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93.33% Moonless Nights / Chapter 28: So Love Me As I Am

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Chapter 28: So Love Me As I Am

Smoke curled above the ramparts into a blood-red sky. Beside them, a flag bearing the crest of the Aclarian Empire waved overhead, standing obstinately despite the damage to it, as though mocking the efforts of the rebels below. A line of Aclarian soldiers filed past them, marching with purpose to the battlefield, but they paid Zagiha and Hana no mind.

"Did you… send us back in time?" asked Hana.

Zagiha shook his head. "Do I look like the God of Time to you?" he said. "I'm just replaying my old memories. The people you see here are nothing more than remnants of bygone days. No matter what you do, you can't interact with them."

To prove his point, he walked through the line of soldiers. They didn't part for him or even yell; Zagiha just phased through them like a ghost. Hana thought the surroundings looked remarkably lifelike for a reconstruction from memory.

"Or maybe I shouldn't say they're my memories, exactly," Zagiha continued. "How do I explain this…? Us Gods have access to a compendium of all history. It's like having a complete set of encyclopedias, but instead of reading about the event you want, you get to experience it for yourself." Hana followed him down the road, tracking the buildings as they travelled. They must've been very impressive until recently, when now they were torn apart brick by brick and burnt from the inside out.

In modern times, only a few buildings from the Aclarian Empire were still in use. The others were in ruins and designated as historical tourist destinations. It was almost surreal to experience them as they once were—functional, busy places bustling with people going about their daily lives.

"Then that's a good thing!" said Hana.

"Why's that?" asked Zagiha.

"If they're not your memories, they can't be biased."

"No, they can't," he assured her, "so you'll see for real I'm a horrible person."

"When was the last time you visited this memory?"

He paused. "I haven't," he said. "Why would I want to revisit the war? You think the riots these days are bad? You haven't seen anything yet."

As they walked, the tolls of war became more apparent. What few civilians were left hid behind the curtains as they passed, and a rotting smell surrounded them. Hana covered her nose, gagging. It was fetid and oppressive, but at the same time oddly sweet. And the smell became more and more unbearable, until they got to its source. Hana let out a scream at the grisly sight in front of her. The smell radiated from a pile of dead bodies, stacked several meters high and in various states of decay.

"Did the… did the Aclarians do that?" she stuttered, trying her best to find her words.

Zagiha looked at them and shook his head. "Some of these people were murdered," he said. A rat emerged from under one of the bodies and scampered down the pile into the sewers. "But others starved or died from sickness. The rebels lay to siege to this city and cut off supply lines, so many died from hunger. And since they couldn't get out to bury the deceased, disease spread rampantly as the bodies decomposed. This was the natural result of that decision."

Hana couldn't tear her eyes away from the sight. It was horrible, but her subconscious wanted her to sear the image in her mind. They never learned about this in school. As far as they were taught, the Aclarians were an evil society that slaughtered all dissidents, and the rebels were heroic paragons of virtue. A dirty tactic like this didn't fit into that image at all.

Hana hesitated. "And did you… did you give that order?" she asked.

Zagiha didn't answer that. "We can only be here as long as I have access to my full power," he said evenly. "Come on. We don't have much time."

She just did as she was told. He led them out of the city and into a scorched field littered with bones. Swords, boots, medals—all of these things remained, abandoned and untouched, their owners long since crumbled back into the earth. Zagiha didn't address any of her questions further. He just led her through the field, further and further away until the imposing outline of the former Temple of Aypos shrunk into nothing more than a little dot. And then they left the field and entered a forest. If they were in the capital of the Aclarian Empire, then this forest didn't exist in Gesmaura anymore, Hana noted. The Aclarians burned it down in a last-ditch effort to drive away the rebel forces, but it backfired on them instead and ultimately played into Isaana's strategy, leading to their defeat. So Isaana wasn't a Goddess yet. At the moment, she was just a normal human somewhere around here with no inkling of an idea she was about to ascend to godhood.

After what seemed like hours (but was probably only a few seconds in real-time), they entered a well-hidden encampment. It was cobbled together with a few ratty tarps and rusted pots, splashed filthy in wet, heavy mud. Several injured people lay beneath one of the tarps with nothing between them and the muck except some threadbare horse blankets, moaning in pain. Hana peered at them, shocked by the state of their injuries. Somehow, the sight of them was even worse than that of the bodies—because while those people were already dead, these people were dying and suffering in slow and quiet agony.

They didn't have any uniforms, or any fancy weapons, for that matter. This must be a rebel camp, then. By the looks of what they had, it was impressive they held their ground for this long, but if these were the only survivors of this company left, the situation was dire.

"—Can't be done," came a voice from inside one of the tents. Hana paused. "It's absurd to continue the siege with these losses," the voice continued.

That voice… Zagiha?

"If we press forward, the Aclarian army will wipe us out," said the Zagiha of the past. "There's no way we can hold the advantage with these many casualties. The best course of action is to give up the city and regroup before the army gets here and stomps us out for good."

"That cautious attitude is the reason why you don't have any major wins, meow," came a female voice Hana didn't recognize.

"Meow?" Wasn't that a bit inappropriate to say in the context of the conversation?

"Slow and steady wins the race," Zagiha argued back with her.

… Well, that was the gist of what they said. The Western Gesmauran they spoke sounded a lot different than it did in the present, but she understood enough to get an inkling of what was going on.

The Zagiha of current times entered the tent, ushering Hana in. Inside were Zagiha and the woman Hana didn't know. Zagiha's hair was shorter back in the old days, and he wore old-timey clothing. The fanciful frills and ruffles of sixteenth century fashion clashed with the smart dress shirt and tie he wore today.

As for the woman he was with… well, she WAS very cat-like. She sported a head of bright pink hair, anachronistic for the time period. Then again, if it was natural, that meant she had to be a Goddess. Going by deduction, Hana realized she was Kaatsche, Goddess of Cats, and the second biggest player in the Continental War.

"Any gains you've made have come at the cost of too many casualties!" said past-Zagiha.

"We don't have the time or the resources to regroup," Kaatsche argued back. She crossed her arms. "Either we make the final push, or we're kept under Aypos' thumb for the rest of eternity!"

"I…"

"Both you and I share the same goal, but I swear, I can't stand mew sometimes. Always pondering the ins and outs and the pros and cons. What makes you think the other forces will help us? No one can agree on anything, meow. But one thing I know for certain is if you give the Aclarians any bit of wiggle room, they'll catch up to us, and what they'll do to the humans is way worse than being killed on the battlefield."

Current Zagiha left the tent, shaking his head as he did so.

"I still don't get how you're a monster?" said Hana. "By the sounds of it, you really did care about the rebel forces."

Zagiha scowled. "We haven't gone back far enough," he answered. "But this just goes to show I'm a weakling. I don't have the will to do anything on my own, and when I do make a decision, it's always the wrong one." His frown deepened. "After this, I followed through on withdrawing my troops. Kaatsche was right. The Aclarians ambushed us, and most were killed. Modrica deserves a real leader. I've always been good with academia and theoretical things, but when it comes to real life, I drop the ball. I may talk like I know what I'm doing, but I don't. I'm a coward. Show my strength through brute force? I'm just running away from solving things with my words because I know I'll screw it up."

"But…"

He didn't give her even a breath.

"Over two thousand years ago, when I devised the first law system, everything seemed so clear to me. 'This is how to make a perfect society!' I thought. But that was just the way I thought the world worked. That first draft was awful, so I locked myself away, constantly trying to improve the system, but in the process, I lost touch with humanity, and now I'm like… this. I made things worse for myself."

"What about the things you've done right?"

"What I've done right?"

"You've been around for almost twenty five hundred years now. You haven't done everything wrong."

"… Let's go back a little further."

Suddenly, the scene shifted, and when it came into focus, they were back in the Aclarian capital city. This time, it shone in its natural splendor, but a dark atmosphere hung over it. And that was when Hana realized they were standing atop the great stone footsteps that led to Aypos's Temple. Zagiha guided her down the halls.

This place was ridiculous. Neither Rirasiru's nor Isaana's Temples were this large and luxurious (Zagiha's, she supposed, was the Courthouse, but it was little more than a pile of ashes now). It was almost a marvel how people so long ago managed such a humongous feat of architecture.

But it was built on a foundation of bones from slave labor, dissidents who chose to worship Gods other than Aypos. And even if it was just a memory, the air was stifling and mired in the scent of blood.

Zagiha stopped in front of a large set of doors, which appeared to lead to an auditorium of some sort. And then, his sharp voice rang out from the other side.

"Aypos! Concede to our demands or face the consequences! We were willing to overlook you cozying up to the warlords, but to take our territory and our followers is unforgivable!"

A flurry of voices chattered in anger.

Hana couldn't hear Aypos's reply, but whatever he said enraged Zagiha to his very core.

"You cannot do with our people whatever you please. You force them to work, torture them, and murder them. How could we stand by and let that happen? You will allow our followers to worship us in peace, or we'll tear your empire to the ground. Your choice."

Another muffled reply, and Zagiha's yelling reached a crescendo. "If that's what you want, that's what you get! I don't have time to argue with idiots! Everyone! The forum is dismissed!"

A few seconds later, the doors swung open and a small handful of people shuffled out. Well, not people. With their colorful coifs and unnatural beauty, Hana figured they were all Gods.

"Your tongue is too sharp, Zagiha," said an older God. "You mustn't let your temper get the better of you."

"So a proper God would stand idly by and let themselves be humiliated?" past Zagiha seethed, making his way to the front of the throng. "We are the laughing stock of the entire pantheon. Why should he be able to stomp on my—our reputations? Our followers must serve us with no interruptions. It's the natural order of things."

"The people don't serve us, Zagiha," was the other's weary reply. "We serve the people. Our job is to manage the aspects of the Outer One's creation that were assigned to us, nothing more."

"The humans started worshiping us on their own accord," a purple-haired Goddess chimed in. "It's what they decided to do for some reason. They aren't obligated to do it, and to hoard them for your own egotistical means is the height of arrogance."

"I worked so hard on my legal model for hundreds of years." Zagiha glared daggers at them. "And then Aypos swooped in and rendered it moot. If you remove humans from the equation, do you think it's fair for him to prevent us from our duties? Don't you think it's wrong to kill?"

"Well… you have a point with both those things, but what would we do about it? Of course we're angry, too, but without any plan those threats you made back there are nothing more than a bunch of hot air."

Zagiha folded his arms. "I say we gather up our followers and incite a rebellion against the Aclarian Empire."

A few Gods laughed.

"Are you crazy? We have barely any followers left, and even with our powers combined, none are more suited to combat than Aypos's magic."

"We must do something," said Zagiha.

"Cool your heels, Godling. Let's try meeting with Aypos again."

"… You can't reason with a brute. If you ever want to go with my idea, you know where to find me."

The older God looked back at him and shook his head. And then the other Gods left him behind.

All, except for one.

"The law is reason without emeowtion, eh?" said Kaatsche, grinning at him.

"Are you here to mock me, too?"

"Mew? No." She shook her head emphatically. "I'd like to talk to you about this little rebellion idea of yours."

--

Just like that, the scene shut off, and Hana found herself back on top of the building. The light aura surrounding Zagiha was gone, and he collapsed, weaker than a sheet of paper.

He couldn't maintain his true form any longer.

"Zagiha?" asked Hana, leaning over him. "Are you okay?"

"Hana…" He looked up at her, and the heartbroken expression he wore on his face explained it all. "I'll never be okay." He struggled back to a seated position and put his head in his hands. "… So it's over," he said. "I'm out of power, and I've accomplished nothing. Please leave me alone. That's an order."

Hana sighed and sat down next to him, crossing her legs. "Sorry, Zagiha, but I don't follow the Gods. And I don't think you're weak," she said.

"What do you know about weakness? You're young and have never done anything wrong. It's okay for you to be weak. I'm supposed to be a shining beacon of light the people can look up to, but I'm nothing more than a flicker than can go out at the slightest breeze…"

"You're right. I don't know what you're going through." She laid her head on his arm. Zagiha tensed up, but he didn't draw away. "You've kept that guilt inside you for so long. You work yourself to death, trying to make it up to the Gesmauran people, but that guilt will never go away, and you know it."

"… How come you're so much more mature than I am? I just wanted to make it up to them."

"You're not perfect, and you can't be perfect. None of us can. Actually, you're very, very… very flawed. You're elitist, selfish, unconfident, and a whole lot of other things. You never think about the consequences of your words before you say them, not to mention you're pretentious as hell. And your perfectionism drives everyone you meet crazy! But…"

"Tell me something I don't know."

"Then I will. What I was saying is… but you have a lot of good qualities, too. You really do care. Your actions are so much kinder than your words. While I wish you were gentler sometimes, you can't argue there's anyone more dedicated to Gesmaura than you."

"I can't fight for you, you know," Zagiha answered.

"Then you don't have to fight. No one is good at everything. I mean… I'm not good at fashion, right? You've said as much."

"No, you're not at all." He exhaled. "Your outfit today is killing me on the inside."

Hana chuckled. "I knew you'd hate it."

"B-But!" he backtracked. "I like that you wear styles from the last decade and clashing prints! Because it's part of you! And you're…" He pursed his lips. "Because it's one of the things than makes you Hana. And I never want you to be anything other than Hana, because you are so special to me. All of your good qualities, all of your flaws, your quirks, your constant backtalk… It's you! And there's no one quite so precious as you…"

Hana blushed.

"Hey, Hana?" Zagiha looked up at her for the first time in several minutes. "When I took you to Minumna, and we were in the forest… do you remember that? I was delusional? While I was, what did I say to you?"

Hana's blush deepened. "Do you really want to know?"

"Just tell me."

She sighed. "All right. You said I wasn't ugly and dumb."

"… Oh."

Why did he sound so disappointed? What was he hoping he said?

"And you also said I'm wonderful."

He hiccupped. At first Hana thought it was due to another sob, but his face lightened up and he beamed at her. He looked radiant and happy and vulnerable all at once, and while she didn't say it out loud, there was a sort of beauty in his weakness. He bore his soul for her, and she finally understood him.

Zagiha was a good person. There was no way anybody could fake an expression like that, especially not him. And even though he sort of just rudely shoved himself in her life, she was glad he was a part of it.

"And that's why I'm the God of Truth," he said, wiping his tears away. "Even if I don't remember, that's how I really feel. You're one of the most amazing person in the whole world, and I'm so grateful our paths crossed."

"We've been through so much together. You're not perfect, but I'll take you as you are, flaws and all. If no one else accepts you, I will. I'll stand by you. I'll love you are you are. And you know… even five hundred years ago, you were still a good person. Some of your reasons for starting the war were selfish, but you obviously cared about the people a lot. You freed them. And… you have improved to this day. Maybe you couldn't protect everyone, but you protected some. You protected me… doesn't that count for anything?"

"Thanks, Hana." He sighed. "But don't accept my flaws. Or… accept me at my current mediocre self, but don't settle for it. I'll continue improving. This time I promise I'll learn to be a nicer person, for you, for myself. I want to be the best person I can be."

"But you don't have to be perfect, right?"

He gave a lopsided smile. "… But I don't need to be perfect." He stood up. "All right. I'm done hiding. Let me fly you down. I still have enough strength for that."

He helped her up.

"And then what?" Hana asked.

"I'm going to turn myself in," said Zagiha.

"What?"

"I attacked the city. I broke my vow to protect Modrica. And for that, I have to be Sealed and face the consequences."

"But…"

"Just promise me you'll visit me in prison sometimes. If you're around, I'll never be miserable." He swooped her up, floating back down to the ground where the spectating crowd had staff and gun alike fixed on him. Zagiha nudged her to the side and stepped toward them, putting his hands up.

"I surrender," he said. "Do with me what you will."

Suddenly, a loud knoll tolled across the entire city, reverberating in the cobblestone streets. The bell rang once, twice, three times. The Unforgivables in the audience looked up, and almost in unison, withdrew, running out of the city gates. No one stopped them. If they were retreating, there was no need for anyone to engage them while risking getting shot.

"What the…?" said Crowe. He awoke from his spell out-cold, sitting up and rubbing his head. "I'm so dizzy…"

An Unforgivable man stepped out from the shadows, skinny and sunken with stringy salt-and-pepper hair that partially obscured his tired eyes.

Eigil.

Hana sprung into action. As fast as she could, she fired a Claras ardeat at him.

… It completely passed him by.

What the? She was confident she aimed well. He only stood a few meters away and was stationary. There was no way to miss.

Eigil put up a hand, his cold expression unchanging as ever. "No need for that. I come unarmed." To prove it, he turned his pockets inside out. "I approach you as an emissary of our Leader. He would like to formally announce our departure from the capitol. The risks associated with taking on your haywire God are too much. Besides, we've gotten everything we need, anyway. You are free for the time being." He locked eyes with Crowe, trying to aim his staff at him while his world span around and around. He broke a slight smirk and approached the man, squatting down. "You know you can't hit me with your spells, right?" he said. His face didn't change much, but his demeanor grew predatory. "As I'm unarmed, I'll spare you today. I'm not fool enough to take you on with brute force. But I do promise I'll slaughter you later. Good day."

He turned around.

"Now, we'll be taking our leave while the Seal is down. Farewell." Eigil calmly walked out, following the other Unforgivables past the city limits.

"Quickly!" cried one of the police officers after he was out of earshot. "Ambush him and take him into custody while he's unaware!" The other officers started casting spells, when--.

"He's baiting you, fools." Isaana, having recovered enough from her great fall, stood up and snapped her fingers. The glow of their staffs snuffed out. She was in rough shape, but not so bad off she was about to lose her physical form. "Do you honestly think he doesn't have a trap set out for you if you retaliate? That man is dangerous beyond all belief."

The people muttered amongst themselves, but ultimately chose to listen and take their small victory.

Just like that, the struggle over Modrica was over. The Sorcerers won, for now. Everyone could finally rest.

… Except for that one thing they totally forgot.

Micaiah Rebane sprinted toward them. Behind them, the Angel Ereth in her monstrous true form, hot in pursuit. And behind Ereth, his three dogs, barking and running happily like it was all a very fun game.

"Hi!" he said, pumping his legs as fast as they would go, "glad to see everything's worked out over here, but I have good news and bad news!"

Hana raised an eyebrow. "What's the bad news?" she asked.

"I'm still bein' chased by a hellish abomination!" he answered.

"And… the good news?"

"I'm gettin' my cardio in!"

Typical Mica.

Zagiha rolled his eyes. "What did you do to her?" he asked. "Stop running, Rico, I'll recall her. Ereth: return!"

She didn't respond.

"Eh? Ereth, return!" Nothing. She just kept charging around. "Ereth! Get back here!"

She still didn't obey.

"What's happening?" asked Hana. "Can't you control her?"

Zagiha paused for a moment, then the realization washed over him. He sputtered nervously, letting out a nervous laugh. "You know how you said you'd accept me even if I made mistakes?" he asked.

"What?" Hana frowned. "What did you do?"

"Uh… Angels only respond to the God's magical signature. And you know how I soaked up a lot of Rirasiru's mana? I think… I think I mayyyyy be out of my own, and only Rirasiru's is left to sustain me, so she won't listen."

"Oh my Gods."

There was no relaxation ever, was there?

"And also, I think she's gone haywire."

"So…?"

"So she wouldn't obey me, even if I were at full power."

"Oh my Gods."

"Then we'll have to knock the sense back into her!" Isaana aimed a blast at her, but a second later, she yelled out in pain, sinking to her knees. "Ugh!" she yelled.

"Are you all right, ma'am?" asked Crowe, rushing over to her.

"Yes, I'm fine… don't come near me. I'm still mad at you." She clutched her gut. "Oh, Ziggy, you've really gone and done it this time!"

"Please rest, ma'am," said Crowe, firing up his staff right away. "We'll take care of it. Hana! Can you help me blast this thing? If it's not sentient, it shouldn't violate the Laws of Impossibility, right?"

"Angels do not have feelings," Isaana confirmed. "And they'll eventually regenerate like we do. I won't ding you on it."

"That settles it. Will you help me, Hana?"

Hana nodded, saying the mantra. The stones in her staff flickered to life, a silver orb of light swirling at the end of it. "On the count of three?"

"Three."

"Two."

"One."

"Claras ardeat!" the family members cried in unison, putting all their magical power into the attack. Deep purple and silver magic blasted from the staffs, mingling together into a single missile launched at the rogue Angel. Ten meters, five meters, one meter…

This was it! It couldn't survive something as strong as that!

But the blast never came in contact. A magical shield went up around it, the blast bouncing off harmlessly. The two Sorcerers tried again, with the same result. Then Ereth retaliated with a blast of her own, made of pure fire. Crowe barely put up his own shield in time, but the impact still forced him back.

"It's too strong!" he yelled.

"I was afraid of this," said Zagiha.

"Afraid of what?" snapped Isaana.

"I think only a God at full power is strong enough to pierce her shield. But I can't do that! Even if I didn't want to destroy this city, she'll have no qualms with it in a berserker state!"

"Well, I'm almost out of power, too!" hissed Isaana. "Even between the two of us, that's like a sprinkle of water on a raging wildfire!"

Hana could reason with Zagiha, but not Ereth. They were screwed. What could they do…? What could they…?

An idea lit up in her head.

"Isaaana!" she cried.

"Isaana-SA," corrected the Goddess.

"Do you know the mana transfer spell?"

"The what?" Isaana frowned. "What are you talking about?"

Great. She didn't know it. And if Isaana the great magician hadn't heard of it, then it must be Ffion's invention, but she wasn't here right now.

"Can we call another God over here?" Hana asked.

"There's no time!" Isaana rubbed her temples, but she stopped short, strengthening her resolve. She reached into her breast pocket and pulled something out, chucking it at Hana.

It almost knocked her over, unceremoniously splatting to the ground when it hit her. Hana leaned over and picked it up. A pocket guide on Spellwriting with prefixes and vocabulary in the language of the Gods?

"Even if it doesn't exist, it can be written," Isaana groused. She crossed her arms. "Look here, Girl Sabatka. Iggy and I are the ones most suited to combat. We'll focus on protecting the people while you figure out this little spell of yours. Don't mess it up."

Hana blanched. Her? Write a spell? A long time ago, Isaana invited her to take Spellwriting, but she dropped out of magic school before she had the chance. Why was she entrusted with it of all things?

"I'm sorry, Hana," said Zagiha while Crowe and Isaana engaged Ereth once more. "I'm sorry I can't fight. I'm sorry for everything."

Hana brushed his hair to the side and smiled at him. "It's okay you can't fight," she said. "You know what you're good at?"

"What?" he asked.

"Being a nerd. Help me out with the research?"

He laughed. "All right. I'll show you the true power of nerds!"

--

Ereth was winning the fight. The Goddess and her High Priest were forced on the defensive as she rampaged and damaged buildings. The best they could do was shield civilians from her relentless attacks.

Meanwhile, an unfortunate and forgotten young man sat in the back of a police cart, both his wrists and ankles shackled together. Mica sighed, watching the action unfold. At least his dogs escaped the police. He supposed it was only a matter of time before he could no longer evade the police.

Ah, a normal person like him couldn't be of any use in a magic fight, he lamented. Which was terrible, because it definitely wasn't going their way.

As he witnessed the situation deteriorate, Mica briefly deliberated whether he should stop being a normal person and use "that." Eh… no, not yet. He decided to trust in Hana and see what she could do. There was no need to hinder her growth.

After all, he needed her at her best if he were to fulfill his dream.

--

"What about this one?" asked Zagiha, pointing out a word in the glossary.

Hana glanced at it. "With that effect, I think you'd need a lapis," she said. "I don't have one."

"You think I haven't thought of that? Hana, I'm a lawyer. I've thought of ALL the details. It won't be exact, but you should be able to create a similar effect with two onyxes and a red sapphire. You have those!"

"Oh! Uh, you're right."

"All that's left is the catalyst…" Zagiha flipped through the pages, his eyes darting across them at full speed. "I've never written a spell before myself… but isn't this exciting?"

Hana stopped him, looking over his shoulder. "That…" She gasped. "I've got it! Do you know if there's anywhere Ereth's shield is weakest?"

He tapped his hand on the ground. "Hmm… I don't think so, but an Angel's weak spot is the back of the neck. We can't get to it from the ground, though."

"Then I have an idea. Can you fly?"

He took a breath, and deep in concentration, managed to summon his wings of light. "I can fly."

"If we can't hit her from below, we'll hit her from above. Take me up?"

"Eh? But the spell!"

"I'll do it when the time is right. Just trust me. Can you?"

Zagiha nodded. "All right. I trust you. Up we go!" He scooped her up and soared high into the sky, pinpointing the back of Ereth's neck. "Now what?"

"Divebomb her."

"What?"

"You trust me, right?"

He groaned. "Yes."

"As fast as you can, go!"

His wings spread out as far as they could, and adjusting himself so the wind was just right, he dove at the Angel. Closer and closer they got. She just needed the right moment, but everything was happening so fast, if she blinked she'd miss it.

There! Hana saw it. Her staff lit up, and as loud as her little lungs could muster, she yelled:

"Translatasu imperiumina!"

What happened next—it was like her soul was suddenly yanked out of her body. Every bit of energy she had, from her ability to cast spells to even her breath was torn away, filling Zagiha all at once. He jolted and shuddered, but at once, his body seemed to grow tougher, his movements sharper and livelier.

"What the hell was that?" he sputtered. "I feel like I just got hit by a ton of espresso! But…" His eyes glowed, and a light surrounded him. "I can do this! Sorry, Ereth. You need some time to cool off." He outstretched both his hands, and his laser came pummeling from them, point blank into Ereth's neck.

She didn't stand a chance. It smashed right through her shield and disintegrated her on impact. Ereth let out a baleful moan, and in her death throes, sent out a shockwave, knocking Zagiha and Hana back into the sky.

"Gah!" Zagiha yelled, twisting and turning through the air. "Hana! Fly! … Hana?"

He scanned the area for her, gaze coming to rest on her body falling limply to the ground. "Hana!" He thrust himself in her direction with all his strength, intercepting her fall. "Hana! Hana! What's wrong with you?" Find authorized novels in Webnovel, faster updates, better experience, Please click <a href="https://www.webnovel.com/book/moonless-nights_13130052705789905/so-love-me-as-i-am_43592302978987527">www.webnovel.com/book/moonless-nights_13130052705789905/so-love-me-as-i-am_43592302978987527</a> for visiting.

She didn't answer him for a few moments, but at last, she weakly looked up at him and smiled awkwardly. "I've had enough of falling today," she said.

"Well, I'll catch you every time," said Zagiha. "Did Ereth hurt you? Do you need a doctor?"

She closed her eyes. "I messed up," said Hana. "I wasn't strong enough to handle that."

He laughed. "Kind of reassuring you aren't perfect, either," he chuckled. "Let's be mess-ups together, then. I'll rely on you, and you can always rely on me."

"Really?" she asked, the light fading from her eyes.

"Really."

"Really really?"

"… Really really."


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
Cosmic_Cockatoo Cosmic_Cockatoo

mmMMMboy. *Takes swig of apple juice*

This monster is finally finished! I can't believe we're almost to the third volume. Zagiha has confronted his emotional issues, Modrica has been taken back, and Chekhov's gun has fired! Just one more chapter, and this volume's a wrap. Thank you for standing by me so far. Next time, the finale and epilogue.

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