That day, Yeul had turned fifteen. Noel went hunting by himself and claimed a prize. It was because there were no more companions for him to go hunting with
“Yanny, I’m sorry…”
When he had at long last taken the life of the monster, that was the first thing that came to his mind. Back then, he didn’t even imagine he would end up having to go hunting alone.
“Back then, it had been a birthday as well, hadn’t it. If I had gone with you, and both of us had made it back safely… I wonder if you would be here right now.”
Enough, enough, Noel cleared that thought from his mind. Even if he hadn’t died then, maybe he would have died some other time, or maybe Noel would have been the first to die, and Yanny would be the one here now. But those were nothing more than “maybes.” No amount of thinking would make them become reality.
Moreover, there was any number of other things he should be thinking about. Things he should be doing. Things he wanted to do.
For the time being, Noel left his spoils there and set off sprinting. He was going to report to Caius that he had put down a large one. Then, he was going to issue a challenge against the Guardian. It was something he had decided long beforehand.
He heard that the Guardian who protects the seeress bore special powers bestowed by the Goddess. It was said that those powers could not be obtained unless one defeated the Guardian in battle. He didn’t know what exactly those powers were. However, they were powers bestowed by the Goddess for the protection of the seeress, so there was no doubt that it would be better if not one, but two people possessed those powers. By the code, there could be only one Guardian, it wasn’t something that he knew.
If the two of them were protecting Yeul together, then they would probably be able to travel. Before Yeul was born, Caius had already been single-handedly protecting the seeress and travelling, to begin with. The monsters were much more vicious now than they were then, but the two of them ought to be able to take them on. If they could travel like in the past, then there would no longer be the need to stay in a village where nobody remained.
Until today, he had searched for evidence of people on his hunts, but he only confirmed that there was nobody left around there. If he didn’t widen his search radius, then he wouldn’t encounter any survivors.
It would be a lie to say he didn’t have insecurities about leaving the village he was born and raised in. Noel didn’t know of the lands outside of the village and what was around it. However, so long as he remained there, he would probably meet nobody else.
Yeul, who was last to be born in the village had never met “someone unknown” before. Caius should have been the sole “stranger,” but he was the Guardian. Perhaps it was because of his strong ties with the Seeress that even at their first meeting, Yeul had seemed to “know” Caius.
It had to be someone completely foreign. The feeling of shock, anticipation and uneasiness, combined upon seeing them for the first time. These were the feelings Noel had experienced when Yeul had been born. He wanted to let Yeul experience these feelings. The meeting of peoples. The Yeul who had, without knowing what had been commonplace around when his grandmother was a child, turned fifteen.
Moreover, if they were to be able to join forces with the survivors, Yeul would no longer be alone while Noel went out to hunt. She wouldn’t have feel lonely while she stayed behind.
Caius would likely agree as well. Caius treats Yeul more preciously than anyone else. There would be no reason for Caius to be against a plan that would make Yeul happy. However.
“If desire the power of the Guardian, to surpass me, then kill me.”
Caius’s reaction to Noel revelation of his plan was something completely unanticipated.
“What’re you talking about? I don’t get it. Kill you? You know there’s no way I could possibly do that. I only want to beat you.”
“There is only one Guardian. It is not you who knows not of the code.”
“That’s a code thought up by the thick-skulled people from the past, right? I have no intention of complying with things like that. I just want to protect Yeul together with you. That’s all.”
Caius’s lips curved into a chilling smile. It was an ironic expression he had not seen until now. Fighting the urge to falter, Noel continued persuading.
“You and I will protect Yeul and go on a journey.”
“A journey? For what purpose? Where do you seek to go at time like this?””
“Where… Why, somewhere where there are people, of course. There has to be many of them still alive, somewhere.”
He had heard the Guardian was someone who took Seeresses on journeys. Normally, a seeress would not remain in the village of her birth. So, what could possibly be wrong with with them travelling together with Yeul.
“Let’s go look for them. If we find other living people then Yeul could get by without having to be so lonely.”
There was a silence. He knew this was by no means an affirmative silence, though. Noel tried to assemble the right words with which to persuade him. He probably couldn’t protect Yeul all on his own. He could manage just within the village, but if they were walking the unknown lands, then Caius’s assistance would be vital. He had to get a yes out of Caius right then and there, no matter what.
However, Caius’s reply came before Noel could continue his words.
“Even you should know that such hopes are in vain.”
“What gives! What do you mean my hopes are in vain!?
“People have continued moving in search for a safe place. They left the ocean and hoped for land that was even slightly less contaminated. The final destination those people arrived at was this village”
His grandmother had said she left the land she was born and raised on, discarded the land of her firstborn and moved to this place. She said that people had continued travelling to escape to someplace where the ocean winds would not reach.
“This is a place of demise. There no longer remains any other places which are inhabitable.”
“Well… isn’t that something you wouldn’t know unless you tried looking?!”
When his grandmother’s birthplace became uninhabitable, it was not necessary that all of the villagers had relocated to the same place. Perhaps, some of the people had gone a separate way. It would have been the same for when they departed from the next location. Those people who had gone elsewhere might have created their own villages.
“If we just give up without doing anything then we’ll never meet anyone. Don’t they say that the goddess opens her gates to those who strive on?”
His tone of voice made it sound as if he was saying ‘so what?’ Noel flinched at the hatred in his eyes.
“I’m going to Valhalla. To lay to rest the foolish goddess. I will kill the goddess and liberate Yeul.”
“Huh? What do you mean…?”
What did that mean? What did he just say? What was it that Caius was trying to do?
“You’ve become plenty powerful. You should be able to protect the seeress even if you were on your own.”
“Wait a second. What do you mean by ‘even if I was on my own’?!”
The face of Caius who answered ‘precisely that,’ had resumed its usual gentle appearance. This had inadvertently ended up sparking more anger.
“Hey, what gives! You’re just going to leave Yeul!? You’re the Guardian aren’t you!? Isn’t it your job to protect the seeress!? But, you’re just going to abandon Yeul!? How sad would she be… How lonely do you think she would be if you left!?”
To Yeul, Caius was a special being. There could be no one to replace him. Why couldn’t he try to understand this?
“Even if it makes her sad, it is fine so long as I can save her.”
“That can’t be true! There’s no way that making her sad could be alright!”
He had no idea what Caius was trying to say. What salvation could come from making her feel sad and lonely?
“Your feelings of care for the seeress are no lie. You’re already a fully fledged Guardian.”
“But, I’m not you! I am me and you are you! It’s not a matter of things being okay if either one of us was there!”
He shouted at the top of his lungs. However, it did not at all seem as if Caius would take back his words.
The next day, Caius had really disappeared. Having thought that even if he were to go off somewhere, it would be at some point in the future, Noel was left utterly aghast.
“What’s with that. I haven’t beaten you yet…”
Somewhere in his heart he had believed. That even though he had said such things, there was no way he would abandon Yeul. Yet, his sentiments had been betrayed.
More so than how he thought it was unforgivable, he was concerned about what and how he would say it to Yeul. What could he possibly say to Yeul? How could he break it to her in a way that would soften the impact? No, he didn’t think there was a way. No matter what or how he said it, Yeul would probably still be hurt. Because there was no way of changing the fact that she had been betrayed by someone that she trusted.
“Welcome back. What’s the matter?”
Noel was at a loss for words before Yeul who came out to meet him with her usual smile. He had made up his mind that he had no choice but to talk about despite being depressed, but when the time came, he was no longer able to say anything.
“Is it about Caius?”
He knew that all he could say was that Caius had left; he went on about some nonsense and then up and left.
“You don’t have to say anything. I know.”
Noel looked astonished. Had Caius told Yeul himself before he left? Despite the fact it had been Yeul’s birthday yesterday.
“I knew a long time ago.”
‘Come,’ she pulled on Noel’s arm. Their destination was the Farseers’ Relic. The place where the Oracle Drive was. They had once activated the projection device behind the backs of the adults as children. Back then, there had still been many people in the village. Only a little over ten years had passed since then…
“I looked at this a little while ago.”
Yeul placed her hand on the Oracle Drive. The image filled the skies. The projection was of Noel himself arguing with Caius.
“I was shocked so I spoke with Caius… Then Caius taught me how to record what I had seen.”
Yeul had told Caius about everything she had seen up until then. It seemed that she was told that from then on, he would no longer be able to listen to her stories, so she should instead record them into the Oracle Drive.
“But, he told me not to show you this until he had left.”
Finally, in the skies there bloomed a flower of light. No, it wasn’t a flower. It was probably some sort of crest.
“What is that?”
“The Goddess’s Gate”
“It’s this? What they say is connected to Valhalla…”
I’m going to Valhalla, those words of Caius had echoed in his ears. Had Caius gone to Valhalla through this gate? But, before the Goddess’s Gate there was neither Caius’s likeness nor anyone else’s.
“He had said that he was going to Valhalla in order to liberate the seeresses from their cursed fate.”
“Is that all?”
“He also said that you could now fulfill the duties of the Guardian on your own, so there was nothing to worry about.”
Nothing to worry about? What a joke. He wanted to grab Caius by the collar and revile him, saying ‘don’t just say everything as you want without considering how Yeul feels’.
“I didn’t know what half of what Caius said had meant. All I did know that Caius was trying to do something for the seeresses. So, I didn’t stop him.”
Yeul had known. That he would abandon the two of them and leave. She had gone about cheerfully whilst knowing this. What had Yeul been thinking behind her smile when he answered ‘Caius and I are here so you won’t be lonely’. She had to have felt lonely.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
If he had known a little earlier, he wouldn’t have let Caius go, even if he had to restrain him. He would have stopped him at any cost.
“I’m sorry. I was silenced by Caius. If you had known this and done something else, the future would have changed and I might have had a vision again. He said that when I have visions, my lifespan is shortened, so I should keep quiet. So that my time with you could be extended if even just by a little, he said.”
“Your lifespan… gets shortened?”
If she has visions her lifespan would be shortened? He hadn’t ever heard of this.
“The power of the Farseer is the power of chaos. A power connected to the Unseen World, where the spirits of the dead go. Each time she uses her power, the seeress’s life is sapped by the Unseen World.”
‘No way,’ the voice that escaped him sounded so distant. He had believed the power of the Farseer to be from the goddess, and hadn’t questioned it. He thought it was a gift from the Goddess who pitied the seeresses.
“So he knew all along and kept silent about it! About something this important!”
“Don’t be mad at him. I think Caius didn’t want you to suffer. If you knew then you would no doubt have be sad. You would live out the rest of your days in sorrow and anguish. That’s why.”
“No! That’s not it! He…”
He couldn’t say any more than that. Not wanting Yeul to hear those words, Noel just gritted his teeth.
“I see. I knew you would be mad too.”
Yeul had said this quietly.
“I thought I would tell you everything after Caius had left. To me, both you and Caius are important, so I wanted to be considerate of both of your feelings. That’s why I hadn’t said anything while Caius was here. But, I didn’t want to hide things from you. Because I thought you would want to know the truth.”
Her voice that apologized with an “I’m sorry” seemed filled with pain. He thought if.Caius had told him to begin with, Yeul wouldn’t have had to talk about it herself.
“I knew it would make you said if I talked about it through…”
“It’s fine. Thank you, for telling me. I was surprised but it’s far better than not knowing until the end. That how things are, right?”
He also thought that it was normal that the adults in the village hated the Guardian. Caius had no idea about the basics. Caius thought nothing of trampling on the feelings of others.
How much it would hurt to be abandoned by an adult whom was important to you. How painful it is to not know of things that threatened the life of a loved one. It should have been something that one could understand with just a little thought, but Caius did no such thing…
“Let’s stop talking about Caius. Let’s just think about happy things.”
He would not think of Caius ever again. He would neither be able to vent his anger, but it didn’t seem as if he could just forgive, either. That being the case, it was better just to erase him from his mind. He didn’t know how long he had left with Yeul, but he didn’t want to spoil that precious time.
“People only really die when they are forgotten by everyone. If even one person remembers, then a person won't die.”
Those were the words of his departed grandmother. Forgetting would equate to dying.
Caius, I’ll do exactly what you wished for. I will forget you. I will never again think about you. That’s right, you’re already dead to me...
“There had been less time left than I thought… I become all alone.”
Overwhelmed by sadness, he took off from the village and wandered about the world of nobody. On that hopeless journey.
“Even so, I think it was a good thing that I continued my journey.”
The hopelessness he found at the end of his journey. That journey led by the distant light that stretched across time. On that journey, he met a number of Yeuls. He also discovered that Caius possessed an immortal body.
“I met countless Caius’ and Yeuls whom I didn’t know. At first I had thought that liberating the seeresses was just some excuse and that he just wanted to be have it easy.”
The ever reincarnating seeress and the immortal Guardian. He is destroying all time from the past into the future in order to put a stop to that cursed relationship. But in the end, isn’t it all for himself, that he is leading the world to destruction based on his own self-centered ideas, he thought.
“But, that’s not it. Caius probably doesn’t care about how he feels anymore.”
In Academia of 400AF, he had seen Yeul get murdered by a Cie’th. It had been a Yeul he didn’t know, but it still pained him.
In the dream world, he re-encountered Caius and again was present for Yeul’s last moments. All of his memories were connected. He had realized at that moment.
“At the passing of just one single Yeul, I felt heartache and anguish… I felt as if I would go mad. I don’t ever want to feel that way again and I don’t think I could. But…”
“Caius has seen the passing of many Yeuls?”
Noel nodded. With what sort of thoughts and feelings had Caius viewed the deaths of those many Yeuls with? How did he come to terms with those countlessly repeated partings.
“If he had just wanted to have it easy, then he could have just gotten rid of the seeresses and ran off. But, Caius continued to be by the side of the Yeuls. Over hundreds of long years, always.”
“Caius’s words of it all being in order to liberate the Yeuls hadn’t been a lie, had they?”
“He really did only act with just the Yeuls in mind. Only, he was wrong in his method.”
Even if it had been for the seeresses, it wasn’t something that could be forgiven. The act of destroying all time and negating everything.
“I did say you couldn’t defeat Caius unless you fought with intent to kill, didn’t I? But you see, I was sort of lying.”
He knew that he wasn’t the type of opponent you could go easy on. Even if you engaged him with all your might, there was no telling how far it would take you. Even so, Noel thought.
“I don’t want to kill Caius.”
The only one who could kill a Guardian was one who was worthy of becoming a Guardian. Even though he thought he was capable, he did not wish to wield such powers. If he died, then that was it. He wondered if that could be called atonement.
“I want for him to live and atone. I want him to know his methods are wrong. I want him to regret what he has done and to live while atoning for his sins.”
Living. It is the only method with which humans can defy the absolute force known as death. That one thing is what equates to atonement. He wanted to believe that.
“You’re right. That would make the Yeuls happy too. Probably even the last Yeul, too.”
“The last one… My Yeul. Yeah.”
Don’t cry, we will meet again. All he remembered was those words that Yeul said. Even as he traveled far into the world of the past and his memories became unclear, and even if he had forgotten why Yeul had died, these last words would remain.
“You’ll meet again. For sure.”
Serah utters the precise words that Noel had just now been thinking about. They echoed in his ears like an omen. Had that vague, foreboding sensation he just felt been real? No, it was probably all just in his mind.
“Yeah. We will.”
Silencing the thoughts in his heart, Noel simply focused his mind on that promised place.