Chapter 24:

Taking Up Your Burden

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

-3 Day Hibernation Period Complete :: Repairs : Successful-

-0659 Hours. Initiating wake-up sequence-


-Initializing Empyrion OS … initialization complete-


-0817 Hours. Wake up sequence complete-

-Good morning, Yalda (^▽^)-

It was three days later when I woke up. I didn’t think it would be so long, but that’s how long it took my body to recover from all the craziness of the last few days.

When I looked at my efficiency level, I was at a mere 54% strength. That wasn’t just combat wise, my whole system was in turmoil. Forget trying to fight for a while, that system was crippled.

Not that everything wouldn’t recover in time, but I pushed myself way too far. This was my consequence, I guess.

As my eyes opened up, I was in a hospital bed. Indena was sleeping in a chair next to me. Her head was nearly falling off the side of the chair, she couldn’t have been comfortable like that.

Uncle was across from me in a different chair, and he had a smile when I finally sat up.

“Young Mistress, how are you feeling?” His calm voice was nice to hear.

I wanted to tell him that my whole body felt like it’d been crinkled up like a tin can, but to be honest, it wasn’t too bad. Since the repairs were successful, I felt mostly nominal.

“I’m okay. But I’m 54% okay.”

“You’ll need to pace yourself going forward. If you overdo things, you’ll destroy your body.”

He sounded serious, and I believed it. My body could take abuse though, that’s something important I learned.

Indena woke up to our voices.

“Hey!” She shot me a surprised glare. “You’re up.”

Her neck cracked really loudly. She made a painful shriek as she massaged it.

“Are you okay?” I asked her.

“Yeah. More worried about you right now, ya’ freaking Eighth Star.”

Looks like that was what people were calling me now.

Apparently, the people who saw me explode came up with on their own. So now the church and those strangers we saved saw me as this eighth angel.

Indena still preferred calling me Shrimp for some reason.

"Uncle, do you think I'm the real Eighth Star?" I asked him.

He couldn't keep a straight face. He burst out laughing like I made a joke.

“Oy, old man, take it easy or you’ll strain yourself. It’s not that funny.”

“I’m just very proud of her, that’s all.” As his laughter subsided, he stepped over to my bed. "Humans of this planet have a variety of legends around them. The true history has yet to be revealed."

“The Seven Stars of Heaven must have been pretty amazing if they had such a big legend behind them.” I said.

"They must have been." Uncle nodded. "But legends like that often are corrupted over time."

I asked him if he'd ever met one of the angels before, since he was really old.

“I can't say I have met a real angel.” He shrugged. "I did however oversee the Exceed program. Your ancestors, Young Mistress. Does that count?"

That doesn't count. We weren't real angels or anything.

Indena took a disgruntled sigh. “You mean, there’s more kids out there like her?”

The other Exceed weren’t kids, not anymore. We did grow up. I was just small now because I was seven years old.

“Exceed are not perpetual children,” Uncle said. “In fact, only the Mk III’s start out small.”

Supposedly I’m the only Mk III that exists. So really, I’m the only child Exceed. I didn’t know that part. Interesting!

Back when I was just born, I looked just like a human baby. It’s really cool to think I grew up like a human. I wonder why daddy made me that way?

“Uncle, I’m the only Mk III, right?” I smiled, thinking how special I was.

He stared at me for a few seconds, then smiled. “Of course. You are the only proper Mk III ever created.”

“Good." Indena snickered. "One of her is crazy enough." She flipped a coin around her hand. "Anyways, why don’t we catch her up on what’s been going on?” She tossed the coin to me, I caught it. It was a Pier token!

Now I have four of these coins. Maybe they’ll be useful someday?

Anyways, here’s the rundown they gave me on what went on while I was under.

Cleanup efforts were well underway, but the damage done to the city was extensive. When parts of the streets were transformed to look more warped and evil, like a spooky Halloween village, that was actually causing them to stretch out and bend in impossible ways.

As for the people, I can’t even tell you how many people we saved. Not just from the civilians that we protected, but the people Indena and I saved from being possessed.

The knowledge we learned from exercising those demons revived an entire branch of the church that had gone dormant. Luckily, there were quite a few people stepping up to become stardust exorcists.

One of the good things after I used the stardust nova was that tiny particles of light rained down on the city, cleansing out all the demons and possessed people, turning them back to normal. Well, the new normal, I should say.

Unfortunately, the death toll wasn’t low. I didn’t want to think about how many people suffered because we didn’t know what we were doing. Even worse, we’d lead the Reaper here. I just felt so responsible for it all.

“Shrimp, if it wasn’t for you, there’d still be a big demon cloud above us.” She gestured outside. “Stop beating yourself up.”

Speaking of darkness, there was something I needed to ask Indena personally.

“Indena, is it true your part of the Family of Sai?”

She nodded, not hesitating. “Yeah, I am. Do you know who we are?”

“Uncle, they’re the group that wanted to make the world eternally dark, right? Just like Janus.”

I remembered him all too well. Over the last few months, I’d been debating whether Janus was really a good person or not.

“The Family of Sai is perhaps at its core, an independent organization…” Uncle began, “but this member has shown she does not intend on spreading darkness across the globe.”

Indena looked really offended, but not from what Uncle said, she got upset after I brought up Janus.

“So it’s true, then. The folks back home wanted to do some bad stuff. Damn, I didn’t want to believe your dad, but guess he was right.”

I wasn’t afraid of Indena anymore. She was a good person, with a very angry temperament. If she helped us destroy those demons, that meant she wasn’t fighting to make the World worse, but to help me fix it.

But the full nature of what dad and the Family of Sai were after was still a mystery to me. Indena didn’t know much more than I did.

“Shrimp, let me tell you about what we are. We’re not exactly a real family, but we're a bunch of people, mostly orphans, united under one patriarch.”

The goal of this family, according to her, was to see that all human beings were self-sufficient. Not relying on a god or government to rule over them, but rather allowing them to decide what they wanted to do. Everything she’d said to me before about herself started to make a lot of sense.

“I don’t know where all this darkness crap comes from, but I don’t like it anymore then you guys.” She said.

It was good to know she was on our side, but it made me a little worried to think that she was part of a group that had some bad secrets they were keeping.

But to be fair, I’d only ever met two of them so far.

Just when we were really getting into the conversation, the phone next to my bed rang. Uncle answered it, said “yes” a few times, and then hung up.

“Who was that?”

He turned on the TV that was hanging on the adjacent wall to my bed. Marek was on the screen, and he was standing on some podium, speaking to the people.

“Fellow subjects of the Queen of Erdereich, today I speak with a heavy heart for all those lost in the recent tragedy of Urnan. The foes we face were not terrorists, nor were they monsters…they were demonic beings bent on destroying our very way of life. This is not the first attack done on our people, I have seen with my own eyes now two incidents of demonic terror on our people, and who can say how many more have yet to be reported?”

He was talking with much less of an accent then he usually had, but even so, he sounded really composed and aggressive, just like I’d expect a leader to sound.

He continued his speech. “Know that your Queen has not abandoned you, nor has the church. We are working very closely with them to ensure that these demon attacks are put to an end, even before they begin. For the time being, we merely ask you all to take up your spiritual burdens, and support local church efforts to prevent any further attempts at possession by dark forces.”

“Is he asking the people to go to church to help fight demons?” I asked.

“The witch said it perfectly. The less divine protection someone has, the easier they are to be affected.”

She also mentioned Indena had some divine protection, which was pretty surprising considering she didn’t worship anything.

Marek kept talking for a few more minutes, but then he opened up the floor for questions.

“Council Member Le Varren, is it true that the Eighth Star has been sent down?” A reporter asked.

“I cannot confirm nor deny that at this time.”

“Eye witness reports stated seeing an angel flying through the town, saving people from giant bugs and skeletons, what do you make of that?”

“We are still attempting to find any evidence of that claim, we will report our findings as soon as confirmation is complete.”

There was some chatter among the people seated in front of the podium.

I would have been dumb if I didn’t realize they were talking about me. This was that Eighth Star thing, and they also mentioned seeing an angel.

“Uncle, why isn’t he telling them about me?” I asked.

“Because they asked about the Eighth Star first, not you specifically. That is merely a legend, not a fact.”

Distinguishing between legend and fact was going to be weird, because what if a legend was fact? Or what if the fact is a legend? Now I’m just confusing myself over nothing.

“What about the angel part?”

“Shrimp, you want my answer? If he tells them you're the real deal, they'll all freak out.”

Oh, I guess that made sense.

A person in the front row raised his hand.

“What precautions will be in place to prevent any sort of attacks again?”

“We are still studying the nature of these attacks. But we do know that those with spirituality have less likelihood of being affected by such things. When another attack spawns, we will send in teams of highly trained exorcists to expel our hellish invaders.”

“That doesn’t answer my question. What are you going to do to ‘prevent’ another attack?”

“We are working tirelessly to discover the exact cause of these attacks. We will give more information in the near future.”

Suddenly, loads of people began taking pictures and talking all at once. I could tell the stress level increased drastically after he said that.

All the people started talking loudly. Marek was finding it hard to answer questions now. After a man whispered something in his ear, he bid the audience farewell and began to step off the podium and go behind the stage.

Marek really was well spoken. Him talking made me feel a little more informed, and I was involved directly. But I felt bad for the people who were scared, and had no idea what was going to happen if a demon attacked.

“Who woulda’ thought the Blue Boy would have been so charismatic?”

It really was impressive how well he communicated with the people, but he lied a lot. I guess those are white lies, but they were still lies.

“Uncle, why did he not tell them the truth?”

Uncle tried to repeat his previous answer, but I asked my question again, wanting more reason on why he dodged answering properly.

“If the people know things that turn out to be wrong, they’ll begin to doubt their own leaders. He has to make sure that everything they learn is either safe for them to understand, or is factually correct.”

“But, what wouldn’t be safe?”

Uncle said that some information could be dangerous if it got into the wrong hands. He used the example of giving someone access to my diary. That had a lot of secret stuff I didn’t want anyone else to know. If they did, they could be mean to me about it. I think I got the picture.

The phone rang again, but this time Uncle put it on speaker. Marek was on the other line.

“Hello? Our lovely angel is doing well, yes?”

One minute he couldn't confirm I’m an angel, the next he called me one. No wonder dad didn’t trust politicians.

“Hi, Marek. I’m doing good.”

I heard him take a sigh on the other side. “That’s good. Did you see me on TV?”

“Yes, I did. You’re a big liar.”

I heard him laugh really hard. He moved the phone away from his face, so it was quiet.

“Well, I’m on the way over to visit you and Yamin. Has she been okay?”

I forgot about Yamin. I hoped she was doing okay, but nobody said anything about her.

Uncle spoke up in my stead. “She is recovering from the incident. I checked on her this morning and they said she was eating again.”

Was Yamin hurt? Now I was worried.

“What’s wrong with Yamin, Uncle?”

He hung up the phone, then patted my shoulder.

“She was shaken up by all the chaos. A little therapy over the last few days did her well.”

Probably for the best that she got some therapy. I’m sure a lot of people are going to need it for a while. I seemed to be okay, but not everyone was like me.

Yamin was a normal girl. She didn’t deal with large hoarding crowds of people like Marek, waves of intense combat like Indena, or keeping a watchful eye over a future guardian of mankind like Uncle did. She might have been an exorcist by class, but I don’t even think she knew that.

I wanted to visit her. Based on my map, she was in the room under mine.

“Yalda, where are you going?”

“Visiting Yamin!”

“Wait!” Uncle tried to make a snatch at me, but I flared out my wings and it startled him.

Then he grabbed my wings, and I de-spawned them, jumping away. He fell forward, giving me a chance to escape.

“Nah nah na na nah!” I taunted as I bolted out the door.

“Yalda, wait!” Uncle started running after me, Indena followed.

I saw someone was coming out of the elevator, so I ran in and pressed the 2 button on it until it started taking me down. I really had to fight the urge to press every button all at the same time.

Once I got down to that floor, I ran to the room that Yamin was in and went inside.

She was sitting by the window, watching birds in the trees. You could hear them chirping like crazy, since the window was open.

It was cold here, probably from the air flowing in from the window.


She looked at me when I said her name. She had bags under her eyes, and her eyes were all read and puffy, like she’d been crying. Her hair was a mess, and she was shivering a little bit.

“Sweetheart…” She tried to smile, but it just got forced down by her upper lip.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She didn’t say anything, just gestured for me to come closer to her.

When I was right in front of her seat, she rubbed her hand through my hair.

“Tell me, are you really an angel?”

I shook my head. “Not a real one.”

“I see.” Now she was smiling, but then tears started to well up in her puffy eyes. “For a little while, I thought you might be my guardian angel. Guess that’s not the case, huh?”

She grabbed my shoulders and pulled me in. My head buried into her chest.

I was so close to her chest that I could hear her heartbeat was heavy. It was drowning out her loud sobbing, beating like a drum.

All she wanted to do was hold me tightly and cry. If that helped her feel better, then it was fine.

The other two had long since gotten to the room, but they were quiet, so I drowned out their existence.

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon