Chapter 29:

Digging and Digging


Deep enough that any rescue or ever detection was impossible. Dark enough that even make night vision useless. Isolated enough that no matter what, oxygen would soon run out. And even then, none of it mattered.

All that mattered was completing the mission, and this much was done long ago.

So long ago, everything else seemed less like the memories they were and more like pieces of information written in a book. And like everything else, none of it mattered.

What became of the remains of the holiest of all cities and how deep all that centuries-old architecture ended was but a small curiosity right now. The fate of all who were defending said city during its last moments wouldn’t be much more than a footnote. And the name of the Three-Armies' Princess was sure to be erased.

In fact, she didn’t even remember that name anymore. It wasn’t a name that should be remembered, neither was it a name that should still exist, but the one who once held it was still there.

A cursed existence that tried to sacrifice itself only to end stuck in the fallen ruins of what she hoped to save.

And still, that was fine.

Who had to be saved was saved, most of them at least. Making a last stand, and then sinking the whole city so deep the pressure was a real danger, all was fine as long as the citizens lived. Or that was the excuse she tried to convince herself as much as possible while staring to the darkness.

It would be dishonorable to do otherwise, for not accepting this lame excuse was the same as accepting that all the bloodshed was for a single person. A single soul that alone brought back the Demon of Blanchelle and made it care enough about the word to bother trying to save it. A single soul that, for all intents and purposes, was the only reason why anyone else survived.

The only person that had to survive and the only person she could bother saving. And someone she could barely remember the face anymore.

She owed an apology to that person. A real one instead of the farewell letter that was left behind before the daring, and only half-successful, final battle. She could even use the little device filled with all songs that person loved as an offering by then. How well above all known technology it was would surely bring a smile to that face.

If said apology could ever be accepted was a mystery… It was even hard to be sure of how long passed, so how it would be possible to know if she would ever leave this place?

The tunnel the girl kept relentlessly digging while looping through the one piece of entertainment was the only hope left. But, maybe, and just maybe, what if this whole process was going much slower than she hoped to and she ended after all was over? Or worse even, if she did all this only to find out that her efforts were in vain? Laboring for God knows how long inside total darkness only to end…

“You should not think about this, you know? Stay positive and move forward!” She told herself with all the energy she had to spare, only to close her face right after. “Do you really believe that? Are you stupid or something? Do you not see the wasteland all around us?”

“Silly me. We cannot see, you know?”

“Do not be dumb, we do not need to see to know! Geiger, atmospheric, location, sound, gas, anything that can be sensed… Those creatures can do it all.”

“They can also bore holes and map areas, right? They are very very useful!”

“They are monstrosities that use something that should be dead. The fact that they were built is already enough of a crime against humanity as is… And I am not even talking about the bad taste of the name.”

“It is not bad taste, you know? It is one of our favorite things! And we only have two of them.”

“Oh, so you are happy that such a joyful name was used for a weapon? And a terrible one too?! I would beat you half dead if I could…”

“Why bother? We tried it already, you know? It is useless… And since it is useless, we should keep moving forward, right? Moving forward. And forward. And forward until the whole world is happy.”

“Moving forwards until we reach her or until we are too insane to stay by her side?”

“Hahahahahah! You are such a silly… You cannot become what you already are, you know? And even like this, we will still reach that dream world!”

The girl speaking with herself felt the corners of her mouth raising in a dry smile as she kept ordering the small machines to keep their work. She was already beyond the point of no return and way beyond being able to despair at her situation anyway.

The while she took to understand the situation had already burnt any chance of despair long ago.

If it wasn’t like this, the mere thought that she had finally reached her rightful place on the down bellows would make any effort worthless. A dead person couldn’t do much to the living either way and any suffering she was subjected to would be fair after all she did.

She would even consider this place to be a very mild hell for all the deaths she had to her account. And those would be without even considering all the indirect ones that she caused too.

Either way, it was more likely that this place was only the ruins of Miskaria than a weird unknown hell. And so, the girl cranked up the upbeat music playing on her head and kept on moving.

Always going toward her goal no matter how much she had to do, how long she had to spend and how crazy she would end the journey. Always moving for there would always be only one person in her eyes. Always looking for this one person and her grandiose destiny waiting above the kilometers of stone and dirt.

Meanwhile, in the outside world, the great powers that started the whole conflict stopped after the destruction of the holy city. A single diplomat had managed to make them do so with the words many died to protect.

Still, this little peace only lasted for as long as the diplomat did.

Much was achieved in this one lifetime, more than many could expect and more than any other person could do, and it wasn’t enough.

But down below, the girl kept digging.

One of the pillars of society reached its end, and with it, all the weak peace that filled the world started to crack. Weapons became more dangerous. Battles became something else. And death filled the air once more. But no matter how different were the weapons, war was still the same. And now, there was no magic and no knights to absorb the damage.

But down below, the girl kept moving.

The powers walking on thin ice finally reached their breaking point and, in a moment, all the conflict became meaningless. No powers existed anymore, no ideologies and no huge cultures, only people trying to survive no matter the cost on the ruins of all else.

But down below, the girl kept pushing.

What was born from the greatest light and corrupted by the greatest evil became once more a guide for the lost souls. A hope that the ruins of the world could grow back to something else, and an idea that what was once a holy city could return to its glory. Even if by then, no one was sure of what this place ever meant anymore.

But down below, the girl started to break.

People joined together. Groups grew larger and banded under the idea. And what was once a small manufactory on the wasteland became the symbol of the new world. Much was lost and even more was forgotten to reach this place, but a lot was saved. And finally what was once a wasteland became a metropolis once more.

But down below, the girl forgot her dream.

The city grew, and grew, and grew even more, always going higher as it couldn’t go wider or deeper. More and more, the remains of the world rebuilt itself, fixing the clock that had once stopped and then watching it go forward. What was once laborious became trivial. What was once impossible became commonplace. And what was once unnecessary became something to strive for.

But down below, the upbeat songs went silent.

The manufactory that once kept order with its weapons turned away from its roots and grew to less violent endeavors. Society became as such that being productive or not wasn’t a choice linked to survival, just one linked with where you wanted to be. And even then, one would still be able to decide to change.

Many still hoarded more than they needed and many more were exploited by these, but none could say this world was worse than what they knew from before. Although this 'before' was very unknown.

A perfect tower of glass and steel where all stood still. The closest to a utopia that this world had ever seen, but still so far from it that many would call it dystopic.

And from down below, a ghost of pink metal left her grave.
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