Chapter 17:

Chapter 6.2: Determination

The Last Light


The next day, Ciara waited at the sky dock, a level below the city. The sky dock is the main entrance to the city. It was designed to hold ten airships.Bookmark here

The airship was unlike a normal airplane. It was made to look like a galleon, but with a smooth protective hood on it along with two turbine engines at each side. The system of Sigils inscribed on the body created a veil to conceal and made the ship lighter. It’s not faster than a normal airplane, but it’s quieter. And there are only a few of them that’s been made.Bookmark here

People scattered around the dock, working and chatting as usual. Many of the resources went through this dock, so most of the city guards were stationed here to keep an eye for trouble.Bookmark here

Ciara spotted the group that’s been harassing, one of them waved at her to come. Her grips tightened -- she needs to do this for Jonathan. After she hardened her heart, she followed the three of them further into the heart of the city. Bookmark here

They arrived at a circular corridor with metal bulkheads circling another room. Each vault door was guarded by an Undine.Bookmark here

“I need you to get in and open the drain seal. That’s all.” The Nephilim pointed at the door.Bookmark here

“How?”Bookmark here

“Don’t play dumb with me. I know your kind can shape-shift.”Bookmark here

“Even if I can shape-shift, what will I do if they ask for a password or something?”Bookmark here

“We got that cover. The password is: Unshaken by the promise of death, seeking only the future that lay past it.”Bookmark here

Ciara morphed her entire body to look like The Headmistress Victoria. She hardened her resolve and walked up to the vault door. The guard stiffened his posture in the presence of the Headmistress. He saluted, then stared at her with an intense gaze.Bookmark here

The fidgeting changeling relaxed and stared back with narrowed eyes. “Unshaken by the promise of death, seeking only the future that lay past it.”Bookmark here

A moment of silence befalls them, Ciara thought she had made a mistake, but when the undine turned, she let out an internal sigh of relief. The guard waved his hand over the orb attached to the vault door and caused it to open by itself. Ciara walked in and the same door behind her started to close.Bookmark here

She had only heard about the massive crystal that powers the island, but to see it with her eyes was breathtaking and intimidating. The crystal was unlike the others she had encountered, magic crystal was usually in the color of blue, but this massive crystal was bright red. Almost eerie to look at.Bookmark here

Now was not the time for sightseeing, Ciara searched the drain seal. She found it near the ‘Do Not Cross’ line. There was a control orb near the seal, Ciara hovered her hand above it. The seal opened and revealed two figures waiting underneath, a Nephilim and a dwarf.Bookmark here

The Nephilim had midnight hair that was tied into a ponytail. He wore a breastplate and carried a short sword on his hip. When he looked at Ciara, she felt a chill run down her back. Bookmark here

The dwarf on the other hand was like night and day compared to the Nephilim. The red-haired dwarf was fidgety and restless, but nevertheless, he put up a nervous smile when he noticed the changeling above him.Bookmark here

***

Chained to the wall, Jonathan awoke with a quick breath in. The dim-lit and damp corridor around Jonathan reminded him of the sewer. A shake of his limbs caused the chains to rattle. He sighed, this kind of situation had begun to grow on him. Yet, he still feels uncomfortable being chained up.Bookmark here

An unconscious and bound woman caught Jonathan’s attention. Black, wavy hair that reaches her waist while her rugged hands showed she was used to heavy labor. He doesn't recognize her, but he has some theory of whom she might be.Bookmark here

“Oh, you’re awake,” said Lucy, squatted right next to me.Bookmark here

“Are we in the sewer?”Bookmark here

“You guessed it.”Bookmark here

“Is that who I think it is?” Jonathan’s gaze drifted to the bound woman.Bookmark here

“Yes, the woman who stole Anthony from me.” Though her word meant hostility, Jonathan couldn’t sense it, but he did recognize a tinge of sadness in her words.Bookmark here

“I think you owe me at least an explanation since I’m your captive.”Bookmark here

“That is reasonable, but I’m surprised that you could remain calm given your situation.”Bookmark here

“Well, I will admit I’ve been in a much worse situation, but I’m not calm at all. I don’t know why I’m telling you, but this cuff you put on me along with where we are right now is more than uncomfortable. It dug up certain unpleasant emotions.” Jonathan tightened his fist to soothe his trembling fist. “We aren't here to talk about me. I want to know why you are doing this.”Bookmark here

“I just… I don't want to lose him. You could never understand how much he meant to me. My talents and family’s name are nothing more than a damn curse. To my father, I’m nothing more than a tool, a bargaining chip, a pawn. Not just him, everyone back home, even here, people only saw those things in me. Their smiles and concern for my well-being are nothing more than window dressing.”Bookmark here

“Anthony saw you differently, didn't he?”Bookmark here

“He did. He saw me for who I am, and before I knew it, I was enamored by him. Do you want to know something neat? I can tell when someone truly looks at me, the true me, not just an object or a tool to be used in a pitiful scheme. That’s why I couldn’t bear him leaving me. I wanted him for myself.” Lucy’s frustration grew when her sight landed on the bound woman. “Why her? What makes her so special?! I’m far more beautiful, I have wealth, I’m clever, I could have given him everything.”Bookmark here

“It’s just like you said. Those things aren’t what he valued.”Bookmark here

“You’re right… Anthony isn’t that kind of man. I betrayed him. I betrayed his faith the moment I turned into this monster.”Bookmark here

“You are not a monster.”Bookmark here

“How do you know that?”Bookmark here

“Because you took his life out of love. Feelings drive Humans to kill, but Monsters, they kill without one. They did it because they can.” Jonathan stared back at her with cold and unnerving eyes.Bookmark here

For a quick second, Lucy had forgotten Jonathan was chained, and she felt fear like none other. As if certain death was staring at her. “A-Are you saying---”Bookmark here

In one fell move, Jonathan had wrapped himself around Lucy with his arm around her neck while his legs kept her arms in place. The woman didn't see it coming, didn't even realize he had broken free of his bond, but how? Her question was immediately answered when she saw the few dislocated fingers and torn skin around his wrist. Jonathan had forced his hand out of the cuff with a considerable amount of pain and didn’t even flinch.Bookmark here

“It doesn’t matter.” Lucy’s body relaxed against Jonathan’s restraint. “There’s no stopping it now.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean by that?”Bookmark here

“He said if I did what he asked of me, I could have Anthony to myself forever and ever.”Bookmark here

“Who told you that?”Bookmark here

“The five coins have been placed… you can’t stop it. We are releasing him.” Lucy smiled. “Do it. Kill me. I want to be with Anthony.”Bookmark here

Jonathan looked at her and realized she wanted it. Suddenly, the sewer shook violently. The shallow water splashed around. “What’s happening?” However, Lucy was unwilling to answer. Jonathan tightened his arm around her throat, she was already in a state of unconsciousness, but suddenly, Jonathan loosened. He could have gone further to end it -- yet, he stopped.Bookmark here

The shaking continued. Jonathan searched for the key for the cuffs and unlocked the woman and his legs restraints. When the other woman finally awakens, Jonathan along with Lucy on his shoulder makes way to the exit. Bookmark here

It took them a while to find the exit, but when they did, the surface was in chaos. Especially the sky dock, the airships swayed to the right and ran against the piers. Despite disarray, Jonathan managed to find a guard and told him to secure Lucy in a cell.Bookmark here

The woman I rescued was thanking Jonathan for saving her, but he couldn’t focus on anything she said because he was fixated on the golden woman in the sewer’s entrance. She pointed into the sewer as if she was gesturing for Jonathan to go there. If she wanted Jonathan to go there, then there must be a good reason for it. He dashed forward into the sewer.Bookmark here

It was dark, damp, and eerie, but for each corner, the golden woman stood there and waited for him with a finger prompting his next path. All Jonathan needed to do was focus on her at the end of the corridor until he found himself among dead goblins. Bodies and blood decorated the floor and wall.Bookmark here

At the end of his destination, the golden woman pointed upward at an opening. Jonathan could guess whoever did this went up there. The corridor shook once more and caused him to stumble against the wall.Bookmark here

Jonathan threw himself onto the ladder and began climbing up. When he surfaced from the hole, he noticed three figures along with a massive crystal in the middle of the room. A Nephilim tying Ciara’s hands together while a dwarf supervising a contraption that projected many holographic complex Sigils at the crystal.Bookmark here

“Ten minutes,” said the dwarf as he read the readings on his contraption.Bookmark here

“Make it five. We don’t have much time before the undine’s force break-in.” The Nephilim turned to the dented vault door. Despite its thickness, it could still be deformed against an undine force.Bookmark here

Jonathan tried to come up with a plan. His options were limited. He got no armor or even a proper attire, Lucy had taken him while he was still in his hospital gown. He doesn’t even have a weapon. There’s no way he could do this, Jonathan dropped back down to the sewer and looked back at the corridor.Bookmark here

There’s no way he's going to take that risk. It’s just not in his nature. Then, why are his legs frozen underneath him? Why is his hand balled into a fist? Why does he grit his teeth right now? What is this frustration, anger, and unwillingness to leave inside him?Bookmark here

“Ciara… everyone,” He whispered to nothing.Bookmark here

Those Sigils he saw earlier was none other than a Transference Sigil, albeit, a more complicated version, but the fundamentals were there. If his theory is correct, they are transferring the spiritual energy out of the crystal to somewhere. He doesn’t know where, but he does know if that crystal loses its power, then this whole island will start falling out of the sky.Bookmark here

After closing his eyes and relaxing his shoulders, a wave of calmness flowed into him. He knows what to do now.Bookmark here

Jonathan took off his shirt and tied it into a pouch bag. His eyes darted to the small rubble. He will need some kind of ink to draw on the small stones. The blood from the goblins was a good option.Bookmark here

After all the preparation was done, he climbed back up and took a peek. Those two were still occupied by the contraption. He jumped out and threw the first rock behind him. With a snap of his fingers, a force of air exploded from the rock and threw Jonathan toward Ciara.Bookmark here

He wrapped his arm around Ciara and threw another rock at his side. A massive gust of air exploded beside them and sent them across the room toward a column. The same breeze confused the Nephilim, but not the dwarf. The short stature man is still tweaking with his contraption.Bookmark here

“I can’t do my work if they start bothering me,” complained the dwarf.Bookmark here

“Shut it. I do my job. You do yours,” said the Nephilim as he cracked knuckles. He extended his hands as if he was in the empty air, then slowly a swirling ball of darkness appeared between his hands. The ball of darkness launched toward Jonathan and Ciara, creating a dome of total darkness, the same Lucy used on Jonathan.Bookmark here

Hidden behind a column, Jonathan and Ciara were enveloped by the darkness. His heart pounded violently while his hand trembled. He couldn’t see or hear. The enemy could come at any moment now and kill them both without even realizing it. He couldn’t escape or risk running into the enemy, who knows what kind of power he got.Bookmark here

The Nephilim slid out his sword while raising his other hand with a fireball hovered above his palm. He was ready to strike at any moment as he approached the dome.Bookmark here

Jonathan felt a hand on his arm, he was about to strike, but realized how soft and gentle it was. It belonged to Ciara. She was calming him down with her touch. Suddenly, he felt a pair of lips against his own. The kiss had totally calmed him down. This darkness around him was nothing more than the air itself. As he embraced the moment more, his power suddenly flowed into Ciara.Bookmark here

She broke away from the kiss. This new form of power inside her was astonishing, the rawness was overwhelming, but she could grasp it. For the entirety of her life, she had been powerless. She failed to protect what was important to her, only worsening it. Now Jonathan had saved her once more because of her mistake. Those two people she helped were going to destroy this place. And it was her fault.Bookmark here

Ciara won’t let it happen. This place was supposed to be where she belongs. There are people here that care for her even though she was a stranger, just like Jonathan. She whistled as loud as she could. Though no mortals could hear it because it was never meant for them. Offering her newfound spiritual energy, she called upon the aid of the spirits.Bookmark here

The Nephilim drew closer, then something amiss. He jumped away when a giant bear made from green spiritual energy lunged out from the dome of darkness. He flung his fireball at it to slow it down but felt his power draining fast. He had to cancel his dome of darkness, so he could draw more spiritual energy to attack the bear.Bookmark here

When darkness dissipated, Jonathan noticed Ciara frozen with her eyes glowed green and unblinking.Bookmark here

“I’m controlling the bear, but I don’t know for how long. I don’t think I can take him down. You need to stop them, Jonathan.”Bookmark here

Jonathan rested Ciara against the column. “Keep him busy while I deal with the dwarf.”Bookmark here

“Thank you for saving me again.”Bookmark here

“It’s becoming a habit. Not that I mind.” Jonathan placed a kiss on her cheek and rushed out.Bookmark here

Ciara’s face flushed at the kiss.Bookmark here

Jonathan came out with a smile, he dashed toward the dwarf with rocks in his hands. Before he could get close, a fireball flew in front of him and stopped him. Then another fireball flew, this time he had to back away. The Nephilim were skilled enough to keep both the bear and Jonathan back. Bookmark here

Despite being occupied with dodging the fireball, Jonathan managed to one close enough to the dwarf. He snapped his finger and the rock exploded with fire. He was surprised to find the dwarf was still fine. A dome of invisible force field shimmer after the fire dissipated.Bookmark here

“Lothorn, help me! I can’t focus,” shouted the dwarf.Bookmark here

Jonathan threw another rock, and again it did what it was supposed to do. Still no damage. Jonathan barely missed a fireball. The Nephilim was leading the bear closer to Jonathan. There’s no way to ignore him now.Bookmark here

With the last two rocks Jonathan has, he coordinated his attack with the bear. Despite two against one, the Nephilim was more capable of dodging and keeping his opponents occupied.Bookmark here

Jonathan avoided the fireballs when he got close enough. The Nephilim forced him back with his blade. With two rocks left, he threw one straight toward the Nephilim. The blade immediately shattered the rock before it could activate. Another rock was already at his feet, Jonathan had slipped it down without him even noticing it.Bookmark here

A snap of Jonathan’s fingers activated the rock, then three stone spikes jutted out toward the Nephilim. One of them barely missed his face and left a cut behind. The second one missed his arm, but the last one didn’t, it drove straight into his right bicep.Bookmark here

Blood trickled from the Nephilim’s wounded arm. He took a couple of steps back. The bear dashed forward to deliver the final blow when suddenly a spear made from darkness pierced its chest. It didn’t stop there. Spikes protruded inside the bear’s body.Bookmark here

Ciara let out an excruciating scream behind the column. She felt the pain the spirit bear felt, and it was excruciating.Bookmark here

Jonathan wanted to check on Ciara, but he couldn't turn his back on the enemy. The fury on Lothorn’s face was subtle, black feathering wings had sprouted from his back while he pulled out the dark spear. With the spirit bear fell, Jonathan’s chance of defeating him was slimming down.Bookmark here

The golden woman appeared again in the corner of Jonathan’s sight. She looked at him with worries, then suddenly Jonathan felt longing inside his heart. A longing unlike any he had felt before, it was more of a calling. Jonathan doesn't know why, but he grabbed onto those feelings even harder.Bookmark here

While Jonathan was distracted, the Nephilim charged forward with his wings pushing him at tremendous speed. The spear readied to lunge into Jonathan. The attack was fast and Jonathan’s chance of avoiding it grew smaller the longer he stayed still. For whatever reason, he didn’t move. He stood there with a subtle golden glow twinkle in his eyes.Bookmark here

The Nephilim stopped himself when suddenly a golden spear pierced down from the ceiling above and planted in front of Jonathan’s hand. Before the Nephilim couldn’t throw his spear forward, Jonathan grabbed the handle and a powerful golden blast exploded from him. The Nephilim was thrown across the room.Bookmark here

His long brunette had turned into golden, so does his brown eyes while a pair of golden wings sprouted behind him. Along with a shimmering light that permeated from his body. The spear had become a banner under Jonathan’s grasp. Bookmark here

“The Saint and the Banner of Holy Light?” gasped the dwarf.Bookmark here

“Don’t lose focus.” The Nephilim shouted at the dwarf. Then he muttered to himself, “The Light is still on our side.”Bookmark here

Jonathan dashed toward the dwarf with his banner ready to pierce. The Nephilim covered the entire room in darkness which momentarily stopped Jonathan. However, Lothorn had underestimated Jonathan’s power. Bookmark here

L'éternel lumière.” With a raise of the banner, the darkness was banished in a second.Bookmark here

Lothorn drove the tip of his dark spear toward Jonathan. The golden spear easily broke it apart with a single strike. Using the same momentum, Jonathan hit the back of the spear against Lothorn's stomach and sent it upward. The dark-winged man crashed into the ceiling and fell back down.Bookmark here

The dwarf leaped away from the contraption. Not even the dome of protection could stop the banner from going through. The contraption shattered upon impact.Bookmark here

“Is it done?” Lothorn winced while trying to get up.Bookmark here

The dwarf goes to his side and helps him stand. “It’s finished.”Bookmark here

Jonathan felt the slow momentum downward, the floating island began to fall. The crystal grew bright red while a dark mist permeated from it and filled the floor. A dreadful cloud saturated the air, Jonathan had to take a step back as danger lurked from the crystal. There’s something inside the crystal, and it’s coming out.Bookmark here

A scrawny hand of dead flesh poked out of the crystal as if the crystal itself was liquid. It contorted from left to right, trying to find something to grab. When it pokes out his other hands, a mountain of gold coins gushes out. The room was buried with the noise of clinking metal.Bookmark here

Jonathan suddenly fell to his knees, he felt something gripping his heart and tugged it down.Bookmark here

A rotten humanoid with a horrid mouth in his stomach slithered out from the crystal and slid down the pile of gold coins. A crown of pointed rocks sat on his head. The stench of a rotting corpse coming from him was enough to make someone puke. Though he looked eerie, but not terrifying because of his condition. The creature was skinny to the bone, it was as if he hadn’t eaten for a century. It could barely move a limb or correct the way he lay. Despite his condition, he looked at Jonathan with a smile that one has when seeing an old friend.Bookmark here

“We meet again,” said the creature with a raspy voice that sent a chill down Jonathan’s spine. “I guess your new body hasn’t gotten used to reacting to my kind.”Bookmark here

“Who are you?” asked Jonathan while trying to keep himself from collapsing.Bookmark here

“Didn’t your last reincarnation teach you anything about me? Well, interesting. My name is Mammon, and I am the Demon Lord of Greed.” He coughed terribly. “So, what do they call you in this era?”Bookmark here

“Jonathan Jameson.” He pulled all his strength and stood up.Bookmark here

“Tell me, Jonathan. Are you still a puppet just like the last of your reincarnations?”Bookmark here

“What do you mean by that?”Bookmark here

“You haven’t realized it yet?” He let out a soft chuckle that ended with another laugh. “You have no allies here, Saint. Everyone has betrayed you.”Bookmark here

“Betray?” muttered Jonathan.Bookmark here

Out of nowhere, Lucy dove toward Mammon and stabbed him in his chest with a shard of glass. Her eyes were drenched in tears while a giant smile grew. “I did it.”Bookmark here

“Lucy?” Jonathan stepped forward and dropped to his knee, then coughed out blood.Bookmark here

“You haven’t gotten used to being near my kind yet Jonathan. It’s deadly because of the Seraph’s blood that flowed within you.” Mammon turned to Lucy. “As I promise your greed shall be rewarded.” A green luminescent ball escaped the creature’s stomach and into Lucy’s mouth.Bookmark here

The creature’s flesh began to crack, revealing fire underneath, and slowly his body turned into dust.Bookmark here

Lucy, on the other hand, started laughing. “Finally, he will be with me forever!” Her hands were coated in blood and Jonathan could guess where it came from. Suddenly, her hands went to her neck as if she was choking herself. Bookmark here

Her voice changed from female to male. “I’ve been nothing but good to you. And you repay me by killing the woman I love?!”Bookmark here

“Anthony, I did it for us. I love you,” this time Lucy was talking.Bookmark here

“I’ll kill you!” shouted Anthony from Lucy’s mouth.Bookmark here

When Jonathan straight returned to him, he dashed to Lucy and knocked her out with the back of his banner. She collapsed but Jonathan caught her with his arm. His banner hovered beside him after he released it. Jonathan gently lay on the ground.Bookmark here

Jonathan's wonder why did he interfere again? This punishment of hers was her doing, then why did he get in the way? Jonathan shook his head. There’s a floating island that he needs to stop from falling, but how?Bookmark here

The golden woman appeared before him, watching as usual. Then he remembered the Transference Spell. The same one the dwarf used. Jonathan needs to draw it, but it's going to take time, and he got none while the entire island is falling. He turned to the banner, somehow, there was something inside calling out to him, to use it.Bookmark here

Still, Jonathan needs a lot of spiritual energy. He glanced around him, there must be something there that he missed. When he returned his gaze back at the golden woman. Her eyes gave it away. It was him.Bookmark here

Jonathan grabbed the banner, then closed his eyes while facing the gray crystal. Breathe in, breathe out, Jonathan slammed the butt of the banner against the floor and a translucent Transference Sigil appeared beneath him. It was enlarged to two meters wide.Bookmark here

The golden light that blanket Jonathan brightened even more till the room was filled with it. His entire body was arched back as his spiritual energy coursed out and into the crystal, turning it golden. It felt like molten liquid running through his body. He didn’t know if he could withstand this much pain.Bookmark here

Ciara crawled from behind the column and was blinded by the light. “Jonathan?”Bookmark here

“Jonathan…” A feminine voice called out to Jonathan. It was soft to hear but was dipped in heartbreak.Bookmark here

He never heard that voice before, but it was familiar in some way. Then he realized who it came from when her hands grazed upon his face. It was the golden woman. Jonathan opened his eyes to see her standing in front of him with a sad smile.Bookmark here

“I truly love you, Jonathan. I wish that my burden wouldn’t fall on you… I have to leave, but when the time is right, I shall fight alongside you. In the meantime, you need to find my sword.”Bookmark here

“This is the first time I heard your voice. It’s how I imagine it would be.” Jonathan smiled, then he placed a hand against her cheek. Her skin was soft and smooth. “Why are you leaving?”Bookmark here

“The Sigil will kill us if I stay.”Bookmark here

“You have always been there for me. I don’t know if I can…”Bookmark here

“Forgive me, Jonathan.” She understood how much anguish she would cause. She knows him. Perhaps too well.Bookmark here

“It’s not your fault. I could have left this place. Save my skin. It’s not like I'm breaking my promise, I already caught the culprit. Yet, here I am trying to save it. I don’t understand why.”Bookmark here

“The answer is far simpler than you realized. It is also why it pains me to ask you to leave.”Bookmark here

Jonathan raised his eyebrows. “Why do I need to leave?”Bookmark here

“They will hunt you, now that Mammon has escaped. You will have no allies. They will hurt them if you stay here, but it’s not my place to tell you what you need to do.” The golden woman’s body started to dissipate from the bottom. “Whatever your choice is… I will always be on your side. Remember that.”Bookmark here

Her figure dispersed into the air like twinkling lights floating into the crystal. The floating island slowly stopped its descent the moment the light around Jonathan disappeared. The Sigil had worked. The Academy was saved.Bookmark here

Jonathan fell on his knees. The banner fell alongside him, letting out clinking noises while it changed back to a spear. A single drop of tear fell onto the floor. It has been a while… since the last time he shed a tear.Bookmark here

His wings burst into a thousand feathers while his golden hair and golden eyes turned back to brown. Even the light that permeated from him and the spear had disappeared.Bookmark here

Ciara gathered herself and made her way to Jonathan’s side. “Jonathan, are you alright?”Bookmark here

“What? Oh, yeah.” Jonathan smiled at Ciara. “Just a little tired, but we did it. We save the Academy.”Bookmark here

“You did, I barely helped.” Ciara cast her gaze at the floor.Bookmark here

“Do you seriously think that? The giant bear was awesome. How did you do it?”Bookmark here

Ciara’s face flushed bright green. “It’s nothing really. It’s the trait thing. Some nephilims can summon darkness. While some changelings can summon a spirit to help them.”Bookmark here

The vault door broke down and revealed an army of undines along with Commander Zey in front of them. They looked around at the wreck room, seeing an unconscious Lucy on the ground, Jonathan with a grin and Ciara with a nervous frown. The Nephilim and the dwarf had escaped during the chaos.Bookmark here

Commander Zey turned his gaze at the golden crystal, then she smiled slightly. “Get that Nephilim girl in restraint and send her to the infirmary.” She gestured to her subordinate, then walked to us. “Can you both walk, or do you need help?”Bookmark here

“I can walk.” Jonathan used the spear to stand, though he winced a little.Bookmark here

Ciara stood by herself and took a long breath in. After relaying the rest of her orders to her people, Commander Zey escorted Jonathan and Ciara out of the vault room. They stopped when Jonathan spotted an airship.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, Ciara, but are you going to be alright going ahead without us? I need to talk to the Commander.”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry. I will be fine,” Ciara replied before leaving them.Bookmark here

“What’s the matter?” The Commander asked.Bookmark here

“Does that airship work, can I use it to leave?”Bookmark here

Zey looked at Jonathan’s face, his face was hard as stone with flat lips. “Do you want to leave?”Bookmark here

“That’s the million-dollar question, I don’t know. I know I need to, but I don’t know if I want to.”Bookmark here

“Hmm, the one to the left. It hasn't been damaged, and I heard it will be leaving soon. I can secure you a pass on board and anything you will need. You already fulfill the end of your deal. Thank you for leaving her alive.”Bookmark here

“Sounds like you want me to leave.” Jonathan grinned at her.Bookmark here

“To be honest, I don’t. At first, I was worried given your background. But I see you are a man of your word. I respect that. You are a Saint, Jonathan. They think Saint is perfect, but I don’t think so. They are imperfect in their own way, but it is their imperfection that makes them more than perfect.”Bookmark here

“Are we like best friends now?.”Bookmark here

“Far from it.” Zey's stern face let out a small smile.Bookmark here

“She warned me that I don’t have allies. That me staying here will only cause pain.” Jonathan leaned his spear against the railing.Bookmark here

“It does sound alarming.”Bookmark here

“Should I leave?”Bookmark here

“You can find allies, Jonathan. And what better place to find them than here? However, it is entirely up to you to decide what to do next.”Bookmark here

“Damn it. I don’t do dark places. I don’t do cuff. I don’t risk my life. I don’t stay in one place. But for some reason, I want to stay. At the same time, I can’t. I have never been this unsure before.” His hand rested over where his heart was and felt something missing in there. “I’m used to following orders, not making them.”Bookmark here

“No one is ordering you to do anything, Jonathan. This is your life. Your choice.”Bookmark here

Jonathan shot his fist forward. “Then screw it. I choose to stay. And I swear I’ll fight back whatever they throw at me.”Bookmark here

“Good for you and you got your first ally right here.” Zey rubbed the top of Jonathan’s head with a smile.Bookmark here

When they got back to the infirmary, Commander Zey left Jonathan after he was bombarded with hugs from Ms. Nicol. The direct touch with a succubus almost causes Jonathan to faint, only a small nose bleed was gained this time. The professor had gotten awfully worried when she found out he was missing from his room. Bookmark here

“Jonathan, my prodigy. I have gotten so worried that I almost discharged the content of my stomach on your bed. Where were you?” She wept against Jonathan’s chest.Bookmark here

“Please don’t puke on my bed. I had to take care of something. I’m sorry that I worried you.” Jonathan patted the top of the weeping professor’s head.Bookmark here

“I thought I lost you!”Bookmark here

“There. There.”Bookmark here

Ciara peeked from the doorway with a smile. For some reason unknown to Jonathan, Ciara decided to keep her distance from him. She wasn’t sure what she saw back in the vault, and even more, she was mostly embarrassed by the kiss she gave him. Even thinking about it causes her face to turn bright green.Bookmark here

“Why are you looking for me anyway, Professor?”Bookmark here

“Oh, to give you this.” Ms. Nicol took out a wrapped gift from underneath the bed and placed it on Jonathan’s lap.Bookmark here

“For me?” Jonathan opened up his gift and found a yellow knitted scarf. “Did you make this for me?”Bookmark here

“Indeed I did, hand-knitted myself since you know it’s getting cold out there, and I want to give you a proper gift for saving that little girl, and for figuring out the answer so fast. Also, I don’t want my favorite prodigy to catch a fever.” Ms. Nicol smiled brightly.Bookmark here

Jonathan brought it closer to his chest and could barely contain his smile. “Thank you.”Bookmark here

***

Ms. Victoria looked at the report, then placed it down on the desk. She took a glass of whiskey and walked to her office’s window. Her gaze peered outside to find her academy still holding up after the accident. Without turning her head, she asked a question to the blind banshee in the room. “Lady Diana, are we heading there as I planned?”Bookmark here

Diana took a moment of silence. “Yes, but the price is great. Are you certain you want to go down this path?”Bookmark here

“I’m certain. It’s the world’s survival against mine. Commander Zey, are the backup crystal holding the academy afloat?”Bookmark here

Commander Zey let out an amused smile. “It seems we don’t need the backup crystal after all. Jonathan already bounded himself to the main crystal. Now it works even better than before.”Bookmark here

“He did? That young man is really something else. So, did he decide to leave or stay?”Bookmark here

“Stay, but we need to consider his warning. Both forces will come for him.”Bookmark here

“Then we will fight alongside him. He's our hope after all.” She took a sip of the whiskey. “Did he figure out who the culprit behind the murder?”Bookmark here

“He did. It was Lucy Morningstar. Perhaps the most troublesome person we ever held in our cell. The Morningstar’s family might intervene.”Bookmark here

“I don’t think so. After what happened, they might cut off their ties with her.”Bookmark here

“There’s one more thing…”Bookmark here

Commander Zey was interrupted by Diana. “That young woman has two souls in her. The foreign soul wishes to take her life.”Bookmark here

“That’s correct, Lady Diana. It’s what I speculate as well, the foreign soul is Anthony, her victim.” Commander Zey turned to Diana.Bookmark here

The Headmistress took another sip before setting it down on the window sill. “Interesting, but not impossible. Can you ask Jonathan to write a full report of what happened?”Bookmark here

“Of course, Headmistress.”Bookmark here

“Now, onto a bigger topic, did the human spot my academy?”Bookmark here

“From what my informant told me, we are visible to them. It will take time for them to assemble their force on the desert below, but it will give us more time to prepare and evacuate the academy if the need arises. Still, I have doubt about this plan, revealing ourselves to the human isn't a wise choice. They betrayed us before. They will betray us again.”Bookmark here

“Perhaps. Perhaps not. Humanity has changed since the war. It’s time we give them a chance. And besides, we will need their help in the incoming war.”Bookmark here

“If the human has assembled their force, what is our next move?”Bookmark here

“We will wait for them to make the first contact. Diplomacy will be our weapon.” The headmistress sighed. “More work for me… Anyway, any trace of the culprit behind the Mammon’s escape?”Bookmark here

“My people have scoured the academy, there was no trace of them. There is a possibility they already left, but I’ll keep the search going for a while.”Bookmark here

“Great work, Commander.” Victoria turned to Diana. “Anything else you want to chime in, Lady Diana?”Bookmark here

“Nothing at the moment.”Bookmark here

A couple of knocks pulled their attention to the door. Bookmark here

“Headmistress Victoria, Ambassador Roderick Gabblestone is here per your request,” said the receptionist.Bookmark here

“Please let him in,” replied Victoria.Bookmark here

The door opened to reveal a Nephilim, his posture as dignified it could be from someone who served alongside aristocrats. He walked into the room and the receptionist closed the door behind him. He then proceeded with a slight bow. “Headmistress Victoria, what do I owe for this bless invite?”Bookmark here

“I appreciate the gesture, but let’s cut to the chase. I know you’ve been sneakily bringing contraband to my academy and taking the profit for yourself.”Bookmark here

“Prosperous! That kind of accusation is without proof.”Bookmark here

“I know that’s how the culprit behind the crystal meltdown got my academy in the first place. You want proof, here take a look.” Headmistress Victoria nodded at Zey, and she placed a file on the desk for Roderick to see.Bookmark here

The Ambassador took a look at the file, his mouth agape while his eyebrows. “How did you get this?”Bookmark here

“Your spy, Anthony. He actually worked for me.”Bookmark here

“That can’t be. Since when?”Bookmark here

“Since the very beginning.”Bookmark here

He gritted his teeth, then clenched his fist. “What now? You call me here because you want something from me, or you would have revealed this information to my top brass and have me punished.”Bookmark here

“I won’t lie, your contraband helps a few of the residents here. I’m not telling you to stop, but I can’t tell you to continue. Some of the stuff you brought in is dangerous, but a few of my resident’s lives depend on it.” Victoria bit her thumb while her gaze wandered intently at her drink.Bookmark here

“I don’t understand. You want me to continue my operation?”Bookmark here

“You aren’t listening.” Bookmark here

“Then what do you want?”Bookmark here

“What I want is an ally. You have the fastest and quietest airships out there. Time is changing, Mr. Roderick. I will need an ally to help me adapt to that change. So, I ask you this, will you be my ally against this tide of change?”Bookmark here

Roderick took a moment of silence, his mind goes through what Victoria was implying here. He understood the offer, but does he have a choice here? “I will be your ally, Ms. Victoria.”Bookmark here

“You may leave, Mr. Roderick.” The Ambassador bowed his head with eternal gratitude. Before he could leave, Victoria casually flung a warning to him. “Please remember to keep your greed in check.”Bookmark here

“Will do, Ms. Victoria. I am forever grateful for your second chance.”Bookmark here

Time is certainly changing, and Jonathan will be the center of it.Bookmark here

The End.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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