A peaceful dawn overlooked a small ranch outside the city center, one stacked with drowsy silence of the morning and the wistful calls of the warm, southern winds. The tall grass swayed gently in tune of the wind, and all seemed to be peaceful in the world. Then, like the first cannonfire of the war, a boom followed by ghastly smoke and fire erupted from the rightmost corner of the small mansion, sending scattered and ashened wood and rubble into the air and around.
A figure soon darted through the smoke and soot, blackened by ash, trailing over the air for nearly half a mile before blasting into the earth, leaving behind a man-sized canal. Felix roused himself quickly to his feet, coughing terribly and taking off the burnt clothes until he was stark naked. His eyes shone in anger and frustration as he grit his teeth, barely holding back from screaming out.
His eyes veered sideways from the billowing smoke and spotted the figure casually walking up to him with robes in her hands. Lucky repeatedly glanced between Felix and flames, sighing and shaking her head; it was not a new occurrence by any means, but it certainly never got easier.
“... what happened now?” she asked as she handed him over both the robes as well as a large bucket of water that Felix immediately jumped into.
“[Fire Stark] and the [Lyme Leaf] didn’t meld together properly,” Felix grumbled lowly. “So my control of flames went to crappers and, well, you know, boom-boom.”
“How long has it been since you slept?” Lucky asked as she saw black bags beneath Felix’s eyes.
“... uh, a while.”
“... what? It’s not like you set a good example!”
“Well at least I don’t blow myself up every day.” Lucky scoffed.
“You should,” Felix said. “It’s quite an... exhilarating experience.”
“How do you fail so spectacularly on the simplest of things each time?” a coarse and rough voice startled both Lucky and Felix as they glanced sideways where Eggor was holding a pile of ash in his hands, rummaging through them. “I mean, you managed to perfectly extract the molecular essence of [Lunar Stalk], but you fail to combine two herbs together under right temperature? There’s something wrong with your head, boy.”
“Don’t be so mean to him,” another voice startled him further as they saw Ella suddenly appear right next to Eggor. “He’s trying his best, you know?”
“He’s clearly doing something wrong, though,” by the third voice’s appearance, both Felix and Lucky were accustomed to it, barely even surprised. “Perhaps, and this is simply my conjecture, he ought to father a kid?” Hannah commented.
“We expect Lino to first murder a joke, then bury it, shovel it out and kill it again, but you? You’re better than this.” Lucky said as her eyebrows began twitching.
“What are you talking about? Scarlet and Annar are already bumping heads and trying to populate half the world all on their own. You should look at them as an example.” Hannah said.
“What the hell are you saying?!!” two additional people soon joined in as Felix and Lucky sighed depressingly. “If anyone’s populating the world, it’s you and Lino!” Scarlet cried out as her cheeks flushed red.
“Eh, not yet,” Hannah shrugged. “He’s still too busy with, you know, disappearing for days at the time.”
“... where is he anyway?” Lucky suddenly asked.
“Probably whoring out and about.” Annar spoke out with glee.
“Well, he better not be,” Hannah said with a faint sigh. “I’d hate it if he contracted something. It would completely ruin our sex life, you know?”
“... remember the good old days, El’?” Eggor suddenly spoke out as an expression of lament surfaced on his face. “When the people who surrounded us were pure, dignified, proper and morally right? Then you convinced me to house that kid. And now? Now... well... I weep.”
“He’s really good at corrupting others,” Ella mused with a faint smile. “For better or worse.”
“Almost exclusively worse, actually.”
“What are you guys talking about?” another surprised visitor suddenly joined them as Lino landed on top of Grim right in the spick center of the debate. “I’m not corrupting anyone. You were all terrible, misguided people well before I met you. I’m simply bringing out the real yous out into the world. I should be awarded a medal, not talked terribly of behind my back.”
“Ah, whatever,” Hannah spoke out as she walked over and jumped onto Grim. “See you guys around.”
“The two of us are gonna go and have s--” Lino suddenly paused as sweat began dripping down his forehead. “Some dinner. Khm, that I’ll cook.”
“She’s got you by the balls man, ha ha ha.” Annar suddenly laughed out loud.
“...” Lino glanced at him dubiously for a moment before replying. “You’ve no idea just how right you are.”
The group quickly dispersed, leaving Lucky and Felix alone again on the whole ranch. The two returned to the mansion -- at least its still intact side -- as Felix went to fix a quick breakfast while Lucky continued reading up on the formations from the stack of books she’s gotten from Scarlet.
“Oh right,” she spoke out a few minutes in. “What pill were you trying to concoct?”
“... it wasn’t a pill.” Felix replied somewhat strangely, prompting her to look up curiously at the slightly slumped back.
“An aphrodisiac? I mean, I’m not against it, but I’m fairly certain that if we got any more hot-and-bothered we might actually start pumping out babies.” she said as Felix bumped heads with the cupboard, dropping a bowl of water onto the floor. “Wait, don’t tell me I’m right?”
“N-no! Of course not!” he cried out in frustration, glancing at her angrily. “How little do you think of me?! Do you really think every man is as perverted as Master is?”
“No... it was, uh... something else.”
“What then?” she persisted.
“Let’s just drop it, okay?” Felix sighed, cleaning up the floor. “I’ll tell you when I actually make it eventually.”
“Ha ha, no, no way. I’m way too curious right now to just drop it. Come on big guy, spill the beans.”
“... god you’re annoying.”
“I know that already. Come on, just say it. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“I could die?” Felix said.
“I-it was... it was a custom gem...”
“... what?” Lucky asked in confusion.
“A custom gem,” Felix explained. “Eggor taught me the process a few weeks back.”
“Why do you want to create a custom gem?”
“... god, sometimes you can be beyond oblivious,” Felix sighed in frustration, turning toward her. “Because I was going to ask you to marry me.”
“........ huh?” Lucky’s expression quickly shifted from playful to gobsmacked, her lips parting into the shape of the ‘o’ later, her eyes turning into saucers.
“Well, not with the gem, but I was gonna used the gem as the centerpiece of the ring, you know? Because I can’t exactly craft jewelry, I figured I’d at least create a part of it.”
“So, I asked Eggor to teach me, and after about half an hour of busting his balls, he finally did. That’s why, uh, the explosions grew in frequency recently... because, well, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, and every time I get close to completing it, I get too excited and screw something up. There? Happy?”
“Eh? Lucky? You alright? Oh, you’re freaked out?”
“N-no!!” she cried out, suddenly lowering her head. “Just, uh, surprised.”
“Oh, come on. Like you didn’t suspect anything.” Felix chuckled, bringing over two plates of freshly fried bacon, some jam and two loafs of bread and sitting down across from her. “I’m as good at hiding things as Master is at holding back from pissing everyone off.”
“... y-you’re serious...” she mumbled faintly.
“Yeah.” he said. “But, well, because of your usual, anal persistence, the surprise is ruined.”
“... did I ever give you an impression I wanted a ring, or a custom-crafted gem?” she suddenly asked, looking up.
“E-eh? You... you don’t... want to get married?” Felix stuttered out with an expression of horror.
“I do,” she smiled gently. “But, I don’t want you to blow yourself up in the process of trying to create a random fucking gem for me. You could have just asked, you know?”
“... whether you want it or not, well, that’s kind of besides the point,” Felix said as he braved his heart. “It’s... I don’t even know how to describe it properly, heh. I’m not as good with words as Master is, or even you are... so, I wanted to show you, in my own way, how much you mean to me, you know? I know it sounds childish and stupid... but, I figured that if I could put a piece of my soul into something and give it to you... at least I’d come tenth of a way of conveying just how much you mean to me.”
“... you’re doing way better than that right now,” she said, grabbing his hand gently. “And with words no less. Heh, despite all the crap he spits, Lino did once say something to me, something which stuck to this very day. He said that, no matter the eloquence, no matter the complexity, the most important of things, the things that truly matter, can all be expressed in the simplest of ways.”
“... he did?” Felix asked dubiously.
“He did,” she nodded. “And, against all odds, he’s right.”
“... do you know when I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you?” Felix mumbled out after a few moments of silence between the two.
“When?” Lucky asked.
“It was shortly after we arrived on this continent,” he said. “Master was out, doing his usual thing of never telling us what he was doing, and you were once again cursing him out. Remember? We were sitting on that stone wall, just outside the town’s central square, near the Angel’s Fountain?”
“... oh, yeah.” Lucky mumbled.
“Then, suddenly, you stopped cursing and I looked over.” he continued. “You were staring at this old couple who was hoarded by some local gangsters. Then, out of nowhere, you sprinted over and proceeded to beat them half an inch away from death. Not only did you terrify the old couple to the point of passing out, you caused the entire class of children to burst out into tears while the nearby Guards were too terrified to approach you and apprehend you. However, you didn’t notice any of that. You just picked up those gangsters, threw them away, walked back to the wall, sat up, and smiled contently.”
“W-wait a goddamn second! Back up! Were people really terrified?!!”
“You had your own beliefs,” Felix continued, ignoring her question. “And you followed them freely. You didn’t care what others thought, and you freely told them to go fuck themselves if they had a problem with it. Heh, but, in the end, it was that smile that convinced me. I realized, then and there, that I’ve never smiled that freely... that Master never smiled that freely... that no one else I’ve ever met in my life smiled that freely... and then I swore to myself I wouldn’t fuck it up, no matter what.”
“... how come your most romantic moment of self-realization paints a pretty shitty picture of me?” Lucky chuckled bitterly, rolling her eyes.
“You told me to ask, so I’m just going to ask,” Felix suddenly got up from the chair and went down to one knee, grabbing Lucky’s hand tenderly. “Will you marry me?”