Chapter 44: Urgent Talk
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As the other two disappear, Ryota hurries over to the girl who is sitting against the wall. Her body shudders as she quietly mutters to herself. Slowly, Ryota extends a hand forward in an attempt to contact the shaken girl before him. Aema glances upwards, and her golden eyes meet Ryota's brown eyes.

"Are you okay? Did Zeruna do anything to you?" asks Ryota. Aema, too shocked to speak, shakes her head in response. "What's your name?"

"Aema Caelesi," she says quietly and slowly after a few seconds of silence.

"Jeez, what a mess! Stay here, I, as the hero, need to help Mei-den of light beat Zeruna. She will pa–"

"No, this isn't like her! Something's wrong with her!" yells Aema.

Ryota pauses, his brain processing the words coming from this girl's mouth. Wasn't she just being dragged around then tossed aside by Zeruna? Or were his eyes merely playing tricks on him? No, he was certain that just occured.

"What do you mean? What isn't like her? What's wrong with who?" A sudden shockwave knocks Ryota off his feet as he attempts to lean in closer. He waits for a response from Aema who only averts her eyes awkwardly. "Please, I need to help Mei somehow. Do you know anything? Wait, I know you! Your that girl from the Mystic Moon!"

There is a long pause before Aema responded, "What if I told you I'm from another... other world? What if I said that I was reincarnated here after dying? And what if I told you that Zeruna isn't evil? She is beautiful and sweet and friendly and nice."

"You're from Earth? And what do you mean by Zeruna isn't evil? I'm confused: Mei says she's merciless, now you're saying she's friendly. Which one is it?" splutters Ryota, grasping his head. "Why can't everything just be black and white?"

"This may be difficult to understand. Honestly, it will be difficult to explain anyway, but here I go," Aema takes a deep breath and stands up. "My Earth is currently in 2088; and in 2033, a terrible nuclear war happened that nearly drove humanity to extinction. I live in Sector 04, City 04B. Does any of that sound familiar?"

"Not at all," returns Ryota immediately. "You say 2088, are there flying cars?"

"Not the time! The most precious person to me is fighting up there and you find the time to make a stupid joke? I'm trying to find a way to resolve it by speaking to you, and you're messing about by asking silly questions!" Aema paused. 

'Wait, did I say the "most precious person to me"? That line -- I wrote that in my novel after Lancelot (main romantic lead) was fighting a minor villain. It's also the scene where Lancelot confesses to the MC, which causes her to awaken her hidden powers. Wait, does that mean I'm–? No! This isn't the time; there are more pressing matters at hand.'

"Sorry," Ryota says, bowing. "No, I'm not from that Earth. You must have been reincarnated here too, huh? I guess that makes three?"

Aema pauses and thinks heavily before speaking, "You mean that girl fighting Zeruna is from your Earth too."

"Yeah, her name is Mei Haruna," Ryota responds. "So what I can gather from this is that you are from another Earth and you reincarnated into this world? What does that have to do with Zeruna being nice? She was fake nice to me when I last met her: Mei told me she is a good manipulator, so she must've been using me to secure her own safety!"

"Look, please believe me when I say this: Zeruna Black is a socially-awkward girl from another alternate Earth who was addicted to an RPG called Chroniks: Destiny and Fate."

"Wait, but that makes no sense! Why would someone from modern earth be so callous and vile?"

"That's the thing, when my friend was playing the game, grinding exp, farming and having fun; she was killing real people in this world and didn't know it. Then there's also my possible part in this: I have a novel in which Zeruna is the main villain. She was a callous and evil and vile woman who only lived to cause as much destruction as possible. It possible these different versions have mixed to create... this." Aema motioned to the wreckage around her just in time for the air to quiver from the outside fighting. "And this amalgamation has taken over my friend who is inside that body."

"What's her name?"

Aema pauses; it was long and awkward. She didn't even know her name. No, she was more important than a best friend. Another strange feeling twists Aema, it doesn't help how she's already feeling.

"The person inside Zeruna hasn't told you her name, hasn't she?" asks Ryota.

"No, she mentioned to me she wanted to forget her previous life. It wasn't worth anything to her, so she left it behind," Aema lied, although she wouldn't be surprised if it were something along those lines. Zeruna had mentioned during her training that she didn't have much beyond Chroniks; it was an odd thing to hear. 

"I see, I can understand that," Ryota utters. "So, what do we do now? What can we do? What could we do? They're both light years ahead of us in strength at full power; they'd probably rip us to bloody ribbons in the crossfire."

Aema paused for a moment, thinking of something, anything, to help them, "What if we let them both wear each other down then intervene when their stamina and strength is lower? We could also limit civilian casualties while they're fighting."

"I don't see much else we can do other than limit the amount of damage that is caused to the city. I still haven't learnt to control my clones properly too."

"Wait, perhaps there is an item in the palace vault that could aid us in the situation?"

"Negative, Adrin gave me an extensive tour of all of the items and how each worked. Most are just decorative or hold some rarity due to the maker or where they came from or age. Apparently, Zeruna 'stole' her necklace which was one of the most prized possessions in the entire kingdom. The other is this sword."

Ryota slowly holds up Dawnbreaker in all its glory, the sword itself illuminating the room.

"Wait!" he shouts suddenly. "This sword has a temporary blinding ability; we could use that to give us a window to step in when they're weakened."

"Yes," Aema says, half paying attention to Ryota. She is focussing on the weird feeling. 

'God, I hope this isn't real. Tell me this is just a dream and I'm just lying on my bed in Tevin.'

"Aema, you look a bit pale," comments Ryota, causing Aema to jump slightly. "Are you okay?"

"Yes..." she replies half-heartedly. "Let's just get this over with, right?"