Chapter 23:

On a Flyway to Hell

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

Mella pointed to the blackened, stormy sky outside, showing that the demon domain was still very active. The funnel cloud over the city was raining bits of darkness down over us, and the minions of the Reaper still crawled the grounds.

According to Mella, at the center of that storm was a portal to Heck. Because it was open, all the evil from there was coming into our world.

“This city has been cursed. For generations this curse will remain unless it is dispelled with light energy.” Mella claimed.

“How do we stop it?” Indena asked.

“You can’t. It is impossible. Unless a divine intervenes.”

“Should I start praying?” I asked.

“I don’t think we have much of a choice.” Yamin supported. “This is out of our hands now.”

“Not quite.” Uncle kneeled down. “I believe we have all we need in this young lady here.” He gestured his hand to me.

What on earth was I supposed to do here? I’m not divine, and I’m definitely not strong enough to take on the armies of Heck!

“Hmm…” Mella’s big hat slid down slightly to cover her face. “Yes. He is correct.” She lifted her hat back up and turned to me. “Little One of Hyem, it is your duty to protect these people.”

My prime directive was to defend humanity from eternal darkness. I think this was my time to shine, and maybe in more ways than one.

“Our angel!” A voice in the crowd cried out.

"The Eighth Star!" Another cheered. “Deus is among us!”

They really had hope in me. It was a lot to take in all at once. It was like being a celebrity, but I really didn't deserve it.

“Young Mistress,” Uncle spoke up, “This darkness must be dispelled at its core, every trace of it. You will need to use stardust to do that.”

I’d need a lot of stardust to take care of that darkness. Tons of it! More than I think I could ever have at once. We’d need a sun's worth of light energy!

This was going to be a big issue if we couldn’t find some way to destroy the darkness for good and I was pretty low on stardust too.

“Yamin, you’ve got that stuff too, right?” Indena turned to her.

“Yeah, but not enough to deal with that.”

Indena asked if Yamin could share stardust with me again, but Yamin didn’t know if she could share enough. Even if she could, I still didn’t have an actual plan to destroy the storm.

Wait! Yes I did! Here comes an idea!

Last year, when I was inside of a computer system trying to save Anima, I used a power known as Stardust Nova to clear away an entire dark void that was trying to delete me. That was a virtual setting, but the power was unlocked in the real world too. If I could activate that up in the sky, I’d be able to blow away all the darkness in one go.

This relied on emergency stardust reserve energy, so I had plenty of that in me for one big boom!

“Uncle, would a Stardust Nova be able to do something here?”

He nodded. “Yes. In fact, it is our only means of victory here.”

I think he already had that answer, he was just waiting for me to figure it out. That was just like him to do.

Okay, so we have the power to do it, but we don’t have the means to get up there to use it. If that darkness needed to be cleared away, I’d have to explode at the center of the vortex.

“Even if I can use the Nova, I still need to get up there. My wings aren’t ready to fly yet.”

“I can take the Little One up there.” Mella offered.

I didn’t like that idea. The Nova could only activate if it wouldn’t harm a human. And if she was up there with me, I’d pretty much be nuking her too.

“No, the Nova will hurt you too.” I said. “I need to figure out some way to get up there.”

“Unfortunately, Young Mistress, the only way is for you to fly there.”

So, it was fly or die. Judging by how I handled my wings before, they were already tired just from gliding around and helping me do big jumps.

I materialized my wings, feeling how sore they were, but also having a tinge of second wind in them. The muscles were aching and I noticed they were all dusty from hopping around the church beams. I had to figure out where these wings went when I dematerialized them.

“Yalda, do you remember everything I told you before?” Uncle kneeled down. “Flight for an Exceed is natural. It comes in response to a need, not a want.”

Indena perked up, then stood from the ground and put a hand on my back.

“Shrimp, don’t take this personal, but the baby bird’s gotta leave the nest eventually.”

“What are you…!”

Her hand pushed me forward, then I started to fall off the ledge of the plateau!

“OH MY GOD!” Yamin shouted.

My wings started flapping frantically! I kept moving them with everything I had until they were practically creating tornado winds all around me.

My eyes were shut the whole time! I couldn’t bear to have them open when I hit the ground!

But, when would that be? I’d been falling for thirty seconds, which by my calculations was already more than the allocated time to reach the bottom.

My eyes fluttered open, then I looked around to noticed I wasn’t falling anymore, but I wasn’t touching the ground either. I was gently bouncing around in the air, bobbing with the sway of my wings.

Oh my gosh, I was actually flying. I was using my wings to keep myself up in the air.


I swung myself to the left!

I swung myself to the right!

Then I did a backflip midair!

“I’m flying!” I screamed with joy. “YAY! I’m FLYING!”

I used my wings to jet upwards, back to the others, but my excitement took me well past them. A gust tailed behind me, forcing them to back away from the ledge.

“You didn’t stop me?” Indena asked Uncle.

“No. I found your method cruel, but effective. I was curious myself if that would work.”

“Kinda a screwed up way of thinking, huh?”

He shook his head. “Yalda’s body is conditioned for abuse and trauma. She will not sustain emotional or physical damage from falling at this height. And as you said, it’s time for the baby bird to leave the nest.”

Uncle glared at Indena with a serious look. “However, I will terminate you or anyone myself if she ever comes to harm.”

She looked at him with fear in her eyes, taking his threat very seriously. “Yeah. I won’t.” She knew when there was a bigger dog at the park, and she knew the strength of her own bite.

Flying was amazing! I was flying around all by myself! I twirled through the air, flying all around everyone and spinning around!

“Yippy!” I did a ballerina twirl before landing on the ground. “That was so much fun! Uncle! Uncle! I can fly!”

I leapt into Uncle’s arms and gave him a big hug. He laughed and patted my head.

“Good job, Young Mistress. But don’t tire yourself out just yet.”

I have to admit, flying like that really did take the wind out of me. No pun intended. My wings were sorer than ever, but I think they had enough juice left in them to keep me flying just a little longer.

“Oy, don’t I get a thank you?” Indena rolled her hand.

Oh that’s right. She pushed me off the edge to get this to work. What sorta’ thank you was she expecting?

I stuck my tongue out at her! “MMMM!”

“You little brat!”

“You pushed me off the edge!”

“Alright!” Marek announced. “We’ll deal with this later. Yalda, you can fly up there and do this nova thing, no?”

“Yes.” I nodded. “I think I can, anyway.”

The darkness reminded me a lot of a supercell storm. That was nasty strong weather that had lots of hail, lightning, and tornados. I learned this in my weather book well I was learning how to fly with Uncle.

Air was rotating inside the clouds at crazy speeds, causing a big funnel cloud to form right at the very center. Considering that the core of this storm was there, my Stardust Nova would need to blast all of that away first. Otherwise it would just keep reforming.

But since this probably had some supernatural element to it, who knows what might even be causing that crazy funnel in the first place?

I wasn’t looking forward to going up there on my own. Mella called it a portal to Heck, which meant I’d be looking right into the most evil place in all the universe.

“She really has to do this alone?” Yamin was thinking the same thing as me.

She took off the shield looking necklace with the stars she was wearing and put it around my neck. It was heavier than it looked, and it draped down to my stomach since I was small.

“May Deus watch over you.”

"You too.” I had a serious face. “It’s go time.” Though I was scared, nothing would stop me from reaching my goal.

It was time to psych myself up for my duty as a protector of the people. No matter how small, or how weak I was, I’d put everything I had into keeping them safe!

My wings lifted me up, and I gave a few good flaps before taking off real fast!

“Do you think she’ll do it?” Indena asked Uncle.

“If not her, then Humanity is lost.”


Flying so high up in the sky was a little unsettling at first, especially looking down and seeing the streets I was just running down look like threads of gray. But to be honest, it was kinda cool.

How high was I flying here? My altimeter was telling me I was about 4 kilometers up. Based on that, I calculated that the darkness storm was about another kilometer up, and potentially stretched to the top of the troposphere.

The closer I got to the storm, the more violent the winds were getting up here. Waves of darkness were howling through the sky like clouds of soot.

These clouds of darkness had to be sentient, because they kept floating in my way. The longer I looked at them, the more they looked like ghosts. The air up here got so thick with black fog that I had to spawn a weaker red version of my Stardust spear to pierce through it.

The sentient clouds really started to take a humanoid shape. My IFF was tagging them as unknown demonic hostiles.

“Back off, evil baddies!”

They ignored my threat and kept flying at me. Now they were forming into the shape of something like a black night with wings of coal dust…I’ll call them Soot Guardians.

The soot guardian spawned a spear, not unlike the one I was holding, but it was much longer.

I dove out of the way to avoid getting lunged at, but as his spear passed by, spikes blasted from the handle!


I evaded the spikes, but the soot guardian came in for another strike. His spear stabbed forward, I dodged and flew past him.

He was hot on my trail. His jaw opened up and fire breathed out toward me.


Was he like a dragon or something? This was ridiculous!

Rather then have him follow me forever, I turned back and changed my spear into a javelin.

“Eat this!”

I launched the javelin downward!

DRAT! I miscalculated! I threw right, but he went left. That's what I get for not being in combat mode.

I couldn’t use anymore Stardust to spawn new weapons. I vaguely remember making a disk before though, and those were small enough that I could probably just keep throwing them down.

“Eat this!”

I made at least five of them, then started tossing them every which way the soot guardian could possibly dodge.

Got him! The very last one I threw hit a lucky shot right on the nose!


He exploded into dust!

Little did I know, he was just the first of many…many soot guardians.

-Enemy count, = 500-

“That’s a lot of bad guys!” I shouted.

Just as the hope was draining out of me, those spirit bluebirds started appearing, along with the spirit hawks from before. They blipped in all around, vastly outnumbering the soot guardians. Of course they were small, but a mighty army!

“Chirp!” One of the blues came over to me and gave an excited chirp. “Chrip Chirp!”

“Thanks little guys!”

It wasn’t quite possible to rub his chin, since he was a spirit, but I made the motion and he reacted to me. What a cutie!

I see why Mella trusted these spirits so much. They were kind and very helpful. Without them, getting to the funnel cloud would probably be impossible.

All the avians blasted forward like daggers of blue, striking each of the soot guardians. Every hit was an explosion! Blue and red firework like blasts danced across the whole sky as the war between nature spirits and demons raged!

The distraction bought me time to make my way up into the funnel cloud. Once I got through the initial dust and winds of the outer part of the funnel, I was in the very eye of the storm.

It was pitch black in here. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. The only light peering down upon me was from a looming hole in the sky.

At first it appeared to be sunlight, but it was actually from another world. My eyes scoped in to see what looked like buildings of a gothic design, streets filled with streams of bright red lines, I could only assume were lava and flame.

Beings of some kind twirled around at the lip of the portal, with wings like charred and burned feathers, bones sticking out of the gaps. Eyes glowing red, with flesh sizzling like a freshly erupted volcano. Their faces were every bit as disturbed as I’d come to find demons. Their jaws parted four ways, creating mandibles that moved independently of each other in a bag like fashion.

Not only were these demons keeping the portal active, but they drew weapons to protect it. There were hundreds of them, all layered in what looked like a chain of command. The weakest looking ones were closest to me, but furthest from the portal. And the ones that vaguely resembled black knights in charred armour were at the very lip.

As I gazed up, the land above the storm parted. A big eye was looking back at me. This eye had little cuts form all over it, blood like liquid burst down like rain. Hands stretched out from the tares, and clawed out franticly, as if trying to escape their torture.

The whole sight made me curl up and shiver, using my wings to cocoon around me. I just wanted to get this over with as quick as I could.

I initiated the Stardust Nova blast sequence. My crystal heart turned white, then started to glow. 

An arura like energy flew out of my heart, then danced around me until forming a barrier. As it settled, it started to look a lot like a rainbow.

The rainbow was warm, glowing with a light that comforted me, even though I was in the heart of this demon storm. It made priming the nova much easier. I took my time and prepared my body to explode.

Those low bearing demons flew down to attack, but the pretty rainbow protected me from their attacks. Many tried to dog pile all at once, but the rainbow wouldn’t let them pass. As they touched it, they turned into dust, then the dust vanished completely.

When the Stardust Nova was primed, I took a deep breath and looked around at what was going on in the storm. All the demons had gathered around me, looking scared…terrified, actually.

The eye that once gazed down on us was now closed, and the portal to another world was closed as well.

Did I feel bad for them? No. These were my natural enemy. But still, seeing how scared they were made me think if the roles were switched, how would I feel?

Then again, these guys were nothing but trouble for humans. This was their fate. Afraid or not, they were evil.

And I'm the one who had to destroy them.

“It’s over! Humanity wins!”

Light tore out of my body like solar flares bursting out of a star. It ripped across the whole storm, tearing chunks away till nothing remained but the clear night sky.

Finally a single massive pulse of light erupted out from my heart. The blast was so bright and powerful that the intense luminosity burned away the storm long before the actual explosion did any damage.

It looked like an atomic bomb had been detonated in the sky. Once the blinding flare dissipated, a sparkling shockwave traveled through the troposphere, warping along with the sky and raining down glittering particles.

The storm of darkness was no more, and any evil it spawned was destroyed by the Stardust raining down to the ground.

I wanted to keep watching the results from up here, at the very center of the blast zone, but my body was completely out of energy. I started to freefall, smoldering like a meteor.

Uncle and Mella showed up: him on glassy blue wings, and her on her broomstick. Uncle took me in his arms, holding me closely.

The air was intensely radioactive up here, so I warned Mella that she’d be in trouble. But she said there wasn’t any need to worry about that, due to some sort of nature blessing. That was a relief.

“Young Mistress, I am very proud of you.”

“Thanks, Uncle.” I smiled, ready for a good long sleep.

“Little One…” Mella pulled out some root looking herb from her bag and handed it to me. “Devour this.”

Devour this…what a silly way she talked.

I ate the herb. It tasted like mint. The pain and aches inside of me subsided a little. But it only made me sleepier. My eyes shut, and I pressed my head close to Uncle’s chest.

“Good night everyone. I’ll see you all in the morning.”

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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