Chapter 2:

Seductive Peace

Divine Authority: Inspiring Pride (Chapter 1)

After taking time to address the masses and their offerings of captured drones, I retreated to my throne and released a relieved sigh. My skirmish with the demon king a week ago leaves a sour taste in my mouth. The fragility of my position is evident when compared to someone, something so eldritch. Of course, I could defeat this “Demon King” by myself, but it’d be easier if I had allies or a competent attack force. If that creature catches me at ease or off-guard again, it would be fruitful to have some cushion to fall back on.

As I enter deeper contemplation, my subordinates mingle while sorting the mangled corpses of these felled drones. A shocking serenity engrossed those who took to this task. Camaraderie and competition go hand in hand. They all seem happy, perhaps because they are focused on each other and not my great presence. This rest could be their first bit of respite in a while. The impact of the Golden Tyrant struck a deep seed of fear into these people, both a blessing and a curse for her successors.

Even in death, there is oppression. Through all of this, the Demon King was complacent. He must, too, be a tyrannical ruler. All the more reason to dispose of his absurd regime. How could I inspire my people to follow me through this revolution? Up until now, I have remained lax in my rule. I suppose now is the time to raise my kingly voice. I slowly rise from my rickety throne and prepare for a grand performance.


Standing from my throne, I gaze upon the masses of jumpy subjects who instantly prostrate themselves. Even those studying the broken drones returned their attention to my abrupt display.

“My glorious subjects, it has recently come to my attention that greater forces exist outside my rule. My rest ends now as I thrust this bustling kingdom to prosperity. My triumph over the warrior queen is but a stepping stone to attain the crown of crowns. I believed myself a king once I claimed this shitty throne. But now, I realize I am not a king but a servant. This fact was evident when the Demon King, Satan, ambushed me in this very arena!”

Shock and worry washed over the crowd when the Demon King was mentioned. He seems to be well known, but the faces of my people portray fear, not respect, towards Satan, evidence of the devil being a tyrant.

“Therefore, I, the Gladiator King of Pride Nanashi, will declare war on all of Hell to prove my greatness and to usurp Satan! With this crusade, Hell will surely fall to the ring of pride. As a measure of progress, I will conquer the lesser demon lords, assuming others like me exist. This endeavor requires me to leave my post and explore these strange lands. If you can be useful in such a journey, speak now.”

My audience of terrified whelps remains speechless after I finish my declaration. It is foolish to force my people into dangerous positions before they’re ready, but I’m nothing if not a fool. I step down from the pedestal holding my throne and walk through the crowd. I maintain my poised posture and look for someone of substance. This action induces unease in these people; with that unease, someone will likely step up. Of course, I am left with nothing but disappointment.

“If you can help me in this endeavor, then speak up; I need the subjects of the Gladiator King to show some backbone. Etch your name in history and prove that cowardice can be overcome.”

After a few more moments of silence, one meager subject raised his head and sheepishly spoke. A deceivingly built man accompanied his timid voice. Tall in stature, sharp in his features, and weak in character, what a waste of a man.

“I frequently visit my lover in the ring closest to us. I can escort you to the edge of the ring, but regrettably, I cannot leave this realm.”

“Finally, someone of use, what is your name?”

“Richard, my lord, but you can address me as whatever you want.”

"Lead me to the next ring, Richard. As for the rest of you, try strengthening yourselves physically or mentally. I want to see some semblance of progress when I return. Do not disappoint me!”

The fear on their face is as clear as the shine of a new sword; I find such an expression amusing, though I have no real intention of doing any disciplining when I return. They don’t need to know that. While walking away from the crowd, I beckon Richard to join me as my guide. He hurries to my side like a lost hound, and we begin our journey to the edge of the next ring. Before leaving the area completely, I consider some use for the citizens incapable of fighting or those with alternative skills; some intelligence on the enemy is an advantage I can’t afford to pass up. This place is also unbecoming of my greatness; some decor would be a lovely change.

“On second thought, those who can't or refuse to fight will be assigned a drone to deconstruct and study. I want to learn everything I can about these putrid abominations. Those better in the creative field are ordered to decorate and build up our land while I’m away.”

This declaration provides another option for my subjects to show their use. When I return, we may even know who sent these bastards.

The once-hushed crowd springs to life, breaking into ground and sub-sects to do as instructed. Their camaraderie bolstered into a cooperative effort to further the progression of our kingdom. With a sly smile on my face, I begin my endeavor. With Richard leading the way, I can observe how decrepit my new land is.

I’m just now noticing how isolated that small plot of land is. Every person is condensed around the arena. Everywhere around us is a barren wasteland that has been consumed by death. Everything from the air to the grass has a drab sense of decay; this completely contrasts with the relative liveliness of the arena. A symphony of browns and grays assaults my eyes wherever I look. The queen certainly has done a number on these lands. Why would she do this to her kingdom? Was this all caused by a display of power? Neglect?

No wonder those people are the way they are. She was a terrible ruler, engrossed in her grandeur while her people and land decayed. While I delve further into thought, I can vaguely hear my “mutt” mumble to himself.

“If you have something to say, then speak up. Your mumbling irritates me.”

My guide nearly jumped out of his thin skin when I spoke up. He stammers over his words before spitting out a sentence worth listening to.

“M-My lord, we're nearly halfway there, but I must warn you of the dangers. Y-you may not be prepared for what is up ahead.”

“You have seen my debut, yes? And yet you still think I am weak?”

Depending on his answer, I'll let him continue this journey with his voice box intact. And based on the “dog's” terrified face, he also knows this. Disrespect of this nature is one thing I will never tolerate.

“N-no! Not at all. It's just that the effect the next ring has can overwhelm newcomers. It interferes with your inhibitions and nulls the senses. Even at the edge of that realm, the effects are potent.”

His voice quivering as he speaks, fear of the ring or fear of my retaliation? While he may have something of a point, I can't help but feel disrespected. Even if he’s right, I refuse to be perceived as anything less than great. So far, nothing has given me much of a scare. The queen was a challenge, if only for a moment. Even Satan himself fled at the realization of my grand defiance. Once I get going, nothing can hope to slow me down.

“I will be able to handle it. Your concern is appreciated but unwarranted. Remember, I defeated the warrior queen.”

I can't stand the thought of someone beneath me thinking I'm some inept moron. Who does he think I am? Ugh, he sounded like Kikin with how worried he was. In one way, it's endearing; in another, it feels belittling.

While exploring farther from the ring, the terrible colors around us show more optimism. Little hints of life sprout from the ether with the queen's death, weeds grow from the ground, and the air is bearable now—breathable even. It's shocking how life thrives when tyrants die—SHOCKING! While admiring the wonders of our surroundings, there is a sudden and abrupt shift in the atmosphere. Richard speaks.

“We’re here, my lord. I cannot continue with y-”

I couldn't hear the rest of his sentence before going numb in the legs and falling to my knees. Something sharp pierced the back of my head in a swift moment. It feels like fluid is dripping down the back of my neck. I attempted to reach up and touch it, but to my shock, my arms also became numb. It feels like a toxin flooding my veins, but this isn’t like any of the poisons I’ve encountered before. My body is shutting down, and it’s nearly impossible for me to move.

My vision blurs, making it difficult to see my attacker(s). I can see flowing clothes and silhouettes but not much else. What a cowardly way to fight! Fatigue washes over me as I struggle to regain control of my degrading body. The more I struggle, my muscles become more relaxed; it feels almost like a melting sensation. Despite trying to stay awake, my eyes close and release my body to the overwhelming fatigue—both my vision and consciousness fading into darkness. I know I’m not dying, but whatever comes next could be worse.

Before long, I jolt into a seated position as if I had woken from a not-so-pleasant nap. Bandages draped around my figure and wrapped around my head suggest I lost a fight. Sweat drenches my body as I frantically attempt to grasp my bearings. This area is familiar, but why am I here? I was walking somewhere.... wasn't I? A familiar voice speaks out to me. I need more time to find its source, but I know who it is. That soft, calming voice is impossible to mistake for anyone else.

“Brother? Are.....are you alright?”

It's Saijaku!? What's he doing here? Did he make it to my kingdom.....kingdom? Wait, what am I talking about? My mind is racing, pounding. I can't stop this shivering. What on earth is going on? I'm not well.

“Saijaku, where am I? What happened? Mom! Where is she!”

My brother wraps his arms around me when I finish talking. No words are exchanged for a brief moment. Is this a gesture of sympathy? Or is it pity? No, it's just because he loves me. Sai has always been on the softer side. I embrace Saijaku in return. I don’t usually enjoy affection like this, but I’ve made exceptions for specific people. A moment of peace passes, and he sits before me to explain.

“We're at our home, brother; please try to rest. You were sent to the pits and took a really bad hit to your head. Tonnis allowed you to live, so our sister patched you up. As for Mother, she is preparing a tasty meal for us all to enjoy. Despite your injury, you fought valiantly and earned us some good ingredients.”

That's odd; usually, our other brother cooks, Kirin. No, kaiju? No, that's not it, either. It must have been quite severe if it had wrecked my memory. I want to fight that opponent again; I'll win the next time we face each other. For now, though, I should enjoy my break, knowing Tonnis it won't be long before I fight again.

“OH! Do you think mom can make extra dinner for tomorrow? I want a proper meal then as well. Knowing Tonnis, these ingredients may be the last half-decent thing we get for a while. Maybe you could join me this time rather than fiddle around with that harp of yours.”

“I wouldn't worry about training anytime soon. Tonnis and Mother have made a deal. You get another week after your recovery to rest. I'm not exactly privy to the terms, but that's the gist of it.”

A swift wave of confusion washes over me. That man only ever contacts my mother for their bi-monthly contract renewal. I committed this to memory in case I got the opportunity to intercept their arrangement and kill Tonnis. I never thought he would ever be so understanding. That man’s generosity is usually tied to destructive intentions. He could be trying to dull my skills to ensure my death in my next fight. Yeah, he probably has quite the spectacle planned for my death; he’d never let me die to some fodder. Perfect! That means I get to piss him off when I survive. I'll show that bastard how eager I am for his next attempt on my life.

“How naive, dear brother. Someone like me can't just sit around doing nothing. I'll keep up with my training. Who else would put on as good a show as me? Besides, I can’t become the best if I rest whenever I’m a little hurt.”

"Your pride is inspiring, brother. Don't let it get the better of you."

With an exchange of gentle laughter, my brother reaches out his hand to help me get on my feet. Despite my apprehensions, I take hold of his hand. His hands were oddly cold and coarse. Our 'home' is usually over eighty degrees Fahrenheit due to the lack of a ceiling and the abusive heat surrounding Zandria. Even at night, it’s no less than seventy degrees. Even now, the oppressive sun beats us down with scorching heat.

On top of that, Sai doesn’t fight or till the land; his hands shouldn’t be this coarse. My gut is telling me to get away, run out of the house, or attack, but this is my brother, and I refuse to hurt him in any way. This is my home. I won’t run there either. Though my gut usually steers me right, I will disregard every warning to stay with my family.

As I rise to my feet, my chest feels like a great fire has ignited. I retrieve my hand from Saijaku and hold my chest as my legs nearly give out from the sudden burning. My heart is pounding with adrenaline; it may just jump out of my chest. Compressing my chest is no use in getting rid of this pain, but it’s comforting nonetheless. This feeling isn’t normal chest pain or heart failure; those don’t hurt as much as what’s happening now. Coughing follows the burning sensation; my bodies attempt to get rid of whatever is harming me. Saijaku runs to my side and helps me stay on my feet. With his soft and comforting voice, he speaks.

“Are you alright, Nashi? What's going on?”

“It's nothing, just some minor chest pain. I’ll get better soon.”

Through gritted teeth and a forced smile, I gather myself and press on. This pain is only increasing, a steady flow of heat assaulting my chest as I join Saijaku’s side.

My brother and I approach the thin curtain that separates the “living room” from the “kitchen.” Through the divider, I could see the silhouette of my mother and Airashi, my sister, preparing our crooked wooden table for what looked like a feast. We rarely get to eat together; I usually need to eat in the gladiatorial mess hall. I must've been damn near dead to inspire such an occasion. As I reach for the decorative curtain, my body freezes in place—another warning from my subconscious, which I refuse to listen to. Sweat drips from my brow as I strain my body, trying to defy my instincts. I finally want to take a break, but something isn't right. I know that I shouldn't go past this point. I have a terrible feeling something bad will happen if I continue. I turn to my brother for comfort, however. I am met with even more worry from Sai. His face contorted into confusion and something resembling anger or frustration.

"Sai, somethings not right. This isn’t our home. What’s going on?"

I couldn’t finish my thought before the source of my chest pain became evident. Dark smoke flowed from my mouth and nostrils. The flames in my chest rise to my throat. I grasp my neck as I cough and gag from this phenomenon. My senses are flaring all over the place.

Tears flow from my eyes as I desperately try to control the pain or even breathe. Dark smoke rises from my mouth and nostrils. For a brief moment, as the smoke passes over my eyes, the once-loving visage of Saijaku has a pink face with razor-sharp teeth protruding from his mouth. Obsidian eyes peered through the smoke and nearly pierced my soul. I only see this abomination for a fraction of a second—enough to see the truth.

The burning In my chest dissipates, allowing me to enjoy a sense of relief for a moment. My "brother" and I lock eyes, both of us uncertain what just happened. After a moment of rest, "it" breaks the uneasy silence.

“Brother, are you alright?”

It takes a gentle, calculated step toward me. Before it got too close, I spoke with a heavy heart and a knot swelling in my throat.

“....You're not Sai....are you?”

With the smoke gone, the creature's disguise remains that of my brother. The confusion and worry on their face are eerily similar to the Sai I knew. Everything is unique to Sai, even how he holds his hands together when distressed. I know better now; this "thing" stole my brother's face. HOW. DARE THEY! Frustrated, I run up to the creature and yank it by Sai's tattered, dirty shirt collar. There was no sign of fear or resistance from this mimic. They stay unnaturally still during this little interrogation.

“What the hell are you!? Where is my brother!? What did you do to me?”

The creature's voice starts breaking into what I assume is its natural tone, no longer sounding like my loving brother; now, it is as shrill as a fork on a plate. My ears nearly bleed from its demonic screech of a laugh. My brother's face twists and contorts into the horrifying image I saw through the smoke. Their body loses mass in exchange for a slim figure sporting crooked horns and a pointed tail. A pink hue washes over its skin, followed by blister-like rashes on its arms.

“You must be a higher-class target. I couldn’t tell the difference between you and your tasty friend. My sisters will inject more potent toxins soon.”

Even in such a compromising position, this creature mocks me, comparing my greatness to someone lesser. Its unwavering confidence unsettles me. I throw the imposter against the nearest wall and start looking for a way to leave.

The creature rises from the ground with a devious smile; more mockery ensues.

“This could have been a sweet dream for you. We'll get you to give in through other means since you won't comply. First, we’ll break your spirit, mind, and body. Truly, it didn't have to come to this "brother." “

The more this thing talks, the more my anger stews. The area around us morphs into something resembling a small, cozy town. My breathing becomes shallow as I begin recognizing landmarks of the new illusion. I freeze in place and try to control my increasing heart rate and shallow breaths, and in my panic, I slip into some sort of decent. I feel like I’m sinking into a pit of thick liquid. Pure darkness keeps me company while my body regulates.

This sensation feels familiar; I don’t believe it’s the work of fake Sai. I don’t feel compelled to resist or escape at all. I allow myself to float in the dark expanse of this reality pocket for a moment as I gather myself. After a while, I attempt to rejoin reality, but there’s no apparent exit.

I cry out into the void, but there is no response. Floating in this space, I face what I believe is the ground. This liquid-like state isn’t too easy to maneuver through, but despite the difficulties, I swim further down. I try once again to scream out for someone, anyone.

“Someone, tell me what's going on! Please..... Why am I even here?!“

Alas, I am met with silence. While falling, I admit I am scared of what's to come. For the first time in a long while, I am truly alone. Now that I think of it, my family isn't with me. I have no connections, no safety. It's only now setting in how separated I am; are they even thinking of me? Of course, they are....why wouldn't they be? the great.....I.....I miss them. I shouldn't have been so insufferable to them when I was alive. I should've told them "I love you" more. I'll never get that chance. As tears swell in my eyes due to my sudden realization, I abruptly crash on the soft soil of a familiar town.

“I'm back? This is another illusion, isn't it? I'll destroy your realm for screwing with my mind!“

I regain my footing and survey my surroundings for any sign of that disgusting manipulator. I take a step forward to better understand where I am, yet the ground beneath me produces an absurd amount of blood as I do so. I continue down my path. After all, some blood never killed anyone. I don't think much of this phenomenon until the source of the blood reveals itself: a large pile of dismembered civilians rises from the malleable ground. The total pile holds no less than thirty or so bodies in whole. Men, women, and children fill this pile. What is the point of this illusion, to dishearten me?

Such a vile display is hardly enough to stay my hand. When I find the creature who has me in this deceptive trance, it will wish for death! Walking past this pile instills an odd and uneasy feeling in my chest. This strange feeling is exasperated by the sudden pathetic voice reaching out to me.

“......Why? were my favorite.......why do this?”

My throat swells with regret upon hearing this voice. This weak voice. I recognize it as one of my younger fans, "Bean Sprout." A child who was at every "show" I put on, he was probably my only true supporter outside of my family. Why is he with these corpses? What is he referring to? My mind races in an attempt to make any sense of this peculiar situation until a dire scene is played out.

I see what happened, but I refuse to believe it. My hands were more animalistic and pitched black and soaked in blood. The ground was littered with innocent corpses. Entrails and limbs scattered about as I marched forward. There's someone in my way. Wherever I was going, I was determined to avoid any delay. I fear this vision is how the bloody pile before me was created, but who is it? Who thought to stand in my way? My vision ends as the screeching pile of gore drags my mind to the present.


"Shut up. You're dead already! I can't bring you back! Quit your whining!"

I didn't mean to have such a reaction. I'm not sure what exactly came over me. This damned illusion is ruining my mind, I need to escape. I step forward without acknowledging the corpses. A small hand wraps around my legs, making it difficult for me to move. The more I struggle, the more these hands wrap around my body. Decrepit hands grab my cloak and hair as a type of paralysis corrupts my body. The hands begin retracting while maintaining a tight grip on my person. Through a strained voice, I shout.

"LET! ME! GO!"

The strong grip of these corpses is suffocating. I can't focus on anything but the bubbling shadows in the area. My panic dies down as I gaze at the spectacles of the shadows. My body is nearly engulfed in the pile of decaying victims before something snaps in my mind. I break my arm free from one of the decaying hands, and in a surge of adrenaline-filled spite, I swipe my hand at the abomination. The improvised attack produces a wave of darkness that cleaves the arms in half, freeing me from the blob's grip.

I stumble forward, barely catching myself. Was that real? I swiped my hand at the pile of corpses again as it lunged toward me. Another slash of darkness cleaves the blob in two. So I can launch out slashes now? I wonder what else I could do. As I ponder my capabilities, the shrill screams of the dead swiftly turn into loud bouts of crying. The pile starts to dissipate, and amid my confusion, I see the desperate faces of those I've killed, those I've unjustly killed. This small victory is no victory at all. Memories of my life moments before my death flood into my mind, an attack far more painful than any injury I could be dealt. The psychic flood of my misdeeds forces me to my knees, tears streaming down my face as I hold my head to try and reduce the pain.

While I was in a fit of hysteria, the darkness in the surrounding area seemingly reacted to my grief for the people who deserved better deaths. Amid my sorrow, the shadows gathered before me and molded into a familiar humanoid shape—tall, feeble, and eerily thin.


My words are broken up by gasps for air and the swelling of my throat.

“I killed you too….didn’t I?”

The dark visage of my elder brother stands in silence as its piercing gaze strikes my heart. This visage depicts Kikin in the last state I saw before death. An eye was missing, and his left arm was torn off from the elbow. I held my family close; what could have provoked me into such a monstrous act? The flashes of my last moments dance around my head like a violent ballet of terror.

It isn’t Kikin, but it’s not an illusion from that creature. I have a sense of familiarity with this construct. I reach out to hug my older brother, sparring partner, and best friend. As I attempt this embrace, my body phases through the dark being, and with the darkness hitting my face and eyes, I can see something interesting—a large orb made of garnet sitting in a dark room dripping with a pink liquid. I turn to see the imitation of my brother wave….and smile. The construct of my late brother melts into the shadows with an aura of love. I know it’s not him, but it still means so much to me.

With my vision clear of the illusion placed on me, I confront what I believe to be the source of all this pain. With renewed sight and determination, I walk to the architect of this false world with my fist clenched. The shine of this prestigious ornament contrasts the disgusting state of the room I find myself in.

“So…you must be this ring’s ruler. I’m Nanashi, the Gladiator King.”

Winged creatures hide in the crevices of this room, watching my every move. These creatures sport stinger-like tails and wear flowing clothes that conceal their forms. Thanks to their oversized outfits, intertwining wings and tails, and the constant flow of fabric, the creatures appear to be combined into one grotesque being.

I ignore the cowering creatures and search for a way out, but to the amusement of the winged audience, my search is in vain. In a fit of irritation, I pick up a loose stone and throw it at the snickering fools. The air fills with the sound of wings flapping in the air as the creatures fly around in a panic. It’s astonishing how their bat-like wings flutter and carry these beasts with ease. Getting my revenge for their mockery, I continue with the task at hand.

Thoroughly confused, I observe some of the creatures tending to the orb as if it were royalty. They polish and clean the reflective garnet with great zeal. Despite the filth flooding the room, the orb remains pristine and spotless. The orb seems to be displaying some sort of image on its surface.

My steady step forward scares the attendants back to their corners. Approaching the orb again reveals that it has increased in mass while I was not paying attention. The pulsing of this object is almost breath-like; pressing my ear against it, I can hear a rhythmic heartbeat. The orb attendants grew frustrated with my contact; however, they didn’t dare to stop me.

“So you’re alive, what are you?”

There is no verbal response, but the images projected on the orb transform from the desires and suffering of others into one word; “Punishment.” While morphing the images between all the poor souls trapped in their illusions. Souls are trapped in blissful falsehoods while their real selves decompose. Through this display of influence, the orb pauses on me in my lowest moments. My encounter with the mass of bodies, my burning chest, and even my encounter with the visage of Kikin are all on full display; for some reason, my venture into the dark void was left un-noted. Regardless, this is a clear mockery of the suffering I endured. These images play over and over on the pristine orb like a collage of torment.

“For the crime of attacking my mind, you will die!”

I unleash a barrage of heavy punches onto this inanimate being, my black gauntlets slowly forming over my hands as the onslaught continues. Perhaps I can use the darkness around us to enhance my abilities; at least, it’s worth a try. The orb seemed unphased by my strength. Taking a moment to assess my shortcomings, I notice the snickering of those winged creatures. Their mockery boosts my resolve, and in a burst of rage, the mailable shadows mold my fist into crude claws adorned with spikes. Using these new armaments, I scratch and slash the orb, still only leaving surface-level marks. The orb's rhythmic heartbeat picks up as my assault continues. The force and impact of my blows clearly damage this sphere.

The orb’s glass surface began to crack slightly. That’s all I needed to know. This thing can die, and I can kill it. While I continue my glorious barrage, the size of the orb diminishes, and the sight of my face full of tears continues to be displayed. Does this “thing” see me as weak? Why the mockery?


I throw my everything into a decisive blow on a deep crack, causing the living orb of Lust to shatter. Blood and pink goo spill out of the being as the domain around me begins to break apart. The domain breaking apart causes some pink goo to spill on me. It burns. It seriously burns. Is this acid? With no clear escape from the crumbling domain of Lust, I use whatever darkness is still intact to create a rudimentary barrier to protect myself. This barrier shatters, as does the domain.

Looking out into the true landscape I find myself in, I see nothing but a grayish-pink fog hovering over the ground. The small cabin-like buildings are in decent condition, only partially being absorbed by the plant life. Looking to the sky for tranquility or calmness, I am only greeted by the panicked succubus’ (those same winged beasts from earlier) that bumble around amidst the chaos of those who have been released to reality. Lost souls, once hanging by their necks motionless, now awake from their ethereal slumber. Distraught with the pain of losing their dreams. Violence and tears flood the street. A cacophony of dread that I quite frankly want no part in.

One such person stands out as I maneuver through the disarray of sinners regaining control of themselves. A child with small cherub-like wings stands before me. I couldn't even hear her approach. She stood about chest height to me, but with a keen look, I could tell her stature was artificial. Despite the long dress disguising her true figure, this Child can't be more than four feet tall. The angelic glow of this Child is practically blinding. The Child's face expresses confidence and disgust while she brandishes her weapon, a glowing rope dart with a weight on one of the ends.

“So you must have stripped me of my shell; I was expecting someone cooler.”

This ignorant Child spoke with an air of superiority, unfounded superiority.

“I didn’t mean to release whoever you are; I was just frustrated.”

“You kill mysterious orbs when you're frustrated?”

“Among other things, winged children included.”

“You can certainly try.”

We both glared at each other momentarily while slowly walking in a circle. The soft tension is broken by us sharing in a light chuckle.

“You're pretty funny for an old man.”

“You're quite cocky for someone so small.”

Our banter continues as we search for a spot to relax and lay low' lest we get attacked by those I've liberated.

And that's how we got here, basically,”

Nanashi finishes recounting his amazing tale of triumph to his new companion, who we come to find is called Purity, one of the heavenly virtues. Amused but skeptical of such a marvelous tale, Purity replies with childish insight.

“Y'know, when I asked how you found me, I was hoping for a quick tale, not a novel.”

Nanashi can’t help but laugh at her statement. This adventure is the start of the merging of the realms, and these two will be the catalysts for such unity.