Chapter 16:

Vol. 2 ☆ Fragment 11: Take the Hand of the Odd One Out ~「Luminescence」

Scarlet Finale!


What was that? Even though Wish had been able to escape, she still couldn't find an explanation as to how that happened in the first place. Somewhere along the line, the trail of solid earth that had extended into the skies descended like a ramp, letting her return to proper solid ground. Once she did, the green light that had appeared on a petal of the Scarlet Satellite faded away. That light was connected to the supernatural phenomena that had taken place; there was no doubt about that but the Scarlet Satellite was one of Wish's most important possessions. That's why it didn't make sense. 

Her weapon is something she was supposed to know well enough. Yes, this wasn't a normal blade by any means. After all, it was one of the pieces of the puzzle necessary in order to trigger the Scarlet Outburst. It had also proved to be a strong enough blade in order to be able to cut through massive blasts of energy. The fact that electricity didn't spread through the blade or reached Wish at all after making direct contact was a sign that it wasn’t made with any kind of regular material either.

Come to think of it, the green haired doctor from earlier had mentioned something about Alchemy, right? Alchemy...? If there was something Wish was certain about is that the Scarlet Outburst and Alchemy weren't connected or the same at all.

She wasn’t unfamiliar with the supernatural. Thanks to her sixth sense and other past experiences, it had become part of her everyday life. And yet, this was different. Alchemy. Even after seeing it with her own eyes, it certainly came off as a shock to her.

Distracted and lost in thought, the blonde had entered a more rural zone in Glint City. The sea of buildings faded in the distance as she entered an area with smaller houses and more nature surrounding everything. It wouldn't be uncommon for anyone to think they had reached a town completely separate from the city. But Wish didn't question it that much. After all, it looked like she was still right on track according to May's map and there was no way that May of all people would make a mistake like that.

But that's when something snapped her out of her thoughts.

At first, what reached her were some voices in the distance. It sounded like the voice of a boy who had let out a yell in distress. She could only imagine that whoever it was, was engaged in some sort of argument. That would be the most logical thing to assume anyway, but this was Glint City, a location that had been plagued by an organization with murderous intent. This wasn't the time to play it safe or take any chances. Luckily, it wasn't like she had to take a detour from her current destination anyway, the voice had come just from further into the same path she had to take.

Wish accelerated and it didn't take long before she would come face to face with a sudden confrontation taking place.

She saw a spiky haired boy standing just under one of the street lights. In front of him, there was a tiny maid with light blonde hair. Her hand was clearly reaching for the hilt of her blade. At that moment, the streetlight above the maid went out. As the maid became shrouded in darkness, not even Wish who was approaching faster and faster at a high speed was able to see her anymore. This meant that even the boy who stood a few meters before her might not be able to see her draw her weapon properly.

As someone who used this kind of weapon herself, what she saw was enough to tell her where this was going. In response, she grasped the hilt of her own blade tightly with her hand. She then pulled the Scarlet Satellite from out of her motorcycle, and with the push of a button she jumped up into the air.

Since her bike had been repaired by May and turned into a silver memory, the moment Wish jumped away, she easily turned it back into a small silver tube. With a swift movement, she caught the memory in mid-air and stood right in front of the boy. Just as expected, an impact hit her blade immediately after. Had she been even a second late it would be all over.

"Made it right in time!!" She spoke her thoughts out loud and used one hand to give the boy behind her thumbs up.

"Hm?" A pair of threatening pink eyes glared at Wish from inside the darkness. "Well well, now this is quite the sudden greeting!"

(This girl… just how serious was she just now?)

Wish's initial reaction was confusion. Even though all of her senses were telling her that the person before her was dangerous, that strike against her blade just now had been incredibly soft. It gave her the impression that this person wasn't trying to seriously harm the boy behind her. In that case, maybe she could try to reason with her.

(Damn! This person is really strong, isn’t she?! No, no. Calm down, this isn’t the time for this.)

Despite the soft blow, Wish could tell this was no ordinary enemy. But even if she was the kind that didn’t like to back away from these situations, she still had another goal to accomplish. For now, it would be best to defuse this situation as fast as possible.

Recognizing who the person before him was, Ryuusei slowly gave a step back. This was a nightmare. There was no way this was anything but that. Even though he was saved just now, it only felt like he was suddenly in greater danger.

"I guess this is when I say: nice to meet you? I’d like to know what’s going on here first though!" Wish decided going right to the point. "I don't think swinging a weapon like that against someone defenseless is the best idea."

"You tell me." Elizabelle shrugged. She lowered her weapon, putting her blade back into its sheathe. "Listen, I'm just trying to prevent things from getting worse. Looks like that guy there is trying to take away our patients. As a maid I'm supposed to show hospitality you know. So I'm simply putting him to sleep for a bit~"

"........T....that's not it." Ryuusei was afraid to speak now that Wish was here, but he knew he had to. The spiky haired boy took a deep breath as both blondes looked at him. "Caroline... she could have ended people's lives you know. I can't just ignore that."

"?" Beyond what Ryuusei pointed out, what stood out the most for Wish was the name Caroline. She was certain that May had brought her up. Were these people actually involved with Eri going missing in some way?

"And that's why I told you." Elizabelle sounded annoyed. "We are talking about criminals here. Criminals willing to end lives without remorse. If they weren't prepared for the consequences they shouldn't have entered the battlefield to begin with."

(Criminals? Don’t tell me. Is this what Maymay got involved with earlier? Ahh, what a pain!! And just when I wanted to end this as fast as possible! What now though? I feel like I’m in the middle of something that doesn’t concern me but…)

"This is about the organization, right?" Wish spoke out her opinion. It wasn't because she felt any obligation to do so after being in the middle of this, but because she didn't like keeping things to herself. "I can't say I disagree with this maid. If criminals are ending people's lives, they have already committed a great sin."

That much was something that no one could deny. After all, Wish had seen this first-hand. She had already shut down some of their bases way before Faith or May were on the move. The only reason they weren't able to end her life is because they were amateurs with very little combat prowess. But had it been anyone else in that situation, their fate would have been quite different. At this point, just how human were these people still?

Listening to Wish's words made a freezing cold sink into Ryuusei's gut. Listening to someone else disregarding human life like that was the last thing he wanted to hear right now. It only felt as though everything was getting worst for him by the second.

But then, Wish continued to speak.

"That much is true but, if someone can find it in themselves to care about their lives, even after what they've done, I think that's admirable on its own."

Usually, she wouldn't have felt the need to add anything more. But a quick glance at the boy's face was enough for her recognize who this was. It was the boy who she had attacked all of the sudden earlier today. The reason this stood out to her the most wasn't because of his connection with Starr, or because she wanted to recruit him to work for her. It was because she had been made to regret her initial actions.

"Do you think you of all people will be able to save everyone? Do you really think you can do something about it after making an enemy of most of the citizens? Can you do that much when your only motivation is to have fun? Let me answer that for you. No, you can't."

May's words were still fresh inside her head. Those words had struck Wish like a wake up slap. She was well aware that she had been acting really full of herself ever since she arrived at this city. She was well aware that she had been treating this like a game. This is why, she wanted to prevent doing the same mistakes again.

It wasn’t possible for someone to change so easily just like that, she was well aware of that, but there was something else that weighted on her heart more than anything else.

These weren't words from May, but it was still something she had heard time and time again.

"Why do you never listen?"

It's not like she didn't try to do it. It was just that even if she did a pretty big effort to try and listen, she still failed to connect with anyone. She failed to understand them properly. But even then, she had to keep trying. That's why, even now, she had to do her best to listen. Of course, despite what she said, she couldn't fully agree with the spiky haired boy. Of course, deep inside, she couldn't help but feel like he was just being naive. But if you were to switch the situation around, he was the one that was under attack. He was the one who seemed defenseless and still found the concept of human lives important enough for him to retaliate. Turning her back on someone so earnest, it felt wrong.

After all, she was very well aware of how it felt like when everyone was against her just because they couldn't understand her.

“Caring is one thing and meddling is another. As long as he doesn’t touch our patients I won’t hurt him, simple as that.”

(I can’t sense much hostility from this maid anymore, that’s good. For now, I’ll try to get any useful information and then try to get this boy away from danger.)

“By patients, do you mean Caroline and Eri?”

“Is that what they were called?”

Elizabelle couldn’t give her a proper response. She knew it was important to keep them safe because Noa was looking after them, but she hardly knew anything about them to begin with.

“Do you know them?” Ryuusei wasn’t sure of what he was doing, but he was desperate to cling unto any kind of hope. “Anyway… Yes, it’s them. This girl took us in. We went through a lot. Um, do you know them really well? Do you know more about them?”

(Why is he giving me such a desperate look? I feel like he expects a lot right now but I hardly know them, even little Eri. Not like she would be involved in these things out of her own will though. She doesn’t seem like the kind to. Ugh. Please stop looking at me like that!! What am I supposed to say?!)

“I know them… somewhat.” Wish gave Ryuusei a quick reply, turning her sight right back towards the maid. “If you will really take care of them that’s good enough for me. How about I take this boy away and we leave it at that?”

“Sure.”

Huh? What was this girl saying? Ryuusei nervously bit his index finger. Was this person really going to take him away? It’s not like he had the means to fight back against a monster like that right now. Getting away from Elizabelle sounded good, he was growing scared of her, but it’s not like this was any better. Moreover, if Wish took him away then he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his mission. Was this really okay?

“W-wait! What are you doing-?!”

“It’s fine, it’s fine! Let’s just get going, okay?” Wish turned towards the boy, locked arms with him, and forcefully started pulling him away.

She couldn’t tell if this was the right choice but stopping anyone from getting hurt sounded ideal. For now, she’d take him somewhere safe and then try getting Eri back somehow. Yeah, one step at a time. For now all she had to do was to keep walking away.

But…

“Did you really think you were getting away that easily?”

A soft hand took a solid grasp of Wish’s wrist, pulling her backwards and forcing her to let go of Ryuusei.

“I’m not stupid, you know. You have lingering fragments of Noa’s Alchemy all around you, not like you can see them but it’s easy for me to tell. Noa’s Alchemy is still very rough and basic after all.”

Even if Elizabelle was just speaking in a casual manner, her hand was already moving towards the hilt of her blade.

(Fine then! If that’s how it’s going to be, so be it!)

It’s not like Wish was against having a confrontation. Quite the contrary. She had grown to view fighting as nothing more than a fun activity. This is the reason why she had messed around with the organization, shutting down some of their bases. This is why she had attacked Ryuusei without remorse and why she engaged Faith in combat the moment she took a glimpse of him.

It seemed like this was going to be the same. All she had to do was to overwhelm her opponent with a powerful and fast initial strike and it would all be over.

Even though this person carried a dangerous weapon with her, that was fine, all Wish had to do was to end it before she could even draw it.

With the Scarlet Satellite held firmly in her left hand, Wish shot forward, swinging her blade towards the maid. Elizabelle shifted her body to the left in order to dodge the strike, just as expected. That attack wasn’t intended to slash the maid but to force her to dodge; it was everyone’s usual reaction.

Wish took advantage of the fact Elizabelle had become wary of another incoming sword strike, so instead, she used her feet to trip the maid and make her stagger. Then, she followed up with a powerful punch using her right fist and focusing all of her weight behind it.

It was a sure-fire decisive blow against the maid’s gut.

And yet, her fist met nothing but empty air.

“Hey, hey. Calm down! Aren’t you a little too eager?”

“?!”

Even though the maid had been standing just in front of her while staggering, she was now at least five meters away, standing just under another street light.

“Don’t worry I’ll fight you properly alright.” Elizabelle smirked. “But first, how about we set up a stage? After all, isn’t this just a game to you?”

Before Wish could process the maid’s words, a powerful golden light let out a flash from her wrist. It was right on the spot where the maid had touched her just now. But her wrist didn’t take any damage. Instead, there was a strange golden bracelet in place now. The bracelet looked like it was made of a pure, crystal-like material, but it also looked highly technological. It had a tiny screen, resembling that of a smartphone and buttons on the side.

The bracelet however, was activated on its own. Its screen light up without Wish doing anything. Small parts of metal around it all ejected like an old cd player and then flew out of the bracelet. The strange metallic fragments then started swirling in midair around Wish’s wrist while the screen jumped up and changed into a holographic screen just above her wrist. It now showed a spinning wheel, signaling that something was loading.

Quickly remembering she was in the midst of combat, Wish raised her sight from her wrist and looked at the maid. Elizabelle was now wearing an identical artifact that was reacting in the same way. With her eerie pink eyes locked against Wish, the blonde maid yelled energetically.

“Luminescence!!”

A shining light descended from the skies like a shooting star. It began to run in circles above them, swaying like a pendulum as a trail of fragmented light followed behind. As if reacting to this light, the nearby houses, trees, the parked cars and streetlights all moved aside with a rumbling sound. Unlike the after effects of earth shaking with a tremor, none of their surroundings had taken any damage in the process.


And now, both girls stood inside a large and round open space.

Wish couldn’t tell what this was, but she knew something was coming. Acting almost by reflex, the palm of her hand reached out to the spiky haired boy and pushed him away with a lot of force. Ryuusei was sent a few steps back, and fell to the floor while sitting. Seconds later, a wall of violet light descended from above, closing the open space like a cylinder with Ryuusei barely making it outside of it.

The spiky haired boy quickly got up. He could still see inside the space where Wish was, but looking at it from outside, the colors inside looked somewhat distorted. It was almost like looking at an image with a soft purple layer thrown on top of it.

The surprises weren’t over yet. Next, a giant crystal, twice Elizabelle’s size, fell from the skies and stood behind her. The crystal looked like a phoenix, resembling the one in her apron. However, it was almost translucent and it reflected the swaying light from above.

“Huh? You don’t have a Sigil?!” The blonde maid brought a hand to her chin as she looked at Wish. She seemed troubled, but then decided to stop worrying too much about it. “Fine then, giving you this advantage is fair enough.”

And finally, words appeared on the holographic screens over the girl’s wrists accompanied by a sudden, loud, ringing noise:

~

ELIZABELLE ELAITEA

                VS

             WISH

   LUMINESCENCE!!!!

~

“What’s with that confused look on your face, you wanted to fight, didn’t you?”

Elizabelle slowly stepped forward, drawing her blade. Unlike Wish’s Scarlet Satellite which looked like a regular sword, except for the petals on the hilt, Elizabelle’s sword was a long and curvy Japanese blade. A katana.

(Sure I did, but what the hell is this?! What do you even want me to say at times like this?!)

“Here, the rules are simple. Destroy that sigil back there...” The maid pointed at the large crystallized phoenix behind her. “…or defeat me, and I’ll let you go. Of course in my case, all I have to do is to beat you up~!!”

Trying to comprehend the situation wouldn’t do anything. The rules Elizabelle had mentioned were simple enough. All she had to do was to take care of her, nothing had changed. With this in mind, Wish stepped forward, ready to charge at the maid.

But…

Clash!

The sound of metal striking against each other resounded across the night. Elizabelle had closed the distance between them in just seconds. Almost as if reacting to her attack, one of the petals on the Scarlet Satellite began shining with a strong light, this time it was one colored violet.

“Heh, you aren’t just a regular passerby, are you? Are you trying to copy my element as well? To begin with, we don’t need another blonde with a sword in the city. That’s already my role you know!”

“What are you talking about?!”

Wish stepped back and then launched a sword slash forward, only for it to be stopped by Elizabelle in midair. While their swords were locked with each other, Wish used her right hand to take hold of the maid’s free wrist.

“Is there any rule that says there can only be one blonde with a sword?! Besides, they don’t look the same! And you are a maid!! That’s already a big plus!!”

Forcing Elizabelle’s sword downwards, Wish pulled on her wrist and then went for a head-butt. This time, her strike stopped millimeters away from the maid’s forehead. Wish could feel a strange sensation against the top of her head. It was as though she had buried her head against a soft cushion. The soft sensation was also accompanied by the sensation of cold air. Cold air that then released a burst of wind, sending Wish backwards into the barrier of light.

A hot sensation burnt the blonde’s back, almost as if she had crashed into a wall of flames. With a scream, she kneeled down on the floor.

“Are you taking this seriously? Is that sword of yours just for show?” Elizabelle spoke with a mocking tone. “This is the second time you try to charge in with a physical fighting style! Why are you even carrying that weapon, do you know how to use a sword at all?!”

“Does it really matter?”

Wish stood up despite the pain that ran across her body and the trail of blood now running down her forehead. What Elizabelle said wasn’t wrong. Wish didn’t like having to hurt others using her blade. She carried it as a weapon because it was an important artifact but she was much more used to using her fists to fight. It’s how she had ended her previous fight against Faith and how she had attacked Ryuusei.

(But this is bad. What in the world was that? This pain on my forehead is very much real. What did she do?! This is bad! I can’t afford to get close or touch her like this!!)

“Of course it does. A sword is not a shield. It’s a weapon to cut down your enemies. If you aren’t prepared to do that much, don’t go around carrying something like that.”

Elizabelle took a deep breath, stabbing her blade into the ground. Without even seeing Wish as a threat, she calmly took out a golden scrunchie and tied up her blonde hair into a ponytail.

“How about I teach you the correct way to wield a blade?”

Elizabelle’s words gave Wish goose bumps. She knew something was coming. But knowing that much didn’t mean she would be able to stop it.

The maid picked up her blade and immediately dashed forward towards Wish. The blonde barely had time to react, blocking a direct strike coming her way. What an incredible pressure. With one single strike, Wish was already being forced backwards, closer and closer to the wall. It almost felt as strong as the blasts of energy from the core of lightning.

But there would be no time to admire that.

Elizabelle forced Wish’s sword to the side with another strong strike, almost forcing the Scarlet Satellite out of her fingers. She then hurled her blade towards Wish like a boomerang.

This time Wish didn’t even try to stop the strike and instead tried running to the side to dodge it. Elizabelle’s sword flew across the air, tearing through the back of Wish’s jacket and grazing her skin.

The maid then jumped up high into the air. Wind currents returned the blade to her hand, and spinning downwards, she descended with a forceful slash right towards Wish’s head.

Sparks flew as steel collided and a powerful blast of wind shot against Wish’s body. She could almost feel her feet sinking down into the solid ground because of the pressure. At this rate her bones would easily break if she continued taking the maid’s strikes head on.

“What’s the matter? Didn’t you want to fight? Are you simply going to take on my attacks without doing anything?”

Elizabelle taunted her. No matter how skilled or powerful Wish looked in the eyes of others, to Elizabelle she was just an amateur. There was no reason for her to take this seriously at all.

“Those attacks, they aren’t the force of your blade alone. You are just like that doctor aren’t you, is this also Alchemy?”

“Yeah, it’s Alchemy. That’s all I’m saying though, I’m not about to become a convenient exposition character here!”

Alchemy? Ryuusei stepped closer to the barrier, trying to take a better look at the confrontation that took place under the pendulum of light. Up until now he could do nothing but to watch in shock. Wish, the person he had been so scared of, was getting beat up so easily. This wasn’t good, this wasn’t good at all. Even though this was his chance to run away, even though this person had hurt him before, he couldn’t leave just like that. He had to do something. But what? What was this about Alchemy? It was like something out of a video game. In fact, games and manga were the only places where he had heard the term before. Could Wish do something if she knew enough about it?

“I-I’m not an expert or anything but-!” The spiky haired boy raised his voice so that Wish could hear him. “Alchemy is this ancient science that tried to achieve eternal life with the philosopher stone or something. I think… something about reaching the domain of god? But anyway! I think it’s characterized for being able to transform any matter into something else!”

That wasn’t so far off from what Wish had witnessed before. The doctor had completely restored the plaza in seconds. She had mentioned that she used the materials around to do it. She had said that Alchemy was the “Power of Creation.” So was that the same thing happening here? The swaying light above them, the barriers, the crystallized phoenix and those powerful blasts of wind. Was it just matter being transformed through Alchemy?

“Ha…Haha…hahahahahahahaha!!” Elizabelle suddenly burst out with laughter. “What is up with that ancient concept?! Is that really all you know about Alchemy? Sure it never got developed here but oh man, not even elementary school kids know this little! That’s like saying technology is just a black and white TV that was created years ago!! This is hilarious!!!”

Ryuusei remained silent. Did he do something wrong? Being mocked like this hurt but more than anything… looking at that girl who continued to look down towards the floor. That girl who could barely stand. He couldn’t help but want to do something to help her.

“I see.” Wish spoke with a faint tone.

“What? Don’t tell me you are giving up now.”

“Of course not!!” Wish raised her head. Her lips had curled into a smile. Her eyes radiated with energy. “I don’t know about Alchemy or any of that, but this is great!! Something like this exists, and I’m getting to experience it!! This is amazing!!”

This was unlike anything she had seen in this city. After meeting with Faith, she thought he was the strongest adversary she would find here. This went way beyond her imagination. If someone was this strong, then she didn’t need to hold back. If someone was pushing her back like this, then she didn’t have to worry about hurting them with her weapon either.

This was exactly the kind of fun she was looking for!

(This light in the Scarlet Satellite. It’s like before but it’s another color this time. Is this Alchemy as well? At any rate…)

Last time, a road of earth had extended into the skies the moment her hands made contact with the green petal. What would happen if she activated this purple colored one?

There was only one way to find out.

Wish’s right hand slowly moved towards the hilt of her weapon. Her fingers finally made with contact with the shining petal and then…

Elizabelle stepped back. The girl before her had shot forward at an immense speed, almost like a projectile. This time, a blast of wind came running towards the maid pushing her back.

“Now this is what I’m talking about!!”

With a clashing sound, Wish’s blade pressed on against hers. But this time, Wish didn’t change fighting styles. She continued to swing her blade again and again. The Scarlet Satellite danced across the air, approaching Elizabelle from her left, from her right, from above and directly in front of her.

As the maid stopped her attacks with her own blade, bursts of wind flew in all directions. Wish’s hair swayed from side to side violently as her attacks intensified more and more. Even if the maid could stop them, Wish pressed onward, swinging her blade harder and harder. She kept at it, pushing Elizabelle back enough for them to approach the crystalized phoenix and move far away from Ryuusei.

But it wasn’t all so easy.

While Wish’s speed and strength had gained a major boost, it was a double edged sword. Even as she focused on letting out constant slashes towards the maid, her body was moving faster and faster. The bursts of wind coming out of her blade upon contact were also hitting her with a heavy recoil. At this pace it was getting harder for her thoughts to catch up. This was making it difficult to aim properly and control her body in the way she wanted to.

Elizabelle, having mastered the art of the blade, wasn’t about to ignore something as crucial as this. There were wide openings after Wish’s strikes. This time, she would break her pace using the girl’s own preferred fighting style.

The maid ducked, dodging an incoming blow and sunk her elbow into Wish’s gut. Once the tall blonde staggered, Elizabelle gave a long jump backwards.

As she opened up enough space between them, she swung her blade forward. At this distance, her blade couldn’t reach Wish. But that was fine. Rather than trying to cut through Wish, she released a massive slash of wind. The great burst flew towards Wish, making her jacket flutter violently. Instead of trying to regain her footing, Wish let herself fall on her back to escape it. She could feel the might of that attack grazing her body as it flew by and crashed into the barrier of light at the other side.

She then rolled to the side, escaping another incoming attack. Elizabelle’s sword slammed against the solid ground where she was just now, blowing up pieces of rock up into the air.

Wish got up, and immediately began running. Those wind slashes were trouble. Even though it wasn’t that hard to tell their general direction once they came towards you, it also meant that Elizabelle could unleash very strong attacks from long range. Approaching her just like that wasn’t going to get her anywhere.

“Hey hey, where are you going? Getting scared?”

The maid released more and more destructive slashes of wind continuously towards Wish who continued to run for it.

Listening to the sound of air breaking across space itself, seeing all the dust and pieces of ground dancing across the skies. This destructive power reminded Ryuusei of the other monster he had fought directly. He had thought he wouldn’t get to see something like that again, and yet, here he was. Even if he wasn’t the one fighting, his heart was beating fast. He couldn’t do anything but watch as Wish ran for her life across the edges of the barrier, chased by deadly blades of wind.

But then, Elizabelle’s blade came to a sudden halt.

This was because Wish had hidden in the space right between the barrier and behind the maid’s sigil. If she launched a slash in that direction, the phoenix would break and she would lose according to the rules. It wasn’t a bad strategy from Wish.

But it was a very naive one.

The tall blonde took deep breaths trying to put herself together as she rested her back against the crystalized phoenix. She knew that she would be safe from the wind slashes here but there was nothing stopping Elizabelle from moving into close range again. She had to prepare herself for that.

And that’s when Wish was able to notice a soft breeze running around her.

She immediately looked down to her feet, noticing a few leaves and dust swirling around her. Her eyes opened wide, she had to get away from there, but it was too late.

The next second, Wish’s body was hurled into the air by what looked like a surging tornado.

Ryuusei couldn’t help but to close his eyes shut the moment her body came crashing into the solid ground, lifting up a large cloud of dust.

Is it over…? Is this girl…? Is Wish actually…?

Somber thoughts crossed the boy’s mind.

But this wasn’t the end.

Even then, a certain blonde girl stood up.

With her arms and legs shaking, she stabbed the floor with her blade, using it as support to stay up.

“Are you serious?! Haha, you are incredible!” Elizabelle stared at the girl before her in awe. “Usually that’s enough to break a few bones and make anyone pass out from shock! How are you still standing?! Are you really human?!”

Wish didn’t have enough energy to give her a proper response. She was still trying to catch her breath. Blood was oozing from her arms and legs. Part of her jacket and her clothes were all torn and dirty. It was a miracle that she was still conscious at all.

“I know I said I wouldn’t explain, but you deserve this much. I don’t mind you letting you experience it! The power of modern Alchemy! Let me show you what my Wind Alchemy is all about!!”

Elizabelle’s voice oozed with excitement.

As the maid took a battle stance, violet light shrouded her blade and covered her entire figure. Thousands of light particles all began popping up in midair and flying towards the maid. It was beyond clear that she was charging an incredible attack.

!!Warning!! !!Warning!!

A message appeared on the holographic screen by Wish’s wrist together with an alert sound.

The blonde gave a few steps back, collapsing millimeters away from a barrier of light.

“Ryuusei, was it?” She spoke towards the spiky haired boy. “Last time, you did something to escape, didn’t you? Can you do that again?”

Was she trying to ask for help to escape? Ryuusei reached out for his pocket and pulled a small stone without color which reflected the lights from the environment. It was one of the two he had left.

Wish’s eyes opened wide the moment she glanced at the stone.

Elizabelle’s attack continued to charge more and more, so much that Wish’s skin was started to get tainted with a purple shade from the maid’s light.

(Good, with this he can get away from here!)

“You need to use it.”

“But! It has a strange side effect! You don’t know where you might end up!!”

“Are you scared?”

“That’s not-!”

Intense wind swirled across the enclosed area like a storm.

There was no time left. The blonde took a deep breath and punched the barrier of light between her and the boy.

“What are you doing?!”

Ryuusei panicked, but Wish didn’t care. She didn’t mind if her hand felt like it was burning down and breaking apart. She pushed through with all her might, forcing her arm out of the barrier and taking a solid grasp of Ryuusei’s hand.

“I’ll help you split the feedback, do it!!”

At that moment, Elizabelle shot forward. A phoenix engulfed in particles of shining purple light shot forward mercilessly with the speed of a jet.

“But-!!”

“Hurry and do it!! You need to get out of here!!”

A massive, crushing noise resounded.

The barriers of light broke apart into a million pieces.

The crystalized phoenix and the swaying starlight in the skies all faded away.

The surroundings in the city all moved back to their original position.

And then, a maid stood in the midst of a lonely street.

Wish and Ryuusei were nowhere to be found.

“Where…?”

Wish opened her eyes. Judging by the solid stone walls and the desk in front of her, this was the empty police station. The same place where she met Ryuusei. Shining sunlight entered from the windows, signaling that a new day was already here.

“Are you okay?”

The spiky haired boy kneeled down in front of her. Judging by the bandages around the blonde’s body, he had taken care of her wounds while she was passed out.

“I’m going back to sleep!!”

“Wait, wait! That’s the fifth time now!”

Ryuusei placed his hands on her shoulders and gently shook her to try keeping her awake.

“Grr. My head is spinning but I guess I’m fine.” Wish growled at him. She didn’t even bother to try and get up. “How… did I make it here?”

“It was because of this. I’m still not sure how they work but M…uhm… my boss gave them to me.” Ryuusei took out the last transparent stone he carried.

“I see.” Wish seemed to be very lost in thought at the look in this stone. There was something she wanted to say but, instead the room was filled with the sounds of her rumbling empty stomach.

“Ah… hold on!” Ryuusei stood up and reached for a plastic bag that was on top of the table. He took one of the rice balls from the convenience store and handed it to Wish. “Here! You… are new in this city right? I imagine you had trouble finding food.”

But in just an instant, the rice ball was already all gone and eaten up.

“…” Ryuusei stared at his empty hand with a blank expression. “D-Do you want more?”

The spiky haired boy decided to hand over the grocery bag full of rice balls to her. It seems like at some point they got mixed up and he ended up with one of Elizabelle’s bags instead, but at this point he didn’t care too much about that.

“What are these?! These are so good!!” Wish began devouring one after another one in a single bite.

“Right? They are your best friend when on an empty sto-”

Ryuusei’s words were interrupted by his own grumbling belly. At the very end he never really got a chance to eat a proper meal either.

“Ah.” Wish stopped herself just an instant before the last rice ball reached her lips. “Here.”

Instead, she handed it over to Ryuusei who took it with a confused look.

“Is that… okay?”

“It’s fine, it’s fine!” Wish nodded. “These were yours to begin with, right?”

“Y-Yeah, I guess so.”

Ryuusei stared at the food on his hand and took off the wrapping before taking a bite. Come to think of it, did Wish even bother to remove the wrapping from hers? Well… maybe she did it fast enough for him not to notice, it was best if he didn’t think about it too much.

The spiky haired boy felt relief, but his own heart halted the relief instantly. This was just like before. Whenever he relaxed or thought he could trust someone, things would always have a turn for the worst. Even if nothing was happening, he couldn’t bring himself to properly enjoy this food. What was going to happen next? Was this girl going to attack him when he least expected it just like before?

“Uhm. By the way.” Wish spoke.

Oh no. There it was. She was going to say something troublesome, wasn’t she? Of course his relief couldn’t last that long. Why did things have to be like this?

“I’m sorry.”

“Eh?”

“Last time I was here. I attacked you for no reason, and you don’t seem the type that enjoys fighting so, um, I’m sorry about that.”

Ryuusei didn’t know what to think. Looking at the girl before him, listening to the tone of her voice and the look on her eyes, there was no way she wasn’t being earnest about this. Was this the same monster that terrorized him before just like that? No. Maybe that’s where he had been wrong. He shouldn’t think about her as a “monster.” It was wrong. Regardless of what happened this was still a human being with feelings, he couldn’t deny that. Of course, he wasn’t about to let his guard down around her just yet. But maybe, just maybe, this person wasn’t as bad as he thought.

“……………….That’s okay.” Ryuusei nodded. “You also saved me back then, so I appreciate it, thank you about that.”

“I don’t know who saved who in the end, haha!” Wish laughed, giving him a pat in the back. “It’s a shame I couldn’t finish that battle though, I have to go back and defeat that maid eventually!!”

On second thought… yeah. He was nowhere close to understanding this girl properly at all.

“Can you tell me what happened though? I’d like to know what’s going so I can see where to go from here.”

Her interest on learning about his predicament was refreshing. After all, Elizabelle only seemed to care about money once he told her everything. Wish was unpredictable, but if she really was on his side, it would be relieving to have someone else who knows of all the events that took place at the underground facility.

He explained everything to her. From his encounter with Raiko to his task to take care of Caroline.

“Right.” Wish began reflecting on all the information she received from Ryuusei. “So that’s why little Eri and Caroline ended up with that maid.”

“I know I said I need to take care of them but… do you think they will be safe there?”

After seeing everything Elizabelle could do and her confrontation with Wish, it was very difficult to believe that they would still be alive at this point.

Wish on the other hand, didn’t worry about that too much.

“It’s going to be fine.” The blonde nodded. “That barrier the maid set up, had it not been there the entire city would have been wrecked by her attacks. She probably did it to protect everyone. I don’t think she has ill intent.”

“I know that but I don’t want to assume it’s fine and regret it later.”

“Hmm.”

Wish understood where Ryuusei was coming from. They had no guarantees. But in that case, she just had to do something about it. Even though she could have gone back and deal with that herself, there was something else in her mind. That’s why she would baton pass that task to someone else for now.

Wish looked around and picked up her red jacket from the floor. Part of the sleeves and the back were torn off. There were small little holes in random places too, it hurt her to see her poor little jacket like that. Searching through its pockets, she pulled out what looked like a red flip phone. Upon opening it, the inside did look like a proper modern smartphone, a strange but cool design choice nonetheless.

Ryuusei wondered what she was up to, but she didn’t use it for long. It seemed like communications were already up, as she was already getting signal. Wish didn’t bother to call anyone though; she simply sent a text message and then shut her phone close again.

“So… about little Eri and Caroline. I know you are worried, but I don’t really know them that well to tell you anything. So, how about this? Let’s go meet the mastermind in person!!”

“T-The mastermind?! You know them?!”

“Is that a yes?”

Certainly, if Wish really knew who the person behind everything was, it was the easiest way to get answers. If the mastermind had been forcing Caroline or had control over them, going after them would solve the problem. Ryuusei was well aware this wasn’t the task that he was given but this was the solution he felt the most comfortable with for now. Even as dangerous as it sounded.

“Let’s go.”

“Great! Then let me get ready!”

The blonde hurled a silver memory, turning it into a briefcase full of clothes that landed on the empty desk. She searched through it, pulling another identical red jacket and another white shirt. Her clothes really ended up in a bad state back then. Going around like this felt uncomfortable.

The blonde then began to unbutton her torn shirt, putting it down on the floor before reaching for the clasp of her lacey black bra.

“No no no no!!” Ryuusei covered his face. “Hold on a second!! Why are you doing this?! This is totally a trap to incriminate me! I haven’t seen anything!! I haven’t seen anything so you can’t hit me!!”

“Why… would I hit you?” Wish tilted her head. “I’m just undressing that’s all.”

“That’s the problem!! That you are undressing here!! W-What if anyone just walks into the building and sees you like that?!”

“Hm? I don’t see the problem.” The blonde put her hands on her hips and smiled triumphantly. “I have a great body!!”

“J-Just go down this corridor and enter the second room to the left! There’s a changing room there for us to put on uniforms!!” Trying his best not to look, Ryuusei walked behind her, placed his hands on Wish’s bare back and pushed her away from there. “Just go change there and don’t ask questions!!”

“Hmph! Fine, fine!!”

Ryuusei sighed once Wish was out of sight. This wasn’t fine at all.

Minutes later, the blonde walked out with now clean clothes.

“Here you go~”

She approached Ryuusei and handed over two things to him. A pin with the image of a crossed-out crescent moon, and what looked like a tiny star with two orbits running around them.

“And these are?”

“Good luck charms! You don’t want the moon to get you!!”

The spiky haired boy decided to take them and simply not ask.

“So… are we going now?”

Ryuusei felt like it was all too sudden. Sure it was important but he was still concerned about Wish’s injuries. She seemed to be walking around as if nothing but he was no doctor to know the true state of her condition.

Was she really going to be okay? Even if she looked fine just now, Ryuusei knew how bad all the wounds under those bandages around her arms and torso were. He didn't even treat her properly because he thought it wasn't okay to remove all her clothes without permission while she was passed out. Just how many more wounds did she have in unseen places? Hopefully she did something about it after changing clothes just now. He couldn't even begin to imagine how was it that she was still able to walk. After falling from such a great height, anyone else would be stuck in the hospital in critical condition right now. It would be ideal if they didn't get stuck with another major confrontation. For now, he would have to make sure to look after her if things got out of hand. Could he really do that...? No, it was too late for that. He had to.

“Before that though… about those stones! You said you got them from your boss, correct?”

“Yeah! She said to use them carefully though, apparently we can’t replace them.”

“Really now? That kind of lie sounds just like her.”

“Um…” Ryuusei was confused by her words just now. But judging by the way she spoke. “Do you know my boss by any chance?”

“Heh, saying I know her is kind of…”

It was something very complicated for Wish to answer. But the truth was that she was well aware of who Ryuusei was talking about. After all, this so called “boss” was none other than… 

Scarlet Finale!


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