She had never planned to stay.
That fact would probably not shock anyone who knew her well.
Even before she realized how severe the situation was she had never intended to stay. She hardly batted an eye when she left her own home world, why would this strange place be any different to the last? She came, made her money and left again with equal measure, country after country.
Why would Cephiro be any different?
It shouldn’t have been.
But it was.
She knew something was different when she stood upon a ruined crystal shard from the palace that had shattered in the sky and watched a world upend upon itself. Literally start to fall apart before her eyes. Something had gone so very, very wrong.
She knew how Cephiro worked, she’d been here for some time now, but it just never rightly sank in, just how literal it really was.
A land without a Pillar.
With no support.
Had the Magic Knights failed?
Had they succeeded?
She had never understood Zagato’s motives, except stop the Magic Knights.
Mainly by killing them.
But stop them from what?
She would not find out until some time later what those girls that had impressed her so much with their conviction had been forced to do. The mere thought of it turned her stomach some days.
She thought in passing with some chagrin she should had just stayed in Farhen, but it was too late for that kind of regret.
A screech above her head alerted her to a beast doing its best to weave through shattered crystals and lightning strikes. The task was difficult as the sky had turned black days ago and the sun had disappeared. She shivered, there was no warmth left here.
The bird like beast landed and set it’s cargo down on a small outcropping that hadn’t been smashed as the palace had fallen from the sky. She saw a familiar silhouette, she’d know that ridiculous hat anywhere.
She took a running leap and sprang to a nearby shard and then another until she was just above the outcrop, she cursed as the ground shook and she nearly missed her landing.
Thankfully the rumble of upheaving land was too loud for the other person to hear and they were also too busy gawking at the destruction all around them.
“Gawking at it ain’t going to make it less true darlin.”
The boy jumped and whirled around, his beast equally on alert, “Caldina?” He gaped at her, “Why are you here?”
“I was hoping to find my ship in all this rubble…”
The boy summoner peered up from beneath his bangs, “So you are going to leave?”
“Have you looked around Ascot?” Caldina motioned to the destruction all around them, hand on her hip.
The boy paused, eyeing the shattered pillars around them and looking back up at his friend who gave a low inquisitive chirp.
“At this rate there won’t be much left of this place…” Caldina sighed, they both flinched as another trimmer shook the ground.
“All the more reason they’re going to need us.”
Caldina turned to face Ascot strait on, hardly believing the words had really just left his mouth.
“Are you joking Ascot? We aren’t exactly winning any popularity contests around here you know, us working for Zagato and all.”
“Caldina I’m pretty sure he’s dead.”
“Well yea…” Leave it to Ascot to be as blunt as possible, plucky brat.
“But Princess Emeraude is gone too…” Here the boy looked at his shoes. “What do you think happened? Weren’t the Magic Knights here to release her from where Zagato imprisoned her?”
“I’m not so sure he’s the one who imprisoned her…” Caldina mumbled under her breath.
“Nevermind. You gonna help me find my ship or what?”
“I heard that some of the remaining mages are helping organize refugees, they’ll be heading this way soon.
“All the more reason for me to hurry up and get out of here.”
He seemed uncertain, but agreed to help her find her ship.
Which they eventually did.
Unfortunately it had been damaged pretty badly. Caldina was weighing her options of repairing it verses finding another way off world when a shrieking scream far too loud to be one of Ascot’s creatures pierced the air.
Near the base of destroyed palace a mangle of fallen trees were pulling themselves together to form a giant serpentine monster of bark, wood and mangled foliage.
“Just what I didn’t need.” She flicked out her fan ready to dodge its first attack.
Ascot was already casting a spell to summon another of his friends when someone gave a shot and jumped up towards the monster. It screamed as it’s newly formed head was taken off with a quick sword stroke.
Caldina blinked, staring, “Oh…you’re…” She knew him, sorta, though last she had seen him Captain of the Guard Lafarga had still been under Zagato’s control.
Ascot lookly partly offended Lafarga had killed the new monster so quickly.
The thought that he looked much nicer without those creepy tattoos did cross Caldina’s mind.
“There are civilians heading this way and a Ilu I passed on the way here said that Guru Clef and the rest of the remaining mages will be gathering here at what is left of the palace.” Lafarga glanced around at the crystal shards, his expression somewhat pained, but he quickly put his own personal feelings on the matter aside.
He lept down to a crystal right below them and looked back, “Well, are you coming?”
Ascot and Caldina both looked at each other and then after Lafarga as he headed down to what was left of the palace.
“I’m going!” Ascot firmly said and looked up to his beastly friend, who chirped at him. “We can help and I can show everyone that my friends can be good.” His friend gave an agreeable sound and held out a claw for Ascot to clamber into.
“Oh geez that kid…” Caldina watched after him as the monster flew off, eyeing her broken ship and the retreating figures in the distance.
“Oh what the hell, not like I’ve got anything else to do. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Someone’s gotta make sure that kid doesn’t get himself killed being brave all of a sudden now.”
She leapt down, “Hey, wait up Ascot!”
It was only much later when she came to understand there had been much more for her to gain than she originally thought.
She smiled, watching Ascot do his best to talk to the blue haired Magic Knight.
She smiled when Lafarga held her hand.
And she smiled when Cephiro was reborn.