From the mouth of the Snake of the Festival came a blast of black flame. Tis quickly ascended to avoid his wrath, but those who still stood in awe and fright behind her were wiped out instantly.

"Tch," Tis clicked her tongue, realizing that she and Asiz would be on their own so long as the rest of the army was petrified. She swiftly flew sideways to avoid the fangs of the towering serpent. As she strafed, she loosed several bolts of blue flame into the side of the Crimson God's head, to no avail; he didn't even seem like he felt it. The Snake of the Festival was a foe far beyond even her, she knew, she needed the support of the hundreds of Flame Hazes.

Just as she was about to speak, the Crimson God went ahead of her, as if he had anticipated her thoughts. "Is the Coffin Weaver the only brave one among you?" he said in a voice none can ignore, a voice that dictated authority even among his foes. "Did you all come here for nothing other than to harass and pester my citizens? Did you not have a purpose to fulfil in this war, or was your will to fight merely a passing whim?"

The truth of the matter was, as much as he was doing Tis a favour, he was also challenging the combined might of the Flame Hazes. As the Flame Hazes listened, they felt their courage gradually return, and they took up their arms once more.

"If you deny my words, then come and face me!" the Snake of the Festival challenged. "Show me that you have a reason to be here. Fight me with all you have!"

The first to come at him was the Princess Who Loves Insects, followed by a few others. Despite the goading of the Snake, Valac kept her wits about her. "Wait, don't rush him so su-!"

Before she could finish, however, her Flame Haze and those who charged with her were instantly reduced to nothing by the Crimson God's dark flame. But that did not stop the rest from joining in the battle.

Every Flame Haze, inspired by Tis and, ironically, their own enemy leader, fought with their greatest might. None could harm the deity however, as he chomped down on them, bathed them in black fire, and crushed them with his gigantic dragon tail.

"Do not be ashamed to fight for your survival this day, lest no one will be left to challenge the Crimson Denizens!" said the Snake of the Festival as he blew a sweeping wave of black fire upon a number of Flame Hazes.

Even the power of Tis' Pure Coffin could not stall the might of the Snake of the Festival, who countered whatever way she altered reality. It would not be long until half of the entire Flame Haze army was wiped out.

"There's no stopping him," Tis said as she watched the other Flame Hazes keeping the Snake of the Festival busy, with a few of them dying every ten seconds. "But then, we already knew that." She said with a smile.

"It's never been tested before, but it was meant for this moment," Asiz responded. "The Unrestricted Method is ready, let us end this war."

Pouring all her energy into a single spell, Tis tore through the very fabric of space and time.

A massive portal, as great as the Snake of the Festival himself, opened in the sky above him. It was not unlike a black hole, and it began to pull in the gargantuan serpent with such force that even he could not escape, along with many Flame Hazes who were not able to escape its reach in time.

Even as the Snake was being drawn in, he glanced at the exhausted Tis, and seemed to nod in respect. Then, as he was already beginning to be sealed away into the Void, he turned his eyes to Sydonay, Hecate, and then Bel Peol, who removed her own right eye and sent it to her lord in the form of a spell. Even now, they still had a plan, as expected of the Strategist and her grand master.

As dawn approached in the east, the portal to the Void closed shut. And for a long while, both the Flame Hazes and the Crimson Denizens stared in the sky in a mixture of feelings: sadness, grief, awe, and relief.

Hecate was the first to stir from her wide-eyed shock, and she screamed so loudly and so shrill that all heard her, and remembered that the war was still not yet fully over. Led by the General and Strategist, who followed the Priestess as she went on a rampage, the Crimson Denizens retaliated with double the ferocity they had displayed the entire battle.

The Flame Hazes, tired, dazed and in no shape to keep fighting, could only retreat. Even then, they lost much of their numbers as rays of light that spread as far as the sun itself could reach devastated the fleeing Flame Haze Army. As the great ball of fire arose in the sky, the Priestess displayed a fury unlike any ever seen before or since as she slaughtered while weeping for her beloved Commander.

The Supreme Throne

Hecate walked through the halls of the great Palace of Stars, alone, truly alone, apart from the one closest to her. Sydonay and Bel Peol continued to stick by her, but close as they were, she would never open up to them.

In the days following the banishment of the Snake of the Festival to the Void, the Priestess grew more and more distant, rarely appearing outside of her own chamber, as she attempted to regain contact with her liege through prayer to the otherworldly deity. And as she knelt in silence with hands clasped, aqua blue flames emanated from her body. But she could not reach him, not yet at the least, and her heart, already hardened from the sufferings she had gone through since eons past, grew tighter, locked shut, and desired to rid itself of all emotion to cope with the pain of the past and the loneliness of the present.

As time passed, a sense of deep emptiness began to grow. What was her purpose now without her lord? Who would be there to comfort her heart and ease her suffering? Redoubling her efforts to regain contact, she threw all cares for anything else, even her own pain, away. She only wanted to hear the voice of the Snake of the Festival.

In time, she finally heard him.

"I have never doubted you once, my daughter," the Snake of the Festival projected his will from deep within the Void. "Do not as well, for this is not an end, but the beginning…"

The war to dethrone the Snake of the Festival was long over, although Bal Masque still remained. Though they had successfully driven back their enemy, without their true leader, it was still a loss. But that was long past, and a new war had arisen, the Great War it would later be called. The struggle, however, was between another army of Crimson Denizens, known as the Töten Glocke, and the Flame Haze Army. At some point in the war, the leader of Töten Glocke had come to Bal Masque, seeking their aid.

That leader was none other than the Abyssal Ring Asiz, former Crimson Lord contractor to the Coffin Weaver Tis. He was now in his own form, away from his small vessel. His shape was that of a seraph, a six-winged angel, with a helmet covering his entire face that also bore large fangs. His entire body glowed a bright, shining blue.

"You have plenty of nerve requesting our help after banishing the Commander," Hecate said coldly. Her face betrayed little emotion, but the tone with which she spoke with was as sharp as an icicle to the heart, and her gaze like a thousand needles.

Even Asiz, immensely powerful as he was, knew that it would not be wise to provoke the Priestess' hostility towards him into action. But he still needed their aid; after all, he was facing foes as powerful as the Trinity, notably one known as the Flaming-Haired Blazing-Eyed Hunter, Mathilde Saint-Omer, whose level of power seemed to rival that of the Supreme Throne. He also recalled that even leaderless, Bal Masque had forced him and his allies back, and that only through the sacrifice of hundreds of Flame Hazes did he and Tis manage to defeat the Snake of the Festival. He chose his words carefully.

"You are not the only one who has lost someone important to you, Supreme Throne," he said. "Some time after our struggle against you, the humans became afraid, too afraid. By the thousands they took up arms, and sought to destroy those who protected them. As easy as it would be to wipe them out, Tis refused to do so. Eventually, they had us cornered, and she perished as they impaled her with spears and swords." The Crimson Lord tightened his fist.

"And so you manifested yourself into the world and consumed that entire city out of vengeance," Sydonay assessed. He stood cross-armed with his halberd slung on his back.

"Yes, although it is only the beginning," Asiz replied. "I wish to finish what your lord the Snake of the Festival began, and create a paradise for our kind. I call it the Great Binding Chain."

At that, Hecate took up her staff and was about to unleash her full power upon the Abyssal Ring, however, Asiz did not even move to act against it. Sydonay held her back just before she could shower him in destructive light.

"H-Hecate, wait!" Sydonay said as he struggled to hold her, but the Priestess broke free, shoving him on his back with such force. The Supreme Throne raised Trigon again.

"How dare you!" she yelled angrily.

"I deserve whatever punishment you will deal upon me, for not understanding at the time," Asiz said calmly as he looked her in the eye. "But at the very least, do you not wish to see the will of your lord the Snake of the Festival be done? "

At that, Hecate paused, and considered his words. Even now, before hatred, her love for her parent was above all else, and so she wanted to see his task fulfilled. She lowered her staff reluctantly.

"The wishes will be granted, as he wished for it to be," she said, although she still looked at the Crimson Lord with contempt.

Bel Peol smirked. "I think we can at the very least come to a mutual understanding," she said with a confidence that made her seem as if the whole business was a casual deal.

The Great War ravaged the land as Flame Haze and Crimson Denizen fought to decide the fate of the world. Many lives were claimed, including that of the dragon Illuyanka, who had, in fact, joined the very same Abyssal Ring who had defeated him in the previous war.

Although Bel Peol and her group had come to an agreement with Töten Glocke, they did not let their presence be known, and acted discreetly. It was not the support Asiz had hoped for, but at the very least they were not going to strike at them while they were busy with the Flame Haze Army.

In the midst of the final battle, atop a massive tower were three entities: the Abyssal Ring Asiz, the Flaming-Haired Blazing-Eyed Hunter Mathilde Saint-Omer, and a Crimson Denizen in the form of a young girl with short teal hair in a plain white dress. The latter watched from a cage as the former two battled.

Knights of pure crimson fire appeared out of thin air as the Flame Haze charged at the Abyssal Ring, who countered with tremendous power. And as their duel raged on, the structure began to collapse. But the two continued to fight hard, and it wasn't long until the entire place came crashing down.

The Flame Haze would have been flattened, had the caged Denizen not acted. She let herself out of the cage easily and activated her spell, a spell that would later be used by all connected to the Crimson Realm.


Suddenly, the falling rubble stopped, suspended in midair, and the tower stopped collapsing. Above, the sky was tainted a deep crimson, as if blood had stained the very air. Asiz looked around himself, realizing it would soon be over. Mathilde knew the same. She held her hand close to her chest, or rather, a ring that bore a large stone that housed a powerful presence.

As her body was sacrificed to fire, and her contractor summoned into the world, Hecate watched with Bel Peol and Sydonay from afar. A massive demon-like being emerged amidst the crimson zone of frozen time, and engulfed Asiz in its all-consuming fire.

Hecate cared not for many things, but she would at least remember the immense power of that crimson flame.

Centuries passed after the Great War, the world continued to change as fast as trees grew tall, and after many lifetimes of humans came the modern age. It brought about more efficient communication and travel for both the denizens of this world, as well as for those of the other. Wars both apparent and secret also changed, with a constant race of arms ongoing. Even the citizens were different, no longer peasants under a single rule with little choice at what they must do, but now individuals with the liberty to choose their own path. The Crimson Denizens and the Flame Hazes, however, were behind on this, despite all now being able to stop time around them on a whim. The one thing that never changed was the war over Power of Existence.

Within Sereiden, the palace above clouds and under a perpetual night sky, as Hecate communed with the Snake of the Festival, he spoke to her, his voice as clear and deep as ever.

"The next phase of the Grand Order will soon come to hand," he said, and Hecate listened intently, as she always had. "By a small chance, and a very brief moment to observe the outside world, I have discovered where we may find the key to our plan, the Treasure that could very well provide unlimited power."

"The Reiji Maigo," said Hecate. "It has appeared again?"

"Yes, go to the East, to the city of Misaki within Japan. "I know not exactly where in the city it may be, only that its Mystes is a young man. I trust you will be able to find it if you keep vigilant."

"By your will," Hecate said, her devotion as unwavering as it had been a thousand years ago. "I will send a Faux Vessel right away."

"Very good," the Snake responded. She at least knew that the search for the Treasure would have to be covert for now. As if it were an added thought, he spoke again. "I hope you may find something in the changed world that may fill in what has made you empty, my daughter."

"Yes, Commander," Hecate said, flatly but respectfully. In her heart, she still cared not for anything that existed outside of her lord's plan. To her, no matter how many years of loneliness had passed, there would be nothing worth holding on to in this world. She did not want to lose anything important anymore, she did not want to suffer anymore. And what would it matter? As it was in generations past, anyone who had—and would—discover her true nature would see her as a heartless monster, regardless of whether they were a human or otherwise.

Her Faux Vessel was the spitting image of her true self, the Priestess. And along with her appearance—albeit with a more normal hair color and dressed in the uniform of a local high school—she was granted full access to the powers of the Supreme Throne, being a shadow of her herself. However, something that the Priestess did not intend was that the copy did not share in the same pain or emptiness as she did, or at least, could not relate to her in the same way, and she came into the world as something more like how Hecate had first been, before the first ritual of wishes.

Given the name Fumina Konoe, she was sent to Misaki City, as per the instructions of the Snake of the Festival. She manifested as a small existence of her own, having been brought in through the Power of Existence from others.

Konoe walked through the streets of Misaki with her head held high—literally. She was so in awe of the many tall buildings and colorful billboards that she kept looking at them, and would pause only when something interesting had caught her eye elsewhere, which happened quite often. Little did she know or care that those around her stared at the odd young girl who acted like a little child in a new place.

It was all so different to her. The people, the buildings, the customs, everything was so unfamiliar in comparison to the cities of long ago. As the sun began to fall, little Konoe caught the scent of something warm. The aroma was sweet and inviting, and she found herself drawn to the cart of a baker who was just about to pack up and go home. There, peeking into his stall, she found the source of the scent: large, puffy, yellow bread flavored like melon.

While the man's back was turned, Konoe pinched one of the bread. It was soft and fluffy and warm, and she picked it up and, after sniffing it again, nibbled into it. As its smell had suggested it was sweet, crisp too, and she closed her eyes as she smiled happily before taking another small bite.

"Ahem," called a voice before her. Still chewing, Konoe opened her eyes with a puzzled expression. In front of her, the shopkeeper, a rather large man with a hairy face had his arms crossed and his finger tapping his elbow. He eyed her with what looked like a frown. "You gonna pay for that or what?"

Konoe blinked. "Pay?" she simply repeated. Having been sheltered at the palace and taking whatever she needed, which was an exceedingly rare occurrence, her original had never learned the concept.

The shopkeeper's eye twitched. "You…" he snarled, and Konoe's eyes widened as she backed up. "First those two assholes and now you; Just because you think you're cute you think you can do whatever you want?!" He raised his fist furiously. "I'm not going to let myself keep getting humiliated by you kids!"

As he roared, Konoe dropped the melon bread in wide-eyed fright, turned and ran. She didn't know to where, she just ran. Powers or not, such a ferocious creature was terrifying to the innocent child-like girl. And as she kept going through the city, she bumped into another person and fell on her back.

When she looked up, she saw a tough but lanky looking young man who raised his lip with an arrogant look. He was accompanied by two other young men, and all three were dressed rather sloppily.

"Hey, who do you think you are, bumping into the boss like that?" One of the lackeys said, and their leader just scowled. Konoe blinked and, still frightened from the earlier incident, backed away.

The leader of the thugs grabbed her by the arm. "Huuuuh, she's a cute little thing," he said. "Maybe service us an' I'll forgive yeh." He slowly moved his face forward, his breath touched her skin and sent cold chills down Konoe's spine. As tears began to form in her eyes, a police officer, accompanied by another, called out to them.

"Hey you! What do you think you're doing?" he said, and the three thugs ran like hunted hares, with the two officers hot on their trails. But Konoe was still too traumatized for the latter event to register, and just fled once again as soon as she got the chance.

When she had calmed down, Konoe stopped running and looked around, wiping her eyes with her slender wrist. The sky was now dark, though no stars could be seen, and the city around her was filled with lights. Had it not been for the frightening experiences from earlier, she would have been awestruck, but right now, she just wanted to find a safe place to shelter herself.

Then she remembered that her stay had already been arranged by Bel Peol and her connections. She knew she had her own accommodations in the city, and remembered the address for it.

The trouble was that she had absolutely no idea where she was.

She continued to wander the streets, to no avail. Her trust for the people of the city was still flimsy for her to ask for directions, and she remained lost. Somehow or other, her roaming led her through a park.

Trees surrounded the path she walked as she made her way through in the darkness. It was strangely familiar, in a way, for her to be in such an empty place, but at the same time, it felt painful.

She was lonely.

Tired from running and walking all day, she sat down on a bench and sighed. She could not understand how simply living here for one day was so hard, and there was none around to comfort her. Tears welled up in her eyes again as she curled up on the bench and fell asleep.

Morning came, and the sun shone on Konoe's face. She sat up groggily and stretched with a high-pitched yawn. Looking around, she realized she must have fallen asleep out in the open. She also noticed that her clothes were a little dirty, but she had no means to clean it. It was not completely necessary, so she was not even allowed to use the power of her original's flame for the mundane purpose. Either way, however, she paid it no mind.

It was a new day, but her enthusiasm and excitement from the day before had not returned. Right now, all she wanted was some real shelter, and maybe some actual company to alleviate her loneliness.

As she got up to resume wandering, she heard chirping above. Looking up, she spied a bird's nest on a branch. There were no little ones, and it was still half-formed as the mother bird bopped around its rim while arranging the little twigs that held it together.

From some distant memory of her original, she recalled seeing such a creature before. Small beings were they, with insignificant existences, yet they were more free than any other in either world, as she saw it. They flew wherever they wished, had families of their own, and could soar higher than anything can leap.

The pure and innocent Konoe lifted her hand, and the bird came down to her, perching itself on her open palm. The girl made a small smile as she gently stroked the tiny animal's feathers with her finger.

When she continued to roam the streets, by chance she spotted a couple of girls with the same uniform as her. Then she remembered that today was the first day of school, as she had been told before her deployment. She followed after the students in a brisk walk.

At the school, she also began to sense it, the Treasure she had been hunting for: the Reiji Maigo. It was close, somewhere within the area perhaps. But that was in the back of her mind for now. During the orientation, Konoe's excitement began to return. This place was not as scary as the huge city was, and there were plenty of young people who she might actually get along with. As she entertained the thought, she smiled a little.

Later, the class she was in had the privilege to introduce themselves. While some saw it as an opportunity to make a good first impression on the other classmates…

"My name's Hayato Ike, and I hope we can achieve the best we can together."

"Matake Ogata, I look forward to having lots of fun with all of you."

"Kimiko Nakamura, I hope we'll all have a very interesting school year together."

…others simply wanted to get it over and done with.

"Keisaku Satou, just don't bother me and I won't bother you."

Meanwhile, Konoe had no idea how to go about the whole business.

"Fumina Konoe," she said with a face and tone devoid of expression, although it was unintentional as she hid her excitement. After a long pause, she simply added one other thing to her introduction. "Hello."

Had she transferred in later in the year, she would have attracted more attention, as was the brief mystique of being a transfer student. But as today was the day everyone would meet new people, she was given little notice, although the main reason for that may have been more because she was silent the rest of the day, since she had no idea how to initiate a conversation with anyone. Her soiled clothes and uncombed hair did not help either.

She looked around as everyone either laughed together with people they had been friends with before or made new ones among others. But Konoe just sat and watched silently, envying them. They made it seem so easy, yet she was easily overlooked. Even the guy who had wanted to be left alone welcomed the company of two others: the one who had named herself as Ogata and another male with eyes that seemed to be stuck in a permanent squint.

Even in the midst of so many smiles, the Faux Vessel felt alone. And by the end of the day, as she felt her heart connect with the empty soul of the Priestess many miles away, she did not even care anymore.

As the setting sun once again painted the sky an orange hue, Konoe finally found her arranged residence: a large house that could very well be a mansion. The outside was wood painted white, and its design was quite western, with large gates and its own front yard.

But it was empty. Big, yes, but that just made it feel all the more empty. Despite being fully furnished as fancy as can be, there was no sign of life within. It was dark inside, with only the orange shafts of light coming in from the windows in the west. It was all becoming more and more familiar as she walked up to where her room would be, and to her mind she recalled a long hallway in a certain palace, with only darkness to comfort a Priestess.

And so darkness was her only comfort here as well. She did not sob herself to sleep this time, no; she hardened her heart just as her original did. Now, she remembered that she was not even a true existence, and would disappear soon; her true self was no different in a way. Perhaps it really was for the best that she would not become attached to anything or anyone. It would then be less painful when the time came for her to disappear. And so she resolved herself to fulfill the task she had been given, it was all that gave her purpose to exist.

Such was fate always unkind to the girl.

Classes soon started, but by that point Konoe had already lost hope. Even as she opened her wardrobe to change into one of the nine other identical uniforms, she did so with reluctance, as if she did not even feel that returning to that place was worth anything. But she had a mission to fulfill for the sake her true self, and for their beloved lord.

They had already received their books and bags some time before. And the very first thing she did was pour out all her things from her bag, spilling them on the floor. While most simply stared, the first person to react, and the only person to help pick her things up, was a young man who sat beside her. She tried to remember his name, but it didn't matter anymore.

He was only a Torch anyway, doomed to disappear like she was. Unless he, among all the dozens of other Torches in the school no one knew about, might have the Treasure she was seeking. She brushed the thought aside, what were the chances that the one she was looking for was just right there before her? It would be too easy. And besides that, she needed to be careful of her own actions, so as to avoid drawing the attention of the Treasure hunting Denizen also in the city.

However, there was something strange about this particular Torch. Whether or not he was the Mystes, he didn't seem so bleak or passive as Torches normally were.

As the days passed, Konoe took to observing and studying the ways of the humans in the city, and it did not take her too long to adapt. Although, she still never spoke to anyone, even in stores when she bought food all she did was point and purchase. She also had no trouble with the subjects at school, since the very first day she had received her textbooks, she had already memorized everything: in the dark confines of her room, she held her hand over the text, as if connecting with its written content, and as all the information flowed into her, the pages glowed bright blue and rapidly flipped one after another.

Whenever there was a break at school, Konoe would head up to the roof of the building. It was solitary, but at least it was not an atmosphere that mocked her of what she lacked. And at least she liked the unrestricted blue sky above and the cold, refreshing breeze that blew over her as she looked into the distance from the edge.

One day, during lunchtime, by chance it seemed to her, a young man also came to the roof. It was not the first time that she was not the only person to climb up there, but this one actually approached her.

"Fumina… Konoe-san right?"

It was none other than the same Torch who helped pick up her books when she had spilled them on the floor that one day. She stared at him, surprised he would actually remember her. Not knowing how else to respond to him, she simply nodded.

"I'm Yuji Sakai," he introduced himself with a smile, and that expression felt warm to Konoe, but also so unfamiliar, yet at the same time not so. The feeling was more like something she had forgotten a long, long time ago.

The Torch who believed himself to be Yuji Sakai continued to talk to her as he leaned on the rails beside her.

"We never really talked much, at all really. I don't think I've seen you talk to anyone for that matter. Are you alright?"

Konoe nodded once without expression. She did resign herself to her fate of disappearing without ever really living anyway. That was the truth of reality to her, and she had come to accept it.

"You sure you're not having trouble making friends?"

She nodded again. It was true as well, for although at one point she had been so excited for it, she had come to terms with the fact that should not make any friends if her life depended on it. She was so far off from everyone else, she had withdrawn into her own void of loneliness. It shouldn't be something that should bother her. And she did not need any friends anyway, she reminded herself.

Why was he talking to her so much anyway? Was he simply bored, or acting on a mere whim? Torch or not, humans were fickle creatures who only looked at themselves, or at least that's how Konoe had begun to see it, although she was not yet as strongly convinced of it as her true self was.

"Mind if I was one of your friends then?"

Konoe blinked, and stared at the Torch with wide eyes. She did not expect that. Why would anyone want to be friends with her? In the eyes of the humans, she was just a quiet and awkward girl with nothing special to show. Someone like her would be easily overlooked as if she were merely part of the background. At least, that was how she had been treated since she had arrived. But this one person out of anyone else in the city actually displayed concern for her, an existence not even worth remembering.

Still, she felt a strange new comfort. And for that moment, she had forgotten her loneliness and emptiness as she was filled with a peculiar warmth. A friend would be nice, she thought to herself. It would be nice, if only for even a little while. Then at least she would feel as if she was not just a tool.

Caught in the moment, a small smile appeared on the face that had hidden all expressions of sadness and solace. And she nodded to the young man, although she was not sure herself if she had meant it then. Yuji smiled at her in return.

"I'm glad," he said, and he offered her a piece of his own meal, a roll of some sort of filled bread.

As they stood there in silence, Konoe took a small bite out of her piece of bread. It was far more delicious than anything she had ever tasted in that city.

On that same day, sometime after school ended, Konoe decided to tail Yuji. It was not the first time she had stalked a Torch, she did so once a day for a different one, to see if they had the Reiji Maigo within them. However, as they would leave the area of the school, she would no longer sense its presence. The whole time she followed Yuji, however, even when they were far away from the school, she could still feel the Treasure. She was almost certain enough to act now, she only needed some confirmation.

And she would have it sooner than she hoped. The sky turned a deep crimson in the area ahead of her. It was not uncommon, as the Crimson Lord in the city feared no Flame Haze and liberally fed on the helpless citizens' existences. But there was something different about this time; she could feel something else within the Seal that froze time. A small presence it was, like she was, but it was moving. Could this finally be the Treasure her Commander had told her to find?

She stepped into the place where all was shrouded in red and where time stood still. Some ways ahead of her, there was a familiar Torch carrying a girl, frozen and unaware. Right behind him was a monstrous baby-like abomination. Summoning the staff Trigon, she cast her spell.

"Are they really not real? Can you please check them out for me?"

Yuji watched the television screen intently as a timid, blonde-haired, and very well-endowed female elf in a green halterneck leaned over a Japanese boy of his age in a blue jacket, who lay on a bed. The latter nervously moved his finger to poke one of the massive, almost unnatural melons.

Hecate rested her chin on Yuji's head. She had just finished helping Chigusa with the cake and was just waiting for it to bake in the oven. Over her clothes was a light pink apron.

Yuji felt her head tilt on top of his. "Why do men find those so interesting?" she asked him.

The young Mystes blushed. "Ahh well, it's not so easy to explain" he said with an awkward smile.

"Hm?" Hecate leaned forward so that she looked at Yuji's face. Her dark green hair hung in front of Yuji like a curtain. "Do you think I would look better that way?"

Yuji imagined the thought as soon as she had said it. He blushed a deep crimson and averted his eyes from her upside-down orbs. "I-I think you're just fine as you are. You don't have to change anything."

Hecate blinked, stood up straight, and made a small smile as her cheeks flushed a little.

That's right, nothing needs to change, Yuji thought. There are still many things I hope to learn about her, and my one little wish is that maybe one day I'll finally understand everything about Hecate, her memories, her pains and her happiness.

Author's Note: For those curious about events in the Great War, look up the manga Shakugan no Shana X Eternal Song. No, I did not write it; just because it has "Eternal" in the title does NOT make it mine.