“W-what did you just say? Try repeating that, but slower this time…”
Seeing Konoha’s confusion, Bright’s voice inside the Crystal obliged it by repeating his question,
“Would you like to become a Familiar again?”
He sounded just as casual as last time, as if he was inviting everyone out for lunch.
With Konoha too stunned to say anything, Hornel took the liberty to interrupt the conversation,
“That’s impossible! To establish a new Familiar Contract, some time needs to have passed after the previous Contract was terminated! We’re can’t wait that long…! And here you are, making jokes at Konoha’s expense–“
As Hornel ranted on, Ferris’ voice inside the Crystal said to Chappie,
“Chicken, give that funny guy’s head a few pecks.”
“Why would I do that, Ferris?”
“He’s wasting Konoha’s life span with his ignorant arguments — he’s EVIL!”
Chappie flapped his wings and proceeded to peck Hornel’s head, just as Ferris had told him to.
“Ow ow ow–!?”
“Hmph, here’s hoping you mend your ways…”
Chappie said in a forced-handsome voice as he turned around.
Bright heaved a sigh at the ridiculousness of the scene just now.
“We already had to let that Billy get away, but now we’re wasting even more time… Great, just great…”
Hearing that, Lina was reminded of something.
“I see… You drove Professor Billy away so that you could save Konoha’s life…”
“Yes. He may be weak by Chappie’s standards, but a Devil is still a Devil. The fight would have lasted quite a while even if Chappie went all out… and even if it was strictly one-on-one.”
“Since liabilities like us were present, the battle was going to last even longer… Is that it?”
Barun commented, as he felt compelled to do so due to technically being the strongest of the survivors. During Bright’s explanation, everyone else had realized the same thing as well.
Barun saying it out loud was simply to hammer down how much stronger Chappie was compared to everyone else.
“…Honestly, yes. But please don’t worry about it. We know more than anyone else how ‘time’ works.”
Everyone felt that Bright’s statement was quite significant, both to them and also to him.
“B-but… without my Master, I can’t…”
Konoha cast its eyes down, its voice shaky.
Chappie patted Konoha on its shoulder with one of his wings.
“I understand how you feel, Konoha. I felt… empty when circumstances forced me apart from my father and mother. But the world is vast. Too vast. The emptiness won’t last. The present moment is sure to light a path to the future!”
Responding to Chappie’s words, Konoha slowly looked up.
“…Chappie can say some amazing things sometimes.”
“But he’ll forget all about it tomorrow, anyway… hell, I give it thirty minutes, tops.”
Bright and Ferris said to each other, reminded of their distant past.
“I believe them, Konoha. Sir Gaston would have wanted you to live on… So…!”
Lina tried to encourage Konoha, but she herself sounded sad.
Konoha looked up at the sky and thought back to the battle just now — to the moment when Gaston took Konoha off his shoulder and placed it down on the ground.
Then, after shaking its head to swipe off its tears, Konoha looked at the final spot Gaston had stood on.
It groaned, and then said to Chappie and his two companions,
“…So what’s your aim?”
Bright was the one to ask back, sounding troubled,
“Saying that you ‘want to help me’ wouldn’t feel like an acceptable explanation.”
“Fair enough. If I were to be blunt, rather than help you… it’d be a problem for us later on if you were to die now.”
Konoha looked at Chappie’s neck, where Bright’s voice had been coming from.
“Bright, couldn’t you have phrased it better? To sound… not evil?”
“I was going for a more… mysterious vibe, Chappie.”
“Ooh! Mysterious vibe! That sounds cool!”
And so Chappie was distracted, prompting Ferris to chuckle.
“Well… I suppose I’m not exactly in a position to ask who you are.”
“Thank you, Konoha. I knew you’d understand — as expected of the famed Familiar of the Great Mage of Flame. Also, I would like to ask that you don’t speak of us to anyone not already here, if possible.”
“Yes, of course — I promise…”
Chappie nodded to Konoha’s answer. A brief silence ensued, and the one to break it was Fuyu,
“B-but… I’m afraid everyone here already has a Familiar. Who will Konoha be forming the new contract with…? Or are you suggesting that…”
As she spoke, Fuyu looked at Chappie’s neck.
“Unfortunately, we are not able to use magic and magecraft — at least not in this form.”
“Then who will…?”
Fuyu looked around, confused by the answer she had gotten.
And so Bright spelled it out to her,
“There is still one among you… who’s a mage without a Familiar.”
Lina asked, and in response, Chappie hopped onto the head of the one Bright was referring to.
Despite being a bird, Chappie’s body was quite large — gigantic, even. There was only a single mage among the group who could carry Chappie like this…
Upon seeing who that was, everyone was agape with surprise.
…Even the mage in question.
“Huh!? Who is it!? Who’s the mage!?”
The one under Chappie was none other than Lina’s Familiar — Baladd, the four-winged Ballad Dragon.
“Gah… this isn’t a good time for jokes, people. There’s no way a Familiar can have a Familiar…”
Hornel’s exasperated statement was not at all unexpected, since that was exactly what everyone had been taught.
Still, Bright repeated himself,
“I did say not to worry about it… didn’t I?”
Hearing Bright’s confident claim, everyone was taken aback… and also immediately understood — That Bright’s knowledge of the arcane arts was on a whole nother level.
“B-but… are you all right with this, Konoha? No one knows what will happen…”
Up until now, Konoha had been Gaston’s Familiar — and was quite proud to be.
But now, even if the new Master was Lina’s Familiar, it was still a monster.
Lina was afraid of how Konoha would react to that.
“I’m on board with it, so it’s up to Konoha now…”
And as one would expect, Baladd was of the same sentiments.
But Konoha, looking into the distance, was… different.
“Do you even have to ask!? I’m the Familiar of Gaston, the Great Mage of Flame!”
Different… because everyone else’s faces were still gloomy.
“Of course I’m all right! Something this insignificant isn’t going to stop me!”
Konoha sounded cheerful, and as prideful as ever, as if to shake away all that had passed.
Walking over to Baladd, Konoha then said to Chappie,
“Do it. I still have scores to settle in this world.”
Konoha tilted his head and asked as Konoha cast its eyes down.
“I gotta get back at Billy twofold… hell, make that a hundredfold! Or the silly old fool won’t ever rest easy!”
What followed was… a face full of tears.
Konoha raised its face up at the sky, declaring its resolve with its shivering voice.
“…All right, then. Now I shall teach the Ballad Dragon the Familiar Contract formula. Listen carefully…”
Bright’s words sounded softer and gentler than before… just a tiny bit.
“…So we’re all set now?”
“……Yes, Konoha. You are Baladd’s Familiar now. You shouldn’t need to worry about your life span anytime soon.”
Everyone’s faces turned into expressions of joy.
They still remembered Gaston, of course, but Konoha — the one who had surely been hurt the most — had already been renewed of determination. Seeing that, everyone else figured that they ought to refrain from showing their sadness as well.
“…Well then, it’s time we take our leave.”
With Bright saying that, Chappie turned to the east.
But before he could go, Lina spoke up,
“……What is it?”
Chappie slowly turned back around.
“That key pendant… you got it from Sir Asley, right?”
The Key Pendant in the blue Crystal, though quite timeworn, was the same one Lina had gifted to Asley.
Lina was sure that she got that right.
It had been long since she last met Asley, her honored teacher and beloved acquaintance. And now, someone with a clue that might lead to him was right in front of her.
She waited for an answer, her heart swelling with anticipation.
Chappie curtly denied Lina’s question. He put on his sunglasses, spread his wings, and soared away.
The true answer came after that, in the voice of the living legend from the sky,
“This is a gift from my father to us! My father, Holy Warrior Poer!!”
It was a shout of praise to the one who connected everyone here — the weaver of this tale.