Reality ceased to exist, as though swept away by strange winds trailing ahead of time. In a small shack within an insignificant corner of the city, a young man sat in silence, eyes staring wide open at the screen in front of him and two figures within it. Alongside searching for Lucky, he’d also tried finding them, but to no avail. It was as though they left these parts like ghosts, without leaving a single trace behind.
They were the same as he remembered them; Ella, though seemingly ordinary-looking, projected a strange, almost ethereal sort of beauty, with eyes that could cause anyone to get lost in them. Eggor, on the other hand, was at one moment frowning and at another worrying, still as much of a muscle-head as he was when he left.
Without even realizing it, a trail of tears flew down Lino’s cheeks as his heart began beating madly, a sudden urge within him to find them rising. He didn’t even realize just how much he missed them until this moment, until he’d finally seen their faces. Long washing of years didn’t damage the images of them he had in mind, as he’d made sure of it.
“... f-finally,” a sound of a familiar, warm voice jolted him back to reality as he looked around madly, until he realized that it was coming from the source. “H-hey, why isn’t he answering?” the voice was slightly choppy, yet very distinguishable. It was Ella’s.
“How-how would I know?” Eggor replied. “Maybe the bastard’s forgot about us.”
“... really helpful,” Ella rolled her eyes at him before suddenly turning to face Lino - or at least front as Lino imagined. “Listen, I don’t know when... or even if you’ll get this, but I want to... I want to say we’re sorry.” her voice cracked slightly as she bit her lower lip.
“No, no, don’t be sorry--” Lino mumbled but Ella began talking again, forcing him to listen.
“We... we were late. We lost any trace of you at Hope Town... I... in my heart I know you’re still alive,” she said, her eyes growing watery. “I know it! And I know you’re fine. Knowing you... you’re most-likely playing pranks on some innocent people somewhere far away. Heh, yeah...” she chuckled for a moment and a faint smile even escaped Eggor’s control. “Please... please be fine.”
“He’s fine, woman,” Eggor grumbled gently. “Nothing short of the world’s end could kill that little bastard.”
“... when you get this... I want you to know we’ll still be looking for you,” she said, wiping the tears away. “I heard rumors about possible Empyrean ruins in this place called Demonic Battlefield. One day, you’ll most-likely be drawn to them one way or another. We’ll hole up in there and wait for you. We’ll wait no matter how many years it takes, you hear me? So... so you better come! Or else!”
“Yeah, come. And when you do, I’ll test your progress! You better not be drinking around while ignoring your training!”
“Hey!” Ella bumped him gently with an elbow into the chest, frowning slightly. “Say something heartfelt instead of trying to be macho all the time! For all the hate between the two of you, my dad and you are really exactly the same.”
“H-how dare you?! What do you mean I’m the same as that reptilian bastard?! Take it back!”
“Not if you don’t say something nice to him!”
“N-nice? F-.... fine. Khm, uh, I... good luck kiddo. I miss ya’. Or something.”
“See? Was that so hard?” Ella asked, smiling.
“... literally harder than crafting an Artifact.”
“Oh... how I miss the days when you used to write me poetry. You used to be such a romantic~~”
“W-what are you talking about?! That never happened!! Hey, little bugger, that never happened! No way in hell did I ever write poetry! You hear?! It never happened!”
“Ah, we don’t have much time left,” Ella suddenly exclaimed. “Listen, when you get this, I hope you haven’t exposed who you are to anyone. Though I’m not too certain myself yet, it seems... your role in all this is much greater than you can even imagine. Oh, I suppose I should also apologize for that one... eh, I suppose I’ll save it for when I see you. Stay safe. And come see us. Please.”
The figures from the screen didn’t disappear - they just froze leaving Lino to yet again seethe in silence. He quickly found a way to re-play the message... and he did. Over and over again, for countless number of times, till sun left the sky and moon took its place. Sometimes he’d laugh, sometimes he’d merely chuckle, sometimes he’d just contemplate in silence... however, all throughout, his desire to find them, to talk to them and hug them only grew stronger. Soon enough, a conviction was born inside of his heart, one so strong he believed nothing could quash it.
“... you said it was extremely risky to use external factors to heal me. Can you be more specific?” Lino suddenly asked as he finally withdrew the screen back into the pyramid.
“... do you plan on going to the Ruins to look for them?”
“No, I plan to suck my own dick. Of course I want to go and look for them!” Lino rebuked.
“They said they’ll wait for you indefinitely.”
“What if something happens to them? No, something will happen to them. Especially now that everyone’s gunning for the ruins.”
“How can you even be certain they entered? As I said previously--”
“I know what you said, yet - hey, what’s this?, looks like I don’t really care! Just answer my question!”
“... you’re being quite emotional.” the Writ said as Lino suddenly felt a cooling sensation wash over his body, calming him down.
“... of course I’m being emotional,” Lino said, sighing. “Without those two... I would have died a nameless no one. I... I can’t lose them too... not again...”
“I can tell you how to speed up the process,” the Writ said. “But, even if it somehow doesn’t cause a side-effect, it will hurt more than all the pain you’ve felt in your life combined... and then some.”
“... you’re really trying to dissuade me. I guess it’s nicer than manipulating me into doing what you want regardless of what I want to do.” Lino said, smiling faintly. “Can you scan that far out for them?” he then asked.
“No. I can at best search for whether they’d been in the city and determine how long ago it was.”
“... hey. What’s the least risky option besides just waiting around?” Lino asked, still feeling somewhat reckless.
“... breaking through to Purity Realm.” the Writ replied after short silence.
“Eh? What the fuck? I can’t even sense Qi. How can I break through?”
“Purity Realm for you is different than for others,” the Writ explained. “While others require a mass amount of Qi to undergo a body’s rebirth through destruction and creation, even if you wanted to, you couldn’t do that as to reduce your body to that state, external help of someone at Heavenly Realm would be necessary.”
“...” even Lino was left somewhat stunned as he didn’t expect his body to be that sturdy.
“Purity Realm for you isn’t about destruction and creation, denoting a cyclic rebirth; it’s about condensing Singularity.”
“Singularity?” Lino mumbled, not understanding the concept.
“It’s about taking the Qi inside of you that’s scattered through your entire body, and condensing it all into a sub-atomic-sized Singularity.”
“... yeah, I understood like 4 words in that sentence.” Lino said, rolling his eyes in frustration.
“You don’t have to understand the concept itself,” the Writ elaborated. “And the principles behind it; you merely have to use your Will to shuffle Qi from within you into your Soul and condensing it as much as possible.”
“... though I have no idea what any of it means, why am I getting that tickling feeling that it’s extremely dangerous?” Lino shuddered.
“If you happen to lose control over the process at any point, the partial Singularity would implode, not only killing you, but creating such a massive explosion that it would wipe out half the Divine Dynasty off of the face of this world.”
“...” Lino gulped, feeling cold shivers running down his spine. “W-wait... you said I’d have to use my ‘Will’ to move Qi. How can I do that without sensing it in the first place? Huh,” Lino sighed in relief suddenly. “Too bad, it sounded like a great idea. I guess we’ll just have to think of something else.”
“I can temporarily take up the burden for you and assist you in sensing Qi,” the Writ said, seemingly unaware of Lino’s silent plea. “Though I can’t help you with the process itself.”
“... fuck.” Lino grunted lowly, sighing yet again.
“Nothing... ah, whatever. Let’s do it,” Lino said, cracking his neck. “I’ve done crazier shit than this in my life anyway. What am I afraid of?”
“I can only assist you for ten minutes,” the Writ said. “If you don’t manage to do it in that amount of time, you’ll explode and die, taking with you half this Empire.”
“Yeah... I get it... if I fail, I kill a lot of people. Totally not a distraction whatsoever.”
“I’m only saying that you should be completely ready for it.”
“... so... meditate?”
“... yeah... this ought to be fun...” he said, thinking an entirely different thought.