somariel: Lantis & Eagle from Magic Knight Rayearth, in formal clothing after the series (Lantis & Eagle)
Title: Countdown
Rating: T/PG-13
Fandom: Magic Knight Rayearth
Characters: Eagle Vision, Geo Metro, Shidou Hikaru, Lantis
Warnings: Contains spoilers for the second and third volumes of Magic Knight Rayearth 2.
Summary: Eagle is running out of time to achieve his goals, but he's not going to stop trying until the clock runs out.
Notes: Set in the manga universe

A/N:Many thanks to FFN's Antoinette Veronica for beta'ing this for me.
All recognizable dialogue and thoughts are taken from Tokyopop's 10th anniversary translation of Magic Knight Rayearth. Alternative wordings are taken from the resources on the Magic Knight Rayearth fansite Definitely Not Tokyo.

I was visiting all of Lantis’ usual haunts, looking for him—Didn’t he go back to Cephiro?—when I heard a familiar voice say something. The voice was one I knew I should be able to identify, but I couldn’t quite place it, nor could I make out what it had said. But I didn’t get a chance to think about the voice further, since that was when I found Lantis.

I started talking to him, trying to convince him to abandon his suicidal plan for ending the Pillar system and accept mine—¬Hadn’t I decided not to tell him about it?—but he didn’t seem to be listening. And then he started arguing with me, claiming that my plan wasn’t any better than his. Why was he saying that? I knew that he knew the fatigue syndrome was incurable. At least with my plan, only one of us was doomed. As he continued to argue with me, my hands started to clench into fists and I was becoming tempted to hit him.

Then I heard the familiar voice again and this time I was able to identify it. It was Geo’s. “Eagle?” he said. I gasped and looked around for him and that was when my eyes opened. I was in my cabin on the NSX. Searching for Lantis and arguing with him had been a dream, even though it had felt so real.

Geo was sitting beside my bed, holding my hand. He released it as I sat up and then he said, “You’re finally up, Commander.”

Finally up? How long had I been out? “Was I asleep a long time?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Geo said, “since you collapsed in front of your FTO.”

That was when I remembered. We had reached Cephiro and I had taken the FTO out to test the Magic Knights, who had been above the castle in their Mashin, but the fight had been interrupted by a blast from Lantis. I had been so shocked by seeing him that I had fled the battle to avoid having to fight while distracted. No wonder I had dreamed about him. And while I was thinking about that… “Did I say anything while I was asleep?” I knew I had a tendency to mumble in my sleep and given what I had been talking about in my dream right before I woke up, I needed to know if it had happened this time.

Geo looked at me like he wasn’t sure what to make of my question, then turned his head to the side and said, “No.”

I looked at him suspiciously for a moment, because the pause before answering and the turn of his head during the answer made me think he wasn’t being entirely honest, but then I set it aside. If I had said something, it clearly hadn’t been intelligible enough to worry him. “I’m sorry I fainted during battle,” I said. Even if it had only technically still been during battle, since I hadn’t given the order to stand down from battle stations when I fainted.

Geo got up from his seat and headed for the door. “As the Subcommander, I would like to know what we’re going to do now,” he said. “I’ll be waiting in the meeting room.” He activated the doors and walked out of the room, but then he paused just outside and turned to look back at me. “Oh, and you can’t go back to sleep now.”

“I’ll be right over,” I said, smiling brightly at him.

He turned back towards the corridor and walked away as the doors slid shut. As soon as the doors closed, I dropped the smile and looked down. The smile had been for Geo’s benefit, since I wasn’t really feeling too cheerful right then. My dream had reminded me of just how thoroughly I was betraying Lantis’ trust to carry out my plan to end the Pillar system for him.

“Lantis…” I said, “…I’m sorry.” And I really was. It hurt to know that I might have to fight him. But that wasn’t going to stop me from going through with the plan. According to the doctors’ estimates, I had been living on borrowed time for at least two weeks already and I was determined to use what time I had left to make sure that Lantis stayed alive.


Half an hour later, having showered, dressed, and gotten something to eat, I joined Geo in the meeting room.

Once I had taken my seat, I plugged my visor into the control panel attached to it and activated the projector in the center of the room. “This is the castle of Cephiro,” I said, bringing its image up in the projector. “The castle is made entirely from willpower.”

Geo had a pensive expression on his face as he listened to me, but he didn’t say anything.

I pressed a button on the control panel and the image zoomed out to show the entirety of the transparent yellow shell surrounding the castle. “What lies outside seems to be some sort of magic that acts as a barrier. We will not be able to conquer this castle by just attacking it. But I suppose it’s no matter, since our objective isn’t to seize the castle…”

“I still can’t believe it…” Geo said, his expression going from pensive to awed, “…that something so huge is made of willpower.”

“We heard a lot about the wonders of Cephiro when Lantis was in Autozam,” I said.

At Lantis’ name, Geo’s expression went from awed back to pensive. “…so Lantis…was back in Cephiro…” His tone was carefully neutral and oddly distant.

I had to suppress a wince when he said that. I had been hoping to avoid talking about that matter. Putting on a false cheer, I said, “Well, it is his native country.”

Geo didn’t reply, just staring at me with a frown as I smiled at him. Once the silence had started to become uncomfortable, I asked, “Is there something on my face?” I doubted that that was really the reason he was staring at me, but I hoped the question would get him to say what the real reason was. When he still didn’t speak, I added, “Oh, by any chance, are there imprints of the bedsheets from my nap?”

That question did the trick. Geo maneuvered his chair so that he was within arms’ length of me, then reached out and removed my visor. “Is it really okay…?” he asked.

“Huh?” What was he asking about? Was what really okay?

Geo placed my visor in his lap. “Is it really okay…to invade Lantis’ native country?”

Oh. That was what he was asking about. I had really been hoping to avoid this conversation. I couldn’t tell Geo what my real reason for wanting to invade Cephiro was, but he was right in thinking that I would have been conflicted if I really was invading for Autozam’s sake. Fortunately, I didn’t have to answer right then, since he continued speaking.

“Of all the lands that Lantis lived in outside Cephiro while he was a traveler, Autozam was where he stayed the longest. He was always reticent and poker-faced…but when he was with you, his tensions disappeared. I think that was because he truly trusted you. You know-” Geo reached out and grasped my chin, tilting my head up so he was looking me in the eye, “-you’re a lot like him. You never change your mind. You risk your life for what you believe in.”

That last comment struck me as darkly ironic, since Geo didn’t know just how true it was for both me and Lantis right now.

“You two have the same stubborn streak,” Geo finished.

I had to crack a small smile then, as Geo raised his other hand to rub his forehead, like just thinking about our stubbornness was giving him a headache.

“I thought that Lantis would stay in Autozam forever,” Geo said, releasing my chin and reaching for the control panel attached to his chair. “But…” He pressed a button and the image of Cephiro’s castle was replaced by an image of Autozam as seen from space. “When the mental barrier surrounding Cephiro disappeared and our top officials started having fits, saying that the Pillar must have died… Lantis disappeared from Autozam…”

There was more to his leaving than you realize, I thought, closing my eyes and remembering the conversation he and I had had when I found him after the flare of light that had signaled the Pillar’s death. Geo continued talking, either not noticing or ignoring my slip into memory, and I opened my eyes again.

“Autozam is a highly mechanized country. We’ve quantified mental energy and turned it into the power to move anything.” Geo grasped the wires from his headband, removing them from the control panel and holding up the ends to illustrate his point, then plugged them back in. “In that sense, it’s similar to Cephiro, where the heart determines everything. But the one thing that is drastically different…” He pressed another button and a new image of Autozam appeared, a close-up that showed the dingy brown clouds floating above the outer plate. “…is this polluted sky. No matter what we make, no matter what chemical we synthesize… We cannot get the skies of Autozam to clear. The lands of Autozam are slowly being infected.”

“That’s why…Autozam needs Cephiro’s Pillar system,” I said. I wasn’t entirely lying, either. If I became Pillar, I would do everything I could to hold on long enough for our scientists and researchers to do a thorough study of the Pillar system.

Pressing a button to bring up an image of the old Cephiro, I elaborated on that point. “Cephiro, when the Pillar existed, was a peaceful place that always felt like spring.” Looking down, I folded my hands in my lap. “I always looked at that blue sky from the control towers of Autozam…and thought that someone who had a heart as pure as that sky was the Pillar who supported that country… But… Cephiro, after losing its Pillar, has become such a wasteland that nothing can exist outside of the castle. The heart of one girl, known as the Pillar, was able to control all natural activities within that world. If we can figure out the logistics of the Pillar system, it might help find the answer for the pollution problem in Autozam.”

“So that’s why you approached your father, the president of Autozam,” Geo said.

“Yes,” I replied. “I was the one who suggested invading Cephiro. At this rate, Autozam will die out. No matter how we cover the residential districts with domes…the earth itself will die. Before that happens…we have to try every possible solution.”

“Even if that means…destroying Cephiro in the process?” Geo’s words were ground out through clenched teeth.

“Yes.” In a certain sense, the success of my true plan would result in Cephiro’s destruction, so I was able to give my answer completely unflinchingly.

Then, in an attempt to change the subject, I brought the images of Fahren and Chizeta up in the projector. “Fahren and Chizeta also seem to be invading Cephiro…but we have information about Cephiro that we’ve received from Lantis. We should be at an advantage.”

From the way Geo looked away from me at the mention of that information Lantis had told us, I could tell he wasn’t ready to let the subject drop. Grimacing, he clutched at his head and said, “And you don’t care that invading Cephiro means that you betray Lantis?”

I couldn’t help the twitch that ran through me when he put it that bluntly, but my voice was steady as I answered him. “I have already decided… This is my wish and it will not change.” I sat up straighter and looked him directly in the eye. “No matter what happens.”

Geo looked at me for a long moment, then sighed and reached out to pat my shoulder. “All right.” He waved his hand and turned his chair back towards the projector. “Ever since I teamed up with you, my life is at your disposal.” His tone as he said that was equal parts exasperation and fondness. Then he tilted his head back towards me and smiled. “No matter what happens, I’ll follow you.

I smiled back, accepting his statement for the declaration of loyalty it was. He still might not agree with me, but he would no longer question my choices.

As I turned my attention back to our planning, I thought, Lantis, I’m sorry, but I will take Cephiro.


Our strategy meeting lasted for about two hours, finishing shortly before lunch. After lunch was over, Geo and I took our places on the bridge and I resumed control of the Road from the team Geo had assembled to maintain it, changing the ship’s status from ‘standby’ to ‘active’. Focusing my will, I started the Road plowing back towards the speck that was the current Cephiro.

Half an hour later, the Road’s progress had brought us substantially closer and I could see two more Roads and three colored specks hovering above what was left of Cephiro. Given that one of the colored specks was red, one was blue, and one was green, it wasn’t hard to guess that they were most likely the Mashin. As for the other Roads… “Those must be the Roads from Fahren and Chizeta,” I murmured.

Geo and I had come up with a few ways of dealing with Fahren and Chizeta’s invasion forces during the strategy meeting, but seeing both of their Roads so close together gave me a flash of inspiration for a new plan, one that would deal with both countries at the same time. It would be risky, but the payoff would be worth it. I knew Geo would disagree, however, so I acted without mentioning it to him and sent my Road plunging towards the side of the nearest of the other two.

With the increase in the speed of my Road’s growth, it was mere seconds before I saw that the vehicle in the nearest Road was a serpentine dragon. The Dome of Fahren, I thought. And then my Road hit Fahren’s just behind the Dome, piercing partway through it. I groaned as I struggled to force my Road the rest of the way through, pitting my will against that of the person creating Fahren’s Road.

Then, with a startling suddenness, the resistance vanished and my Road blasted the rest of the way through Fahren’s Road and on into Chizeta’s. The initial penetration was smaller this time, with the resistance starting sooner. I made little headway until the resistance disappeared, but my Road was no more than halfway through when the resistance abruptly resumed.

So, I thought, there’s more than one person creating this Road. Most likely, Chizeta’s two princesses were working together. And the one still standing was strong. Our wills stood at a total stalemate for nearly half a minute, with me unable to penetrate further and she unable to force my Road out, before I began to make fractional progress. Then, as I forced my Road another inch into hers, the resistance vanished with the same startling suddenness that Fahren’s had and my Road blasted out the other side.

The next thing I was aware of was a violent shock coursing through my body and I opened my eyes to see Geo and Zazu looking down at me with worried expressions on their faces. “Geo…?” I said. What had happened?

“Eagle!” Zazu cried, relief replacing worry on his face.

Geo’s expression changed to one primarily of relief, although there was still a touch of concern to it, and he sighed. “You took years off my life,” he said.

I was about to ask him what had happened when I noticed that the wires from his headband were draping over my chest and shoulder. Had he plugged his headband into mine? What had made him risk the danger of a direct mental connection? Before I could ask him that, however, I put it together with the worry on his face and Zazu’s when I had opened my eyes and the jolt I had felt right before that, and I became pretty certain I knew what had happened. “By any chance, did I fall asleep?” I asked.

“No chances here…” Geo said angrily, looming over me, “…you did! In fact, you almost fell asleep for good!” Zazu nodded vigorously in agreement.

I had known that doing what I had would be risky, even if I had been in the best of health, but I hadn’t realized that it would be that risky when I already didn’t have much time left.

Geo gave me a startled look as I finished that thought. Had I said some of that aloud? I couldn’t afford to let him ask about it if I had, so I immediately changed the subject. “I’ve cut off the Roads from Fahren and Chizeta,” I said. “If I can, I’m going to keep the armies from those two countries from entering Cephiro.”

Before Geo or Zazu could reply to that statement, my body shook all over as another jolt ran through it and I pitched forward into Geo’s arms. “Eagle!” he cried. What had happened to me now?

Then Zazu gasped and cried, “A Mashin broke into the Road that Eagle made!”

What?! Geo cried the word even as I thought it. No one should have been able to enter the Road without my permission. It did explain the jolt that had knocked me into Geo’s arms, though. Turning in Geo’s grasp, I looked out the bridge’s window. There really was a Mashin there! It was the one I had fought the day before. “Mashin…” I said, struggling to speak—struggling to think—through a blossoming headache. “A red…Mashin…”

Something prompted me to activate my visor’s zoom function, targeting it on the jewel in the center of the Mashin’s chest and when I did, I was surprised to see a figure within the jewel. How had that person gotten inside the jewel? And how was I seeing inside it? Was the interior normally visible from the outside? I continued to zoom in and was further surprised when, as the figure became clearer, I saw it was… A girl?! Then the girl seemed to notice that I was looking at her. She lifted her head and our eyes met with an almost physical shock. This is…the Legendary Magic Knight… I thought. She looked so young! But her eyes were filled with sadness and a maturity beyond her physical age.

Before I could start to ponder the incongruity, my building headache spiked and, without conscious thought, I flexed my will and expelled her from the Road. I immediately sagged further into Geo’s arms as he called my name again, but the headache was already starting to recede.

She came into the Road that I created… I thought, pressing a hand to my forehead as the image in the bridge’s projector showed the other two Mashin take hold of the red one and start back towards the castle. “The Pillar of Cephiro must go down the Road to the Pillar and accept a challenge…” That’s what Lantis said… “The Road…” I muttered. “The Road to the Pillar…” Was this what Lantis had meant? Or was it something else?

Soon, Geo eased me back into my seat and then he turned off the projector. “That does it!” he said. “You are going to go rest.” His tone indicated that he was not going to take ‘no’ for an answer and at that moment, I had no inclination to argue with him. The headache that had started when the Mashin broke into my Road had faded with the Mashin’s expulsion, but it had not disappeared completely—in fact, it was starting to get worse again—and my body was giving me clear signals that if I didn’t soon lie down voluntarily, I would be doing so involuntarily.

“Agreed,” I said. As Geo gaped at my easy acquiescence, I added, “Please take care of letting Fahren and Chizeta’s forces know that I wish to speak with their leaders once they have recovered.”

“Eagle,” Geo said, his tone full of suspicion, “are you all right? You never agree to rest that easily.”

“At the moment, no,” I said. “I’ve got a wicked headache that started when the Mashin entered the Road and I would very much like to close my eyes until it goes away.”

Geo looked at me suspiciously for a long moment, like he thought I was prevaricating—and I actually was, since my statement had neatly side-stepped the issue of my overall health—then sighed and said, “All right. I’ll come check on you when I’ve finished dealing with Fahren and Chizeta.”

“Thank you,” I said. Then I left the bridge and headed for my cabin. When I reached it, I took off my outer layers and set an alarm for dinnertime. Once I had done that, I laid down on my bed and was asleep within moments.


Despite having gone to bed for the night a couple of hours earlier than usual, I was still quite displeased to be woken shortly before 4:30 the next morning by a call from the bridge’s duty officer. “What is it?” I asked, yawning as I sat down at the comm station in my cabin.

“I’m sorry to disturb your rest, Commander,” the officer said, “but I have the leaders of both the Fahrenese and Chizetan forces waiting on the main bridge comm.”

Hearing that sent a jolt of excitement through me, wiping away my tiredness. “Please inform Subcommander Metro of this and ask him to meet me on the bridge as soon as possible, then let the Fahrenese and Chizetan leaders know that I will be with them shortly.” I then turned off the comm and hurried to get dressed.

I left my cabin less than five minutes later, making the final adjustments to my cloak as I strode down the corridor. I reached the bridge quickly and entered it just in time to hear Geo say, “I hope you didn’t stay up all night, Zazu.”

“I’ve only been up for about fifteen minutes,” Zazu replied. “I wanted to run an energy analysis of our Road before, during, and after yesterday’s events.”

Before Geo could reply to Zazu’s statement, I strode out onto the bridge’s command deck and took my seat in the commander’s chair. Geo came over and positioned himself at my left side. I keyed up the command deck’s comm screen and once it had appeared and activated, I said, “I’m ready. Comm officer, you may now take the Fahrenese and Chizetan leaders off of hold and transfer them to my comm.”

“Roger,” the comm officer said. Then two images appeared on the comm screen, overlapping somewhat in its center. In the upper right was a girl in Fahrenese clothing who looked about twelve. In the lower left were two women in Chizetan clothing who had to be sisters. Both of the Chizetans looked to be within a few years of my own age, although one of them looked somewhat older than the other. All three of them had solemn expressions on their faces.

“I am Eagle Vision, Chief Commander of Autozam’s Cephiro Conquest Project,” I said. “What are your names?”

“I am the Crown Princess Aska of Fahren,” the Fahrenese girl said.

“Princess Tarta of Chizeta,” said the younger-looking of the Chizetan women.

“Princess Tatra of Chizeta,” the older-looking Chizetan woman said.

So, not only had I been right about Chizeta’s princesses leading their country’s forces, Fahren’s young heir was personally leading her country’s forces. How had she talked her regent into allowing that? But that was something I could wonder about later. Right then, I needed to get on with the purpose of the talk. “Can I ask you to stop attacking Cephiro?” I said.

“NO!” both Aska and Tarta cried.

I chuckled quietly at how emphatic they were. That was certainly a definitive enough answer. But I still might be able to talk them out of it if I knew what their reasons were for doing so in the first place, so that was my next question. “Why are you invading Cephiro?”

“I’m gonna become the Pillar of Cephiro and make it a happy place full of candy!” Aska cried.

“Full of candy?” I said. “That sounds fun.” It also made it sound like she was doing this purely on a whim, which meant she most likely hadn’t thought through all the consequences. And if she hadn’t, then bringing them to her attention might convince her to abandon her plan. “But what about Fahren, your own country?”

“I’ll make both countries happy!” Aska sounded quite indignant, like she thought the answer should have been obvious. She most definitely had not thought through the consequences of becoming the Pillar.

“That is impossible,” I said.

“Why?!” She sounded utterly shocked. Was it possible that she didn’t know the limitations that being the Pillar would place on her?

“Cephiro’s Pillar is not allowed to love anything but Cephiro. If you were to have something that you cared about besides Cephiro, the country will easily crumble…like this.” I gestured to the view of Cephiro visible through the bridge’s window.

Aska looked down, the expression on her face indicating that I had given her a lot to think about, and I turned my attention to Chizeta’s princesses. “The two princesses from Chizeta—why are you going to Cephiro?”

“To expand Chizeta’s empire!” Tarta said firmly.

“Are you trying to make Cephiro into the agricultural and residential portion of your empire?” I asked. I knew that Chizeta had an overpopulation problem because of its small size and that the overpopulation problem was also causing problems with producing enough food for all the residents of the country.

“We have no intention of putting pressure on the people of Cephiro,” Tarta said.

“Even if you don’t mean to,” I said, “if you invade…you will definitely end up fighting with those who live there. You would pressure them regardless… It is difficult to become the Pillar of Cephiro unless you are willing to sacrifice your life for the sake of the country.”

Before Tarta could reply, Tatra said, “And you, Eagle Vision? What about you?”

I started slightly at her words. I had not expected to have my questions for them turned back on me.

“I have heard about the Pillar of Cephiro,” Tatra continued. “That the Pillar is the center of that world, the one who supports the whole country with their willpower… That cannot be done unless you are willing to live and die with the country. I also know a little bit about Autozam. The atmosphere of your country is too harsh for man to live in… Is the reason Autozam is invading Cephiro to figure out the Pillar system, where all the laws of the world are controlled by the Pillar? Or is it to make Cephiro itself the new land for the people of Autozam to live in?” She paused for a moment to look directly at me and then she went on. “Cephiro is a dangerous country… Are you willing to die for it?”

I smiled softly at her. She had touched on the official reason for Autozam’s invasion and the difficulties it would cause for someone trying to become the Pillar, but she had no way of knowing my private motivation and the reasoning behind it. And that gave me a much stronger force of will than the official reason ever could.

I looked down to compose myself, then looked back up at the comm screen and said, “I know why both of you are attacking Cephiro, now. But I cannot retreat, either.” I stood up in preparation for the end of our talk and continued. “I will give you three hours in Autozam’s time. If you promise that you will not invade Cephiro, I will release the Dome and the Bravada. But if you say that you still wish to fight… You will have to deal with us first.”

Then, before any of the princesses could get over their shock at the ultimatum I had issued, I ended the comm connection and headed for the exit from the bridge. As I walked away, I heard Geo comment that I was hiding something from him and Zazu. I would have to be extra cautious now, since I knew that if Geo found out what my real reason for invading Cephiro was, he would do everything he could to stop me.


I spent a certain amount of the promised three hours running readiness checks on the FTO, remembering as I did so my last meeting with Lantis before he had left Autozam, during which he had confirmed his intent to end the Pillar system even at the cost of his own life and I had made my decision to end the Pillar system my own way, even though I would have to betray his trust to do it. But mostly, apart from that and getting something to eat, I spent the time resting. I truly hoped the princesses would take me up on my offer, but I wasn’t going to count on it, so I had to be ready to fight if they didn’t.

Finally, a few minutes before the three hours would be up, I headed for the bridge. Geo and Zazu were already on the command deck when I entered and as I stepped onto it, Geo gasped, turned his chair to look at me, half standing as he did so, and switched off the monitor he had been looking at.

The simple fact that he hadn’t wanted me to see what he had been looking at made me suspect that he had been about to look at my medical data. He couldn’t have actually looked at it yet, since I was certain that he would have confronted me about the fatigue syndrome if he had. But if it was true that he had been about to look at it, then he was very close to discovering that I was succumbing to the fatigue syndrome. Clearly, I would have to take steps to keep him from trying to stop me if I took the FTO out.

But I couldn’t do it right then, since at that very moment, the light indicating an active comm contact came on and when I brought up the comm screen, it showed contact with both the Dome and the Bravada. As their waiting images resolved into images of the princesses, I said, “It is now time. Have you made your decisions?”

“I will go to Cephiro,” Aska said.

“Me too,” Tarta said.

“I see,” I said, smiling at them. I couldn’t even say I was surprised. Based on my assessment of the princesses during our earlier talk, I hadn’t felt that there was more than a 50% probability of Aska not going to Cephiro and I had placed Tarta’s probability of the same at only 25%, with Tatra going along with whatever her sister decided.

Then I hardened my expression and said, “Then we shall begin.” I put on my visor and started my Road plunging towards the clouds above Cephiro, dragging Fahren and Chizeta’s Roads down with mine. Since we were all determined to go to Cephiro, then within Cephiro’s atmosphere would be the safest place to have our battle.

As my Road continued its plunge, Fahren’s and Chizeta’s started twining around it until all three had joined into a single interwoven Road. When our multi-strand Road burst through the clouds above Cephiro, the individual Roads broke open and dissipated, leaving the NSX, the Dome, and the Bravada in the air above the shield surrounding Cephiro’s castle.

Aska was the first to attack, the Dome arcing around so its head faced the NSX’s bow directly, then opening its mouth to shoot a large fireball.

“Fire the Laguna cannon,” I ordered as the fireball shot towards the NSX.

As it was brought online, energy sparked between and crackled around the vanes on either side of the bridge, then was channeled down to the underside of the NSX and into the Laguna cannon. Then the cannon fired, releasing a massive blast of energy that cancelled the fireball and continued on to blast the Dome behind its forelegs.

The explosion on the Dome had not finished dissipating when the Bravada fired a pair of beams from the figure on its prow.

“Initiate a missile barrage,” I ordered. The NSX’s gunnery officers promptly did so, two of the first missiles intercepting the beams from the Bravada and the rest going on to impact a shield around the Bravada.

“Cease fire,” I ordered as I analyzed the Bravada’s shield. Then I identified the shield’s origin point at the Bravada’s stern and sent the image to Geo. “Concentrate the missiles in this region,” I said.

“Roger,” Geo replied. He then used his own gunnery controls to fire a dozen or so missiles that arced around the Bravada to hit it precisely on target. The resulting explosion caused the Bravada to lurch several yards downward and I gave the order to resume the missile barrage. As the gunnery officers obeyed, I took the opportunity to change the passwords for all of the fighting mecha except the FTO.

Soon after the barrage resumed, my attention was drawn to an area a few hundred feet below the Bravada when the missed shots from the barrage started deflecting off of something in that area, the explosions illuminating some sort of shield. What was down there that needed protecting? Zooming in on the area, I saw three winged platforms several dozen feet below the shield.

One platform bore a figure in green and a figure in white. A second bore a figure in blue and a figure in green and white and the third bore a single figure in red and black who was holding something white in their arms. Presumably, the platforms and their occupants had come from Cephiro’s castle and the shield above them was formed by magic. Were the figure in green, the figure in blue, and the figure in red and black the Magic Knights?

Before I was able to zoom in further to see if my speculation was correct, the missile blasts began to break through the shield and one of them struck the platform bearing the figure in red and black, knocking it on its side. The figure in red and black fell off of the platform, but before I could worry about the person, they were caught…by Lantis.

If Lantis was out there, then it was time I went out, too. “I’m going out,” I said, removing my visor and disconnecting it from my control panel.

Zazu cried, “Roger,” and I headed for the exit from the bridge. As soon as I left it, I headed for the FTO at top speed. If Geo truly had been about to look at my medical data when I came onto the command deck, then it was pretty much guaranteed that he would look at it as soon as I was out of the bridge and I wanted to have the FTO launched by the time he realized I was succumbing to the fatigue syndrome.

I reached the FTO quickly and had it ready to launch in short order. Activating its comm, I said, “From here on out, I’ll give my orders from the field. Release the defensive shields as soon as the FTO leaves the ship.”

“Roger!” Zazu replied.

Then there was the sound of flesh hitting metal from Zazu’s side of the comm and Geo cried my name. “Don’t go!” he cried. “Eagle!

He had discovered the symptoms of the fatigue syndrome in my medical data faster than I had expected he would, but something still made me pause in the final adjustments of the FTO to listen to him.

“I analyzed your medical data! You are…!” Geo let the sentence trail off, like he couldn’t bear saying the rest of it.

He had analyzed my medical data? He must have set it up to do that right after my initial talk with the princesses. And it was no wonder he had discovered the signs of the fatigue syndrome in it so quickly. I needed to launch now, before he found some way to stop me. “Lifting off…!” I said as I activated the FTO’s launching guides.

Wait!” Geo cried. “Eagle!” But his words were too late. I had already launched and the FTO and its shield drones were speeding away from the NSX. Less than a minute later, I heard him cry my name again, frustration, grief, and outrage mingled in his tone. He had to have discovered the steps I had taken to keep him from following me out.

As the FTO sped into the battlefield, I zoomed my focus in on Lantis, wanting to make sure that the person he had caught was all right. When the focus got close enough to make out individual features, I recognized the person he had saved. That’s…the girl who was in the red Mashin… And the white thing she was holding was some sort of rabbit-like creature. Thankfully, both the girl and the creature looked completely unharmed.

I then received a surprise when the girl turned and seemed to look right at me, as if the bulk of the FTO wasn’t even there. Like when we had seen each other clearly the day before, her eyes contained a sadness far beyond what someone her physical age should know. Such sad eyes… My heart hurts…

Then I reached the optimal range for the FTO to fight the Dome and the Bravada from and I turned the majority of my attention to that battle. But I kept a small part of it on Lantis and when I saw that his attention had turned from the girl in his lap to the battle going above him, I decided to test his power.

Lantis… I thought, …I’m sorry. And I truly was sorry that I had to fight him. But… Lantis, I… I have come here to become the Pillar of Cephiro. And… I will… My thoughts got tangled up then. I would…what? Was I doing this for him or for myself? And what would it really do to Cephiro? Then I settled my thoughts and continued. So… I can’t let you destroy the Road to the Pillar! And with that thought, I fired a blast at him from the laser cannon in the FTO’s left arm. It wasn’t at full power, but it wasn’t far from it, either. If I ended up having to fight him, I needed to know what he could do now that he was back in Cephiro with a strong wish motivating him.

As the blast sped towards him, Lantis pulled the girl in his lap in towards his chest, then drew and ignited his sword. Then, holding the sword out in front of him, he shouted something and the laser blast splashed harmlessly against a shield that covered the remaining two winged platforms as well as Lantis himself.

That was a somewhat larger area than I had ever seen him cover before, but it was entirely possible that he had always been able to cover it and simply hadn’t seen the need to do so during any of the instances I had seen him shield in Autozam. I also wanted to see if his attack capabilities were better than before, so I sent the FTO speeding towards him.

He looked up at the FTO with a reluctantly determined expression, then cried a single word. At that word, the fairy-like creature that had been resting on his right shoulder dashed off of it and twirled above his sword. As it did so, I could faintly see small sparkles drifting from its wings down onto the sword. What was it doing?

Lantis then raised the sword over his head, waited for a moment, then extended it out in front of him and shouted something. With his shout, a massive bolt of energy, wider than Lantis was tall, burst from the sword’s blade and blasted towards the FTO. I activated the drones’ shield, but the bolt went right through it and hit the FTO, causing various damage warnings to light up on the right side of the cockpit. That was a much stronger spell than I had ever seen him manage before, but I wasn’t going to discount the possibility that the fairy-like creature had done something to amplify its effect.

I turned my attention to assessing the damage and activating backup systems where necessary and when I turned it back to what was happening outside the FTO, the girl from the red Mashin was placing the rabbit-like creature on the saddle of Lantis’ spirit horse. Then she, the figure in green, and the figure in blue—both of whom were also girls, I now saw, with the figure in white and the figure in green and white being boys—each drew something from their left hand and were engulfed by the elements.

The girl from the red Mashin was engulfed by fire, the girl in green by wind, and the girl in blue by water. When the elemental towers had faded, the girls were gone and all three Mashin had appeared in the space between the NSX, the Dome, and the Bravada, each one holding a sword upright in front of themselves.

As soon as the Mashin had appeared, a loud, almost overpowering, voice said, “The time has come.” The voice was so loud that I was certain that every single person in Cephiro could hear it clearly, no matter where they were.

Then a bright light began radiating from in front of Lantis. It grew brighter until it reached a blinding intensity, the abruptly faded. When my vision cleared, the winged platforms had disappeared, along with the boys on them and Lantis’ fairy-like creature, and the rabbit-like creature that the girl from the red Mashin—the Fire Knight—had been holding earlier was now floating in the air in the center of the triangle formed by the Mashin. What was going on?

Before I could actually ask that out loud, however, the loud, penetrating voice that had spoken before spoke again. “The time has come to choose a new Pillar for Cephiro,” it said. Did the voice belong to the rabbit-like creature? If it did, why did it seem to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time? “You who are strong of Heart, who gathered in this land…” The capital letter on the word ‘heart’ was audible as the voice spoke.

“Aska of Fahren… Your Wish is to create a world that makes all your thoughts become reality. However, that Wish does not show enough inner strength for you to become Cephiro’s Pillar. More important than this world’s fate is your love of your own country and its people.

“Tarta and Tatra of Chizeta… For you mother and father, and for the people of your world, your Wish is to make Cephiro a territory of your own domain. However, your Wish is also too weak for you to be the Pillar of this country.

“These Wishes are too weak because they are not Wishes that you fulfill by risking everything you have. Only those that want to create the future of Cephiro with a Heart stronger than anyone else have the right to be the Pillar.


On the FTO’s screens, I saw Lantis start at being addressed by the voice, but I wasn’t at all surprised by it. Risking your life to achieve something was, by definition, risking everything you had to achieve it.

“You have a strong Heart. Your Wish is to eliminate Cephiro’s Pillar system, and to do that, you plan to destroy the Road to the Pillar. You would give your life to fulfill that Wish. Your Heart is the strongest of those in Cephiro.”

I inclined my head in resignation at those words. If Lantis’ heart was the strongest in Cephiro, then my own wish, based on selfishness and practicality as it was, was not strong enough for me to be a candidate for the new Pillar. The Road to the Pillar would open for him and he would have his chance to destroy it.

“However, there is someone here who has a stronger Heart than even you.”

What? Had the voice only meant that Lantis’ heart was the strongest of those who were natives of Cephiro? If it had, then the Magic Knights were still possible candidates to become the Pillar…and so was I.

“The Road to the Pillar will now open,” the voice said, sounding so loud it probably could be heard in Autozam, Chizeta, and Fahren. “Those that have the right to become the Pillar, follow my Road and accept my Challenge!”

Then the rabbit-like creature opened its mouth and an enormous suction started to sweep the FTO and the red—the Fire—Mashin—me and the Fire Knight—towards it. As the FTO was swept towards the creature’s mouth, I began to feel like something was trying to pull apart the molecules of my body. The closer the FTO got, the worse the feeling became, until, just as it became intolerable, there was a blinding flash and the feeling stopped.

When I could see again, it was immediately obvious that the Fire Knight and I were no longer in Cephiro. The buildings below us were of no style I had ever seen before, although they had clearly been made by an industrialized culture, and there was a monument constructed of metal girders towering over all the rest of the buildings. “Where are we…?!” I cried.

At the same time, I heard the Fire Knight cry, “Tokyo?!” She recognized this place? Had we somehow been transported to her world?

Then I noticed that absolutely nothing was moving except for the FTO and the Fire Mashin. There were birds literally frozen in midair, wings partway through a stroke. What was going on?

My question was answered by the sourceless voice that had been speaking in Cephiro. “This is the site of the Pillar’s Challenge,” it said. If this was the site of the Pillar’s Challenge and we had gotten here through the rabbit-like creature’s mouth, then did the voice truly belong to that creature? “The one who overcomes the Challenge and returns to Cephiro will become the new Pillar.”

“The new Pillar?!” The Fire Knight sounded utterly shocked, like it had never occurred to her that she might be able to become the Pillar.

“Could you tell me your name?” I asked. If we were to battle each other to determine who would become the Pillar, it only seemed right that I should know her name.

“Hikaru,” she said. “Shidou Hikaru.”

“…Hikaru,” I repeated. “That’s a cute name.” I didn’t know if it had a specific meaning in her language, but it definitely seemed to suit her.

Then, because I didn’t want to attack without warning her first, I said, “I have decided to become the Pillar of Cephiro. So… I will defeat you and return to Cephiro.” Warning given, I raised the FTO’s left arm and began firing its laser cannon at the Fire Mashin. Hikaru raised her sword and the Mashin’s shield and our battle began.

We ranged widely over the strange city as we battled, largely because Hikaru spent much of the time running from me, seemingly reluctant to attack. As we battled, the sourceless voice echoed back between the worlds, declaring that it was the creator of both Cephiro and this world—the Magic Knights’ world. And then, as I began to raise the FTO’s left arm to fire the laser cannon once again, I slumped forward and my vision grew blurry. My fatigue was growing worse. Why did it have to happen at a time like this…? I was so close to becoming the Pillar.

Hikaru took the opportunity provided by my faltering to launch her own attack and the fatigue left me unable to react fast enough to shield against it. The fiery arrows of her attack destroyed the FTO’s left ‘wing’ and I was barely able to bring it down to the ground without crashing. The loss of the ‘wing’ meant the FTO was limited to the ground for the rest of the fight.

“Why do you want to become the Pillar of Cephiro?!” Hikaru cried. “Is it for Autozam?!”

“No…” I said, drawing a thin cylinder out of the collar of my shirt, “…not for them.” I flicked the release on the end of the cylinder and the narrow blade it concealed shot out. “I want to be the Pillar…” I stabbed the blade into my left shoulder. “…for myself.” Hopefully, the pain from the wound would keep me awake until I had managed to defeat Hikaru. Then I ignited the FTO’s laser blade and swung it at the Fire Mashin.

Summoning her sword to the Mashin’s hand, Hikaru sent it jumping out of the way of the FTO’s blade. “What do you want to do with Cephiro?” she cried as she swung her sword at the FTO.

Raising the FTO’s blade to block, I said, “I want to…” But my words trailed off as my body pitched forward and the FTO did the same. The Mashin’s sword vanished as it reached out to catch me and I just barely had the presence of mind to turn off the FTO’s laser blade.

Then the Creator’s voice spoke again. “Eagle of Autozam,” it said, “you are gravely ill, are you not?”

“Yes,” I said. “The doctors said I wouldn’t last long enough to even get to Cephiro.”

What?!” Hikaru’s voice had layers of surprise in it.

“I’ve overused my mental energy,” I said. “Autozam is a highly machine-based country. We’ve changed mental powers into energy—into power that is used to move things. But I seem to have used too much of my heart… I’m like a mecha that’s about to run out of fuel. I will soon fall into a deep slumber… A slumber from which I will never wake.”

“Never…?” Hikaru sounded horrified as much as she sounded shocked.

“This illness culminates by stopping all bodily functions. But it is not death. The person falls into the same condition as a person who is asleep…although he will never wake again. I plan to put Cephiro into an eternal sleep… I will move all inhabitants into neighboring countries… All that will remain there will be myself, the Pillar. And I will sleep forever with Cephiro…so tragedy will never strike again.”

“Why…?” Hikaru asked. “Why are you, the commander of Autozam, doing this?!”

“When I found out that I did not have much time left to live…” I said, “…I swore to myself that I would decide how my life is to end. And…my wish is to end the history of Cephiro with me.”

“Is it for your friend…Lantis, the Kairu of Cephiro?” the Creator’s voice asked.

Lantis?!” Hikaru cried. Had she not known that Lantis and I were friends while he was in Autozam?

“No,” I said, “it is not. It is true that Lantis risked his life to end the history of Cephiro that can only be written with the sacrifice of the Pillar. Because that was his wish…after he found out about the tragic ending to the love…between his older brother and the princess he had guarded for so long. But I don’t want Lantis to die. I don’t want someone with eyes colored like the skies of Cephiro to die. Someone with eyes that remind me of a place where I always longed to be… I am being selfish. I know that I am ignoring what he wants to do. I am going to become the Pillar of Cephiro for my wish.”

As I finished speaking, the Fire Mashin seemed to light up from the inside. The light was strongest within the jewel on its chest and as the light there grew stronger, the Mashin seemed to become translucent and I was able to see Hikaru within the jewel.

“That’s wrong,” she said, seeming to take a step forward, her hair and cape billowing in some wind. “That would be doing the same thing that Princess Emeraude did! Princess Emeraude sacrificed herself to protect the people that she loved… But what should the people that are left do when she’s gone?!” With each word, Hikaru took a step forward. And with each step, her body became more and more a thing of flame. “What happens to the hearts of all the people who love the Princess and care deeply about her?! What happens?!” By the time she cried those words, she had become entirely a being of fire with a human form and she had walked right into the FTO’s cockpit and was now floating above me!

“Let’s go back to Cephiro together,” she said, holding out her left hand. “The ones who love you are awaiting you.”

Cautiously, I reached out and took hold of her offered hand. When it didn’t burn me, I grasped it more firmly.

“If you become the Pillar,” Hikaru said, lifting her other hand so that she was holding mine with both of hers, “Lantis…” She paused for a moment, seemingly uncertain of what to say next, then continued. “…he would be very sad.” She closed her eyes then, and said, “I… I killed his brother…” Tears of flame ran down her cheeks as she said it. “Lantis didn’t blame me. He was nice to me…but he had sad eyes.” She opened her eyes and the look in them was just as sorrowful as Lantis’ look had been when I found him soon after the death of his brother and the Pillar. Then she moved her right hand away from mine and lifted it to touch my cheek. “You’re like him, Eagle,” she said. “You have sad eyes.”

No sadder than yours, I thought. Was she unaware of how sad her own eyes were? I raised my left hand to return the touch on the cheek with a gentle touch on her side.

“I can tell that you really love Lantis,” she went on. “And he probably…” She trailed off like she didn’t want to say something that she wasn’t certain was true, but I could finish the sentence on my own. He probably loves you too.

“I think it was like that for Princess Emeraude and Zagato,” she said. “But…it had to end for them the way it did.” She let go of my hand, dropped her other one from my cheek, and embraced me, burying her head in my shoulder. Gently, I wrapped my arms around her torso.

“I don’t want to hurt anyone anymore,” she said, her voice muffled by my shoulder. “I don’t want to see people crying because they lost their loved ones. And…” She lifted her head from my shoulder, then abruptly flashed out of my embrace. “…I want…” As she hovered in front of me, her hands clasped below her chin, the flames wreathing her body began to flare out into the shape of her armor. “…to NEVER…” On the FTO’s screens, I could see a black void forming behind the Fire Mashin, seemingly splitting the monument of metal girders in half from top to bottom. “…regret my actions again!

Then the Creator spoke again. “A new Road has opened,” it boomed. “A Road joining Cephiro and Earth. The next Pillar is Hikaru!” The last sentence had a resounding finality to it.

By the time the Creator had finished speaking, the flames wreathing Hikaru had disappeared or solidified into her armor and she was once again a being of flesh and blood. Then she grabbed hold of my cloak and the Mashin, still holding the FTO in its arms, lifted into the air, turned, and moved toward the void that had been behind it.

It wasn’t until the Mashin tried to enter the void that I realized the void was the beginning of the Road connecting Cephiro and Earth that the Creator had mentioned. But even as the Mashin tried to enter the Road, it was repulsed. As Hikaru continued trying to push our way into the Road, the FTO’s cockpit seemed to shred around us, leaving us surrounded by swirling energy. What was going on? Why couldn’t we enter the Road?

My questions were answered when the Creator spoke again, saying, “The only one who can return to Cephiro along that Road is the new Pillar. Those who are not qualified will disappear.”

If Hikaru was unable to enter the Road because she was trying to bring me with her, then the solution to the problem was obvious—she needed to leave me here. So I was quite surprised when she cried, “NO! I will take him home!” Why did she care about doing that? It wasn’t like I was going to be aware of anything for much longer. I could already feel the final fatigue starting to creep over me.

As Hikaru shifted her grip on me so that one of her hands was gripping one of mine and her other hand was raised to try forcing her way into the Road, the Creator repeated, “Those who are not qualified cannot pass through the Road.”

“Qualifications don’t matter!” Hikaru cried. As she continued trying to force her way into the Road, the energy swirling around us started brushing up against her. “Mokona…” she said. “I… I thought you were a comrade, a valuable friend… But… You only nodded because I was qualified? It wasn’t because you liked me?” There was a catch in Hikaru’s voice as she spoke, like she was holding back a sob.

The Creator—Mokona—didn’t reply and Hikaru went on. “I like you, Mokona, so I want to be with you. Because being with you is more fun than being alone. Because I like you so much…”

That was when I felt something wet trickling over the hand that she was holding. I looked down at it and was shocked to see blood running down her glove and dripping from her fingers. Where was it coming from? How had she been injured? Just as I thought that, some of the swirling energy around us brushed up against her arm and when it pulled away, blood spurted out of a new cut on her arm. The energy was causing her injuries!

“Please,” I cried, “let go of my hand!” It was clear to me that the injuries were happening because she was trying to bring me back with her. But she ignored me and continued forcing her way forward, even as the swirling of the energy around us grew more violent. The energy opened a large gash just below her left eye and I cried her name in shock and horror. How could she ignore the harm she was causing herself by trying to bring me back with her?

“Mokona…” she said. “Nobody can live alone…but the Pillar is alone. She can do anything, but she’s alone. I think that’s why Princess Emeraude fell in love with Zagato. I was able to do my best because Umi-chan and Fuu-chan were there for me. Because I wasn’t alone, because I live my life to the fullest, I’m able to be happy with the people I love.” Then she turned, grabbed my cloak with her free hand, and renewed her efforts at forcing her way down the Road. She soon had to let go of my cloak to shield her face from the energy slashing at her with every step she took, but she never released my hand. Why was she so insistent on bringing me back? I couldn’t think of anything I had done that would have engendered such loyalty.

“Please,” I cried again, “let go of my hand! Even if I go back to Cephiro, I won’t be able to live long! At this rate, you…!” I found myself unable to say it, but she was going to die if she continued trying to bring me with her. She was already bleeding from dozens of places and each step opened a new wound.

“That doesn’t matter!” she cried, whirling to face me. “You still have to live until the end.” She finally let go of my hand, but it was only so she could extend both arms like she was waiting for an embrace. “For the people you care about.”

The people I cared about? Geo. Zazu. Lantis. My mother and father. How would they all feel if I didn’t come back?

“And for yourself.

For myself? I hadn’t thought about what I wanted for myself since Lantis had left Autozam—since I had decided to use the fact that I was starting to succumb to the fatigue syndrome to grant his wish to end the Pillar system. But here and now, now that Hikaru had brought it up, I realized that what I wanted for myself was to live. Even if it was only for a few days—even if it was only for a few hours—I wanted to live and be happy. Reaching out, I wrapped my arms around Hikaru and pulled her to my chest in a crushing hug, not caring that the energy swirling around us began slashing at me as I did so. I couldn’t figure out how to put my gratitude for that revelation into words, so I tried to express it all with the embrace.

When Hikaru started to squirm slightly, I released her from the embrace. She smiled brightly at me and reached out to take my hand. “We’ll return to together,” she said.

“Together,” I agreed. Then we stepped forward and I fell into oblivion.


A soft susurration, sort of like static, filled my mind, then was replaced by a voice. “You,” the voice said, “are an idiot.” It sounded like Lantis’ voice. But since it had to be some part of whatever eternal dream the final stage of the fatigue syndrome caused, I didn’t reply.

“Eagle?” Lantis’ voice said. It sounded worried. “Come on, answer me.” That…didn’t sound like something I would dream. It sounded like the voice actually expected an answer.

When I still didn’t reply, Lantis’ voice started to sound frantic. “Spirits curse it, Clef,” it said, “you said that spell would let him hear us and respond. Why isn’t he answering?”

“I don’t know,” a second voice said. “I felt the spell take. Is it possible that he thinks this is some sort of dream? I know as well as you do that the fatigue syndrome used to be incurable.”

Had I heard that right? Had the second voice actually just said that the fatigue syndrome used to be incurable? That would imply that it could be cured now. I didn’t think I could have imagined something so impossible, so maybe I wasn’t dreaming. Hesitantly, I said, “Lantis?”

“Eagle!” he cried. “You can hear me?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Are we really talking to each other, or is this a dream?”

“It’s not a dream,” Lantis said. “We really are talking to each other, although you’re hearing me and replying with your mind, since your body is still asleep.”

Well, that would explain the complete lack of sounds other than voices. :Did I really just hear someone imply that the fatigue syndrome is now curable?: I asked.

:You did,: the other voice I had heard said—the one that had implied that impossibility in the first place. :Hello, Eagle. I’m Guru Clef.:

:You’re the one who taught Lantis magic, right?:

:I am.:

:So how is it that the fatigue syndrome has become curable?: I asked.

:It’s entirely thanks to Hikaru,: Lantis said. :One of the changes caused by her abolition of the Pillar system-:

:Her what?!: I exclaimed. I couldn’t possibly have heard that right.

:Her abolition of the Pillar system,: Lantis repeated.

Evidently I had heard him right the first time. Any lingering doubts I had about whether or not this conversation was some sort of dream were wiped away by that statement. There was absolutely no way I could have dreamed up something so impossible. Even the idea of the fatigue syndrome being curable could have been a dream of wishful thinking, especially given the revelation I had had right before the final slumber hit, but the idea of getting rid of the Pillar system had been unthinkable.

:If the Pillar system is gone, what’s keeping Cephiro stable?: I asked. I couldn’t say that I was sorry to hear that the Pillar system had been ended, but even though Lantis had had his own plan to end it, I didn’t think he’d sound so relieved about that fact if it meant that Cephiro was still falling apart.

:Cephiro’s people are keeping her stable,: Guru Clef said.

:Her people?: I asked. How would that even work?

:Her people,: Guru Clef repeated. :The Pillar system itself may be gone, but the structure by which the Pillar maintained and supported the country is intact and the responsibility for that maintenance and support has been spread out to everyone who cares about Cephiro.:

:Everyone who cares about it?: I realized that I probably sounded like I had a concussion with the way I was repeating things, but if I was being honest, I actually felt rather mentally concussed. The idea of spreading the Pillar’s responsibility out to many people seemed like it should have been so obvious, but no one had ever thought of it before.

:Everyone who cares about it,: Lantis confirmed. :Hikaru’s exact words were “Cephiro should belong to everyone who loves it.” To get back to your original question, one of the changes caused by—or it might be more accurate to say ‘caused with’—Hikaru’s abolition of the Pillar system is that the new Cephiro gives energy to everyone within her borders.:

:So you’re saying that the loss of personal energy that caused the fatigue syndrome is being reversed?:

:Yes,: Guru Clef said. :But it’s going to be a slow process, even with the link I created to make the energy transfer more efficient.:

:How long will it take?: I asked. I wasn’t going to complain about my recovery taking a long time, since I was grateful it could happen at all, but it would be nice to have an idea of the timeframe we were looking at.

:Our Master Healers are estimating that it will take two to two and a half years before your body is ready to wake, with a probable total of three to four years before you’ll be ready to return to Autozam,: Guru Clef replied. :Three months of that have already passed while we waited for the healers to deem it okay to wake your mind.:

Three or four years didn’t seem that bad, especially since I had been expecting to hear that it would take somewhere around a decade. And since I now had time—now had a future—I could afford to wait.


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June 2016

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