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what a lovely light

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At first, all Jade can see it as is a good thing.

Luke is learning, changing, and it's touching fascinating to watch. The day he turns to Tear and hesitantly, quietly, asks to be taught proper seventh fonic artes, even if just a little, Jade's estimation of Luke raises once more.

The battle where Luke first successfully casts a fonic arte – a weak healing arte that mimics Tear's Healing Circle in range but without its power behind it – and his shy, proud smile at the praise he's given for that, sticks in Jade's mind particularly well.

Luke's skill increases; he's not as versatile as Natalia or strong like Tear, but he's good at what he can do. A seventh fonic arte that will hit every ally on the field no matter what is nothing to sneer at. Luke's skill continues to grow, with him turning to Jade at times to understand what Tear is attempting to explain. Most of the time, Jade fields the question at Guy, but sometimes Luke asks questions that surprise everyone with the depth of thought put into them, forcing Jade to be the one explaining things.

He's...proud of Luke, Jade thinks as he watches Luke tend to Guy's hurts after one particularly trying battle. The swordsman is now also a seventh fonist, the spoiled brat he first met long vanished under the new Luke. Except, Jade thinks sometimes, it's not exactly a new Luke. Just a more honest, more thoughtful Luke who genuinely tries to be kind instead of giving up from the start.

Jade thinks nothing of it, except in terms of Luke's effectiveness in battle, in that being able to heal seems to sooth those nightmares of his. Even when Luke asks a bit more on other types of fonic artes, Jade just looks at it as a natural step as Luke's knowledge and skill grows.

Then comes a nightmare of a battle against the God-Generals and some Oracle Knights. With Arietta's monsters acting as extra muscle, the entire team – including Jade – is being pushed to their limits. A flash of white and red has Jade seeing Luke dive towards an FOF Circle while it is still around. It's made of fifth fonons, which leads Jade wondering what he is doing. The techniques Luke has that work in such fonon fields don't fit with the location of the field.

As he destroys one of Arietta's monsters with a well timed fonic arte, Jade realizes Luke is chanting. He's casting, pulling a new fonic arte out of the field. Jade is briefly stunned by that and tries to catch what Luke is saying, but the chaos of the battlefield prevents that. He hears a cry as Anise gets knocked off Tokunaga, sent sprawling back, and sees Largo coming down on her like a monster himself, his scythe raised.

Light is next. Brilliant, painful light that floods the battlefield. It's nothing like any technique Jade has ever seen, and he watches as it tears into Largo, hears Arietta's scream as it wounds her, sees how all the Oracles Knights still standing quickly fall. He, meanwhile, feels refreshed, and he knows this feeling well, the tingling, strangely soothing and yet energizing feel of a seventh fonic arte.

Jade realizes at that point that Luke somehow took seventh fonic artes, the principles behind other fonic artes, and quite possibly his ability to call up hyperresonance, and crafted an unbelievable fonic arte that seems like it would fit snugly with Yulia's Hymns in sheer power.

Luke's a brilliant idiot.

They look for him after it's over; Largo and Arietta are not dead, with Arietta's monsters that remain getting the God-Generals away from them so they can heal and fight another day, which is a pity. Would be better if they could get rid of them for good immediately while they have the chance.

However they need to find Luke first, having lost him in the sheer devastation done to the battlefield under his new technique. As they search, Natalia is exclaiming excitedly over what Luke just did, with Tear echoing her in quieter enthusiasm. Guy expresses worry for how much this must cost Luke in energy, which Jade silently agrees with. Anise giggles over the memory of Largo's shocked face just before he got hit by the technique.

None of them are worried for Luke's state, none of them even consider it a possibility he might be beyond help.

Jade realizes too late that complacency comes from the wrong place. They have gotten so used to having Natalia apply her Revive technique on them as a safety net, something to buy them just the right amount of security so that proper healing can be done later. To make it less likely for them to fall in battle. This time was no different in that regard.

But when they reach Luke, he is unconscious and so cold, so pale, so weak...

Jade has to grab Guy, who's about ready to completely break down at the sight of Luke in such a state, so he won't get in the way of Tear and Natalia as they race to Luke's side to tend to him. Anise ends up grabbing Mieu for a similar reason, looking shocked and even scared of Luke's condition.

Jade doesn't know what kind of face he's making, but something about how Tear glances warily at him makes him realize he, himself, must be shaken to the point of betraying his own feelings here. Something dark is clawing at his chest as he watches Luke's faint breathing, how he ever so slowly regains colour under the tender care of Tear and Natalia.

Jade notices that Natalia is crying, softly and silently, even as she tends to Luke.

Luke stirs, finally, and opens green eyes to see the whole group looking at him worriedly. He sits up, ever so slowly and a bit wobbly to betray he's still in a bad state, and looks them over. “Are you guys okay?”

“You...you idiot!” Guy yells, Jade letting him go so he can storm over to Luke. Natalia and Tear get out of Guy's way, as he kneels down next to Luke and grabs him by his shoulders, shaking him. “What the hell was that?”

“Uh?” Luke blinks, looks confused, before faint understanding sweeps across his face. “Oh. That. I've...been working on that for awhile. Did it work?”

“Did it work...?” Guy grinds his teeth. “Dammit Luke why were you unconscious? You were...you were...” Guy chokes on the words, unable to get them out under his emotions.

“Luke.” At the sound of his voice, Luke snaps his gaze automatically to Jade. “You were near death.”

To Jade's surprise – and soon enough dread – Luke nods, calm as anything about being told that. “Yeah. That's how it works. But you guys are okay, right? It healed you guys instead of hurting you, right? It's only supposed to hurt enemies, but I haven't been able to test it so...” He looks uncertainly around at them, then finally frowns at what he sees in their faces. “What...what's wrong? You guys...you guys are safe. And...and the enemy is gone, right?” Luke is confused, honestly confused as to why they are worried. Why they are horrified by what exactly Luke just did.

No one knows what to say there. No one.

And Jade finds himself once again cursing himself for the choices he made.

Suddenly, Luke's interest in fonic artes, in healing, in saving others, is far from a good thing at all.



My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

Edna St. Vincent Millay