With a wave of his hand, peace returned to the void. All signs of any disturbance melted away. After a long moment of thought, my teacher turned to me. “This is your last chance to back out. Once the Chronicle blurs the lines between your two sets of memories, there is no turning back. Whatever hope you may have held in returning to two separate people will be gone forever.”
“I am sure,” I replied firmly.
Mathew looked at me for several seconds, causing me to shuffle nervously. It felt as if his eyes could see through my every fear and apprehension. After what felt like an eternity under his gaze, He sighed and shook his head.
“Ultimately, the choice is yours to make. The Chronicle will obey your will as completely as mine. Just know it is not your only choice. I am still tracking Envy even as we speak. He has hidden himself deep within Demon territory to launch his invasion against you, but it will not be much longer before I find him. If you can delay until then, you will not have to fight alone. You may have to make a few… sacrifices, but it should be doable for you. Both choices will have costs, but you, personally, will not have to pay as much if you wait.”
“I understand the consequences, but what I lose if I don’t do this is far more severe. I can’t rely on anyone else to save us.”
“Fair enough,” Mathew whispered softly. The void around him began to twist, and the scenery changed. With a sigh, his body began to fade away as well. “Try not to get lost in your memories, and remember, no matter who you become after this; you will always be my little Aurielle.”
With those last words, my teacher vanished, but even though he was not visibly present, I knew he was still watching, waiting. For a moment, I thought he looked as nervous about what I was attempting as I was. Combining my sense of self with another was no small price for power and control I could likely gain naturally if only I had a few extra years of time.
Yet, I could not see any other way forward.
Mathew’s proposal was even more absurd. Even if it was just Envy invading the realm, his presence alone would kill countless people. With the Leviathan also at his beck and call, there was no doubt that most life on this planet would be wiped out before reinforcements arrived. That may be a sacrifice he could live with, but not me, not when an alternative laid between the pages of the Chronicle.
The void faded away entirely as a familiar view came into sight. It was the small town of Ortis where everything started, and my own choice to revive alongside Wren. To this day, I still did not completely understand why I made that choice, but as a memorable scene began to play, I knew I would make the choice again if given the option.
Memories began to play out in front of me. I could smell the crisp air of the small room, feel the touch of the blankets against my skin, and hear the cries of my family as I teetered on the edge of death.
The perspectives of Wren and Aurielle blurred together. I lived through both moments simultaneously. The lines between the two faded until I could no longer tell who was living which moment. There was no distinction anymore where one memory ended, and the next began. It was simply one moment in my life.
The scenes continued to play as I relived my life. The struggles between the mixed personalities faded. My moments where one person was in control while the other slept became like a strange personality disorder. The lack of distinction became even more confusing as the Chronicle rolled back time to our early lives. Every fear, success, and failure was relived again and again.
Centuries passed. I could not tell how long this had gone on for. My life, from the nameless child kidnapped away, to my naming as the Immortal Calamity, blurred into the life of a sick child full of hope and wonder. All of it played out on repeat.
At one point, I could no longer remember if I had revived Wren or not. It felt more like I had simply been reborn as I had so many times before and it just took longer for my memories to awaken. At another point, it felt like I was just a child, full of imagination and distant dreams of half-remembered wars. I did not know what was true anymore and what was the Chronicle’s construction.
The process was slow and taxed my mind to its breaking point. A part of me instinctively tried to remain unaffected. My teacher’s final words echoed in my head over and over again, but eventually, that too faded.
I jerked awake. The Chronicle dropped to the floor with a thud. I rubbed my eyes to clear the blurry vision. It took me several minutes to remember where I was… who I was. My head rang like a bell, thumping with each beat of my heart.
My legs felt like jelly as I stood up. My movements were stiff and ridged. I had been sitting for a long time. Walking carefully, I stumbled out of my room.
Waiting for me just outside the door was a young girl with an inquisitive expression. Her bright purple hair matched the sparkling light in her eyes. “So, how do you feel?” Mare asked with bubbling curiosity.
“I… I’m not sure,” I replied hesitantly, “Maybe… Quiet? Like, I’m suddenly alone for the first time in months.”
“Hmm?” Mare hummed thoughtfully as she brought her finger to her chin. “That sounds nice. My head is always filled with lots of voices.”
“You know that’s not a good thing, right?”
Mare shrugged. “You try being a sentient building full of people and then say that. Of course, if you want to help, I can dump all of you into the forest below and let you walk."
I shook my head at Mare’s teasing smile and decided to ignore her game. “Where is everyone? How long was I asleep?”
“It has been two days or so. Charly is down in the library. Your dad is sitting by your mom’s bedside, studying glyphs. The others are around somewhere. It has been an uneventful couple of days. However, it did take quite a while to explain your sudden disappearance. Did you ever think of discussing your problems with your family before you do something risky?”
“No, they wouldn’t understand,” I replied as I brushed a loose strand of hair behind my ear, “Words can’t explain how dangerous Envy and the Leviathan are. If they really knew how abysmal our chances of victory were, it would only worry them unduly.”
“And now?” Mare asked with a raised eyebrow, “Are you strong enough?”
“Let’s find out,” I replied with a confident smile.
I marched down the halls of Dragon’s Nest. Following my senses, I easily tracked down the brightest undead on the island. Her flame burned like an erupting volcano. It was impossible to miss.
Lucia sat in an empty side room of the building. Her eyes were fixed on me before I arrived as if she could see me through the walls. Beside her sat Sebastion. He did not seem to mind that she was not paying attention to him as he read to her from a book. His voice was low and calm, echoing through the hall.
I paused at the door, watching the sight with a small smile. I could tell from the ease of his posture that this was not the first time he had done something like this. My heart hurt as I imagined Sebastion reading to his beloved Lucia every day. Even though she was dead and gone, his love for her never faded.
For several minutes, I leaned against the doorframe, listening. I closed my eyes as memories of Charly reading to me when I was sick overlapped with all the times I had seen Sebastion look after Lucia when they were little.
Sebastion’s voice suddenly fell silent. His face turned bright red as he noticed my presence. “How… How long have you been standing there?” Sebastion stuttered.
I laughed at the sight of his embarrassed blush. Gone was the image of the regal king. Right now, he looked more like a child caught stealing cookies than the leader of a kingdom.
“Long enough,” I replied with a teasing grin, “There is no reason to be self-conscious about it. I think it’s sweet.”
Sebastion growled in annoyance. “Why are you here?”
“To fulfill my promise,” I replied with a bright smile, “Little Lucia has slept for far too long. It is time she returned to us.”
Sebastion’s face lit up like the morning sun at my words. “Finally!” He shouted, full of excitement. “Are you sure there will not be any problems? I heard you were having problems with your power recently.”
“I am confident,” I replied. I raised my hand as a single flame ignited in my palm. The fire wasn’t green, nor was it blue or gold either. Instead, it was a light teal color, a perfect combination of blue and green. I had felt it from the moment I woke up. My fire had undergone a qualitative change. There were no longer two separate abilities, only two different ways of using the same ability.
It was still not perfect. The two different flames did not combine completely. The fire would be gold if it had, but I was only one hair’s breadth away now. I was only missing one last step needed to push me over the edge.
My goal was accomplished, though. Both flames had reached an equilibrium. I could create the golden fire whenever I wanted now. It would be even easier than before. I would not even need glyphs to do it, either.
With a simple thought, the teal fire in my hand twisted and compacted until it barely compared to a candle flame. The teal color grew brighter and brighter until it finally turned into beautiful pure gold.
The golden fire flickered in my palm. It didn’t explode or wildly consume everything it touched. It simply floated there, entirely under my control.
A small bead of sweat rolled down my forehead at the effort of maintaining the flame, but I could not stop smiling at the accomplishment. The little light looked utterly unassuming. Any average person would probably think nothing of it, but I could feel the immense energy surging in that tiny speck—the power of life.
Before I could even relish the feeling of triumph, though, Lucia stood up. Completely acting on her own, she walked over to me and grabbed the hand holding the flame. Pure energy flowed through her palm into mine, causing the golden fire to burn even brighter. Before I could even react, she shoved the entire hand and the flame into her mouth.