8/23, Kingdom of humanity, outside the king's castle, night

Sitting on the steps to the castle, I looked up down at the lower level. I could hear the people of the lower level partying, having a great time.

"Master, what are you doing out here?" That cold voice called me. "Nothing, I'm just admiring the view I suppose." "You're missing the ball." "It doesn't matter, the ball doesn't mean much to me."

She took a seat next to me, looking only at me. "Master, you seem bothered." "I'm not… Maybe a little." "Why?" "Because Proxy had to get the prize for me." "I don't comprehend why that is an issue." "It's not a bad thing in an objective manner, but I didn't earn it for myself. I was supposed to get it for Selena, but in the end, I was incompetent."

Taking the cup by force felt out of taste to me, and I didn't want Nunnalé to do that.

"I too failed to recover the item, so the fault lies on me. If you want, you may take your frustration out on me." "Can stop telling me to hit you!" "But…" "But nothing, hitting women is wrong and I sure as hell don't want to!" Thinking about it now she's so unnerved about being hurt. It bothered me way too much. This line of thought brought me back to the scar on her body and how she kept quiet about it.

"Nunnalé, I have to ask you something: why didn't you tell me about your scar from when you first saved me?" "I thought it was irrelevant." "...Okay then, let me ask you this: did it hurt?" "Does it matter?" "Just answer." "...Yes, it did. However, I will not allow it to halt my mission to protect you." "I see, then…"

Using personal reasoning isn't going to hack it, I need to hit her with a more logical based reason.

"Nunnalé, what happens if you were to die? I would be put at a disadvantage from losing you, so if you take a life-threatening attack that could be avoided, wouldn't that be redundant?" "When said like that, yes? But what if you were to get hit by an attack that I could've protected you from?" "Find a way for both of us to come out alive with minimum damage, understand?" "If this is how you wish for me to fight, then I understand."

This wasn't how I wanted her to stop getting herself nearly killed for me, but at least I got her to conform to my way of going about things. Regardless, I think I should move on from this topic.

"So, how was the dance, did you have fun?" "Fun?" "Do you know what that means?" "Of course, I am not ignorant of such simple concepts." I'm glad that she did, there would've been a bigger problem.

"As for having fun, I don't believe I know." "Did you enjoy your time; did you believe that it wasn't a waste of time?" "I do not think it was a waste of time." "Would you want to do it again?" "For another prize?" "No, just for the heck of it." "If it's with you, then I would not mind." "Then you had fun." She seems to have reached a revelation in regards to her feelings.

"I see, I think I understand, but if I may ask, why do you care?" "Kind of a frank way of asking, but I care because I just want you to have a good time and because we're friends." "You consider me to be a companion?" "Yeah, of course, I do. I don't care about the master and servant relationship thing, so don't expect me to treat you like you are a servant." "Why not?" "Cause that's just normal that you treat a person like a person, you know?"

Nunnalé didn't raise an argument or question me, she just sat there, staring at me. My ability to read people's feelings don't work on her, so I can't tell how she's feeling with her robotic look. However, I was able to tell that she wasn't happy, mad, sad, or even disappointed. She just looked at me with curiosity. Her gaze was devoid of anything else, and it kind of scared me.

"Very well, I will assume for now that you will not wish to punish me for any wrongdoings. However, I will still strive to serve you as if I was a servant." Her attitude towards me won't change, that much is clear, however, it seems that she's beginning to understand what I want. I guess that's an okay start.

"Master, I wish to know why you're striving to learn magic? As long as you have me, you don't need to fight, so you don't need to trouble yourself with learning since I can heal on my own." "...But that doesn't mean you are immortal. If you take severe damage you can be killed." "But that doesn't answer my question." "It's because of you, Proxy, and myself." "What do you mean?" "When you nearly got killed for me, I was in shock. Your delicate frame taking a blow that was meant for me without hesitation, even if you didn't know who I was." "It was because you were my master." "I could be a terrible person who's not worthy of using you." "Not possible, my master is chosen if they meet the criteria to wield me. You proved to be such a person." "But still, when you were trying to stand up on your own, it hurt for me to watch, I was breathless from your efforts. I thought you were suicidal. But in the end, you just wanted to protect an idiot like me… In all honesty, I shouldn't be able to use you, I can't even fight. That's why I envy Proxy a bit; even with no magic he still wants to fight, even if it's impossible, he still wants to give it a whirl. All I can do is sit back and watch you guys fight." "Master, that's-" "That's why I want to learn how to control this power. I can't twiddle my hands as you two fight. Even if all I can do is heal that's fine, I just want a way to help you guys. I have no interest in getting stronger, just using my abilities more adequately is all."

I clenched my fist tightly. This feeling, it was a long while since I ever felt like I wanted to achieve more, go from the position I'm currently in. I didn't want to become stronger as I said, but rather grow to understand and utilize my power. It was just like when I wanted to become a better opponent for my brother in the card games we used to play. Yeah, it's been a long while since I felt a burning passion for something like this…

"Even if I didn't earn the cup in my own way, if Selena rejects it because I didn't earn it then I'll plead, beg for another way to get her to teach me. Cause I… I don't want to be dead weight!" "...It's one thing to say that but you really throw away your pride like that?" Selena appeared with the wind blowing against her hair, the moon was revealed in all its glory or at least the thing that resembled the moon. Either way, it felt ethereal.

"I wasn't puffing hot air, I meant it." "Then prove it, show that I won't waste my knowledge on you." That was a tall order, however, I'm not going to give up. "What do you want me to do," I asked, my hands balled up with my fingers poking at the palm of my hand. "I wish for you to dig into your mind by concentrating," Selena replied. "That's it?" "Yes, that is all, use your Source while you do so." I nodded my head. I closed my eyes and had my Source activate. It took everything I had to just maintain. I was deep in thought after two minutes of concentrating.

"Now, go further in..." A seductive voice told me to go even further. It was as if the command had my mind go deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole. "...Drip...Drip...Drip." The sound of dripping was quiet but it was shortly visualized as a red liquid. It dripped on the ground, it kept dripping and dripping with no end. The liquid began to leak out like water from a bucket. Like a canvas, an image was slowly being filled in, showing me a whole picture.

"Gah!" It was Nunnalé, her stomach torn open with blood seeping out. She was writhing in pain while she struggled to stand up. Every nerve in my body was screaming at me to do something. I began the healing process. It was grueling, I was my everything into stopping the bleeding but she just kept going on. "Go further!" The voice urged me again, this time, I realized what it meant, I had to use more power. So I urged my body to use more power, more than I was capable of using. The blood wasn't stopping even with how much I was using.

Go further

Go further

Go further

Go further

I needed to go beyond what I'm using. I used more, pushing more Source out of my body like pushing a boulder with my hands. Even so, I kept pushing, even as my body was being pushed to its limit. My mind was beginning to feel like paste, my body felt as if it was breaking down. The feeling I had before was coming back; it felt as if something was going to snap like a rubber band. It was getting worse and worse, the air in my body was seeping out. Slowly, but maturely my body was beginning to break down. But I need to, the red that came from her body was something I never wanted to see ever again. The painful image of someone half my size crumbling to the ground as they try to stand with their sword was an image I never wanted to see again. So even if it snaps, I need to go further than I'm allowed!

"One last push." With that, I push the boulder with all my might against the stream with the force of 20 men, moving further from me. Then, something snaps… Was it my brain, was it a bone, was it something bad? I don't think so. The thing that snapped was a seal of sorts. Something became clear to me. A hand hovering over a deck of cards. The deck was blank, there was nothing to make them stand out but that was okay, their purpose was not to stand out. The hand took a hold of one card, lifting the card from the rest of the deck. The card was drawn like a gunslinger drawing their gun. It was overdramatic, however, it lit a feeling in me; as if something was unlocked.

"Master!" My mind snapped back into reality. I dropped to my knees, desperately trying to get any air into my lungs. My body was sore all over, it was as if I was hit with a baseball bat all over. "...Selena...what was that!?" "That was you finding your trigger." "What?" "Do you wonder why flower petals soar in the air?" "Because of the wind." "Exactly, the wind is the trigger for them to soar off, just like how a pebble is a trigger for ripples to be made in a pond. The trigger for your Source to flow properly is a mental image in your mind, something deep in yourself that strikes at you, that is, if you saw it." "I...I saw something, it was, it was a clear image of someone drawing a card from a deck." "Hm, that sounds rather dull, but that's fine, at least you were able to find it. Go ahead and use your Source with that image in your mind."

As she requested, I closed my eyes to find that image again, the hand drew the card just like last time. The image was so clear, not a single detail was out of place from last time. Activating my Source was much easier, it was like turning on a switch now. "Good, mighty impressive for someone who hasn't trained their Source." "This, this is amazing! It's like I have a surplus of energy to use." "Congratulations, you learned to summon your Source." "This is great, but why did you teach me how?" "Cause I can. Are you telling me that I shouldn't have?" "No, I'm very thankful." "Even if you didn't get the teacup for me you still had enough drive to go out and get it. That effort should be rewarded. Plus, Proxy and that blonde boy's dance was truly entertaining." "Is that so?" "It is, but that being said, you still need to hone your skills, you only but scratched the surface." "What should I do about that one?" "Worry not, I'll teach you." "You will." "That being said, I will not go easy on you, not if you want to learn what you really want to know." If she knew that then she knows I won't refuse. I can't, I came this far, I need to keep going.

"I'll do my best, so please teach me as much as possible!" "Don't worry, I shall teach lots. Although, I am quite famished, that ingrate of a friend you have didn't serve me anything." "Then let's go see if we can get something back in the castle," I suggested. "Very well, escort me back inside." As she walked forward, it had occurred to me that I didn't thank her for saving my life when I was poisoned. "Selena, I mean, teacher Selena, thank you for saving my life." I bowed to her as she peered over at me. Nunnalé bowed as well. "Thank you for saving my master. My incompetence led him to such an event." "It most certainly did. You should stay with your master at all times if you wish to protect him properly." "I shall never leave his side ever again." "Nunnalé, it wasn't your fault, I-" "It's also your fault as well. You should know that she's your sword in the face of adversity, use her." She walked off toward the castle. I wanted to correct her on that, to deny it but she probably wouldn't listen. Plus, from a logical standpoint, she was right. Nunnalé was stronger than me in terms of physical combat and could take on enemies that would kill me in one go. I turned to her to see that was unfazed by the comment Selena made. Damn it, this was pretty taxing to think about, I have to change the topic

"Nunnalé, do you want cake?" "Cake?" "It's a sweet type of food, with frosting on it." "Really!?" Her face brightened up at the mention of sweets. "Master, are you sure?" "Why not, for everything you did for me and Proxy, you earned." At the end of the day, despite all my complaints about her behavior, I can't tell her off for saving us, even if I didn't like the way she went about it...

"Nunnalé, let's try our best to do better." "Let us, master... That being said, the sweets are my current objective. Let us be on our way!" I couldn't help but laugh at how childlike she was acting. While she wasn't out of the range of deadpan expressions she still showed a lot of excitement. "Sure, let's go." As we walked on, Nunnalé hurried on back to the ballroom. Walking alongside her gave me a feeling of nostalgia when my brother and I used to go to the card shop in our town. I didn't want to ever remember those memories or feelings I had back then, but I guess it was alright just this once.

Kingdom of humanity, The king's castle, night

Swinging the teacup in my hand, sitting against the wall as everyone else in the room had a grand time. I was all by myself since everyone else left me behind with this cup. I was bored out of my skull.

"Mind if I sit with you?" Legion stepped in front of me with two plates of food. Both with mostly vegetable servings. "Sorry, I didn't know what you wanted?" "It's cool." Legion sat next to me, handing me the plate. "That was an awesome fight, Legion!" "Really?" "You were so cool with how you were able to keep up with me in hand to hand combat." "I was trained to use both weapons and my own arms proficiently." "Trained by who?" "By my squad captain back at HQ of the church?" "What is this Church? I heard you reference it before" "Oh, I guess I never explained what the church is. The Church of Mana is an organization set on bringing order and civilized prosperity worldwide. We deal with small scale civil disputes to destructive situations like terrorist acts." "So you guys don't spread the word of god or something like that?" "No, we certainly do have that misconception told about us but we don't talk or pray to a god." "Then why a church?" "I have no idea." "Weird." "It truly is..."

So they're like a government or the police? If that's the case then they must have people who are just like Legion. "What about you Proxy, what do you do in your world?" "Me, I'm a middle school graduate." "Middle school?" "Yeah, impressed?" "I never knew that your world had strong youth such as yourself." "Thanks, you gotta be strong to survive in the network of gangs, delinquents, and troubled youth." "Sounds dreadful." "Yeah, they have to deal with me..." "That does sound dreadful," Legion remarked. We both laughed at the comment. I was surprised to see that he had a funny bone in his body. As we finished our plates Legion took them in his hands. "Proxy, after I'm done here, in this kingdom, I'll take you and Richard back to your homeworld, as I promised." "Is that so? In that case, you'll have to wait." "Why?" I stood up from the ground, facing Legion. "Because I'm going to help Alex crush the bandits!" "For what reason?" "A lot of things happened after our meeting. Some bandits stole my goggles." "Are they important?" "They were mine ever since I was born, so I can't go back without them. Not only that and they posted a fake bounty, but Richard and I also took the job, it nearly got us killed." "Are you serious!?" "Yeah, he got poisoned and I barely got him a cure in time." "If that's the case, then why would you want to stay here," Legion was puzzled as he tried to piece together my reasoning. "I just need to settle the score with them; I won't let them get away with what they did. Besides... I owe it to Alex to help him out." "You wish to fight alongside him?" "Yep, the bandits are pretty tough too, so he's going to need all the help he can get. Besides, I'm pretty sure going home can wait."

Legion was still unsure of my reasoning but he just sighed. There was an expression he took on after a moment of silence. He put his professional face on.

"If you don't mind me asking, how did you arrive here, into this world," Legion inquired. "I got here by some weird book." "A book?" "Yeah, the night Richard and I came here we went to a concert, it was packed, might I add. Then, some guy came out with a book and began attacking people. Naturally, I tried to fight back but he kicked my ass in the end. He summoned some weird light from the ground, it was then when the book we had surrounded us in a black dome and sucked us into some black hole, I thought we were going to die. But nah, we came here." The Legion was quiet, looking at me with suspicion. "Proxy, by chance, is the book black?" "It is, how do you..." Before I could ask how he knew it was black, I noticed the crowd was looking at us, making a path while doing so.

"Proxy, please step up." I could hear the king from all the way in the back. "Proxy, we'll discuss this later. Where can I meet you?" "There's a place called Titan's axe, it's southeast from here." "Okay." After our quick talk ended, I went up to him. He was radiating the same superior energy as when I first saw him.

"Sir Proxy, again, I'd like to congratulate you on your victory today," he graciously praised me. "Thanks, no need to shower me in praise, but you can if you'd like." "Well, I would like to, but I'd like to admire your artistry." "My artistry?" "Yes, the one you did one the grounds outside of my castle." Oh shit. "Umm, what do you mean...?" "I'm talking about the unkind words you painted on my steps a few nights ago." Yep, I fucked up. The guards began to close in on me. with their weapons still holstered. "...So, before I praise you, I'm going to have to punish you..." Well, this turned out great, now I'm in shits creek. Where the hell is the witch and Nunnalé when you need them?