Chapter 60: The Final Showdown

The time was slowly ticking away at the 10th floor of the Time and Space Lab, where Albel had just stepped up to challenge the soul-transferred Luther, alone. With everyone looking at the two in a state of shock, the damaged Creation Engine in the lab continued to shake violently, causing a tremor throughout all of Daemonium. With only about 15 minutes left until the Creation Engine would explode, Albel and Luther faced each other, both looking to end this fight as soon as possible.

"Come on. Bring it." Albel taunted, his mind focused only on Luther who was standing in front of him. "You and me… one on one."

"…" Luther was initially speechless, then slowly looked back to Albel with a little smirk. "You're serious… you really want to take me on… one-on-one?"

"This is foolish, Albel!" Raditz yelled, concerned for what Albel was getting himself into. "Even if you somehow manage to kill him… you'll be putting an end to your own life, too!"

"Stop Albel… please stop!" Clair pleaded, tears welling up in her eyes. "There has to be another way… we'll figure something out… I can't let you die… you're the one that said you didn't want any more lives sacrificed!"

"If I can become the very sacrifice that can put an end to all other sacrifices that may happen in the future…" Albel calmly said, having already accepted his fate. "Then I'm doing it. I'll give up my own life… if it means that other will live on..."

"Hehehe… your intentions are certainly heroic, I'll applaud that much." Luther said with a snicker. "But I won't be able to applaud your foolishness of not knowing thy enemy…"

"Enough talking, fool." Albel said, stepping up to face him with confidence. "No matter what the odds are, I'm taking you on. And even if I should die in this battle, you'll have everyone else here that will be after your head, free of all their needless worries."

"Albel, you're not thinking of…!" Reen asked hysterically, suspicious of Albel's intentions. "You're not doing this to… get rid of yourself on purpose, are you? Don't think of doing something stupid like that!"

"Hmph. Don't be silly… I have no intention at all of losing." Albel smirked, "I'm challenged him because I know that I'm the only one that can defeat him right now. I'm fully confident that I can win."

"Hah… is that so. Alright then." Luther said, backing down and walking towards another one of the computers behind him. "I'll accept your challenge…"

"Then where do you think you're going, maggot?" Albel asked, confused on why Luther was walking away from him. "Thinking of running away?"

"Me? Run away from the likes of you? Don't be ridiculous." Luther laughed, punching in numerous commands into the computer. "I'm just making sure that this duel STAYS a one-on-one contest, as you requested…"

Right at that moment, a powerful electric barrier appeared from the floor to cut off the room into two, blocking the space between where Luther and Albel was standing from where everyone else was. The powerful electric barrier buzzed loudly, ready to mercilessly fry anyone who would try to pass through it.

"!" Albel reacted in surprise, thrown off guard at what had just happened.

"What the hell?" Lancar cursed, surprised by the electric barrier suddenly rising up. "What's the meaning of this?"

"Heh, you think I'm stupid enough to think that you bugs wouldn't interfere?" Luther asked, sneering at the rest of the group. "Don't worry… after I kill the boy in this one-on-one match that he wants, I'll come back for the rest of you."

"Damn…" Maria cursed, having been outsmarted by Luther. "He already anticipated us getting involved…"

"Good. I'm glad that you did it." Albel said, slowly walking towards Luther to square off against him. "Now no one can interfere. Alright, maggot… let's not waste any more time with this."

"Very well." Luther said confidently, walking towards Albel with his Eternal Sphere sword held firmly in his hand. "Let's end it all, right here and now."

With everyone looking on helplessly and nervously from the other side of the electric barrier, Albel and Luther both stopped from about 20 feet from each other, going into their respective battle stances. While Albel had a very determined and focused look in his eyes, Luther had a very relaxed stance, looking almost too confident.

"You're truly a fool, boy…" Luther sneered, staring right into Albel's eyes. "You have already lost this fight, before it even began… I already know about what you are going to do."

"…Huh!" Albel asked, wondering what Luther meant by what he just said.

"That's right. I can read all your current thoughts… I know of everything that you are going to do in advance…" Luther cockily said, pointing to his heart. "You see, the other half of your soul is still lodged deep within this body… and since the divided souls are one and the same, it allows me to read your thoughts as if they were my own."

"Beh…" Albel muttered, finally realizing how he was able to feel the blue-haired boy coming from far away in the first place.

"I can feel all hatred, nervousness, and fear that you currently have in your soul…" Luther went on, trying to throw off Albel with his mind games. "And I already know of how you were planning to approach this fight… how you are going to attack… HAHAHA! You don't have a chance! I can read you like an open book!"

Albel, after some moment of thought, suddenly closed his eyes to immediately empty his mind and soul. "…" Everything around him suddenly turned black and silent, as if he was in an abyss of nothingness.

"Hmph, trying to empty your mind, huh?" Luther asked, getting ready to charge towards Albel. "Good thinking, but it won't be enough…you'll have to decide on how you're going to attack sooner or later…"

"D…damn…" Jeiuce cursed, still down on the floor from all his injuries. "There's… no way… he can… win…"

'Shit…' Raditz cursed to himself, becoming more and more hopeless for Albel. 'How can he possibly pull this off…'

A short period of silence ensued, with nothing else but the rumbling of the lab echoing throughout the room. A cold, nervous atmosphere filled the entire room, with everyone bracing themselves for the imminent duel. Albel and Luther both stared right down at each other, looking to see who would move first…

"THIS IS IT… MEET YOUR END, DEFECT!" Luther yelled, making the first move by dashing in rapidly towards Albel. "DIE!"

"UWAAAAA!" Albel let out a loud war cry, as he also lunged towards Luther to fight him head on. The two got closer and closer to each other, preparing to finish off each other with a single slash of the sword.

'Albel...!' Clair cried to herself in her mind, covering her eyes with her hands right before the moment of impact. 'Please… please win for all of us…'

Albel and Luther ran head-on into other in the center of the room, both making a wide, deadly slash with their swords towards each other's body. SLIT – The sound of sliced flesh was heard in the air as the two fighters passed right by each other, with their swords held out…


"GWAAAAAAAA!" Albel let out a blood-curdling scream, getting tossed in the air from the sword slice with his blood spraying everywhere. Albel crashed to the floor in a sickening thud, rolling on the floor a few times before he finally came to a full stop… motionless.

"!" Everyone immediately closed their eyes, cringing at the sight of Albel crashing down to the ground, covered in blood. Luther finally came to a stop from the momentum taking him forward, simply sheathing his sword in victory.

"A… Albel…" Clair yelped softly, weakly dropping down to her knees. "…No…"

"Shit…" Raditz cursed, turning around with his eyes closed in despair. "Damn…"

"Albel…" Maria mumbled, closing her eyes and lowering her head in sadness.

Reen, Peppita and Meena all immediately burst into tears, while Fayt, Tynave, Farleen, and Jeiuce all just stood motionless, stunned by what they had just seen. With everyone else in a state of devastation and mourning, Lancar continued to stare at fallen body of Albel, his eyes wide open in a look of disbelief.

"A… Albel…" Lancar muttered. "T… that was… amazing…"

"…What?" Raditz turned to Lancar, confused by what he had just said. "What are you… talking about?"

"UGHH…" Albel groaned on the ground, clutching the long, bloody gash on his chest. He slowly reached back for his katana on the ground, trying to get back up to his feet.

"He… HE AVOIDED IT!" Lancar yelled in joy, noticing that the gash on Albel's chest was not a deep one. "I DON'T KNOW HOW, BUT HE DID IT!"

"Huh…?" Clair slowly looked back up, confused.

"W…WHAT?" Luther yelled in disbelief, stunned at how he wasn't able to hit Albel precisely with his slash. Luther then felt something really warm suddenly turning scorching hot at the side of his waist… he then reached back to touch the hot spot and looked at it, to see his hand completely covered in blood. A deep, sickening gash was seen to the right side of Luther's Waist, sliced right through to the back.

"Ugh…UGHHHH!" Luther groaned hysterically, immediately trying to reach back for his Eternal Sphere sword. "I… IMPOSSIBLE! HOW COULD HE…."

"H… He's injured!" Lancar yelled, pointing to now-staggering Luther. "Albel! This is your chance! Finish him off… NOW!"

"T… this is it…" Albel muttered, getting a hold of his Crimson Scourge katana and pulling it back as if he was about to throw a spear. "EYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

Albel suddenly became surrounded in the powerful blue aura, as he thrusted his arm forwards to toss his Crimson Scourge towards staggering Luther. The katana glided through the air at an incredible speed, powered up by the aura of the Seven Stars. "GAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH……" Luther screamed as the Crimson Scourge katana pierced into his heart, puncturing right through it and flying out from his back.

"This… can't… be…" Luther muttered, looking at the bloody, gaping hole in the middle of his body. He then weakly dropped to his knees, before muttering his last words. "D… defeated by… my own… creations… again…" Luther fell face first onto the floor, slowly being covered in a pool of blood, motionless.

"HE… HE DID IT!" Lancar yelled in triumph, pumping his fist in the air. "THE SONUVABITCH DID IT!"

"YES! YES! WOOHOO!" Roger started jumping up and down, yelling out in joy. "WAY TO GO ALBEL! THAT'S OUR BOY!"

"T… that was unbelievable, Albel…" Maria said, with a relieved look on her face. "You did it…"

"YAY! YAY!" Reen and Peppita both hugged each other, overjoyed with the victory. "ALBEL! YOU'RE AMAZING!"

Meena celebrated by jumping up and down with her hands held up high, while Jeiuce just gave a simple smirk of approval, still down on the floor. Tynave and Farleen both smiled in relief, both glad that this was finally all over. With everyone celebrating, Clair walked towards the electric barrier to embrace Albel on the other side.

"Albel…" Clair mumbled, tears of joy flowing down her face. "Y… you did it… I knew you could do it…"

"Ugh… of course…" Albel replied with a slight grin, holding the wound across his chest. "I would never lose to someone like him…"

"H… how did you do it, Albel?" Raditz asked, as he came running in to ask. "I thought Luther was able to read any action you were going to take… I thought it was all over… everything happened so quickly…"

"I… I was probably the only one that noticed this… but…" Lancar said, having observed something with his superior Klausian eyesight. "When Albel and Luther met head on… Luther somehow lost his balance slightly… I don't know how he lost his balance, but Albel was only able to partially avoid his slash because of it…"

'That's right…Luther stuttered right before he made his attack, for some reason…' Albel thought to himself, turning back to look at Luther lying motionless in a pool of blood. 'If it wasn't for his slip, I would have been done for… I wonder what had made him lose his balance at that moment?'

"L…look at his foot!" Peppita suddenly yelled, pointing to Luther's right foot. "There's something tangled around his foot!"

Albel and others immediately shifted their focus to Luther's feet, to see something pink tangled around his right shoe. Albel walked towards him to get a closer look, to see that the object responsible was a wishing charm, made entirely out of pink flowers.

"T… that's!" Farleen reacted, immediately realizing what the charm was. "That is Palmira's Wishing Charm! H… how did that get there?"

"Y… you mean…?" Clair asked, reaching back to her pockets in confusion, to find out that there was nothing there. "I see… it… it must have somehow fallen out during our battle against Luther…"

"Talk about being lucky…" Reen commented, staring at the wishing charm.

"…" Albel stood quietly, recognizing the gift he gave to Clair a while back at Peterny. "I guess that thing… saved my life… ugh…" Albel groaned as he suddenly fell back down to his knees, clutching his chest.

"W… what's wrong, Albel?" Clair asked in concern, immediately tending to Albel. "Is it… is it the wound?"

"N… no…" Albel said, suddenly feeling his life force slowly being pulled away from his body. "I… I'm…"

"H… his soul…" Jeiuce weakly said, struggling back up with help from Raditz and Tynave. "It's… getting weak… it's beginning to… fade away…"

"….!" Everyone suddenly stopped cold, remembering how Albel's soul was supposed to die as well if Luther had died. Everyone had forgotten about it amidst the excitement of victory.

"N… no…" Clair muttered, frozen in disbelief. "No… he can't…"

"Damn, we have to do something!" Raditz yelled in panic, looking around the lab. "There must be something here that we can use to stop his soul from dying!"

"Well, first of all, we have to somehow shut down this electric barrier so Albel can get out…" Lancar said, pointing out the barrier that stood in the way between Albel and the rest of the party. "Albel! Go to that control panel over there and shut the system down! I'll explain to you what to do!"

"Ugh…" Albel weakly groaned, staggering over to the computer system to shut it down.

"Alright… you see that menu on the screen, right?" Lancar yelled, telling him the instructions. "First go to the select function option, then…"

"…" Albel stopped after punching in a few commands, shaking his head and turning away from the computer. "No… it's no use… I may not be familiar with these devices, but even I can tell when it is completely busted… this thing's not even responding at all."

"WHAT? IT'S BUSTED?" Lancar yelled, slamming his fist into the ground. "DAMN! What do we do now?"

"Let's destroy the barrier ourselves!" Roger said, holding up his axe.

"No… that'd be impossible…" Jeiuce said, looking at the barrier. "It would fry you immediately… if you tried to touch it… and it's also designed to… absorb any type of spell you cast on it…"

"Ugh… dammit, Luther!" Fayt yelled, cursing at Luther. "What do we do now?"

Suddenly, the Creation Engine tank in the back exploded lightly with a loud bang, knocking everyone down to the ground. It continued shaking even more violently, with a bright white light flashing from it in intervals.

"U…ugh…" Maria moaned, getting back up to her feet… "The Creation engine… it's about to explode!"

"Damn, how much time do we have?" Fayt asked, running to the back to pick up unconscious Sophia. "We all need to get out of here!"

"A…according to my scanner, we have only 7 and a half minutes!" Lancar replied, checking his quad scanner and picking up unconscious Nel from the floor. "And that's only a rough estimate calculated from the output energy reading… the engine itself is so unstable right now that it can possibly explode at any time!"

"W… what about Albel?" Clair asked, staggering around in confusion. "We can't just leave him!"

"…" Albel stood still in his side of the room, closing his eyes in deep thought. "You all go ahead… and get out of this place…" Albel said, finally coming to a decision. "Don't worry about me… I'll get out of here on my own somehow…"

"N…no!" Clair yelled in disagreement, losing her composure. "I'm not leaving you here! Everyone else can go… but I'm going to stay here with you!"

"Don't be foolish, Clair! You all need to escape from this place as soon as possible!" "It's no use for you to stay here… this barrier that separates us can't be shut down… we can't meet up either way!"

"Well, then how are you going to get out of here?" Reen yelled, concerned for Albel as well. "And what about your soul disappearing?… There has to be SOMETHING that we can do!"

"Don't worry… I'll find something on this side of the room…" Albel said calmly, looking around to the various computers in the back room, most of which were already broken. "Luther must have had a plan to escape this place, too… he wouldn't have put this barrier up otherwise… Just go… I'll find my own way out of here."

"You're… not going to disappear, right, Albel?" Clair asked, choking back on her voice with tears now freely running down the side of her cheeks. "And you're going to find your way out, right? Promise me, Albel… just promise me that I'll see you again…"

"I promise." Albel said firmly, smiling at Clair. "I'll get out of here, alive. You have my word."

"AHH…" Maria screamed, as another minor explosion shook the entire lab. "W… we have to hurry… there's only 6 minutes left!"

"Let's go, Clair…" Fayt said, putting his hand on Clair's shoulder. "Just believe in Albel… I know he'll get out of here somehow…"

"…" Clair fell into silence with her head down, only to raise her head back up a moment later to look at Albel straight in the eyes. "I love you, Albel." Clair said straight out, tears still flowing from her eyes. She had to say it… she thought that this may be her last chance.

"…!" Albel looked back at Clair, shocked by what she had just said. After a moment, Albel simply looked back to her with a little smile. "I'll only return that… after I meet you again back in our own world…" Albel said, assuring Clair that he will survive. "Just to show you how much I mean it…"

Clair simply smiled back at him with her eyes closed, and then turned around to run towards the exit of the room. "Thank you…" Clair said, with her back to Albel. "I'll be waiting…"

"Alright everyone… let's get out of here quickly!" Maria said, instructing everyone to head towards the door. "Albel… I'll see you again soon." Maria said, giving him a little smile before running towards the door.

"You can do it, Albel… just have faith in your own existence…" Lancar said, turning back with Nel in his arms to run down and running to the door. "I'll see you later."

"Hmph. Just hurry up. Fool." Albel said, grinning back.

"May the grace of Apris be with you..." Tynave said politely before running towards the door herself.

"We believe in you, Albel!" Peppita encouraged him, before heading towards the exit. "So you believe in yourself too, okay?"

"Hmph..." Jeiuce simply grunted at Albel then nodded at him, showing his respect before turning around to run towards the exit.

"You, the real man's men, will survive! As a fellow man's men myself, I just know you will!" Roger said, before trotting towards the door. "Don't prove me wrong now!"

"Please be safe… okay, big brother?" Meena pleaded with tears in her eyes, before being dragged along by Roger. "I'll be praying for you!"

"There is nothing that a great Edarl Swordsman like you can't handle… I know you'll find your way out of this…" Raditz smiled at Albel, paying his respects and bowing before turning back to run out from the room. "We'll have another duel when you come back, okay?"

"I swear… if you make Lady Clair cry… I'm never going to forgive you!" Farleen yelled at Albel with a sad look on his face, before turning back towards the exit. "So you better come back!"

"Hmph…" Albel simply grinned back, instructing Farleen to hurry out. "I will… worm."

"ALBEL! I LOVE YOU! If I could hug you right now, I would…" Reen cried at Albel with tears in her eyes, before flying back towards the door to exit the lab. "Please come back… okay? A big hug from me will be waiting for you…"

"…" Albel nodded, simply returning her a smile.

"You know, I still haven't given you that rematch that you asked for…" Fayt said, with Sophia in his arms. "If you still want it… We'll do it after you return, alright?" Fayt nodded at Albel to show his respect, then turned around and ran towards the door.

"Hmph. You bet I still want it. Just make sure you have plenty of practice, worm." Albel told Fayt as the last two people remaining exited the room. Albel was now on his own, having to figure out what to do from here.

"Ugh…" Albel groaned again as he fell to one knee, clutching his heart. 'Damn…no… the first thing I need to do is to survive somehow… If I'm still alive right now… it must mean my other soul is still alive… there's got to be something that I can do with it…' Albel looked around, his eyes stopping at the Soul Transfer Device that Luther had used to transfer his soul into Albel's original body.

"That's it…!" Albel said, having an idea of what to do. "I'll just use that device over there to transfer the other half of my soul back into my own body… so that I can live on…" Albel immediately went over to the Soul Transfer Device, trying to figure out its mechanics as quickly as possible. However, as he was fiddling around with the device, Albel suddenly heard a faint voice, talking to him.

"Your plan… is not… going to… work…" the voice said, sounding like it was about to die real soon. "The soul… transfer… cannot… put… divided… souls… together… it's… useless… to you…"

"L… LUTHER?" Albel yelled, as he immediately turned around to see Luther lying motionlessly in a pool of blood, still motionless. "You're… you're still alive?"

Clair, Maria, Fayt and others hurried down the stairs of the collapsing Time and Space Lab, trying to get back to the portal that would take them back to Elicoor. The group arrived back at the first floor, running towards the portal that they had come in from.

"3 minutes left…" Lancar told everyone, checking back to his quad scanner. "Let's find that portal back to our dimension and get out of here!"

"We're almost there…" Maria said, turning the corner to the area where the portal was located. "We should be able to make it out in t…."

Maria suddenly stopped, looking at the area that they had come in from in a total mess. The falling debris from the tremor had landed on top of the system, breaking it.

"Damn! This portal system is already completely destroyed!" Raditz yelled, slamming his fist into the wall nearby him. "What the hell do we do now?"

"There is… another portal… out in the overworld…" Jeiuce pointed towards the exit of the lab, still clutching his wounds in pain. "Just follow me… I'll lead the way…."

Everyone followed Jeiuce out to the overworld of the Daemoneum, the whole continent now rumbling violently from the sudden outburst of creation energy. The party ran towards the northeast corner of the continent in about a minute, finding another portal system there still intact.

"This should still work…" Jeiuce said, telling everyone to get into the portal. "The 'Eye of the Truth' should be able to power it up… use it… it should be able to take you all back to your dimension…"

"Let's hurry!" Fayt yelled, as him and everyone else ran into the large circular area in order to prepare for the portal. Everyone, but Jeiuce that is; Jeiuce simply stood back, not entering the circle.

"Jeiuce, hurry up!" Raditz yelled, waving Jeiuce in. "Why are you just standing there?"

"I cannot come with you…" Jeiuce said, clutching his wounds. "I shall… stay here…"

"What? Are you out of your mind?" Lancar yelled, questioning why Jeiuce would do such a thing. "That creation engine is going to explode at the energy magnitude of 10! It's going to obliterate this entire dimension!"

"I am… well aware of that…" Jeiuce said, with a brave look on his face. "I know this world's going to be… completely destroyed… without a trace…"

"Then what are you waiting for? Come with us!" Clair pleaded, asking Jeiuce to hurry in to the circle. "Come back with us to our dimension!"

"I am a demon… I do not belong in your world…" Jeiuce explained, telling them why he can't come along. "This is my world… and this is where I belong… even if it is about to… meet its demise…"

"NO!" Meena cried, begging Jeiuce to come along with them. "You can't stay! sniff If you do, you're going to die! I don't want to see you die… sniff you're our friend! WAAAAH!"

"Yes, I will indeed die along with this world…" Jeiuce said, turning to look around the Daemonium for the last time. "…But at least I will finally be able to rest… free of all grudges and regrets…"

"Huh…?" Raditz mumbled, not knowing what to say.

"There is something that I haven't told you mortals yet… about why I became a demon…" Jeiuce started explaining, with his back still turned to the party. "I became a demon… because I despised the nature of the mortal ways… which I thought was full of cowardice and betrayal…"

"…" Everyone stood quietly, listening to Jeiuce's story.

"Indeed, I was once a mortal, just like you…" Jeiuce continued, looking up to the thunder-filled sky of the Daemoneum. "I happened to be a high-ranked soldier in an army, as a matter of fact… a proud soldier with strong values in honour and loyalty… but my faith in those values were crushed in one mission… when my comrades abandoned me during a mission in an act of cowardice and betrayal..."

"…" Everyone listened along, shocked by how Jeiuce had originally come into being.

"I was killed, and was reborn as a demon… vowing to punish and haunt such dishonourable and despicable race known as mankind…" Jeiuce continued with his story, turning around to face the party for one last time. "But over time, I forgot about how I came to being here as a demon… and got caught up in the vile acts of Romero and Saphiro… manipulated into doing everything that I had originally vowed to fight against. It was not until you mortals beat me, that I came to my senses... And from traveling with all of you… I've learned that… that perhaps there is still some with values of loyalty and honour among your kind, after all."

"That's right." Maria said, looking back at Jeiuce with a slight smile. "Everyone may lose faith of good in all of us sometimes… but we have to remember that there are still people with the right values in all of us… in all race…. just like how we were able to meet such an honourable demon, like you, Jeiuce."

"Just by learning that there are mortals like you out there… my soul can finally rest easy..." Jeiuce said, with a little grin. "Perhaps the day will come… when I will be reborn into the mortal world... I look forward to it."

"Yes. Me too." Raditz firmly snuck out his hand, to offer him a handshake. "I hope it will be soon. Thanks for all your help, Jeiuce."

"And I thank all of you." Jeiuce said, shaking Raditz' hand. "Now, hurry up and return to your own dimension! There isn't much time left…"

"30 seconds left until the explosion!" Lancar yelled after checking his quad scanner, immediately turning to Raditz. "Raditz! The 'Eye of the Truth'! Hurry!"

"Gotcha!" Raditz replied, immediately reaching back to take out the 'Eye of the Truth'. The ancient Moorian relic started glowing in bright red, creating a big black vortex in front of them. "Let's go!" Everyone went into the portal one by one, to return back home.

"Goodbye, Jeiuce…" Raditz turned around to say his farewell to Jeiuce, before entering the vortex himself. The vortex slowly shrunk, disappearing into thin air.

'Farewell… mortals…' Jeiuce said in his mind, as a bright white flash suddenly erupted from the Time and Space Lab…

Albel looked down to fallen body of Luther, who had just told him that Soul Transfer Machine only works once with each soul. Albel immediately unsheathed his katana in reaction, but then put it back after coming to his senses.

"I… I guess it makes sense that you're still alive…" Albel said, "I'm still here breathing, after all… so you're saying that this machine here isn't going to work for me?"

"Yes… that machine is… useless…" Luther said very faintly, near death. "It's impossible… to put a divided soul… back together… that's the Demon Mirror's… doing… it… cannot be… fixed by the… machine…"

"Damn…ugh…" Albel cursed, clutching his heart. "Is this it… no… there has to be another way…"

"…The ring… on the finger… of my old body..." Luther mumbled, referring the ring that was on the finger of his old blonde-haired vessel. "Go… go get it… it's… your only… chance…"

"HUH?" Albel yelled, walking up to Luther. "What are you planning now, maggot?"

"I'm not… planning… anything…" Luther muttered, breathing heavily. "I'm… just trying… to show you… the way out of… here…"

"WHAT?" Albel asked, totally stunned by what Luther had just said. "You're trying to… help… me? But why… why the hell would you do that…?"

"Consider it… a small return… for… freeing me… from my insanity…COUGH…" Luther replied, coughing up blood.

"Freeing you… from your insanity?" Albel asked, not believing his ears. "What do you mean by that…"

"The thought of my own creation… reaching the level intelligence… of my own… and gaining their… own free will… I couldn't… handle the thought of it…" Luther struggled in telling his story, his voice slowly fading. "But by being… reborn… as data… I could feel… the same physical pain… the emotional pain… as I did… before… that's when I realized… you are indeed… no different from… us. And by defeating… me… by defying… all parameters… you've proved… that your emotions… are indeed more than… just fabrications… and that you are… indeed capable of… thinking and evolving… on your own…"

"…" Albel stood quietly in thought, realizing that Luther was finally acknowledging their existence as real beings…

"And if all that is indeed true… you will… live on… even if… the other half… of your soul… dies…" Luther muttered faintly, using the last ounce of energy to point at the Sacred Orb on the table nearby. "Now… get… the ring… and use that… orb… the ring will… enable you… to…" Luther suddenly stopped, his eyes closing and his head tilting to the side.

"The ring? The Sacred Orb? What about them?… U…G….H…" Albel asked Luther, when he suddenly felt a flash making him feel VERY weak, sending him collapsing to the floor. Albel felt his body turning completely still, everything around him suddenly turning hazy.

"Ugh…" Albel moaned weakly on the floor, with his body no longer responding. "What's… happening…?"

Luther was now dead, and the other half of Albel's soul immediately died along with it. With that, Albel's own half of the soul started to slowly disappear as well…

'No… I can't… I have to… survive…' Albel weakly thought to himself, with his voice having been now completely lost. 'I promised… to everyone… that I would… return…'

'Ahh…' Albel struggled to stare out into the space in front of him, only to not be able to see anything at all. Everything was pitch black, and absolutely nothing could be seen in front of him, or anywhere else. With his eyesight now totally lost, everything suddenly became deathly quiet, as his sense of hearing disappeared as well.

'Total… darkness… nothingness… is this… what death… is?' Albel wondered in his mind, as his memories and thoughts also slowly started to fade away like water evaporating from a boiling kettle. 'Am… I… i… i…' Albel stopped completely still, with his heart now no longer beating and his body no longer responding to anything. Every bit of thought and memories from Albel's mind started becoming deleted one by one, slowly counting down towards zero.

With only few bits of memories and thoughts remaining, Albel's mind was now almost completely erased from existence. Albel looked into his mind for what was possibly to be the last time, to see only few thoughts and memories remaining in his mind and soul. Each of them started glowing weakly like a dying firefly in the night sky, softly echoing out to him…

'----Have faith in your own existence…you believe in yourself too, okay…You, the real man's men, will survive…A big hug from me will be waiting …if all that is indeed true, you will live on…I'll be waiting… And no matter what happened in the past, Albel's Albel… it doesn't change a thing. The person that we see right now is the only Albel. Not anyone else---' Each of the voices from the past continued to echo and echo throughout the darkness of which was now Albel's mind, as all the faint glowing lights slowly came together to gradually become brighter and bigger. Right at that moment, a familiar voice called out to Albel, speaking to his near-depleted soul.

"Albel… I was only able to meet you again for a short time, but… I was so happy… to see you as the man that you had become…" The soft, gentle voice told him, as Albel slowly started to regain his sense of thought. "I love you, my son, with all of my heart… just remember back to everything that you cherish and love… and let it all come to you…"

"Find out your own truth, Albel…only you can discover the truth of your own soul..." Another deep voice called out to him, encouraging him to look deep inside your soul. "Embrace the good, my son… and accept its existence within yourself…"

Albel slowly gathered up what he had left of his thoughts and memories, listening closely to what they all had to say. It was the comments from all his comrades, encouraging him to keep on going. At the end of it all, saw a new image in his mind… an image of Clair smiling at him, saying the last words that she had said to him. "I'll be waiting."

At that moment, Albel immediately remembered back to his promise to Clair.

He had to survive. He had to survive in order to return to her.

Few moments after Clair, Raditz, Maria and others all exited the Daemoneum via the transporter, the massive creation engine in the 10th floor of the Time and Space Lab finally exploded in full force, engulfing the entire dimension in a flash of white light. The catastrophic explosion spread all the way to the outer extents of the dimension almost instantly, simply disintegrating everything that had existed within the Daemoneum with its magnitude 10 – class energy.

The Time and Space Lab… The continent… and the demons… and everyone else that had remained…

They were now all gone.

Daemoneum was now wiped clean.

Chapter 61: The New World

Clair, Fayt, Maria, Raditz, and all others jumped out from the vortex of the Daemoneum, quickly realizing that they had arrived back at a wide, brown open area. Everyone looked around as the vortex closed itself for the last time, observing the familiar scenery around them.

"This is…" Maria said, immediately recognizing where they were. "This is Aire Hills… near Kirlsa…"

"Phew…" Roger sighed in relief, glad to be back. "We're finally home…"

"WOO HOO!" Reen yelled out happily, glad that they had made it back to their own dimension safely. "It's so good to be back!"

"Yeah… we all made it." Lancar said with a little grin, crossing his arms. "Congratulations, everyone. We did it."

"So… IS this it?" Farleen asked, turning around to ask everyone. "Is everything… all over now, then?"

"Well, we defeated Luther for good this time around…" Fayt said, summing up the situation. "And with the Daemoneum now completely destroyed, our dimension will be at peace once again."

"And we were all able to rescue Fayt, Sophia, and Miss Nel and bring them back here safely, too!" Peppita said, "So I guess we did pretty much everything that we can!"

"So I guess it is finally all over!" Raditz yelled, pumping his fist in triumph.

"No… it is not over…" Clair said adamantly, with her back still to rest of the crowd. "We still have to wait for Albel's return…"

"That's right…" Lancar said while closing his eyes, knowing fully well that the chances of Albel surviving and escaping were very slim. "Let's all hope that he was able to escape that lab in time..."

"I shall wait for him here. He promised all of us that he would return…" Clair told everyone, putting on a brave face. "I'm sure he is going to come back here soon"

"Then I'm going to wait with you, Miss Clair!" Meena said cheerfully, running besides Clair to hold her hand in support. "Big brother wouldn't lie… I know he'll come back to us any time now!"

"Don't worry, Clair… we'll all wait here with you." Maria said, showing her full support. "We'll wait here for as long as we can."

"Then I'll contact the Lazeria and tell them to come down and meet us here… we all have injuries that needs to be taken care of, anyway." Lancar said, taking out his communicator to contact Marietta. "And we should inform her majesty and everyone else about what happened…"

Upon Lancar's request, Spaceship Lazeria immediately flew to where the party was in Aire Hills to meet up with them. Marietta, Steeg, Lieber, and the rest of the crew teleported down to embrace the group, congratulating them for their success in their mission to save the world. The medical staff took care of all the injuries that the fighters had suffered, and revived the ones who were still unconscious such as Nel and Sophia.

Queen Romeria then soon followed to teleport down along with Elena and Lasselle, to congratulate the warriors personally for their successful completion of the mission. The Queen politely and humbly bowed to everyone, in show of her gratitude and respect. Maria and Lancar then went on to fill everyone in on what had happened to their group at the Daemoneum; after about an hour or so of talking, they explained in detail what they did, what the truth behind the whole war was, and about how they were able to finally put an end to it all. The crew of the Lazeria and the Queen listened in carefully, finding it all truly fascinating and hard to believe.

"So… that was the true reason for the demon invasion of our land…" The Queen said, nodding her head with her eyes closed. "The man responsible needed the power of the Sacred Orb to return to his own world…"

"Yes, your majesty. But we were able to stop him in the end." Maria replied politely. "Both the Daemonium and Luther are no more… and with that, the time of peace shall return to our entire universe."

"Speaking of the Sacred Orb, where is it?" Lasselle butted in to ask, curious about the holy orb's whereabouts. "You all remembered to bring it back, didn't you?"

"OH NO!" Farleen shrieked then put her hands to her mouth, with her and everyone having totally forgotten about the Sacred Orb. "I'm sorry… Magistrate Lasselle… We…"

"It was… left behind at the Daemoneum…!" Clair muttered, totally stunned. "This is horrible… our national treasure… is…"

"It… it must have been destroyed in the blast…" Tynave mumbled, dumbfounded. "What… what have we done…?"

"W… WHAT? THE SACRED ORB… IS DESTROYED? N…NO!" Lasselle yelled out loud in disbelief, freaking out. "It… it can't be… this is truly catastrophic! That was the orb that defined the very existence of our Sacred Kingdom… oh... holy mother, what shall become of our Kingdom now…?"

"Your majesty, we must beg for your forgiveness." Nel bowed down to the Queen, her head down in shame. "Due to the circumstances of the situation, we could not retrieve the Sacred Orb from the enemy… we have failed you, your majesty… Please punish us justly for our incompetence."

"Nel… Clair… and the rest of you… please, stand up." The Queen told them to get back up, looking surprised yet strangely calm. "It is indeed devastating for me to hear that our Sacred Orb has been destroyed... but while it may be truly unfortunate, I am certain that you all had your reasons for not being able to retrieve it. I do not fault you. The most important thing is that you were all able to return to our world safely, and that you were able to save our world from the demon threats … if the Sacred Orb had to be sacrificed for that very cause… then so be it. I have no regrets."

"Your majesty…" Clair mumbled, feeling truly humbled and touched by her words.

"Yes… our Kingdom shall live on... with or without the Sacred Orb." Elena said, following up on the Queen's words. "We're just glad that all of you were able to make it back to our world safely."

"Well… everyone except for one… " Raditz said with a grim look, turning around to Clair. "Albel is still missing…"

"He will return. I am certain of it." Clair said, still with a determined look on his face. "I will wait here until he does."

"…" Everyone stood silent, each of them knowing that the chances of him returning were getting slimmer and slimmer as the time passed. Everyone stayed together, agreeing to wait for Albel for a little while longer.

But even after another 2 hours, there was still no sign of Albel. Some of the crewmembers of Lazeria even went back into the ship to scan for any portal activity on the planet, but found nothing. Some of those who were waiting sat down on the ground, and some started walking back and forth, growing more and more worried by each passing minute.

"It's been 3 hours now…" Raditz said, with a grim look on his face. "There's still no sign of him anywhere…"

"Maybe he didn't make it out in time, Clair…" Lasselle commented, going over to Clair. "I think he would have been here long time ago if he was able to escape successfully… are you sure you want keep waiting like this?"

"Magistrate! How can you say that?" Farleen yelled, concerned for Clair who was looking more and more depressed by the minute. "Think about Lady Clair's feelings…"

"But it's only the truth… you said from the beginning that his chances of getting out were slim, did you not?" Lasselle replied, "I mourn the loss of your friend… but sometimes, you have to realize when to move on. You can't just sit down here and wait for him forever."

"Don't say that we've lost him already!" Peppita yelled, staring at Lasselle in anger. "We still don't know that for sure!"

"…" Clair remained silent, sitting down with her face buried in her arms.

"I hate to agree with him, but he has a point… we have to be realistic here." Lancar said with a serious look, referring to what Lasselle had just said. "If Albel was able to somehow escape, there would be no reason for him to take such a long time to get back…"

"M… maybe he transported to another planet, then!" Reen yelled, not giving up hope. "I mean, there were hundreds of other portals at the Daemoneum too, right?"

"I don't think that would have been possible…" Maria said, looking worried. "I remember Jeiuce specifically telling us that all the portals to other planets were disabled for their operation… to prevent us from escaping alive…"

"And that's all only if he was able to save his own soul from being erased in the first place…" Fayt said, with his head down a bit. "I seriously don't know what he could have done to save himself in that situation…"

"The good cannot exist without the evil… yes… that is indeed the law of human nature." The Queen commented, with her ever-so expressionless look. "If he wasn't able to somehow save the other half of his soul from its demise… then I cannot imagine of how he could have survived, myself."

"Clair…" Nel said, placing her hand on Clair's shoulder to console her. "Let's just all go back for now. If you want, we can go out there and search for him together… he could still be out there somewhere… but either way, there is nothing else that we can do by just staying here and waiting."

"… Nel…" Clair said, looking back to her best friend. "Thank you…"

"We'll get to the bottom of it. I promise." Nel assured her. "We won't stop until we do."

"Yes. Let us all go back." Lasselle said, looking a bit annoyed from having to stay behind for so long. "We all have lot of work to do ahead of us, now. Let's not slow ourselves down by waiting for someone that may already be dead…"

Before others could scold Lasselle for yet another one of his blunt, insensitive comments, a voice suddenly echoed throughout the field. A very familiar voice, at that.

Heh… me, dead? Don't be silly… fool! The voice said, taunting Lasselle for his comments. I still got my whole life ahead of me!

"T… That voice!" Clair yelled in surprise, immediately recognizing whose voice it was.

"W… where did that come from?" Fayt asked in confusion, looking around the see where it came from. "That sounded like…"

Right at that moment, a square-shaped purple panel suddenly appeared on the brown, desolate ground of Aire Hills, right in front of everyone. A rectangular image then rose up from the panel, clearing up to reveal a person standing inside of it. The person then stepped out from the transporter to face the party, slowly making his way forward.

"What are you looking all glum for, worms?" Albel asked as he walked towards the party, alive and well. "We've won. Show some more enthusiasm!"

"A… ALBEL!" Clair yelled, running in to throw herself right into Albel's arms in uttermost joy and relief. She held on to him tightly, as if she was never going to let go. "Y… you're back…"

"Of course I'm back…" Albel replied, smiling and gently putting his hand on Clair's head, returning the hug. "That was the promise, wasn't it?"

"Albel!" Everyone yelled, as they all ran towards Albel to embrace him.

"You did it, Albel! I always believed you could!" Raditz yelled, happy that Albel was able to return safely. "Welcome back!"

"Now, now… how about you two put a little space between each other for just a sec… heh," Lancar said jokingly, as Clair immediately jumped away from Albel, her face turning beet red in embarrassment. "It's good to see you back, Albel."

"Yeah, welcome back, Albel!" Reen said with a smile, giving Albel a big, big hug. "For a sec, I thought I might never see you again!"

"Yeah, you're a bit late … you had us all worried." Maria said, simply showing him a warm smile. "Nonetheless, welcome back."

Peppita and Meena both ran towards Albel to give him a hug of their own, much to his awkwardness. Fayt simply nodded his head, welcoming him back like how respecting rivals usually would. Nel, Farleen and Tynave all just smiled back, all glad that Albel had made it back. With everyone having a heartwarming reunion, Clair noticed that Albel had been holding something in his claw hand. It was a big, shiny, silver orb.

"Albel! You have the Sacred Orb!" Clair said, puzzled but happy with the unexpected surprise. "I didn't know that you had it!"

"Yeah… I needed the orb's power to get out of the place." Albel said, explaining his story. "It was the only way out for me at that point…"

"The only way… out?" Fayt asked, turning back to look at the familiar-looking purple transporter that Albel had come out from. "Albel… are you saying that you've just come from…"

"…Gemity." Albel replied. "I used the Sacred Orb to create the gate to the 4D space."

"4…4D Space?" Maria asked, dumbfounded. "But how? Without our powers, it would be impossible for you to go there, or to even exist there!"

"This ring here allows for all that." Albel said, showing everyone the small red ring on his index finger. "It somehow allowed me to emulate all of your powers within the 4D space..."

"W… what? How is that possible?" Fayt asked, finding it hard to believe. "How can a mere ring like that emulate our powers? And where were you able to get it from?"

"I don't understand all the advanced, technical crap… it would be useless for me to talk." Albel said, suddenly holding up the Sacred Orb. "So I'll just have someone else that is little more knowledgeable in this field tell you all about it..."

"S… someone else?" Fayt asked, as the Sacred Orb starting glowing brighter and brighter. With a big flash, a big projection image shot out from the Sacred Orb to display a group of 6 people standing before them. It was Blair, with Aire, Leiria, Shar, Oreas and Flad standing behind her.

"Hello everyone." Blair greeted everyone, with the usual warm smile on her face. "It's good to see all of you once again."

"HEEEEYYY!" Flad yelled, waving out to everyone from the projector. "You guys all remember me, right? It's me! Flad!" The rest of the Project Apris team simply bowed, showing their respect.

"B… Blair? Flad?" Fayt asked, astonished with what he was seeing. "H… how did you just do that?"

"Well, it's nice to see you too, Fayt Leingod." Blair said jokingly, crossing her arms. "I can see that your manners still haven't changed over the last two years…"

"S… sorry Blair…" Fayt apologized, scratching his head. "I'm just really surprised to see you all again… that's all…"

"I am too, surprised…" Blair said, smiling back. "After the events of two years ago, I did not expect to see any of you ever again, either. Don't get me wrong, though… I'm certainly glad for this opportunity to meet you once again."

"B… Blair? How is all this possible?" Sophia asked, totally confused. "I thought I was the only one with the ability to communicate with you within the Eternal Sphere…"

"Yes, I was wondering that myself…" Maria said, crossing her arms in thought. "And Albel said that he had just come from the 4D space… how is he able to manipulate our powers? You're going to fill us in, right?"

"Don't worry… I'll explain everything to you, one by one." Blair said, as she started with her explanation. "Albel is able to manipulate your powers, by using the special ring that he is wearing at the moment."

"Yeah, I've already told these fools about that." Albel said, showing everyone his red ring with various symbols inscribed inside of it. "This is the ring that I took from Luther's original body."

"You took it from Luther's old body?" Lancar asked, confused about how it is supposed to work. "But what's so special about that ring?"

"Um… I can explain that part!" Flad said, stepping up to tell everyone. "You all know how Luther captured Fayt, Sophia and Maria in order to retrieve their genes, right? Well, it seems that he copied the symbological patterns from each of your genes and inscribed it onto that ring!"

"So that's what Albel meant when he said that the ring had all three of their powers…" Peppita said, finally understanding how Albel was able to exist in the 4D space. "I can't believe Luther was able to make that kind of a device for himself…"

"But… how come we can ALL see and talk to you right now, Blair?" Sophia asked, confused about one more thing… "2 years ago, only I could communicate with you through the Sacred Orb when we were in the Eternal Sphere…"

"That was because your powers hadn't manifested fully at the time." Aire spoke, explaining it to Sophia. "Fayt and Maria had both manifested fully, and were able to manipulate the space around them with their genes, as well. That's how everyone else in your party was able to exist in 4D Space 2 years ago, even though they didn't have the same genes as the three of you. This rings works in the similar way… it just manipulates the property of space surrounding its user."

"So right now, it's manipulating the space around all of us so that it can connect us to the projection of you guys…" Sophia said, figuring it all out. "Okay, I get it now…"

"We only learned about what was happening in the Eternal Sphere after Albel came to us…" Blair said. "We had no idea that Luther had programmed himself into the Eternal Sphere in the past… I must apologize for all the trouble he has caused to your world."

"There's no need for you to apologize, Blair…" Fayt said. "It wasn't your fault at all…"

"But still… as the new Owner of the Sphere Corporation, I'm directly responsible for all happenings within the Eternal Sphere…" Blair said, her head slightly down in shame. "We should have been more aware of the whole situation… sorry about everything."

"Okay… I get the bit about how Albel was able to go to and exist in the 4D space…" Reen said, scratching her head in confusion. "But how did Albel manage to live through all that? Luther said if one half of his soul died, Albel would die as well…"

"Yes…as you all already know, the good and evil in a soul cannot exist without each other…." Blair explained. "Therefore, Luther naturally thought that Albel would die as well if the other half of his soul died. But what he failed to realize was that the "good" in Albel still existed afterwards."

"What do you mean?" Roger asked. "Didn't the 'good' soul of Albel die when Luther died?"

"It did. But it seems that Albel still had the 'good' left in his soul, which allowed him to survive and live on. It seems that a new 'good' soul was created from his remaining 'Evil' soul, somehow…" Aire explained, being the main man in the character programming department. "I cannot really explain that part, either… you all seem to have this latent ability to create something without our intervention … it's almost as if you are able to create a programming code for your own at your own will. It's a truly fascinating phenomena which is even beyond our scope of understanding as programmers…"

"There's nothing complicating about it." Albel said, turning to Clair and smiling at her. "We can all think, act, and feel on our own. It's simple as that."

"Yes. I agree with you there." Blair said, in response to Albel's words. "And that brings us to our next point… the main reason why we wanted to talk to all of you…"

"The main reason?" Sophia asked. "About what, Blair?"

"We all have an announcement to make to all of you." Oreas spoke, making the big announcement. "Remember 2 years ago when we suggested the Eternal Sphere to be moved to a museum where it will be kept safe from all interference? We think that this is the right time for the move to take place."

"Now? Why now?" Fayt asked. "Why is this the right time?"

"With the program of Luther now deleted, there are now absolutely no programs left in the Eternal Sphere that can pose harm to your existence. We did a throughral check one last time to make sure this is true." Shar said, explaining their reason. "So if we place the Eternal Sphere in the museum now, free of all outside interference, it would ultimately mean that our two worlds would finally become independent from each other. This is what we want for your own sake, and I'm sure that this is what you all want, as well."

"But can we… can we really become our own world?" Maria asked, her mind in deep thought. "That's what I thought after our battle 2 years ago… I thought that we've finally become a world of our own. But then I learned that it was really nothing but a backup program… our world was still nothing but a cheap toy for someone to play with…"

"Backup?" Blair asked, not really understanding what she was saying. "What do you mean?"

"Luther said that you ran a backup program of the Eternal Sphere…" Maria explained. "And then told us that's how our world was able to survive 2 years ago… it's the truth, is it not?"

"No… we had never run any backup of the Eternal Sphere, at all!" Blair said, explaining what really happened to Maria. "As a matter of fact, Luther destroyed that very backup during his fight against all of you 2 years ago…"

"W… what?" Fayt asked. "Then how did we manage to all survive?"

"I don't understand the exact mechanics of how it happened, but…" Oreas said, explaining what had happened to the Eternal Sphere after the fight 2 years ago. "Luther was definitely successful in deleting the Eternal Sphere in its entirety… everything was erased, and nothing was left behind. Then somehow, miraculously, the Eternal Sphere was able to re-create itself back to how it originally was!"

"We… re-created ourselves?" Lancar asked, still confused. "Is… such thing even possible? How the hell can a data re-create itself?"

"Just like what Aire had said before, you all seem to possess the ability to create something on your own, without our intervention…" Leiria said. "Somewhat like what happened with Albel here just now, with that whole 'soul' business…"

"So this means… our beliefs were true, after all!" Maria said, with a relieved smile. "We were able to re-create ourselves because of our own will to live on… because we believed in validity of our own existence..."

"Yeah!" Flad agreed. "It's just like what I told you guys 2 years ago… you guys are really not all that different from us!"

"Yes. And from what Albel has told us, Luther also acknowledged that, as well." Blair said, thinking back to her now-deceased brother. "I have to thank all of you for freeing my brother from his state of insanity… even if it had to be at the cost of his own life…"

"Luther also acknowledged our existence?" Sophia asked, very surprised.

"He was the very one that helped me escape from that Lab." Albel said, to the big surprise of everyone. "I wouldn't have made it out without his help."

"So we can finally live on our own now, and have full control of our own destiny…" Fayt said, looking up into the sky. "The moment has finally come…"

"But there are few things left that we need you to do for us," Blair said. "In order to have our two worlds truly separated…"

"Really?" Maria asked. "And what might those be?"

"First, all symbological weapons created concerning the 4D space must be destroyed." Blair said, looking at Fayt, Maria and Sophia. "This means that your genes of Destruction, Alteration, and Connection, will have to be erased."

"W… WHAT?" Raditz asked, fearing the worst. "Don't tell me you're going to kill them?"

"No… of course not." Blair replied, assuring Raditz that it wasn't the case. "Aire here is in charge of all character parameters… he will be able to delete the symbols concerned that are inscribed in your DNA code. With your approval, that is. Fayt… Maria… Sophia… will you all accept?"

"Yes." Sophia accepted, without hesitation. "If it is truly going to separate our worlds… then please do it."

"I will also accept." Maria said, thinking that this is what she wanted regardless. "It has always been my dream to live on as a normal human being… this is my chance."

"Thank you, Blair." Fayt said, agreeing to her proposal "By doing this, you are lifting the burden on all three of us…"

"Alright then… let's do this…" Aire said, as a computer appeared in front of him. Aire punched in various commands to the computer for about 30 seconds, and then executed the operation. Fayt, Maria, and Sophia all suddenly flashed in golden light, their parameters now changed. "That should do it."

"Thanks, Aire." Fayt thanked him, though he felt like nothing much had changed within his body. "Is there anything else?"

"Yes… there is one more thing." Blair went on. "All special Intervention Devices remaining here in the Eternal Sphere must be destroyed, in order to prevent future access of your world by us 4D beings. And there is only one special ID left here in the Eternal Sphere…"

"The Sacred Orb..." Albel said, looking at the orb in his hand.

"THE SACRED ORB? Preposterous! We cannot allow for such travesty!" Lasselle yelled, furious at the suggestion. "We will never let anyone destroy our Kingdom's most sacred treasure!"

"Silence, Lasselle." The Queen said, closing her eyes and thinking for a little bit. "Very well, then." The Queen said, to the shock of everyone. "Please have the Sacred Orb destroyed."

"Y… YOUR MAJESTY?" Lasselle asked, opposing the Queen's decision. "No… please reconsider! We cannot allow this to happen! That orb is the very source of your majesty's powers… and it's the holy relic which blesses our land with…"

"No, Lasselle. My decision has been made. I will allow for the Sacred Orb to be destroyed." The Queen said, explaining the reasoning for her decision. "It is the only way in which the two worlds will become completely independent from each other. Furthermore, I feel that we Aquarians have relied on its power for way too long. It is now time for us to take control of our own matters and no longer be dependent on such objects…"

"…" Lasselle fell silent, lost on what to say.

"And Albel… you will also have to destroy the ring that you are wearing, as well." Blair said, wrapping it all up. "Well, that's about all of it. I'll say it again… thank you all for everything that you have done for us. We have each learned many important life lessons from you all… we'll never forget them."

"No, thank you, Blair… and the rest of you…" Fayt said, politely bowing in a show of respect. "Thanks for everything."

"Bye, everyone!" Flad said, while waving goodbye to everybody "Don't forget about us, okay?"

"Good luck." Blair said, as she said one more thing before going offline for good. "This is your own world now… so make it a good one! Farewell…"

The projection then faded, leaving nothing but the orb.

"Alright. We're just two steps away." Fayt said. "Albel… the ring."

"I know." Albel said, taking the ring out from his finger and dropping it into the palm of his claw hand. Albel then rolled up his claw hands into a fist with great force, reducing the ring into useless debris.

"Okay. One more to go." Maria said, looking over to Queen Romeria one more time. The Queen simply nodded, telling them to proceed.

"Do the honours, Albel." Fayt told him, handing him the Sacred Orb.

"…" Albel fell in thought for a second looking at the Sacred Orb, and then turned around to look at Clair. Clair just simply smiled back at him and gave him a nod, telling him to do it. Albel returned the smile, and then stepped away from everyone. Albel then tossed the Orb high in the air, waiting for it to reach his peak and then start coming down…

"HWAAA!" Albel yelled as he jumped up towards the falling orb, making a powerful upward slash right through it.

Albel's Crimson Scourge crushed through the orb, reducing it into dozens of pieces.

With that, it was finally all over.

Chapter 62: Epilogue

Time had passed…

"FAIRY HEAL!" Meena cried out, as her healing spell closed and soothed the patients' wounds by covering it in a warm, holy light. "There you go! It's all better now, mister!"

"Thank you, Meena!" The elderly Vanguardian patient said, looking at where his wounds were in amazement. "Not even a scar was left… your healing ability is truly one of a kind! No one else in this village even comes close!"

"Heehee Thank you, Mr. Distin…" Meena said, smiling brightly back at him. "Just be careful when you go hunting again, okay? Some of the animals can be really, really scary and dangerous!"

"Haha… I'll keep that in mind, little Meena." Mr. Distin said, walking out the door. "Thanks again!"

"You're welcome!" Meena yelled out aloud, waving to him. "Come back whenever you need to!"

At that time, Niklas walked into the house, with his face and clothes all dirty.

"Niklas!" Meena said cheerfully, running to the door to greet her brother. "You're home!"

"Hi, Meena, I'm home." Niklas said, wiping the sweat off his forehead. "So that was Mr. Distin again, huh?"

"Yeah… he got hurt by one of the animals while hunting!" Meena told him. "I told him to be careful… he's always getting hurt…"

"I suppose it's inevitable… he's the only hunter left here in our village, after all." Niklas said. "We should all be grateful, Meena… we wouldn't be able to survive the harsh winters if it wasn't for him."

"Yeah, I know! He's such a kind man!" Meena said cheerfully with a big smile on her face. "So how was work, Niklas? Got any booboos I need to heal for you today?"

"No… just couple scratches here and there… it's nothing major… you don't have to worry about it." Niklas told her. "I'm pretty tired out, though…"

"Wow, Niklas… you've been working so hard…" Meena said, rushing to get a cold cup of water for Niklas. "I hope the Coffir Castle is complete real soon!"

"Yes… I hope so, too. It was a great idea to finally rebuild those ruins…" "When it is completed, we'll all be moving in there… and everything will become much more secure for all of us."

"Yeah!" Meena agreed. "I hope Fayt will come by once again when it's all completed! I would show him around and everything… heehee… it'll be so much fun…"

"Haha… yes, I hope that Fayt will visit us again after it is completed…" Niklas said, thinking about Fayt. "I mean, he was the one who supplied us with all the tools and materials we needed… I want to show him that we were able to use them in the best way we possibly could."

"I really hope that he'll visit us soon…" Meena said, as he went over to the kitchen counter to prepare some food. "Anyway… Niklas, let's eat… I have this place that I want to go to near Pesotto Forest before it becomes too dark…"

"You mean those old ruins? Again?" Niklas asked, worried for Meena. "You went there last time, too… is there something in particular that you are looking for from there, Meena?"

"No… not really…" Meena replied. "I just really like observing those ruins… last time, I saw these ancient writings on the wall… it was all so interesting!"

"Wow, you've been really into archeology and research lately, Meena… especially after you returned from your journey…" Niklas said, wondering what triggered Meena's sudden change of interest. "I thought a doctor was what you always wanted to be…"

"Well, being a doctor is nice too… heehee" Meena giggled, preparing the food. "But Archeology is really fun too!"

'Nede… Nedian…' Meena thought to herself. 'I'll find out the meaning of those words… one day…'


The doorbell to the Douglas residence at Klaus IV rang, as the 6-year old Erie quickly ran towards the door in excitement. "MOMMY! MOMMY! Daddy's here!" Erie yelled, excited to see her father for the first time in a long time.

"I hear you, dear!" Jeanna yelled, as she immediately came out of her room to hold Erie's hand, making her way over to the door. "Be patient, Erie… daddy won't go anywhere… if you keep running around like that, you're going to trip and hurt yourself!"

"Okey, okey!" Erie said, as she pulled her mother towards the door. "Can we get the door? Please? Please?"

"Haha… alright…" Jeanna said, finally opening the door.

"Jeanna! Erie! I'm home!" Lancar said as he stepped in the door to embrace his family, with a bouquet of flowers in one hand. Erie jumped up to hug her father immediately, kissing him on the cheek countless times.

"DADDY! DADDY! You're home!" Erie cried in joy, finally meeting her father again for first time in about a year. "Welcome home, daddy!"

"Hahahaha! Calm down, munchkin! You're going to make mommy jealous!" Lancar laughed, putting Erie down to the floor to give his wife a hug. "I'm home, sweetheart."

"Welcome home, Lancar… I missed you…" Jeanna said, giving him a sweet, warm kiss on his lips. "And Erie missed you too!"

"I missed you too, honey." Lancar said, handing his wife the bouquet of flowers. "Here you go… this is for you… they're your favourites…"

"Daddy… I'm so happy!" Erie said, jumping up and down in joy. "You're finally here to see me!"

"And I couldn't he happier to see you too, Erie…" Lancar said, giving Erie a peck on the cheek. "I missed you so much…"

"Honey, did something happen?" Jeanna asked, a little bit confused about something. "You told me that you're coming home in such a short notice… I thought that the vacation time wasn't going to come for another 3 months or so?"

"Wow… you sure are quick to notice, Jeanna…" Lancar said, holding up Erie on his shoulder. "Yeah… I just got fired, actually…"

"W… what?" Jeanna asked in surprise, devastated about the news. "Y… you got fired? Why on earth did they do that for, honey? What happened?"

"Hahaha… relax…Jeanni… I was just jokin'!" Lancar laughed, to go over to his wife and give her a little kiss on her forehead. "But it still wasn't that far off though… to tell you the truth, I just handed in my letter of resignation today."

"You… resigned?" Jeanna asked. "How come?"

"I've spent way too much time out there in space… I think it's about time for me to retire, and spend more time with my family. My most recent mission made me realize just how much I missed both of you…" Lancar said, putting down Erie and reaching back to his pocket for something. "And besides… you think I would miss my little daughter's birthday for the 4th straight year in a row? No way! I wasn't going to miss it this time… Erie, daddy's got a little birthday present for ya!"

"A present? Yay! YAY!" Erie jumped up and down, receiving the little wrapped giftbox from her father. She immediately ripped through the wrapping, curious to see what the present was. It was a small, cute stuffed bunny doll, pink in colour.

"Daddy got this from a planet called Roak! Two of my good friends who do business there told me that this is currently the most popular thing on the market!" Lancar told her. "It's supposed to be a good luck charm… so carry it with you at all times… okay, kiddo?"

"Oh, daddy… I love it! Thank you sooo much!" Erie cried, giving her dad another big hug. "I'll always keep it with me… and think of daddy whenever I see it!"

"Honey… I'm glad that you want to spend more time with us and all… but are you sure this is alright?" Jeanna asked, worried that Lancar might've made a haste decision. "Because if you feel that you need to keep working… you should… you shouldn't worry about us… we'll always stand by you and support you, no matter what your decision is..."

"Nah… don't worry… I already got enough money saved up for our retirement, so it's all good." Lancar told her. "And all those journeys that I am taking are just starting to take its toll on me… I should step aside and give some of the younger guys their chance… so that I can just relax for a while with the family I love."

"Well, if that is truly your decision…" Jeanna said, giving Lancar a warm, heartfelt hug. "Then I'm glad, Lancar… thank you… I couldn't be any happier right now…"

"Daddy! Tell me ALL about your adventures!" Erie begged, pulling on her dad's shirt. "Your stories are always so fun and interesting! Can you tell me? Please?"

"Hahaha! Sure! If you want stories, I've got plenty of 'em!" Lancar said, turning to Jeanna. "Honey! Get me a few bottles of beer and a glass of warm milk for the munchkin… it's going to be a LOOONG night!"

Meanwhile, in the Lacour Arena in Planet Expel…

"Alright, Roger! You can do it this time!" Peppita yelled in encouragement from the other side of the Arena, as Roger went up the ladder to attempt his trick once again. "You've seen it now! Just do two spins off each of those two handles, and then do the quadruple somersault right into that final red hoop! It's easy as pie!"

"OKAY! Here we go!" Roger said in determination, as he jumped off the platform to hold on to the hanging handle in the air, and then did a double spin right into the second handle in the air. Roger then immediately spun four times off the handle to spin right through the red hoop, making a perfect landing back on the floor. "I DID IT!"

"Wow! Good job, Roger! You finally did it!" Peppita yelled with a big smile, running over to Roger to congratulate him. "Now, let's do it successfully 20 more times so that you can be ready for the big show tomorrow! Practice makes perfect!"

"Yes, ma'am!" Roger replied enthusiastically as he ran back to the tall platform to climb the ladder again. "Don't worry, Peppy! I won't let you down!"

Meanwhile, Picolotto, Dulcinea, Ursus, and Gornella all sat on the spectator stands, watching the two practice. Thoroughly impressed, Picolotto turned to Dulcinea to talk.

"That boy… he's picking things up really, really quickly…" Picolotto commented on Roger's progress. "I have to say, I'm very impressed!"

"Yes… he does owe it a lot to his natural physical talents, but he's also giving 100 of his efforts, too!" Dulcinea agreed, turning to Gornella the clown. "Gornella, you can learn a thing or two from Roger…"

"But I'm a seasoned veteran, eh? I've been so used to everything now that everything just comes natural to me!" Gornella said confidently. "But I guess that boy is going to have to give it his all if he's ever going to catch up to rest of our talents, eh?"

"Practice makes perfect, Gornella." Ursus said, as he turned to face Gornella. "And as missy would say, effort beats talent every time!"

"Her mother's words… yes, she never forgot it…" Dulcinea said in remembrance of her sister, and then went back to talking about Roger. "It looks like she has told it to Roger too… look at him, the boy is just simply tireless… he just never gives up!"

"I'm just curious on the reason why he joined us in the first place, eh?" Gornella said, a bit suspicious of Roger's intentions. "He just showed up one day with missy! And they already seemed to know each other really well, too! I just find that boy a little odd, eh?"

"Well, whatever the reason is, I'm glad to have him as a part of our family." Picolotto said. "His enthusiasm and spirit has become a very positive influence to all of us!"

"Except for Gornella, apparently…" Dulcinea said coldly, glaring at Gornella. "Alright… that's enough slacking around. Ursus, please move the unnecessary equipments back to the stock room… Gornella, you go back to the dressing room and practice your routines with Quantestorie! He should be in there practicing as we speak."

"But… ma'am! I'm already ready for the performance!" Gornella said with a sweatdrop, trying to talk his way out. "It's pointless for me to keep practicing at this point…"

"This is our big one… none of us can afford to mess up in this performance! I don't care how confident you are, you still need your practice!" Dulcinea said adamantly, pointing her finger to the door. "So go, Gornella… NOW!"

"Y… y… yes ma'am…." Gornella hung his head in defeat, weakly walked away in disappointment.

Meanwhile, Roger performed the trick successfully 20 more times, quickly mastering the routine. Tired out, Roger sat down on the mat to gather his breath.

"Phew… huff that was tough… huff but I think I've finally got it!" Roger told Peppita, looking very confident. "What do you think, Peppita? Do I pass?"

"Yeah, you're looking great, Roger!" Peppita said, giving Roger a little sweet peck on his cheek with her lips. "Thank you for deciding to join us… I'm so happy to have one of my friends as a part of our troupe!"

"Heh….. heh…." Roger mumbled having fallen flat on his back, his face now entirely red and smoking. "I'm glad… to… be here with you too… heh…"

"…" Peppita's face suddenly turned serious, as she turned around look around the huge arena. She was becoming increasingly worried, as this performance was going to be one of their biggest yet.

"What's wrong, Peppita?" Roger asked, wondering why Peppita had turned so serious. "Why are you looking glum for, all of a sudden?"

"Roger… do you think… this performance is going to be successful?" Peppita asked worrily, looking at the stands. "This is the big one… Lacour Arena in Expel… only the best of the best gets to perform here! There's going to be over 100,000 people watching us from those stands! What if they don't like us? Or worse… what if we screw up? I'm getting nervous…"

"Nahhh… there's nothing to worry about, Peppita!" Roger assured her. "Just perform like you guys always have! Treat this show no differently… and there is no way you guys are going to screw up! Just give it your best… I'll do as the best as I can too, okay?"

"Okay!" Peppita smiled brightly back at Roger, encouraged by his words. "Thanks, Roger!"

"No need to mention it!" Roger said, continuing on. "And I have a feeling that the crowd will love us out there tonight… all 100,000 of 'em! After tonight's performance, the Rosetti Troupe is going to go down the history books as one of the greatest Circus Troupes, ever!"

"Wow… Do you really think so?" Peppita asked, flattered by Roger's comments "You're surely confident!"

"As a good friend would say… call it… a hunch!" Roger winked, giving her a thumbs-up. "And my hunches are always right!"

'I hope that you'll be watching, Cliff…' Roger said in his mind, looking high up into the ceiling in memory of his lost comrade. 'Cheer for us up there… okay?'

"Hey everyone! Please check out our latest line of rare and unique items!" Reen yelled out to the people walking along the busy streets of Tropp, advertising her store's contents to all the potential shoppers. "Rare scrolls? Antique Weapons? Armours? Accessories? We have it all! We have stuff that other stores could only DREAM of having! So please, take a look!"

"Haha…" Ruddle chuckled a little bit, amused at seeing Reen advertising to the crowd lively as always.

"And please check out our new items that we have brought in from the Daemoneum!" Reen said, waving people in to take a look. "We got 100 pure demon rocks that we have brought in from our trip to the Daemoneum, acquired first hand! And for all you weapon collectors, we got spears, swords, and other weapons which may hold some mystic demon powers! What will it do? Buy it to find out!"

"Wow… it's good to see that you didn't forget about our business in our trip, Miss Reen… but…" Ruddle said, looking at all the Demon weapons and artifacts with a sweatdrop. "When did you get the chance to get ALL this stuff?"

"Heehee, I'm a merchant first and foremost, Ruddle… I would never forget about our business, even if we had the world to save!" Reen replied, smiling back at Ruddle. "I just picked things up from here and there… I couldn't bear to just pass by all those rare items! Don't worry… it wasn't too much of a hassle!"

"Wow, you sure are a true businesswomen!" Ruddle said, impressed with Reen's enthusiasm for her work. "And thanks to you, our store profits have almost doubled! I have to thank you for all your hard work… and for saving the world, of course. Haha…"

"Nah… I should be thanking you instead, Ruddle" Reen told him, giving him a hug. "Thank you so much for taking care of the store alone while I was gone! I know I left for much longer than I had originally told you… Sorry… I just kinda got caught up with the whole 'saving the world' business"

"No… don't worry, Miss Reen… I understand. What you had to do was much more important, after all." Ruddle said. "So, I guess it was a successful trip on your part! You were able to get the rare items like you originally set out to do!"

"Well, yeah, I guess everything worked out all right…" Reen said while being in deep thought, as she suddenly frowned a bit in look of jealousy. "There was just one thing I wasn't able to get, though… grr…"

"Ah… you mean Master Albel…" Ruddle said, catching on to what Reen was talking about. "Yes indeed… I would never have thought that Lady Clair would have been the one to steal his heart! They really do look great together, though."

"Errrr… yeah, I know…" Reen muttered, with a bittersweet grin on her face. "But being a proud saleswomen that I am… it REALLY ticks me off when I don't get what I want! Grrrrrr…."

"Haha… I definitely understand what you mean…" Ruddle laughed, "But it was very kind of you, Miss Reen… to just let them be. I mean, most girls would have been jealous, and tried to break them up or something..."

"Well, Clair won his heart fair and square… I guess. What can ya do..." Reen just shrugged with her eyes closed, and then went into her 'daydreaming' mode over Albel. "But… Albel was soooooo perfect He really WAS my dream guy… aww… I wonder if I'll ever meet another guy like him…"

Right at that moment, a man started running towards their store, waiving his hand. "HEEEY! REEN!" Raditz yelled, running towards them in excitement. "I did it! I won!"

"Ah, it's Master Raditz!" Ruddle said, greeting him as he came to a stop in front of them. "How do you do?"

"Hi Raditz!" Reen said, welcoming him with a warm smile. "What's up?"

"I won, Reen! I did it!" Raditz told her in excitement, with his tail wagging from side to side. "I made it to the Round of 16! 3 more wins, and I'll be in the Finals!"

"Ahhh… you're talking about the Arms Tournament, right?" Ruddle asked, referring to the tournament that going on at the Tartaroy Arena. "Congratulations, Master Raditz! Wow, all the way to the Round of 16 in your very first tournament? That is truly impressive!"

"You've made it to that far already? Wow!" Reen said, pleasantly surprised by his news. "That's great, Raditz! You'll make to the finals and win no problem! I know you will!"

"Hehe… thanks guys! I can always use your encouragement…" Raditz said with a smile, proudly going on. "It's been a little disappointing so far, though… everyone I've faced so far were nothing but weaklings… "

"Well, of course. I wouldn't have expected any less!" Reen said. "You're by far the strongest fighter on this planet! I mean, who else here on Roak do you think could defeat all those demons as easily as you did?"

"Yeah, I guess so…" Raditz replied, scratching his head. "I'm not going to get cocky and say that I've already won, but I better win this tournament while I have the chance… cuz Albel and Fayt both said that they were thinking of entering the next year's tournament!"

"Yeah, that should definitely be a tournament to watch! I can't wait until next year!" Reen said, her eyes glittering in anticipation. "Hey… the prize money for the winner is a really big amount, right? Hey, maybe I should enter the next year's tournament, too!"

"Huh? You can't be serious, Miss Reen?" Ruddle asked, looking really worried. "I don't doubt your strength, but it's still going to be really dangerous!"

"W… what? But what if you end up facing one of us?" Raditz wondered, freaking out in knowing that Reen was thinking of entering. "I don't know what I would do I had to fight you in the finals or something… no way!"

"Heehee… Don't worry, guys I was just kidding!" Reen laughed, sticking out her tongue in joking fashion. "I don't really like fighting, anyway… the prize money still sounds nice, though."

"Well, anyway…" Raditz said, turning to Reen with puppy-dog eyes. "You're going to come and watch my matches tomorrow… right, Reen? Remember, you promised!"

"Heehee… of course! I'll be there for sure!" Reen confirmed, smiling back at him. "I'll see you there tomorrow, okay?"

"All right! Thanks! I won't let you down!" Raditz said happily as he turned around to leave, his tail wagging in excitement. "I gotta go for now… see ya tomorrow, then!"

"Ah… Master Raditz… full of energy as always… Anyways, where were we?" Ruddle commented, turning back to Reen to resume their conversation from where they left off. "Oh, right… Master Albel… Don't worry Miss Reen, I'm sure you'll find another man of your dreams one day!"

"Yeah, I guess there are many other guys out there, huh?" Reen said as she waved back to Raditz, who was still waving at her from the distance. "Actually, Raditz is pretty cute too, now that I think about it… don't you think?"

The Spaceship Lazeria was to arrive at the New Tokyo Space Station on Earth in about 20 minutes time, to drop off all the returning refugees that had to flee the planet during the Demon War. Maria had also asked to be dropped off as well, so that she would finally get the chance to visit her home planet and plan what she would go on to do next.

"Phew…" Maria sighed, looking out the window and seeing Earth from the distance. "I'm almost there now…" She then sat back down on the chair in her room, and took out a mini-recorder from her pockets to resume recording her memoirs. She clicked on the record button, and started talking once again.

"With Luther defeated, the Daemonium was destroyed and Luther was thwarted in his attempt to return to the 4D space…" Maria talked into the mic of the recorder, recalling back to the journey in her mind. "More importantly, our world, the Eternal Sphere, was granted its eternal freedom from the 4D beings… All Intervention Devices, as well as all symbological genetics codes that were designed to fight with the 4D beings were deleted, thanks to Blair and rest of the programmers from the Sphere Corporation. With all of our genes now no longer in effect, I had finally become a normal human that I've always dreamed of being…"

"Up to now, my purpose in life had been decided by others… to become a living weapon that would one day fight with the creators from 4D space… but with my powers now gone, and with our world now truly independent from the 4D beings, what purpose will I have in this world? What will I do, and where will I go from here?" Maria continued, thinking hard to herself. "Many questions that I had about my life that had been unanswered for many years, have now been answered… However, there is still one major question about myself that I have been unable to answer…"

At that moment, the door to her room slid open as Lieber came walking in. Lieber looked a bit hesitant, scratching his head.

"Cap… I mean, Maria!" Lancar said nervously, looking at Maria. "Do you have a sec? I have something I want to talk to you about!"

"Oh… hi, Lieber…" Maria said, switching off the recorder and getting up to talk to him. "I have to thank you once again in aiding us in our struggle against the Demons… We wouldn't have emerged victorious without the help from all of you. Thanks for everything, Lieber." Maria reached out with her hands, offering to shake Lieber's hand.

"No, it was my pleasure!" Lieber said firmly with a smile, shaking her hand. "I'm just glad I was able to help! Just call me anytime you need me, Maria! I'll come running."

"Thank you… I really appreciate it." Maria said once again, before going back to what Lieber was saying. "So, you wanted to talk to me about something, right? What is it?"

"Maria… I… just want to say that… um…" Lieber mumbled nervously with his head down, his face turning slightly red. "I was wondering if… you… I would… um…"

"What's that? I can't understand you, Lieber… why are you acting all nervous?" Maria asked, not understanding what he was trying to say. "Is it something that I can help with, or something I need to know about? Please, tell me!"

"Um… I…" Lieber tried once again but then finally gave up, his head dropping in shame. "No… it's nothing… it's okay… Maria…"

"Are you sure? It sounded like something important… but if you say so…" Maria shrugged, turning back and slowly heading towards the door. "Well, I should go… we'll be making our landing on earth soon, so I better go get ready. Goodbye, Lieber. I'll see you again."

"W… WAIT!" Lieber yelled, turning to Maria with all his courage. "Yes, there is something I need to tell you! And if I don't, I'm going to regret it for the rest of my life!"

"Huh?" Maria quickly turned back, facing Lieber once again in ponder. "Then what is it, Lieber? Please…say it…"

"I… I don't want to let you go!" Lieber said loudly, finally gathering up the courage to say what he had wanted to say for many, many years. "I've always been too afraid to say it, but I'm not going to be afraid anymore! Maria, I want to be with you… and I want to go with you, to wherever you go!"

"H… huh…?" Maria asked in shock, totally thrown off. Maria looked around the room nervously with her face slightly blushing, not knowing what to say. "Wha…? Uh… Um… I…"

"I've always admired you… your personality, your beauty… and everything else about you… over the past 6 years, I've never thought about wanting to be with anyone else…" Lieber continued, pouring his heart out. "And over the last two years… I couldn't get you out of my mind… all I could think about was you! Please, Maria… please let me stay with you…"

"Lieber…" Maria said quietly, lowering her head and looking away. "I'm sorry…"

"No… I'm… I'm sorry for asking… I should have known… sorry… I understand…" Lieber muttered as he quickly turned around from Maria to walk away, totally heartbroken. "A women like you definitely deserves to be a better guy… you don't need to be with… a coward like me…"

"No, Lieber… that's not what I meant…" Maria said, pulling Lieber back before he could leave the room so that she could explain. "I don't think you're a coward… actually, I'm really glad that you let me know about this before it's too late. I like you too, Lieber… and I would really love to have the chance to get to know you better. But it's just that… I have something very important that I must do right now."

"Something important… to do…?" Lieber asked, confused by what she had said. "…What do you mean?"

"There is only one question that have gone unanswered in my life…" Maria explained, turning back with a look of determination in her eyes. "I must search for my real parents. This is something I must do… before it is too late…"

'Your real parents are still out there somewhere. You must find them.' The last words of her foster mother, Jessie, echoed in her mind as Maria explained to Lieber what she was set out to do.

"They are still out there somewhere… I know they are…" Maria said, going on to apologize to him. "Sorry, Lieber… that is why I have to leave. But I won't forget all this, I promise… when I come back, we could…"

"Then… I'll come with you!" Lieber said firmly, with a serious and determined look on his face. "Maria… Please allow me to join you in your quest!"

"Lieber…" Maria mumbled, lost on what to say.

"I don't want to lose you, Maria… I've already lost so much time contemplating what it could have been… From now on, I want to stay by your side, and cherish every single moment that I spend with you!" Lieber yelled, becoming more and more emotional. "And there is no telling what could happen to you in your journey… whatever danger you will face, and any obstacles you may come upon… let's face them together, Maria! Please let me become your strength!"

"Lieber…" Maria mumbled as she threw herself into Lieber's arms, overcome with emotion. "Thank you…"

From the green open fields behind the Castle Aquaria, repeated noises of sharp grunts and battle cries could be heard echoing throughout the town. "HIYA! HA! HWAA!" It was Tynave and Farleen sparring with Nel, both sides ferociously attacking each other and not giving an inch. Tynave was engaged in a hand-to-hand combat with Nel in the air, both parrying and blocking each other's lightning-quick attacks.

"HIYA! SHOOTING STARS!" Tynave yelled, as she suddenly threw a flurry of dozen powerful punches at Nel. "Ugh…!" Nel grunted as few of the punches ended up getting through her defenses, hitting her in the midsection. Nel quickly did a back flip in the air to create space from Tynave, stunned from her attacks.

"FIRE BOLT!" Farleen used that moment to execute her Firebolt spell, unleashing three balls of fire to home in on Nel and knock her out of the air. "AHH!" Nel yelled in pain, getting nailed precisely with all the fireballs. Nel started dropping down towards the ground, looking as if she had been knocked out for good.

"Yes! We got her this time!" Farleen yelled victoriously to Tynave, pumping her fist in the air in triumph. "Tynave! We've finally beaten her!"

"F… Farleen!" Tynave yelled back with a sweatdrop, knowing how Farleen's track record was with these things. "Y… you didn't have to say that so fast…"

Surely enough, right before she hit the ground, Nel flipped back up into the air to jump towards Tynave again, nailing her with an elbow to the midsection. "UGH!" Tynave grunted in pain, as Nel quickly appeared behind her to hit her subordinate right down towards Farleen with a diving thrust kick.

"OH NO!" Farleen yelled in despair as Tynave's falling body fell right on top of her, to knock both of them out of commission. Nel landed back on the ground beside the two, shaking her head in disappointment.

"Tynave! Farleen! NEVER, ever act with such overconfidence in battle! Both of you dropped your guard right there!" Nel yelled imposingly in criticism as her two subordinates slowly struggled back up in pain. "An enemy can use that chance to mount their counterattack! Do not give an inch and never let up… you must keep fighting until you are absolutely sure that your enemy is defeated! Understood?"

"Y… yes, Lady Nel… owwwww…" Farleen mumbled, holding her neck in pain as she got back up. "And we were so close, too!"

"Ugh… I told you, Farleen…" Tynave muttered, holding her back in pain. "Whenever you say things like that, something bad always happens! You must have the worst luck the world when it comes to these things!"

"HEY! Don't say that! Why does everyone think that I'm bad luck?" Farleen yelled back at Tynave, a little ticked off. "Errrrrrr… it's so frustrating when everyone calls me that!"

"There was no luck involved… you both simply dropped your guards, and I used that moment to take you down. That's all." Nel said, with her arms crossed. "Although I do have to say that both of you have improved tremendously in your skills recently…"

"Really, Lady Nel? Have we really both improved?" Farleen asked, encouraged by her comments. "Do you think we're both going to be able to pass our exams, and finally become the full-fledged member of the Crimson Blade?"

"Yes… I hate to say it, but the two of you almost had me beat right there. If you had never let up, I probably would have lost..." Nel said, being 100 honest with them. "You two have indeed become much stronger after that mission… it must have been because of all the first-hand fighting experience you were able to get. As long as you keep focused and not make mistakes like the one you just made… then yes, I think both of you will be able to pass the exam with ease."

"Really? T… thank you, Lady Nel!" Tynave said, bowing to Nel in respect. "We will both make sure that we maintain our focus at all times! We won't let you down!"

"Wow… thank you for having so much confidence in us, Lady Nel!" Farleen also said as she bowed, her eyes full of excitement. "It's always been my dream to become the part of the legendary Crimson Blade just like you and Lady Clair… now that wish may finally come true!"

"Yes. With Airyglyph now becoming a part of our sacred kingdom, we are really in need of more young, capable warriors like yourselves." Nel commented, turning to the two to give them a nod. "Keep up your good work. I wish the best of luck to both of you."

"I still can't believe how our two countries are now reunited…" Tynave said in thought, recalling back to everything that happened between the two countries in the past. "I mean, it was only three years ago when we were at each other's throats in that war…"

"Well, I'm glad that the threat of war is now gone…" Farleen commented. "I think both Aquarians and Glyphians alike have realized that we shouldn't be fighting amongst ourselves over petty matters anymore… especially when there is a much bigger world besides our own out there."

"That's right. We all need to co-operate and turn this world into a one in which everyone can be proud of." Nel agreed, as she turned towards the two to ask them a question. "Anyways, I have something I need to talk to Clair about… I must go. Have you two seen her around?"

"Oh… Lady Clair?" Tynave replied, scratching her head. "She's not in the Castle right now… and I don't think she will be back for a while…"

"Yeah, I think she went out to see 'you know who'… heehee…" Farleen giggled.

"Oh…" Nel said, putting a hand over her forehead and shaking her head. "Again?"

"Yes…" Tynave confirmed, looking a bit worried. "She should really be careful… if she keeps sneaking out like this, her majesty is going to find out about it sooner or later!"

"Haha… no… I think her majesty will understand as well…" Nel laughed, shrugging her shoulders. "You just can't keep those two apart. I'm glad, though… I've never seen Clair as happy as she is now. I'm really happy for her..."

"Yeah, me too!" Tynave said with a smile, turning to Nel. "You know what, Lady Nel… I think it's about time that you've found someone special, too!"

"Yeah!" Farleen agreed, remembering something that she wanted to talk to Nel about. "Actually, there is this one high-ranked soldier in the Dragon Brigade that we talked to… and we found out that he has feelings for you, Lady Nel! He's really hot, too… So how about it? Would you like to meet him?"

"W… wha…?" Nel mumbled nervously as she quickly looked away, her face slightly blushing. "Do… do not worry about me. I'm just fine the way I am and I plan to stay this way… furthermore, I have many duties and missions that I must undertake… I have no time for such things!"

"Awww… you're no fun, Lady Nel!" Farleen joked, pulling on Nel's arm and dragging her away. "Come on… aren't you kind of jealous of Lady Clair, too?"

"Yeah, we want you to be happy too, Lady Nel!" Tynave said with a smile, pulling Nel along. "Come with us! He's a really nice guy… I think you two will be perfect for each other! Let's go!"

"Wow…" Sophia said as she walked out from the Grantier Hotel in Hyda IV, heading out towards the private beach. The weather was absolutely beautiful, with the sand on the beach glittering from the warm sunshine that was coming down from the clear blue sky. "Fayt! Hurry! You've got to check this out… it's so nice out here!"

"Okay Sophia… I'm coming!" Fayt said with a sweatdrop, being forcefully dragged along by Sophia. "You don't have to hurry so much… it's not like we have to go somewhere soon or anything… geez…"

"Isn't this amazing, Fayt?" Sophia asked, admiring the deep blue ocean waves coming into the shores of the beach "It seems like it's been forever since we've had a chance to relax at a place like this!"

"Well, 3 years to be exact, I guess." Fayt said, thinking back to the last time they were here, before the Vendeeni attack. "It's truly amazing they were able to rebuilt this resort just as how it was before… it feels like we've never left this place!"

"That's right…" Sophia said, her face suddenly turning serious. "Now that I think about it… this is the place where it all started… Hyda…"

"Yeah." Fayt said, remembering back to everything that had happened to them over the last 3 years. "So much have happened since then… it's kind of ironic how his place haven't changed a bit, when we went through so many changes ourselves…

"Yeah… we found out so many things about ourselves..." Sophia agreed, looking out into the ocean and getting lost in thought. "And you know what, it feels so weird to think back to everything that has happened… because when I stand here… I feel just like how I did 3 years ago, as if it all never happened at all. "

"Me too… now that I think about it, it's still pretty hard to for me to believe that we were living weapons that were developed in order to fight against our creators…" Fayt said, staring at his hands. "Maybe my mind is trying to unconsciously deny that the whole thing ever happened… I don't know. I mean, there were many, many traumatic moments that we went through as well…"

"Maybe… but even so, we still shouldn't just forget all about it. I mean, moving on is one thing, but completely denying what happened in your past is another…" Sophia turned to Fayt, talking in a serious tone. "We should never forget about all the good things that happened to us, like being able to meet all our friends, and all the important life lessons that we learned along the way…"

"You're right… we should remember all the good and important things that had happen to us. But at the same time, we have move on with our lives, too" Fayt smiled back at Sophia with an assuring look, thinking back to Cliff, Nel, Albel, Clair, and every single one of his valuable friends that he was able to meet throughout his adventures. "At least our destinies aren't predecided by others any longer… we're both normal human beings now just like everyone else on Earth, thanks to Blair and the rest… we should make most of this opportunity and live our lives to the fullest like how we want it to!"

"Yeah… you're right! This is our chance to start all over again!" Sophia said, as she suddenly turned to Fayt with an interesting idea in her mind. "Hey… then how about this? How about we just continue on from where we left off from here 3 years ago!"

"Good idea, Sophia!" Fayt agreed, scratching his head in thought. "So… uh… where were we, anyway?"

"Oh! I remember now!" Sophia smiled brightly, as she pulled on his arm to drag him back towards the Hotel. "You said you were going to go shopping with me! Heehee… then let's go, Fayt! Remember… you promised!"

"Eh… uh… wait! Wait a minute!" Fayt mumbled with a sweatdrop, trying to somehow find his way out of it. "Weren't we in the Battle Simulator, actually…?"

It was a bright and sunny early afternoon in the ever-beautiful Palmira Plains. Albel stood on the east edge of the cliff, watching the crystal clear water of the sea flowing gently all the way out as far as he could see in front of him. While Albel was lost in thought, Clair came running in from the entrance of Peterny, meeting him at where they had promised.

"Sorry I'm late, Albel…" Clair apologized, a little bit out of breath. "I had lot of things to take care of first… but I tried to make it here as soon as I can!"

"Heh… it's all that administrative work which held you up, isn't it? The boring stuff?" Albel asked, with a little amused grin on his face. "Anyways, it's funny how you're the one who called me out to be here and I ended up being the one doing the waiting… what's up with that, Lady Clair?"

"Haha… I'm sorry Albel… I really am." Clair smiled, apologizing to him once again. "I wasn't too late, was I?"

"Yeah… don't worry, I was just joking with you…" Albel said, looking back out to the sea. "As long as you're here with me now… that is enough."

"Um hmm…" Clair said, turning around to admire the beautiful sea in front of her. "This is… beautiful. Don't you think, Albel?"

"The place is quite relaxing, that's for sure." Albel agreed, suddenly remembering something and reaching for the small box that he had brought with him. "Oh, by the way, I got something for you..."

"Hmm? What is it Albel? A… gift? You didn't need to…" Clair said, blushing a little and also reaching back for a gift of her own. "I mean, I had something for you too, but…"

"Huh? Come on now, you know I don't like getting presents…" Albel muttered, hesitant in accepting her present.

"Open it, Albel! Please…" Clair begged, urging Albel to open his present "You'll like it… I promise."

"Ughh… fine… I'm serious… you can be so forceful at times…" Albel sighed, opening the tiny gift box. "Huh… How…? This is…" The present was an old, small music box, the same one that he had received from Simone at Portmis during his journey.

"It's your mother's music box…" Clair told him, explaining how she got a hold of it. "I know it was broken during your fight against Luther… so I took it from your room and went to get it fixed it for you, because I know you would never ask for someone to fix it for you yourself… sorry about that."

"No… thank you, Clair." Albel thanked her, opening the music box to hear the beautiful melody from his memory come out from it. "I'm really glad to have it. All my life I wondering who my mother was, but I was finally able to find out… and music box here is a proof of her existence…"

"And it's the proof of her love for you, too." Clair said, gazing into Albel's eyes. "That's why I knew I had to go get it fixed for you."

"Thank you…" Albel nodded with a little smile, thanking her again for her present. "Oh right… I got something for you too, remember? Here." Albel said, extending his hand to offer Clair his gift. Clair opened the box, to discover something very familiar to her as well.

"This is… Palmira's Wishing Charm?" Clair asked, holding up the mini flower charm. "But… why?"

"You dropped it during the fight against Luther, remember? Since you happened to be so careless and lose it, I had to go get another one for you." Albel said jokingly, turning around to look away. "…So make sure you don't go dropping this one around, got that?"

"Thank you Albel…" Clair said, throwing herself in Albel's arms to give him a warm hug. "I love it."

"…" Albel hugged her back, thinking for a bit then asking her a question. "Clair…?"

"…Yes?" Clair asked, with her arms still around Albel's waist and her face gently snuggling up to his chest. "What is it?"

"Did you really wish for me to win, that time?" Albel asked, remembering back to his one-on-one duel with Luther back at the Time and Space Lab. "Do you think that this charm actually granted your wishes…? Or do you think it was all by pure luck…"

"Of course it did… it was able to save your life… that was exactly what I wished for at the time." Clair looked up to smile at him, assuring him that that was her wish. "And there were other things I wished for as well… and they all came true, too!"

"Other things?" Albel asked, curious. "What might that be?"

"This…" Clair said quietly, closing her eyes and cuddling up to Albel once again. "This moment…"

"…" Albel returned the hug quietly, thinking for a bit and remembering back to her words from Roak...

"What I simply want… is this moment. Me just being out here, breathing cool fresh air, enjoying being under a warm sun, surrounded by sea… with nothing but peace and quiet… this simple moment is what I want, and nothing else."

This was indeed, the very moment that she spoke of.

"Now that I think about it, I don't need another wishing charm, Albel…" Clair said, as she smiled back at him and returned the charm. "Because all my wishes have already come true."

"Well, in that case…" Albel said after being in thought for a while, looking into the sky. "I suppose I can make a wish on it, instead… for both you and me…"

"Huh?" Clair asked in curiosity. "And what might your wish be?"

"Haha… I can't tell you…" Albel laughed a little, with a little shrug. "You can't tell anyone of your wishes, or else it won't come true, remember? I thought you would know… it's an Aquarian legend, after all…"

"Oh, right… Haha… that's true." Clair chuckled, looking up deep into his eyes and smiling. "Well, then I hope you'll be able to tell me about it, someday..."

"Hmm… now that I think about it, I don't think I'll ever be able to tell you… even if it comes true…" Albel commented, thinking of his wish. "But don't worry… that's a good thing in this case."

'I want this to last… forever…'