Chapter 2:

Immaterial Sun of Reality ~ Gegenschein and The False Dawn

Sahaja—At 【The End】of Rebirth.

When I saw their eyes, an incredible pain imploded in my whole body. As if fireworks were laying dormant and the igniting spark was their presence. The amount of guilt swallowed me whole, drowning in a dark, endless ocean. Half of my body felt submerged in the depths, their apathetic stare gripping and enthralling; cold as ice, capable of burning my soul with a clairvoyant gaze.

Melancholy took over that beautiful dead wisteria that complemented their short safflower-coloured hair. However, such a presence added to the pain and suffering. The barrier they had placed around them was growing as the days went by. Regardless of the bar’s uplifting atmosphere and the fellow adventurer’s partying from a good day’s haul, the place they were sitting at was enough to make me cry.

Perhaps, I lied to myself.

I am convinced it was not pity, nor sadness that drew me to their aura. Not even a speck of sympathy nor benevolence. Even if my body was yelling, begging, aching to let loose those welled-up tears, I knew that carelessly approaching would be a foolish errand. After all, no one dared to go near someone whose sole presence screamed darkness.

The hero who saved us all is incredibly lonely.

As days went by, I kept watch.

They say once you have mastered being alone, you are ready for the company of others. That, in my opinion, has always been a complete lie. When everyone's life journey separated from my own, when the only heartbeat belonged to me, it wasn't something most could take. After that, there are some things you must learn the hard way.

The shameful truth is that this lost soul was deliberately sacrificed by those who could have saved them with ease, by those who sat upon regalias, refusing to throw a rope, to lend a lifeline. They watched the drowning and heard their screams all from so close at hand.

Even still, I reached my hand.

Not for sympathy, or out of the benevolence of my heart.

But as an atonement for sins which were done in a place that is neither here nor there; not present or past.

If someone could tell them the reason for the use of their life in this world, would those eyes shine with magnificent light? With a way of life like this… can I be as pretentious to say I want to save this destiny of yours?

“Hey, kiddo. I have a job for you.”

A slight glimmer made its way through the murky wisteria. If it was hope or despair, only time would tell.

“Your majesty!”

From afar, what approached me could be seen as a simple speck of dust or even a star that had fallen from the sky and spread its luminescence during plain daylight. Such a breathtaking view that took my breath away regardless of the thousands of years that I had been alive in this world, a glow that greets the skin as a friend would do near your presence. Nature was truly fascinating, thus the energy it created taking form in an unimaginable way made it even more special.

“No need to get your wings in a ruffle. What’s going on, Marone?”

A small, simple, humanoid creature of magic that represents a specific aspect of nature was floating at my side. Her hair, as green as a bamboo stem barely reached her shoulders, while her bed hair defied gravity by being separated in two as leaves of a flower. On her tiny hands, she was holding a duster shaped like a hataki, while her attire resembled a western style-maid.

“Your majesty, this is serious! No time for jokes!” She pouted as an innocent child. Her chartreuse gaze was dead serious as well. “I need your attention! Stop trimming the liriaks and look at me!”

“Did Izozta go out of commission so early in the morning?” I asked, trying not to chuckle.

“Well yes but

Fairies are simple-minded creatures, so endearing.

“You’re majesty, that trick won’t work on me for the ninetieth time!” Taking a deep breath, she focused as much as she could. “You have an appointment today in less than ten minutes, is it really okay to be tending the flower garden with us? They already arrived and are waiting in the guest room.”

“Let them wait, as you said, I still have ten minutes left. As the head maid of the castle I’m sure the other fairies have already offered this guest tea and cookies at least, I presume?”

“Thing is…” Marone took a deep breath and then, screamed. “Everyone will be out of commission at this rate! The honourable guest said that if you don’t show up soon… Ah… everyone… everyone…!”

One could say that, to some extent, fairies are immortal since they exist only in the bounds that the nature they spring from be preserved. If sunflowers disappeared from the world, my friend here would vanish forever. Still, the fact remained that going out of commission was a similar condition to death. This could happen in two scenarios: getting overly excited or simply exhausting them until no energy is left. Either way, this guest was messing up with fickle creatures, and an act of this calibre would not be tolerated.

Marone was brightly glowing as if she was a star up above in the sky. Brightly, so brightly, that amidst the glow I managed to hold her tiny shoulders to calm her down.

“Inhale, exhale. Put your mind into a blank state, I know you can do it. You’re the great fairy maid of this castle. If you fall, everyone goes down. Relax, I got this, alright?” Slowly but surely, her sparkling silhouette revealed her appearance, returning to a normal yet panicked state. “Guest or not, no one should mess with the representation of nature itself.”

“Even if we are a bomb that comes back to life as if nothing happened…?” A small sob escaped her trembling lips.

“Even if you are a bomb that comes back to life as if nothing happened.” I did a small pat on her head with my index finger.

With that said and done, I made my way towards the castle’s outdoor patio entryway.

The lake-side air was pungent with the fragrance of jasminak. This was no natural basin filled with meltwater, but the luxury addition to a formal garden by a Lord with both copious leisure time and money. I gazed across the wind-ruffed surface at the lily pads in bloom, their white or magenta petals catching the breeze. I can never see flowers too many times, I can never tire of their sweet fragrance. Each one is a delicate bloom, no matter if it is a formal garden or a wasteland. Their petals are delicate works of art and their hues are medicine for my soul.

They bring such precious memories to my mind, after all.

As the red hues of the fluorescent sunshine beamed upon the rusted iron gates, it revealed the splendour and majesty of the castle’s inside. As it shone more brightly, it revealed the ceramic pavements, the marble statues… all a reminder of its opulence and luxuries which I did my best to hide from everyone’s eyes.

“Your majesty, please hold on!”

The doors closed with a loud thud.

I’ll ask her what she was going to say later.

Although so inviting from the outside, it was quite intimidating too. Its hundreds of foot-high walls and large cannons and pots of hot sticky oil were enough to scare the most daring of enemies away. In historic times, the fiercest of knights stood guarding the castle aided with the most skilled of archers. It had been a formidable force for its time.

What was once its mesmerising dormitories, full of life, now were eerily silent. The castle’s world-renowned libraries, bursting with the most eloquent pieces of literature and articulate novels, lay in heaps of filth and dust. Even if the fairies did an outstanding job, I told them to keep away from making the interior neat and tidy.

From the inside looking outside, my home could be seen as something magnificent. While in reality, all it did was anchor me to past chains I was unable to remove, dragging them through the flimsy floor as punishment.

Even if peace and harmony have been achieved…

Closing my eyes, my left hand went towards the handle of the guest room.

Even if millions of lives were saved…

With a swift, yet delicate movement, I pulled it.

It’ll never erase my cursed past.

A flurry of diamonds flew past me as if they were a storm. I assumed the fairies fled as soon as they saw an opening from the rowdy guest. Some were still aimlessly flying around the room, decorated with velvet curtains and accommodating sofas.

“Now what? I’m bored out of my mind with these things. Could the Demon Lord hurry up already?”

Agape, I stared at the figure who was being the tormentor of my sweet life companions. Perhaps, if someone had told me, I wouldn’t have believed them without witnessing it first-hand.

Of all creatures in this world, I would have never expected an angel to be the one to cause such havoc.

Neck-length, white-ish sakura-pink locks were flowing in disarray through her maddened dance. A childish crimson-coloured ribbon was neatly tied on top, complementing that pale icy iris that was the image of winter itself. It wasn’t her gaze itself, but the ethereal aura that permeated every fibre of my being, transporting me to a wondrous winter wonderland. Her skin, however, made me come back to reality as if the sun had come out to play out of season and kissed her body head to toe. A greyish tan that caught me off-guard. Angels were known for their copper, vibrant tone due to their place of residence. Yet, hers looked almost sickly, as if she had never stepped out to feel the light itself.

Exposing her belly with an unorthodox dress and tiny shorts, her steps were almost invisible due to the fact she was barefoot. Laces decorated her legs, and me wondering how in the world she could manage to walk without being afraid to trip over them.

“Finally! I was dying of boredom here waiting. Is the Demon Lord coming or not?” she askedno, demanded was a better way of phrasing it.

What a cheeky attitude. Is she really an angel?

Her small wings fluttered for a second.

I guess she is.

“I prefer the term Overlord, I daresay.” After clearing my throat, my answer came as matter-of-factly as possible. “What brings you here, emissary from the Heavens?”

“Hold up a sec. Are you telling me this twink is the fucking Demon Lord?”

Her laughter made the fairies become flowers in the sky, small explosions reverberating inside the already small guest room.

I could feel my entire body heating up. Giving in would be acknowledging her imprudence and impertinence. I already know I do not fit the bill with what one would expect from a demon due to how gloomy I look but it being said in my face, by a bratty angel with such charming vocabulary was just my fall from grace.

Regardless of my royal attire and charcoal long hair, my baby face never left me. I looked thousands of years younger than I should. My height of almost two meters made people doubt me, but this lovely creature of probably one meter with thirty centimetres was making fun of me.

Is this really the guest that came today? What in the blazes is going on here?

I opened my mouth to defend myself and my fairies in the meantime.

However, I didn’t expect to be interrupted by Marone head-diving into the room’s window yelling as if it were the end of the world and colliding right into my left horn. A tiny bullet attack came from a sunflower she was holding, just to rob my attention through her dizziness.

“Yes…?” I faked a smile.

“Your majesty, you left! I couldn’t finish explaining about our guest from today and I couldn’t open the door, I’m not strong enough!”

What else should I know about this nightmare incarnate?

“Here!” she shoved me a letter that was already too heavy for her small hands. “I’ll go back to my duties!”

She left the same way she came in, forgetting all about the window she just broke.

“Are all your fairies so ill-mannered?” The angel questioned with a smirk.

I could ask the same thing about you.

Ignoring her, I opened the letter. The seal was of the finest red wax and the parchment was of high quality. If this white-winged creature and the letter were truly related, I could probably be dealing here with angelic royalty. Regardless of her behaviour, if I wanted to keep things democratic I had to bear with her snotty attitude.

What awaited me inside was astounding.

On the third day of the month of the autumn moon, I’ll come to visit to assassinate you ♥!


“What is the meaning of this…?” Both of my hands crushed the paper, dismissing all my civil thoughts through the glass’ gap.

“Huh? Meaning of what? C’mon, is the post service here so damn slow?” I could hear her tiptoeing, surely but slowly, closer to me. “It’s just as the letter says. Hi, I’m an assassin!”

Her smile was like the sunshine alongside a birdsong, it silencing the clocks. It went viral around the room, the prettiest thing I had seen in quite a long time. The blossoming of the most beautiful flower couldn’t compare. A pure, raw innocence in her grin, displayed a broad elated sensation.

If only her needles radiated the same energy, right beside my neck.

“For an assassin, it’s quite nice of you to send a letter in advance and even knock at the door to greet your target, I must say.”

“Stop the pleasantries.” A half-moon stare pierced my core. “Now, let’s get it on with, shall we?”

“As disappointing as it might sound, I will not amuse you.” Holding the needles, I brought them down disregarding my bleeding hand. “What you’re doing can be considered a crime of usurpation, even a declaration of war. Are you really an angel?”

It never crossed my thoughts that her reaction would be so abrupt after my words.

“Yes, yes I am.”

Opening her eyes as wide as humanly possible, she proceeded.

The greediest and most voracious angel.”

«You knew we’d never understand each other for as long as we live, right?»

As I walk between the walls that are too high for me to bother seeking the almost black sky, I kick the garbage with each stride. As I leave the street, the lampposts cast my shadow like black over the deepest charcoal; by midway, it has bled out. From the modest houses come noises, not so much as in the daytime but all the louder for the absence of light and the quieter traffic. Soon I noticed the yellow beams of the lamps ahead, without conscious thought the grip on my chest loosens a little, as does my stride.

"I am pretty sure we are… near?" The small fairy hiding beneath my hooded cloak was trembling.

I wandered along the rough cobbled streets that caused my feet to ache. The buildings were tight together and loomed over me, like a forest of stone. When I looked up the roofs, these were so close together that I could only make out a sliver of the dark sky that was mirrored by the tiny stream of light that trickled along the cold stone ground. The alleyway twisted and turned back on itself, first going to the right, then to the left. From where I stood, whether I looked in front or behind, I saw nothing but stone.

It's indeed the underworld of any town: gloomy and unpleasant. The vines that crawl up window sills and the crumbling plaster that envelopes the old stone bricks appear romantic at first but become daunting as the sun sets behind the skyline of chimneys. Darkness is lurking in every corner inside the labyrinth of narrow passages and dead ends. Litter is dumped on the street and birds nest amongst the sprawling rot. The street lights flicker off and you're left with nothing but the orchestra of the night being abruptly interrupted by loud canteen music.


I rushed, coming face to face with a hidden adventurer’s guild, confirming this was the correct location.

"We made it!" My small companion relaxed on top of my messy hair.

I rest my hand on the rough paintwork that coats the door and push. Rough wooden splinters cut into my palm; shards of black paint crumble to the floor. The hinges squeak as though they are a warning, but their plea is silenced by a wall of noise. Laughter overpowers the drunk singer. Conversations swirl in a dirty cloud of smoke, and the stagnant stench of tobacco hides within the collaboration of mephitic odours. A sharp smell of drink wafts towards me, like black plumes billowing from the windows of a burning house. There’s even a hint of sick tainting the fragrance of the room.

“Welcome to Lurpeko!” A receptionist greets me with a fake smile.

The bar is hundreds of conversations told in loud voices, all of them competing with the music that dominates the atmosphere. The crowd is young, rookie adventurers for the most part, who winded up here after being unable to find a decent job. I wind my way through the warm bodies to find a seat.

“Excuse me…” a waitress approached me, dressing in a simple white blouse and black skirt. “Anything, in particular, you’d like to order?”

I refuse to give an answer. My hidden companion stays silent as well.

“I see. So you’re here because of the rumours like everyone else.” With a sigh, she left us alone. “Hope you have patience.”

I have it. All the patience in the world.

Hours became days. Days became weeks. And weeks became a full month.

There they were, sitting all alone.

The hero who saved us all is incredibly lonely.

I kept thinking that after sitting down right in front of them.

Destiny is terribly cruel, naming them the mage of Tonelico. They indeed are like an ash tree.

“What?” I was caught off guard by the sudden question.

Their hair wilted as a safflower. It ran down in trimmed rivers as each rivulet shone deeply. Each individual strand was a soft feather falling. Yet, their eyes slightly shone like a mixture of life and death.

“Hey, kiddo. I have a job for you.”

With a way of life like this... can I bring these feelings to a halt?

“10,000 gold if you help me get in and overthrow the demon lord. If you manage to defeat the creature, all the riches found there will be yours, mark my words. Although, I doubt the Legendary Mage of Tonelico would need such frivolities.”

I went straight to the point with my terms and conditions. Their astounded face was everything I needed to know and it was impossible to refuse my proposal. Not because of the money, or because this mage had strayed from the correct path.

I know your identity, everyone here believes you are a myth, an urban legend in this rundown underground bar for lowlife rouge adventurers who live as hired mercenaries. No one has ever seen the face of the saviour who united the three races in this forsaken land. Even when I fought in that war, your very own existence was a fairytale.

“I…” They stuttered, unable to move a single muscle.

That’s why I pursued this absurd rumour to fulfil a simple selfish request of mine. One that was burning deep inside of me. One that, even if its flames haven’t extinguished after watching you for days from afar.

“Need time to think?”

Your lonely figure evokes regrets from my own past. A past I cannot go back to. Perhaps that’s why I chose you out of all of these drunkards. If I can get you out of here for my selfish desire to come true…

“No. I’ll take the job.”

Then help me.

“I knew I could count on you.”

Help me get back what belongs to me.

“When do we leave?”

The only place I can call home in this world to forget the past.


And use it as an excuse to see that face once again… That angelic face I fell in love with at first sight!

«What a truly unsightly, pseudo-puppet you are!»
Ana Fowl