The Harmony Blade and I weren’t exactly good terms. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but its powers weren’t in sync with my movements and intents. As long as it didn’t work, the magic blade was little more than an ordinary sword; in fact, it was more dangerous as its effects could put me in danger when I couldn’t control them.
What made matters worse was that I had little to no idea how I could, as a soothsayer along the way had put it, “earn its trust”. I had already tried plenty of things ranging from fasting and meditating to slaying monsters to protect innocent villages, but nothing had made remarkable differences. So far, the monster slaying had made the most progress, so I had set out to find more and bigger threats.
My search had now led me to mountaintop ruins at a place where the sky was darkened purple and the air filled with unsettling violin music. The notes struck fear into people’s bones — mine included — so no one had dared to approach the ruins after the sky had changed around it.
No one before me. Even though I was frightened, I knew there was something wrong. Something that hopefully would help me earn my sword’s trust once neutralized.
Therefore, I had hiked there, braving the fear and trying to ignore the sickening red stripes of hurtful magic that appeared some distance away from the ruins. The black feathers that rained from the sky, however, were more difficult to ignore. Whatever monster I was going to put myself up against, it certainly wasn’t anything easy to kill.
At the ruins, the magic hung threatening and the music induced a constant panic attack within me. My body wanted to turn back and run back where I had come from, but I had decided to do this. If I ran away now, I would never be worthy of the Harmony Blade, let alone able to defeat the ghoul that was extorting my village for the blood of the children.
I pushed forward, one step at a time, the Harmony Blade at ready in front of me. I found the source of the music at the center of the ruins in the middle of the most powerful spells I had ever seen. It was a person, knelt on the ground, playing a burning violin. Their long, black hair hid their face.
Then they stopped playing and spread their huge black-feathered wings.
It was a fallen angel.
The panic attack still raged through me, but I stood still, staring at the angel, awestruck. I had never seen one before.
What was a fallen angel even doing here, playing a melody of fear and conjuring hurtful magic this strong?
“What do you seek, fearful traveller?” the angel asked with a feminine voice. She did not look up from her violin.
“I…” I tried to find an answer. “I seek answers.”
“Answers to what?”
“To what has changed these ruins so drastically.”
“That would be me.”
I wasn’t surprised at all. “Why? Who are you?”
“I am a fallen angel. I play this song for the memory of those who have fallen as well and suffered because of it.”
The angel took a while to answer. “This is where I fell when they cast me out.”
I knelt to be on her level, sheathing the Harmony Blade at the same time. “Why were you cast out?”
“I fell in love with someone from this world against our rules. I… I thought I could find happiness here but… she pushed me away when I came to her as well.” The angel took a deep breath, her outstretched wings quivering with the rest of her body. “I am alone. I have nothing but the memories of those who I looked down upon for falling. Yet here I am as well. I am… just as bad as them.”
Then the angel broke into tears. I let her weep, trying to come up with something to say.
Suddenly, the right reply hit me. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
“I have nothing left in my life,” the angel cried. She still did not show her face. “There’s nothing for me anywhere anymore. I’ve at failed everything I was born to do, even loving.”
I had not been looking for a situation like this, but somehow it felt right. “Would you like to give yourself a new purpose and travel with me?”
For the first time, the angel looked up, revealing her deep brown eyes and strangely humane face. Had it not been for the wings, she could have easily passed as a normal human being. “What do you mean? Travel with you?”
“Yes. I am looking to master my sword, and a companion to share the travels with would not hurt.” My gut should have told that it was a bad idea to invite a being that was clearly a powerful magician of hurtful spells to travel by my side, but somehow I couldn’t help myself. Something in this fallen angel made me feel that I should help her this way.
The angel studied my face, clearly looking for deception. “Do you… mean it? Do you truly mean I could go with you?”
With shaking hands, the angel set her violin down. The hurtful magic was already starting to fade. A careful smile made its way onto her lips.
“I would like that.”
I smiled. “Fantastic!” I stood up, walked to her and gave her my hand. “I’m Unar.”
The angel took my hand and stood up. “I’m Ria.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Ria.”
“Likewise.” Now that she had stopped crying, Ria had a timid demeanor. She let go of my hand and avoided my eyes, as if she was ashamed of needing help.
“Is there anything that needs to be done to undo this magic?” I asked, gesturing at the sky and the fading stripes.
“They’ll fade in time.” Ria picked her violin up, folding her wings. The fire on it had disappeared and as she held it, it disappeared in smoke. “I’m ready to go.”
“Then let’s head back,” I said. “Follow me.”
As Ria and I started to descend the mountain, sharing our skillsets and life stories with one another, I felt strangely serene. It felt like I had been meant to do this and I had done everything right.
What’s more, I could feel that the Harmony Blade approved what I had done.
I must be on the right track now.