71 – ???? ??? – Promise
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2/2 chapters released today! Go back one if you haven't read it yet!

An infinite expanse. There, suspended in the center of it all, two beings faced off against each other. Both were indistinct.

The first was a divine beauty whose features changed with every glance. The second, a nameless man whose features couldn't be determined, showing no more than a blurred mass of gray.

Between the two was crystal table. On top of that, there was a simple wooden game board. On first appearances, it seemed to be for chess. An alternating grid of black and white squares lined its surface, with various black and white chess pieces scattered throughout. But on second glance, that appearance vanished, revealing a different scene entirely.

A single continent spread across the crystal table, with water falling infinitely across its edges. At the center of the continent was a vast forest, within which existed a towering tree as well as a misted area shrouded from view.

To the north, a vast Empire among grassy plains and wintry lands.

To the south, an obsidian kingdom shimmering with dark shadows.

To the west, towering mountains with a palace floating in the skies.

And then to the east, a kingdom that was blurred, as if not quite set in time and space.

The neat and tidy chess pieces that had been placed upon the board were scattered, changed into realistic figurines glowing white or black.

The Goddess smiled, idly tilting a figurine of Nazin standing in the middle of the forest with her index figure. Surrounding him, as if guarding their king, were an array of glowing white elven warriors. In addition, there were three women that were standing directly behind Nazin: Saphira, Aria, and Titania.

If one were to take a look over the entire continent, Serena's forces didn't end there. A few white lights shimmered in the Lost Wood's mist while the entire western portion of the continent and the floating castle glowed white. At the same time, there were a few more obscured pieces hiding in wait within both the Demon Realm and the Northern Empire.

In contrast, there were only a few pieces that were painted in black. Of those, there was a figure with blurred features, an Eastern young woman with heaven-defying beauty, and a jaded elf with a blackened sword at her side. Nowun, Xinxin, and Titania.

Still, while he only had a few pieces, that did not mean his forces ended there. The entire eastern portion of the continent was dyed black. Not only that, but the north and south were covered in darkness as well, black smoke slowly expanding as if threatening to blanket everything in night.

"So." Serena smiled and said, "Is this new game interesting?"

"I don't like how you changed the board again... But this direct interference is more to my advantage so I don't mind. After all..." The Nameless One stared at Alvheim and said, "All our cards are on the table now."

Serena tapped Aria's figurine and smiled. "I guess so. Well, all of mine are. You, however..." She stared at the figurine that the Nameless One was holding and said, "You seem to be holding something back."

"Don't worry." The Nameless One placed the piece off the board and said, "It's just a good luck charm."

"A good luck charm, hm? Well as long as you're not playing it."

"I won't. And unlike a certain goddess, I keep my word."

"Hey! I do too! The game was just getting boring."

The Nameless One glanced to the side and said, "Rather boring than broken."

"Hm?" Serena glanced to the side as well. "What are you looking at?"

"Nothing. No one. Just lost in thought."

"Whatever you say."

Silence fell, both transcendent beings content to stare at the board as their forces moved on their own will.

Eventually, however, the Nameless One spoke. "You will keep your word this time, right?"

Serena rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. I'll hand over my world to you if you win as well as my powers. Emphasis on 'if'. But if I win..."

"Then I'll become your partner."

"That's right." Serena nodded and then she stared at the Nameless One. "...But would that be so bad? You won't lose much if you do, and I would have let you manage the world anyway."

The Nameless One scoffed. "Why would I want to spend an eternity alongside a fickle goddess like yourself? Especially when you're that insane?"

"I take offense to that! But..." Her voice trailed off and she muttered, "I suppose I have lost a few things. Those that aren't born with divinity tend to become a bit twisted with time, after all."

"Speak for yourself. I'm the same as I've always been."

Serena laughed. "That's true. Though does it really count if you've become more than one person?" She paused. "No, I suppose it doesn't matter."

Silence fell again. This time, however, Serena was the one who spoke up.

"Hey."

"What is it?"

Serena lowered her hands and then stared at the Nameless One. "Why did you do it like this?"

"What? The game?"

"You didn't have to go so far. And I never would have pushed you to something you didn't want to do. So... Why are you doing this? Do you... hate me that much?"

The Nameless One was silent. But eventually...

"No. If anything... You're the one person that I will always forgive, Rena."

Serena- No, the Goddess's eyes widened. At the same time, her shifting form froze, locked on a particular appearance.

A striking beauty that seemed a mix of Western and Eastern features. Glittering blonde hair and hazel eyes.

"Ne-"

"Go."

The Goddess bit her lips, staring at the Nameless One's face. However, try as she might, the person beneath the shrouded fog remained a blur.

The Nameless One raised his hand. "I said, go."

"...Fine." The Goddess's form turned back to the ever shifting array of beauties. She glared at the Nameless One and said, "But no matter how this ends, you need to explain yourself."

The Nameless One nodded. "That’s fair.”

“I won’t let you off if you don’t!”

“I said it already, didn’t I? Unlike a certain goddess, I keep my word.”

Once again, the Goddess bit her lip, staring at the Nameless One. But seeing as he wasn’t moving, she sighed and reached into the board. “...Alright. Then... I think it’s time for my two Demon Lords to meet.”

Argh. I wish I could say what I've got planned so much, but I can't rush it. For now, I guess all I'll say is that everything ties back together in the end. Let's just hope I can pull it off right.

Anyway, we'll be with Nazin for a while longer before jumping back to Nowun.

Hope you enjoyed! I appreciate the comments as always, and I'll see you next time! Which... should be Wednesday. School starts up the week after that though, so I'll have to see how the workload goes. I might go down to updating on the weekends in that case. If I do though, it'll likely be longer chapters (5k+). We'll see.

That's all from me for now! Take care!

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