A young lady who seemed to be the embodiment of all beauty stood alone beneath the moonlight. The bluish-white radiance danced across her body, which sparkled brilliantly in response. It was as though a goddess had descended from the heavens to grace the earth.
Onii noticed several students staring agape at her from the sides, perhaps wondering why a fair maiden was by herself near the fountain.
She turned to face him as he approached, as if hearing the footsteps of her beloved. In a swift motion, the girl leaped with all her faith.
Amae smiled and landed perfectly into Onii's embrace, burying her face deep in his chest. He could smell a faint vanilla fragrance that reminded him of the shampoo they used back at the Dojo.
"What do you mean by 'recharging'?"
"It means I'm receiving my daily dose of big brother!"
Amae's rosy-pink lips blossomed into a beaming smile as she glanced up innocently.
"Because if I don't have enough then I won't be able to go to class tomorrow~"
Onii chuckled, brushing the fallen jet-black hair onto the crevice of her left ear. It felt soft and silky around his fingertips.
"That would be bad, make sure you charge plenty then."
"Don't mind if I do!"
Although it was nighttime, white lampposts stretched across on both sides of the main walkway, offering plentiful light on the vast school ground. Instead of coal or candles, Onii heard that this school used mana as fuel, which proved to be much more efficient because it lasted the entire night.
"The school is so beautiful at night, it's almost like a dating spot."
"It really is, I love how modern everything feels."
After a minute of maximum recharging, Onii and Amae headed outside to enjoy their spontaneous evening date.
♦ ♦ ♦
In rural regions, Onii and Amae learned that people were used to sleeping at dusk. This was because lamps and its associated materials required a constant amount of funds. Poor villages typically lived a regimented lifestyle of working in the day and resting at night.
However, life in the Capital of Libertea was significantly different from how it was in the agricultural regions. This distinction was particularly apparent in the busy city streets as it sprang into nightlife after the sunset.
The mansions lining near the outskirts of Temple Academy were regal and well-furnished, radiating an atmosphere of wealth and prosperity.
The same set of streetlights sprouted on both sides of the road, glowing in a welcoming manner. There were many guards on patrol, mindful of the civilian's safety in their surroundings.
"So this is what it's like to live in a rich area!" Amae's eyes glowed fervently. "I can't wait to explore and go shopping at the famous Santa Anita mall."
"I heard from Mari there's a famous dessert shop called Oh My Pan around there."
"THEN WE MUST GO!" Onii laughed at his sweet-tooth of a sister, who seemed to be drooling in her mind. "Added onto the bucket list!"
As the two siblings approach closer to Rose Entrance, the surrounding houses gradually became more old and traditional. Hardly any of them were fancy. However, there were many ways to view this area. Some would consider it to be steeped in historical flavor, while others would consider it dull and stale.
"So this is the Libertea Old Town! It looks completely different than how it was in the morning."
"Yeah, I heard this place comes alive during the night. They have a nightclub, major arcade center and lots of restaurants that have KBBQ and hot pot. Adventurers love to chill around here for food or a drink after questing."
"That sounds so much fun, we should do the same!"
"I suppose we can. We haven't had alcohol in a while."
With a smirk, Amae leaned in close and asked softly.
"So... did you miss me, big brother?"
"Do you even need to ask?"
"I still want to hear you say it."
"I guess it can't be helped," Onii knew he would never hear the end of it if he refuses to say those three words. "I missed you."
Amae wiggled happily and replied with a quick side hug, "I have so much to tell you — like my new friend Trinity and how everyone in A1-class was so welcoming and friendly. I was even voted as the class representative. And..."
Onii smiled warmly.
He was so glad that Amae was doing so well on the first day of school. Knowing her fun personality and magical prowess, she fitted right in the A-class without a problem.
Plus, she was a natural beauty, often bathed in enthralled gazes from many onlookers. Of course, this was a downside when they were together. At the very least, Onii hoped that her classmates were genuine in their interactions and not only after her good looks.
"Little sister, can you message Mari and tell her we will be visiting?"
"We are going to the Guild already?"
"We're nearby and something happened today so I have to update the mission's status," Oni held up his AI with his right thumb and index finger, spinning it around casually. "You saw the duel right?"
"Of course I did~" Amae smiled but said nothing more. They will have to discuss properly about the duel later and how it will affect the mission.
"And a few questions came into mind when I met my instructor."
"Could it be... that you are actually into older women?!"
Amae replied in consternation and opened her jaws.
Onii karate-chopped his little sister on the head. In response, Amae pursed her lips and pouted but as seconds flew by, the duo burst into genial laughter.
"Haha. You're a funny one, aren't you?"
"I try my best."
Onii held Amae's left hand up to his chest, revealing a dazzling crystal ring that was embedded in runic symbols. Although its appearance looked comparable to a luxurious accessory for lovers, it actually possessed a hidden magical spell.
"Still think I'm into older women?"
Amae pressed both of her hands to her cheeks.
"Noo... But I have a new dilemma — what if my classmates think I'm married to you...?"
"I wouldn't mind if they did."
Onii smiled while his sister's face grew into a lovable tomato-red.
「 Ring of Interconnection 」is a utility-based item that teleports contracted users to each other within a certain range. The effect could be used once per day and the duo obtained it from slaying a Legendary-Tier monster a few years ago.
The rings became a valuable asset when they enrolled in Temple Academy and separated due to the ranking disparity. In emergency situations, Onii could teleport to his little sister in a matter of seconds and the same applied for Amae. But above all, it serves as a love token of their siblingship.
"This seems like a good spot, little sister," Onii said as they walked to a wooden bench on the side of the streets.
"Alright, if you'll excuse me."
The two sat down while Amae closed her eyes, placing her index and middle fingers on the right temple. To the nearby travelers, the beautiful maiden looked like she was taking a break from an evening stroll.
「 Direct Message 」was a popular utility-based spell that many magicians favored in terms of long-term communication. Although it required both sender and receiver to use mana and possess magic affinity, it was the most convenient method to deliver quick, short information.
After a minute, Amae finally opened her eyes and smiled.
"Mari said she will be waiting in the front lobby."
"How long has it been since we last saw her?"
"Maybe a couple of months?"
Onii and Amae stood up and made their way towards a more secluded area. Boisterous noises began to fade away as they continued down multiple alleyways.
"I completely forgot, but can you message Mari again to prepare some food?"
"Silly boy, I already asked."
Amae wiggled her index finger in front of Onii's face and grinned, "Tsk tsk tsk. What would you do without me? Besides, I didn't forget about the promise from this morning — I told Mari to bill the food on my account."
"Technically it's still our account."
"Psh~ this is why I hate joint banking. I can't even treat you if I want to because our money is combined."
"No worries, it's the thought that counts."
Onii patted Amae on the head while she let out a sigh.
"If you are going to praise me, I'm sure you can do better than that."
It was a statement mixed with a hint of playfulness. Seeing how Amae curled her lips like a cat, Onii decided to play along.
"You're a cutie patootie."
"You're so wonderful and smart. I am so proud of you for getting placed in A1-class."
"My little sister can't be this cute...?"
"Okay, you passed."
The two laughed to themselves while interlocking their fingers. It was silly things like this that drew each other together in the first place.
"Alright enough praises, you have our masks ready?"
"Of course — Duality is always ready when we are together."
♦ ♦ ♦
After finding the perfect spot — a dimly-lit alleyway, Amae chanted a spell.
"「Greater Concealment — Area Small 」"
An invisible dome-shaped wave erupted from the female magician, expanding outward until it stopped a few feet away from their position. Despite the noises of boisterous laughter and shouting, Onii and Amae could hear only each other's breathing underneath the barrier.
"It looks like there's no one else here. I'm ready when you are, little sister."
As Amae uttered incantations in lightning speed, faint blue shards of light materialized into existence in front of the two siblings. Within a couple of seconds, the illumination gradually transformed into a panoply of equipment.
"How long has it been since our last adventure?" Amae examined her gears with a bittersweet smile. "It feels like ages since we wore our outfit."
"About half a year ago."
"So many memories were made — both good and the bad." Amae paused for a moment, gazing at the floating pieces of equipment which brought back powerful evocative memories. "Do you ever miss those days?"
Onii patted his sister on the head and smiled warmly.
"I do. But life is just one story. The days that inadvertently pass by are irreplaceable and will never come again. And as sad it may be, it's also beautiful that we got to experience that specific chapter of our life."
Silence filled the air as if Amae was contemplating about the beauty behind that quote.
"Do you remember when we were Gold-tier and that desperate-looking man came begging to join us on the treasure hunt? He was actually quite insightful and shared this wisdom when we sat by the campfire."
"Ah, I remember now!" Amae's eyes sparkled in excitement. "The one who needed money to support his daughter right? I wonder how he's doing now."
"I'm sure they're doing well."
The two smiled nostalgically. Because after hearing his heartfelt story, Amae and Onii decided to split most of the rewards to him. Seeing his teary eyes and utter gratitude, it was a decision that still warmed their hearts to this day.
The beauty of every adventure was in its uniqueness. The endless possibility that exists. By the end, there was always something new to be learned. To be experienced. To look back fondly with the people who embarked together.
Maybe that was why the two loved being adventurers.
Amae equipped her 'Fox-Kabuki' mask while Onii covered his own with a 'Wolf-Kabuki mask'. The duo then each wrapped themselves in a daunting midnight-black hooded cloak that covered their entire body
"How do I look?'
"Elegant and deadly."
In a matter of seconds, the image of Temple Academy students vanished and what was left in their place were two mysterious figures, veiled in their signature clothing.
The animal masks that concealed their faces were pure white, trimmed in an uncanny blood red with golden linings. Due to the dark contrast of their outfit, the mask appeared more menacing and stood out in a striking manner.
In their palms, the two siblings held onto their customized pendant that was awarded since their ascension to the highest rank. A snow-white one for the Wolf and in stark contrast, a midnight-black one for the Fox. A concrete proof that represented the peak of humanity.
As the invisible barrier dispersed, Yin and Yang departed for their next destination — Adventurer's Guild. It was time for Duality to reappear from their hiatus.
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