Chapter 40:

A Deal With A Devil

Aether: Sin

It hurts.

The pain of knowing what is to come.

But even more so, the pain of knowing there was never a doubt.

What we often fail to recognize is that many of our fates are intertwined with others.

And it's through our entanglements…that fate exists.

My fate was tied to her. And it will remain so in this life and the next.

My love for her is the catalyst of destruction to the content life I had known.

My love for her is the bane to the success story that I was sent to achieve.

My love for her…is the reason behind why this story exists.

My love for her…is my sin to bear.

“Boss. You would do well to know that the princess has been found.”

Dante sits on the grass fields outside of the training facility, directly on the edge of the island of Floritian. The leaves of grass dance to the soft tune that the wind plays, as Dante waves his hands across their light touch. Francis Ventura, also known as his subordinate in more ways than one, stands a few meters behind him.

Dante: “...and what of Kato?”

Francis: “We found him not too far from the area where the princess was found. He was unconscious, perhaps left to fend for himself.”

Dante smirks: “...surely the work of the Okodas…even if I knew he would go to them, I still couldn’t manage to find their whereabouts without the right help. Their excessive devotion to seclusion, even if they did no wrong, is fascinating.”

Francis: “You mentioned the right help, but what help are you speaking of? I was left in the dark the whole time, even if you put me in charge of the investigation?”

Dante pauses. He then slowly turns his head and stares at Francis.

Dante: “You couldn’t tell? were just a pawn…”

Francis grits his teeth in frustration: “A pawn? A pawn?!! Don’t take me for a fool, Dant-”

Dante’s eyes fixate deeply into Francis’ eyes, but his expression remains the same.

Francis: “...boss. Don’t take me for a fool, boss. You were desperate to find her just as much as the rest of us! Every day you would check on our latest findings and reports, always looking for the slightest hints to find her! You truly expect me just to believe the idea that all of this was a trick?!!”

Dante looks back towards the raging ocean waves beyond the island’s borders.

“Quiet down. You’re disturbing the ambience of the moment.

“All I’m saying Dan-...boss, is that I am a Ventura. You cannot trick my senses. And I knew you were desperate. There is no shame in admitting you aren’t as smart as you think you are.”

Dante begins to chuckle. Francis fixes his glasses, proud of himself for managing to get under Dante’s skin. Or so he thought…

Dante: “This place. It’s been Kato’s favorite spot since graduating. A feel of the air through the leaves of the grass, as well as a solid view of the ocean to settle his longing desire. He’s always had a knack for the two. First the Floritian park…then the Elected’s pool…until eventually, he found a place where he could get the best of both.”

Francis looks around the scene. It was a breathtaking area indeed, which he had at first taken for granted.

Dante: “His desire resides in his core. And his core is far different from that which the rest of us possess. That is what pulls me to him so much. Why I have done everything I have done. You all know him to be special. A man capable of foresight, beyond any power we have seen. It surely does not reside in onyx, matrix or hyrex. No…it’s something far more powerful.”

Dante looks up towards the sky.

Dante: “I have tested it time and time again throughout the time we have spent in this world. Even if he could foresee most initiations of violence from spiteful soldiers coming, he could never predict the ones I had purposely developed. All of the times he was forced to fight rather than evade…was all of the times I was involved behind the scenes. It was then that I knew his ability wasn’t to be a genius like myself…but something different. So I tested his ability with smaller initiations…for instance, having someone loosen the safety hold of the wire that Isaac Perreira was using, prior to Kato’s rescue on the day they first met. The same could be said for that night in the Temple of Sol…I didn’t need it to be Aurelia of all people…she just happened to be the best fit. Give Kato a reason to panic, capture one of the women he is meant to protect, and then the results would fall into my lap…predicting things is something that the both of us can do…but there is still something only he can do. Only Kato Izana can predict things beyond reason…he can foresee fate. Not the measly definition of fate that the rest of you understand…I mean fate outside the depths of time of itself. The type of fate that can only be seen by someone with ties that run deeper to time or matter manipulation like that of the gods. I came to this conclusion after putting together that his ability works more so when others are involved rather than just himself. To foresee fate is to be bound with an immeasurable amount of threads of possibilities, and by understanding their pattern comes the essence of Kato’s ability. But what makes him even more special…is that he was capable of doing so with multiple threads of fate aside from his own. Whatever he is…whatever he has…is a power meant to save others.”

Francis: “So your obsession with Kato Izana was not out of love, but rather curiosity?”

Dante: “Quite the contrary. I love Kato like a brother. He is my world…more than you’ll ever know.”

Francis: “Then why not just explain it so that I will be able to understand better?”

Dante pauses. His mind traces back to his lavish upbringing, receiving anything his heart could ever want. He then thinks back to the atrocious things he had seen in the other towns of Adamatrium, outside of the capital city. The homeless. The beggars. The hungry. All humans born into the same world as him, possessing the same flesh and bones as him…yet subject to a completely different reality. He then thinks of the vast landscape of the world of Haven, and the tiny portion of land that the humans were forced to reside in compared to the vast lands that the primals inhabited. The wars, the hatred, the unending dispute that has spanned across for generations…all surely factor into the equation of injustice that he perceives the humans to face. Yet, even with all of his genius…he couldn’t solve the equation. A piece was missing. Perhaps even two. All he knew…was that the world was unfair.

Dante: “Kato…was my middle ground. I don’t see nobility and the Crown as heroes like they claim to be…I see them all as devils. Yet, here I am as a devil myself...with no god left to challenge…”

Francis: “...I don’t understand.”

Dante: “...and you’ll never have to.”

*A few months back*

Prior to the events unfolding, Dante Jamaerah walks through the temple of Sol alongside his new wife, Kami Jamaerah. Kami had wanted to visit the temple to see her old friends Alita and Aurelia, so Dante persisted that he should accompany her in doing so.

Kami: “Alita!”

Alita turns the corner with scrolls in hand, and sees her friend walking fastly towards her.

Kami hugs Alita, who hisses for her to get off after getting a feel for the differences between their chest sizes.

Alita: “I thought I already told you to not come by just to check on me, I am perfectly fine.”

Kami: “I am still your friend, Alita. I am not coming by out of pity, I am doing this because I want to see you.”

Alita: “And Aurelia, I bet. You two were always the closest out of us four.”

Kami smiles brightly: “I never saw it that way at all. We were all equally as close with each other.”

Alita lifts her eyebrow: “Even with Anna-Mae?”

Kami continues smiling, but says nothing.

Dante: “Pardon our intrusion. I am Kami’s husband, Dante Jamaerah.”

Alita: “Alita Rapino.”

Dante: “Pleasure to meet you…these scrolls must be from the Grayson Dynasty? No, the Nolan Dynasty.”

Alita: “Correct. Are you familiar with the scrolls? I thought only the faeries, Flare Aids, and the Crown have access to them?

Dante: “Yes, but my mother was formerly a Flare Aid as well. She was a studious woman, and taught me many things about the scrolls of old.”

Alita’s eyes light up: “Interesting. I hope it will be the same for my future children, since I study the scrolls whenever I can.”

Dante smiles: “I am sure it will be. Of course, none of them are as important as the Book of Asaryn, so try to find time to read up on that as well.”

Alita holds the scrolls closer to her chest: “I will.”

Kami smiles even brighter towards her friend and her husband, but Alita and Dante both notice the emanating aura she is protruding towards them. They both cringe.

Alita & Dante: “...she really doesn’t like being left out…”

“Kami?! Is that you?”

Kami turns and sees a few of the other friends she made in the temple, and begins to get carried away in conversation with them. Dante stares at his wife, before glancing down towards Alita beside him.

Dante: “You don’t seem to be friends with any of them.”

Alita: “No. Kami was always the one in our group that easily got along with everyone. Anna-Mae and Aurelia both had a lot of friends and enemies…for different reasons. I, on the other hand, find it a lot harder to make friends. The three of them were the only ones I felt comfortable with.”

Dante: “I’m sure that will make it hard to remain here, then.”

Alita: “...more than you know.”

Dante: “I can always help with that.”

Alita looks up towards Dante.

Alita: “Huh? What do you mean?”

Dante: “What I mean is you don’t belong here. You should be with the one you love, no?”

Alita’s eyes open in shock.

Alita: “One I love? What did Kami tell you?”

Dante chuckles: “Nothing of the sort. I simply made an observation during the Radiance Festival. Your eyes told me everything I needed to know. That, and your fading smile.”

Alita continues to stare at Dante in confusion.

Dante: “If you love the prince, you should be with him. I’m sure the prince would love for you to be by his side as well.”

Alita looks down. Her eyes darken, and her lips quiver.

Alita: “You…you know that’s not true…he chose-”

Dante: “He chose who was chosen for him. That is all there is to it, Alita.”

Alita glances up at Dante once again. Tears begin to form in the ducts of her eyelids.

Dante: “I would be willing to help change that choice…but I need something from you as well…”

Alita: “...and what would that be?...”

Dante hands Alita a miniature tablet, which she proceeds to hide amongst the scrolls she is carrying.

Dante: “Your friend won’t be marrying the prince. It’s not something she is willing to do…so just wait…and listen…”

Alita: “I don’t understand. Wait and listen for what?”

Dante: “When the time is right…you will know what I mean. And when you do…feel free to use this as you please.”

Kami begins to walk back towards her husband and her friend, forcing both of them to quiet down.

Kami: “Well then, let’s go check on the princess!”

Dante smiles: “...indeed.”

Not long after that, Alita ends up meeting with Dante in the temple again, after Dante had asked his wife if she would like to visit once more. This time, Kami was swept into a long conversation with Temaine to alleviate Temaine’s boredom, leaving the two of them alone.

Alita: “What the hell are you?”

Dante: “Dante Jamaerah.”

Alita: “I know who you are. I want to know what you are.”

Dante smiles: “Does this have to do with the princess?”

Alita: “Of course it does! How did you know she would plan to reject the prince?”

Dante: “I didn’t. But I knew that if she did come to that conclusion, then there is only one reason - she was given an incentive. That incentive being her love for Kato, and his reciprocated love for her.”

Alita: “But still, what hand do you have in all of this? Aren’t you only a lieutenant in the Delta Division? I understand you are also of high nobility…but this level of understanding is downright frightening.”

Dante: “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Alita scratches her head: “I messaged you shortly after her pregnancy confession…I did what you implied, right?”

Dante: “Correct.”

Alita: “So what now?...”

Dante: “Nothing changes. Just continue to wait…and listen…”

Alita: “Listen for what?!”

Dante: “I have already given Kato the benefit of the doubt that there is no other option for him but to hide Aurelia throughout her pregnancy. He would never be selfish enough to kill his own child, but he is also too stubborn to allow Aurelia to be outed for her pregnancy. After my conversation with him, Kato knows that sneaking in here is no longer a viable option to take Aurelia. He will need help. Inside help. And there are only two people inside the temple that knows of her situation - the Health Faery, Niko…and you.”

Alita: “Niko? Why would she know about it? And how would you, of all people, know?”

Dante: “Kato once lived in this temple for a while. Niko is one of the few faeries aside from the priestess that sleeps and lives in this temple. If he is going to hide Aurelia, he will need someone to help deliver the baby. None of the doctors in the hospital are acquainted with Kato…except one. The Head Doctor, herself. Kami often talks about her stay in the temple, and once mentioned the day that Aurelia interrupted an argument between a faery and Kato. Considering the description of the argument and timing, it didn’t take much for me to realize she was speaking of Niko. But during the Radiance Festival, only one of the faeries seemed surprised by the choice of the prince…only one of the faeries seemed saddened by the choice. For reasons only she may know, Lady Niko has a personal stake in that relationship.”

Alita’s eyes remain open in shock: “...impressive…”

Dante: “With you being one of the few to know of her situation, Aurelia will be sure to ask for your help. Whether it is as a distraction to the Royal Guards or as a guide through the dark halls, you will be in the line of sight for Aurelia’s escape. When that happens, you will attain information that only the insiders of this operation will be able to hold. However, Kato is a careful man. He will be sure to limit the information as much as possible, even to you.”

Alita: “Then how do you expect me to figure out where they are going? Limited information means I won’t be able to tell.”

Dante: “Not a problem…whatever little amount you are able to receive…I will be here to solve…”

Alita: “And you promise…that I will have the prince for myself?”

Dante smiles deviously: “...I swear to the gods.” 

Aurelia’s eyes open widely as she peers towards the door of the room where she had just delivered her child. At the threshold of the door stood her friend, Alita, in front of royal guards. Aurelia’s breathing slows. Her mind races with emotions. Anna-Mae and Lexi sit beside Aurelia, just as dumbfounded by it all. Niko remains quiet in another room where she had gone to retrieve more blankets and towels. Knowing that her involvement would lead to too much trouble, especially with Daradriel, she resorts to staying out of the same drama she inserted herself into.

Aurelia: “...Alita?...what…what is the meaning of all this?”

Alita says nothing.

Anna-Mae: “...Alita…what have you done?...”

Alita says nothing. Her eyes darken, as she lifts her finger slowly towards Aurelia and the child in her arms.

Alita: “Guards…it’s just as I said…she was never kidnapped, only fled out of shame for her actions…”

Aurelia’s throat dries. Her hands begin to shake in fear.

Alita finally looks up towards Aurelia. Her own eyes were filled with sadness, but poised with determination.

Alita: “...arrest her…”