The Realm of Order, the Abyss of Chaos, the World of Mortals, and the Four Elemental Planes all existed simultaneously in an interconnected link of interdimensional archipelagos. The whole of the ecosystem of the world of Astrea largely revolved around the inseparable relationship between all the realms.
Earth, wind, fire, water, originated from the Four Elemental Planes and its live blood flowed through the deepest of the Abyssal depth the very highest peak of the forsaken Olympus mountain.
The Realm of Oder, was the home to the Order gods, beings of divine concepts who are worshiped by mortals as their faithful guide and protector. The stronger the faith they amassed from mortals, the more they can exert their almighty power.
The Abyss of Chaos is the nest for all beings of Evil, of devils and demon, of those who wished to hurt and never give back, of those who sought after strength and power more than anything else, and of those who lived by their most instinctual desire. Law and Order were nowhere to be found in its hellish landscape. This was also the home of the Chaos gods, worshiped by mortals as their faithful source of strength.
And lastly, the World of Mortals, for tens of thousands of years of its history, many different races of creatures have coexisted in peace and in conflict. The Elves and all of its sub-races that developed their own cultures and costumes, all famous for their beauty and magical prowess—but infamous for their pride and eccentricity. The Dwarves, master craftsmen, and brilliant inventors, valued by all the other races for their dexterity—while loathed for their strict sense of traditionality. The Undead, Liches, Vampires, Banshees, those who had fallen but yet to departed to the River of Styx, some peaceful and friendly, some vile and aggressive.
Along with the Beast tribes. Titans. Dragons. Fairy. And then there are the Humans, born the weakest perhaps of all the races but one that lacked not—the will to survive. With their wits and intellect sharpened by their cowardice, they carved a place for themselves in the pages of Astrea’s history...
—But all this was before the Holy War.
The history and evolution of the world of Astrea have always been shaped by conflicts. And the cruelest, the most disastrous, the most relentless slaughtering of brutal savagery, was the Holy War. A clash between Chaos and Order, one that dragged along the rest of the realms into its course of destruction, the war continued on for thousands of years and many different battles were fought, some were the losses of Order, some were the losses of Chaos.
But the side that took the most losses from the Holy War was neither Chaos nor Order—but the Mortals.
After enduring countless years of hardship, the Mortals formed a new allegiance, one that swore to survive and end the Holy War once and for all. Along the way, the gods of both Chaos and Order who were tired of the senseless conflict also joined them. They came up with a plan to destroy the existing unbalance of Chaos and Order by creating a third faction of complete neutrality.
And they succeeded. After trials and tribulations, the Realm of Order was no more. The Holy War ended. And the new Realm of Gods was established. Home to the neutral faction of newly ascended gods and goddesses, and of the Order-aligned souls who had reincarnated into angels.
2000 years after that—came peace.
“Is this… right?”
I ask the person sitting in right beside me about the recounting of the history lesson I had with Athena the other day while putting my notebook into my bag.
I have to be prepared for the upcoming exam—Athena says that if I score perfect mark again she would spend more time with me, so I have to try hard this time.
“Yes, yes, everything you say is right, little Eden.”
That person answers back to me with a weird look in her eyes. I think she should probably keep them on the road more carefully if she doesn’t want to run into anything but I don’t know much about driving….. so I can’t say for sure.
I feel like I'm forgetting something.....
—Ah, right! Seatbelts, in books they always remind you to wear a seatbelt when driving. Where Is it? Right there? I can’t reach it… Huph! Got it! Like this, I'll be safe if the car crashes or something.
“When are we.... going to stop?”
I fasten my seatbelt and ask the driving woman.
“Soon, little Eden, By the way, do you want some more lollipop? I still have plenty of those.”
“Yes, thank you.”
I take another lollipop from the woman and chew on it. So many people in the city are so kind to me, they give me free sweets all the time.
“I have more sweets for you where we are going, you can look forward to it okay?”
“But I need to go back…. before dinner.”
“There is no need for you to go back to anywhere, I will take care of you for the rest of your life."
“I can’t do that…Athena is waiting for me... and besides… Brother Altarin is following us right now… I think”
I poke my cheek with my finger and look at the side mirror of the car. Yep, he’s running after us on the rooftop over there.
“ARGH! That white-haired bastard.”
Don’t call him that... Brother Altarin might be a low-key pervert but he’s very kind.
The woman furiously steps on the gas and the car speeds up. This is the first time I have ever been inside a car this fast-moving, It's a bit exciting. I look at the side mirror once again and see that brother Altarin is also speeding up to match our pace.
The woman continues to step on the gas, the car reaches its top speed and the surrounding appears to stretch as we move past them. But I don’t think we can get any farther because—
The entire car shakes violently and comes to a complete halt, the woman in the driver seat seems to have hit her head on the car roof due to the strength of the impact. It’s a good thing I have the seatbelt on.
Brother Altarin who is standing on the crashed and battered hood of the car points of his twin pistol at the driver through the broken windshield, his cold gaze directs at her.
He simply says, and the woman could offer no resistance to his order.
[ The City of Anorlon ]
Three weeks now that lady Athena allows Eden to go play outside. I believe part of the reason involves Eden promising that he wouldn’t cause any trouble and would try to stay out of it… So why is it? That in the last three weeks he has been kidnapped 5 times!?
“EDEEEN~! Are you okay? Are you sure you are alright!? That creepy woman didn't do anything to you, did she? Do I need to gauge her eyes out for you?”
“How dare she tried to take away our little Eden!? Such vile evil doesn’t have a place in this city. This warrant the wrath of the entire force of Anorlon's army of justice.”
Vena who has caught up with us along with the force of the Anorlon’s Valkyrian guards quickly moves to examine Eden thoroughly from head to toes. It’s surprising how fast she arrives here considering that today is supposed to be my turn to act as his watcher.
The pretty captain of the Valkyrian angel in her uniform also expresses her rage toward the kidnapper and take her away. I remember the captain from Anorlon's Beauty ranking, I think she is the 55th rank, Tamaria of house Fortuna… not bad.
“Well then, little Eden of house Athena, if there’s anything else troubling you please don’t be afraid to call me,” says captain Tamaria. ”I would be glad to send some angels over to be your bodyguard. Actually, it would be them that would be glad to act as your bodyguard. They are still crazy about you ever since you visited the station. Haa, those angels had no sense of pride... or shame. I wish I could be more like them... Ehem. I-I mean.. anyways. We're at your service.”
Then she left with the rest of her force after swiftly cleaning up the wreckage of the car with magic.
Eden has been making friends all over the city in the last three weeks, from high ranking officials to shops and stalls owners. He becomes some sort of neighborhood darling and at this point, everyone pretty much knows him. As to how he manages to befriend half the city in three weeks—that’s beyond me.
“Big Sister Vena… I’m fine,” Eden says softly. And Vena looks as if she’s about to faint. I’m not sure whether she’s acting like that because she’s worried, or if It’s because Eden calls her ‘big sister’ close to her ears.
Though… for some reason, he doesn’t call me 'big brother', despite knowing that I and Vena are twins… But it’s too embarrassing for me to ask him about it.
“Eden, when are you going to learn about stranger danger? You can’t keep getting kidnapped all the time,” I say as I walk to where the two of them are and cancels the [Summoning] making my twin pistols disappear.
Eden while tilting his head. “But they... gave me lollipops.”
““You are way too easily swindled!!”” Vena and I both exclaim at the same time.
Eden, please… if anything ever scratches your skin it will be my head on the line, Vena gets murderous when it comes to anything involving your well being. And if something does happen, I don’t know what I would do either.
“Haa… anyways, are we going back to the mansion? I think I deserve to get some rest after running around that much.” I stretch my arm.
All around us, the street and sidewalks are starting to become crowded once more.
“But I need to go… to Ruby’s store… and meet her today," says Eden, and it seems that my work isn’t done just yet.
“Tch..! that red-eyed thief. She’s been taking advantage of my little Eden too much lately. Touching him all over the places and doing all sorts of envious things.“
It is quite strange that for a time, hiding her emotion used to be Vena’s forte. Not anymore though. And I think she has also forgotten how to mutter properly because I'm standing 2 meters away from her and I can still hear what she's just said.
But then out of nowhere...
“Big sister Vena… She’s my 'girlfriend'… please get along with her.”
Eden uses the 6th most dangerous technique in his book on how to get away with anything if you’re cute! The innocent pleading gaze!!
“Brother Altarin as well… please hold on for a bit.”
Eden says and comes to take both of our hands.
That’s the 5th technique! The soft touch! Why... do I suddenly feel like I want this moment to last forever?
“Let’s go…” Eden pulls both of us along and my will to resist him has melted away like my heart—wait... this is starting to sound really weird now, what in the name of lady Athena is going on? I look over at my side to see Vena with a flushed face.
So that’s what’s going! Our twin spirits connection is sharing her feeling to me! Not only that I have to feel this myself, but I also have to feel her side too!? —Calm down Altarin… remember the wise words of master Casandro Casanova. ‘As long as they are cute. Gender, race, even personality doesn’t matter—’ hold on, what the… that’s the wrong quote and it’s not helping me at all right now.
A sweet voice brings me back to reality.
“Ah, kuhum… what is it, Eden?” I need to get my act together, Eden needs his cool older brother to be a role model. Not another pampering big sister like a certain someone. Stay calm, me.
Eden continues to look at me cutely and asks, “Brother Altarin...do you want me… to call you…. Big brother Altarin?”
My foot halts… and the world seems to stop as those words echo in my ears. Big brother Altarin. Big brother Altarin? Big brother Altarin! Big brother—w-wait, hold on, what!?
“HOW DID YOU KNOW I WAS THINKING THAT?!”
—Okay, screw being calm and collected! Eden is reading my mind!! How am I supposed to stay calm!? What in the Realm of Gods are you, Eden?!
“I can feel it… brother Altarin,” Eden says expressionlessly.
—So, apparently, people can feel my hidden insecurities from kilometers away now?!
“Please don’t call him big brother, Eden. This guy is looking way too happy about it, it’s creepy.”
Vena, you are the most unqualified person to say that to me…
“You don’t need to call me that… there’s no need to change anything,” I try to stay calm and say to Eden.
“But when you jumped onto the car… back then… I thought you were really cool... My respect… risen.”
—Don't blush, Altarin, don’t blush, all your image will be ruined if you blush.
“Next time for sure… It will be me.”
Vena, you're still forgetting how to mutter properly. And what do you mean 'next time'? Are you waiting for him to get kidnap again? Is that why you got here so fast earlier?!
Ignoring Vena, I turn to Eden and tell him. “No problem, I will always help you when you get into trouble.”
Eden smiles, just a little…“Thank you… brother Altarin,” but that tin curving line on the corner of his lips makes the whole realm suddenly looks so bright and colorful.
“——!!” And makes my heart almost stopped beating.
“——!!” Vena as well.
“——!!”Everyone else in the area also.
And then, it is gone... the small but precious smile disappears from Eden's face. But ask anyone from around here and I bet that the image is still painted vividly in their conscious mind—and mine as well.
—No no no, no, no! What am I even thinking!?
Stop it conscious mind! I don't need that image! Eden is a boy! A BOY! Lady Athena! please grant me your wisdom so that I can stop being sexually confused!
[ The Mansion of House Athena ]
In the dimly lit office, kilometers away from where the three were.
Athena said simply and continued to look at the document of her desk.
[ Fairwright’s General Bookstore ]
30 minutes later, in the bustling bookstore...
“Yes, I’m speaking to you, red-eyed thief. I see that you have recently been trying to replace me as Eden’s big sister? Don’t you think I wouldn’t notice?”
“Hahaha, that’s very funny, some crazy woman would actually dare to call herself Eden’s big sister. When no matter how one would look at it… I’m definitely waaay ‘bigger’.”
“I would be angry at you… but I feel it an insult to a High-ranked angel such as myself to get angry at the words of a Low-ranked cow.”
“Even us Low-ranked angels have pride, you know? And my pride doesn’t allow me to be mad at a walking talking popsicle stick.”
The two women, Vena and Ruby, Looked at each other with the same bright smiling expression on their face. And as if coming to a mutual, deeply spiritual understanding of one another, they began to speak at the same time.
“Ah ah ah ah ah. Girls, please, you can’t say bad words in front of Eden. Keep it family friendly, or PG13 as you might call it.”
Altarin intervened... and then suddenly regretted his decision when the cold piercing stares of the street cats—sorry, prim and proper angels landed straight on his face. Fortunately, before both of them could tear Altarin apart with the strength of their glare alone, the obvious cause of their dispute innocently spoke up.
“They are… a lot of people… here this time.” Eden nibbled on his lollipop and looked around the significantly more crowded bookstore.
People from all walks of lives were present here, from the local street cleaner to the Valkyrian Guards, strangely, there are a lot of female Valkyrian Guards in the store for some reason.
“Ah! That’s all thanks to you, Eden.” Not missing the opportunity for physical intimacy, Ruby quickly closed up to Eden and pulled him into her, soft, elastic... hug.
“Why do you… say so?” Eden wasn't bothered by Ruby’s advance and continued to ask with round, curious eyes.
Altarin however, was currently trying his damnedest to stop Vena from evoking a frost blade in front of the Valkyrian Guards.
“That story that I wrote after being inspired by our meeting was amazingly popular among the people around the city. Now I even got an editor contacted me for a publication in the Anorlon Times Magazine, are you happy for me?” Ruby said with clear excitement.
Whether or not Eden was being genuine with his compliment to the enthusiastic Ruby was indiscernible under his sleepy murmuring. But Ruby didn’t seem to care about it for she was still as happy as she could possibly be after being congratulated by her little ‘boyfriend’. She might be a little too happy about it actually because she then held Eden close and sniffed his long intoxicatingly fragrance golden hair.
“Hey-hey! That’s too far you shameless—qaae awe thou goiin butter.”
Altarin blocked her mouth, turning the rest of Vena’s sentence into family-friendly, PG13 mumbling. Used to seeing the scene of the quarreling twins, Eden instead throw a question at Ruby.
“What was the story…. about?”
But oddly, Eden’s impossibly obvious question… drained Ruby’s face of all its colors.
“Ah, um, that is…. well, kinda you know?”
She stiffened, moving away from Eden, Vena, and Altarin. The two twins servants looked at her with narrow, suspicious eyes. Eden’s innocent gaze, however, was probably more frightening.
“Curious.” Vena's suspicious eyes turned into a piercing glare.
“I-It really isn’t anything curious… And I’m definitely not being suspicious at all!” Ruby waved her arms about, and her pleading couldn’t possibly sound any more suspicious.
“—Aahhh! Isn’t that little Eden? How nice seeing you here again.”
“That cute little angel?!
"Where is she?!"
"I want to take a picture and cuddle her to death!”
Coincidentally, almost as if on cue, the various patrons of the Fairwright’s General Bookstore began to take notice of Eden’s appearance. More coincidentally was that almost all of them were the Vakyrian Guards said to still be crazy about Eden by guard captain Tamaria.
As more and more of the Vakyrian angels moved to surround Eden. Ruby thought that this was a good opportunity to escape the twin's attention... but regrettably for her, when she closed the door to the backside of the bookstore and turned around, she was met the tip of Vena’s frost blade.
“Mind giving me a little bit of explanation, red-eyed cow?” Vena smiled coldly... and Altarin who was standing a little behind her sighed.