The Last Light
Bor brought Jonathan to a diner located at the corner of an intersection. The diner had a distinctly American style, despite being surrounded by Victorian architecture. The diner reminded Jonathan of his home, he always used to go to one of them when his parents were being unreasonable. They set foot into the establishment. Immediately, a delicious scent of fresh pancake, grilled meat, and scrambled eggs bombarded the room.
A girl who appeared to have a set of horns protruded from her forehead and fully dyed in deep red, but had charcoal black wavy hair. She wore a waitress uniform and a black cloth choker around her neck. She made her way toward them.
Jonathan had been mesmerized the moment he laid his eyes on her. He couldn’t see anything else but her. Except for heart-shaped balloons, flowers rained down, and a pink fog around her. The throbbing of his heart deafened his ear, and the closer she got, the more his heart was about to go into cardiac arrest.
She was saying something to Jonathan, but he couldn’t hear any of it. He was so in trance by her beauty that he forgot where he was.
“Jonathan?” Bor snapped Jonathan back to reality.
“Y-Yeah? Uh… Hi…” One could see the hearts formed in Jonathan’s eyes as he lovably stared at the waitress.
“Aww, you’re so cute. I’m flattered that you fell for me.” The waitress giggled and let out a small, adorable snort.
Bor sighed and snapped his finger in front of Jonathan. “I’m sorry about my friend. He’s new here.”
“Oh, he never met succubus before.”
“I think so.” Bor even tried shaking his friend but to no avail. Given up, he turned to the waitress. “Ah, two of the specials, please?”
“Got it.” The perky waitress noted down. She looked at Jonathan with a mischievous grin.
The waitress leaned in and pecked his cheek with her soft lips, leaving a black lipstick behind. From the single kiss alone, Jonathan fainted with a dumb smile on his face. Bor shook his head in disappointment. He took a seat right next to him and fanned his friend from overheating.
The food was as delicious as they expected. “Come back anytime boys,” the waitress winked at Jonathan. They left with a full stomach and a hangover for Jonathan. He groaned loudly while Bor tried to keep him upright.
“Why does my brain hurt so much? I didn’t drink anything weird, did I?”
“It’s because of the waitress. A succubus has a certain kind of effect on people who are not used to them. It’s like someone drinks a love potion. By the way, she was wearing a suppressor, so you were only exposed to a tiny fraction of her power.”
“The choker around her neck. It has a system of Sigils hidden in it to keep her power at bay.” Bor pouted while he kept his gaze away.
“Why are you in a bad mood?”
“Nothing.” He pinched Jonathan’s arm.
“Ouch. What did I do?”
Despite Jonathan's eagerness to find out why his friend was in a bad mood, Bor still won’t tell him anything. They took a long walk toward the center of the city. The Academy; Jonathan thought it was supposed to look like a run-of-the-mill university, but screwed his expectations. It doesn’t look like anything he imagined. The whole building was a massive royal palace, with literally undine soldiers like Bor keeping guard at the gate.
As they made their way through the long courtyard with a fountain in the middle, one tall statue caught Jonathan’s attention. A woman with a bob haircut donned in plate armor with a set of chain mail underneath. She posed valiantly with six large wings attached to her back. The banner she holds seemed familiar to Jonathan. It is almost like the spear he pulled yesterday.
“Saint Jeanne d'Arc, The Light Protector.”
“Tell me about her.”
“Born into a small village to a normal parent in the middle of a war between the humans and the mythic. A war brought on by a single nameless demon. It tempted both sides with the promise of wealth and money. Saint Jeanne d’Arc led a small crusade against the demon. Though the Saint had defeated the Demon, it came with a cost. Many lives had been lost during the battle. Among them were the Saint’s closest allies. The war didn’t end. It only got worse. In our darkest hour, she sacrificed herself to save us, so that we may be excluded from the chaos.”
“Earlier, why did you call me a Saint?”
“Huh? I don’t know what you mean.”
Jonathan looked at Bor with a raised eyebrow. That wasn't suspicious at all. Then he let out a small sigh. He knew that his friend was lying. His superior must have told him to do so, but what Jonathan didn’t know was why.
“I’ve been looking for you, Bor,” A woman called out to him from behind. She had a cold and calm voice.
Bor turned around with a slight panic in his eyes. “Eri?”
Jonathan glanced at his friend, concerned about his state of mind. He never saw his friend this scared before. “Are you okay?”
“Bor…” She shook her head with disappointment. “Why must you ruin our family’s reputation even further? Haven’t you done enough? Haven’t you learned your lesson?”
A woman, a bit younger than Bor, but she had a similar facial feature as him. They must be related to each other. Perhaps, they were brother and sister. Her black hair tied into a ponytail dangled behind her. Her eyes were the same as him: crimson red. Though her brother’s body was leaner, she has the body of a warrior underneath that suit.
“I-I…” Bor dug his fingers into his palm. “I’m sorry.”
“Wait, what? Bor hasn’t done anything wrong. I’ve been with him all day.”
Eri looked at Jonathan with wide eyes, then back at Bor, this time with a glare. “You haven't told him yet, do you?” She pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a sigh. Eri turned to Jonathan with an apologetic gaze. She lowered her chin. “I apologize for my brother’s deceitful nature. He is not worthy to stand by your side.”
“I don’t understand. What’s wrong with Bor?”
“It’s better that I show you. Bor, I challenge you to battle.”
“Wait, what?” Jonathan glanced back at Bor.
Bor took a step forward, agreeing to the challenge. It’s not like he had a choice. They twirled their trident while circling each other. The surrounding passer-by gathered around them but kept their distance. Murmurs of excitement began to gather above the crowds. Jonathan got confused at how far apart everyone was from the center.
Their tridents clashed. The ground cracked. The air shook. A blur of blue and silver bounced against each other. They were abnormally strong and fast. Well, they aren't human after all, but Jonathan couldn’t believe that this was how undines fought each other. No wonder the crowds gathered around them and watched. With no idea what’s going to happen next, Jonathan raised his fist and cheered for Bor.
“Come on, Bor. Show her what you’re made of!”
However, the fight had a clear outcome. It doesn’t look good for Bor as he was slowly being pushed back by the endless onslaught from Eri. Bor blocked an attack, but he wasn’t strong enough to withstand it. He was thrown back near the fountain. Bor managed to keep himself upright by planting his trident into the ground and leaving a destructive trail.
Eri pointed at the water with her trident, she was seemingly controlling the liquid, then blasted Bor with it. Bor blocked by twirling his trident, but the jet was too strong, he was pushed to the side. Still, the man showed no sign of surrendering.
She kept blasting him with water, unrelenting and unforgiving. And every time she did, Bor would do his best to block and dodge. After a few blasts, Eri charged forward and brought her trident down on Bor. He blocked it with his trident and caused it to ring loudly. The energy from the hit cracked the earth underneath Bor’s feet.
Bor flung Eri back from him with a swing. The little sister easily landed on two feet while she twirled her trident. A dribble of sweats dripped from underneath Bor’s helmet, however, the battle hasn't even taken a toll on his little sister.
Jonathan was getting worried about his friend. This fight seemed one-sided and Bor was on the losing side.
Eri took the air, hovered with her trident alongside her. She muttered something under her breath. The skies began to darken, thick clouds gathered over the courtyard. The crowd quickly dispersed with alarm in their eyes. Something big was going to happen. At first, it drizzled across Jonathan’s face, then a heavy pour of rain came down on them.
The cloud twirled above them. Even to a neophyte like Jonathan, he realized that the hovering woman had summoned a large typhoon over the courtyard. The winds became violent and forceful. Jonathan kept himself on the ground by grabbing the nearest tree. A heavy downpour makes it hard to see without wiping his eyes every five seconds.
Despite it all, Bor charged forward. He planted his trident into the ground and launched himself toward Eri. He pulled back his trident for a powerful strike. However, Bro couldn't even get close before he was swept by the wind and flung across the sky. He crashed down against several trees. His body broke the trees in half before he was dragged across the dirt and thrown into the pool.
“Bor!” Jonathan yelled out for his friend, but his voice got muffled out by the violent wind.
The water swirled around Bor, took hold of him, and lashed him into the stone fountain. The impact shattered the fountain into pieces. Bor felt a thousand needles pricked against his back. He had lost his trident during the chaos. He wanted to scream in pain, but seeing his friend's terrified face, only made it harder to do so. Not only that, but he doesn't want Jonathan to see him like this.
Eri did not know when to stop nor know the word: ‘Mercy’. Five tentacles formed from the pool whipped Bor endlessly. His suit got torn as each lash left deep gashes on his chest. Her gaze was bleak from emotions as his brother’s blood decorated the lawn.
“Stop!” Jonathan yelled out.
Upon hearing Jonathan plead, Eri banished the storm away and stopped her attacks. Columns of light cast over the courtyard as the skies began to clear again. Jonathan jumped into the fountain and made his way to Bor. Blood dripped down his chest, Bor’s breathing was painful, it was a mix of gasp and wheeze.
“Bor…” Jonathan gently took off his helmet, seeing the tears in his eyes broke Jonathan’s heart.
“She’s right. I don’t deserve to be by your side,” said Bor.
“He cannot do magic. He cannot fly. He’s not strong enough, and he dared took an oath to protect you.” She spat. “Taking an oath is the equivalent of setting yourself for exile. Not to mention, if you fail, it’s not only your name that is going to be tarnished. All of your family members will too. Imagine that kind of shame on our family. Mother wouldn't be able to go out without someone cussing at her. Why can’t you think this through?”
“Is that true, Bor?” asked Jonathan.
“Then why did you do it?”
“Because for the first time in my life, you have shown me happiness beyond anything I could have. A weakling like me to have someone like you? I’m not worthy, I know, but I wanted to protect your smile. I’m sorry for deceiving you.” Bor’s hand balled into a fist as he tried to hold a cough at bay.
“You dummy. Being a weakling doesn’t mean anything to me. You are my friend no matter what.” Jonathan turned to Eri. “You need to help him.”
“You want me to help a weakling?”
“Yes, he’s your brother, isn't he?”
A defined and visible frown appeared on her face. “You would still pick him?”
“I’m not picking anyone. Don't you understand that he’s hurt?”
Eri sighed. “On one condition, you accept my oath alongside my brother. I will not let him ruin our family name without giving me a chance to fight for it.”
“Fine, anything you want.”
Eri took a step closer to reach Bor and extended her hand over his brother's wounds. Her hand enveloped itself in green light. The wounds slowly closed themselves and left no scar behind.
The light dispersed, and she turned to Jonathan. “We should leave before the teacher arrives.”
Without giving Jonathan a chance to say anything, she took hold of them both in her arms. Before Eri could carry them away, Jonathan grabbed Bor’s trident at the last second. She flew away with Bor and Jonathan in tow without even a single sweat. After a couple of minutes of flying, she landed softly in front of a two-story house.
The house had been built on a slanted hill with a minimum gap of one person between each house. A soft violet color had been chosen for the exterior. It exhibits this aura of balance and inner peace. To the left of the garage was a set of short stairs that led to the front door. It had no front yard. However, since it was built on top of a garage, one could say it’s a three-story house.
Each floor had its bay window where one could sit and enjoy the view. One of the most amazing things about this house is the view. It had a clear sight of the rising sun, though not many would agree of waking up to see the sun at its peak.
Eri carried Bor up the stairs as carefully as she could. Jonathan was slightly surprised at how well she handled her brother’s body. It seems Bor had fainted during the ride. The cause was his overwhelming fatigue after the fight. When they arrived at the front door, Jonathan turned to the plate beside it: Hestia Hearth.
He leaned back and took a peek at the other house, but none had a plate beside its door.
“It has been there for ages, even before I was born.” She turned to the door. “Can you open the door for me?”
Jonathan helped them get inside and closed the door again. It’s how Jonathan imagined it: a humble home that has been well maintained for ages. There are a few spots in the house that indicated it had been here for a long time. A few Inevitable rusts here and there. A water stain on the ceiling had been fixed many times, but still somehow reappeared again.
As they walked up the stairs, Jonathan accidentally set foot on a creaking step after noting it down in his mind, he continued forward. They arrived at the second floor and walked to the end of the hallway. Eri gestured to a door nearby with a nod. “That’s your room.”
“How do you even know that?”
“I got the information from Miss Zey.”
“You called her: Miss? I thought she was your commander.”
“She’s not my commander.” She left it at that and walked toward a room across from Jonathan.
He stopped her. “Hey, where are you going? What are you going to do with Bor?”
“To my room. He will be fine after a couple of hours of sleep.”
“I thought you didn’t like Bor.”
She closed the door behind her. Jonathan had been left alone in the hallway. He turned to his room’s door. A sigh escaped him, he entered, and it was a normal bedroom. He didn’t expect much from it, but there’s a sense of uneasiness that plagued the back of Jonathan’s mind.
Jonathan closed the door behind him and walked to the built-in closet. A few hangers and a clothes iron were there for him to use. He goes to another door in the bedroom. Inside it was his private bathroom and toilet. It was a decent one, nothing too impressive. He left the bathroom and made his way to the bed.
The golden woman from his childhood stood in the corner of the room, always there, always watching. Not a single word nor the slightest movement. Jonathan had grown used to her, she only showed up when no one was around him. However, seeing the statue in the courtyard does remind him of her.
It was a regular bed in a regular room, nothing wrong with it. Not one thing. Despite it all, everything was wrong at the same time, Jonathan rubbed the back of his neck. He left the bed and sat on the floor beside his backpack. The thought of staying at one place bogged him from keeping himself calm.
He turned to the window, and for the briefest moment, he saw iron bars.
A beep coming from his backpack snapped him back to reality. He hesitated to reach in, but he knew better to delay the inevitable. It was a pager, an old-school one. Written on it: I got another job for you. Call me as soon as possible -Memory
His jaw tightened and turned into a frown before he shoved the pager back into the bag.
Jonathan stood up and made his way to the window. His eyes caught a glance of the backyard: a young woman so pale that one might mistake her for a dead body. She swung her long sword in the air with a precise movement. Her well-toned body was visible due to her chosen sporty attire; consisting of a gray sports bra and runner’s shorts. Every time she took a swing, her long ponytail swayed in the opposite direction.
Not far from her, another young woman with a green complexion tended the lively garden. Her eyes were so black that they reflected the garden and were a bit large from a human eye. Even her hair was green with a subtle blue and cut short. Out of nowhere, she summoned a see-through green canary from the empty air. It hovered above her head playfully, and she seemed to enjoy its company, judging from the small smile she had.
It struck Jonathan as odd, they both were adjacent to one another, but not a single glance or a word had been exchanged for nearly a minute now. Even worse, it seemed they had entirely ignored each other's existence.
It’s not Jonathan's place to intervene in other people's relationships, he backed away and slumped down to the floor. It had been a hectic and overwhelming day for Jonathan. Secretly, he had always known about mythic existence, but not to this extent.
He always kept his distance. Now that he’s here, he can’t keep playing dumb anymore. He’ll admit that it’s a little exciting to learn about them. However, there’s one thing that’s been bothering him: the bedroom. His head tilted to the left and stared yearningly at the open sky.
Jonathan knew that moping around won’t solve it, but he does have a choice to make it better. So, he lifted himself and flipped his backpack upside down. Everything from his clothes, toothbrush, Russian nesting doll, and many others fell out. Despite all kinds of stuff he had, a few things drew his attention. It was the paint cans. A mischievous grin appeared as he took one and turned to face the beige wall.
An art project was just the thing he needs to keep himself afloat.