Chapter 12:

Dreams and Duality

Emiko Alone

It was the day before Kodoku.

“You ready, Emiko?” a voice called through her bedroom door.

Emiko startled and gripped the straps to her case. “Uh, yeah, I guess.”

I had finally gathered the courage to accept a date to perform, with anything really, after years of putting it off.

The door opened slowly, and there, standing with a gentle smile, was Daiki Kenbo, Emiko’s brother. “Hey, Emiko,” he said. “You look nervous.”

Emiko pouted. “O-of course! Of course I’m nervous.” Then, realizing what he had just done, she marched over to him and began to push on him. “Get out! Why are you in my room?!”

Daiki chuckled and let himself be pushed out. “Can’t a brother greet his sister before she goes off into the real world?”

“This isn’t a graduation,” Emiko grumbled. She then puffed her cheeks and poked Daiki in the arm. “H-hey, stop teasing me, idiot!”

“Ow, okay!” Daiki rubbed his arm and sighed with a grin. “I guess nothing gets past you, huh?”

It was the last full memory I had with Daiki.

“That’s because I actually try,” Emiko said proudly. She smirked and puffed her chest out. “Unlike someone who seems to just go with the flow and everything works out.”

“Hey!” Daiki laughed. “I try. I really do!” He then smiled even brighter as he ruffled Emiko’s hair. “You’ve done a great job the past couple years, Emiko. I’m proud of you.”

As her cheeks flushed red, Emiko pouted again and looked to the side. “I guess,” Emiko huffed. “It’s annoying.”

“Yep,” Daiki agreed. “Been there, done that. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging it, though.” He crossed his arms and motioned his head to the ukulele on the bed behind her. “And if it means you’re finally ready to start stepping out of your shell again, I’m all for it. You’re pretty amazing, little sis.”

“Stop trying to, to make me blush!” Emiko said indignantly. “You’re always like this!”

“I wouldn’t be your brother if I wasn’t like this,” Daiki said, throwing his arms out in a shrugging gesture. “Don’t you love me?”

“No!” Emiko cried, trying to fight back a smile. “You suck.”

“I do, don’t I?” Daiki asked. Suddenly, he grew quiet, and Emiko felt a heavy weight appear on Daiki’s shoulders. She could almost tell what he was thinking as he opened his mouth. “Pops won’t make it today,” he whispered. “He’s working overtime again.”

“I didn’t get my hopes up in the first place,” Emiko said softly. “And mama—ah, mother, well, she’s—“

“In one of her moods,” Daiki finished. “I noticed. Looks like I’ll be the only one really rooting for you today, Emiko.”

Emiko stilled, and moved back to her bed to grab hold of her case. “…Again,” she murmured.


“You’re the only one, again,” Emiko said. She sighed. “Why is it only ever you?”

“Maybe because I know?” Daiki shrugged. “We’ve lived with the same parents for all of our lives. And when we grew older, I promised to myself that I would try and keep you safe.” He walked over, sat on his bed, and gently held her wrist. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there all the time.”

After a moment, Emiko pulled away and shouldered her ukulele. “It, it doesn’t matter, anymore.” She walked to the doorway and paused. “I’m… thank you, Daiki. But you really should stop worrying about me. I’ll be fine.”

“I can only hope,” Daiki whispered. “You’re ready to go?”


He nodded and tossed his keys in the air before catching them. “Let’s get moving, then. Mom will probably, well…”

“As… long as she comes, I guess,” Emiko said without emotion. “I don’t really care. Let’s go.” She began walking and started to descend the stairs. “And don’t forget to close my door.”

Looking around the room, Daiki sighed and followed Emiko out. The door latched shut, and he paused for just a moment. “I can only hope…”

“Daiki, why are you taking so long upstairs? Are you still in my room? Get out!”

“I’m out, I’m out!” Daiki called. “I’m just getting a few things!”

They left the house, and the drive to the musical centre was short and silent. Emiko could feel Daiki’s constant glances at her, but she chose to ignore them, choosing instead to hum the tune to the sing she was going to sing.

After much coaching and light arguing with her instructor, Emiko had written her own song. It wasn’t too long, but it was long enough that she had major anxiety thinking about performing it. Even just sitting in the car, her heart was pounding, and she felt like she could explode at any moment. If she could just focus on her lyrics, on her music… She took a deep breath. Just like the the doctor said, she thought. Breathe.

“You alright, Emiko? You’re looking a little pale.”

“I’m fine,” Emiko said with a nod. “I’ll be fine.”

She could tell Daiki wasn’t convinced, but she wasn’t going to say anymore about it. In all honesty, Emiko appreciated Daiki’s patience. She wasn’t very patient herself. But Emiko knew she could count on him to be there for her. She glanced over to him and hid a small smile.

Soon, they had parked and gone their separate ways: Daiki to the seating area, and Emiko to warm up. As she entered the practice room, she found her own little corner and began to tune and strum, finding her rhythm in the chords that grew in tune. Finally, she pulled out the little notebook in her case’s compartment and reviewed her chords and lyrics. Nodding to herself, she got lost in her own world as she begun to hum to herself while she played.

All around her, the noise of other instruments and the calls of instructors preparing their students could be heard, but she readily tuned them out. She needed to focus. This was her battlefield, and today, she would conquer it.

Emiko’s focus broke, however, when another familiar voice rang next to her. “All set up, then?”

Emiko flinched and turned to look at the woman beside her. “S-sensei?” She bowed. “Good evening!”

“Won’t you quit it with the formalities, Emiko?” Her sensei said. “Aren’t we friends?”

“S-sorry,” Emiko said, straightening up. “Force of habit…”

“In any case,” Sensei said, “It’s good to know you’re ready. I’m just reminding you that you’ll be our last act for the day, since you agreed fairly late to performing, but I know you’ll do amazing.” She smiled and hugged Emiko. Emiko froze. “I’ve watched you over the past year, and you’ve done splendidly. Be proud of yourself, Emiko.” As her teacher pulled away, Emiko stumbled a little but quickly recovered. “Let me speak to some others now, hm?” And she went on her way. Emiko sighed.

“I keep forgetting her name…” Emiko whispered. She only ever met with her once a week, and with everything else that had been going on with her life… She was ashamed to admit that she never really asked for her name either, referring to her as a teacher first and foremost. However, Emiko still greatly appreciated the care her teacher gave her. With a sigh, she looked around the room at all the people still getting ready, grabbed her stuff, and left.

She found Daiki sitting quietly at the front row beside her own reserved seat. “Are you allowed to sit there?” Emiko asked.

“Of course,” Daiki smiled. “There’s also room for both of mama and papa—“

“Great,” Emiko interrupted, setting her gear onto one of the extra seats and taking her own beside Daiki. “At least you’re not breaking any rules or anything.”

“They said I could sit here, so I did,” Daiki argued, though he frowned at the not-so subtle action. “I’m, uh, excited to see what you have for us!”

“You’ll be waiting for a bit, then,” Emiko said. “I’m, well, I’m the last act because I joined the performance late.”

“You’ll do great. I believe in you.”

Emiko took a deep breath and sighed. “That makes one of us,” she whispered, and leaned back. “In any case,” she said instead, “It should be starting soon.”

Students, parents, and teachers alike began filing in and taking their seats on either side of Emiko and Daiki. Carefully, Emiko, did her best to look as relaxed as possible, and sunk into her seat as much as she could without looking like she was slouching. “You look like you’re having fun there,” Daiki commented.

“Hrmm,” Emiko grumbled, folding her arms. “I don’t exist right now.”

Daiki hummed. “Well, the show’s starting, so we better pay attention. Don’t want to miss out on anything, do we?” Emiko shook her head as the announcer stood up and began to announce the order of events, and the pieces that would be played.

The performances were a blur to Emiko. It almost felt surreal to her, how one would end and another would begin just like that. All the while, she watched the door, dreading the moment her mother would come barging in. Finally, her name was called, with no sign of her mother. With a sigh, she stood. Daiki grabbed her hand, and she looked at him with tired eyes and a raised eyebrow.

“You’ll do great, okay?” Daiki whispered. “Now go out there and do your best! I’m rooting for you!”

Nodding, Emiko smiled weakly and took her ukulele from her case before stepping up. The announcer clapped politely, followed by the crowd, and Emiko felt the eyes of over twenty people bore into her. She broke into a cold sweat, and felt a shiver run down her spine.

“I, ah, I’m Emiko Kenbo. T-today, I’m going to, to play an original song. My sensei helped me put it together. I’ll be playing it on the ukulele, and the name of, of the song is ‘Remember This.’”

Taking the proffered stool and sitting on it, she brought her ukulele to bear and gulped. She did a few test strums and took several deep breaths. Finally, she glanced up once more, and caught Daiki’s kind eyes and two thumbs up cheering her on. Closing her eyes, she nodded, sighed, and began to strum.

You never know when you are lost…

And losing you is terrify-ing,

A tear or two will show my lo-o-ove for you,

I’ve thought and thought and I can’t think no more

Emiko winced as the door to her left creaked open, and she could hear someone panting and saying she made it. Emiko closed her eyes and bowed her head as she already knew who it was. There was nothing she could do but keep going. Going into the second verse, she began:

I never knew that I was lost…

And I can see reflections too-oo,

My present, past and future cling-ing along,

I’ve tried and tried but I just broke in two,

“A sa-a-addened soul that plays pretend,

A ra-a-ging fire of the e-end,

And a-all these things

Will make me who I am,

Will you and I remember this?

“Will you and I remember this?

Emiko started humming and strumming for her bridge, and she chanced a glance to where she knew Daiki, and now her mother, was sitting. Daiki was still watching her with a wide grin which made herself smile, but that smile instantly fell when she saw her mother on her phone. Suddenly, something stung at the back of her eyes and her throat felt dry. Emiko proceeded to flub a chord, and she squeezed her eyes shut as she kept strumming, no matter what, like her teacher had taught her. Just keep moving.

Taking a deep breath and trying to forget what she had just seen, she threw herself behind the next verse and chorus.

Those closest to you don’t know

And those who know lo-ove you

But when that love falls like the sun

Will the sunset be as beautiful as the dawn?

“A sa-a-addened soul that plays pretend,

A ra-a-ging fire of the e-end,

And a-all these things

Will make me who I am,

Will you and I remember this?

Finally, she did single strums as the song came to an end, and repeated the chorus one final time.

A saddened soul that plays pretend

A raging fire of the end

And all these things

Will make me who I am…

Will you and I remember this?

The last chord played, and Emiko could hear her heartbeat in her ears. She kept her eyes on the floor as she got up and bowed deeply. “Th-thank you,” she stuttered. She held it until she heard a loud clap start from near her, and soon everyone was clapping at her. Suddenly, she felt a sense of elation, and of unworthiness. Her eyes blurred, and she rushed to Daiki’s side.

“That was good, Emiko,” her mother said. She was still on her phone.

Daiki grabbed her hands, and she tore her empty gaze away. “That was even better than I thought it would be, Emiko, and I knew it was going to be amazing. You’re a star!”

“No, I was, I just did my best,” Emiko murmured, turning red. “I wasn’t that good.”

“Well, everyone here thought you were great, so don’t worry about it,” Daiki cried. Someone shushed him, and he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “Ah… maybe I should wait until the event is over…”

After the formalities, the congratulations on those who performed, and the closing announcements, Daiki waited for Emiko to finish packing her things before he wrapped an arm around Emiko’s shoulders.

“Wait, Daiki,” their mother said. “I want to speak with Emiko for a moment.”

Daiki stilled. Emiko winced and stared at the ground as his grip on her shoulders tightened ever so slightly. “Not right now, mom. We’re going to celebrate.”

“I need to speak with her about her performance. I thought it was—“

Emiko remained silent as Daiki shepherded her to the door. “We’re leaving, mom. We’ll see you later.”

“Daiki! I need to speak with her! Leave her here for a moment!”

“Not happening,” Daiki muttered through gritted teeth. They left anyway, and Emiko glanced backwards at the door, holding her breath in dread for the inevitable shout to return.

“Hey,” Daiki said, “You did great, and nothing else matters. Mom was late, so she didn’t see all the other bad performances. We’ll go to that ice cream shop around the corner that you love, how about that?”

Emiko nodded meekly. Then, she blinked and found herself already sitting in Daiki’s car and in front of the ice creamery. Daiki opened the door for her and she stepped out. For a moment, she forgot all her worries as the cold weight in her chest turned into glittery amazement at all the flavours she knew and loved.

“The raspberry cheesecake, brother! I like that one.”

Daiki chuckled and shook his head. That’s an extra one-hundred yen for the cheesecake bits, but hey, I’m treating you out.” He ordered that and his own, and they quickly found themselves enjoying a frozen treat at the seats in the creamery diner.

“Thanks, Daiki,” Emiko whispered. “I… I would have stayed and probably gotten scolded by—“

“Let’s not focus on that, even though it isn’t right,” Daiki interrupted. “We’re here enjoying ice-cream and being happy. We’re here celebrating your first step in the wide world of music, and your first performance since ever. And you blew it out of the ballpark!” Daiki took a huge bite and grinned. “You weh da bess pehfomans deh!”

Emiko snorted. “Don’t speak with your mouth full, Daiki! You’re so gross!”

He gulped the ice cream down and threw his hands into the air. “I made her laugh! Did you see that? I made Emiko laugh!”

“S-stop!” Emiko giggled as she turned red, and slapped Daiki on the arm. “You’re so embarrassing!”

“Well, if all the bad attention is on me, then only the good is on you, right?” Daiki asked. “You were great, Emiko. I know you’re still harbouring doubts, and I’m telling you right now, you were the greatest.”

Emiko froze midway through a bite, and she pulled the spoon from her mouth. After savouring its taste and letting it melt, she swallowed, and picked at the rest of her bowl. “I… messed up, because of ma—of mother. She wasn’t even paying attention to me.” She gripped her plastic spoon tighter, bringing it to the verge of breaking. “She, she didn’t even care!”

Daiki sighed. “And now we’re back to being depressed again.” He took another spoonful of ice cream and pointed his spoon at her. “All that matters, Emiko, is that you were satisfied. Were you proud of yourself? What were you feeling when we all started clapping? What was going through your mind?”

“I, I felt happy,” Emiko said with a small smile. “Like I could keep performing forever if I needed to. Like I impressed everyone.”

“I know for a fact that you did,” Daiki said. “You were the star. The final act! The most memorable! People will think back on that event and think, ‘Gee, that last girl sure was something performing an original, huh?’ ‘Yeah! Her voice and playing were great!’”

“Now you’re just being ridiculous.” Emiko pouted.

“The most important thing, though,” Daiki said, “Was that you didn’t back down, and that you didn’t give up. That’s the real reason why you were absolutely amazing.”

Emiko blinked, and took another spoonful of ice cream. “H-huh?”

“You went through with it. You pushed yourself to your limits and broke past them.” Daiki finished his ice cream and pushed it to the side. He then folded his hands and rested his head on them. “You. Are. Great.”

The same stinging sensation from before happened again, yet this time, Emiko was happy. So happy. She began to cry as she finished her own ice cream. “Thank you, Daiki. You’re the greatest brother anyone could ask for.”

Laughing, he stood and grabbed both bowls. “Just remember, Emiko, that all you have to do is live up to yourself.”

Contemplating his words, she watched as he threw away their used ice cream bowls. “Live up to myself…” Emiko shook her head. “You always say that, Daiki… But how do I even do that, when I’m so useless…”

“You’re not useless, Emiko.”


Listen to me, Emiko!”



Emiko twitched her head to look at Isla as sweat began to pour down her forehead. Her fear was muddling her brain, and she felt confused. “I-Isla, what a-are we going to, to d-do?” She stuttered. Trying to steady herself, she found a hand helping her up. She blinked as she looked at the elf attached to the hand.

“We fight,” Uris said. “And you will yet watch, because you do not know how to fight. I say this not out of superiority, but out of concern, Emiko.” She stepped back as she saw Emiko could stand on her own, and she nocked an arrow. “You truly are a pure soul for caring even for me,” Uris said. “Now, let me repay the favour.”

Emiko then felt her hair stand on end as the air thrummed with invisible energy. “Do not be alarmed!” Uris cried. She then pulled her bowstring back and aimed. “With the song of storm within me, I command you! Charge my bow to smite the unworthy! Make mine arrows shriek with divine light!”

A swirl of every white and green began to gather around Uris, and Emiko had to shield her face as the wind began to whistle. It cumulated around Uris’ bow, and with a flash, four rings of neon spun around the bows frame. The arrow Uris had nocked now seemed to crackle with electricity, and she widened her eyes as Uris took aim and fired.

There was a tiny clap of thunder that Emiko yelled at, and she watched arrow strike one of the middle head’s eyes. The hydra recoiled that head, and the others grew enraged. Isla used that moment to cast her own circle, yelling, “Light above, burn this beast to ashes! Make them taste your divine blessing! Desert Scorch!” Immediately, Emiko recoiled at the wave of heat that rushed through the area and bombarded the hydra.

“I still have forty-nine arrows, Isla!” Uris cried. “After that, I will have to go close range!”

“I will keep them occupied, then!” Isla shouted back, a beam of light boiling through the scales of the dragon. “Take their sight, then take their lives!”

“You needn’t say more!” Uris shot another arrow, which struck a chink in the hydra’s scales. Emiko then blinked as a third arrow hit in between, and a chain of electricity shocked the middle neck of the hydra, running up and down its length and arcing between the other two arrows.

“W-woah,” Emiko said. “What—Where was this firepower before, Isla?”

“It was never necessary for me to do so!” Isla cried, still swinging her spell as she avoided the hydra’s lunges and claws. She twisted her hands and dispelled the spell before she threw her hands up and began chanting again. “Cover for me, Uris!”

“Right!” With another arrow, it only grazed one of the heads, barely giving it a shock. Emiko gasped and nearly called out to her when a second arrow flew from the left and struck the neck of the right head. A crackle of lightning chained the arrow, and both heads howled in anger. The left head began open its mouth, a strange purple light shining from within.

Isla took that opportunity and exploited it as much as she could“That which breaks the dawn, oh light, break the darkness! Shine thy providence on the wicked and untamed!” The ball of light had already gone to almost threw times Isla’s size and she swung it down in front of her. “Sundrop Bomb!

Letting go of the spell, it flew true and slammed into the open maw of the left head. It roared, and the other two heads slammed their own jaws over the ball of light, but before they could break it, it shattered and flash burned the three heads. All three heads, the left one most of all, swung their heads in pain and their shrieks sounded like high-strung violins and broken glass.

“Ahhh!” Emiko yelled, trying to cover one ear with one hand and burying her other in her shoulder. “So… loud,” she trembled, falling to her knees and holding Atsui close. “I… I…” She felt her head ring as another roar and it felt muted even without covering her ears. Isla’s and Uris’ shouts rang around her, and the tremors of the ground made her numb. “What…”


Emiko’s eyes swirled and she thought she heard… “D-Daiki?”

I’ll protect you, Emiko…”

“Daiki, I,” Emiko rubbed her eyes and felt a warmth leave her... “I’m sorry I did this to you, Daiki… And now you… you’re…” She sobbed and squinted limply at her empty hands. “You’re gone! You’re gone!” Y-you’re, you’re g-gone! And it’s my fault!”

A new wave of warmth washed over her, like a warm embrace, and Emiko cried. “It’s my fault. My fault…” In her delirium, she almost didn’t notice the flash of light in front of her. Shielding her eyes, she squinted and rubbed her eyes.

It’s not your fault… and you are kind, Emiko. That’s why I will fight for you until the the very end!”

Emiko gasped as the voice morphed into one she could recognize, and one she knew was only ever heard in her head before. She shot her gaze up, and through her tears, she stared wide-eyed at the girl that stood before her in striped leather armour, claws for nails, and a burning orange-black gaze.

“A-Atsui?” Emiko croaked. “H-…how?”

Her response was a feral grin, and Atsui’s eyes glowed. “Duality.” She turned towards the hydra and flared her arms out. “And there is a bad monster that needs to be put down!”

“Atsui, wait—!”

She dashed forward, and a trail of flame followed. Uris yelped as she blurred past her, and Isla broke concentration as she watched Atsui’s form dash toward the hydra and began to scale it.

“You made a mistake attacking Emiko!” Atsui yelled. “I am her familiar, Atsui, and you will perish!”

“Wait, Atsui!” Isla cried. “Don’t—!”

“Flames of fury, I command! Give me a blade to execute judgment! Use my fire to cut through my enemies and raze them to the ground!” She launched off the middle head’s neck, and with a flurry of fire, she was holding a sword made of pure magical flame. The stripes on her leather glowed as bright as her eyes, and she yelled as she shot towards the right head and began slicing the air. Waves of sharp fire slammed into the hydra’s scales, and the moment the neck was with reach, and she stretched her arms out and swung.

She skid to a stop and pushed, using her momentum to keep moving. Behind, and now beside her, the first of the hydra heads fell to the ground writhing. The stump waved empty in the air, and smoke wafted off its charred surface.

“She, she actually did it,” Uris gasped. “She defeated a head on her own.”

“I’m going to need to be the support for these next two, though!” Atsui yelled. “My spell sword is already losing its power!”

“It’s good you chose the head we hadn’t really fought yet, then,” Isla shouted. “Let’s do this! Now that there’s three of us, we’re sure to take it on!’

Emiko watched as Uris continued her barrage and Isla kept the pressure. And now, with Atsui slashing with her sword, and, when that dissipated, her claws, the hydra was falling. It continued to lunge and jab at Isla and Uris, but they were too fast and small to be caught. It threw dirt and chunks of earth into the air, but to no avail. Every time it tried to open it’s mouth, an arrow whistled true, and it would clamp shut, the arrow hitting it’s teeth.

“I can’t even help,” Emiko whispered, staring at the battlefield before her. “I can’t even cast any magic. I…” Emiko frowned. “N-no. Daiki… he said I could do anything if I… If I could just—“

You. Are. Great.” Daiki’s words echoed in her brain, and she clutched at her pants.

“If I just put my mind to it…” She thought back to the mishap that had caused her to fall into an argument with Uris. Staring at her hands, and then up at the now-two-headed hydra, she shakily got to her feet.

“F-fire, which consumes life, listen to me! Give me your chaos, y-your anger and your rage!” She staggered forward, trying to get closer. “Let me help my friends kill this beast… and burn it to ash!” In her palms, the same ball of light she had been thinking of began to grow and grow until it was many times larger than her original, and she could feel her hands almost blistering at the heat. When she finally couldn’t handle it anymore, Emiko screamed herself hoarse and yelled, “WATCH OUT!”

“Emiko, what—“ Isla widened her eyes before whipping her head to the hydra. “Atsui, evacuate!”

“On it!” Atsui shouted back, and turned to see Emiko’s ball of fire. She looked in awe for just a moment, before she fled from the hydra. Uris couldn’t believe what she was seeing, and quickly ran up to her despite the scorching heat.

“Now, Emiko, push it away! RELEASE IT!”

“Guahhhhhhhh!” Emiko yelled, and pitched forward as the ball went flying. Collapsing, she could barely watch as the ball slammed into the main body of the hydra and engulfed it in blue-white fire. The hydra screamed, and Isla nodded to Uris, who quickly stood back up.

“Now, Uris!”

Uris nocked three arrows this time, and aimed. “Combination cast! Storms and light, bring to bear your blessings and smite this unholy creature!”

Isla held one arm to the sky and pointed the other at the hydra. “Combination cast! Light and storm, heed our call! Sear this blighted beast to the depths from whence it came!”

Divine Providence!” They yelled together, and an enormous beam of light and slammed into the hydra, while three arrows fly into the sky and collected chaotic energy before they arced and zeroed in on the hydra. Three simultaneous bolts of lightning then slammed into it as well, and the combo spell shoved it to the ground. The flames spread to its head and the entire road, and Atsui rushed to shield Emiko and their possessions with her own magic. All the while, the hydra tried to move, to escape its imminent death, but there was none to be found. With one last weak and defiant screech, the hydra collapsed.

The light faded soon after, and both Uris and Isla rushed over to see Atsui tending carefully to Emiko. “She’s barely conscious anymore,” Atsui said worriedly. “There’s first and second degree burns all across her arms, and her clothes have melted and fused together.”

Isla rushed to Atsui and Emiko’s side, her hands already glowing red. “We need to start healing and reversing the damage now!”

“I am not proficient in healing magic, but I do have a few potions!” Uris stated, and she started rummaging through the wagon. “Here! This is for a salve to restore burns!”

Atsui nodded and stretched her hand out. “Give that here! I’ll try and breathe in the residual mana clinging to her!”

Emiko, all the while, smiled softly at the care her friends were showing her. She coughed. “I… was I… useful there, at the end?”

“You were, Emiko,” Atsui said. “You were! You were amazing. That was, well, I can’t even describe it. You’re just that great!”

Something about Atsui’s energy just reminded her so much of Daiki, and she giggled at the safety she felt. “I h-hurt myself, though…” she coughed. “I… still need to get to the Valley… and Tateyama—“

“Rest for now, Emiko,” Isla soothed. “You need rest. You cast a huge spell with no regard for available mana, and charged with emotion. Some of that still clings to you. Please, stay calm.”

“Thank y-you, everyone…” Emiko whispered. “I’m… glad…”

“Emiko, no!”

“Stay awake, Emiko!”


With a sigh, Emiko, exhausted, in shock, and in pain, passed out.