Onii felt like he was the luckiest person in the world.
He did not believe in the idea of a soulmate. However, if such a phantasmagorical dream were to exist, Amae would definitely fit the criteria.
While most people fall in love and settle down, Onii had heard from countless adventurers through his adventurers as Yang of Duality on the many struggles of lost love, arranged marriages, political scandals and affairs, and so on.
But what he could not bear, even to think in his mind, was a love that was not returned; unrequited love.
One-sided love. It's the feeling of being hopelessly in love with someone, all the while knowing that your feelings will never reach them.
The love is contradictory in that you feel incredible because you love someone so much, but simultaneously, you feel an overwhelming despair because you will never know what it is like to hold them in your arms, or touch their face, or kiss their lips. You will never know what it is like to wake up next to them in bed in the morning and share the journey of life together as a couple.
And someday, somewhere, they will fall in love with someone else. They will date. Be in a relationship. Marry and settle down. Perhaps even have kids. All the while knowing that your love will always remain unreachable.
If Amae had not returned Onii's feelings... what type of person would he be today?
Would he have become the quintessential adventurer in the Guild?
Would he still feel alone, remembering the days when he craved forming an authentic relationship with someone?
Would he have finally learned to enjoy life?
It was hard to know the paths of the what-ifs. But deep inside in his heart, Onii had a hunch that his life would be drastically different without Amae.
"What's wrong big brother? You seem a bit down."
Amae must have been paying attention because she pecked him on the cheek and displayed a concerned look. Onii smiled at the unexpected kiss that warmed his heart.
"Just thought how grateful I am to have you by my side... Sorry, that must have sounded random."
It truly was unexpected because Amae instantly widened her eyes in a jovial expression. Her face beamed brightly as if she was told the most beautiful girl in the world. Onii could not help but feel moved by her radiance in positive energy.
"Don't be sorry for your feelings. In fact, I like this part about you — how you are expressive and open when I ask."
"You like that part about me?"
"Of course, I think it's very big brother of you ♡"
Although Onii did not exactly know what it meant, he knew it was a compliment based on her positive tone and attitude.
"I just feel like I can be myself around you and I never felt that way about anyone else."
"I'm so happy to hear that," The little sister's lip blossomed into a beaming smile. "And you should know that I feel the same way too."
Amae casually laid on Onii's lap and made herself comfortable with a fluffy blanket. In response, he patted her head lightly. It felt like he was tending an adorable kitten to rest.
"If you want to talk, I'm here to listen."
She beamed innocently under the cover. It was quite an adorable sight to see; the petite girl was rolled up like a cinnamon bun and waiting patiently. Knowing each other for years, Amae probably knew something was up.
So that's why she's acting like this.
She's already one step ahead.
"Thank you," With a deep breath, Onii let out his inner struggles. "The peaceful life of what we had is now gone. Forever. Back at the Dojo, we would train with each other every day. Even with the Guild, we always adventured together under the alias of Yin and Yang. And living in a cabin together at Riverside, those were one of the happiest times of my life. But now, a new chapter has finally begun... And this time, we will be separated."
Departure with Amae. That thought was absolutely frightening because they were never apart for long periods of time. Five years of this was unimaginable.
"It's just... tough."
Responding to the anxiety in his voice, Amae nuzzled affectionately against his stomach.
"Big brother, although we may be apart, know that we are always connected right here."
She touched his upper chest, placing her palm softly on the beating heart. The action itself felt comforting, almost as if she was filling love inside that emotional wound.
"And honestly, I am absolutely terrified too. You know me, I don't handle change too well. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Like you said when Mari told us, we'll regret this decision for the rest of our lives if we don't accept it."
That's right... I did say that.
I wonder where all that determination went?
Amae smiled and continued in a soft tone.
"I always wanted to join clubs and participate in school events. And one day, go to one of those formal dances with you and eventually compete in Champions. Just think about it, big brother. We can actually be normal students for once and not have to worry about quests or protecting the world."
"We can live out the youth we never had!"
Onii never thought of it that way. The way his sister had reappraised the situation made his heart thump in excitement. Perhaps he could actually enjoy what Temple Academy had to offer during his stay here and make the best out of the espionage mission.
And if he felt lonely, she was only a couple of blocks away. Across the boundary of the Potentials.
"You're right, little sister. I should be thinking optimistically like you."
"Besides, if you miss cuddling with me, you can always use「Greater Teleportation」and join me in bed. But before that, I should probably introduce you to my roommate, Trinity. Wouldn't want her to call the dorm police on you."
Amae giggled playfully and extended her left hand to Onii's face, displaying a dazzling crystal ring that made the 5th tier utility-based spell readily accessible.
"I will drop by tomorrow," Onii intertwined her lifted hand with his and looked up at the warm chandelier, "Do you think I was weak for talking about my emotions?"
Amae shook her head instantly.
"On the contrary, I think you are strong. I know that it was difficult since men don't typically express how they feel. So I'm happy that you decided to show me that weak side of yours again."
"That's because you're such a great listener."
"Praise me more!"
"Okay, no more."
"Cheh, you suck~"
The two laughed then held onto each other's hand as a comfortable silence enveloped the air
Onii thought about the past. The very first time they met back at the Dojo — a completely different relationship to what they had now. They were both orphans, adopted and raised by the Grandmaster.
From strangers to family, it was always an interesting tale to tell why they decided to conduct the ancient tradition of Blood Initiation Rite.
Marriage seemed like a legal contract with strings attached so the two wanted something unique to symbolize their love. The answer to enhancing their siblingship was simple — blood-relations.
To the two, becoming family was the culmination of a special and intimate relationship. One that would surpass everything. Abandoned and with no connections to the past, they wanted to become actual siblings. To become the family they never had.
But an incest relationship...?
Those that conducted the Blood Initiation Rite and became lovers were rare. After all, the ritual was for those wish to be affiliated to a clan or the same lineage. It was popular back in the Feudal Age when royal bloodline and fidelity were of major importance.
But now in modern times, things were different.
People that knew could not understand the logic behind their decision and some even refused to accept such a taboo relationship. Despite all the judgments and confused gazes, they persisted. Throughout the past years, the two learned they did not need other people's approval or validation to define their relationship.
This was the path they decided. The oath they took. The promise they made.
It was something that other people would and could not understand.
But who cares? Because all that mattered was being family.
Onii had realized the importance of a quote he heard once from a philosopher: "those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
If they were happy and not harming other people, then what exactly was wrong with being siblings and in love?
Deep down, the two knew they do not have to be alone in their struggles anymore. They could rely on each other for support and improve as a whole unit. And as time passes, the duo will continue to grow old and experience the journey of life. Together.
Their siblingship. As long as Onii lives, he will treasure his promise with Amae with all his heart. Even if society may not accept their relationship.
And he will fight against the whole world if he has to...
"Big brother, I want to talk to you about something before we discuss with Mari."
"What is it?"
"Do you remember the Temeculan Massacre? More specifically, the Heavenlight we fought."
Amae rose up and sat on Onii's lap, looking at him straight in the eye. He instantly knew it was serious.
"Yes. That slave girl with an insanely high magical aptitude, capable of using up to 3rd tier."
Amae nodded, "I saw her at my Orientation today. Apparently, she's an S-rank now. Third Seat of the entire Temple Academy."
Onii's heart thumped as he heard those words.
"Yes, it's her." Amae said in a resounding tone as memories of the Temeculan Massacre began overflowing inside Onii's mind. It was perhaps one of the most difficult quests that Duality had encountered during the height of their activity. And it was all because of the unexpected encounter with that girl.
With a solemn voice that seemed to shudder the air itself, Amae continued.
"It's Mirai... Mirai Heavenlight."
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