I frowned. “An older brother? Obviously not.” As much as my original memories had been blurred by the aftereffects of my powers, that much I was certain of.
Titania stared for a moment and then nodded, taking a sip from her tea. “Of course that was the case.”
I served myself some noodles and then said, “What brought on that line of questioning?”
Titania shook her head and said, “It is nothing serious. Just… for some reason, you feel familiar to me. It… It is almost like we met before, some time in the past.”
I paused and then said, “And I’m assuming you mean before all of this happened?”
Titania nodded. She stared at me for a moment longer and then shook her head. “Perhaps I am just imagining it. With everything that has occurred, I might simply be seeing what I want to see.”
I didn’t immediately respond. Instead, I considered her words.
Titania thought I felt familiar… but in the way like she felt she had seen me before all of this had happened.
The obvious answer would be that my frequent trips through time had caused a sort of déjà vu between people I’d met before. I’d seen that in Aria and Saphira, at least. Granted, that was with the Goddess’s involvement.
It was possible that she was referring to that.
However… I had a feeling there was something else at play too.
With Aria’s soul being the way it was, it was clear ‘something’ had happened in Alvheim’s past.
Could it be that I traveled to Alvheim in the far past? Or that I would in the future?
At the moment, that was impossible. But with my current understanding of my powers, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
But what would lead me back to Alvheim in the first place…?
“I’m sorry.” Titania shook her head and said, “I didn’t mean to disturb you so much.”
“No. It’s fine.” I shook my head as well and said, “That was a fair question to ask. For your information, however, I am an only child. In fact, I am the only member of my family left alive in this world.”
A partial truth. After all, whatever family remained would forever be on Earth.
“Ah.” Titania paused and said, “I had forgotten that you were an immortal. Of course your family…”
I waved my hand and said, “It’s fine. I got over that fact a long time ago.” Mainly when I died.
Titania nodded and then was silent again, pensievely drinking her tea.
I did the same and then considered how to bring up the subject of Aria.
It hadn’t been long since we left and Aria would inevitably be asleep for quite a while due to the aftereffects of being revived, but there was no avoiding the question forever.
…And that also meant that I would eventually have to talk to her and face whatever words she had to give me.
That… would be something.
I frowned, realizing that I was dreading that more than I thought I would be.
Titania coughed and then said, “Would you mind me asking some more questions?”
I shrugged and said, “Considering the last few, should I be prepared?”
I grabbed a dumpling before waving it at her and said, “Go ahead.”
“Well then…” Titania stirred her tea a bit and said, “Master Xinxin is clearly an ancient immortal from distant time. Even so, she addresses you as her Sifu.” She paused and then said, “Are you the same?”
I gave a bitter laugh at that and said, “No. I’m nothing that special.”
Xinxin’s abilities… while it was true that I had given her a good headstart, the fact that she managed to reach that level of power by herself was a measure of her determination and willpower. Perhaps a bit of obsession as well. As for myself…
I shook my head and said, “I’m just a ghost without a name. A ‘no one’ that managed to make my way into this world.”
Titania frowned and muttered, “A ghost?”
“It’s a long story.” I finished the dumpling I grabbed earlier and then said, “Suffice to say, I made a deal with a certain person and got in over my head. As a result, I don’t have any memories of my past… or even any of who I really am.”
Titania stared at me for a while and said, “I see. So that explains why you seem so psychotic.”
“Hey. I’m not that bad.”
Titania raised an eyebrow and said, “Is that so? Well, believe what you wish to believe.”
I scoffed and then poured myself some more tea.
Another tense silence.
After sipping some tea, I glanced at Titania and said, “What about yourself?”
I leaned back and said, “I’ve told you a lot about me, so it’s only fair you tell me about yourself, isn’t it?” I paused, going over what I knew about Titania, and said, “I know a bit about you from Aria and my dear disciple, but other than that, not too much.”
Titania nodded. “That is true… Our last few meetings were not very constructive towards getting to know each other.”
“Right. So… tell me a bit about you.”
“What is it you wish to know?”
“Mm…” I thought for a bit and said, “First of all, where did you learn how to use a sword? That swordsmanship clearly isn’t something you casually pick up.”
Her status screen had mentioned that Titania pioneered that particular style of sword fighting.
It made me curious. After all, a genuine genius was a useful person to learn from.
“My swordstyle? Titania blinked and then shook her head. “It’s nothing much.” She stared off in the distance, lost in thought, and then said, “When I was a young girl, I happened upon a spirit melding with the elements. Curious, I tried imitating it.”
A spirit melding with the elements, huh? That didn’t seem suspicious at all…
Titania sighed. “Unfortunately, the only success I had was with my sword. Still, it was enough for me, so I began treading upon the path of swordsmanship.” She shrugged. “There is not much more to say.”
I hummed and then said, “That makes sense. It also explains why you’re single after so long, being married to your sword like that.”
Titania crossed her arms and glared at me. “Better that than a cruel man who takes advantage of young girls before throwing them away.”
I bristled and said, “I do not do that.”
Titania raised an eyebrow. “Your actions say otherwise. Not only did you fail to protect my sister, but you survived the attack and disappeared, only to become Master Xinxin’s Sifu.” She paused and then said, “No. You were Master Xinxin’s Sifu to begin with, but you threw her away for my sister and that other woman.” She leaned back and stared at me from the corner of her eye, filled with contempt. “If that isn’t a cruel man, what is?”
I stood up. “You don’t understand a single thing about-!“
It was a soft and innocent voice. Calm, like a gentle breeze.
I ignored Titania for the moment and turned around.
Aria walked over, rubbing her eyes. Her golden hair swayed behind her, and a few messy strands clung to her black dress. Altogether, it was the picture of a sleepy young girl that just got up after a pleasant nap.
Plenty of thoughts and words went through my mind at seeing Aria awake. However, another pressing concern pushed all of that away.
Aria covered a yawn with her delicate hands and then glanced between me and Titania. “Why are you here? And with Mister Nowun?”
I carefully turned around, glancing at Titania.
The eldest elf princess had knocked over her tea, spilling it across the table and her food. Her eyes were wide in shock, those dark jaded orbs trembling in their sockets. No, her entire body was trembling.
I carefully moved in front of Aria just in case. Since I wasn’t too familiar with Titania, I didn’t want to risk that trembling coming from anger and rage rather. But it seemed that I didn’t need to worry.
Tears welled up in Titania’s eyes. She blinked them away, shaking her head, and then slowly stood up. “A-Ari?” She spoke in a trembling voice, the tone of a person clinging onto a last string of hope. “Is that… really you?”
Seeing that, I glanced back at Aria’s reaction.
Aria blinked, confused. “Why wouldn’t it be me?”
I then turned back to Titania. “It’s a long story. Before you get any misunderstandings…“ I trailed off when I noticed what state Titania was in.
Tears streaming down her cheeks, her eyes turning red from those tears. Her lips, opening and closing, as if to speak words that wouldn’t come out. And then her hand, reaching out towards Aria but drawing back at the last moment.
I sighed and decided to give Titania a while to calm down before saying anything else.