TNG Vol. 15 Chapter 4 Part 4

“Father…”

It all happened so suddenly.

Crissot appeared before Tiera and the other priestesses purifying the World Tree and extended a thin rope made of mist towards her. At the last moment, Shibaid managed to stand between them, but the rope was much stronger than it seemed. Because his stance wasn’t ideal, Shibaid was knocked away.

“I suppose Shin and the others did it.”

Shibaid spoke while holding up his shield. Tiera had noticed too. Reforgerer’s gigantic body could be seen from the holy area, but it was nowhere in sight anymore. They thought it was defeated, but the World Tree priestess Tiera knew Reforgerer hadn’t disappeared yet.

She could feel something close to its powerful presence right in front of her.

“Lina, Lymliss, please continue with the purification.”

“Lady Tiera, that’s…”

Lina replied to Tiera, but the latter did not notice. Lymliss had heard her words: she looked at Tiera, wide-eyed.

“This is something I must put an end to.”

She was about to do something reckless. Tiera herself knew it. She might even end up ruining the efforts of Shin’s group. There might be a safer way. 

But, she felt it. That Crissot’s soul, her father’s soul, was right there.

She could not sense her father’s soul when Reforgerer was still active, but now she clearly could tell. His presence was the reason why it had appeared here, and that he was not trying to attack.

“Tiera, what are you…?”

Shibaid was focused on Crissot, but looked at Tiera with bewilderment, standing beside him.

She knew the reason. Her figure was probably different from normal. When Crissot appeared, she felt something descending inside her. She had experienced it many times when she lived in the village, it was quite a nostalgic sensation.

“It’s okay. Please leave it to me.”

Tiera stepped forward, beyond Shibaid’s shield. Crissot did not attack in the meantime.

“Aah…aah…”

Crissot reacted to Tiera stepping forward with a sort of pained, or very emotional, lament. From his eyes, marked by trails of blood, now flowed transparent tears.

“So this is spirit channeling…”

Tiera could hear Shibaid’s comment. She put her hands forward and saw someone else’s hands overlapping hers. Lymliss and Shibaid were probably surprised by them.

“No, that’s not it.”

They weren’t someone else’s, a stranger’s hands. She could tell. She had a premonition. The features of the elf Shin and Lina saw matched with someone Tiera knew. Her whole body was filled with a nostalgic sensation. Tiera knew that warmth very well.

She approached Crissot, slowly. As she did, mist rose from Crissot’s body, melting away like steam. Tiera knew: it was miasma. As the miasma vanished, Crissot’s body started to change. His figure, identical to how he looked when still alive, started to shrivel.

It was a natural change, as what kept Crissot alive was disappearing. When Tiera was in front of him, half of Crissot’s body turned into a mummy.

“Father.”

Tiera softly embraced her father’s pitiful figure. The miasma’s presence was no more.

“I am here, I am alive. Your daughter lives on, strongly.”

Tiera’s feelings mixed with those of the woman enveloping her and turned into words. Tiera did not actually know what to say. She could understand Crissot’s pain, but she could not feel it. At the time, she was doing all she could to survive and did not have the leeway of thinking of her father’s feelings.

She gained some peace after she was in Tsuki no Hokora, but she unconsciously put away the painful memories of her village. Thus she now responded to the emotions transmitted by Crissot.

About how she was rescued by Schnee and stayed at Tsuki no Hokora. How she met Shin and her curse was lifted. How she met all sorts of people and visited many places. Tiera talked about an adventure she could have never experienced, had she stayed in the village.

Crissot’s arms moved. Thin arms that could break at any moment embraced Tiera in return.

“Aaah…I’m so glad….”

His words trailing in the air, Crissot disappeared. The wind moving through Tiera’s hair brought the ashed Crissot dissolved into the sky. The wind circled the World Tree once, then vanished in the air. Crissot was no more. It had all happened in mere moments.

The emotions Crissot transmitted were all born from concern about Tiera. There was nothing about himself. It seemed like the hate towards the world he shouted about during his first battle against Shin never existed in the first place.

“Was this…alright?”

The question was not directed to Shin or another party member, nor to a priestess like Lymliss, but to the silver-haired woman who appeared after Crissot vanished. 

“…..”

Irene, Crissot’s wife, Tiera’s mother, embraced her daughter, silently. She had no physical body, but Tiera could feel her embrace all the same. Even without words, she could feel her emotions. Sadness for not being able to protect her. Pain for not being able to save her. Anger towards their absurd circumstances. They all lingered within her, even after death.

Those were not all that lingered, however.

Tiera’s growth, the smile she showed her, the fact that she saved Crissot, filled her with happiness and love. Her emotions not as priestess, but as mother, passed into and filled Tiera’s heart.

“Mother…”

Tiera’s voice trembled. She held back, she could not cry. This time, this dialogue, was a miracle that would never come again.

World Priestesses are the guardians of the World Tree and the bonds between people. The cornerstones of peace. There was something that not even Shin and his companions knew, however. That priestess was not allowed to use their powers for themselves.

Priestesses with the ability to speak with the deceased — barring certain exceptions — were not allowed to willingly summon their parents, siblings, or anyone close to them. Because of that, this was the only chance Tiera had to express her feelings. Once it was over, she could not do it anymore.

Because of that, Tiera smiled. She did not want the last expression her mother would see to be a crying one. She wanted her mother to remember her smiling.

“Be healthy and strong, my beloved daughter…”

Irene left these words as she disappeared. She turned into a small, flickering light and joined the other lights that appeared, to be absorbed once again in the World Tree.

◆◆◆◆

“So, is it all over?”

Shin whispered while looking at the fading lights. He had left Reforgerer’s body to Schnee and Yuzuha and had moved first. When he arrived, Tiera was already embracing Crissot. He saw that Shibaid was not interfering, so he decided to wait as well. 

Just in case, he checked the presences in the city via his map, but could not find any moving in a way that suggested there was fighting going on.

“Reforgerer has disappeared, so I believe we can say so.”

Shin heard Schnee’s words from behind him and used 【Through Sight】 to look in the direction where Reforgerer was. Its icon was on the map no more, leaving only a large crater where it had collapsed, but not even the smallest scale. It was clearly completely gone.

Shin looked again at Tiera, who had not moved a step and was completely still.

“Are you okay?”

Losing to the silent pressure coming from Schnee and Shibaid’s gazes, Shin eventually called Tiera. Lymliss and Lina also noticed, but found it hard to approach her.

“Shin…”

Tiera turned towards Shin. She had held back her tears for long: they were now gleaming on her eyes. Tiera let herself go, as if falling on Shin’s body.

“Did I..do good enough…?”

“….they were both smiling. You did for sure.”

Her voice trembled. Shin replied to her question with confidence.

Both Crissot and Irene showed a peaceful smile in the end. Looking at their expressions, no one would think she had failed.

“I see…I see…”

Her voice trembled even more.

You don’t have to hold back anymore. So Shin wanted to express as he lightly embraced Tiera and patted her head. Tiera’s body turned stiff for a moment, then she started to weep loudly.

The World Tree watched over the group, silently.

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