“There are six Angels left to face. No matter how strong you may be, defeating them all will take time. With us on your side, that time can be cut down significantly.”
“…You know, it strikes me that as much as you talk about how the Seven Angels should meet their demise at the hands of mortal men, you still seem awfully reliant on my power.”
“I’m simply taking your position into account. I sincerely doubt you would withdraw purely because I said so, after all. That doesn’t change my mind. I still believe that a human needs to bring them down.”
“But let’s not ignore the fact that our goals align. I don’t think you have anything to lose by allying yourself with me.”
I give myself some time to think. It’s definitely true that defeating Ceal won’t guarantee that the soul-stealing stops, even if she is the mastermind behind this plot. Assuming that Ceal gave angels other than Gabri her soul-stealing spell isn’t too much of a stretch. Going by that logic, we can’t really say that the issue’s over and dealt with until I bury every last one of them. If I put this whole soul-stealing business above everything else, then does it really make sense to take her up on her offer…?
“Well, I’m sure you need to mull things over a bit. I’m not expecting an answer right away. But please, make up your mind as quickly as… Oh.”
It’s right then that Sasha’s body radiates a dazzling light. In a split second, I raise my left arm to shield my eyes from the glow. What is this?! What just happened?!
When I do finally manage to see again, I’m immediately dumbfounded. The spot where Sasha was standing in not moments earlier is now unoccupied by her. Where she stood now stands a little girl, about five or six years of age if I’m to wager a guess.
What just happened? What even could’ve happened in such a short time frame…?!
“Damn it all. I was careless. The conversation completely distracted me from my Growth Spurt’s time limit.”
“…Don’t tell me. Is that you, Sasha?”
“Oh, of course not. That woman you just saw? I’m actually her sister, my name’s… Ahsas.”
“You’re Sasha, aren’t you?”
The little girl sighs for a bit, the gears in her head spinning.
“Well, since you found out, there’s nothing I can do. Let me introduce myself one more time.”
She clears her throat.
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“Sasha’s the name. I’m six years old.”
What the heeeeeeeeell?! Internally, that’s all I can scream about. Are you seriously telling me that I’ve been talking to a six-year-old girl this whole time?!
“What you saw earlier was the effect of my Growth Spurt spell. It allows me to take on the form of an adult for a limited time. This is what I actually look like.”
“…Why go through all the trouble?”
I do my best to not let my rampant confusion show when I ask her.
“Well, isn’t that obvious? A child partaking in negotiations? The other party would have no qualms looking down on me.”
My gaze is completely fixated on the woman-turned-child, Sasha.
“Come on, don’t look at me like that. That’s a little too curious.”
Sasha starts pouting. She’s… adorable…!
The girl’s adorable enough for me to want to wrap her in a big old bear hug. Knowing, however, that doing so probably won’t end well, I contain my urges and shove them back down. When I’m of right mind again, I notice a piece of candy that my Creation spell conjured up.
“Want some candy?”
“…Are you trying to make a fool out of me? Well, I’ll take it either way.”
You’re taking it, huh? See, that part of you is as childlike as it can be.
Once the piece of candy is in her hand, Sasha holds out a single sheet of paper. It looks like a map of the local area. One place, in particular, has been marked with a red dot.
“You see that red dot? That’s where you’ll find our secret base. If you do decide on joining me, you can just head there.”
I relieve her of the map.
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“Do me a favor and make up your mind as quickly as you can. It’s true that I want to defeat the Seven Angels of the Stars as soon as possible, but that’s not all. I don’t have much time left…”
She doesn’t have much time? I wonder what that’s supposed to mean.
“Well then, I’ll be taking my leave.”
I call for Sasha just as she makes to leave.
“Who might you be, anyhow? You have more spells than a regular human should. Furthermore, your intellect is clearly far above that of a six-year-old. Are you truly a human?”
It’s not one of those stories where she was fed some weird concoction by a criminal organization, right? The whole ‘Looks of a kid, brains of an adult’ thing?
Sasha gives a tired smile at my question.
“I’d rather not talk about that, honestly… Oh, well. I suppose I might as well.”
That said, Sasha turns her back to me.
What I see next takes me by surprise. Protruding from her back is a single wing, small and white in its making.
“Are you an angel…?!”
No, wait. That doesn’t make sense. Every angel I’ve seen so far had two wings on their backs. But from what I can see, Sasha just has the one growing on her right side. She doesn’t have two wings, just the one.
“You’re about half right. I’m a child that was born to an angel and a human.”
I can practically feel myself being clubbed by the sheer shock of the revelation.
“Both the blood of a human and the blood of an angel runs through my veins. My mother was an angel, and my father is a human. My mother passed away when I was born, and my father raised me here on the surface world since. It’s why I think of myself as a human.”
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“…Is this common? Marriages between humans and angels?”
“I can safely say that they’re fairly rare. There’s actually plenty of countries out there that forbid it outright, see? The love my parents had for one another was, unfortunately, never officially recognized. Quite the romantic tale, don’t you think?”
“…I would say so.”
I can actually feel my chest getting warmer.
“Life on the surface world was never an easy thing. Being the spawn of a human and angel, people tend to treat me as a heretic of sorts. I’ve had to struggle with multiple instances of discrimination.”
“…Discrimination. You don’t say.”
The time I took in Rina comes to mind, back when she was still a slave. So discrimination exists in this world, huh? I can’t believe a child this young has to bear the brunt of it…
Maybe the reason Sasha appeared to me as an adult was to establish some form of self-protection, who knows.
“My father still did all he could to protect me. He raised me with all the love he had to offer. He’s apologized to me time and time again, always telling me that it was all his fault. Still, I respected him. I was thankful to him, with all of my heart.”
“Yes. Not long ago, my father’s soul was stolen by one of the Seven Angels of the Stars.”
Vexation seeps into every aspect of Sasha’s features as she tightly clenches her fists.
“I can’t say for certain which of them did it. Since I can’t be sure, it’s best to take them all out one after the other. If they’re going to steal something so important to humans, then I’m going to make them feel every ounce of the pain they’ve inflicted…!”
The rage lacing her words is palpable. Now I finally know why she’s so obsessed with having a human defeating the Seven Angels.
“…I said too much. Please, forget what I just said.”
Sasha gives me a smile, just as tired as her previous one was, and walks away in silence.
“Well, there’s some irony in the matter. Here I am, born from an angel’s womb, and now I want to slaughter through angels…”
Those are the last words she says to me before she completely disappears.
She’s spent her life being discriminated against by humans, and now angels have stolen her precious father’s soul away. It’s almost as if fate itself has turned against her better interests, I realize, and I feel a painful twang in my chest.