"The primary goal of this organization is to locate and destroy the Core of the Fallen Angel's Soul," Cyrus declares, his gaze fixed on the Sacred Water.
Raia creases her brow as she digs into her memory. Simon told her a story about an angel sent to the mortal world to eliminate the Great Wizard, but she fell in love with him instead and helped him by opening the Western Gate. As a result, the God of Light stripped her of her divinity.
What a reckless angel.
"The Fallen Angel was the guardian of the Western Gate," Cyrus says.
"And her soul is the key to close that gate," Raia adds, looking at him with a firm expression. "I recall my master telling me that the Twelve Prophets severely wounded the angel, but before she died, the Great Wizard cast a spell on her soul."
Cyrus nods. "Oh, yes. He protected the core of her soul because she is the key to closing the gate between the mortal world and the Abyss. To put it simply, the Great Wizard protected the key."
"So where do we really find this Core?" Raia asks, her gaze fixed on the Sacred Water.
It takes a few moments for Cyrus to respond. "No one knows where it is, not even the Great Wizard, because her soul vanished after she died. However, because a spell was cast on her soul, it gave birth to an egg, which we call the Core."
"And we have to destroy every evil creature, especially those high-level demons to search for it," Raia says, recalling what Simon told her about their main mission.
Cyrus nods. "Once the Core of the Fallen Angel's Soul is destroyed, our chances of defeating the forces of darkness will greatly increase. That is why we have to find it first before the Great Wizard can. Our world's fate is in the hands of whoever finds it first. But, of course, remember that you are saviors, and you must save those in need."
Silence falls, and they both stare at the Sacred Water.
"Bishop Galbraith," Raia says, her gaze fixed on the divine water. "I've never imagined myself as a savior, and I've never considered becoming one. I only destroy demons and purify souls. So I couldn't guarantee you that I would always save people. For me, saving souls or lives is merely a lucky byproduct of my job as a destroyer."
If she aims to be a savior or a hero, she will only end up disappointing the world and herself. There will certainly be times when she will fail to save someone. Failing to save someone is the same as failing to fulfill her role as a savior. And as long as there are expectations, there will be disappointments.
As a destroyer, I will always have another chance to destroy what I have failed to destroy. But, for saviors, there are no second chances to save someone they failed to save.
That's why I'd rather be a destroyer. No expectations, no disappointments. Besides, not everyone deserves to be saved.
"I understand," Cyrus responds after a stretch of silence. He turns to face her and smiles. "Then, are you ready to become an official destroyer of darkness?"
Determination warms Raia from within. The desire to destroy every demonic being in their world burns within her. She'll undoubtedly hunt them all for the rest of her life without being told. She'll destroy them all until she no longer needs to be anyone's weapon.
Until she can restore the balance of the world.
Demons . . . such impediments shall be eliminated. Then soon I'll be untethered from anyone's clutches.
Wipe them out.
Raia takes in a deep breath and looks at Cyrus. "I'm prepared to be Branded."
Cyrus's eyes sparkle behind his rimless rectangle glasses. "Well, why don't you go inside that water right now?"
Raia maintains a firm expression as she moves closer to the cylindrical water, then raises a hand. She casts a glance at Cyrus before dipping her fingertips into the water. It's cold against her skin, but something warm seeps through her veins. Her heartbeat quickens.
To her surprise, bubbles form in the water and a strong force sucks her into it. Her eyes grow wide in horror as she tries to swim out of the water. Her vision blurs and she stretches her hand, but her palm connects with a hard surface as though there's glass around her.
Raia's gaze falls on Cyrus, and she opens her mouth as if to say something, but the young man remains calm while watching her.
"Now, new disciple. Prove to us that you are worthy of being Azarios's holy warrior. Prove to me that you deserve to become an Aragon," he says in a calm voice, loud enough for Raia to hear.
He marches to the door, an odd smile creeping across his face. He presses the light switch against the wall, and the light above Raia dims, putting the room in entire darkness. She might have already succumbed to the darkness if it weren't for the faint glow of the cross beneath her and her silver necklace.
Her thoughts crumble as the emotions she's been trying to bury wash over her like a tidal wave. Fear flows through her as she struggled to breathe. She's drowning - not in the water, but unpleasant memories.
"Heal the patient, do it or no food for a day."
"You were born to be a healer. That is who you are and will always be."
"I'll be gone for a while. I'll be back soon."
"Evil exists among us."
"Trust the Light. Trust Azarios."
"I'm from a holy organization called Nirvana Order."
"Raia, from now on I'll be your father."
Raia stills and then she closes her eyes. The voices continue to echo in her head, but she is no longer listening. She reaches for her necklace.
Answer my call, Raphael, she thinks, and a flaming longsword materializes in her hand.
The bright orange flame surrounding the blade illuminates the darkness around them, even brighter than the fluorescent light did earlier. Her sword passes through the invisible glass, allowing her to escape the water, her feet gently landing on the floor. She's as dry as dust, with no sign of ever having been touched by water.
Her eyes open, and she points her sword at Cyrus. "What the hell was that all about?" Her deep voice echoes off the walls as she locks her gaze on him.
Cyrus smiles at her, his gentle eyes meeting her fiery ones, oblivious to the heat she's radiating. "Raia Allen, I'd like to congratulate you on becoming an Aragon. You are now an official disciple of Azarios."
Burning rage hiss through Raia's body. She charges at him with all her might. The flame surrounding her sword's blade dissipates, transforming it into a normal weapon. The razor-sharp blade comes to a halt two inches from Cyrus's neck.
If the holy substance that encases the Blessing becomes inactive, it turns into a regular weapon capable of harming not only demons but any other existence with a corporeal body.
That includes humans.
"Calm down, Raia. I told you already that the Sacred Water is a test of faith," Cyrus says whilst maintaining his calm exterior.
"Was it necessary to show me such unpleasant things?" Raia snarls, her grip on the sword quivering.
Cyrus takes off his glasses, and his amber eyes pierce her grey ones. "That is to prevent a disciple from falling to Depravity."