The Last Light
“It’s going to be alright.” Eri kneeled to pat the young girl on the back.
“I fell in a hole and got lost,” explained the child.
“Let’s go. I don’t like this place.” Jonathan was getting restless at his surroundings, even his tremble has been acting up.
Eri nodded before she carried the young girl in her arm while holding a trident in another. Issa showed the way back to where they came from. Nothing happened to them on their way out and that was a good thing.
Arriving underneath the open hole above, Eri lowered the child from her grasp and tousled her hair for trying to hold her tears in. The young girl reached into her pocket and took out a small gold coin. It looks ancient, Jonathan had never seen that kind of coin before even Eri was surprised as he was.
“I found this when I got lost. Uhm, I want you to have it,” said the child with grateful eyes.
Eri took it into her hand.
“Aww, what about my gift?” Jonathan pouted with crossed arms and dramatic flare.
“Uhm. Uhm. I’m going to make something for you,” said the child with a bright smile.
“A handmade gift?! Take that Eri,” laughed Jonathan as he turned to look at the undine, every instinct in him had gone haywire. He never felt so much fear, not for himself, but for the child.
Her trident fell to the floor and that was the first sign something had gone wrong. An undine will never let her trident fall to the floor on purpose. They valued those tridents like they value their soul.
Eri pulled back her fist and readied to send it through the child’s face. With her strength, there’s no doubt that her tiny head would explode if she was hit by that kind of force. Jonathan gritted his teeth and forced every muscle in his body to move. If he wanted to save the child he needed a miracle or… the next best thing, a sacrifice.
Jonathan grabbed the child’s shoulder with his left hand and pulled her away while using his right hand to push against the wall, so he had the momentum to send the kid away. Fortunately, the child was spared, but at the cost of Jonathan’s right arm. It was the same outcome Jonathan had expected to happen if someone like him tried to stop an undine straight with his body.
A cry of pain escaped Jonathan’s throat as Eri’s fist broke his arm in half. Despite that, Jonathan managed to reduce the damage by removing his arm from her fist before it burrows into the concrete wall. A doctor can still fix a bone broken in half, but a pulverized mash of bone and meat? No even the best medical practice in the world can do anything about it.
With his working arm, Jonathan grabbed the young girl by the collar and tossed her through the hole above him. Now that she was secured, he turned to the goblin and ordered. “Run.”
Both of them ran as fast as they could. A glance behind, Jonathan saw she pulled her fist out of the concrete wall and chased after him, leaving her trident behind. It was too dark to see where Jonathan was going, but he was pretty sure that he and the goblin had been separated along the way.
It was the third time Jonathan had run up against the wall, he didn’t know whether Eri was still chasing after him or she was chasing the goblin. He leaned back against the wall and in complete darkness, used a bit of blood to draw an orb of light Sigil on the wall. He activated it and finally, he gained enough sight to know where he was.
No sign of Eri, but Jonathan needs to keep moving. With help from the light Sigil he drew on paper, Jonathan carefully explored the sewers with a broken arm. The darkness. The silence. The obvious pain. He felt like shit and he hates dark.
1… 2… 3… 4…5…
“Focus. I got my knives. I can still do magic, but I can’t fight, not like this.” Jonathan whispered to himself. He gritted his teeth at the pain, then let out a surprised groan. “I can leave, can I? If I leave, she might hurt the next person who goes after her, or she might escape to the street and attack civilians, or she might get hurt herself. Damn it.”
“Why did she turn? The coin. It got something to do with the coin, but the kid was fine. What changed? Damn it. I can’t think straight with this pain. Okay. Okay... Okay. Deep breath.” He breathes in and breathes out. “I need to stop her first.”
He narrowed his eyes on his surroundings. The sewer was like a maze, but not every path led to a dead-end. He just needs to find the right path. Jonathan found it, immediately he began drawing an earth sigil. He activated it and formed a thick wall that blocked the path. However, by activating it, he caused the wall and floor to tremble.
Jonathan quickly turned and found a charging undine coming for him. He gritted his teeth and drew the last sigil. He jumped back, avoiding the incoming fist, but not before activating the Sigil. He proceeded to take out a throwing knife with a fire sigil and threw it into the shallow sewer water. Snapping his finger with his good hand, the sigil was activated and sent a cloud of steam around them.
With the undine distorted, he launched himself into a head start. After gaining a safe distance, Jonathan whistled for her attention and she came running toward him like a textbook predator.
He took a left and ran like hell. However, Jonathan felt himself getting slower due to his injury. He can’t make it like this. Jonathan shook the doubts out of his head and prepared to create another smokescreen. As he turned, Eri was too close to him, she grabbed his broken arm to the point of breaking the bone inside with a single grip. He can’t escape. No, that was an excuse, he is better than this.
An arm is just a tool, when a tool is broken, you either fix it or toss it away. The second was Jonathan’s choice, he made a large enough cut where his arm had been broken and with his strength, he tore it off with a pull. He then tossed the throwing knife into the shallow water and activated it. Another smokescreen filled the tunnels.
Jonathan ran, but this time, he didn’t bait the undine to come after him. He can’t use a light orb, or he will be giving his position away. There should be two paths before him, he needed to remember which one to take. However, the blood loss was affecting him more than he realized.
‘Trust your right.’ A faint familiar voice echoed inside his mind.
“Right…” Jonathan took the right and found himself where he needed to be.
Jonathan leaned against the wall and dropped till his buttock reached the floor. He unlatched his belt and slid it out from his waist. The blood loss needed to be stopped first, he tied the belt around his stump and stopped the blood with a tight tug.
He created an orb sigil on the floor. He could see the first knife he used in the shallow sewer water when he gained his sight. As clear as day, Eri crouched at the end of the tunnel in front of him. Her eyes were set on him. She charged toward him like a raging animal when her sight landed on him.
Jonathan grinned and took out the wrapped flatbread with meat and a few drops of blood and sewer water on it. He didn’t care whether his food was dirty or not, he was hungry, and he needed to eat. With a large bite, Jonathan enjoyed his food while Eri was charging toward him.
Suicidal? No, Jonathan isn’t the type to throw his life away that easily. Especially after he promised the golden woman. He will live and if life wants him dead, then screw life itself. His death is his choice.
Eri was getting closer, and there was no time to run, but Jonathan didn't even think of running. The wall and floor shook as Eri charged into what seems to be an invisible barrier. Her head almost split open, but an undine’s skin was tough, it did, however, create a massive cut on her forehead and knocked her out for good.
Jonathan had planned this from the very start. He knew he couldn’t fight her, that is why he created a trap. First, he erected a thick wall enough to stop an undine, and second, he drew a veil sigil on that wall and turned it invisible. For an undine, she couldn’t see, but for Jonathan, his eyes worked differently. It was as obvious as the sun. All that was left are bait and careful timing.
Storing his food back into his pocket, he dissolved the wall and walked toward the unconscious undine. He looked at the clenched right hand. It was weird she had attacked him with her left hand, but she was right-handed. He peeled her finger and opened her grip to reveal the coin. It was the coin all along, he took out his knife and flipped it away. A burnt mark in the shape of a coin had seared into her palm.
Jonathan flipped the coin into a piece of cloth he tore from his shirt and wrapped it carefully. He took a long breath, then tried to touch it with the fabric between his finger and the coin. Nothing happened. He let out a sigh of relief. He grabbed it, carefully wrapped it in the fabric, and stored it in his pocket.
After looking back the undine, Jonathan let another sigh before slipping himself under her and carried her toward the exit or at least to. He was frightened and focused until he met with the goblin, but Jonathan assured him that everything was fine and told him to lead them to exit.
“Issa help.” In his way, the goblin tried to reduce Eri’s weight by lifting her legs.
After arriving at the exit, Jonathan propped Eri against the wall while he waited for backup to arrive. However, his sense of safety was a false promise, the entire sewer was enveloped in total darkness.
A knife suddenly punctured his gut, but it only went halfway. Jonathan grabbed the attacker’s wrist, it was slender, the suspect was a woman. Jonathan took out a throwing knife with a fire sigil.
Her hands slid into his pocket.
He shoved the knife into her shoulder and activated it, causing a fire blast to separate them from each other. They both were flung across the sewer from the initial blast. Both the attacker and Jonathan suffered the full brunt of it. The total darkness disappeared and Jonathan regained his sight again but found his hand drowned in his blood.
“I’m totally having a bad day,” coughed out Jonathan. A small smile grew on his face.***
Today was an uneventful day for a certain Changeling. After her morning talk with Jonathan, Ciara finally found hope that she wasn’t doomed to stay alone forever. The rest of the day was pale in comparison to the morning. After her class, she hurried to a store near her homestay for a time-limited sale. The store was selling half-price and high-quality fertilizer. She needed to get two bags for her garden.
When Ciara arrived, she was stunned to find the store jam-packed with tons of customers. Apparently, not just the fertilizer was half-price. The rest of the items in the store were half-price. The entrance was blocked from entry due to numerous people trying to get in. Those who can fly cheated their way in by using the second-floor window.
“Is that even allowed?” Ciara asked herself.
She slapped her cheeks together and toughened her resolve. There’s no way she’s going to give it up that easy. That half-price fertilizer shall be hers. She charged right into the crowd, though an unadvisable move as a sea of people swept her away from her intended path.
“Excuse me?” muttered Ciara as she tried to break free, but an accidental elbow to her face proved that her struggle was futile and painful.
After Ciara broke free from the crowd, the changeling found herself among the frozen food aisle which is ten aisles away from the gardening section. Her head dropped in defeat, and she let out a long sigh. Aching from someone who accidentally elbowed her in the face, she grabbed a pack of frozen peas from the refrigerator and pressed it against her cheek.
After she satisfied her bruise with the frozen pack, she neatly placed the pack back. Despite what happened, her resolve was still as strong as ever. She navigated through the tight gaps of the crowd, and never forgot to say sorry for pushing them.
However, she stopped when she heard crying coming from the cereal aisle. It was too high-pitched to be coming from an adult. Curiosity got the better of her, she wandered into the cereal aisle and was surprised to find a crying child. A small young girl whose age ranged from 6 to 8, her skin was red with a pair of small horns while on her back, a pair of cute bat wings fluttered nervously.
Ciara kneeled beside the crying child. “What happened, Little One?”
“My ankle hurts, and I can’t find my mom.” The child showed the changeling her slightly bruised ankle.
“That looks bad. Let me fix that first.” She placed her hand over the child’s bruise. A green light emanated from her hand, subsiding the swollen flesh.
“Woah, it doesn’t hurt anymore,” said the child with awe.
“Let’s go find your mom.” She offered her back to the child.
The small succubus climbed on Ciara’s, the changeling made sure she was secure before lifting her up. However, the child's weight appeared to be more than what Ciara could take, but that doesn’t stop her from trying, judging from her puffed-out cheek.
“Thank you, Lady.”
“N-No problem. Where did you last see your mom?”
“Somewhere with fishes.”
“Frozen aisle it is. Choo choo!” Imitating a train sound seems to put the kid in a high spirit.
When she leaves the cereal aisle, her eyes glanced at the gardening aisle. She caught a glimpse of the fertilizer. Unfortunately, there’s only a few left. She wonders if she's going to make it in time to buy one before they run out. A grumble of frustration escaped her but was immediately replaced by a train sound.
Arriving back to the frozen aisle, she twirled around to give the child a better look. “Can you see her?”
Suddenly, a crowd of people emerged from the corner and bumped into Ciara and her passenger. The shifting weight seems to be too much for Ciara. She stumbled forward until she accidentally face-planted against a hard pillar.
“Ouch,” muttered Ciara as she twitched her nose.
“Are you okay, Lady?” asked the kid while peering her head beside Ciara’s face.
“I’m okay. Thank god for this pillar. We almost fell down.” She patted the hardened surface, feeling a bit more bumps than what a pillar was supposed to have. After a closer look, it was no pillar after all. In fact, it was a person. To be more specific, a housemate of Ciara, Olivia The Banshee.
Ciara’s hand was placed against Olivia’s abs without her fully realizing what she was doing. Though there was a piece of fabric between her hand and Olivia’s abs, she still could feel the warm and defined muscle underneath. When she gained the full grasp of her action, her cheeks immediately grew hot and bright green. Even the top part of her ears was cursed by the same affliction.
Ciara immediately pulled her hand away and mumbled her words. “I’m - I’m - I’m sorry!”
Olivia doesn't seem concerned about the situation. Her sight traveled from the changeling and to the small succubus on the woman’s back. “You do know kidnapping is a crime?”
“This is not a kidnapping!” Ciara glared at the Banshee but found her gaze gravitated to the sword on her back. Olivia never seems to leave that sword behind, not even in class. “I’m helping this adorable girl find her parents.”
“This little succubus?” Olivia narrowed her eyes on the kid. Her gaze was so piercing that it intimated the child and caused her to hide her face behind Ciara. “Have you considered that the parent might purposely leave her behind?”
“What?” said Ciara with raised eyebrows. That same question caused the child on Ciara’s back to burst into tears. “Why did you say that?! Look at what you did to her,” scolded Ciara.
“I’m only telling her one of the possibilities, how is it my fault?” Olivia was dumbfounded at the angry changeling. In Olivia’s mind, she had done nothing wrong.
“She doesn’t mean it. Your mom didn’t leave you behind.” Even with Ciara’s words, she couldn’t calm the crying child.
Olivia crossed her arms, furrowed her eyebrows, and sucked in her lips. “You’re wasting your tears. The only person you can depend on is yourself.” It seemed her words have the habit of making the situation worse, the child cried even louder than before. After seeing Ciara struggle to calm the child, a certain feeling rose inside her. It was guilt. “Stop it, you brat. You’re causing trouble for Ciara.”
The child waved her arms in a fit of rage. The sudden weight shift was too much for Ciara, she puffed out her cheeks and tried to remain upright. However, her effort proved to be useless as she stumbled forward again. Before she could crash into her housemate again, Olivia grabbed Ciara’s shoulders and kept her steady.
“Oh, thank you.” Ciara leaned back. She found Olivia to be quite the odd person. Sometimes she was mean, but sometimes, she was gentle, demonstrated by her soft grip over Ciara’s shoulders.
The crying was still a problem, so it left Ciara with no choice but to use her species’ ability. Her eyes radiated a green light before she whistled strongly. It’s the type of whistle that not many people could hear because it was made for a certain creature. A green translucent canary appeared from her shadow. This creature, appropriately called Fairy, can choose many forms depending on the summoner’s spiritual energy.
Unlike many monsters, a Fairy is an intelligible creature. It cannot communicate through normal means, but it was proven that the summoner could understand it using a direct form of communication between mind to mind. Apparently, this fairy was pretty annoyed to be summoned as a children’s plaything.
However, Ciara’s apology managed to calm its anger and asked for its help. The translucent canary played around with the little succubus and stopped her from crying. Ciara can finally breathe out a long sigh of relief.
“Kerry!” A woman’s cry grabbed their attention.
An older succubus had her worried gaze on the little succubus latched on Ciara’s back. She immediately turned hostile toward the changeling. “I left her behind for a quick second and when I came back, she was gone. You’re the one who stole my girl. You and your kind can never be trusted.”
“Give back my child. You deceiver!” Her cuss drew the attention of the passerby.
The anger and attention had shrunk her inner self, she gently lowered the child down, but before the child could say anything, her mother pulled her into a tight embrace. The mother glared at the nervous changeling. “Security, there’s a kidnapper here!”
It was overwhelming Ciara, she didn’t know what to say, but when she made another accusation or event disrupts her train of thoughts. It seems everyone had deemed her a kidnapper just from the mother’s accusation. Till she was surrounded by security. Anything she said or explained was easily tossed aside.