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Reads: 36

??“You… You knew Envy before he became…” Charly stuttered.

??“I did,” I replied with a sigh. I stared down at the ground and started drawing in the loose dirt as I pushed away the painful regret in my chest. “I had no idea what he would become back then. Until the very end, all I wanted was to help, but it was all for nothing. All I did was make things worse. That is the story of my life. Wherever I go death and destruction follow. I tried to help that boy and created Envy. I adopted Lucia and caused her death. I tried to teach Sebastion and now he hates me with the same fury I have for the Corvus family. Time and time again, I have tried to ‘help’ people, and time and time again, it ends with me doing more harm than good. Eventually, I just gave up and started accepting it. I am a calamity. It is not just a title. It is what I am.”

??“That does not mean you have to give up on doing good!” Charly shouted as he grabbed my shoulders, forcing me to look at him, “Just because you are haunted by Aurielle’s past does not mean it has to define your future. No matter what you might have been before, you are no longer that person. Wren…” Charly paused as he lowered his voice. “Do you remember when you were sick when I would sit by your bedside and tell you stories?”

??I nodded with a little smile as I remembered all the times he had been there beside me. “I never could stay awake long enough for you to ever finish one.”

??“I want you to think back on those moments. Remember all the times when mom would bring her stew for you to eat, and when dad would carry you around on his shoulders. No matter what we did, we were unable to heal you and it broke our hearts, but we decided that we would do everything in our power to give you as many happy memories as we could. In the end, we failed to save you. Do you blame us for that?”

??“No, I…”

??“There is no difference. You could not save Lucia or Envy, but if you were them, do you really think they would blame you for what happened? Instead, I think they would thank you. What I learned when you were sick is that sometimes helping others does not mean doing some grand gesture. It does not always mean saving them. Sometimes, simply being there is enough. A small moment of kindness may not change someone’s life, but it might put a smile on their face. If you can do that then you will no longer be a calamity.”

??I met Charly’s stare and saw the firm determination in his eyes. “You have really been thinking about this a lot, haven’t you?”

??“Yes,” Charly said with a whisper. “Ever since Bastya Fortress, maybe before. You are right. Maybe everything would have still ended the same way regardless of what we tried, but I believe that how we accomplish our mission is just as important as the results of the mission. If all we do is kill without giving them a chance, what difference is there between us and the Demons?”

??I looked down at the three stick figures I had drawn in the dirt and bit my lip. Reaching down, I wiped the image away and looked back up at Charly. “You really are hopelessly naive… but I think being naive is better than being heartless. I cannot promise I will always do what you think is right, but I will think about what you said. I will at least try and give people a chance before resorting to violence.”

??“That’s all I can ask,” Charly said with a big smile. He reached over and gave me a big hug, squeezing me tightly. “I am sorry I have been distant lately. I just could not think of any way to say all this to you without rambling incoherently. I am still not sure I succeeded, but thank you for at least trying to understand my point of view.”

??I smiled and hugged Charly back. “Everyone needs someone to keep them in check from time to time. Sometimes I forget not everyone has four hundred years of memories crammed in their head. Not everyone is like me.”

??Charly nodded and sat down with a relieved sigh. Some time passed with the two of us sitting side by side in silence, but it was not long before Charly got restless and started drawing glyphs again. I watched him quietly for a while as he went through nearly four pieces of paper before crumpling the whole mess up and throwing it away.

??“What are you working on?” I asked curiously.

??“A couple things, I wanted to recreate Doctor Volnus’s ability to see inside someone’s body but no matter what I try, I can’t get that to work. I got frustrated with that not working so I started thinking about the war glyph dad created. I have been wondering about how to use glyphs as traps. Now that things are relatively more peaceful, I decided to try and create a small scall portable version of a war glyph based on the explosive glyph in my bracer and crossbow. All I have succeeded in so far is making a trap glyph, but it is still too small scale to compare to a war glyph.”

??“How can you chastise me about violence while you are trying to create city-destroying-level weapons?” I said, placing my hands on my hips.

??“Because you always start a fight!” Charly replied, pointing the ink brush at me, “Giving people a chance is different than being unprepared. I saw the flood of Demonkin beyond the rift. When Envy arrives, I want to protect as many people as I can. I don’t want to just sit back and watch while Mom and Dad fight. To do that, I need power.”

??I took one of the crumpled pieces of paper and flattened it out. I looked at the complicated glyph curiously, but could not understand anything with my limited knowledge. “Recreating an innate talent is nearly impossible, but I might be able to help giving a few ideas for traps. What can your glyphs do?”

??“All I have managed so far that is actually viable is a delayed explosion glyph. After I activate the glyph, I can delay the explosion anywhere from a few seconds to a couple minutes. While that can be useful in the right circumstances, it is not exactly what I am going for.”

??“This is an explosion glyph, right?” I said, pointing out the small rune in the center of the paper, “it was part of the ignite rune you and dad tried to teach me.”

??“That is right. Explosion runes are the most common component of any glyph since all glyphs start out as controlled explosions of energy.”

??I hesitated for a moment as I looked down at the piece of paper that was basically a bomb in my hands. “I will probably regret this, but… if you are trying to create explosions, I might be able to help.”

??“Really? How?” Charly remarked in surprise.

??“I might not know glyphs, but I have spent a lot of time with the Creation Calamity. She really, really, liked blowing things up. Despite having the weakest innate talent compared to the rest of us, Esther was considered to be the third strongest of the calamities simply because her arsenal was absolutely terrifying. I can show you a few of the simpler tricks she used to make her explosives more dangerous… if you promise me one thing.”

??“What is it?”

??“Never ever tell her I was the one that taught you any of this!”

??“I promise!” Charly replied.

??“I am serious!” I said, grabbing Charly by the shoulders and making him look at me, “Last time I made fun of her having a flat chest and I found a pipe bomb under my pillow! There is no telling what she will do if she finds out I told someone how to recreate her inventions.”

??Charly grinned as he raised an eyebrow, making him look very much like our dad when he was teasing Mom. “Are you really someone that should be making fun of something like that? I think I remember some saying about a pot and a kettle.”

??I crossed my arms as I glared at Charly. “I was in a different body back then. Besides, I am still growing! I can guarantee I will be drop-dead gorgeous when I grow up thanks to my talent. Meanwhile, that crazy brat is forever stuck looking like a ten-year-old just because she could not be patient for a couple years.”

??“Really? How does that work?”

??“She is a Tressan,” I replied with a shrug, “Tressans stop aging permanently the first time they activate their domain. It is part of their blood as the founders of the first division, and not even the craziest of what they are capable of. Despite their looks, they cannot really be considered human.”

??“Tressans…” Charly mumbled, “the founders of the thirteen divisions. Do you think I will ever be able to meet one?”

??“let’s hope not,” I replied, “many Tressans are… mentally unstable in some way or another. They develop obsessions really easily and have different ideas of morality than a normal person. If you do not like my way of always resolving things with violence, you would definitely not like it in the city of Tressa. After a thousand years on the front lines of the war, almost everything there is decided by strength and cunning. To a Tressan, you are only as good as you are useful.”

??“I still think it would be really cool to meet one of them.”

??I shook my head with a sigh. “Tell you what, after we deal with Envy, if we are still alive, I will introduce you to Azreal or Kora. Besides leading the Five calamities, they are also Tressan and, other than Kora’s obsession with swordsmanship, mostly normal.”

??“You mean I can actually meat the leaders of the Thirteenth Division? That would be amazing!” Charly remarked in excitement.

??“Hey! I am a leader of the Thirteenth Division too. Why do you not get that excited when I am around?”

??“You are my sister first,” Charly said while shaking his head, “It is different.”

??“I guess I should be happy about that, but somehow it feels like I just lost to them,” I grumbled, “Fine, but we need to survive Envy’s invasion first. So long as the doors between realms remain closed, you cannot meet any of them.”

??“Then you better tell me how I can make these explosions more powerful quickly. That way I can be more useful!”

??I sighed and started explaining a few of the tricks I remembered Esther using. I saw Charly’s eyes sparkle with excitement, followed by shudders of horror, as I explained many of her explosive creations.

??For the next few hours, I worked alongside Charly trying to put what I remembered into a workable prototype based on the few supplies we had at hand. I even helped Charly draw glyphs. After a few mistakes, I got really good at drawing a type of explosion glyph that was isolated towards a single direction. Unfortunately, we could not do anything to create some of the more complicated explosive designs I knew of without getting help from someone that could work metal into the shapes we needed, but I helped Charly draw up more than a dozen schematics that we could create next time we were in a town with a blacksmith.

??While Charly and I brainstormed late into the night, there was never a single moment where the clashing of wooden swords did not echo through the clearing. Even after everyone else had gone to sleep, I could still hear the sounds of Donte’s endless training.


Submitted: September 03, 2022

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