The scenery that rushed past them was oddly familiar to the furious mongrel. Although it passed by quickly, he tried to see where they were going. It was dark, and the lights of the car only lit up the road before them. Iason had neglected to mention their destination, but Riki had a feeling it wouldn't be to his liking.
He had half expected the car to stop outside a brightly lit area, possibly with a huge clue to his final goal, but instead, he was greeted with a familiar stench and a dark looming city, with only a few lights managing to gleam through the ugly buildings that were falling apart. It was a trademark look which only the slums could pull off. As the passenger's door opened, it reminded Riki of the gate opening in Eos. He half expected it to vanish instantly; another dream ripped away.
It was a pained order which only confused the mongrel, who couldn't take his eyes off the sight before him. "This... is the edge of the slums."
"What are you surprised for?" Iason replied casually. The reality of the situation was daunting rather than exciting for the bemused boy. "Would you prefer a Midas brothel?"
Riki turned his head quickly to his master furiously. "Are you trying to make a bad joke? Iason... what are you scheming?"
But Iason did not turn to face his pet. Whether this was out of anger or pain, Riki couldn't tell. "You can go back to the slum you were born in."
"I can really... go back? Just like this?"
The question was like a glass of water held just before him. The answer that he wished for would be the water touching the parched tongue, satisfying the thirst. "I removed the pet ring. Go. Before I change my mind."
"I can go back..." With shaking fingers, he unbuckled his seatbelt and exited the car. To stand on real soil was surreal. He couldn't believe this was happening. "I can go back – I'm not dreaming! The wind of the slums... the slums' smell... There's nothing binding me anymore! I'm... free... I'm really free!"
It was a situation that he had already experienced. The difference between this and the unfortunate Eos incident was that he was actually given permission to leave. Nobody could take him back now. He was so close that he would fight for his freedom even if it cost him his life. But he wouldn't need to do that... Iason was actually letting him go. He could hardly believe it.
He barely heard Iason climb out of the car to watch him grab his freedom. He took one step forward – his legs suddenly felt ten times heavier – and then another. Soon, he was breaking into a run, leaving all his chains, all his burdens and even his own master behind.
Iason watched his pet run back home. He knew he had wanted this for years, and it gave him a little pleasure to give him such a gift. "Go back, Riki. Go back to the slums, stretch the weight off your wings. It's been three years... You can greet your old friends. You can even get back together with Guy. However... you'll certainly realise, the length of your three years you can't bury. And then you'll know. The weight of freedom and the thirst of your blood... There is no pet ring left to bind you. Go and go come back, Riki. Ill give you only one year of freedom. Go and make certain with your eyes, with your body, that you are already a stranger there and return. I... will merely wait. Until that moment in which you truly become mine. That moment..."