Elysium, the Northern Capital, was a city that was very close to what Gaius’ own conception of a modern city back on Earth. Split into three distinct areas, Twilight Elysium was the home of many a tall building, complete with giant, animated billboards that reported any news going on in the Five Lands. It was the political, business and scientific hub of the Mortal Light Dynasty, a place where entry itself was restricted, even to the powerful.
Upper Elysium was the home of the rich and influential people in the North. Geographically, it surrounded Twilight Elysium, which to Gaius just showed how much more the leaders of the North treasured the secretive place over their people. In contrast, Lower Elysium itself reminded Gaius of Ark City and the other cities in the South; they were split into poor and not-so-poor groups — there was probably a criminal underbelly too.
And in this complex place, full of webs, the Kusanagi family decided to settle down in Upper Elysium. It was a no-brainer, all things considered. Upper Elysium was probably the sole ticket into Twilight Elysium, the true hub of power. Kenouji wasn’t going to miss this chance for anything.
Naturally, Gaius, Isabelle and Nakama decided to tag along. Kenouji was adamant on getting them a mansion, but after a few minutes of wrangling, Gaius had imposed his own will on him. They would handle the troublesome paperwork, while the three would fork out the payment. After all, the boy wanted to lay things out fully — it would be a problem if they started treating him like a hired thug. A day after they arrived, everyone had settled down into their newly-purchased homes.
“Seems like the world’s in an odd state of peace now,” Isabelle murmured, her eyes on the giant screen stuck on the wall. The three of them were sitting on a warm, comfortable rug…or rather, Gaius and Isabelle were sitting on it. Nakama was sitting on Isabelle’s lap, watching the screen on the wall with huge interest. The North had a news program of its own, which was far better than newspapers and random clippings pinned on the local Adventurers’ Guild.
“Except for the East,” Gaius said. “But even then, it’s the Paragons that are duking it out, without any civilian presence whatsoever. And the remnants of Conrah’s forces are hunkering down in Feng-Lang quietly. I think we can return to the South for a while — you should see your family.”
Isabelle looked like Nakama, whose eyes were blinking back at her. The little girl was clearly eager to meet the rest of Isabelle’s family. Nakama, who viewed Isabelle as a cross between a sister and a mother figure, would naturally treat Isabelle’s kin as her own too — it would be healthy for her mindset too.
“Is that okay?” Isabelle asked. “I mean, Nakama needs to go to school and everything. If I’m not here…”
“We’ll be going with you,” Gaius said. “You’re family. Your kin are ours too. Right, Nakama?”
“Yes!” She nodded. “I want to see them! I want to have a grandfather and grandmother too!”
“Grandfather passed away some time ago,” Isabelle replied, a gentle smile on her face. “We only have grandmother now.”
“Oh…” Nakama looked down for a moment, and then perked herself up. “I want to see grandmother then!”
Isabelle trembled for a moment, and then reached out to Nakama, pinching her little cheeks gently. “I’ll bring you, then. You and Gaius both. I’ll bring you both home to see them.”
Home…Gaius grinned. Nakama and Isabelle were pretty much inseparable — they were like close siblings at this point. One of the reasons that Isabelle didn’t want to go back was probably because she didn’t want to leave Nakama alone, and now that Gaius had settled that issue…
“We’ll settle a few things here and there. I think we should return to the South only after the Human God’s deadline has passed too,” said Gaius. “Nexus, can we use your return function for this? I’ll top up the ether cores and gems used when we get to the Library.”
“I suppose I can make an exception,” said the sculpture. Nexus was sitting with Nakama’s sentient knife, Stone, and the new additional to this odd troupe, the azure crystal Nakama had named Lightning. They looked like they were communicating with each other through non-verbal means, but after his words, Lightning started chasing Stone, bumping it with a hint of joy a moment later.
Gaius’ vision blurred at that moment, and before he knew it, he was in the depths of a memory once more.
It was…a less interactive memory than the recent ones. Long tables and chairs were set up, in a style that reminded Gaius of his time at Eo-Seu. Tens of children were chatting and playing catch with each other. Gaius, however, was watching them from a higher level — his body was leaning on a railing…and Memory-Gaius was evidently chatting to someone.
His conversation partner’s face was shadowed, blurred out. Gaius couldn’t tell what the him back then was talking about, but he could at least tell that Memory-Gaius was probably furious, from the agitated gestures he was making.
This memory…is close to my twilight years, it seems. He had caught a few glimpses of his hands as they moved around rapidly — veins, pallid skin, old scars…all of them pointed to age and a lifetime of injuries.
The scene disintegrated as Memory-Gaius slammed his hand onto the metal railing, returning Gaius to Orb.
“Gaius?” Nexus called out. The boy jolted slightly to see the others looking at him, Stone and Lightning included, and shook his head.
“I’m fine,” said the boy. “Just thought of something when I saw you three. Are you guys planning to increase your ranks? Make an army or something?”
“You sure tell a good joke,” said Nexus. “Fine, even if we wanted to, how can we actually conduct an uprising? We’re a sculpture, a knife and a crystal. And I can barely float, let alone fly.”
The sculpture glanced at the other two little buggers, and then shook his head. Of the three, Nexus alone couldn’t really do anything resembling controlled flight, while Stone was quite capable of killing someone by itself. As for Lightning…well, Nakama didn’t care about its abilities at all.
“True. Teach them well, okay? You guys have been taking a nice long break on the ferry ride, but you lot should exercise too,” said Gaius.
The crystal tilted to the side.
“Nexus,” said Gaius, “you can start the initiation.”
The sculpture nodded. “Got it, Master Gaius. We’ll make a man out of you yet, Lightning!”