Lino sighed audibly, feeling rather bad after seeing Eos bleed out from her eyes. He’d expected her to defend with her Will far more than she did, having forgotten that Ella had defiantly trampled over it just a few minutes prior. There was no turning back now, though, so he heaved Eos up over his arm and threw her onto Grim, flying over toward Eggor and Ella.

“Where’s Hannah?” Ella asked.

“We parted after exiting the Realm,” Lino said. “Said she had to report to her Elders. So... keep her from spilling her guts out?” Lino added, pointing at now passed out Eos.

“That’s the plan.” Ella smiled.

“...” it was only now that Lino noticed the faint bulge over Ella’s stomach, his eyes quickly turning into saucers. “I--I--- I’m gonna be a Big Brother---ugh, fuck,” he gagged for a moment, his conversation with Umbra flashing through his mind. “No, fuck that noise. No.”

“... glad to see you’re happy for us.” Eggor grumbled.

“No, not that. Of course I’m happy!” having recovered quickly he exclaimed, leaping over and hugging both widely. “That kid’s one lucky son of a bitch! Or a daughter, you know? Whichever!”

“What’s important is that I’m still a bitch, huh?” Ella smirked.

“Well, you are pregnant.” Lino winked. “I’m fairly certain he didn’t breathe that kid into you. Congrats guys,” his expression mellowed, smile turning warm. “I don’t know anyone else more deserving of it... and I certainly don’t know a luckier kid than yours.”

“... yeah, seeing how you turned out,” Ella said. “We’re kind of terrified, actually.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Lino said. “This one’s not on you. By the time you go to me, I was already beyond fucked. By the way, if it’s a boy, leave the lady talk to me.”

“Yeah, I’m definitely gonna turn my son into a whore,” Eggor groaned. “Because that’s the sort of an upstanding person the world just lacks.”

“Hey, hey, who said anything about turning him into a whore?” Lino frowned, putting on an expression of genuine hurt. “I mean, I know you snatched her, but let’s face it big man -- you and women? You don’t make sense. Me, on the other hand? I get the ladies.”

“Heh, you really think that?” Eggor chuckled.

“Ah, however much I hate to admit it, he’s right honey,” Ella glanced at Eggor and smiled apologetically. “You are just a walking bubble of awkward when it comes to other women. Remember that one time you tried to show me up by flirting with that tavern hostess?”

“.....” Eggor’s cheeks suddenly flushed red as he turned away.

“That’s a story I fucking need to hear!” Lino exclaimed.

“And you won’t,” Ella chuckled, turning back toward him. “What’s your plan with her, anyway?”

“As I said, I get the ladies.”

“I have no clue how Hannah tolerates you.”

“Neither do I.” Lino shrugged. “Right, big news. Met the last living Titan, the guy killed himself and gave me his heart. So, that’s a story.”

“... I’m not even gonna ask...” Ella sighed, shaking her head. “Be careful around Eos.” she suddenly warned. “While interacting with her Will, I’d come to know she’s turned quite... manipulative. But, then again, it is you. You and manipulation are practically married to one another.”

“Hey! That hurt! How dare you call me manipulative?!” Lino exclaimed.

“What? That farewell speech of yours during the lunch was just an expression of good will?” Ella smirked.

“... yeah, fair enough. It’s nice to see you’ve listened, for a change.” Lino smirked back.

“Listened? No, of course we haven’t.” she chuckled.

“... ah. So that’s what this unpleasant feeling in my Soul was.” Lino sighed. “Really? Isn’t my life talisman enough?”

“When you stop doing stupid and reckless things, it will be.”

“... so never, huh?”

“Yeah, never.” Eggor joined in after recovering. “I’ll come with you and help set up the Entrapment Formation for Eos. Honey, go and rest. That can’t have been a walk-in-the-park for the baby.”

“... you really think I’d let anything happen to our child?” Ella suddenly frowned. “Huh. So that’s how it is, ha? Alright. Go and set up your Entrapment Formation. And then accidentally trap yourself. Or don’t. I don’t care.”

“... yikes.” Lino sucked in a cold breath as he saw Ella vanish while Eggor’s face turned pale. “You aren’t gonna recover from that one quickly.”

“... it’s the pregnancy,” Eggor was quick to complain as they mounted Grim. “She’s determined to go through with it naturally, so she’s affected by it like all hell. Just the other day, in the span of five minutes, she went from batshit-insane-throwing-plates-at-me to crying-in-the-corner.”

“... yeah. I really didn’t need to know that.” Lino commented.

“And I really didn’t need to share that.” Eggor coughed lowly, agreeing. “Anyway, you alright?”

“Alright?” Lino turned around and faced Eggor, with Eos passed out in-between them. “Yeah, it’s been a while since we last saw you.”

“Oh, I see. You’re training on how to be a dad.” Lino chuckled while Eggor grumbled dismissively. “Hey, I get it, okay? And thanks for asking, but I’ve been great!”

“... I haven’t said anything to her,” after a few moments of silence between the two, Eggor spoke out in a heavy voice. “But I’m really worried, Lino.”

“About what?” Lino asked, dropping the joker act.

“... about Ella, about our kid, about you... about everything...” he sighed heavily. “The world... it ain’t right. And, I know, I know, it’s never been right. But it’s different this time. Has Ella ever told you why she and I left and settled in the Umbra Kingdom?”

“... uh, not explicitly,” Lino scratched his head. “But, I’ve pieced a few things together. Something to do with a Disciple betrayal, banishment and such...”

“... against my better judgment, it’s probably time you heard the actual story,” Eggor said, taking a deep breath. “Her Grandfather was the Patriarch of the Clan at the time, and her banishment was planned ever since her sixth birthday.”

“... huh?!” Lino exclaimed.

“It was the day they learned she had whatever-immortal-soul,” Eggor said. “Well, while everyone flaunted it to the world, her Grandfather had entirely different idea on her future. About a month before she was banished, he found me stranded in a random cave in the middle of nowhere where I was drinking my sorrows away.”


“One of the strongest and wisest men in the entire world,” Eggor said, smiling bitterly. “Burst out into tears in front of me like a child... and bowed to me, Lino. He thanked me over and over, for helping Ella discover herself. He then spent hours apologizing, offering his life in return for my forgiveness...”

“... why do I have a feeling Ella doesn’t know this story?” Lino chimed in.

“Ha ha ha, no, she knows,” Eggor said. “I’ve told her a long time ago. Anyway, in spite of his incessant begging, I was still angry. Mad. Broken. Bottomed out, really. I was unwilling.”


“... but, the bastard kept on pushing.” Eggor chuckled. “He stayed with me for nearly a week, talking so much I swear to god he’d spoken every single word of the Common Tongue. In the end, I gave in. I decided to hear her out. He then told me his insane plan, all devised to ensure Ella left the Holy Continent entirely, crippled.”

“... why?” Lino frowned.

“... because of you.” Eggor suddenly smiled, startling Lino.

“Me?” Lino exclaimed softly.
”Well, not explicitly you. He just mentioned that the Warring Era is breathing its last breaths... and that the person who’ll end it will be an Empyrean.”

“... and that’s the part you never told her.” Lino suddenly exclaimed.

“... he he, what, can’t a man have a secret or two he keeps from his better half?”

“Hey, I keep no secrets from Hannah!”

“Sure you don’t buddy. Sure you don’t.”

“... khm, so, why did he think that?” Lino asked as the two routed to a nearby mountain range and found an isolated flatland surrounded by thick woods on all ends before landing.

“... honestly? I don’t know.” Eggor said, sighing. “He just told me that Ella would be instrumental, and that if she stayed there... she would wind up dead, at best. He also told me that war after war would soon break out, compounded in the end by the Realm Wars, and the Wars of Creation or Origin Wars -- whatever the hell that is.”

Are you sure he’s strong enough to know this?” Will’s robotic voice startled Eggor who fumbled back and fell off Grim, cursing lowly.

“... give a man some warning, dude.” Eggor cursed. “You think he ain’t?”

“... it doesn’t matter.

“Yea, I’m strong enough or whatever. Speak old man!” Lino quickly spoke out as he realized that his Soul was back in his body.

“... yeah,” Eggor looked at him dubiously for a moment but continued. “As I said, he never really explained anything to me... just listed things out. He told me that, if she ever met an Empyrean, it would be my job to, you know, rekindle the flames of cultivation inside of her. Turns out, I didn’t really have to do that.”

“... there’s a weird spin to this story,” Lino suddenly grumbled, feeling a headache come onto him. “And I’m sure the bastard’s gonna share it one day... but by god, if I don’t go mad by then, I’d at least have gone insane.”

“... Ella’s finally strong enough to tangle in the world’s affairs, at least the surface ones,” Eggor said. “But...”

“... don’t worry about it,” Lino suddenly smiled, patting Eggor’s back. “I’ll talk to her.”

“Heh, you think you can convince her?” Eggor chuckled bitterly.

“Well, I did convince Hannah to have sex with me.” Lino said. “How hard can it be to convince a woman who already loves me to just stay still and raise her kid proper?”

“... attaboy...” Eggor, begrudgingly, sighed out as he saw the glimmer of expectation glistening inside Lino’s eyes.

“Don’t ask me why, but I have a feeling her grandfather was a Descender.” Lino’s lips suddenly curled up in a smile as he stroked his beard. “Oh my. There certainly is a spin to this story. I really wish I could delay the whole Eos business and go and have some fun.”

“... what?” Eggor asked, confused.

“Old man,” Lino mumbled lowly, his smile turning into a grin. “Or should I call you Grampa? Geesh, you better spoil me rotten old man.”

Meanwhile, within the small, inconspicuous-looking lake, old, balded man’s eyebrows were currently twitching, while two younger-looking men standing next to him were shaking, trying to hold back their laughter.


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About the author


Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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