem,” the woman coughs, recovering her previous noble aura. “That was perhaps a particular interest, nevermind it. I'll boot it up for you this one time, normally you'd have to figure out yourself or have your own spirit tell you, however.”
“Does that mean you're Erika's-” A wave of heat covers her body, she feels as if she caught fire all of a sudden. That heat is felt by Erika too, but she doesn't let go, even if the feeling of Sirin's hand went from a warm hug to a piece of iron that just got out of an oven. The code appears in front of her eyes, and as naturally as she opens the gate, she casts her first spell. “Hail from the constellation above, a rain of beautiful meteors! Sagitta Flame!”
The clouds make way for a sphere of flames which suddenly appears on the sky. That sphere pours a rain of flame drops which turn into arrows as they fall, spreading across the misty forest, incinerating all of it. As the sphere decreases in size, so does the temperature of Sirin's body, ultimately returning to normal when the sphere disappears once all of it rained down. The arrows set fire to the entire forest, and as the trees collapse, the flames are instantly wiped out. The falling trees fall over the masks and break them getting rid of the song and the mist on a single wipe.
Now with the trees reduced to ash and the mist gone, they finally can see their surroundings beyond the small perimeter previously available. Not half a minute after the mist clears, Magna lands among them. On his face, a wide smile, though still only perceivable by Sirin.
“You actually cast it without any help?!” He's positively surprised and very excited. Sirin doesn't respond, only points to the angel woman. Magna's expression takes a sour turn. “Oh, I see. Still good job, Sirin.”
“It's been a long time, hasn't it? I sure missed y-” The woman starts talking to Magna, a smile purer than snow on her face. She's trying hard to be pleasant, to be friendly. Meanwhile, Drag doesn't acknowledge her at all. He grabs the two girls within his hands and jumps forward. Despite his brutish and sudden movement, they still didn't let go of each other.
The exact place they stood a moment ago is hit by a bolt, it penetrates through the ground as if it were sand. If Magna blinked, they wouldn't have dodgeed it in time. For Magna, being hit by one those is like a human being hit by a normal bolt. For the girls, being hit would be like being impaled. Same for the angel woman, as she is the size of an average adult woman. Without her crown, she's around 170cm tall. The quarrel falls a few centimeters away from her, three steps could have made her be underneath that huge stake. But she doesn't worry much, her magic would save her. A passive spell that prevents dead people from truly dying.
She forgot to warn Erika that there's a time limit to how long it can keep someone alive, but just by considering that Drag Magna is fighting alongside her, she knows the limit isn't a problem. He'll end it in an instant. Even at his worst, he's still among the best. 'An admirable ally, a fearsome foe...'
Without any mist to hide behind, he can easily track where the shooter is now. Without any hiding places available, it decides to go crazy and just shoot as much as it can in hopes of finishing it quickly. 'It' refers to a bizarrely slender man with a bat-like head. Sirin and Erika look at it with great confusion, they can't tell what exactly what is what. Its neck is pretty long, and then there's the small purple head with huge bat wings. However, that long neck has some markings which make it resemble a helmet, so they also think that the neck might be the head and the bat is a detail or engraving of some sort.
“It looks like a d-” Erika covers Sirin's mouth. She noticed. She thought the same. 'There's no need to voice such a thing,' her eyes alone transmit the message to Sirin.
And the crossbow the man holds isn't something normal either. It emits an exalted aura, which contrasts and creates a large gap with the weird phallic pale man. There's a dragon head on the center of the bow part, the quarrels shoot from it. 'That's pretty cool to be honest. It's pretty sad that your weapon is cooler than you,' is Sirin's opinion on today's enemy.
“That's Desperado and Rastaban. Judging by the damage they managed to deal, they're a level above the usual. And with my energy sapped like this...” Ragna puts the girls down and looks at his right fist, deep in thought.
“Trying to be humble all of a sudden?” Not for a moment she was fooled by his act. She can feel he still has plenty of energy, or at least enough to wipe out one genitalia-head demon or two. “You know the drill! Drag-Magna, attack!”
He takes flight. For him, it is pleasant to fly towards the open sky of the otherworld. Even if it's a fake world, he doesn't have the chance to spread his wings and feel the wind currents on his body when on the real world. Desperado is aiming at him, locking on in hopes of managing to shoot before Magna lands a hit on him.
'At least he's not trying to target the girls while I'm up here. Well, not that it'd serve any purpose,' as flies down like a shooting star, he grins. Desperado shoots once and hits his shoulder. Then again and misses. Once more, and hits a wing. 'All these attacks... and I wasn't depleted. I sure am trusted by my battler, huh?' The hammer of absolute power smashes through the bat head, crushing all the way to the end of its neck. Its grip on the crossbow grows weak and it is dropped. Aware it has a consciousness of its own, Magna grasps it with his tail and smashes it too.
They don't return to the real world. That means his display of power wasn't enough. He flies to ground level and searches for the stalker. Until he gives up on his life, they're not leaving this place. After becoming unable to hurt anyone, he decided to hide while his spirit took care of everything. But both his hideout and his spirit were destroyed, all he could think of doing was staring towards the sky, waiting for his time to be destroyed. He'll only accept defeat when dead, he lives that sort of life.
To Magna, delivering such a wish is no problem. A single finger is enough to handle a human. But he doesn't truly understand the concept of mercy, the same fist with which he kills a spirit, he also kills a human. He clenches his fist, the stalker is almost within range. But the woman gets on his way. She has her arms crossed like an X and swings her head while screaming 'no, no, no!' Magna only directs her eyes at her. Even though she's so much smaller, he doesn't bend his head to face her. From an outsider perspective, he seems to be looking down on her with lots of contempt.
“Then?” Is all he says to her.
“Let me handle. I'm weak, so I'm fit for this sort of thing,” she flexes her muscles and shows how there's nothing there. She approaches the deranged man and swings her scepter at him like a baseball player does. He falls to the ground, out cold. As weak as she might be, the strenght of a spirit still easily surpasses that of a human. She turns around and winks while giggling. Magna closes his eyes, as both the world and himself disappear.
Back on the real world, the stalker's knife shatters in a hundred shards and instead of resuming to motion himself forward with his leap, instead he's pulled towards the floor by a force and falls on his face, breaking his nose. 'This... isn't the power of someone who stopped a car,' Sirin is suspicious of the force which acted over the stalker.
But even though he's already knocked out, five large guys in tuxedos come out from within very unlikely places, the lingerie shop, a kitchen and so on, all of them with guns on their waists, a communication device on their ears and screaming 'Milady!' They take Erika from Sirin's embrace and run away with her, surrounding her like a human barrier. She reached out for Sirin, trying to say something, but she's taken away by that mass of buff secret agents wannabes before saying anything.
'If they were evil, I'd open the gates, right? If I didn't, that means... it's gonna be fine. Right?' She asks, but Magna can't say. He didn't feel malice either, but he can't deny it is odd. A little perplexed, but very tired, Sirin sends her mom a message saying her date was over already, 'please come pick me up.'
She plays it cool on the mail, but while waiting for her mother to show up, she wanted to get on fetal position and cry while thinking about all that happened. 'My friend almost got stabbed, then I got stabbed, then I used magic... Then my friend got taken away by some weird squad... I'm... worried. And today was so fun. Is it because I complained? Because deep down I wanted to go home?'
“How did it go?” Sirin didn't say anything but 'hey' upon entering the car, and then didn't make a single sound. Delphine expected her to be tired, but ten minutes went by and not even a comment. 'I can't understand if she's upset because it ended or something else.'
“It was fun, but...”
“These secret agent-like guys appeared and took her away.”
“...Is your friend an alien that escaped from a research facility?” 'Ah, I forgot the monkey alien joke!' her mother's question makes her remember about it.
“Not really. They called her 'Milady' and I heard of them say something like 'bring the limo, bring the limo!' He was pretty desperate. Worried,” 'just like me,' she sighs.
“Doesn't sound like kidnappers... I'm sure she'll explain everything to you when you see each other again. Online, I mean,” Delphine smiles. Still affected, but a small seed of hope sprouting within, Sirin nods.
“And... mind if I ask just what you were doing to get your shirt to rip like that?” She points to Sirin's chest.
“My precious shirt... I hadn't even noticed...” She pokes her fingers through the holes. 'They're huge, I'm done for, I can't ever go out again.'
“So you don't even know how it happened? Watch out, one day you might get killed and not realize you're dead until a week later,” she jokes. Sirin can hear Magna snorting somewhere within, and she can't blame him, as she would do a spit take as well if she could.
“Haha, no way, even I am not that much of a ditz!” She plays it off. It's not like she could explain it either, especially since her mother already heard her say very painful things during middle school. If she mentioned otherworlds, fighting cultists of an evil god and using magic, her mother would only look at her and say 'I thought you were over that phase already, you even set fire to all your old notebooks.'
After that exchange, Sirin cheered up and continued talking to her mother during all the way back. She said Erika had albinism and her eyes were weak, that she often took private classes because she's too sensible to go to school, that her parents were really busy all the time too, just like Sirin's mother. Delphine grows very interested on Erika, as she is the first non-cartoon person that Sirin talks so much about. 'I hope she comes by our home one day, I wanna meet her now' she says, which makes the stars within Sirin's eye shine twice as much. 'Would it really be fine? I'll tell her when we get home!'
Elos: I think I owe you an explanation or two...
She got distracted by the thought of having Erika over and doing a pajama party. Until she read that message, she forgot about the way their date ended. 'Hm, let's go, it's time to find out the truth,' she grabs the keyboard and starts typing.
Siririn: I'm already happy enough just knowing you're fine. Not to say I'm not interested on the explanation, but I feel it's important to say that.
Elos: Thanks. Okay, how to say it... Let's start with I'm the daughter of Edmont Leondall.
Siririn: I see.
She replies, scratching her chin. She changes tabs to her browser and searches for the name Edmont Leondall. Multi-billionaire entrepeneur, CEO of a famous technology brand, head of countless businesses, an elite among the elite. Clicking on his page on the rich people wiki, under his profile info, there's a family section. Father, Mother, Wife, Son, Son and Daughter.
Daughter: Erika Leondall (16). A blue link. She clicks on it too. She's the apprentice of Edmont and he has said in interviews she's his favorite child. She has opened a bank on her hometown and it's famous for very good customer service. Trivia: She's a real albino. According to her mother, she had a great-uncle that had albinism too, but Edmont isn't aware of anyone that had it on his family. Tabloid said they weren't his real daughter for a while due to that, but the rumor has already died down.
Siririn: I see...
The red character appears on the screen, falling off her chair and shivering in shock on the floor, bullets of pixelated sweat raining down her face. In response, the yellow character sighs and a sad face appears over her head.
Elos: It isn't that big of deal, honestly...
Siririn: You have a page on the rich people wiki... Can I have one on the poor people wiki?
Elos: Would you really make a page for yourself?
Siririn: You make one for me then. Say I deserve that page because I don't have a toaster.
Siririn: Sorry, my plebeian humor must tire you, m-i-l-a-d-y.
A close shot on the red characters face, drawn with details worth of a girl-oriented comic, down to the thick eyebrows, small lips and pink background. Many, many kilometers away, Erika laughs. She's happy to know Sirin hasn't changed at all after knowing of her status. She feared what would happen when she found out, but 'if she'll just be like this, it's fine.'
Siririn: And I guess... that guy that attacked is someone your family's company crushed?
Elos: I wouldn't know, but that is a possibility. It wouldn't be the first time I'm assaulted like that...
'Could it be that her condition isn't the only reason she takes private classes...?' She stops typing for a moment, considering whether or not to ask it. In the end, she decides not to. She doesn't want the conversation to take a heavy turn, so she decides to change the topic a little.
Siririn: That reminds me, is that angel woman still with you?
Elos: Yes, she's been talking to me for a long while.
Siririn: About an evil cult and some random goddess, perhaps?
Elos: Yes. Did your dragon do the same?
Elos: It's hard to believe, but it's not like I wasn't taken to another world and seen those spirits battling with my own eyes...
Siririn: Hard to believe? What was?
Elos: Well, it's different for you Siririn. Since you're... like that.
Siririn: What do you mean?
The yellow character appears on the screen, dressed in dark clothes, her left arm bandaged, her right eye covered by an eyepatch. Her right hand is over the eyepatch and there's a black dragon swirling around her entire body.
Elos: Do you want... to see my evil eye?
Sirin reflexively logs out and leaves the room without a second of wavering. She walks down to the kitchen, picks the largest glass cup the have and fills it with cold water. She drinks all of it very quickly, then fills it and drinks all of it again. She chokes on it and coughs a lot.
“Why would you do that to yourself?” She didn't even notice her mother was there too, reading the newspaper. She watched without saying a word, expecting something like this would happen.
“Would you believe if I told you Erika has a page on the rich people wiki? Ah, and she's the daughter of Edmont Leondall, if you know the name,” she says, pouring yet another glass of water.
“Hm, I see. Guess she's not visiting us anymore then. Or rather, we simply can't have her over.”
“...That's true, isn't geh!” She starts drinking water before even finishing the sentence and chokes again. Her mother laughs.
Hours later, alone on her room, lying in bed, she thinks about what has happened to her recently. A battle that didn't really count, it was like a tutorial scenario. Five days of class, which, keeping the game metaphor, she compares to four hours of unskippable cutscenes. Then the first actual battle, which was pretty intense. But in real world terms, she feels something swelling up on her chest. She can't tell if it's a bomb that will erase her or an adventurous heart. So far, it's only in hatching stage, but she's certainly aware there's something in there.
“Magna...” She accidentaly calls for him with her outer voice.
“What is it?”
“You chose me to be your battler and all, right? I thought I was some sort of chosen one, but... Erika had one, the stalker had one, the driver was from the cult so alright, but those other two are what make me confused.”
“Well, everyone has a soul, Sirin. Once you travel through the gate, it will manifest no matter what. You have the power to open the gate and force that soul, their spirit, out, though.”
“Ah, I see. And that reminds me, Erika's spirit seemed to know you, how does that work?”
“She isn't an average spirit, just like me. She's here to stop the cultists as well.”
“So she came from your world? And that guy from today, he was just the stalker's soul?”
“She did. And yes. In simple terms, you and Erika were chosen and we became your spirits, but as for normal people, like the two you battled so far, it could be said they chose their spirits, though indirectly. Their daily lives, thoughts and choices all shaped their souls into becoming those spirits.”
“Doesn't that make them cooler than us?”
“...That concept is beyond me, you'll have to trust your gut.”
Magic, spirits, the gate. These terms are all pretty vague, but she's understanding them, or at least she thinks she does. She wants to ask about the world Magna came from, but she feels that if it was a topic he wanted to talk about, he'd do it whenever he mentions it. But as he doesn't, she feels scared to ask. As if something within warns her not to pry on the topic too much.