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Faces New and Old

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Deep in the forest near the town of Dalmary, there was a sunlit clearing where birdsong filtered through the softly waving trees and a small brook chattered quietly as it wound its way along the edge of the trees. While many wildflowers bloomed here, there were many animal trails that cut through the foliage. At the creek’s edge, many large smooth stones absorbed the plentiful sunlight.

It was here, in this clearing, on the sun-soaked stones, that I, a small fairy girl, lay, dying. Not that it wasn’t my own fault. Ever since I’d seen the charred remains of my childhood home when I went to check on it around twenty years ago, I’d been taking worse and worse care of myself. I’d been eating less and drinking less. I had also been rarely moving, and most of what I did with my time was either sleep (during which time I would have depressing dreams - ones filled not with my home burning, but of my time with the people who had lived there) or laying around staring into the abyss. My only remaining friend, Zephyranthes the fox shade, had been desperately trying to help me and to convince me to live, but it can be difficult to save someone from themself.

Zinnia, the voice was not a sound heard by my ears, but was resounding directly in my mind - Zephyranthes. Please, I beg of you: don’t let yourself die. At least get up and move. You’ve been laying here so long that your limbs are weak from disuse.

I slowly cracked open my gummy eyes to see the form of a pitch black fox sitting across the creek from where I lay. His pure white eyes, which were looking directly at me, slowly blinked before he stood and nimbly hopped across the water and approached. He melded into my shadow as though to be as close to me as possible. “Fine…” My voice cracked when I spoke and my throat felt like a desert. “You win, Zephyr. We can go on a walk, but only because I’m getting tired of you saying that almost every day.”

Pressing my small hand to the warm stone, I attempted to lift myself from the ground, only to stumble before correcting myself. My long, dark red hair fell into my face as my large wings, which were nearly transparent but held splotches of different colors that made them look like stained glass, opened up from the uncomfortable position they had been in while pressed to the ground. My deep green eyes were dull as I lifted my dark green cloak off the stone from where I had been laying on it.

“I wonder how far we’ll go,” I huffed as I covered my once-white-and-green dress with the cloak. I was tired just from the motion of standing. “I won’t come back here, though; there’d be no point. And if we’re going far, then there’s a chance that we’ll encounter humans. Perhaps I should hide these.” I glanced over my shoulder to take in the sight of my wings, which were now poking through slits that were hidden in the folds of my cloak. Then I closed my eyes and concentrated on another form. Soon, my small, child-like body disappeared in a cloud of smoke, to be replaced by one of a young woman. I was now much taller, though my chest had not grown much even though I appeared to be older. My eyes were still green, but my near waist-length hair was now almost completely white - only the single streak of red that framed the right side of my face remained from the previous color. “There. With this, no one will know that I’m a fairy.”

You’re still weak, Zephyr reappeared from his place in my shadow before I could move. One moment, I’ll be right back. His paws made almost no sound as he disappeared into the forest.

I had almost decided to lie back down by the time Zephyranthes returned with a long branch clutched in his jaws. Here, the voice resounded in my head as he gently placed the branch on the ground at my feet. Use this to help you walk. You shouldn’t be flying in your condition; you could fall to the ground.

When I bent over to retrieve the stick, weakness swept over my body, causing me to almost collapse. Once I had managed to pick up the newly-found walking stick and had made sure that it would hold up against my weight, Zephyr slid silently back into my shadow.

“Okay, time to get going,” I murmured as I took my first wobbly step.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A little ways from that clearing in the forest, a giant pig was making its way through a more sparsely-wooded area. An oddly shaped building balanced atop its back with a sign that proclaimed it to be the Boar's Hat. A brunette giantess wearing a short-sleeved one-piece orange suit walked alongside the pig, occasionally looking into the windows of the building. Inside, a skimpily-dressed, silver-haired girl conversed with a short blond boy, and a tall man with spiky light blue hair and wearing red, metal-studded leather clothing sat on a barstool slumped against the bar, asleep.

During one of the times that the giantess looked away from the window, she noticed that there appeared to be something in the middle of the path a good ways in front of them. Whatever it was, it was far enough away that all it looked like was an oddly-shaped, dark green lump on the ground with a shadow looming over it. Deciding to investigate, she increased her pace, only for the shadow to disappear before she could take two steps. Not thinking much of it - for there was no feeling of magic from the disappearance - the giantess stood over the figure, which appeared to be a green blob, and crouched down to gently touch it. It was slightly fuzzy, and warm to the touch. Furrowing her brows, she pinched the smallest amount of the fuzziness that she could and lifted it, revealing the face of a girl.

“Elizabeth-chan!” the giantess gasped loudly.

The silver-haired girl that had been speaking inside now cracked open the door and stepped from the deck in front of the building onto the giant pig itself, which had stopped walking due to the giant girl being in front of it. “What is it Diane-sama? Is something wrong?” the girl asked, curious.

The giantess - Diane - gave the girl a really confused look. “Elizabeth-chan? I know that you were inside, but…” She looked back to the girl that was mostly covered by a green cloak before picking her up and bringing the mysterious figure close to her face in order to be more closely examined.

“Oh, my!” Elizabeth exclaimed. The boy she had been talking to before now exited the building behind her, but the other man was still inside and asleep. “Is she okay? She wasn’t stepped on, was she?” She clasped her hands in front of her chest when she asked this.

Diane squinted in an attempt to better look at the girl before responding. “No, she wasn’t… She was just laying there. But her face… You see this, right?” She then held her hands out to the two that were standing atop the pig, revealing an unconscious girl. She had white hair with a red streak in it towards the front, pale milky skin, and she wore a torn dress that ended around her knees and that appeared to have once been light green and white. And it wasn’t only her clothes that were torn; her skin was covered in scratches and bruises, and she looked extremely malnourished. But that wasn’t what had surprised Diane. Her face looked almost exactly like that of Elizabeth.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: The Boar's Hat

Where am I?

The last thing that I remembered was losing my walking stick to a particularly sticky mud puddle and then walking through an opening in the trees. The next thing I knew I was here. Not that I knew where ‘here’ was. I had yet to open my eyes, so all I knew was that I was laying on something that was very soft, I had a covering over me (Was I in a bed perhaps? I hadn’t slept in one in so long that I had forgotten what it felt like), and the air was now still due to the lack of a breeze. Also, I was still in my human form.

Stop pretending to sleep, Zinnia. I know you’re awake. There are some people here that you should thank. I didn’t respond to the fox directly - if there were others around, I didn’t want them to hear me - but instead slowly opened my eyes. The shadows of a darkened bedroom greeted my vision. No one else was there. Hoping that no one was listening from the door, I muttered under my breath, “Where are we Zephyr? What happened?”

You collapsed from fatigue. Luckily, the people here found you and took you in. Zephyranthes sounded impatient. Hurry up and go downstairs; they’re worried about you. I could almost here him blaming me for collapsing, not that it would be misplaced blame.

Sighing, I slowly sat up so as to not overexert myself.

“Oh, you’re awake!” My gaze darted immediately to the door to see that a girl with long silver hair and wearing a small pink shirt and a purple mini-skirt had just opened it and was now halfway inside the room. “How are you feeling?”

“Eliz-” I coughed, cutting myself off. It couldn’t be the Elizabeth I knew, who had died so long ago. Instead, I opted to answer her question. “I’m feeling a little better.” That was a bit of a lie. “But where am I? The last thing I remember is wandering through the forest.”

“This is the Boar’s Hat. It’s a tavern. Diane-sama found you in front of the tavern a few days ago and we brought you inside.”

“Diane...?” I didn’t know who she was talking about, but that wasn’t what worried me. I’ve been unconscious for a few days? “I’m sorry for imposing on you for so long. I’ll just leave now-”

I had tried to stand up, but a wave of dizziness had engulfed me and I started to fall forward, only to feel myself being caught before hitting the ground. “Woah there, we don’t want you knocking yourself unconscious right after finally waking up, do we?” That was a new voice, but I knew that I had heard it before. I felt myself being pushed back onto the bed. “And I also can’t have my valued guest leaving in such a stated, now can I?”

After allowing the darkness that had clouded my vision to fade, I could see what appeared to be a short, younger-looking boy standing in front of me. He had shoulder-length blond hair, and sea-green eyes. He wore a black vest over a white long-sleeved shirt and white pants, and the green hilt of a sword peeked over his shoulder. He grinned mischievously as his hands fell back to his sides.

Meliodas? This time I made sure not to say it aloud. It would make sense to see Elizabeth and Meliodas together, but it’s been so long. I thought they were dead. They should at least look a little older… Also, Elizabeth looks different from before. What’s going on?

“Thank you. And thank you for taking me in when I was unconscious.” I almost added on Meliodas’s name to the end of the sentence, but stopped myself in time. He hadn’t told me it yet.

“So, what is the name of this new guest of mine?” Maybe-Meliodas asked.

“Z-Zinnia.” I looked down, fearful of what he might say if he recognized my name.

“Zinnia, huh?” There was only a slight pause before the response. “Well, Zinnia-chan, I’m Meliodas, the owner of this bar, and this here-” he stepped behind Maybe-Elizabeth and wrapped his arms around her, groping her breasts in the process, “-is Elizabeth, my waitress.”

“And I’m Hawk!” came a new, high-pitched voice from the doorway. Breaking my gaze from Meliodas’s perverted action, I saw a pig standing in the doorway. Was it the pig that spoke? Or is there someone on the other side of the wall messing with me? My silent question was answered when the pig opened its mouth. “Downstairs is Ban, and Diane is outside! You should thank her; she’s the one that found you.”

“So I’ve heard...” was all I could manage to say. This was all too much for me. First, two figures from my past came back to haunt me, and now there was a talking pig. I turned back to Meliodas, who had finally unlatched himself from a blushing Elizabeth. “Elizabeth-san said that this is the Boar’s hat, but where is that exactly? What town are we in?”

“Hmmm…” Meliodas put his hand to his chin in thought. “The town we’re currently at isn’t really known for its name, so you probably wouldn’t know it…” He then put one finger in the air. “What it’s known for, though, is being near the Capital of the Dead.”

“Necropolis?!” Could they be here because they’re ghosts?

“Some people call it that.”

“We heard that one of our friends might be nearby, so we decided to come here,” added Elizabeth helpfully.

Soooo… NOT ghosts… It was at that moment that a delicious scent wafted into the room. My stomach growled loudly, and I clutched it in pain. How long had it been since I last had food?

Sympathy seemed to shine in Elizabeth’s eyes as she gave a small smile. “I’ll bring some food up.”

“No-” I interrupted her as she was making her way to the door. Slowly putting my weight on my feet, I tried to stand again - this time successfully. “I would like to go and get it for myself, if you don’t mind. It would be nice to be able to stretch my legs after lying down for so long.” Though that was not my real reason - if it was, I wouldn’t have collapsed in the first place, as I wouldn’t have been lying still for who knows how long - but I wanted to see where I was. Zephyranthes had said something about going downstairs, so I assumed that I wasn’t on the first floor of whatever building I was in. Going down stairs was not going to be a pleasant experience in my current state.

“Okay, then. I’ll go tell Ban-sama that you are coming.” She continued on her path through the door, and the pig - Hawk - followed her while saying something about leftovers. After a moment I could hear the sounds of footsteps going down stairs and fading into quiet.

As I started to take a few shaky steps towards the door, I noticed Meliodas - who was still in the room - eyeing me curiously. He looked like he wanted to ask a question, but if he did, he refrained. He then nodded, as though to confirm something to himself, and followed after Elizabeth.

“You sure are being quiet, Zephyr,” I whispered as I reached the door.

Well, if those are really the Meliodas and Elizabeth we knew, there was a chance that at least Meliodas would have heard me. You know how he always seemed to know when I was talking to you.

“Oh yeah. We’ll just have to be careful, then.” But should I be hiding my identity from them? Even if they don’t recognize me right now, they were my friends… I know that I was told to not let anyone from that time find me, but-

My thoughts were interrupted when I realized that I had reached the top of the stairs.

Good luck.

I didn’t even last one step. I had placed my foot on the first stair, lost my balance, and started tumbling uncontrollably down. The only thing that stopped me was that the stairs turned towards the bottom, so I fell into the wall at the top of the bottom two steps. Lifting my head, I gazed blearily around the room I had just entered. As Elizabeth had said, it was a bar. There were a few round tables scattered around the room, each with a few chairs around it. To my left was the bar itself, and a collection of bar stools were pulled up. To my right was the door that led to what I presumed to be outside. Meliodas, Elizabeth, and a man that I assumed to be Ban were gathered around a table at the far side of the room. Ban had spiky light blue hair, and was wearing clothing made of red leather and covered in metal studs. He was surprisingly tall, and made Meliodas look puny in comparison. Considering that my fairy form was shorter than Meliodas, I wondered just how short I would look next to Ban.

Elizabeth was giving me a worried look when Ban sauntered over to me, easily picked me up by the fabric of my cloak and dress (which made a distressing ripping sound from the action) with one arm, and placed me down in the middle of the room. I couldn’t even fight him. At least that saves me from falling down the last two steps. I was relieved until I noticed that Ban was scrutinizing me.

“Hm.” He walked a slow circle around me, his shoulders hunched and his crimson eyes inspecting me up and down. His saunter made him look like an animal inspecting its prey. “You’re right Cap’n; she really does look like Elizabeth.”

It had been so long since I’d been around Meliodas and Elizabeth that I’d completely forgotten that I had made my human form look like the girl. I had thought that she was really pretty when I was younger, so when I’d thought that I would never see her again, I made myself look like her, thinking no one would be around to notice.

“Yep! The hint to telling the difference between the two is that her boobs are smaller than Elizabeth’s!” Meliodas explained, much to my embarrassment. I was certain that my face must have been beet-red at this point.

“That’s not the only difference!” I hadn’t noticed Hawk, who had been around the other side of the table.

“Umm… Hi, I’m Zinnia. I heard that your name is Ban-san…?” I was pretty certain at this point, but I didn’t know what else to say in this situation. Perhaps if I ignored Meliodas’s perverted remarks, they would go away.

The taller man stood up at this, making the difference in height more pronounced. “Then you heard right.” He didn’t say anything else after that.

Did he have a problem with me? Also, didn’t they say something about food? I didn’t see any anywhere, though I still smelled it. Feeling awkward, I glanced around the room, trying to get a better sense of my surroundings. It was the wanted board by the door that caught my eye, as it hadn’t been visible when I had looked around from the stairs. On the board were seven posters, each with a different name on it. Escanor, Merlin, Gowther, King, Ban, Diane, and Meliodas.

Meliodas, Ban, and Diane? Are those supposed to be the people here? But that doesn’t look like Meliodas at all. And why would they tell me their names if they’re wanted? I have to ask this now, or else it’ll just get awkward if I ask later… “Hey, is that supposed to be you guys?” I vaguely gestured towards the board.

A sharp intake of breath could be heard from Hawk, but before he could say anything, Meliodas cut him off. “Sure is! We’re the infamous Seven Deadly Sins! Are you scared now?” He put his hands up in the air in front of himself in a mock-ferocious gesture and used a very joking tone for this.

“Meliodas-sama!” Elizabeth seemed surprised that he’d share this information so easily.

“Hmmm… Even if you say that, all you guys have done is help me and be generally nice to me. I have yet to meet Diane-sama, but she’s the one that saved me. Not to mention the fact that I’ve never heard of the Seven Deadly Sins. I don’t even know what you guys did wrong, so no, I’m not scared.” I walked up to the group and sat down at the table that they were surrounding. Maybe if I sat there long enough, they’d remember that I was starving.

“Never heard of us?” Meliodas gasped. He was acting offended, but it was quite obvious that we wasn’t.

It was then that my stomach decided to chip in to the conversation with a growl. This caused me to blush lightly, but at least it stopped me from having to verbally remind them that they promised me food.

“Oh yeah! I’m so sorry, Zinnia-san, I completely forgot. There’s still some food in the kitchen, I’ll go get it.” Elizabeth disappeared behind the bar, leaving me with nothing to say around the two men. Luckily, that silence only lasted a moment before Elizabeth returned with a steaming meat pie. “Here you go! Ban-sama cooked it while you were asleep.” She placed it in front of me at the table.

I turned to Ban and smiled. “Thank you Ban-san!”

His only response was to turn away and say something about making one for everyone anyways, but I wasn’t paying attention; I hadn’t had food in so long and the scent was driving me crazy. “Thank you for the food!” I announced to the group in general before digging in.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Of Meals and Missing Friends

It turned out that Diane was a giant. I met her for a moment before Ban disappeared and, after realizing that they weren’t going to get any business anytime soon, the group decided to go look for him. I had wanted to join them, but I would have only held them back and they told me to stay here with Hawk and Elizabeth. Ban had even cooked up some more food for me before they left, as the group as a whole decided that I needed more meat on my bones. They were not wrong.

Oh, how I wish that Hawk-chan and Elizabeth-san weren’t here, I thought as I took a bite of mashed potatoes. Then Zephyr could come out and we could talk. I mean, he could talk to me right now, but I couldn’t respond…

Hawk was drooling all over the floor (and a little on the table) as he stared at the food that covered the table in front of me. I would have gladly given him some, but Meliodas had strictly told me not to, and to eat as much of it as I could. I had a feeling that he would know if I went against his orders. Not to mention the fact that the other girl was sitting directly across from me. She was smiling as she watched me eat, and was politely refraining from asking the questions that I knew she had.

I couldn’t stand it anymore. This near-silence was unbearable. I had to hear my friend’s voice. Shoveling another bite into my mouth - this food was delicious, I needed to thank Ban again - I started tapping my fingers on the hardwood surface.

Tap… tap tap tap… tap tap… tap… tap tap…

I felt a little shiver in the air around me as response. I’m still here, Zinnia. I was just exploring the area through the shadows. Did you know that this entire building is on top of a giant boar that has burrowed its way underground? I nearly choked on my food at this. Hawk didn’t seem to notice, but instead stared at my plate hopefully, as though there was a chance of me knocking it off the table. Elizabeth stood as though to help me, but I swiftly took a drink from the water they had given me and followed it with a another spoonful of potatoes, causing her to slowly sit back down with a slightly worried expression. Sorry, I didn’t realize that would startle you like that. But anyways, I’m trying to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary - not that I know what ordinary is for around here. The voice paused for a moment before continuing in a more hesitant tone. I’m sorry to ask this of you, but would it be possible for you to try to sneak some of that food to me at some point? I haven’t eaten since you were brought here; if I had left I would’ve had no way of knowing if they moved you.

After taking another bite - this one of chicken - I slowly nodded as though savoring the food. But Zephyr knew what the small signal meant, and he sighed in response. They’re back. I’m gonna be quiet for now. Just know that I’m still here. The voice faded away, but the fox’s slight presence remained as the door to the tavern slammed open.

“Yo, Elizabeth! We’re back!” Meliodas sauntered through the entryway, Ban and two small children in tow. He glanced at the table to see that a large pile of food still remained, even though my plate and been filled and mostly emptied. “Perfect, Zinnia-chan didn’t eat it all, so there’s still food left.” What, had he expected me to eat this entire pile? There was enough food here for five people. Plus, my stomach had shrunk after going for so long without food. I’d only been able to finish half a plate’s worth of food. “Here you go.” He gestured for the kids to sit down next to me. “Go ahead and eat.”

The two kids plopped into their seats and swiftly filled up plates. They looked almost as starved as me. Ban sat down across from them and leaned over the table.

I barely registered Meliodas saying something about any food not eaten going to the pig before my head almost fell into my half-empty plate. I just barely managed to catch myself. I guess that eating so much food had made me drowsy. It had been the first full meal I had had in years, after all. This must have been my exhaustion catching up to me. I guess that just sleeping for a few days straight wasn’t enough to catch me up on rest.

Pushing myself from the table, I attempted to tell them that I was going back to bed, but all that came out was a slur, before I felt myself falling and everything went black.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Well that didn’t last long.”

Meliodas had managed to catch the girl’s body before it hit the ground. Ban hadn’t even bothered, and Elizabeth hadn’t been fast enough. “How many times am I going to have to catch you?” He looked at her face only to realize that she was asleep. Her face looked so like Elizabeth’s, it was a wonder that they weren’t related. An idea started to form in his mind, and he lifted her off the ground. “Hup!”

“What are you doin’ Cap’n~?” Ban gave the small man a slightly curious look. His elbow was propped on the table, and in turn his head was resting in his palm. He had been watching the children eat - as he planned to question them afterward - but he looked away to ask Meliodas this.

“Well we can’t just let her sleep on the floor down here with the swine.”

“Hey!” Hawk’s indignant cry went ignored.

“I’m going to return her to bed, then I’m going to search for her new uniform. We can’t leave her in tattered rags of clothing forever, can we?”

“But Meliodas-sama, a uniform?” Elizabeth sounded worried at the idea. “Surely you can’t be planning on having her work here? She’s too weak right now.”

“Maybe now she is, but she’ll get better soon enough. And she needs to pay off the debt she owes us for helping her so much.” A mischievous smile played across his lips. “I was thinking that having a twin act should boost business in here.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Ugghhh… Is this just going to keep happening?” I gently put my hand to my forehead, expecting a bruise. Nothing. “Huh, guess someone caught me.” Slowly sitting up in the comfy bed that I found myself in, I looked around only to see that I was back in the same room that I had previously woken up in. Whose room is this anyways? I feel sorry for taking up their space for so long. That was when I felt an unexpected chill on my upper arms.

My dress usually covered that spot. I was wearing different clothes. They were the same clothes that Elizabeth had been wearing, only in my size. Was this a uniform of some kind? I had just assumed that it was what she had liked to wear. I guess that it was probably what the barmaids here normally wore. But wait… I wasn’t a barmaid. Why was I wearing this? What happened to my clothes? Where was my cloak? I didn’t want to lose either, but it was exceedingly important to me that I still have my cloak. Luckily I didn’t even have to get up to see that my cloak was folded neatly at the foot of the bed. But my dress was nowhere in sight. I hoped they hadn’t gotten rid of it - it had been a gift from a precious friend.

While I was a fairy, and fairies were naturally able to make clothes that fit them (like how they can transform and change the clothes in the process), I was never quite able to get the hang of creating clothes. A good friend of mine had felt bad for me and made some for me. I had been able to keep the dress in usable condition for many, many years, and wanted to never lose it. It was very important to me because my friend couldn’t make me a new one seeing as how they was most probably dead by now.

But I couldn’t stress about that now; I needed to look for them. And hopefully in the process I could find the answer as to why I was in new clothing, and who changed me into them while I was asleep. I just hoped it was Elizabeth, rather than Meliodas. It was definitely not Ban.

Turning my body, I placed my feet on the floor and slowly stood up. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard. I had expected to take longer to heal than this. What does Ban-san put in his cooking? I had wrapped my pine-colored cloak tightly around my body, as this outfit was just a bit too revealing for my tastes. Only after I stood up did I notice the note on the end table beside the bed. It was covered in fine, smooth handwriting.

‘Zinnia-san~

We have all gone to search for Necropolis. I’m sorry for leaving you at the tavern by yourself, so please be safe.

I hope you don’t mind, but I changed you into the bar’s uniform while you were asleep. Meliodas-sama said that you are going to have to work off your debt here. Your old clothes are in the drawer under this note.

~Elizabeth’

Sure enough, my dress was in the drawer, rips, dirt, and all. My old shoes were also in there too, though now that I wasn’t wearing them, it became obvious that almost no soles remained on them. I didn’t know where to put the shredded fabric, so they remained in the end table for now. Feeling the cold floor through the socks that I had been given, I decided to slip on the new, mismatched shoes that had been placed next to the bed before checking to make sure that I was truly alone.

“Elizabeth-san?” No response. Just had to make sure. “...Hawk-chan?” Silence.

Well, then if I was actually as alone as I thought, then I had one more name to call. “Zephyranthes?” This call was not so much a shout as it was a whisper. It never seemed to matter how loud I called him, the fox shade always came. Until now. I had expected an immediate reaction. There was usually a slight chill when I felt him enter my shadow, but it didn’t come. No voice resounded in my head. “Zephyr?” Even though I was louder this time, there was still no response.

This was worrying. Where is he? Zephyr never ignores me. He’s always come whenever I’ve called him, so why not now? He said that he’d been exploring, and now since he knows that I shouldn’t be leaving here anytime soon, he probably explored further while I was asleep. He tends to be very curious and enjoys exploring new places, so… My eyes darted to the note on the desk next to me, and I registered what the words in the first sentence said.

Necropolis.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It didn’t take long for the run into town to exhaust me. In fact, I was surprised that I was able to run at all right now, seeing as how I was unable to even walk without falling before. Was it because I was a fairy? I had no idea what was normal for fairies, seeing as how I didn’t spend much time in the Fairy King’s Forest before leaving, and I hadn’t seen many fairies after that, either. Perhaps there was some other reason, but I had other, more pressing matters at the moment.

Where were they? Had Zephyr really followed them into Necropolis? Was that why he wasn’t responding? I had a really bad feeling that something bad was going to happen in Necropolis. Fox shades weren’t a very strong species; they were better suited to stealth and escaping. But if he was in Necropolis, Zephyranthes wouldn’t be able to use the abilities that fox shades used to escape. They were similar to black hounds in that they could teleport themselves and those around them places, but there was a catch: the fox shade had to know the exact relation between the places they were going to and from. They had to know both the distance and the direction, which was why fox shades were always known for being good with directions and were known to never get lost.

But if they were in Necropolis, then it was unlikely that Zephyr would know the way back.

By now I could barely put one foot in front of the other, but I trudged on. My cloak hung limply across my back - I had taken just a moment to properly put it on before leaving. I couldn’t stop moving. I couldn’t let anything happen to the fox; he was my only friend and one of my last two connections to my distant past. I didn’t know what I’d do with myself if I lost him.

But where was Necropolis?

I stumbled and fell to the ground. Not again! When I looked up, I found that I had reached the edge of a barren field. Ruined and crumbling houses littered the area behind me, but there were none in front of me. In fact, the only thing in front of me was a woman that was standing completely still, her hand plunged into her own chest. I could feel magic emanating off of her, but it just didn’t feel right. Everything about the scene felt wrong, and I couldn’t bring myself to stand up and approach. Luckily, it appeared that I didn’t have to.

“Elaine!”

Suddenly there was a brightly light and six figures materialized in front of me in the field. It was the five that had left that morning, plus a new one that appeared to be a young boy, and he was floating in the air as he held a spotted green pillow in front of him. He had short, pale red hair, and sported an odd blue outfit with orange-yellow trim. It had been him who had shouted the name upon appearing.

“Looks like we’re back in the land of the living,” Meliodas observed, hands on his hips.

I stopped listening at that point. Where was Zephyr? He should have said something if he was here… I dragged myself to my feet so that I could walk over to the group, but that extra height gave me a better view of what was just past them: a pitch black heap was slumped on the ground. It seemed as though none of them had noticed it yet. The sight of my friend gave me the strength to push myself further, and I was almost running when I reached the edge of the group.

“Zinnia-chan?” It was Diane that noticed me first.

“You shouldn’t be out here-” Meliodas started, but I continued past him.

When I reached the dark huddle, I dropped to the ground and lightly placed my hands on it. It was definitely Zephyranthes. The silky smooth fur was cool, but a warmth could be felt underneath, and the fox twitched when I pressed my hand to his side. A thin white slit became visible on the side of his head, and his body relaxed as he saw that it was only me.

“Zephyr, what happened? Are you hurt?” I was speaking somewhat under my breath, as though to keep the others from hearing, but this secret of mine was pretty obvious now. The sins, along with Elizabeth, Hawk, and whoever the floating boy was, had all come to stand behind me. When they saw what I was crouched over, they went silent. Except for Ban.

“Hey~ What’s that?” Meliodas shushed him.

Zinnia, I’m sorry… The newcomer perked up. Could he hear Zephyr? I left without telling you… I was in the giant’s - Diane-sama’s - shadow… I got caught up in one of the blasts from the fight… and hit the ground… hard… I’m so tired… I’m going... to sleep now… the slit disappeared, and his voice got softer. That fairy… he’s… the voice trailed off into silence.

“Zephyr?” My voice was barely audible. I pressed my head to my friend’s chest, only to realize that there was dark blood under the fur. Swallowing down my fear, I listened for a heartbeat, only to sigh in relief immediately afterward. “He’s fine, just sleeping.”

“Will someone answer my question now?” Ban seemed pretty annoyed to have had to wait. He probably hadn’t been able to hear the fox shade speak, and had thought that we were waiting in silence. “What is that thing~?

“It’s a fox shade,” the boy - the fairy, if Zephyr was right, as I was certain he was - said before I could reply. “I had thought they were extinct, but apparently I was wrong.” He turned to me. “Who are you? How do you know this creature?” He then paused for a moment, scrutinizing my face. “And why do you have the same face as the other girl?”

“I- He’s- I-” The stress was getting me to the point that I couldn’t even speak. I didn’t even know what to say. What had Zephyr been about to say about this fairy?

Elizabeth gasped “The Holy Knight, Guila!” She had just noticed the woman at the edge of the field. The rest of the group now turned to look at the statue-like figure, but I remained obstinately with my friend.

“Now I see,” came the voice of Meliodas. “So she made herself half-dead in order to get to the Capital of the Dead.”

Hawk squealed in terror, “Which means sooner or later she’s going to wake up!”

“We should all get away!” Elizabeth had gotten as worked up as Hawk.

Ban and the fairy moved towards the woman, rather than away. “Let’s kill her while we’ve got the chance~” Ban grinned at the idea.

“How barbaric. I’ll turn her to stone.” This was the fairy. I wondered briefly how a fairy could turn someone to stone before focusing back on the fox.

“It’s the same thing~”

“What was that, Ban?!” Apparently the fairy knew Ban. Was this their companion, King? He didn’t look anything like the wanted poster, but, then again, neither did Meliodas.

“How immature.” Diane did not sound amused.

“Uh-uh!” Meliodas sounded like he’d come to a decision. “Leave her to me! After that, we can deal with this whole ‘fox shade’ business back at the Boar’s Hat.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Distrust

I had planned on carrying Zephyr the whole way back, but Meliodas stopped me and made the fairy carry the fox back on his floating pillow. The fairy didn’t seem too happy about that, but complied after a few grumbles. In fact, Meliodas was going to have him carry me on the pillow too, but I’d refused, stating that I could make it back on my own two feet.

How I regretted that decision now.

While I hadn’t wanted to annoy the newcomer anymore, I wished that I had agreed with Meliodas. We were only halfway back when I reached the point of barely being able to breath. I had forgotten that I’d had to run all the way out there, and had run out of energy just from that. At this point, I had to focus on the ground in front of me just to keep from tripping. I was breathing really hard and had almost come to a standstill far behind the rest of the group when I heard a sigh from up ahead.

“We aren’t getting anywhere like this~” I felt a strong arm lift me into the air, and I glanced upward to see Ban, who wasn’t looking at me, but at the destination. It would’ve been nice if he would’ve carried me a little more gently; he was carrying me under his arm as though I weighed nothing, and it gave almost no support. But at least it was better than walking.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“So, who are you?” The fairy was questioning me as soon as Ban dropped me on the floor of the bar. Ban didn’t drop me very gently, either. Oh, and it sure would’ve been nice to know who this fairy was. It was probably the friend they were looking for - King - but I wasn’t going to make any assumptions.

“My name’s Zinnia…”

“That’s not what I mean. Who are you?” Probably-King seemed annoyed.

“I… I don’t see what you’re asking…” I knew exactly what he was asking, but I was trying to put off the moment that they found out.

“King’s asking you what you are~” Ban deadpanned (So I was right - the fairy is King). “Why do you have Elizabeth’s face; you aren’t related to her from what I can tell~”

“And how do you know a fox shade - a member of a supposedly extinct species?” King wasn’t letting up. He was hovering in the air just in front of my face. “Not to mention the fact that you even seemed to be able to hear-”

Leave her alone. Zephyr projected from his spot on King’s pillow. He had just woken up, and had started to make one of the few audible sounds that he could make: a low-pitched growl. She’s done nothing wrong. Why do you expect her to tell you everything when you’ve told her nothing?

Elizabeth, Ban, and Hawk looked confused when King stopped talking mid-sentence, but they didn’t say anything. Diane, from her spot looking in the window, looked as though she was having difficulties hearing something, and King and Meliodas were looking directly at the fox.

King glared at Zephyr, but gave a quiet sigh and turned back to me. “I’m King, the Grizzly Sin of Sloth.”

Tell her your real name, King of Fairies.

“How-?”

Perhaps I’ll tell you someday. Zephyranthes squinted his glowing eyes. Just tell her.

“Why am I listening to a fox…?” King muttered under his breath before speaking up. “My actual name is Harlequin. I’m the Fairy King, or, at least, I was , until the forest burned down.”

I sucked in a breath, and I’m sure my skin paled a few shades at this point. The Fairy King, Harlequin? I may not have been in the forest at the right time to know the current king, but I was certain that I’d heard that name before.

~ ~ ~

“Hey, Zinnia!”

“Yeah?” I turned to my best friend, who was floating upside down in the air above me. I was currently in my fairy form, and I had just put on my new dress for the first time. It fit me perfectly, and I wasn’t even wearing my cloak, which lay folded on the ground nearby, so that I could admire the new outfit.

“It looks good on you.” The other fairy smiled. “Did you know that I asked the Fairy King, Harlequin, for help with that? He learned how to make clothing by watching humans. While the base was made in the same way that fairy clothes is usually made, we had to make adjustments since it wasn’t you who made it directly for your body.” They chuckled mid-story. “You should have seen it. We were making Harlequin’s sister Elaine wear it as it was being worked on, since she has the same build as you. She wasn’t very happy about it, especially since they don’t even know you.”

“I’m surprised that you even got them to go along with it!” I laughed along with them. I could just imagine it. Even if I’d never met the siblings, my friend had told me enough about them that I could easily see the whole situation.

“I think you’d get along well with Harlequin,” the other fairy commented, for about the thousandth time. “Why don’t you ever go to the Fairy King’s Forest? It’s your home too, you know, since you’re a fairy.”

“Well…” I sighed, looking away. “It’s just that-”

~ ~ ~

“Zinnia-san,” Elizabeth’s voice broke me out of my memories. “Would you please just tell us? Just to put everyone’s minds at ease.” She held her hands clasped together in front of her chest, and I could see in her eyes that she was earnest. She probably just wanted to calm everyone down and to stop King and Ban from getting so aggressive. Realizing that she wanted me to tell everyone for my own sake as well, I sighed. Well, it’s not like I was getting out of this at this point anyways…

“Fine.”

Zinnia! You don’t have to tell them.

I glanced at my companion. “No, it’s fine. I can barely remember why I was keeping it a secret anyways. Plus, if this continued any longer, I doubt they’d trust me when I finally did tell them.” I’m not going to tell them everything, though. I turned to look directly at Harlequin. “I’m a fairy.”

______________________________

(A/N)

Here's the link to the story I mentioned at the top: Time Travel? What the Fuck?

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Reveal

“I don’t believe you.” Harlequin’s voice was flat as he propped his chin on his hand.

What?! “Why not? It’s the truth!” All that trouble for this response? I couldn’t believe it. What reason could he have to not believe me?

“I’m the Fairy King. I know all the fairies, but I’ve never met you. Even if you’re in a human form, I’ve never heard your name before.” He sighed, making him seem almost bored. “If you’re just going to lie, then…” He held his hand out to the floating pillow that Zephyr was propped on.

Crap! If he’s the Fairy King, then that must be his Spirit Spear! I’ve gotta-

Truthfully, I was surprised that the transformation had lasted as long as it had. I mean, really. I had passed out multiple times, gone through the terror of seeing my best friend on the verge of death, and now this. I guess that it was just a bit too much strain. It’d been quite a few years since the last time I’d taken human form, too, so I’d been unfamiliar with it.

Suddenly, there was a poof of white smoke, and I was back in my fairy form. My forest green cloak now swallowed my small stature, and its hood covered my deep red tresses for the most part. My wings were folded to my back obediently, but the tips of them were visibly poking out from under the edges of the fabric. I could hear Elizabeth gasp from the sudden change.

“Is this proof enough?” I didn’t even uncover my face as I pretended to have transformed on purpose. “I wasn’t lying.”

Harlequin’s eyes opened wide in surprise. I guess he really didn’t believe me…

Ban suddenly grabbed the hood of my cloak and yanked it back, causing me to tense. The only reaction I saw, though, was that Meliodas froze for a second. It looked like something had clicked into place in his mind, but his usual slight smile returned immediately. Well, guess he remembered who I am. No going back now…

“That’s weird.” Harlequin floated right into my face, examining me. “You’re definitely a fairy, but I don’t know you…” He eyed my wing-tips as though trying to determine what they looked like when spread out.

“Probably because I left the forest before you were born,” I explained quietly.

“But, why were you hiding the fact that you’re a fairy?”

“I-”

She has her reasons. Zephyr cut me off. He was glaring at the Fairy King. It was obvious that he didn’t like the others prodding me so. Gently rising from the cushion, he hopped the short distance to the floor and pressed comfortingly into my side. I can tell that you’re about to ask how I come into this, but all I’m telling you is that Zinnia saved me when I was a pup and I’ve been with her ever since. Now let us rest. Ever since she saw that the Fairy King’s Forest had been burned down, she has been depriving herself of food and water, and has spent very little time moving, leaving her in her current malnourished state.

The Fairy King seemed shocked by this knowledge. Had he not seen how I had struggled to keep up with the group? “I- I’m so sorry… It’s my fault. The forest, I should’ve been there…”

Ban’s face showed an increased interest at the mention of the forest.

“It’s not your fault... It was just bad luck that you weren’t there right then.” I yawned. I was so tired. While not much had happened, it had been a long day for me. I glanced over to Meliodas, who had remained silent the whole time. “Ummm… I know that where I’ve been staying isn’t really my room, so where should I sleep for the night? Or am I gonna get kicked out for having lied to everyone?”

“Of course you can still stay here, Zinnia-chan!” He was still referring to me in the same way, but something in his tone seemed to have changed. Was his voice… slightly warmer? “We aren’t going to kick you out over something as trivial as that.”

“Trivial?” I had completely forgotten that Hawk was there. “She lied to everyone!”

Meliodas ignored him. “You are right that I’d like my room back, though. Hmmm… You can move to the attic. It’s a little dusty, and when we find more sins, you may have to share the room, but you can stay there.”

“Thanks Meliodas-” I fumbled for a moment. His change in tone had almost made me revert back to calling him as I used to. Now that wouldn’t do in the current situation. “Meliodas-sama.”

I could see that he noticed me catching myself. He probably wasn’t the only one. No one said anything, though, as I slowly made my way across the room and took the stairs up to the attic, Zephyranthes close at my heels.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“I don’t think we can trust her~” was the first thing Ban said upon the fairy girl leaving. It was obvious that she was still hiding things. She hadn’t even mentioned where she had gotten the form that looked so like Elizabeth from.

“I don’t know…” King hesitated. With Zinnia being a fairy, he wanted to trust her, but something didn’t add up quite right.

“We can trust her.” Meliodas had made his way to behind the bar and was tidying up some mugs. He might as well get ready for whenever they did have customers.

“If the Cap’n trusts her, then so do I,” Diane stated from her place outside the window, though she did look like she felt a bit suspicious. She was probably wondering what made the captain trust this fairy. Another rival for his love?

“So do I,” Elizabeth instantly agreed. She liked the girl anyways. Though they hadn’t spoken much, she had never felt any ill intent from her. “Zinnia-san seems harmless.”

Hawk decided to add his opinion in. “I don’t see how any of you guys can trust her! We should tell her to leave right now. Everything that she told us was a lie!”

“What was a lie?” Meliodas paused in his cleaning.

“W-well, that she was a human!”

“She never said he was human,” Meliodas pointed out before continuing to scrub a particularly dirty mug. Before Hawk could say anymore, he added, “She also never said she was alone. Diane, didn’t you say something about how you thought you saw a shadow over her when you found her, but it disappeared?”

The giantess nodded. “I thought I was seeing things, since I didn’t feel any shift in magic, and a presence didn’t disappear when the shadow did. Looking back on it now, though, it was probably that fox shade - or whatever that was. What does it do? Disappear into shadows? I could barely hear what it was saying. What was it saying that whole time, King?”

The fairy’s face had a slight red tint to it when he turned to the giant. “Yes, it can go into shadows. From what I heard earlier, it was hiding in your shadow when it got hit from a blast by Guila.” Diane looked surprised at this, and glanced at her shadow as though the fox would suddenly jump out of it. “It also knew that I was the Fairy King, and told me to tell that girl - what was her name? Zinnia? - my actual name. Before they went upstairs, it explained that after seeing the Fairy King’s Forest burn down, Zinnia stopped eating, drinking, and even moving. And that’s what's caused her to be so weak right now.”

Ban flinched ever so slightly at this, but King didn’t notice.

Meliodas looked up from where he was still cleaning. “Hey, it’s about time that we had dinner, don’tcha guys think?”

After a bit of discussion, everyone agreed to go outside for a meal.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

“They don’t trust me…” I murmured to Zephyr from our spot at the top of the stairs. I had just barely been able to make out the words, so the fox shade had offered to eavesdrop from the shadows at the base of the stairs. Since the group knew that he was here now, I didn’t want to take any chances of them noticing him, so I had him only go down most of the way, and had told him to stay out of shadows within the sins’ line of sight. I doubted that Elizabeth or Hawk would have noticed, so it didn’t matter if they had seen him. The fox had just returned and relayed to me everything that I had missed.

At least Meliodas-sama does. And I think that Harlequin-sama wants to trust you. It’s mainly Ban. And I think that Diane-sama isn’t certain, even if she says that she trusts you. And I don’t really care if the pig trusts you or not.

I sighed in frustration before gathering up the clothes that I had grabbed from Meliodas’s room. I didn’t just want to leave my old clothes in there. Even if the uniform had changed to fit me when I’d transformed, I still wanted to try to fix my precious dress. Perhaps I could ask Harlequin to help me fix it? He did help to make it in the first place anyways… No. I didn’t want to bother him anymore.

Placing my hand on Zephyr’s head, I made my way up the final set of stairs and opened the door. Inside the attic were boxes upon boxes, most of which were caked in dust. At the far end of the room was a door that I presumed led to the balcony that I had seen from outside. Ignoring the door, I pushed aside some boxes to reveal what I had only caught a glimpse of upon entering the room: a bed. It was pretty dirty and had no blankets, and it seemed to have more dust on it than the boxes, but I gratefully dropped onto it before curling up on my side. Compared to the rocks I had been laying on not that long ago, this was bliss. I could feel the soft fur of my companion as he hopped onto the bed beside me, causing a small cloud of dust to erupt after the large one I had caused, and curled up into the curve of my stomach.

I didn’t care if they didn’t all trust me. Being here caused me to feel the safest that I’d felt in a very long time. Those were the thoughts going through my head as my mind drifted off into sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Wanted

I had left Zephyr to rest in bed up in the attic before I decided to make my way down the hallway. Even if he’d been able to go up there the night before, his wounds had caught up with him, and I didn’t want to disturb him.

I was floating now. There was no reason to walk at this point, seeing as my hosts now knew what I was, and I seemed to be better to the point that I probably wasn’t going to fall as Zephyr had feared. I saw no point in the excess effort of walking when I could just fly.

When I entered the bar, the first thing I noticed was that I could hear Meliodas and Harlequin talking outside. Then I saw Ban across the room, slumped over the counter and mumbling. I made my way to his side, curious, to find that he was talking in his sleep, loud snores in between the words.

“I swear… I planted it, like you asked… Nyuum…” were the only words I could make out.

What’s that all about? I tilted my head to the side. I glanced out of the window above Ban in time to see Harlequin floating a good ways in front of the shop. Wait, were we moving? Didn’t Zephyranthes say something about this place being on top of a giant pig? Allowing my feet to land on the floor, I suddenly became aware of the rocking movement in the floorboards. How didn’t I notice this when I first woke up?

Rising back into the air, I flew to the door and exited the building.

“Yo, Zinnia-chan!” Meliodas turned to see me exit. “How’d you like your new room? Nice hair, by the way.”

I looked away, embarrassed. I had completely forgotten until just now that I hadn’t brushed my hair, and it must’ve been a knotted mess. “It was fine. A little dusty, but nothing a little cleaning couldn’t fix. Zephyr’s still up there. I really hope he gets better soon; his wounds look really bad.”

“That fox shade?” Harlequin asked as he approached. He was leaning lazily into his pillow, looking almost like it was the cushion holding him up rather than the other way around.

“Yeah.” I glanced around. Zephyr had been right; we were atop a giant pig. It was green, and appeared to be covered in moss or grass. Hmmm, it did look like the tavern was a boar’s hat.

“You never told us how you ended up traveling with such a rarely-seen creature…?” He was trying to get me to speak. I already knew that Zephyr had said all he was going to say, and I was tired of the fairy’s prodding.

“And you never told me how you ended up with the title ‘Sin of Sloth.’ I guess that we’ve both got things that we aren’t going to talk about.”

Harlequin tilted his gaze towards the ground. Was that guilt glinting in his golden eyes?

After that, all that was left was  an uncomfortable silence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Wow, this place is busier than I expected,” Hawk remarked as we wove through the crowded streets of Byron.

“That’s because merchants from all over come to buy ceramic wares here,” Meliodas explained patiently.

Meliodas, Hawk, Harlequin, Elizabeth, and I had left the tavern and were now searching the town for information. It had been difficult to convince the group that I was well enough to come along, but I had managed to show them my recovery by flying a few swift laps around the Boar’s Hat. I had barely felt tired, and had made certain to not even show that. But they had made me take my human form, as they didn’t think it was a good idea to walk around with my wings trailing from under the edge of my cloak.

I just hoped that no one took notice of two girls that looked like twins acting like they weren’t… I was never very good at acting, which was why my secret hadn’t lasted under pressure.

“Captain, why was Diane left to house-sit while we’re here?” Harlequin was walking along the ground in his fairy form, pretending to be human. I had seen him transform into his human form from my window that night that he found out that I was a fairy. He had been speaking to Elizabeth outside, but I hadn’t been able to hear the words from my place at the window. It wasn’t pretty; the Fairy King should not look like a fat, middle-aged man. Ban had freaked out when Harlequin had transformed, as though he had never seen it happen. So, if it hadn’t been known that the other fairy had multiple forms, why had I been treated with such suspicion upon them learning that I did too? Huh? I even thought that I’d heard a snippet of conversation at some point before I met the other fairy where Ban was saying that that wasn’t King, as though he had never seen Harlequin’s true form.

“I had no choice,” Meliodas’s voice interrupted my inner musings. “She stands out too much. If there are any Holy Knights stationed here, we’d get no information, let alone any peace.”

“Yeah… Good point.” The other fairy sounded disappointed.

“And Ban-sama?” Elizabeth inquired.

“Because he looks miraculously identical to his wanted poster.”

Hawk then pointed out, “And you two look miraculously different from yours.” He had previously been saying something about being hungry, so I was actually surprised that he had been paying any attention to the conversation.

At this point, I realized that something felt off. It felt like eyes all around us were turned this way. I felt as though I was the center of everyone’s attention, and I really didn’t care for it.

“Ummm… Meliodas-sama…”

“Yeah, I noticed it too. It feels like we’re being watched.”

I actually dared to glance around now, only to find that many of the people in the crowd were looking our way. There didn’t seem to be any Holy Knights, though, so that was good.

“Oh,” Hawk turned to look up at the wall we were passing by. “There are some wanted posters here too.”

“They don’t look like they’ve been newly updated-” Meliodas started to say, only to stop.

“Oh!” This time it was Meliodas, Elizabeth, and Harlequin all in unison. What was it? I couldn’t see from behind them.

Pushing my way up closer, I leaned over Harlequin’s shoulder to see that a new wanted poster had been put up. With Elizabeth’s face on it. And, consequently, my face. “Oh.” What else was there to say?

“A wanted poster… of me?” Elizabeth’s face was filled with both shock and fear as she put her hand to her chest.

Behind her, Hawk seemed furious. “Whaaaat?! There’s not one of me?!”

Why would you want there to be? I had to say, sometimes that pig’s personality just irked me.

“Hey, you.” A couple of men came up behind us, thoroughly wrapped in travelers’ clothes. “You look like the girl on the poster…” They were talking to Elizabeth, but the taller one glanced up for a second and noticed me. “You as well!” He started to take a step towards me when I noticed Elizabeth disappear from my sight in a blur.

Zinnia, get moving!

Wait, how long had Zephyranthes been here? I’d thought that he’d stayed at the bar, resting.

Apparently, my reaction wasn’t quick enough, as I soon felt myself being swept off my feet and into the air. I automatically squeezed my eyes shut and started to kick it my assailant, only to freeze at the sound of a familiar voice.

“Hey! Stop wiggling, you’re going to make me drop you.” Cracking open my lids, I realized that it wasn’t one of the men that had grabbed me, but that it had instead been Harlequin using his Spirit Spear’s (I really needed to learn the name of it…) pillow form to propel me along. “I don’t know if you can keep up with us, so just stay put.”

“A wanted criminal’s getting away!” I could hear swiftly fading voices behind us. “Good lord, they’re quick! Capture her and turn her in to the Holy Knights!” There was another, quieter, questioning voice that I just barely managed to catch: “Wait, which one?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Did you find her?”

“Dammit, where’d she go?!”

“Search over there!”

The voices resounded from the ground below. We had managed to escape into a tower, and were now huddled at the top, hiding from the townspeople’s view. And by ‘we escaped’ I more of meant Harlequin, Meliodas, and Hawk; they had been the ones doing the running (or, in Harlequin’s case, flying). Elizabeth and I had just been along for the ride. I wasn’t very happy about it, though. I had wanted to not be a burden and escape with them, but Harlequin had been right; I wouldn’t have been able to keep up. Those two were fast . I didn’t even know how Hawk had managed to keep pace with them.

“We were careless,” Meliodas was saying. “Of course the Holy Knights are looking for Elizabeth, too. Since she hasn’t been away long, she looks just like her wanted poster.”

Hasn’t been away long? Away from where?

Meliodas crouched down next to Elizabeth, who was huddled up with back pressed to the wall, shaking violently. Concern showed clearly on his face. “Elizabeth, you don’t look so good. Do you feel okay?”

She shook her head shakily in response. Her hands were clutching tightly to her upper arms - so tightly that I was almost surprised that she wasn’t drawing blood. “I knew it would eventually come to this. But… When I saw my wanted poster… I suddenly couldn’t stop shaking…”

“She can’t help it,” Harlequin noted from his place behind his captain. “She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl, after all.”

Sixteen-year-old? Then she couldn’t be… I pondered, before shaking my head. No time to wonder about this right now. We have to get out of this situation. “Zephyr, are you still there?”

Everyone turned to me as I seemingly spoke to myself. Well, most everyone. Elizabeth still seemed a little preoccupied with shaking on the floor. The others seemed curious, though Hawk looked like he thought I was crazy.

You called? The fox shade materialized as wisps of darkness lifted themselves out of my shadow, leaving it slightly paler than before as the wisps gathered and solidified. He glanced around curiously, as though he hadn’t been watching the whole time. His gaze traveled around the whole group, and landed for a split second on the pig. I could hear a quiet Tch, before he faced me again. I would have laughed out loud, had the situation not been so stressful.

It was good that Hawk appeared to not be able to hear Zephyr.

“Do you know where the Boar’s Hat is from here?” I asked my friend.

He lifted his snout in the air, sniffing as though that would somehow determine our exact location. The fox then paused for a second before speaking. I believe so. The journey to this spot was fast and unpredicted, but I’m certain that I could get anyone back to within fifty meters of the tavern.

Smiling and patting his head, I turned to the group. “Hear that? We can get back to the tavern right away if you guys want.” Suddenly remembering that at least two of my company couldn’t hear my companion, I added, “Zephyranthes could get us there in a flash.”

“But… We came here to get information. I don’t want us to have to leave because of me…” Elizabeth didn’t seem very happy at the thought of returning to the tavern. She was looking directly at me, and a small frown marred her features.

“It’s fine, Elizabeth. You guys can go back, while King and I continue to scout for information on the other sins’ whereabouts.” Meliodas turned to face the fox shade before placing his hand on Zephyr’s head, causing Zephyr to dip his head slightly under the pressure. “Thanks, Zephyr-chan. Make sure they get back safe.”

Zephyranthes bowed his head a little deeper and closed his eyes for a moment. Of course. Anytime, Meliodas-sama.

Meliodas turned back to the frightened girl after removing his hand from the fox’s head. “Elizabeth, please go with Zinnia-chan and Zephyr-chan back to the Boar’s Hat. And take Hawk with you.”

Elizabeth looked like she wanted to argue, but instead she steeled her expression in resolve and nodded. “Okay, Meliodas-sama.” She seemingly forced her legs to stop shaking and stood up.

“Wait, when did I agree to this?” Hawk squealed. “I could help you guys look for information. Why should I go back to the bar?”

Meliodas had been walking to the edge of the tower when he glanced over his shoulder to respond. “Well someone needs to protect the girls!” He smiled and, laughing, jumped off the tower. He was soon followed by Harlequin.

“Hmph!” came Hawk’s response. “I guess that’s true…”

“We might as well get going, then.” I glanced at my fox friend. “Care to do the honors?”

Zephyr nodded once and approached the inner wall of the tower. He pressed a paw to my shadow, which was stretched across the wall, and melded into it. Unlike his usual shadow-melding, though, the shadow turned pitch-black. Looking at the darkness felt almost like looking into the night sky or a bottomless pit. Just looking at the new portal gave me a foreboding feeling. This came whenever one of Zephyr’s portals appeared, but I still wasn’t used to it.

“Well, after you.” I looked to the pig while gesturing towards the hole. A small smile played on my lips.

“Wha- why me first?!”

Well, it didn’t have to be Hawk first. It could have been Elizabeth. I just wanted to mess with the swine. He didn’t seem to like me anyways, so might as well get a kick out of it. “In case you hadn’t noticed, my shadow was used as a base. As soon as I go through, the portal will disappear. That means that you and Elizabeth will have to go before me. And since you’re the one that’s supposed to be protecting us, I thought that you’d want to go first to make sure the other side was safe.” Not that Zephyr would let me go through if the other side wasn’t safe.

“I- I guess that makes sense…” Hawk was visibly shivering. “Then I’ll go first.” Shaking and obviously scared, he approached the portal. As soon as he was fully through, it was as though he was never there; no part of the pig could be seen in the blackness.

“You next. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe,” I added, seeing that the other girl was also frightened. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Elizabeth nodded slightly before she, too, disappeared into the darkness.

For a moment I glanced around to make sure no one had forgotten anything and that we weren’t being watched. After being certain that we were in the clear, I followed the two into the abyss.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Shadows and Walls

Darkness.

It was so, so very dark.

What was going on?

I knew that I had just stepped into the portal that Zephyranthes had opened, but it never took this long to get through it. It was usually step in, see a flash of darkness, then step out to the destination. It felt like I’d been walking for hours. In front of me, I could vaguely make out a lighter patch, which I assumed to be Elizabeth. I tried to call out to her, but when I opened my mouth, no words came. I tried to call for Zephyr, but got the same result. Feeling terror threaten to take over, I closed my eyes and pushed the feeling down. Opening my eyes again, I realized that I had stopped, and yet Elizabeth had grown no farther away. Well, if going forwards wasn’t working, then…

Reaching out my arm, I found that I could just barely reach the other girl, and I grabbed her wrist. Please let this work. I yanked her towards me and, in the process, fell backwards.

Blinding sunlight greeted my eyes for a moment before the weight of the silverette knocked the breath out of me and her hair blinded me.

Elizabeth quickly moved when she realized what she had landed on. The look on her face was even more terrified than it had been when she had been shaking on the ground. “Oh, Zinnia-san! I’m so sorry; I don’t know what happened.” Tears started to make tracks down her face. “I couldn’t see anything or anyone… I tried calling for you, but I couldn’t speak. I felt like I was all alone and that I’d never get out of there. And Hawk-chan… Where’s Hawk-chan?” She was now looking around wildly in search of the pig.

“He probably managed to get through to the tavern, since he went first. I have no idea what happened after that, though. That’s never happened before. I’m usually only in there for a split-second,” I explained. “Zephyr, what’s going on?”

“I found her!” The shout from below interrupted my inquiry. “I’m not lying! I swear I found her! Please believe me!”

I peeked out over the edge of the tower’s railing, and Elizabeth followed suit. Down below, one of the men who had seen us by the wanted posters was pleading with a very large man perched on a horse. The man on horseback wore armor that covered most of his body, exempting a large portion of his chest and right arm. Rain had started  to fall, adding a dreary, desperate feeling to the air.

“I came after I heard the report,” The armored man was saying, “But where is his wanted criminal?”

“Like I said, she ran away as soon as I talked to her. Please believe me, Holy Knight-sama!”

A Holy Knight?

“It’s Griamore!” Elizabeth was nearly yelling from her spot beside me before I clapped a hand to her mouth.

“Shush! We don’t want them to know we’re here,” I whispered fiercely before removing my hand. “And who’s Griamore? How do you know a Holy Knight?”

“The only thing that I can believe is that you have wasted my time,” came the voice from below.

“B-but…! You said that if we found any of them, you’d exempt us from recruitment and taxes…”

“But in the case of false reporting…” Griamore hopped off his horse, landing on the ground with a dull thud that caused water to splash up around his feet. “... the punishment is death!”

Before I could react, Elizabeth jumped out of the tower. She hadn’t even given any warning - she just jumped. “STOOOOOP!!” She commanded as she slid down the side of the building, gripping one of the gutters to slow her descent.

I sighed. “Guess since I’m part of the reason we’re in this mess, I should probably follow her.” As I was still in human form, I took the same route down the tower as her. I could of floated down if I had wanted to, but I didn’t want to make it too obvious that I was a fairy.

“That man is not lying. I’m right here, so let him go.” Elizabeth had faced the crowd, and was the most serious that I had ever seen her.

But it didn’t seem to phase the Holy Knight that stood before her. “Long time no see, Elizabeth-sama How noble of you to turn yourself in.”

He had begun to take steps towards her, but she held her ground. I took a step forward, hood covering my features, ready to protect Elizabeth. I wasn’t going to let anything happen to one of the people that had been so kind to me.

“Griamore, you’re a Holy Knight whose family has served Liones for Generations. I will not permit such tyranny from you!”

At this, the larger man tried to grab Elizabeth’s arms, but I used my fairy magic to pull her out of his arm’s reach and towards me. She gasped as I stepped between her and our adversary. Griamore seemed surprised at the action, but he simply took another step towards us.

“You seem to be mistaken. I didn’t swear my loyalty to the royal family. And who is this accomplice?” He bent down ever so slightly as though trying to catch a glimpse of my face. “Would this happen to be one of the members of that  group of criminals that you’ve been running around with?”

What was he talking about - the royal family? And why was Elizabeth attempting to order him around? When this was all over, that girl would have some explaining to do.

“Stop right there!! I won’t let you harm my little sister!”

Who was that? I swiftly faced the voice, almost causing my hood to fall. There was a new girl there, but she looked rather tomboyish. She had short, dark purple hair, and wore black pants and a pink jacket lined with fur. I didn’t catch much else as I let my hood fall back over my face.

She was still speaking. “Putting up these wanted posters… How dare you!”

“No way…” I heard Elizabeth mumble from behind me before she shouted. “Veronica-nee-sama!!”

Veronica glanced over to Elizabeth, a furrow knitting her brow, before looking to me. She she appeared to be trying to figure out who I was and just how I played into this whole situation. Did she think that I was one of the Seven Deadly Sins, like the holy knight seemed to think?

Seeing Griamore move even closer to Elizabeth and I, I made a decision. They were trying to capture us - or at least Elizabeth - and I couldn’t let that happen. Meliodas would kill me if I did. It was all going to be over soon if I didn’t do anything.

Well, here goes nothing… I grabbed the edge of my cloak and threw it in the air above me head, allowing myself to return to my fairy form and floating a foot above the ground in the process. “Sp-” Before I could even speak a single word, a magic force surrounded me, encapsulating both my body and my cloak within it. “Hey!” I banged my fists on the clear surface, but that only resulted in pain shooting up my arms.

Wall! ” Griamore chanted, holding a hand out towards me. “I will not let you harm Veronica-sama.” He swiftly approached and grabbed Elizabeth by the wrist.

“But… I was just going to…” I sighed. I wasn’t going to be able to break out of this anytime soon. My cloak fell to the bottom of the magic bubble and I plopped down on top of it. My head drooped in misery. That’s it. Meliodas is gonna kill me… Look on the bright side, at least I can’t feel the rain in here. Pushing my hair out of my eyes, I looked up to see that Veronica and Griamore were walking away, Griamore dragging along the slightly-struggling Elizabeth. They weren’t getting any further away from me, though, as the space that I was in was moving along with them. Can’t you try a bit harder to get away, Elizabeth? You look like you want to be captured. I sighed inwardly before laying on my side and curling into my cloak.

Zephyranthes, where are you...?

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Captured

~(Not far from the Boar’s Hat)~

“Whoa, you were right, Zinnia-chan. That didn’t take… Pugo?”

Hawk had appeared from the shadow of a tree, and the tavern was just a little ways up the hill. He had only seen darkness for a moment, and then he was here. But, when he looked back, no one else was there. Except…

Darkness peeled away from the tree’s shadow, taking the form of a fox. As soon as the form was complete, though, it slumped to the ground. Zephyranthes’ eyes were slit in pain, and he was breathing heavily.

“Where is everyone?” Hawk hesitantly approached Zephyr. “... Are you okay?”

Does it look like I’m okay? Zephyr growled. He slowly pushed himself into a standing position and looked around. It appears that I failed to get everyone here… And I reopened my wounds, to boot. This is not good. I didn’t think that my injuries would affect me so much. Suddenly realizing who had asked the question, the fox shade sighed. Why’d she have to send you through first? I could’ve dealt with Elizabeth-san, but you...

“Why do I feel like you just insulted me?” Hawk was unable to hear Zephyr’s words. A suspicious look suddenly crossed the pig’s face. “You separated us on purpose, didn’t you?! So that Elizabeth-chan would have no one to protect her!”

Of course not! Why would I ever do that? Anyways, Zinnia’s there, who could protect Elizabeth far better than you, anyways. Zephyr glanced around again and sniffed the air. We need to get back, or at least I do. I can’t help feeling something bad is going to happen. We need to find Meliodas-sama and Harlequin-sama and tell them that I’m currently unable to bring anyone back here.

“I need to find Meliodas!” Hawk was saying, unaware that his companion was speaking. “He needs to know that you two can’t be trusted…”

What?! Didn’t you hear- Remembering that the pig couldn’t hear him, Zephyr twitched his tail. Tch. Dammit! I’ll have to do it myself. He tried to dive back into the shadows, but pain shot through his body, so he rested his paws on the ground again, only to see that Hawk was in the middle of running back towards the town. The pig was already halfway there, it seemed. It’s been awhile since I’ve actually run anywhere. Zephyr spoke to himself as he stretched each leg in turn and began to limp slightly in his attempt to swiftly follow the path the pig had taken. Wait for me, Zinnia. I’ll find you, and I’ll bring help.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“You seem to be doing well, Ellie. But knowing you, I never doubted you’d be able to take care of yourself.”

“Veronica-nee-sama…”

“Did you really think that’s all I’d say to you, Ellie, you idiot!!” Elizabeth’s sister was standing over the poor girl who was now cringing in the one chair in the center of the room. “Do you have any idea how worried I’ve been since you snuck out by yourself?!”

Just then Griamore suddenly opened the door to check if everything was fine, but he soon returned to his post after being reassured. Elizabeth and Veronica continued to bicker back and forth, but I started to zone out the words, as they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

Currently I was tied up and sitting on the only bed in the room. This wouldn’t have upset me so much had they been more careful with my wings, which were now strapped tightly and painfully to my back. I didn’t dare lie against the wall or bed. I was actually kind of surprised that they didn’t do more to restrain me - I was a fairy after all. Restraining my wings wouldn’t stop me from flying. Not that it mattered…

Even if I did do something, it would probably fail, as was showcased brilliantly last time I tried to help. All I seemed to do was drag Elizabeth and the others down. They were constantly having to look after me and take care of me, and the one time I had tried to repay them, I had failed miserably. Now we were separated from the group, and none of them knew where we were. Heck, not even Hawk knew, as he seemed to have managed to get through the portal that Zephyr had made. And Zephyr… my best friend was gone without a trace, and it was all my fault.

I had just been a burden since we found Elizabeth’s wanted poster - wait, no - ever since Diane found me. And why was there a wanted poster for Elizabeth, anyways? Why were any of them wanted? I should have probably asked that before all of this started, back when I first pointed out the posters at the bar. I doubt that they would’ve told me, though. Was I going to end up as a criminal for this? Scratch that - I'd probably counted as one as soon as I started running earlier.

Well, my life was now officially screwed. I was now going to be lumped in with a group of criminals. Not that my life wasn’t messed up before.

I sighed dejectedly and allowed myself to tilt over and fall onto my side.

“Tell me where the Seven Deadly Sins are! Then we’ll take it from there.”

Elizabeth remained silent to Veronica’s commands and tilted her head away. Sweat dripped down her brow.

“I see how it is. So you’re not going to talk, huh? Then why don’t I ask your friend over here?”

Hm? She’s talking about me? I glanced up, my despair sharpening to annoyance at its interruption. Maybe I shouldn’t have laid down on my side. It wasn’t a very dignified position to speak from, but I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of seeing me sit back up just to speak to her.

The sound of light taps on the floor signalled her approach, and I looked up into her face to see that she was glaring at me. “So, fairy? Where are your companions, the Seven Deadly Sins?”

I contemplated telling her that I’d give her the information if she loosened the painful ropes across my wings, but seeing Elizabeth’s resolve hardened my own. “You really think I’m gonna tell you when Elizabeth-san didn’t? Ha! And I don’t know what you think that the Seven Deadly Sins did to deserve all this, but whatever it was, I’m sure they didn’t do it. They don’t seem like the criminal type.” Well, I could imagine Ban doing something, but never enough to be hunted down like this. I’m sure that my face being pressed against the cushion of the bed didn’t exactly help me look confident, but I didn’t care.

“How dare you show so little respect for Ellie - she is the third princess of this country!” Veronica exclaimed haughtily. Wait, she’s a princess? I guess that makes sense, considering some of the comments that have been made… But that means that Veronica is a princess too! Oops… “And I don’t know how you don’t know what they’ve done, but let me enlighten you: ten years ago they tried to overthrow the kingdom. They killed hundreds of Holy Knights in the process!”

I doubt that. I held my words back and glared back at the princess.

She continued to look at me intently, as though that would somehow make me speak. Eventually she sighed, though. “Hmph. Fine, don’t talk.” She started walking towards the door. “Then I can’t very well let either of you out of here.”

Elizabeth suddenly stood and took an uncertain step towards her sister. “Veronica-nee-sama!”

The elder princess paused for a moment before twisting on her heel and reapproaching Elizabeth. She then lightly placed a necklace around the younger sister’s neck. It appeared to be mainly made up of a chain and a large purple crystal. Her voice softened. “Take this. Father gave it to me to give to you. He says it’s a present to protect you from evil.”

“Is Father safe?!”

“Of course. Now stay here and behave yourself.” Veronica turned back towards the door and exited. “Griamore! Watch over Elizabeth inside, and don’t let that fairy try anything!”

“But I’m supposed to attend to you-”

“I’ll be fine. I’m going to lie down.” The door shut behind her after the holy knight stepped into the room. Soft steps could be heard, slowly getting quieter as they traveled down the hallway outside of the room.

Griamore took up a post near the center of the room, right next to the table. He was in between Elizabeth and I, and was watching out the window as though to keep an eye out for intruders.

Tired of seeing everything sideways, I started fighting with my ropes in an attempt to sit up. Wait… I levitated myself into a sitting position, mentally facepalming.

“Sooo…” I started. Griamore glanced over for a moment, but he must have decided that I wasn’t worth his time and faced the window again. “Elizabeth- sama , huh? You’re a princess? No one ever told me.”

“Oh, yeah…” She scratched her cheek in embarrassment. “I guess that everyone kind of just forgot. B-but you don’t need to be so formal! In fact, you can just call me Elizabeth.” She smiled. “We’re friends, after all, right?”

“I’d like to think so, Elizabeth.” I returned the smile. “I guess that you can call me Zinnia, then.”

“Also, I never got a chance to say it, Zinnia, but earlier when we got captured, that was the first time that I got to see more than just the tips of your wings. They were really pretty! I’ve never seen a fairy’s wings before. Are all fairies’ wings that big?”

I glanced at the foot of the bed, where the cloak that usually hid my wings lay in and untidy wad. “Ummm… thank you. No, they don’t, actually.” What’s with this small talk? Well, I guess that it might take awhile for anyone to find us, so what’s the harm?

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Zephyr's Escapade

Slow down! Zephyr tried desperately to pronounce the sounds. He then sighed and coughed as he slowed to a halt in the middle of the streets of Byron. He had been trying to catch up to Hawk in an attempt to calm the pig down and make him see the sense of searching for Meliodas together, but as soon as he started to chase him, Hawk had only seemed to get more frantic. Zephyranthes was now panting heavily and his head hung. By now, Hawk was long gone.

The people of the town were terrified of the sight of the fox shade. They had never seen anything like him - a fox as black as night, with eyes like alabaster. He cast no shadow, as he himself was shadow. Darkness curled off of the edges of his fur in thin wisps, only to disappear like morning dew from the intensity of the afternoon sun. Children peeked out from behind their guardians, curious, only to be hidden again by worried adults.

Whispers filled the edges of Zephyr’s perception.

“What is that thing?”

“Never seen anything like it…”

“Momma, can I pet it?”

“Shush, child.”

“Do you think it has anything to do with the sighting of the wanted criminal?”

“It’s not doing anything…”

“Should we report this?”

Zephyr pricked his ears, trying to hear past the whispers, or at least to hear something of value. Nothing helpful could be heard though, and his head drooped again. Of course Hawk ran away. He can’t hear me. Perhaps he thought that I wanted to kill him, since he thinks that Zinnia and I can’t be trusted?

“Momma, momma, the fox talked!”

“No it didn’t sweety. Now get back behind me.”

Zephyr twitched his head in the direction of the voice. A small boy now stood in front of a young woman, holding her hand loosely. A few other children had opened their eyes wide, and their mouths were slightly open.

Of course! Children can often hear me since they’re more in-tune with the world than adults. Zephyr took a step towards the child. I’m sorry to bother you, he tried to be polite, even if it was wasted on such a young child, but have you seen a floating boy with red-brown hair and holding a green pillow? He has a blonde boy with him, who’s wearing a white undershirt and pants, and a black vest, with a sword strapped to his back. Knowing that the child wouldn’t understand that the two he was describing weren’t actually young enough to be considered “boys”, he settled on making it as simple as possible. They’re my friends, and it seems that I’ve lost them.

“Eh? A floating boy? We saw one earlier, didn’t we, Momma?” He tugged on the woman’s sleeve before pointing down a side street. “Didn’t he go that way?”

The kid was now very close to Zephyranthes’ face, and his mother wasn’t having any of it. “Alexander, get back! We have no idea what that thing is. It might bite you!”

“But it’s just asking where its friends-”

His mother grabbed his arm and pulled the boy back behind her. She started murmuring in a hushed voice to her son, but Zephyr chose to ignore her.

With only one lead, the fox shade turned in the direction that the young boy had pointed.

“Wait, stop!”

Zephyr was going to see what the boy had shouted about, but before he could even look, a heavy force knocked him down, causing pain to flare up in his side. Yelping in pain, the fox found that an older boy had jabbed at him with a sharp stick. A man beside him appeared to be getting ready to kick Zephyr while he was down. Why?

“Get out of our town, demon!” a woman shouted from somewhere among the crowd.

“Stay away from our children!”

“Don’t let it touch you! Who knows what it’ll do.”

He screwed his eyes shut as his body was wracked with pain. Normally, Zephyr would’ve just fled into a shadow, but his wounds were preventing that. It would only intensify the pain a hundred fold. All that the fox could do was hold his breath and wait for the beating to end.

Suddenly the shouting and commotion increased, but the kicks stopped coming. Zephyranthes didn’t dare open his eyes, though. That is, until he felt many smaller hands pushing and pulling on him.

“Come on !” It was the voice of the boy from before. “Hurry up!” The voices of other children grunted in agreement.

This caused Zephyr to finally open his eyes. Smoke and dust filled the air to the point that he could barely make out the figures of the people around him. Through the haze, though, Zephyr could see about four children of varying ages were trying to tug his limp body down a nearby alley. Stumbling to his paws, the black fox limped in the direction that they were fleeing, speeding up their escape.

~ ~ ~ ~

“Alexander! Alexander, where are you?”

“That damn demon! We should have killed it while we had the chance.”

“Where did it take the children?!”

Great, now they think that I’ve kidnapped their children, too… Zephyr growled. He was lying on his side, breathing shallowly, as one of the four children that had rescued him peeked out from behind the pile of bricks that made up a wall of their hideout in order to see what the adults were doing. By the time the small group had gotten to their safe zone, the dust had settled, and the men and women in the street were frantically searching for the missing children.

“Shhhh, they’ll hear you.” The oldest of the group, a girl that appeared to be about twelve years old and had red pigtails whispered. She appeared to be the leader of the little gang, with the boy Alexander as her second-in-command. She was wearing a fluffy red dress and brown boots, had blue-gray eyes, and had freckles spattered across her face. She also appeared to be the only of the children wearing nicer clothing with minimal dirt and grime. The daughter of a noble perhaps? Maybe that was how she got her position in this group.

“Momma didn’t seem to be able to hear it, though…” That was Alexander, of course, who only seemed to be a couple of years younger than the ginger girl. He had hair almost as blond as Meliodas’s, though it was about half the length. His eyes were dark brown, almost to the point of being black. While the earth tone clothes he wore were nicer, they were definitely on the tattered side. A concerned look etched his features as he addressed the older girl. “Sophie, why were the grown ups being so mean?”

“Yeah, Sophie-nee, why were they so mean?” The tear-filled question came from the smallest member of the group - a brunette girl that looked to be less than half Sophie’s age. Her pudgy cheeks made her look even younger than she was, and her deep blue eyes perfectly matched the final boy (who only appeared to be a year or two older than her) of the group, making Zephyr suspect them to be siblings, even if the boy’s hair was more on the red side. Her clothes were baggy and torn, as though passed on from older family members, and she wore worn shoes that were far too large for her feet. Zephyr did notice, though, that the other boy was barefoot. Perhaps he had given his shoes to his sister?

It's because humans tend to fear what they do not know. Especially when their hearts and minds are closed to the world around them. Zephyr pushed himself away from the rubbish heap that he had laid against. Thank you for saving me, but I must go now. My friend may be in trouble.

“The floating boy?” Alexander tilted his head slightly.

No. There is another. The floating boy and his companion will be able to help me save my friend.

“We can help you save your friend!” the unnamed boy exclaimed vehemently before turning to his little sister. “Right, Zoey?”

“Uh huh! I wanna help Sammy-nii-chan help Fox-chan.” She smiled up at her older sibling, admiration clear in her eyes.

Suddenly, there was a loud crashing sound nearby, causing all of the kids to cringe and duck behind rubble. Not wanting to get the children involved, Zephyr took this moment to slip away, deeper into the alley. In doing so, he passed by another younger boy, but this one seemed a bit older and was covered in dust and ash. His eyes widened in surprise at seeing the fox shade, but Zephyr passed the boy too quickly for him to react.

“Hey, where are you going?!” Sophie’s voice drifted on the air as Zephyr swerved down a side passageway. Pain was radiating throughout his body from wounds both old and new, and each step made it worse. He wouldn’t be surprised if he was leaving a trail of bloody paw prints, but Zephyr didn’t look back to check. Light was shining ahead of Zephyr, signalling that the narrow pathway opened up to a wider street ahead.

Meliodas-sama! Harlequin-sama! He didn’t care anymore if anyone heard him, and tried to project his call as far as he could. Screwing his eyes shut to shield himself from the blinding light, Zephyr burst into the open street.

And ran right into someone.

Wha-? He stumbled sideways, but quickly righted himself. Before him stood Meliodas himself, Harlequin floating a little off the ground to his side. Surprise flashed across the dragon sin’s face, and Harlequin seemed just as startled.

And Hawk stood behind them with a look of smug triumph.


Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Zephyr's Escapade Part 2

Zephyr pushed the sight of the smug Hawk out of his mind and focused on the Blonde that loomed over him. Meliodas-sama! We need to find Zinnia and Elizabeth-san - I’ve lost them and can’t get back to them! He twisted to look at the fairy that hovered off the ground with a worried look. Harlequin-sama, please- Suddenly, the fox shade tensed before gasping and spluttering as he coughed up blood.

“That’s what you get for abandoning Elizabeth-chan!” Hawk announced from his place behind his companions.

Meliodas started towards Zephyr, but had only taken half a step before Zephyr’s attention was snatched elsewhere.

“Stop!”

Alexander’s voice resounded as he and the rest of the young gang burst out of the mouth of the alley around Zephyr. They ran in front of the fox, standing in a line to form a barrier between Zephyranthes and the Sins before stretching out their arms at their sides as though it was going to stop the others’ approach. Their stances held proof as to their determination, and their faces were set. Even little Zoey looked serious, though the look in her eyes wavered and watered a little. Zephyr took note of the fact that the older, dusty boy from deeper in the alley was in the wall as well.

“Fox-kun didn’t do anything wrong! He just wants to find his friends.” At the head of the formation, Sophie spoke for the children. “He needs to save his friend. Please let him go!”

“Please!” The rest of the children recited.

Sophie-chan… Zephyr coughed again. These are the ones I was talking about - the people I was looking for.

Sophie paused and inspected the trio, and she seemed satisfied when she noticed Harlequin floating a little bit. “Oh, sorry. Okay everyone, put your arms down.”

“Wait, can you all hear that thing?!” Hawk seemed offended to be the only one left out.

“I can’t.” The new boy, whose raven-black hair was pale with dust, was scratching his head in embarrassment, though his face held traces of a smile. “Everyone else can, though.”

“What’s this, Zephyr-chan? ” Meliodas tilted his head slightly as he took in the sight of the children and the fox’s injured state. There was an air of urgency about him, but his curiosity had gotten the better of him.

These children saved me from their parents earlier. We don’t have time for that, though, Meliodas-sama. As I was saying, we need to-

“Rescue Elizabeth-sama and Zinnia-chan,” Harlequin interrupted. “Yeah, Pig-kun filled us in.” He squinted in suspicion. “He also said that you’ve betrayed us - that you left Elizabeth-sama behind so that you could get away.”

Zephyr almost snorted, but worry at the thought of the Fairy King himself not trusting him prevented that. You really think that I would have done that? If that was the plan, wouldn’t I have taken Zinnia with me, rather than that paranoid thing ? Even if the pig couldn’t hear it, Zephyr had to return the favor of being called a ‘thing’. If you won’t trust me as an individual, please, at least trust the fact that back when fox shades were common, we were known as loyal servants of the fairy clan. I’ll explain why I was unable to bring them to safety later. Right now, we must hurry and locate Elizabeth-san and Zinnia.

“Oh, Oh! We can help find them!” The smallest girl of the group - Zoey - volunteered, rising up on her tiptoes and excitedly waving her arm in the air. Zephyr had almost forgotten the group was there, even though until now, Zoey had been telling her brother what a good job they had done helping. “I wanna help Fox-chan!”

Zephyr didn’t want the kids to get into any more trouble than they would already be in, so he was about to refuse, until Harlequin responded instead.

“I guess that having some helping hands couldn’t hurt… We don’t have any leads, after all.” He was holding his chin in thought as he mumbled the words. “What do you think, Captain?”

“Hmmm… Okay!” He nodded once. Zephyr couldn’t help but think that the tavern owner had only quickly agreed because he wanted to end the conversation and keep looking for Elizabeth (and Zinnia as well, Zephyr hoped). Meliodas walked over to a nearby wall that was covered in posters before scanning it and ripping down a familiar picture. He handed it to Sophie, who stood in the front of the group. “This is one of girls we’re looking for.”

All of the children leaned over their leader’s shoulder to get a look at the sketch. Sophie, being the most well off and probably the only one of them that could read, opened her eyes wide when she saw the large word “Wanted” scrawled across the top of the paper. The older boy that had said he couldn’t hear Zephyr also stared at the paper in surprise. Neither of them said anything, though.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In the end, they had made Zephyr stay hidden in the children’s hideout in the alley while everyone else searched. The kids were worried about him, as there had been a trail of blood running from their hideout, which is what they’d used to follow him earlier. Zephyr knew that Hawk was glad the fox stayed behind, but it was for a different reason than that of the children. He just hoped that, if they did this out of worry, Meliodas’ and Harlequin’s worries leaned more towards the reasoning of the children’s than the reasoning that Hawk had.

Tch. Even the pig was searching. Zephyr felt so useless. Ever since he’d gotten injured, all he’d done was lay around helplessly. While it hadn’t really been long since he got hit with that blast, it’d been so long since he’d last gotten hurt, he’d forgotten what it was like. Why did fox shades have to be so fragile ? The whole reason he’d come with this time was so that he could help in an emergency, but when one had come up, he’d managed to screw it up. The group was separated, their mission to gather information had been halted, and Zinnia and Elizabeth were in harm’s way, and it was all his fault.

Zinnia, where are you…? The fox shade projected his voice at the level of a murmur. He knew that no one could hear him, though.

Zephyranthes, where are you…?” Zephyr’s eyes pricked at the voice that was as quiet as a gentle breeze. Though it sounded like the fairy’s voice, it felt more like his own thought projections.

Zinnia? He stood up quickly and looked down the alleyway in both directions, only for his head to droop. There was no one there. Of course there wasn’t; why would she be here? But… that voice was definitely hers. Why did I hear her? He shook his head and filed the question away for later. This is my only chance; I have to go now . Zephyr lifted his snout in the air and started sniffing, focusing on the feeling of the voice he had just heard.

Quiet. Distant.

At first, all that happened was Zephyr being hit with a wave of the scent of his own blood.

Familiar. Soft.

He started to sense something.

Desperate. Searching.

Feeling the shadows and the air around him, Zephyr closed his eyes and focused his complete attention on the feeling.

Alone.

There! The fox’s focus almost snapped, but he directed it back. He had it. He could feel the connection in the air. All of life was filled with connections, but the small interaction between Zephyr and Zinnia had strengthened the connection between them, allowing him to grasp it, as only a fox shade could.

Hmph, fox shades have multiple abilities, but a single hit and we’re down. No wonder we’re thought to be extinct. He almost scoffed, but stopped himself, fearful it would break the weak connection.

He peered out of the exit of the alley that he had originally come from, where the adults had attacked him. This was the direction that the connection was leading. Luckily, no one was around. There were a few quiet voices coming from side streets, but this direction was abandoned. Perhaps the parents were looking for the still-missing children. I hope they will stop blaming me for their children running off; I know I heard one of them saying that I took them. Zephyr stepped into the light of the open road, only to immediately slink into the shadows along the edges of the path. He didn’t want anyone coming after him again. He pushed himself as deep into the darkness as he could without actually entering the shadows before continuing.

Focusing only on following the connection and on staying in the shadows and out of sight, the fox wound his way through the town. He wove through streets, gardens, and dirty alleyways. He almost ran into walls a few times, and once he even accidentally entered the open door of someone’s house before scurrying away before anyone could notice.

The one bad thing about following a connection like he was: it was a straight path. It cut through anything in between as though nothing was there. If he was in a maze, it would be completely useless. As it was, Zephyr kept running into dead-end alleys and other obstacles.

Soon enough, though, Zephyranthes felt the connection strengthen drastically right before he stopped himself from running face-first into the door of an inn. He paused and shook his head, in doing so shaking off the grip of his connection to Zinnia. She’s here.

Zephyr almost called out to her, but stopped. He had no idea who or what was inside. Someone else might hear. And, even if they didn’t, if Zinnia reacted and enemies were around, it would give up his presence. That would certainly make it harder to stage a rescue.

In his current state, what, with being unable to even enter shadows, Zephyr knew that he had to find the others. He couldn’t do this alone. Glancing up at the sign that hung a ways above his head, Zephyranthes took note of the name of the inn: Ceramic Tear.

He also looked to the sky, wondering how long it had taken him to get here. The sun was setting. Thinking back, he realized that he’d been limping the whole way, which had probably slowed his pace gravely.

Don’t worry, Zinnia, Elizabeth-san. I’ll get help. We’ll save you. The fox shade pushed away from the inn, placing his dark paws on the stone bathed in the scarlet light of twilight. Even if I can’t do anything else right, I can at least get Meliodas.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Rescue

Sighing, I closed my eyes, only to open them immediately. My pointed ears twitched slightly in annoyance at the fly that buzzed around the room as it made a tight lap around my head.

I could swear that I had felt Zephyr’s presence for a moment, but the sensation had faded with the setting sun.

I hope they find us soon. I don’t know what’s going to be done with me if I get brought in, but whatever it is, it can’t be good. And it’ll be even worse for Elizabeth, since she’s the one they’re actually looking for.

“Hey Zinnia?” The princess looked up at me as she spoke. Her hair, as always, covered one of her eyes, making me slightly curious as to why she wore it that way. It couldn’t be very practical - how could she do anything with half of her field of vision obscured?

“Hm?”

“I was just wondering; why does your other form look so similar to me? We’d never met before Diane found you, so I don’t see how you could have looked like that. And what made you chose that form?”

“Hmmm…” Pondering the question, I wiggled a little in an attempt to get more comfortable in the tight ropes wrapped around my torso. “I guess that you could say that I once knew someone who looked just like you - or at least similar enough that when I took her form, you mistook it for yours. You might say that she was like an older sister to me. But, one day, something happened. I knew that I’d most likely never see her again, so, in her memory, I decided to make my human form look like her. Oh, and it was also because I just thought that she was really pretty!” I added, smiling, causing Elizabeth to lightly blush and smile at the compliment. I then quieted my voice to just a murmur, glancing towards the floorboards. “You can’t imagine how it felt, seeing you, who look just like she did, for the first time. It was like seeing the ghost of a loved one who was lost long ago.”

That’s right - even if this Elizabeth looked just like the one from my youth, they’re different people. There was very little doubt in my mind that Meliodas was the same person, but I knew that the Elizabeth I’d known was almost certainly gone. The one in front of me was a sixteen year old princess, nothing more. She couldn’t even hear Zephyranthes, as the Elizabeth I used to know could.

“Oh…” The other girl’s blush faded. “I’m so sorry…”

“It’s fine! In fact, It’s been so long since I’ve seen her, I’m sure I would’ve forgotten what she looked like, had I not kept that form. And, while it was weird seeing you, it was almost like a reunion of sorts.” I looked back up again, forcing a smile. “Oh, I guess I should stop using that human form now, so I don’t get mistaken as you. We don’t want some random fairy being mistaken as the princess. Perhaps I should start thinking of what I want to look like.”

“Oh, no! Of course you can keep using it! I couldn’t take that away from you.” Elizabeth hurriedly told me. “That would be stealing a memento of someone precious to you…”

“Thank you.” My smile became genuine for a moment before adding a few words quietly to myself. “But it seems like everything that I have left is a memento…”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tap… tap… tap…

I tilted my head slightly, trying to hear the noise better. What’s that? Are they here; did they find us? Sitting back up and straightening my head, I sighed. Normally, I’d be worried that sighing would draw the holy knight’s attention, but I’d been sighing enough that he completely ignored it now. The princes sat across the room from me, looking towards the ground with a muted expression.

I looked up just in time to see the door open just a crack. What happened next happened in a flash. If I’d blinked, I would have missed it.

Meliodas and Harlequin stood in the now-open doorway. Luckily for therm, Griamore was facing out the window on the other side of the room. Harlequin twitched his finger, causing the small teacup that sat on the edge of the table to slip and tip off the surface. As Griamore turned to catch it, Meliodas calmly made his way into the room, right up to the edge of the table. This made him stand face-to-face with the holy knight, who was now crouching near the floor in his attempt to stop the cup from hitting the ground. Upon catching sight of the dragon sin, Griamore grabbed the handle of the sword that was sheathed at his hip. Before he could unsheath it, though, the blonde reached out and grabbed the sword’s pommel, stopping it. Meliodas jumped up behind the larger man, chopping at the back of his neck with the side of his hand.

That was the last thing I could catch before the two started swinging wildly at each other. The blows were so fast that they were just a blur to my eyes. Before I knew it, Meliodas had jabbed Griamore’s throat, knocking him unconscious. He now held the holy knight above him with one hand, and caught the cup that had been knocked over just a second ago with his other hand before it hit the floor.

“Meliodas-sama?” Sometime in the middle of the fight, Elizabeth had looked up.

“I knew you guys would come.” I gave the group a slight smile. “Before we go, could someone please untie me?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Zephyranthes had not been with the two sins, sadly. I had hoped he would be, but Harlequin told me that Zephyr and Hawk had been sent back to the tavern. And there were some kids with them, apparently. He didn’t tell me why he had been sent back, though. Zephyr should have easily been able to stay with them through the shadows.

Harlequin and I took a different route from Meliodas and Elizabeth, just in case we were being followed. While the other pair’s path took them straight to the Boar’s Hat, ours took us on more of a detour, winding through the hills and a little bit of forest outside of town before going back to the tavern.

So that meant that it was just me and Harlequin. Just me and the Fairy King…

Apparently I wasn’t the only one to realize that we were alone, because the other fairy suddenly stopped in front of me, making me almost fly face-first into him. He turned towards me, his face a mere few inches from mine, causing me to back up nervously.

His face was serious when he spoke. “Now that your fox friend isn’t here to interrupt, would you mind answering some questions?”

I froze. No no no no no… This couldn’t be happening. I was bad at being alone in things. I always needed support, espescially when it came to answering questions. But, if Harlequin was going to start questioning me, that meant that I didn’t have any right now.

“Q-questions?” I tightened my arms around my wadded up cloak. I hadn’t had time to put it on between being freed from the ropes and making a hasty escape. Though the moonlight made it hard to see, a small amount of sweat dripped down my brow.

“Yes, questions.” The fairy King furrowed his brow as he squinted at me through the darkness.

“I-I don’t see what questions you have… My name is Zinnia. I’m a fairy that has lived outside the Fairy King’s Forest since before you were born. Zephyr - Zephyranthes - is a fox shade that has been living with me since he was a pup. What else do you need to know?” I was now nearly curled in on myself as I curled around my cloak in the air. My face was practically smothered by the fabric, causing my next words to be quiet and muffled, which wasn’t helped by the fact that they were murmured anyways. “Why don’t you trust me…?”

Harlequin paused at this and his expression softened slightly. “I want to trust you. That’s why I ask all the questions that I do.”

“But I only met you guys a few days ago, and you all want me to immediately tell you my life’s story… And yet, you expect me to be content with not knowing any of yours…”

The other fairy sighed. “I guess I can understand why you’re so hesitant. I went ten years without showing my fairy form to the rest of the sins, after all. How about a compromise?” He straightened slightly from his usually slouched form. “One question. I’ll ask you one question, and, if you answer it, I won’t ask any more.”

I took a moment to think it over before answering. It would definitely be nice to get Harlequin off my back on this matter. Him being the Fairy King made him my king as well, and I wanted my king to trust me - no, not just trust, I realized, I wanted him to like me. But if he knew the entirety of my past, I’m not sure if that would be possible.

“Okay, I guess one question won’t hurt. What do you want to ask me?”

He seemed to think for a moment before asking me. “Why were you gone from the Fairy King’s Forest for so long?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: No Return

“Oh…” was all that I could say for a moment. I guess that I shouldn’t have been surprised by the question. It was a good one. It was also pretty much asking why I left in the first place. “Ummm, you sure you don’t want to ask a different one…?”

Harlequin tapped his foot, but it didn’t have a very strong effect, seeing as how he was floating. “You said you’d answer one question. That’s my question. Why were you gone from the Fairy King’s Forest for so long?”

I sighed, looking to the sky. “Ummm… Well…” It’s not too hard of a question. Come on, deep breathes. Now how best to word it without... “Y-you know how fairies are born from flowers and trees and plants and stuff?”

“Of course. All fairies know that. Why? What does it have to do with this?” Harlequin slightly tilted his head.

“Well, you see, I wasn’t.”

“...”

“...”

“What?” He looked utterly confused. “That can’t be true. It’s not possible...”

My voice was tight as I responded. “It is possible - it just doesn’t happen very often. My mother’s name was Amaryllis. She died when I was born, and I was raised by my Onii-chan.” I looked to the ground. The breeze was causing the trees around us to creak, and a cold wind blew some of my hair into my face. “Fairies are normally born fully grown - minus the wings, of course. But I was born as a baby, and once I reached maturity, I stopped growing... But you didn’t ask about my childhood, so I won’t go any deeper into that; I’ll just explain what pertains to why I left and didn’t come back.

“Being different - along with causing the death of my mother, caused many fairies to treat me differently. In the end, I had to leave because of my differences. I was exiled just for being different. The m-man that I thought to be my best friend at the time left me this to remember him by.”

I started to stutter before I pulled down the edge of my shirt a little ways, causing Harlequin to blush slightly at the action, before revealing what I wanted to show him. A large, jagged scar marred the skin just above my heart. If I had shown my back, it would be revealed that there was a matching mark there as well.

Harlequin sucked in his breath at the sight, and seemed like he was about to say something, but I continued my story after covering the scar. “Onii-chan was on my side, though. He got me out of there, sending Zephyr with me. He told me to not return to the forest until he came to get me.” This was when I glanced back up to look the Fairy King in the eyes. “H-he has yet to bring me home...”

“How long has it been?” He looked worried.

“I answered your one question. Y-you said there wouldn’t be any more.” The truth was that I was barely containing my tears. I hadn’t spoken to anyone about this, not even Zephyr. While the fox knew all of this, we had never actually spoken about it. It felt like I was ripping myself apart, leaving my heart bare for all to see.

“B-but!” He looked into my eyes, probably seeing the tears that were gathering there. “Oh, well... I guess you’re right. I won’t ask any more questions. But I hope to find out the answers to the questions I have left at some point!”

“Okay!” I agreed quickly.

We had slowly started to make our way back to the tavern when I paused and spoke again, breaking the momentary silence. “Hey, Harlequin-sama?”

He paused and turned to look back at me. “Yeah?”

“I know this might sound stupid, but it’s been bugging me for awhile...”

“What is it?”

I looked to the sky in embarrassment. “What’s the name of your spirit spear?”

He froze for a second, slightly confused, then he smiled and chuckled a little. “Chastiefol.” He held out his hand to his side, making the large green pillow float just past it. “ Chastiefol First Form: Chastiefol!

The pillow was briefly encased in light before suddenly transforming into a long, thin spear. While it was quite simple compared to the spirit spear that I knew, I still found it amazing in its own right, and I knew that it held more power than it appeared to.

But the transformation had surprised me and made me flinch, in turn causing my wings to flutter open. Until now, they had been laying down along my back, folded in such a way as to take up very little space and make them appear smaller. Each one was as large as a smaller fairy in their own right. They were a little hard to see in this light, though, since they were mostly translucent.

Harlequin’s eyes widened, and he gasped. Before he could say anything, though, fireworks shot up from the town we had been in, illuminating my wings. Colorful splotches danced across the forest floor as light shone through the thin, brightly colored patches on my wings.

“Aren’t those…?” Harlequin trailed off, but I finished for him.

“-wings almost the size of a fairy king’s wings? Yeah. They don’t do much for me, though.” My face had turned pink, and I was slightly flustered from my disobedient wings. “They just get in the way, and, though they grew in after I left the forest, they made any other fairies that I happened to meet in my travels uncomfortable around me. I’d much rather have smaller wings, or no wings at all - like you. At least you don’t have to wear a cloak all the time to hide that you’re a fairy when you go into town.”

“But! But I’d give that away any day to have wings - even tiny ones! I’d do anything to have wings like yours. Why do you always hide them…? They’re beautiful…”

“Th-thank you…” I stuttered, blushing an even darker shade than before. After I had taken a moment to calm down, I continued. “I thought I said no more questions? Well, I guess I can answer this one.” I held out my hand in front of me and started counting the reasons on my fingers. “Like I said, they get in the way. My wings make maneuvering in almost any environment near impossible. They’re so colorful, they’d make me a giant target if I ever got into a fight. Oh, and the humans agree with you on how beautiful they are, so some of them would stop at nothing to hunt me down and rip them off. You didn’t see how easily I got caught back there; I’d have a hard time fighting off anyone hunting me for my wings”

“Oh… Well, I guess that’s true. Those are all good points.” Harlequin turned back, as though to continue towards our destination, before glancing back at me and taking in the sight of my still-open wings. “But you’re with us now. And we’re often outside in the open. There’s no reason to hide them anymore.” He gave a tiny grin. “You should keep them out more! They’re wings you should be proud of, Zinnia-san.” He then quickly turned his head away and flew towards the tavern, which was now visible in the distance.

I had been about to fold my wings back, but stopped at his words. He’s right; there’s not much reason to hide my wings anymore. Especially now that both Harlequin and Elizabeth have seen them. I stretched my wings out to the fullest, reveling in the feel of the night air against them.

Fireworks were still going off in the distance, the bursts of light and sound quiet compared to the beating of my heart, as I hurried to catch up to the other fairy. Only one thing went through my mind as we approached the Boar’s Hat: The Fairy King called my wings beautiful.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Return

The door was barely closed behind us when I heard a welcome voice.

Zinnia, you’re safe! Zephyr struggled to stand from where he was laying on the other side of the room. Strangely enough, the fox had been surrounded by a small herd of children, and had even been conversing with them.

“Whoa, not so fast, Zephyr-kun.” Meliodas, who had been sitting at the table nearest to Zephyr, stood up and knocked the fox shade back onto the ground, where the latter let out a pained cry from the action. “You shouldn’t try to move around too much with those wounds. What took you two so long, King, Zinnia-chan?” He had turned to face Harlequin and I when he asked this. Then he noticed my wings, which were now only slightly folded so as to not take up too much room in the smaller space. “Woah, nice wings, Zinnia-chan! I had been wondering what they looked like.”

Before either Harlequin or I could respond to the captain’s query, the smallest of the children spoke up. “Wow, a fairy! Look, Sammy-nii-chan, look! It’s a fairy!” She was tugging on the edge of a slightly older boy’s shirt.

All of the young children were now staring at me, eyes wide.

Oh, I should probably introduce you guys, Zephyr projected from his spot on the floor before gesturing towards the children. Zinnia, these kids saved me from their parents and some other adults, who were trying to kill me, thinking I was a demon or something. From oldest to youngest we have Zack-kun, Sophie-chan, Alexander-kun, Sammy-kun, and Zoey-chan. He pointed to each one with his snout as he said their names, starting with the tallest one, who had jet-black hair. Children, this fairy is Zinnia - the friend that I was looking for. He paused for a moment before adding, Can someone please tell Zack-kun that last part? He can’t hear me.

Zoey, in her excitement, turned to the eldest boy and repeated the fox shade’s words. All he did in response was nod his head and thank the small brunette girl. The little girl then turned back to me. “Zinnia-onee-san, can I touch your wings? Please?! I’ve never seen a real live fairy before!”

Before I could say that no, I did not want anyone touching my wings, Harlequin interjected. “Hey! I’m a fairy too!”

The second smallest child, Sammy, quietly spoke. “Where are your wings, then?”

“Ooo, I wouldn’t ask that if I were you,” Meliodas told the young boy. “That’s a sore spot for him.”

For Harlequin’s part, he just turned bright red, looked like he was about to say something, and instead turned around and rushed back outside. I heard Diane ask the other fairy what was wrong, but I didn’t hear the response.

There was silence in the room for a moment. Elizabeth, who had been silently sitting at the table that Meliodas had gotten up from, glanced out the nearest window, an uncomprehending look plastered on her face. Ban’s snores emanated from his room upstairs. Hawk, who had been standing near the bottom of the stairs, shot a sulky glare from Zephyr, to me, and back.

“Please, Onee-san?” Zoey was unfazed by the silence that she had just broken. “Can I please feel your wings?”

I sighed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Luckily, the children weren’t there for much longer. After a few moments of the youngest’s pleading, Sophie and Alexander had joined in. Sammy had looked a little awkward, as though he knew that I didn’t want the kids to ask me this, but didn’t have the authority to stop them. Zack had just been pretending like the whole thing wasn’t happening. Eventually, Meliodas had told the group that their parents must be worried, and that they should be getting home. In the end, Meliodas entrusted Zack, who appeared to be about fifteen or sixteen, with the younger kids’ safety and sent them on their way.

“Shouldn’t one of us have gone with them?” Elizabeth had asked Meliodas soon after they had left. “Perhaps you or King-sama?”

“They’ll be fine,” the blonde had told her. “If King or I had gone, that holy knight from earlier might have seen us and attacked. They’re safer on their own.”

The princess had agreed, bringing silence back to the room.

Which brought us to where we were now.

“Are those children gone?” Harlequin’s voice echoed through the room as the front door cracked open.

“Yeah. It’s safe to come in now.” I was just as relieved at their departure as he was. While fairy wings weren’t as fragile as the insect wings that they looked like, I still didn’t want a bunch of kids trying to grab them.

The other fairy floated into the room, closing the door behind him, before sighing in relief. He slumped forward onto his sacred treasure before making his way over to the table where Elizabeth and Meliodas sat. I, meanwhile, was sitting on the floor next to Zephyr, examining his wounds.

“How did all of this happen, Zephyr?” I murmured to the fox shade. There were numerous scratches and cuts all along his body, along with countless bruises and a few puncture wounds. Even his paws were scraped and blood was scabbing over the paw pads.

A good bit of it’s from before, but was just reopened today, he explained. But many of the bruises are new. Oh, and the spots that look like I was stabbed are new too. He huffed a sigh. I don’t know what’s with people these days; they’ll attack anything that’s new or that they just don’t know. When I went to look for you after we got separated, the humans that saw me attacked me and started beating me. One of them even started jabbing me with a sharpened stick or something. I didn’t quite catch a clear view of it. That’s actually when those kids saved me. They’re not so bad if you look past them being annoying children, I guess. And my paws are just badly scraped from running along the rough cobblestone streets after getting used to the softer ground of the wilderness.

“Speaking of being separated: what happened back there? That’s never happened before. It was really terrifying being stuck in darkness like that.” I heard a slight shifting, and looked over to see Elizabeth tighten her arms over her chest and nod slightly.

“Yeah,” Meliodas added. “You did say that you’d tell us why you weren’t able to bring them here.”

Harlequin nodded in agreement.

Zephyranthes let out a reluctant breath. Well, it’s so uncommon that I get injured, I kinda forgot something. Though it would probably be hard for someone else to tell, to me it was obvious that the fox shade was embarrassed. It was easy, however, for everyone to see that he was shameful as he hung his head. Being inside of shadows tends to eat at wounds. Since my wounds were okay in the beginning, I didn’t feel the effects. That changed, however, when I opened up that portal. As soon as someone walked through it, a ripple ran through the darkness, reopening my injuries. The pain that the shadows caused was excruciating, and I wasn’t able to keep the portal open long enough for Elizabeth-san and Zinnia to get through it. I guess that the entrance was still slightly open because whoever went through last wasn’t fully through it when the portal closed. He looked up from staring shamefully at his paws and glanced between Elizabeth and I. I am so, so sorry for putting you both through that. Could someone please convey that to Elizabeth-san?

I glanced behind me to the other girl. “Zephyr says that he’s really sorry that we got stuck in the darkness. Hawk-chan going through the portal caused his wounds to reopen and he wasn’t able to get us here through the pain.”

“Oh…” She looked to the fox. “It’s okay, Zephyr-chan. I hadn’t realized that you were so hurt. I don’t think that I’m going to be going through any portals anytime soon, though.” She shuddered.

Well, I won’t be going into shadows or opening portals soon anyways.

“You forgive him that easily?” Hawk finally stepped out from his place in the corner of the room. He glared accusingly at Zephyr. “He caused all of this trouble! If he hadn’t agreed to take us here, Elizabeth-chan and Zinnia-chan would never have been caught. And shouldn’t he have known that he wasn’t able to go through with that portal?”

“What do you have against Zephyr, Hawk-chan?” I really didn’t understand. I knew that he didn’t trust me, as well, but he had seemed to like me fine when we just met. Was the pig just that against secrets?

Hawk turned on me. “And you . You’re just as bad! All you do is get into trouble. You couldn’t protect Elizabeth-chan when you were alone with her, and you were the one that suggested that we come back here in the first place!” He huffed out a breath of air. “You don’t belong here!” I flinched. “Neither of you do.”

~ ~ ~

“You don’t belong here!” The voice of my best friend echoed in my ears. “I don’t see how someone like you could have ever believed you could.”

Tears streamed from my eyes. I gasped in a breath, opening my mouth to explain. If I could just explain, then perhaps-

Terrible, excruciating pain pierced my chest. A shriek escaped my lips, and I looked down to see a blade extruding from my body. Hadn’t it pierced my heart? It looked like it was. My hands were wet with a warm liquid. Blood? Blood was all over the front of me, soaking into my clothes, warming my skin. My vision was darkening around the edges and sounds were starting to blur.

“What’s going on?!” My Onii-chan’s voice sounded so far away. I think I heard my friend say something, but everything was so distant. The last thing I heard was Onii-chan’s voice right next to my ear. “Don’t worry; I’ll take care of her.”

Then everything was black.

~ ~ ~

I bolted up, off the ground and into the air. I could feel pressure behind my eyes from recalling the memory. My throat was tight. I looked around the room, into everyone’s faces. Was no one going to defend me from Hawk?

When my gaze finally landed on Harlequin, his eyes widened. Realization dawned on his features. “Wait-”

But it was too late. I was out the door, flying as fast as I could away from the tavern and the town, towards the forest. I could hear them calling after me. Diane, who had been sitting outside, watching the conversation through the windows, stood as though to stop me, but I was faster. Soon, I was alone in the forest, cheeks stained with tears.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Entering Vaizel

I was curled up on my bed in the attic, silently sobbing to myself. I knew that I shouldn’t have let Hawk’s words get to me, but they did. It didn’t help the fact that no one had spoken up for me at that moment. I somewhat understood Zephyr not, as I think he had just given up on ever speaking to the pig. But Harlequin, Meliodas, and Elizabeth? Even Diane, who had been watching through the window, hadn’t said anything!

Eventually, Harlequin and Diane had come looking for me. Zephyranthes had wanted to, but Meliodas had stopped him, with Elizabeth recommending that he remain resting. The fairy and giant had taken a moment to calm me down. Oh, and Harlequin had told me that he had told the whole crew what I’d told him earlier before heading out to find me. I guess it kind of made since to tell them after me running off like that, seemingly randomly. But it didn’t stop the feeling of betrayal.

I heard a knock at the door.

“Zinnia-chan?” The door cracked open, revealing Meliodas. I had almost been expecting Harlequin, perhaps coming to seek out forgiveness, but apparently not.

“What?” I sat up and perched on the edge of the bed, rubbing my arm across my reddened face to dry it of tears. “If this is about what Harlequin-sama told you guys, I don’t want to talk about it.”

The shorter man wandered into the room, glancing momentarily at Zephyr, who was now wrapped thoroughly in bandages and sleeping deeply at the foot of my bed. He ignored my comment and folded his arms. “What’s this about you getting stabbed? I’d never heard about it.”

Huh. This wasn’t the tone he normally used. Had he stopped pretending that we had just met? Guess I’ll drop the charade for now, too. “Of course you hadn’t. I doubt that Onii-chan went around announcing it to everyone after I left.”

“And why do you still call him ‘Onii-chan’? You know he wasn’t really your brother, right?”

“Of course I know that. He just taught me to call him that, and it stuck.” I sighed in frustration. “Look, can we not talk about this now? Why did you really come in here?”

“Let me see your scar first.” Meliodas was determined.

“Fine. But you better not do anything like you do to Elizabeth.” I pulled the edge of my shirt down again. I was really glad that the mark wasn’t any lower so that I didn’t have to reveal anything else.

“Of course I wouldn’t do that.” He was now looking intently at the mark on my chest. He held one hand to his chin, as though deep in thought. Meliodas then nodded. “Okay, that’s enough. So what I came in here for was to tell you that we’ve arrived in the next town: Vaizel. There appears to be a fighting festival going on here, and I suspect that the prize is Diane’s sacred treasure - Gideon. Ban, King, and I are going to enter so that we can win Gideon. Do you want to come?”

I looked away. “I thought that Zephyr and I just brought trouble…”

“Don’t take anything that Hawk says seriously.” Meliodas smiled. “Elizabeth gets into way more trouble than you. You just tend to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Well, why didn’t anyone say anything the other night?” I was starting to tear up again at the memory.

“What, that?” He chuckled. “You didn’t even give anyone time to say anything. As soon as the words were out of his mouth you were out the door.”

“R-really? It felt like I had given you guys plenty of time!” I sobbed a little. Was it true? It had felt like an eternity, what with me suddenly remembering what my old friend had done to me.

“I guess that it can feel like that sometimes. Look, you two are trying your best to help, but you haven’t really been with us all that long. Don’t expect instant results, especially with having been as out of shape as you were.” He paused and looked me up and down for a moment, confusion entering his gaze. “Actually, how did you get so much better so soon?”

“No clue… I thought it was because I was a fairy or something . Or that Ban-san put something weird in my food, though that idea was more of a joke…” I trailed off.

“Huh. Perhaps we could ask King at some point about that fairy theory. Anyways,” he went on. “Do you want to go to the festival or not? If you do, Zephyr-kun has to stay here.”

“Well, I don’t really think so. I might like to go into town, but I’m not sure about the fighting festival. Hmm... maybe I’ll drop by to see the finals.” I’d actually love to see about some sewing supplies to fix my old dress. But I didn’t have any money…

“Okay. Here.” As though reading my thoughts, Meliodas pulled a bag of coins seemingly out of thin air. “Use this if you want to buy anything in town. It’s not much, but it’s something. Think of it as an apology for how Hawk treated you.” He grinned mischievously. “I told him that it’s from selling Ban’s leftovers.”

I giggled slightly. “Serves him right. Thank you so much, Meliodas-sama.”

“And drop the ‘-sama’. It feels weird coming from you.” The blonde stood up and turned towards the door.

“Meliodas- san ?” I tried, screwing up my face at the feeling of using the common honorific with him.

“Eh, close enough.” He was walking through the door, but stopped in the doorway. Tilting his head to look back at me, he threw some final words over his shoulder. “I think...” But then he shook his head and continued on his way.

“What? What were you going to say?!”

But he was already gone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Ow!” Someone had stepped on my wingtip, which was just barely poking out of the edge of the cloak that I once again donned to better traverse the festival.

I turned to try to see who had done it, but the crowd was so thick that it could have been anyone. Countless people wandered the cobbled streets in search of deals at the shops that had popped up to celebrate the festival. Noises, colors, and scents battered my senses as I attempted to make my way through the crowd. Dust filled the air as it was kicked up from people’s shoes.

I tightened my cloak around me, drawing my wingtips closer to my body, before looking around at the shops that lined the road. Sewing supplies, sewing supplies, sewing supplies… I just couldn’t find a store that seemed to sell them. Oh, a general store. Maybe that has something. Clutching the coin bag that Meliodas had given me, I pushed my way through the throng towards the smaller building.

The crowds thinned as I approached the store, eventually opening up so that I could see that almost nobody was even looking at the building. That made sense, seeing as how it seemed more permanent than the other shops, signifying that it was here year-round, unlike the vendors that were selling out of the tents that lined the streets. I let out a sigh of relief when I no longer felt bodies surrounding mine.

When I pushed open the wooden door to the store, a little bell tinkled above my head. “Welcome! Welcome. What can I do for you?” A lanky older man with graying hair greeted from behind the counter to my right. He quickly hopped down from the stool he had been sitting on and hurried to my side.

“Yeah… Ummm, do you perhaps sell sewing supplies here...?” I trailed off under my breath as I glanced around the shop. There was no one in here other than the clerk and I. It was much larger on the inside from what it had looked like from outside - there were even stairs leading up to a second story. Shelves lined the walls and there were many different aisles filled with all kinds of odds and ends, including a small grocery section. Perhaps the muted color of the building had detracted from it, making it seem smaller in the brighter colors and bustle of activity from the festival.

“Why, of course, little lady! Right this way.” He led me down one of the rows of items, past rolls of fabrics, and showed me a small section of needles, threads, pins, and a couple of patches. “Is your mother teaching you how to sew?”

“Wh-what? No.” I shook my head before examining the contents of the sewing section. “I just need to fix my dress. It’s falling apart.”

“Oh, but surely-” The bell from the front door tinkled again, signalling the arrival of another customer. “I’m sorry, young miss. I have to go and check on this other customer. Flag me down if you need me!” He then turned and swiftly made his way back down the aisle he had led me down.

“Pfft, ‘young miss.’ How young does he think I am?” There wasn’t much to look through, so I grabbed a random spool of white thread and a couple of needles, along with some of the cheap, excess scraps of fabric in similar colors to my dress. It’s not gonna be beautiful, but it shouldn’t fall apart. After a moment of indecision, I also grabbed a long, deep green ribbon.

“What can I do for you, sir?” The shopkeeper’s cheary voice came from the front of the store. “Is there anything in particular you’re looking for?”

“Books.” The voice that responded was very monotone.

Huh? That voice sounds somehow familiar. But where from?

“I’m so sorry, sir. That’s actually one of the few things that we don’t have here. You should be able to find plenty of vendors selling books for the festival, though.”

“Oh,” was the only response.

Curiosity dictating my actions, I tried to hurry towards the entrance, but by the time I’d reached the front of the store, the other customer was gone, this sound of the door’s bell having gone off a moment before I exited the aisle. I tried to spot the person out the windows, but it was impossible to tell who had left the store.

“Did you find what you were looking for, little miss?” The shopkeeper was making his way back to behind the front counter.

“Umm, yeah.” I approached and set my supplies on the counter.

Who was that, and why did they sound familiar?

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: The Fighting Festival

After dropping off my new sewing supplies in my room in the Boar’s Hat, I made my way towards the arena.

I had been momentarily surprised to find the other girls gone. But, after a moment of thought, I remembered that they had said something about going to look for ingredients before I’d originally left. Also, I’d found that Zephyr had woken up during my absence. He had been determined to try to go with me. After explaining that he wouldn’t be able to hide in my shadow and reminding the fox of what happened the last time he went out in broad daylight, Zephyr had grudgingly agreed to remain behind.

I managed to get to the ring just in time to see the start of Harlequin’s fight.

“What’s going on?” I murmured as I moved into place beside Meliodas, who was clutching Harlequin’s Chastiefol. “Who’s winning?”

The dragon sin glanced at me before looking back to the fighters, his face half-covered by green pillow. “Just watch. You should see King fight without his sacred treasure - it’s incredible.”

“I’ve never seen King fight without a weapon before!” came a familiar voice from behind me.

“Diane-sama!” The voice turned out to belong to the brunette giantess. But, for some reason, she was now human-sized, and was also wearing Elizabeth’s clothes.

“Hey, Zinnia-chan! Surprised?” Her eyes crinkled in a smile as she tilted her head.

I only had time to give a slight nod before Meliodas continued what he was saying. “It will only be my second time seeing him fight without a weapon.” He chuckled slightly before adding, “This fight won’t last long.”

“Ummm, okay.” I turned back to the ring, taking in the sight of Harlequin and his opponent. I gasped. “But his opponent is an old man! What if Harlequin-sama kills him?” Meliodas didn’t respond, which confused me slightly, but I just continued to watch the fight, which was just about to start.

“Let the fight begin!”

Having already settled on the ground, Harlequin began running across the ring. I had expected something graceful, as the Fairy King’s movements normally were, but this was not at all what I was expecting.

It was so lame.

The fairy jogged across the ground, exaggerating each movement, each stride of the leg, each swing of the arm. Even his expression was lame. Right as Harlequin reached his short, older opponent, he puffed out his cheeks as he slowly swung a fist at the geezer, widely missing.

“He’s pathetically weak!!” Meliodas burst out from beside me, smiling maniacally.

At the same time, Harlequin exclaimed, “He dodged that?!” as his opponent hiccuped.

Is the old man drunk?

The small man brought up his fist. Just before the fairy could defend himself, the old man weakly hit him on the head.

Harlequin put a hand to his head, squinting his eyes. “He’s… He’s strong!!”

Meliodas sweatdropped. Diane nearly collapsed in exasperation. Behind her, I could hear Ban choke. I hadn’t fully realized that he was there, but I wasn’t surprised. Surely Hawk was in the crowd somewhere too. In fact, I was sure I heard his voice coming from somewhere, selling ale.

“Har har! Ready to through in the towel?!” The old man calling, hopping back from Harlequin, who also jumped away.

“This barely qualifies as a fight!!” Many people shouted from the crowd. Many members of the audience were booing, and some were even throwing food and whatever else they could get their hands on.

“He even lost against a cat who stole his food,” Meliodas murmured from beside me.

Suddenly, Harlequin’s gaze became serious. He reached out a hand towards his opponent, and I sensed a bit of fairy magic stir in the air. Is this finally going to get exciting?

Nope.

The old man shivered, then jumped forwards and struck suddenly, blasting Harlequin out of the ring towards me and the rest of the group. He skidded across the ground, landing with a soft “ thud ” in the fluffy form of his Chastiefol, which didn’t even cause Meliodas, who was holding the pillow, to shift.

“Oof!” The fairy’s muffled voice came from the fabric.

“Old Fart’s out of the ring!” The announcer’s voice came again. This time I noticed that the announcer was super tiny, and most of him was covered by a helmet and some cloth. He seemed odd, but then I realized what he said.

“‘Old Fart’?” I questioned quietly.

“Lame~” Ban mumbled. He glanced over, noting my confusion. A sharp-toothed smirk edged his lips. “It’s the name I gave him for the tournament. Like it~?”

I looked away, but I couldn’t stop the amused grin that tugged on my cheeks. “Maybe…”

“Cain wins!” The helmeted figure shouted.

“It… It’s not fair. All I did was irritate his rheumatism with ‘Disaster.’” Harlequin whimpered. He was sunken into Chastiefol, with Meliodas leaning over him.

“Next is round one for Group D! Meliodaf versus Baan!!”

“Welp. guess that’s me~” Ban stuck his hands in his pockets and sauntered onto the stage.

“Meliodaf and Baan? Those are so obvious!” I murmured furiously to Diane next to me. “How does no one notice?!”

The giantess shrugged, unknowing. Nearby, I heard Meliodas telling the announcer that his sword was just for show so that he could bring it in the ring.

“Hey, why are you here, anyway? And what happened? Why are you so small and where’s Elizabeth?” I lowered my voice at the last part, scanning the crowd for anyone who might be a holy knight. One could never be too safe, and being wary had always kept me safe.

Diane grinned, scratching the back of her head. “There was an accident while looking for food. Oh, Elizabeth shrunk, too!” She pushed aside the ribbon at her neck, revealing the princess to be nestled in between her breasts. Elizabeth, who was quite lacking in clothes, blushed slightly at being revealed.

“Huh.” I leaned forwards slightly and lower my voice even further. “You okay, Elizabeth?”

The tiny girl nodded, and a high-pitched “yes” could barely be heard.

Diane looked over my head, noticing her comrades entering the ring. “Cap… I mean, Meliodaf! Fight!!” she cheered loudly. My ears rang from the noise of it and I cringed.

Harlequin glanced at her, frowning, and he also turned to the contenders. “Ba-Baan!! If you let him beat you, I’m telling Elaine!!”

“You should cheer, too, Elizabeth. No one will notice you.” Diane told her. “Hey, Zinnia-chan, who will you cheer for?”

“Ummmm, maybe Meliodas-san…?” I shrugged. I wasn’t particularly cheering on one or the other. I’d never seen Ban fight, but judging from what I knew of Meliodas’ strength, I guessed that Ban was surely powerful as well. This would most probably be a bloodbath.

She smiled, but paused, as though realizing something, and her gaze grew curious. “Hey-”

“Let the fight… begin!!” the announcer interrupted.

Instead of continuing, Diane shook her head and turned to watch Meliodas - who had given Harlequin back his Chastiefol - and Ban.

What was she going to say? I thought before I, too, turned my attention to the men.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

I had been right. That had most certainly been a bloodbath. Though no one had said anything, I suspected that Ban was immortal. How else could he fight toe-to-toe with Meliodas? The blonde had looked like he was going to die, too, at times. They had even split the giant boulder that the arena was on in half! Who even does that kind of stuff? The movements of the two sins had been so quick, it had been difficult for my eyes to keep track of them. I couldn’t even imagine what it would have looked like for a human. And I’d gotten to see some of Ban’s powers that I hadn’t known about before - “ Physical Hunt ”. That strength stealing sure didn’t seem fair.

But there had been a moment that had sent a chill down my spine. Guessing by Diane and Harlequin’s conversation after the match, they probably saw it too. Right when it looked like Ban was going to win, Meliodas’ eyes darkened, and a dark mark appeared on his forehead. During that split second, he had beaten Ban. And not just beaten him - he had sent him flying through the air, holes all through Ban’s body.

Due to my previous knowledge of Meliodas, I knew what this power was, but judging by the way the fairy and giant reacted, I assumed that they didn’t. It was probably better to keep quiet about it for now. If their captain hadn’t already told them, then there was probably a good reason behind it. Guess I’m not the only one keeping secrets.

After Ban and Meliodas’ match, Diane fought a guy named Howzer, who Harlequin claimed to be a holy knight. Howzer kept spouting off inappropriate things during the match - seemingly unintentionally - making me cringe almost every time he spoke. Diane ended up winning, worsening the crack in the ground with her final move.

Then there was Meliodas’ next match, in which he fought the old man Harlequin had lost to: Cain. Apparently, Cain had thought that Meliodas was Meliodas’ son, and he knew Meliodas from some past experience to do with some place known as Danafall. According to Cain, Meliodas destroyed the kingdom of Danafall. But Meliodas said that he was trying to protect them. A lot more was said, but it was a long conversation with lots of fire and punches and exclamations. I won’t get into it. In the end, Cain accepted that Meliodas was Meliodas and that he didn’t betray Danafall, and he conceded the match.

That meant that the final was between Diane and Meliodas. I was looking forward to the outcome of that fight, but it was just not to be.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Festival's Interruption

“Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The final match of Vaizel’s Fighting Festival!! This year we had an incredible lineup of fighters, and now we’ll have the decisive battle to see who stands at the very top!!”

My ears rang from the cheers that erupted after the announcer’s words. I attempted to cover my ears, but that didn’t help in the slightest, so I gave it up.

“Oh.”

“That’s us.”

Diane and Meliodas spoke at once. Meliodas gave Diane a thumbs up before continuing. “The sacred treasure’s as good as ours already, so let’s get this final round over with fast.”

Diane stretched up to climb onto the raised stone that made up the ring. “My heart’s ready to be KO’d by you, Captain.” She smiled. “Just kidding!” She paused before fully entering the stage. “Oh! Almost forgot! I need someone to take care of Elizabeth for me.” The giantess stepped back off the platform.

“Oh, I could-”

“Leave her to me.” Hawk cut me off. I hadn’t even noticed he was there - he must have approached during the cheering. “And I’ll put something on her. Give me that ribbon, and Elizabeth, lift your arms.”

The shrunken girl did as she was told, and the pig made a few swift movements, wrapping the ribbon around her. Within second, the princess was wearing what appeared to be a beautiful little strapless dress with a bow in the back. She was then placed on Hawk’s snout. “Thank you, Hawk-chan!” Elizabeth called.

“Wow! What’s with that random skill?” Harlequin asked from beside me.

“Woah… That’s so pretty!” I smiled. “It looks so good on you, Elizabeth! I wish you could make a full sized version for me, Hawk-chan.”

Hawk looked at me for a second, then looked away, but I caught his smile before he hid it.

“Now for the long-awaited bout! Meliodaf versus Matrona!!” The announcer called. I had to say, his weirdly high-pitched voice really grated on my nerves.

At this point, the two sins were completely ragged. Their clothes were in shreds, and scratches covered their bodies - particularly Meliodas’.

“Hey Harlequin-sama, what do you think will happen?” I asked the fairy next to me. “I think that either they’ll end it quickly with barely hitting each other just to get it over with. Either that, or it’ll be an all-out fight like between Meliodas and Ban-san.”

“That doesn’t leave much for me to choose from, does it?” He frowned. “It’ll probably be the first of those two, though - a quick match.”

“Ehhh~ I don’t know about that~” Ban, on the other side of Harlequin, contributed.

“What makes you think that?” I looked back to the contenders, who were talking about what they should do, when three girls on the other side of Ban started cheering for Meliodas. They were acting like they knew him and were saying some… interesting… things. Things that were definitely ticking Diane off.

“Gotta make the climax exciting~” Ban smiled grandly, revealing his fangs. He then stepped over to the girls and started pouring coins into their hands from a pouch that looked suspiciously like the one Hawk had been using to collect payment for ale earlier. “That was some great acting, girls.”

“Let the fight begin!”

“Cheater!!!” Within the split second of the bout starting, Diane’s exclamation rang through the air, and she had punched Meliodas’ head through the ground, further worsening the cracked state of the boulder.

“Is this stage… going to hold until the fight is over?” Harlequin murmured worriedly, and I couldn’t help but to silently agree with the question.

Meanwhile, Ban just laughed. “Now this is how a fight should be~!” After a bit of struggling, the dragon sin managed to pull his head free of the earth, and Ban continued. “You really made Diane mad now, so you better take her seriously! Or you’re dead~”

“Hey! Shh!!” The other fairy hissed.

Meliodas looked our way, giving Ban an unamused glare. He said something - presumably to himself - but the crowd was so loud that it was impossible to make out almost anything that was said on stage. Just as he looked back at his opponent, the shrunken giant swung a fist at him, causing him to just barely dodge it.

“Whoa, looks like they’re getting serious now,” I said as the two started exchanging blows back and forth. Soon the entire arena was rumbling and shaking from the blows of the fight.

“So who do you think’s going to win?” Harlequin asked no one in particular.

“I don’t care who,” Hawk responded, a dazed, shrunken Elizabeth atop him, “I just want to get out of here alive!”

“I think Meliodas-san will win,” was my response. I hadn’t even looked away from the fight to answer, as I might miss something if I did.

“Wasn’t that your guess with his fight with Ban?”

“Well I was right, wasn’t I?” I smiled at the Fairy King’s question.

“Hey! You bet against me?” Ban exclaimed playfully.

I focused my attention on the arena, pretending not to hear the fox sin’s remark.

Not that it would have been very hard to not focus on it; Meliodas had almost been knocked out of the ring, right in front of us. Many more punches were through, with Meliodas jumping at Diane, but being hit back to the ground. After a few moments, something strange began to happen: Diane seemed to grow. Only a little bit, but it was enough to make here power grow stronger. Well, at first it was only a little bit, but she gradually grew to the point to where she was nearly twice the height of what she had been a moment ago, and and the clothes she was wearing - Elizabeth clothes - started to rip to shreds from the strain, to where only a small portion of them remained.

“Well, there goes your outfit, Elizabeth,” I told the princess. “Though I guess that Meliodas-san probably has a spare or two lying around, considering that he had the one for me.”

Apparently Meliodas said something, because Diane’s shout of “SHUT UUUUP!” could easily be heard over the crowd. “I’ve had enough! I’ll never forgive you!!” She punched him into the ground again. Only this time, she must have forced him into an open space, as a moment later, Meliodas popped his head out of the hole again and said something to her. She tried to strike him again, but he ducked under the ground, reappearing a little ways away.

“What’s this?! Meliodaf’s come up with a clever scheme! He’s moving around the stage using the cracks in the ground to keep Matrona guessing!” The announcer called as Meliodas appeared and disappeared from various holes in the ground, just narrowly missing Diane’s descending fist or swinging leg each time.

Glancing around, I realized that the mood of the crowd had changed. Many people were frowning, and shouts of “Boooo!” echoed around the arena. Men - mostly the larger, burly, ones were raising their fists in the air and shouting complaints.

“Hey! Knock it off with the comedy routine!”

“Yeah! Fight more seriously!”

I could practically feel the spittle flying from the enraged patrons’ words.

Meliodas and Diane froze suddenly, perking up.

“Wow, the crowd really isn’t liking this, is it…” I sweatdropped. I thought it was pretty funny, personally. Terrifying, but funny.

“Sheesh! What a noisy drove of pigs!” Hawk’s voice was audible over the crowd. “They can’t help it if it’s their nature to joke around all the time!”

“H… Hawk-chan!” Elizabeth gasped from her perch on top of the pig.

“By the way, Elizabeth, is it me, or have you grown bigger?” Hawk added in a calmer tone.

“I was actually just thinking the same thing,” I put in.

“N-now that you mention it!” Elizabeth looked at her hands, trying to judge their size, probably.

“Fine. The comedy routine’s over.” Meliodas’ serious tone snapped us out of our conversation. I looked back to the stage to find him standing completely still, eyes cold.

“M-Meliodas-sama…” Elizabeth’s voice came from beside me, but I couldn’t bother to look her way. What was going on?

“What a bunch of idiots,” the dragon sin continued. “If you’d enjoyed the act a bit more, you could’ve lived that much longer. Onto the main event. We’re taking Vaizel and everything it’s got for ourselves.”

The crowd was quiet. Murmurs rumbled through the area.

“What’s that kid saying?”

“Is he pulling our leg?”

And louder, from the announcer: “Meliodaf’s acting strange!”

But Meliodas was insistent. “Take a good look at this mark, you scum!” He indicated the dragon tattoo on his shoulder, which had been revealed from his sleeve tearing off during the fights. “My true identity is the Captain of the Seven Deadly Sins. The Dragon Sin of Wrath, Meliodas!”

One man spoke up from the crowd. He looked terrified, but he spoke his denial. “Ha… ha ha… What’s he talking about?! He doesn’t look anything like the wanted posters! The kid’s just messing with us! R… right, guys?”

But others argued.

“I’ve seen that mark on other wanted posters.”

“And that superhuman fight… means he really could be…”

“Then… Oh! Look at Matrona’s thigh!”

“That’s the Serpent Sin of Envy’s sign!”

Suddenly Ban stepped onto the stage, making his way to his captains side. He was shortly followed by Harlequin, who was in his human form.

“B-Ban-san? Harlequin-sama? What are you guys doing? Guys?” I called after them. I tried not to be too loud, though, as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. But they didn’t respond.

“Hey! That Baan guy’s got the same scar as the guy on the wanted posters!”

“And look! That mark on his side…”

“And… And Old Fart! No mistake about it! He’s just like his wanted poster!”

“W- where did he come from?!”

Meliodas finally spoke again once the group was gathered. “We’ve taken a liking to this town. I’m feeling generous, so I’ll give you a chance. You have one minute to get out of Vaizel. Because if you don’t, the Seven Deadly Sins are going to massacre you all!”

All four of the sins upon the stage stood together facing the crowd. They looked absolutely serious, bloodlust filling their expressions (though I couldn’t take Harlequin’s seriously while he was in his human form. It just looked ridiculous!).

“A… all four of them… What happened all of a sudden?” Elizabeth murmured beside me.

“Whoa, whoa! What’s gotten into them?!” Hawk echoed Elizabeth’s confusion.

“I-I don’t know.” I was just as confused as they were. “They don’t seem like they would…”

I froze. There was something coming. Something… slightly familiar? Whatever it was, it was coming fast - very fast. What was it? Was this why the group was acting so strange? They must have sensed it quite a while before me.

“Get the hell out of here!!” the dragon sin shouted at the top of his lungs, his wrath showing in every bit of how he held himself.

People were screaming and shouting, but had yet to flee. One voice could be heard above the others. “Hey! What’s that in the sky?!”

The words were immediately followed by an explosion in the distance. A giant ball of fire was falling toward the arena and everyone on it. Before I could even react in any way, Meliodas jumped up towards the flames.

Full Counter! ” He sliced the fireball, which was as large as, if not larger than, the boulder that the arena stood on, with the tiny broken blade that was his sword. Amazingly, the giant attack disappeared in an instant.

“Whoa…” I murmured. I had never seen him do that before, even during the fights of the festival.

The blonde landed lightly among his comrades, who were all glaring in the direction that the attack had come from. “Crap. They’re already here.”

The crowd on the rock began cheering, but not for Meliodas. “Holy Knights! They’ve come to save us!!”

I looked up, following the gazes of the crowd, to see two flying creatures floating in the air, shaped kind of like very toothy manta rays. But that wasn’t what they were looking at. Atop the two creatures stood three people. And one of those people I recognized as the half-dead lady from Necropolis.

“Well, crap,” I quietly repeated Meliodas’ sentiment before adding to myself, “I don’t know if I can fight…”

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: Lone Uncertainty

“Meliodas and the others realized the Holy Knights were coming,” Elizabeth murmured, barely audible above the rabble. “That’s why they put on that act, to get everyone away…”

I nodded in agreement. I had sensed the approach as well, but only moments before their arrival. Now, I was frozen in place, terror running through my veins. What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?...

“That equipment… is on par with Sacred Treasures.”

“Guila’s probably incomparably stronger than when we met in the Capital of the Dead. Especially since there’s three of them. Let’s first split up!”

I had only barely caught the conversation between the sins before they disappeared, splitting into different directions. Their departure was marked with another explosion, this one directed at the town near the base of the boulder. My ears rang from the sound, and I quickly covered my ears, focusing only on regaining my composure. By the time I focused back on my surroundings, I was alone. All the civilians had left the area. Even Hawk and Elizabeth were gone.

Truthfully, it was the first time I had been truly alone in many, many years. If it wasn’t for the distant screaming of townspeople and the sounds of ongoing fights, I might have thought that I was the only person left in the world. Wait, now that I think about it, have I ever actually been alone?

Another explosion - this one shaking the ground on which I stood - pulled me out of my revery. Not the time for daydreaming!

“Well, if I can’t fight,” I spoke to myself, rising into the air, “then perhaps I could at least help evacuate people.”

Soon, I was standing in the rubble-filled streets of Vaizel. Many colorful tents still stood, but just as many were ripped, torn, or buried under fallen chunks of stone and brick. Almost everyone was already gone, but a few panicked voices sounded throughout the area. A little ways down the road, where more people were swiftly making their way away from the town, one of the contenders from the festival was helping people to evacuate. I remembered that his name was Howzer, and that Harlequin had said that he was a Holy Knight.

So three Holy Knights appear and attack, not caring if civilians are hit, and another is helping the people? What’s going on?

Howzer caught a child that had tripped, setting him back on his feet. “Gotcha!” His voice travelled to me, loud and clear. “Listen everyone! Get away from the town, and don’t look back!” Another explosion landed near him, making him jump away from where he had been standing. “Damn those Seven Deadly Sins. They’ve made a real mess of things now!”

“What?” I couldn’t help myself from saying the words aloud. “They aren’t the ones causing trouble, though. The Holy Knights are!” Is he trying to make the people hate Meliodas and them more, or does he really not realize?

But he didn’t hear me. Instead, Howzer was helping a couple of the civilians that were struggling. Once he got some of the other people to help them, he turned back towards the direction of where the fighting festival had been - towards me. He dashed towards me, and I tensed and prepared myself mentally to have to fight, but apparently that wasn’t what he had in mind.

As he approached, his eyes momentarily locked onto me, and he called out. “Hey, you! Don’t you see that everyone is leaving? The Seven Deadly Sins decided to attack the town. You should get going.” He passed me, and by the time that I turned to see where he was going, he was already a good ways down the street, turning a corner.

Letting out the breath I had been holding, I realized something. “Oh, I guess that most of them wouldn’t recognize me. Only that Griamore guy would…” I’ll just have to hope he doesn’t show up. Then I noted, “Hmmm, if he already got everyone out of here, I guess there’s no point in my plan to help with evacuations… Now what?”

As if in answer, another explosion went off in the distance, away from where I had come from. It was followed by yet more explosions and shouts. That must be where most of the fighting is going on. Do I go towards the fighting or away from it… If I went towards it, I’d just get in the way, so away it is! Decision made, I turned back towards the boulder on which the tournament had been held. The path I took followed in Howzer’s footsteps, but I was certain that this would be better than going towards the explosions. Surely most, if not all, of the Sins were over there anyway; there’d be no point in my being over there. Right?

“It’s gone! Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone!” Diane’s voice sounded from up ahead as I approached my destination. “My Sacred Treasure Gideon is gone! Maybe the Holy Knights hid it somewhere… Aaaargh! What do I do?!”

“That’s the giant hammer that was here, right?” I asked when I came into sight of her. At this point she was even larger than she had been before the group separated, and she towered over me. Though she wasn’t nearly back to full height yet.

She whipped around to look at me, her face relaxing a degree upon recognizing me, only for another voice to make itself heard from behind some fallen rocks.

“Diane, the Seven Deadly Sins’ Serpent Sin of Envy… That’s as far as you go! Don’t try anything funny!”

Diane turned again so quickly that I was surprised she didn’t get whiplash, and called out a name. “Howzer?!”

For that’s who it was that stood before us. Howzer, in full armor that only left his head bare, stood there, glaring at Diane. In his left hand he held a lance that had a corkscrew pattern going down the length of it. “You’re after your Sacred Treasure, aren’t you?”

“You mean Gideon?” The giantess’s face was innocently curious before an accusatory note made its way into her voice and she pointed at the Holy Knight. “Ah! So you hid my Sacred Treasure, didn’t you?!”

“How would I know?!” He seemed slightly confused.

“I mean,” I finally spoke from my place behind Diane. “Wouldn’t you know whether or not you were the one to hide it? Though I highly doubt you did, since I just saw you in town evacuating civilians…” My voice trailed off, uncertain.

“Y-you!” Howzer exclaimed. “I thought I told you to get out of here! It’s not safe for a kid to be here. And why are you here with one of the Seven Deadly Sins?”

“But I’m not a kid…”

He shook his head, as though dismissing me, before turning back to Diane. “For the murder of the Chief of the Holy Knights and plotting to overthrow the kingdom ten years ago, I am putting you under arrest as a Holy Knight!”

“But I didn’t do any of those things,” Diane said with a slight tilt to her head.

“L...Liar!” Howzer seemed flustered as he denied her words.

“I doubt she’s lying, though.” I also doubted that my words were of any use, but I spoke anyway. “While the Seven Deadly Sins may do some crazy things, I don’t think they’d betray anyone. I mean really! Meliodas-san just stopped those other Holy Knights from destroying a good portion of Vaizel and killing all of the people attending the fighting festival. Not to mention that Diane-sama saved my life just a few days ago. And all those explosions destroying the town are coming from one of the Holy Knights! I think her name was Guila…?”

Diane glanced at me, seeming a little surprised as my outburst. Though a smile showed her gratitude, along with her agreement with my words.

“You would defend traitors to the kingdom…” But his face looked uncertain. “And Guila… She certainly is a Holy Knight, but she’d with  Hendrickson’s faction… I didn’t know anything of her coming here… In… In any case!”

A muffled noise sounded from behind, drawing Diane’s attention, and a man’s weak voice could be heard. “My legs…”

Ignoring Howzer, Diane turned and rushed to the origin of the voice. A man - obviously a civilian that had been caught in the crossfire - was pinned under a large pile of fallen rubble. His legs weren’t even visible under the remains of the house on top of him. “Oh… Oh, no! He must’ve gotten caught in Guila’s explosions!” She started pulling at the chunks of house, quickly unburrying them man with her giant strength. “Just hold on!”

“H-Hey! I told you not to move!” Howzer complained, taking a few steps towards the collapsed building.

“You want her to just leave the man crushed under rubble?!” I couldn’t believe that he would want that. He just didn’t seem like someone who would think that way. But when I had turned my attention to the Holy Knight, I noticed that there was another man in armor approaching behind him. Another Holy Knight? This one was wearing red armor that completely hid the shape of his body, making him look almost like some weird kind of shapeless bug or something. He held what kind of looked like to rounded clubs that rattled slightly with every step he took. Musical instruments?

“Well…” Howzer ground his teeth together.

“What’cha waiting for?” the bug-looking knight asked when he was right behind Howzer. “If you can’t do it, how ‘bout I do?” And when Howzer turned to look at him, he added, “Howdy.”

“Marmas! You came too?”

This guy seems like a weirdo…

“I’m supervisin’ the New Generation. Though… Without their Sacred Treasures, even the Seven Deadly Sins ain’t no enemy to us,” Marmas said before starting to shake the instruments he held. He started to shake them up and down, dancing a little around them as they rattled, and singing seemingly nonsensical sounds.

Quickly, Diane urgently called out to the one closest to her. “Hey, Howzer! Take this man-”

Suddenly it was like an invisible force was pushing her to the ground. She was using all of her strength just to keep her body upright while being crouched over the civilian.

“Wha-?” I started, only for the Holy Knight Marmas to speak over me.

Gravity X10!!!” he chanted.

“What… is this? My body’s so heavy…!!” She had to shout to get the words out.

I guess I didn’t get away from the fighting, after all! The words passed through my head as soon as I could register what was happening.

The man that Diane was holding started bending over under the weight of his own body, making unnerving cracking noises.

Realizing what needed to be done, Diane threw the man to Howzer. “Hold onto him, Howzer!!”

As soon as the Holy Knight had caught him, the earth broke open under the giantess, causing her to fall deep, deep into a dark chasm that now yawned in front of me. Her shouting lasted for a moment, before it, too, was swallowed by the darkness.

“Di-Diane-sama?!” I murmured, only to be overshadowed by Howzer’s louder wail.

“DIANE!!” He stood at the edge of the precipice, looking into the the gaping hole with a horrified expression on his face.

“If- if only Zephyr wasn’t hurt. If he were here, he could’ve caught her in those shadows and brought her back…” I spoke to myself.

“Why’d anyone wanna save one of the Seven Deadly Sins?” Marmas asked, suspicion glinting in his eyes. He held his weapons slightly higher than where they had been resting at his sides.

“Y-you!” Anger bubbled up in me, causing me to shout. “You!! Didn’t you see that she was saving an innocent bystander?! Of course I’d want to save her! She’s one of the good guys, no matter what anyone else says. And even if she wasn’t, Diane is my friend!” It’s now or never… I grabbed my emerald cloak from my shoulders, throwing it into the air. In doing so, my wings perked up, catching the light of day and throwing colors everywhere. “ Dyrnwyn First Form: Dyrnwyn!

My cloak - the one that I always carried - was suddenly engulfed in light. A second later, the light dissipated, revealing a spear floating in the air. The shaft was the same dark green as it had been as a cloak, but it was tipped with a gold-colored spearhead. But instead of being flat as Harlequin’s Chastiefol had been, Dyrnwyn had three edges that all came together to form a single point. A matching blade, only much smaller, adorned the bottom of the spear. And under the three sided spear head were what appeared to be three outward-curving bladed crescents in a matching gold that attached the spearhead to the shaft. Or, it looked like there should have been three, as they were each under one of the three edges of the spearhead, but there were only two crescents - one of the spaces was empty. Other than said crescents, there was only a thin, gold beam that connected the spearhead to the shaft.

It’s been a long time since Dyrnwyn has been out of its cloak form. I just hope I still know how to use it - if I ever really did...

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: Scuffle

“You have a Sacred Treasure?!” Howzer exclaimed in surprise as I lifted Dyrnwyn slightly higher into the air.

“If that’s what you want to call it, then yes.” Not caring about Howzer, I turned my attention to Marmas. I could feel rage seething through my blood - rage at the fact that anyone would stop someone from saving people, that anyone would hurt one of my friends. But under that rage swelled worry and fear. Even if I had a spirit spear, I was nowhere near as strong as a member of the Seven Deadly Sins. And if these people had the strength to fight the Sins, did I have the strength to fight them ?

Pushing my worries down, I flicked my fingers, causing my spear to zoom towards the Holy Knight. Chink! The blade bounced off of his full-body armor, only leaving behind a miniscule scratch to show my efforts.

Gee, what a great idea that was! I scolded myself, thoughts dripping with sarcasm. Throw the spear at someone covered in plate mail - and without aiming. That’s sure to do something! It’ll definitely be able to get through the armor!

Of course, the poorly-executed attack only made Marmas annoyed. Or perhaps angry as well? It could be hard to tell someone’s emotions when you couldn’t see their face.

“I was gonna let ya go,” the knight murmured angrily, lifting the instruments that he held. “But now I ain’t feelin’ so generous.”

Feeling my fear return in a wave, I did the first thing that came to mind. Flicking my wrist in a circular motion, I chanted, “Dyrnwyn Fourth Form: Increase!

The spear shattered into around fifty smaller blades, each resembling the crescents that had adorned the spear. With another motion from me, they were swiftly sent flying around the Holy Knight. Within a second, his armor was covered in scratches and chips, but no damage had been done to the man himself.

I hadn’t really noticed what Marmas had been doing through the flurry of blades I had sent at him, but it was soon made obvious to me. Within the blink of an eye, I was on the ground. I couldn’t even lift my head, I felt so heavy. Judging by the clanking sound coming from the Holy Knight’s direction, I’d guess that Dyrnwyn’s increased form had followed me in my fall.

Gravity X10!!” he repeated his words from earlier. “You’ll haveta be a lot stronger than that if ya wanna stand a chance against us Holy Knights!” Then his eyes squinted as he laughed out loud.

From my place pressed against the ground, the only thing I could see was Howzer, along with the sky behind him. His expression looked torn, and he took half a step towards me. He looked back towards Marmas. “She’s just a girl…”

“A fairy girl!” the bug-armored man practically spat the words. “Could be older than the both of us combined, all we know. And she’s sided with the Seven Deadly Sins, at that. Ya saw what she tried to do.”

Blocking out the conversation, I focused on my fallen weapon. I put all my strength into lifting my hand a hair’s breadth off the ground, and flicked my wrist in a miniscule motion. I managed to breath the words, “Dyrnwyn Second Form: Guardian.

I felt the magic react, and knew that the once-cloak would now be in the form of a giant green hawk - about the size of a small human. Of course, that wasn’t my only indicator. There was a gasp from both Holy Knights, and I could see Howzer jump back, grasping the lance at his side. Marmas must have dropped his increased gravity out of surprise, as I could now lift my body from its cramped spot on the ground.

Jumping up, I sent Dyrnwyn after Marmas again - but now in its hawk form, it clawed and pecked at him, aiming for the eye-holes and armor joints.

He backed away, attempting to make use of his weapons again, but Dyrnwyn’s large form and swift attacks kept him from completing the needed movements. “What’cha waitin’ for?!” he called to Howzer. “Help me! Get her! Do somethin’ !”

Howzer, whose body had been frozen in indecision, finally made his move. He held out his lance, pointing it directly at me. “Rising Tornado!

The air around me started swirling, swiftly becoming a tornado around my body. I tried to call Dyrnwyn back to me in order to help me get out of the wind, but the force of Howzer’s attack was too strong. The wind caught my wings, flinging me into the sky. I couldn’t even stop my uncontrolled flight with my fairy magic. The only thing that I could do was make sure that my Dyrnwyn came with me as I flew over the town. I couldn’t help but scream as buildings flashed underneath me in a blur.

Just as I felt the giant, soft wings of Dyrnwyn’s Guardian form wrap around my body, I crashed into the ground. I was very glad for the thick fabric enfolding me, as I felt the roughness of sharp stones and debris pass underneath me as I slid across the ground. After what felt like eternity, I felt myself slowing down, and eventually, I came to a complete stop.

“Is it… is it over?” I murmured as I unwrapped myself from my cloak, which had come out of its Guardian form sometime during my skid across the rough terrain. I had landed on my back, so I only had to sit up in order to look around.

Around me, grasses swayed. A little ways to my left was a low stone wall, and in the distance, far ahead of me was the town of Vaizel. From my position, I didn’t see any other buildings around me. Howzer’s attack had blown me right out of town.

“No!” The shout was Elizabeth’s and it came from behind me and to my left, on the other side of the wall.

When I looked in that direction, turning further than I had before, I noticed a small stone building that matched the wall. I could see a familiar form looming on the other side of the wall, this side of the building. Is that Griamore - that Holy Knight from Byron? Luckily, he wasn’t facing towards me, and was instead intensely focused on something right in front of him. If that’s where Elizabeth’s voice came from, then…

Floating only about an inch above the ground so as to not make any noise, I snuck towards the stone wall. When I reached the it and peaked out over the edge, I wasn’t very surprised by what I saw.

In order of closest to farthest from me, there stood, the Holy Knight Griamore, Princess Veronica, Meliodas, Elizabeth, and Hawk. Meliodas was in between the two princesses, defending Elizabeth while at the same time pushing Veronica away, into the arms of Griamore, who worriedly exclaimed her name when he caught her.

“Meliodas-sama!” Elizabeth cheered, tears in her eyes.

“Our long awaited hero! At last!” Hawk put in. “This is what happens when Meliodas is back in action!”

This was when the captain of the Sins, who looked severely battered, widened his stance in front of Elizabeth, holding his arms out to his sides in a defensive posture. His broken sword was gripped tightly in one hand. I also noticed that, strangely enough, he was wearing the crystal necklace that Veronica had given Elizabeth when we were captured. “I’m going to protect Elizabeth, even if it costs me my life!”

The elder princess swiped her hand out to her side, bringing it back up into a fist that she held above her chest. “Y-you don’t fool me! You’re a monster! My little sister’s being treated like a wanted criminal because she’s with you guys! Give me back Ellie!”

Meliodas was determined. “I swear… I will protect your little sister! Trust me.”

Elizabeth, while Meliodas said this, pressed into his back, blushing.

Veronica paused, clenching her teeth, before speaking again. “Hendrickson was right. It seems you really have brainwashed Ellie.”

Right then, I noticed Meliodas’ gaze flick over to me, just for a heartbeat. He saw me! Well, it wasn’t like it was him I was hiding from… I was just lucky it was them facing my direction and Veronica and Griamore facing the other.

Veronica smiled a little bit before opening her mouth again. But what she said wasn’t normal words, but some kind of chant. “ Rosco Basla… Melcito.

Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light, and the crystal that hung around Meliodas’ neck began to glow. It looked almost like it was trying to pull the Dragon Sin into it - which I soon realized it was, as I could feel myself being pulled too.

There was just enough time for me to pronounce the sound, “Wha-?” before I was gone.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Dark Memories

My first thought was that I must be back in the shadowy place that Zephyr made portals through, it was so dark. But here I could see myself. It was like my body was completely lit up from all directions, but I was surrounded by complete darkness. It was neither warm, nor cold, and the air was completely still. And even though it wasn’t cold, a chill went down my spine.

It felt like I was trapped in a void.

But I wasn’t alone in this void.

Ahead of me stood the blurry form of Meliodas. Compared to my solid body, his image was oddly dark and murky. He was facing away from me, and I could see a hint of dark purple swirls on his neck and one shoulder.

“Meliodas-san?” My voice echoed strangely through the dark as I took a step forward and placed my hand on his shoulder. Only, I couldn’t. My hand passed right through him, and upon my touch, he vanished, blowing away like dust in the wind. “M-Meliodas?” But he was gone. There was no one to answer my worried cry.

I was alone.

Purely, completely, utterly alone.

I had thought that I was alone during the festival when everyone went to fight, but at least everyone was still around. I could’ve found someone if I’d looked for them, as I had found Diane. But here, there was no one for me to find. Despair filled my heart, and I tried calling out the names of everyone I knew, knowing it was in vain. I couldn’t help it. Something about this place seemed to be messing with my emotions, making me more upset than I would normally be. Normally I might try to calmly assess this situation - perhaps with some stress and a little tears - but not like this. Somewhere in my mind I knew this, but that part of my mind seemed to be being blocked, unable to affect the rest of me.

It was like the darkness itself was eating at me, and I suddenly all the negative emotions I had ever felt came crashing down on me. Sorrow. Anger. Despair. Horror. Hatred. Envy. Fear. Grief. Doubt. Frustration. Shame. Guilt. They all flashed through me, fighting to surface, and I couldn’t help but to scream.

Tears streamed down my face, blurring my vision. Past the tears, colors started to flood the void around me, and by the time I’d blinked and wiped the wetness away, a landscape had taken form. A landscape I had hoped to never see again.

A village burned around me. The village of Voryn, which had disappeared from maps thousands of years ago. Due to this very incident. This was the village that I had lived in after being exiled from the Fairy King’s Forest. Bandits had started the fire while robbing a member of the village. It had been during a drought, so the fire had spread swiftly, and the bandits had used the commotion to ransack the homes that the townsfolk were abandoning.

Screams of fear and pain rang throughout the village, but one was more familiar than the rest. And when I heard that voice, it was like I wasn’t in control of my body anymore. I rose up off the ground and flew between burning buildings, taking the same path I had taken all those years ago.

I could feel all those emotions I had felt a moment ago grow stronger, but the strongest emotion of all that I felt right now was dread. Dread for what was at the end of this path I was taking. I tried to resist but it was like I was a prisoner of my own body. All I could do was watch what had already happened. I couldn’t even close my eyes to block out what I was going to see.

The fire was getting hotter around me, as I got closer to the epicenter of the fire - the origin of the familiar scream. I practically shot into an opening in the buildings. Beside me, a smaller house crackled as it collapsed into itself upon my arrival, charred to a crisp. But that wasn’t the center of my attention.

No no no no no….

My gaze settled on a group of people in mismatched armor - bandits - surrounding a young man. The man had been trying to stop their ransacking - he had been for a while now, while Zephyranthes and I had been evacuating people from the flames. Normally the young man had messy dirty blond hair, but right now in was singed and dark, slicked down from sweat and blood. His deep blue eyes were filled with panic as they flicked to the bodies that littered the area - bodies of other townsfolk that had stayed behind to help him fight off the bandits.

“Kay!” My mouth called his name of its own volition. I wanted to turn away. I didn’t want to see this next part. I’d had nightmares of it for many years, and now here it was, in front of me, again.

Kay tilted his head to look at me. Relief filled his gaze and his face relaxed slightly, whether it was because I was safe or because he thought I could help him, I would never know.

Taking advantage of the distraction of my appearance, the lead bandit struck out, plunging his swords directly into Kay’s stomach. He ripped it to the side with a gut-wrenching tearing sound, forming a large, deadly gouge. Blood started pouring out of the wound, staining Kay’s blue tunic red.

The young man coughed, spraying blood, before doubling over and clenching his stomach. I could just barely hear him murmur “Zinnia…” before he collapsed.

“KAY!!!” The name hurt my throat, I screamed so loud. The horror of the sight overwhelmed me. It was the only thing I could feel. I felt like my heart was going to rip itself out of my chest. But then the anger came when I looked again at Key’s attackers.

Within the prison of my mind, I could feel the emotions from before growing stronger, and darkness seemed to be seeping in from the corners of my perception. I could feel something about myself beginning to slip away.

Dyrnwyn First Form: Dyrnwyn! ” I dropped the cloak that I had forgotten was bundled up in my arms before it could transform. Before the light from the transformation could even dissipate, I motioned with my hands, causing the spear to fly towards the men surrounding the fallen Kay. One tried to dodge, but I twisted the spear so that it caught his shoulder, slicing a deep gash into him. I continued attacking the men, slicing through their leather armor like it was paper. I got all of the archers first to prevent them shooting me out of the sky. Whenever one of the remainder went after me, I would just fly above them, out of reach, before cutting them down with Dyrnwyn.  Within moments, all of the men were down from my flying weapon, save the leader.

When I looked at this man, tall, with dark hair and a well-polished blade dripping with the blood of one of my dearest friends, I could only feel hatred. Even with so many of his men lying, dead or dying, around his feet, he looked confident in his abilities; it was like he thought that he could beat me with one arm tied behind his back. I wanted to give him a slow death as revenge for what he’d done, but I also just wanted him gone as soon as possible.

Dyrnwyn Fourth Form: Increase, ” I said with deathly calm. The spear flashed, and now the bandit was surrounded on all sides by crescent blades. I could only see the uncertainty appear in his eyes for a moment before he was struck from all sides at once, causing an instant death. He looked like a pincushion before I returned Dyrnwyn to its cloak form and grabbed it. “Too good for him…” I muttered under my breath.

Shaking my head to try to clear it of thoughts of the bandits, I dashed over to Kay’s side.

“Zinnia…” he repeated, shakily holding out his hand to me.

He’s still alive! I could hear myself think the words. I took a moment to think about how odd it was to hear the thoughts from a past event before being pulled back into the scene around me.

I clasped his outstretched hand in both of mine, tears running rampant down my face. “Kay! D-don’t worry. I’ll get you out of here! I think I remember Zephyr getting the doctor out of town. Zephyr was injured in the fires, so he can’t get you, but I’m sure I can! You’re fine! You’re going to be fine! And if not…” I removed one of my hands from his to clench the fabric of my cloak tighter to my chest.

But I could already see that his sapphire eyes were duller than they normally were. His mind seemed to be far away. “Zinnia… I remember when you first came to the village… I thought that you were just a girl… close to my age… When you told me… that you were a fairy… I just laughed…” He smiled, more blood dripping out of the edge of his mouth as he gave a slight cough. “‘Where… are your wings?’... I had asked…” His eyes gained a little bit of focus and he looked at me. It was like he was looking into my soul. I felt almost as though he could see the current me, trapped in the past me’s mind. His words started to be more broken, with longer breaths in between. “I… I wish… I could have lived... to see them… I’m certain… that your wings… will be the most beautiful… anyone… has ever… seen…” His words trailed off into silence.

“O-of course you’ll get to see them! You can… You’re going to…” But he had stopped breathing, and his eyes were completely glassed over.

Kay was dead.

All of the emotions that were building broke loose. Out of the corner of my tear filled eye, I saw darkness inching swiftly across my body, followed by a tingling feeling that felt both hot and cold at the same time. I screamed. And after that, darkness. I couldn’t remember what had happened after that. All I knew was that when I awoke later, the town was in ruins, and even the villagers that Kay and I had been trying to protect were dead.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Shatter

“MELIODAAAAASSS!!!” Elizabeth screamed the captain of the Seven Deadly Sins’ name desperately. She was crouched over the unmoving body of her elder sister, Veronica, and her face was soaked with tears. The purple crystal that had absorbed both Meliodas and Zinnia swung on its chain, which was wound tightly around her hand. Guila stood behind the princess, and her arms were wrapped around Elizabeth, constricting the silverette’s movements.

Nearby, Ban and Jericho fought a ferocious battle. Ban was covered in wounds that refused to close, blood covering almost every inch of his body.

“That’s enough-” Guila started to say into her ear.

Hawk, in his battered state, broke in, “You jerk! Touch Elizabeth again, and I’ll…”

Shadows began to form in the depths of the stone that Elizabeth held. A chill swept through the air. Guila shivered and, on instinct, dropped her hold on the princess. With a flash, cracks spiderwebbed across the surface of the crystal. When the girl held it up, darkness - like beams of light - shone through the cracks, and the crystal exploded into countless microscopic shards. Shadows poured forth from the origin of the explosion. For a second, darkness covered the surrounding area, chilling everyone in the area to the bones.

“Cap’n?” the bloodied Ban questioned. But, as the wave of darkness washed over him, he added uncertainly to himself, “No… This feels different… It can’t be…”

As quickly as the darkness had appeared, it vanished. The crystal that the princess had held was gone, to be replaced by two forms. In front of her stood Meliodas, All clothes torn away except for his pants, which were missing half of one of the legs from earlier’s fights. His eyes - normally seafoam green - were black, and they seemed almost vacant. Darkness covered most of his right side, tapering off into spirals in many places. At his feet lay the fairy, Zinnia. She was curled tightly around her bundled up cloak as though it were a lifeline, and her eyes were clenched shut, red, puffy, and wet. Dark swirls were visible over her body, as well; even her wings had a few markings at their base. The difference was that, unlike the markings on Meliodas, the ones on Zinnia were retracting in on themselves. Within a few heartbeats, it was like they had never even existed.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

“Ehhh… And I’d been doing so well, too…” was the first thing I said after regaining consciousness. “It’d been so long since I’d last collapsed. I had thought it was over!” I was trying to joke around a bit, even to myself if no one else was around. But then my memory of what had occured rushed back to me, and I opened my eyes and bolted upright.

Around me, sunlight was streaming into the box-filled attic. Dust moats glistened it the air, and I could feel the slight rise and fall of the Boar’s Hat moving. Zephyranthes, still covered in bandages, stood at my bedside. Relief filled his ivory eyes when I sat up.

Zinnia! You’re awake. I’m glad, and I’m certain that everyone else will be, too. He placed one paw on the edge of my bed, as though trying to be closer to me without actually getting on the bed with me. Your injuries are minor, luckily.

“How long was I out?” I rubbed my eye as I asked the question.

Not long. We only left Vaizel a short time ago. As though anticipating my questions, he continued. Everyone is fine. A little worse for wear, but fine nonetheless. Though it appears that Elizabeth-san’s elder sister has passed. She is grieving, but is trying to stay strong. And on another note, Diane-sama has retrieved her Sacred Treasure, although Meliodas-sama has lost his sword.

How are you, Zinnia? You have never truly been in a battle such as this, so I was worried when the fighting started. I only got to see a small portion of it when Boar-sama entered town to bring Diane-sama a change of clothes.

“Boar-sama?” I couldn’t help but ask. He couldn’t mean Hawk?

The boar on which the tavern resides, he answered easily, as though it was the simplest thing in the world.

“Don’t they call her ‘Hawk Mama’?” But I just waved off my own question before answering his. “I’m okay, I think. I just feel exhausted - both mentally and physically. I got a few bumps and bruises from a fight that I had with a Holy Knight named Marmas. A very short fight. Which I did terrible in. And doesn’t even deserve to be called a fight it was so awful. It was more like I was flailing around in an attempt not to die. I wouldn’t have even gotten into the fight, had I been more level-headed and just not said anything; perhaps I could have just flown down into the crevasse to try to help Diane-sama, rather than getting mad and attacking someone who is obviously stronger than me.” I was getting more and more annoyed with myself with each statement. My mind flashed back to the time that I had been forced to relive. “It was the same with Kay’s death… If I had just swiftly supported him, rather than calling out, then perhaps…”

“Those sound like to very different situations. Besides, you should worry about what you can do in the future, rather than what you couldn’t do in the past.” I turned to see Meliodas standing in the doorway. I hadn’t even heard the door open. He was still covered in cuts and bruises, they were all bandaged (probably by Elizabeth), and he was wearing a fresh set of clothes. “Mornin’ Zinnia-chan. Did you have a good nap?” He approached my bedside, and Zephyr made way for him to pull up one of the shorter crates to use as a chair. “You should probably thank Ban. I heard he carried you, Elizabeth, and King to safety when Diane was about to destroy the place. Though I wonder how he held all three of you? It must’ve been awkward…” he pondered.

“Meliodas-san-” I started.

But the captain spoke as though I hadn’t said anything. “That cloak of yours isn’t just a cloak, is it?” I gaped. I tried to deny it, or at least to give some sort of explanation, but he continued on. “Diane told me that Howzer said that you had transformed it into a weapon. He also said that you tried to fight his companion with it, while changing it into different forms, in an attempt to get revenge for what he had done to Diane. Even if you did a poor job.” The whole time he spoke, it was like he was telling me something that we both already knew; this could be a simple chat about the weather, he said it so simply.

I just tilted my head down, casting my eyes down to where my hands were clutching the sheet that still covered my legs. “I just… I haven’t really fought before… I mean, I kinda did, once, but that was different, and it was a very long time ago…” I tried to excuse myself, rambling on, but Meliodas stopped me by standing and placing his hand on my lowered head, mussing up my hair. I looked up to see that he was smiling at me, and his hand fell away from my head.

“It doesn’t matter how well you did! We all know that you tried. You tried your best to fight for your comrades, even when you didn’t know your own fighting abilities, or those of your opponent. That showed real courage!” he explained.

Why do I feel like he’s talking to me like I’m a kid...? Actually, I kinda feel like he’s always treated me like this from time to time... But it didn’t matter that I felt like he was treating me weirdly. Perhaps I was a kid on the inside, because his words had made me feel better, if only a little.

“Thank you, Meliodas-san.”

But he wasn’t done. His tone grew more serious. “That goddess amber - you were sucked into it too, weren’t you?”

I was taken aback. “G-goddess amber? Do you mean that crystal thingy? W-well, everyone saw me come out of it, so it’s no secret, but…”

“When I fully came back to myself, I remembered seeing you right before it was activated. Knowing what you are, I guessed that you had been pulled in, too. But why didn’t you react the same way I did…?” He held his chin, deep in thought, before sitting back on the crate.

“W-what I am? How do you-”

“I was asked to keep it a secret.” Meliodas looked up from his thoughts and lowered his voice. “I wasn’t certain that you, yourself knew, though. That’s why earlier, when you showed me that scar of yours, I stopped myself from mentioning that you’d lost one. But, after the incident with the goddess amber, it didn’t matter if you didn’t already know what you were, you needed to know.”

“Wait, lost one what?” While I knew some of what he was talking about, I was confused by some of the things he was saying. He’d made a promise? To who? Onii-chan, perhaps?

He held up one finger. “One heart,” he simply said. He glanced back to the doorway to make sure it was still empty. “Since you’re half demon, you must have inherited your hearts from your father.”

I lost a heart from the wound that caused that scar? How didn’t I notice? Though, that would explain why it hurt so much when it happened. The trail of thoughts quickly raced through my head before I spoke my biggest fear. “You aren’t going to tell everyone, are you?”

“No.” The captain stood up. He pushed the box that he had been using as a seat back into its place among the others. “You should probably come down soon. Oh, and if you’re wondering, Elizabeth took your cloak to a nearby stream to wash it. It was covered in blood from the fighting. King and Diane went with her to kill time until dinner is ready.” And he was out the door, gone before I could say another word.

“Well, that was very informative, yet not informative at all,” My annoyed voice bounced off the walls of the room a few moments after he had left.

What do you mean by that, Zinnia? Zephyranthes laid his head on the edge of the bed. He was now back in the spot that Meliodas had been occupying.

“What I mean , is that I already knew that I was a half demon. He acted like it was some big secret that he had to keep from me. Of course I would know! It’s me !... But… I hadn’t realized that he had known, nor had I known that I had lost a heart. Really, it’s stupid of me to have not known. The scar’s right over where a heart would normally be. And was it Onii-chan that he was talking about when he said he’d promised someone? It had to have been! Only Onii-chan and Otou-chan knew what I am. Maybe Onee-san, too…” Suddenly some of Meliodas’ words clicked in my mind. “Wait! My cloak! Dyrnwyn! Elizabeth, Diane-sama, and Harlequin-sama are going to wash it in a stream?? I thought we were still moving.” Of course, we had stopped. The swaying of the room had stilled, and the orange light of sunset had made its way across the walls.

The movement stopped soon after Meliodas-sama entered. Why? He was curious, and tilted his head to the side in a motion that I always found adorable, but I pushed the thought of the cuteness away.

I threw the blankets off my legs and stood. “If Harlequin-sama inspects my cloak closely, he’ll probably know what it is!”

Is there a problem with that? Meliodas-sama already knows, and it appears that Diane-sama does as well.

“N-no. I guess it’s fine if he knows, but I want to be there when he finds out! I don’t want him drawing the wrong conclusions. I don’t want him to think that I lied to him. So I have to be there to explain myself before things get out of hand.”

You may not have lied to him, the fox shade told me, but you hid facts from him. Sometimes that can be just as bad.

“Don’t lecture me, Zephyr- kun !” I teased him, tapping his nose as he fell into step with me. “Everyone hides things. I’m certain that everyone here holds a secret or two, even you.”

But the fox remained silent as we exited the room.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: By the Stream

It wasn’t so much of a stream as it was a creek. The small waterway that wound its way through the trees and fields showed signs of being a frequent resting place for the local wildlife, and it appeared to usually hold crystal clear water. But currently its waters held a few clouds of murky pinkish-red water. At least in the area downstream of where Elizabeth was busy scrubbing the giant red patches out of my cloak, that is.

It was nearing dark by the time Zephyr and I made it to where Elizabeth, Harlequin, and Diane were. By now, the birds had stopped singing, with the crickets taking up their songs instead. There were even a few bats darting to and fro in their attempts to catch insects.

“There, I think that’s most of the blood.” I heard Elizabeth’s voice from up ahead as I pushed aside some foliage that had been blocking my path. While I could have flown, I felt that it might be safer to walk here; the trees were pretty dense in this area, and I didn’t want to run into any, and if I had just flown in from above, I might have lost the creek due to all of the greenery. Not to mention the fact that if I had flown, Zephyr couldn’t have kept up with me with his current inability to enter shadows. Even walking next to the water as I was, there were many low-hanging branches that I didn’t want to hit. I rounded a bramble thicket to find a small clearing opening up in front of me. It was just big enough to hold the other three, with a little bit of extra space in between. There was still a little ways before I would reach it, though.

“Why does Zinnia-chan always have this cloak with her, do you think?” Diane thought aloud as Elizabeth attempted to wring out the fabric.The giant was sitting on the ground towards the back of the clearing, and she was fidgeting with the ends of her hair.

“Isn’t it just to hide her wings?” Elizabeth guessed, trying harder to twist the cloak - it was very thick, so she was having troubles. “They’re very pretty; I don’t see why she hides them all the time.”

“Zinnia-san has her reasons for hiding them. But I don’t think that’s the only reason…” Harlequin put in from his place floating on his giant green pillow beside Diane. While he appeared to be thinking seriously about the question, he also seemed pretty focused on the giantess. “Even when she isn’t wearing it, she holds it in a bundle. She never leaves it behind.”

“Well, now that I think about it, if what Howzer said earlier is true, it would make sense.” Diane continued her thought process.

“What Howzer said?” Harlequin asked. Before Diane could answer his inquiry, though, he sighed. He had been watching Elizabeth struggle to get water out of the cloak, and appeared to be exasperated with the fact that she couldn’t seem to do it. “Here, let me help.” He easily plucked it out of the princess’s hands with his levitation and, using the same ability, twisted my cloak so that a waterfall of slightly pink water just poured out of it. The Fairy King then, out of curiosity, pulled it closer to him and held it in his hands, allowing his Chastiefol to float at his side now. As soon as his hand touched it, though, his body went rigid, and surprise flashed in his eyes, followed by curiosity and some unnamed emotion.

In the pause, Diane continued with what she had been saying, though her words were hesitant after seeing Harlequin’s reaction. “He said… that she had transformed it into a spear to fight… Isn’t that kinda like your weapon, King?”

Of course, this was the exact moment that I finally managed to break through the trees that edged the clearing. I pushed aside a branch that was at the perfect level to catch my hair, breaking off twigs and leaves into the scarlet strands before coming free. And Zephyr, being who he was, elegantly stepped out of the forest behind me, not a single speck of dirt or debris in his fur, before taking his place at my side. He shot me a cheeky smirk before glancing back to the group in front of us.

“Exactly like it…” Harlequin’s gaze landed on me, and the intense look made me embarrassed of the state of my clothes and hair. I was certain that I looked like I had just rolled through a patch of brambles.

“H-hey guys…” I couldn’t stop my voice from faltering. I tried to pretend that I hadn’t noticed the stare, but I could feel my extended wings twitching in nervousness. “Thanks for cleaning out my cloak, Elizabeth; I didn’t expect it to get that dirty.”

Both the princess and the giantess looked to me, but, unlike Harlequin, they seemed happy to see me. Elizabeth smiled, and Diane soon followed her lead.

“It was no problem, Zinnia! I just wish that I could’ve done more to help everyone,” Elizabeth told me.

“You’re telling me! I was out of commission for most of the battle, and during what little I was there for, I got knocked around like I was nothing.” I laughed a little bit, trying to brush off the fact that what little pride I’d had had been shattered in the last twenty-four hours. “I’m actually not certain as to how so much blood got on my cloak, seeing as how I didn’t get injured enough for there to be that much…”

“I think that it was mostly the Holy Knight Guila’s blood. When you and Meliodas-sama suddenly appeared again, Meliodas-sama completely ignored you. And when he got back his sword from Guila…” Elizabeth trailed off, looking at her hands, which rested in her lap. She appeared uncertain, and I was pretty sure that I knew what of.

Judging by what happened while I was in that crystal and what Meliodas-san looked like when I first got pulled in there, before that nightmare began, he was probably using demon powers when he came out. He probably wasn’t fully in control, either…

Diane tried to break the uneasy silence that had descended. “So Howzer told me that you tried to fight the Holy Knight that knocked me into that hole! I didn’t know that you could fight.”

“Neither did I.” Harlequin’s stare hadn’t broken. His grip on my cloak tightened slightly.

“Hahaha… ha...” I looked to the ever-darkening sky as I tried to think of something to say. I could feel Zephyr’s gaze boring into my side, as though prompting me to speak.

You said you didn’t want any wrongly drawn conclusions. The longer you drag this out, the worse it will be for you. The fox shade’s words whispered quietly in my head. Speak.

The words had been soft, as though only intended for me, but I was pretty certain that Harlequin had heard them, as his eyes narrowed slightly. Though the other two appeared oblivious.

“Well, I’m actually pretty crappy at fighting.” I dragged the conversation on. “I don’t think I even scratched the other guy.” I was still staring into the sky, and I scratched the back of my head. Everyone remained silent, even Zephyranthes. I sighed, only to hear it echoed by the other fairy.

He tossed my cloak to me. “Hey, Zinnia-san, you asked me to show you mine. It’s only fair if you show me yours.”

The other two girls in the clearing looked pretty confused at this statement, but I knew exactly what he was talking about. My gaze fell from the sky to my shoes. I didn’t say anything and busied myself at picking a few twigs out of my hair before feeling Zephyr nudged me in the side. When I looked down at him, he was glaring at me, so I looked back up to Harlequin, who had floated ever so slightly closer to me. “O-okay,” I finally responded. I let go of the fabric, allowing it to hover in front of me. “ Dyrnwyn First Form: Dyrnwyn.

Just as it had during the fight, the cloak glowed in a golden light for a moment before transforming into its spear form.

“Whoa!” Diane gasped slightly, overlapping Elizabeth’s surprised squeak. Both of their eyes were as big as moons.

Harlequin, on the other hand, seemed more curious than surprised. He had flown closer to Dyrnwyn, and was examining it closely. My face started to heat up as he did this, because, rather than just being a weapon, Dyrnwyn was more like another part of me. “May I?” He gestured towards the spear.

“Um, sure.” It’s not like I could really say no at this point.

He twitched his fingers, taking control of Dyrnwyn’s flight. He then started maneuvering it through the air, twisting it this way and that. I didn’t even fully understand what he was doing or why. I was so entranced by watching Harlequin that I practically jumped out of my skin when Diane spoke to me.

“So that’s what you used to fight earlier? King was right - it is exactly like his.” She was also raptly watching the fairy fly the weapon around, but she turned a curious eye on me when she continued. “But if your weapon is just like King’s, why did you have such a hard time with that Holy Knight? I know that King could’ve taken him down easily.”

At this, Harlequin’s face turned beet red, and Dyrnwyn froze for a moment in its movements. It continued after he shot a few self-conscious glances at Diane, but even after the spear was moving again, Harlequin’s face was still red.

“As I said before: I’m not very good at fighting. Dyrnwyn wasn’t even originally mine; it was my mother’s. I heard that she was far more skilled with it than I am, but it was given to me after she died. Right before I left the forest, it was given to me as a sort of farewell present. I was surprised that I could even use it, given that most fairies don’t have the needed power to wield a spirit spear. Not that being able to use something means that you’re good at using it. I wish that I was half as skilled as my mother, then I’d have easily been able to defeat that Holy Knight. As I am now, though, I could probably not even take care of a normal knight.” I paused as I realized I had been rambling. I had told them more than was necessary - probably more than they even cared to know.

“I’ve never heard of a spirit spear with the name Dyrnwyn . Just who was your mother?” Harlequin had stopped his inspection of the spear, and it now floated lazily at his side, opposite of Chastiefol. “And also, why does it appear to be missing a piece? Everything on its blades is in threes, except for these crescent blades. There’s even a slot as though there once was another blade. Where did it go?”

“That blade was missing when it was given to me. I was told that my mother used it for something, but I’m not certain of exactly what.” I looked up at the sky again, but this time my gaze lingered on the swath of stars that spread across it. Even as I was looking, it seemed that more and more specks of light were appearing. Only the smallest amount of light shone on the western horizon. “Shouldn’t we be headed back soon? I’m sure that dinner’s gotta be ready by now, and I don’t want it all going to Hawk. And you wouldn’t want to walk back in complete darkness, right Elizabeth?” I turned my attention to the girl who had been almost completely silent from the moment that I revealed Dyrnwyn.

“Well, that is true,” She told me. I sensed a ‘but’ coming on, and was not disappointed. “But Diane just carried me to get here, since I’m slower than everyone, especially through this thick forest. I had hoped that she would carry me on the way back.” She looked to the giantess as though asking a question.

“Of course I will, Elizabeth! I’m not just going to leave you here.” She smiled.

But Elizabeth’s words had made me notice something that I hadn’t before. “Wait, which way did you guys even come from? The direction that I came from was far too overgrown for Diane-sama to get through, not to mention the fact that there were no signs that anyone went that way…”

“Oh, that’s simple…” Diane stood up as she spoke, revealing a trail behind her. Branches and bushes were broken here and there, revealing that it had recently been used. “We went through the path that looked easiest.”

“Of course there was an easier path…” I tugged another twig out of my hair.

Zephyr chuckled lightly at my side, causing me to look at him. I told you that if you had just waited for me to find their scent, we could have found them faster.

“Well I thought that the easiest way would be to follow the water. Then no matter what part of the stream they were at, we would find them.”

You didn’t have to start so far downstream, though.

“But what if we had-” I realized that Elizabeth was staring at me. Of course, she couldn’t hear Zephyranthes. “Zephyr is just saying that he could have found you guys faster than me.” I explained.

“O-oh.” She gave a cheerful smile to try to cover up the fact that she had missed out on the conversation.

“Well…” I trailed off. “I guess that Zephyr and I will head back now, if you guys aren’t.”

“No, we are. Right, Elizabeth?” Diane held her hand to the ground so that the princess could climb on.

“Yeah,” came Elizabeth’s agreement.

Harlequin’s only response was to slightly nod and to pass Dyrnwyn back to me. He still had a curious look in his eye, but he turned to follow Diane, who had already taken a few steps down the trail.

When I floated lightly into the air to follow, Zephyr spoke quietly. You should ask him to give you some lessons.

“What?” Lessons on what? How to be a fairy? I could sure use some of those.

He sighed. Lessons on how to use your spirit spear. It couldn’t hurt.

“B-but, I couldn’t ask him for that! He’s the Fairy King ! That’d be ridiculous.” I tried not to shout so that the group ahead of me couldn’t here me.

The fox shade couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Well, normally only fairy kings have spirit spears, so you have no one else to teach you. There aren’t really any other options.

“I can’t… I just… No…” I couldn’t really think of a reason to refuse it other than that he was the Fairy King, so I just went quiet. For some reason, I felt that whatever relationship Harlequin and I had, it wasn’t one that I could just casually ask for lessons.

After that, the two of us fell into a silence that was only broken by the sounds of the crickets and the nocturnal wildlife around us. Not even Zephyr’s paws made any noise on the forest floor.

The silence was broken by Zephyr’s quiet words. You didn’t answer all of his questions, you know.

“I didn’t?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 22: Suspicions

From my spot at the edge of the small field, I watched intently as Ban and Harlequin sparred. Zephyr, who was bandaged much lighter than before, sat contentedly at my side, and I floated in a sitting position just a couple of inches off the ground. It was only last night that Harlequin and the others had been told about my spirit spear, and, to make it fair, Ban and Hawk had been told about it over dinner.

“Hmmm,” Ban had said over his mug of ale, “looks like ya got a copycat, King.”

I had quietly refuted it: “I’m not a copycat…” But there wasn’t much heart in it. Truthfully, I was older than Harlequin, so if anyone was the copycat, it was him - though if that was true, then the copier was far better than the original.

Harlequin hadn’t even said anything. He had still appeared to be deep in thought, like he was still trying to figure out the story behind what I had told everyone earlier.

Hawk, upon hearing of this, had also been quiet. He had looked slightly surprised, but that was it. I had actually been surprised that he hadn’t been upset in some way or other, with the way he had been treating both Zephyr and I. Though when I had thought about it, he had seemed to dislike Zephyranthes in particular, of the two of us. Perhaps he liked me more, or just didn’t know what to make of me. I was just glad that, out of all of the members of the group, it was the pig that had a problem with my friend and I.

The sight of Harlequin sending a swarm of blades flying around Ban pulled my attention back to the current moment.

“Hey Zephyr,” I tilted my floating body towards the fox when I murmured his name, and he glanced up at me questioningly. “I like to watch people spar and all, but why was it again that you thought we should be out here? It’s really early, and you know that I like to sleep late when I can.” And as though to prove a point, I punctuated the statement with a yawn.

Because- The fox couldn’t help but yawn in response to mine. -you should watch how Harlequin-sama fights. It might give you a better idea of how to fight with your Dyrnwyn. And since we’re with this group now, He paused to sigh, as though he thought that being with the Seven Deadly Sins wasn’t the best idea in the world, it would most probably be a very good idea to learn how to do that. It seems that there’s a battle with these people every other day.

He was probably right, but at that moment, I noticed that the fighting had gone silent, and Harlequin’s voice sounded louder in the quiet. “What’s wrong, Ban? You’re not acting like yourself. It’s like you’re purposely trying not to think about something.”

But as soon as the fairy finished saying that, Ban grabbed him by the head and threw him through the trees, out of sight. Ban quickly followed him, disappearing before I could even blink.

“Hmm? What’s going on?” I untangled my legs and stood, allowing my feet to lightly touch the ground.

Well, fights don’t always stay in one place, do they? Zephyr also stood.

“Yeah, but I don’t think that’s the only reason behind what Ban-san just did. What Harlequin-sama just said was probably true, and he didn’t like it. Let’s follow them.” Without waiting for Zephyr’s response, I started walking across the grass.

You know, if Ban - the immortal guy that fought Meliodas-sama pretty evenly for a long time - is upset, it’s probably not a good idea to go after him… But he came with me anyway.

Entering the trees, I tread lightly through the forest. As I made my way carefully through the undergrowth, it was pretty easy to find the direction in which the two sins went. There was a clear path through the trees where branches were snapped from their trunks and plants were torn from the ground. Shouting and the sounds of fighting were audible from up ahead, and within moments, Ban and Harlequin came into sight. Ban’s fist flew right at the fairy’s face.

“Ban. That’s not the only thing that’s off about you. It’s the Captain, isn’t it?”

His fist froze inches from Harlequin’s face upon those words leaving his opponent’s mouth. I stopped moving as well, and I motioned for Zephyr to stop. I wanted to hear their words, and I feared that, should they know I was here, I wouldn’t get the chance. As silently as I could, I laid my wings back and twisted so that I was hidden behind a tree.

“I’m also mixed up inside about it,” Harlequin continued. At this point I was slightly regretting going behind the tree, as I wanted to see their faces for the conversation, but I didn’t dare to move. “The Captain that we saw the other day… and more than that… The ominous magical powers that were like Guila’s and the others’ and yet so far beyond them… And Zinnia-san, too. There were traces of that magic on her at the time, as well… What if the Captain - along with Zinnia-san - are really dem-” Harlequin’s words were cut off, and I heard a slight gasp from him.

“Say another word and I’ll knock out your teeth.” Ban’s voice was dead serious for once.

“B… but, aren’t you thinking the same thing, Ban?” Harlequin sounded slightly confused and worried.

“NEVER!! The Cap’n could never be like that monster !!” But Ban’s voice grew minorly uncertain. “I could never… believe that…”

“That monster…? What are you talking about?” Harlequin’s voice was still slightly strained. I was really wishing that I could see what was going on.

“There’s no way I’d believe it!” The way that Ban’s voice echoed changed, as though he had changed what direction he was facing. Perhaps he was facing towards me now, as his angry shouts were clearer than before. I was glad for the first time that I was behind the tree, and I held my breath. “The Cap’n told me to come with him! To a guy like me who’s lived his entire life like a shunned piece of garbage! In this world, the only whimsical oddballs like that are Elaine and the Cap’n! And anyway,” his voice quieted, “no matter how wretched his opponents were, Cap’n never killed them. There’s no way a tolerant guy like him would be a demon... Damn it.”

“Ban…”

A thin tingle of dread swept through me. So, Ban doesn’t deny the idea of me being a demon… I guess that we haven’t interacted enough for him to know enough about me to refute it, anyway. It would’ve been nice though… I hope that Harlequin doesn’t hate me because of his suspicions, even if he is half-right.

“Hey, what was that shouting just now?” Diane’s curious voice broke into the guys’ conversation, as well as my thoughts. “The day’s barely begun and you’re fighting again?”

“Diane… Elizabeth-sama.” Harlequin’s words confirmed who all had appeared.

“Huh? The Captain’s not with you?” Diane’s voice came again.

After deciding that I wouldn’t hear any more of Ban and Harlequin’s exchange, I waited for just another moment so that it didn’t look like I just happened to appear at the same exact moment as the other girls. Once I had deemed it to have been long enough, I motioned to Zephyr, who pricked his ears from among the ferns he had laid down in. I nodded toward the clearing and he stood to follow.

“Hey, so this is where you guys went.” I allowed my wings to open before stepping into the open and feigning a light smile. They all glanced towards me. “I’d wondered what had happened when you guys disappeared. Who won?”

Now that I had the chance to get a good look at the clearing ahead of me, I found that it was nestled up against a series of large boulders. It was from between two of these boulders that Diane and Elizabeth had approached.

Ban only held that serious look on his face for a moment before a grin broke through. “Me, of course!”

“H-hey!” I couldn’t help but chuckle at Harlequin’s flustered tone as he also dropped the seriousness. “No one-”

Suddenly there was an ear-shattering crack sound, and one of the boulders that ringed the area split down the center. I cringed against the noise, but none of the others did - they just looked to the broken stone. Uncovering my ears, I stepped up so that I stood alongside the others, Zephyr trotting at my heels. Within the crack, I could just make out the figure of a familiar blonde.

“Meliodas-sama…” Elizabeth murmured, which was overlaid slightly by Harlequin’s “Captain…?”

Meliodas’ words echoed strangely off the stone around him. “I promise… for the one who always fought alongside me… that this war that had been repeating for three thousand years will be settled this time, once and for all!!”

‘The one who has always fought alongside me’? I couldn’t help but wonder. Who’s he referring to? My curious gaze slipped towards Elizabeth, who was looking to Meliodas with hope. Could it be…?

I did find it kind of odd that no one said anything to this, but perhaps it was normal. Perhaps Meliodas sometimes just said things that none of the others quite understood the meaning of. Or, perhaps he was talking about something entirely different than what I thought, and I was the only one that didn’t know what his words meant. Either way, no one questioned Meliodas’ words.

 

* * *

 

You sure you’re okay? Zephyr’s tone was one of concern. What we heard back there wasn’t good. Neither of them think highly of demons - Ban in particular - and now they suspect-

“I’m fine.” I plopped onto my bed, Dyrnwyn wrapped tightly in my arms. “I knew this was coming. It always does.” I pressed my face into the cloak, smothering the need to add any other words.

You don’t seem ‘fine’. He sounded annoyed, but I could feel him hop up on the bed beside me and press against my side. Just remember, if you ever need to talk… He trailed off, but I knew well enough what he was saying.

“Thanks, Zephyr.” I was certain that my eyes were red when I pulled my face from the cloak. “I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve always been able to count on you - you’ve always been here for me.” I gave him a small smile. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

But silence permeated the room. He was facing away from me when he finally responded. Yeah, I’ve always been with you, haven’t I? And yet... Was that a bit of sorrow in his voice? If I didn’t know better, I might even have thought that he sounded slightly bitter. But before I could ask why, it was gone. Perhaps I had imagined it. Come on, we should probably head downstairs. The day has begun, and they’ll soon start to wonder why we haven’t returned. He hopped down to the floor and made his way toward the door, his fluffy tail swishing to and fro behind him.

The spot where he had been pressed into my side suddenly felt cold, and I shivered before getting up to follow the fox shade.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: The Sins From the Rumors

“The leader of the Seven Deadly Sins, Peliodas, won’t allow it!!”

The shout of a child caused me to bolt awake. “Wha…?” I rubbed my eyes, and blearily glanced around my room. Afternoon sunlight pierced the thin curtains that I had put up in the windows, and streams of light poured in from the door that led to the balcony. Zephyranthes was standing in the open doorway, peeking his face out the entrance. His head was tilted downward, and he was crouched to the floor, as though trying to watch something without being seen. The one bandage that covered the stab wound on his side marked the reason why he wasn’t in the shadows themselves.

“What’s going on, Zephyr?” I murmured as I approached, trying not to alert whoever he was watching. “Why didn’t you wake me up earlier? Everyone else must be up by now.”

You were saying how you like to sleep late. I just wanted to see how long you would go without someone else waking you. The fox’s words echoed quietly in my mind. That child down there ruined my experiment, but even so, you slept long past noon. He sounded oh so serious, but I knew that he was hiding his laughter, especially considering the amusement that lit his eyes. I guess that you’ve gotten too used to me waking you up every day.

Anyway , what is going on down there?” I sat on the floor next to him and scooted forward so that I could see past the edge of the balcony. “Last I checked, the leader of the Sins wasn’t named ‘Peliodas,’ and didn’t sound like a little boy.”

The fox shade just chuckled and gestured toward the ground with his nose. Just watch. This is hilarious; the kid has no idea who he’s talking to.

“I’m the Dragon Sin of Wrath! I’ll get as mad as I want!!” I glanced down to find a little blond boy shouting directly at Meliodas, pointing in the Dragon Sin’s face.

An even smaller boy with black hair and dark eyes rubbed two of his fingers together. “Let’s make them pay us a silver coin as a business fee!”

“Great idea, Fox Sin of greed!” Peliodas told him, a giant smile stretched across his face. “Clever!” I couldn’t help but notice Ban smile behind the pair.

“I’m tired of walking. I want to eat and lie down.” This came from another boy that was in the little group - one that was particularly chubby.

“V… very in-character, Grizzly Sin of Sloth!” The blonde boy clapped. Harlequin looked mortified from his place at their side.

I had to slap my hand to my mouth in order to stop myself from laughing at the spectacle. Luckily, the sound of my hand slapping to my face was drowned out by the cracking and snapping of tree branches breaking.

“Huh, are the boys back? Can I come out yet?” Diane’s appeared from the trees that edged the back of the Boar’s Hat, and her hand, which wrapped around the top of the building, loudly snapped the chimney clean off the roof. I almost jumped out of my skin at the action, because she had appeared right next to where Zephyr and I were hiding. I couldn’t stop my squeek of surprise, which made her look to the platform that Zephyr and I sat on. “Oh, Zinnia! You’re up!”

“G… GIANT!!!” The kids down below were screaming, drawing Diane’s attention away from me. “SH… SHE’S GONNA EAT US!!”

“I’D NEVER EAT A HUMAN!!” But Diane’s fierce face and loud voice from her shouting just frightened the children more.

“If… If you’re going to eat any of us, just make it me!” This came from the eldest of the group, who appeared to me more of a teenager or a young adult, rather than a child. He was super skinny, had long, messy pink-purple hair, and wore glasses. And, judging by the little blond boy’s tearful shouts, his name was Armand.

“I TOLD YOU! I’M NOT GOING TO EAT ANYBODY!!” Diane’s shouts didn’t seem to be getting through to any of the kids.

As though oblivious to it all, Meliodas spoke quietly to himself. “She broke the chimney again.”

With all that was going on, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. Loudly. I didn’t care at this point if they saw me, though. It was just a bunch of kids being ridiculous; no reason to hide myself. From beside me, I could feel Zephyr shaking with his laughter, and it resonated in my head.

“C’mon,” I said through my tears, before levitating the fox into the air and floating down to the ground with him at my side. “This looks like fun.”

 

* * *

 

“I’m sorry. We really didn’t mean any harm,” Armand was saying to Ban. He was scratching his cheek in embarrassment.

Ban leaned against the side of the Boar’s Hat beside him. “It’s good to play pranks, but just don’t impersonate The Seven Deadly Sins. The Holy Knights would have your heads for it.”

“R-right.”

Curiously, I glanced at Armand. I couldn’t help but feel that he looked slightly familiar. I just couldn’t tell what from. It wasn’t his voice or demeanor that made me feel like this, but his face, and only then for split seconds when he was shifting between expressions. It was just enough for me to catch a feeling of familiarity. I just couldn’t put my finger on it, though. I looked to Zephyranthes, who sat beside me on the porch of the Boar’s Hat, to see if I could tell if he felt the same way, but if he did, he showed no sign of it.

A thunderous rumbling sound suddenly rolled in the distance, causing me to shoot into the air; I had been so engrossed in my thoughts that I was caught completely unawares. After the rumbling had calmed down, it was followed by howling that echoed through the surrounding mountains, which nearly drowned out the creaking of the nearby town’s windmills.

When I realized that the howling wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, I looked to Zephyr - an automatic response of mine - and found that he had only risen to his paws. He was looking around, but was focused on what the others were talking about.

“...Is the ground rumbling?” One of Diane’s hands was cupped around her ear as she looked in the direction that the sound had originated from.

Meliodas also glanced that way. “Isn’t that just some wind howling through caves on the mountain?”

“Who knows?” Armand watched the group. “It’s been making that sound for years now. The villagers all say it’s the voice of the God of the Mountain.”

Whatever it is, I don’t like it, Zephyr growled before adding quietly, Something feels... off in the connections in this area. His words made me think of the fox shade ability to sense and follow connections - the ability he had told me he had used to find me when Elizabeth and I had been kidnapped in Byron.

Armand looked to Zephyr. His gaze lasted longer and was more intense than it should have been, had he only heard a growl. When he noticed me looking at him, he quickly turned away. He can hear Zephyr. It wasn’t even a question in my mind. But, humans of that age can almost never hear a fox shade. In my thousands of years, there have only been a handful of exceptions to this. So, is he an exception, or…?

Meliodas and the others perked up only seconds before I did. I could feel something in the distance - some kind of magic. I had never really trained myself to discern magic, so I couldn’t really tell anything about it other than that it was strong.

“Captain…” Harlequin was looking in the direction of that the magic was coming from when he spoke. “That strong magic power I feel coming from the mountain… You don’t think it’s coming from whoever’s behind this howling, do you?” He looked tense and worried.

“No, this feels like a human. It may be a Holy Knight,” came Meliodas’ serious response.

Ban then added in some details. “And there’s not only one of them. I count two… three… four. It’s a jumble, so I can’t say for sure, but there’s five or six of them.”

I, meanwhile, just nodded along as though I already knew what they were talking about. I was really glad that they could tell so much just from the magic, seeing as how, with my sense of it, the magic could be from anything from a few humans to a horde of demons and I probably would hardly be able to tell the difference at this point.

From the direction of the town, a man’s voice called out. “Hey, you kids! I’ve been looking for you! So this is where you were! You can’t go into the woods!” That was when he caught sight of the group that the kids were with. “Eek! A giant?!”

“Oh, no need to fear,” Peliodas told the man. “She’s our friend.”

“Why is everyone always so scared of giants, anyway?” I quietly asked Zephyr beside me. “I mean, they’re just another race. No one sees a fairy and begs to not be killed, but as soon as they see a giant, they think they’ll be eaten. Giants don’t even eat humans, do they?”

Simply put, discrimination and stereotyping. He looked to me when he spoke. Giants are associated with fighting and war, not to mention that they’re much larger than humans and, therefore, scary. Fairies, on the other hand, are associated with nature and magic. They’re also usually child-sized or smaller, so humans tend to think of them as pretty or cute. He turned back to what was happening in front of us. That’s what I believe from what I’ve gathered over the years, at least.

“-they’re after some pretty villainous folks.” I just barely managed to catch the end of what the man from the village had been saying.

Oops, I realized, I should’ve been listening to that, shouldn’t I?

Harlequin and Ban quickly huddled around their captain and started murmuring worriedly. I could only make out the words “... they mean us…?” from Harlequin, “Most Likely,” from Meliodas, and “...pain in the ass~... tracked us…?” from Ban. From those snippets, though, I could pretty much guess what had been said, though: someone around here was looking for The Seven Deadly Sins - probably Holy Knights.

While the were grouped up, I noticed that the little kids attempting to slip away. They were going out of their way to make sure that Armand didn’t notice their departure. I thought to stop them, but decided against it. Who was I to tell them what to do? I was never good with kids anyway; that was Zephyr’s forte.

“Ummm, is anything the matter?” Armand stepped back into the conversation.

“No no, nothing at all.” Meliodas pushed the huddle apart before answering. “Well, we’ve gotta get going, so watch after your little friends.”

“Oh, of course,” the bespectacled man said with a smile, before turning in the direction of where the kids had previously been. “Master Pelio? Master… Pelio?” He just stared into the blank space, dread slowly filling his features.

Perhaps I should have said something...


 

Bonus 1: First Day of Work (pt.1)

“You can’t be serious.”

“Why not? You’re already wearing the uniform.”

“But… Do I really have to do a twin act?” I took the proffered serving tray from Meliodas. The mischievous grin on his face made me want to smack him. Hard.

He shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly, pausing in his duty of cleaning down the bar. “It’s not my fault that your human form looks like Elizabeth.”

“I’d do just as well in my fairy form, thank you very much.”

“But you don’t like showing your wings to everyone, do you?” He looked pointedly from my exposed wings to the cloak that sat, folded, on the stool next to me. “And you wearing that while serving won’t do very well to attract customers.”

“I-” But I couldn’t really say anything against what he had just said. I looked shamefully to the bar that I had my elbows propped on, quieting my voice. “I’m trying to be better about it... It’s hard to change a mindset that I’ve had for so long... Fine,” the last word was louder. “I’ll do it. But no one better be touching me.”

“Of course.”

 

* * *

 

Even in the crowded tavern, I could hear Zephyr’s chuckle from across the room. I can’t believe Meliodas-sama talked you into this. You know that he wouldn’t have done anything to you if you had said no, right?

I wanted to retort so badly, but a fake smile stretched across my face as I set down a meat pie on the table in front of me. “Here’s your order! Oh! Do you need any refills on your ale?”

“Yesshh pleeassse,” one of the very drunk men at the table slurred. It was very obvious to me that he didn’t need any more to drink. Perhaps I would water it down - he wouldn’t notice. Meliodas wouldn’t be very happy with me, though.

I turned just in time to see Elizabeth, who was serving the table next to mine, slip, dropping her tray of food in the process - for about the fourth time today . Knowing that she wasn’t fast enough to catch it, I dove forward, stopping the falling food with my levitation in the same moment to give myself some extra time, and caught it. “Careful Nee-chan . I’m sure customer-sama would really appreciate not having to wait for another...:” I looked at the food in my hands. “...chicken and potatoes plate to be made.” I set the food on the table, not even attempting to hand it back to the princess.

During all this, I kept the smile plastered on my face, and I felt my voice raise a few notches through the sentences. I had never done work like this before in my life.

Elizabeth’s face was red from the embarrassment of messing up, and she opened her mouth to speak, but the bell that signalled the door opening jingled at just that moment. We both turned toward the front of the shop and spoke loudly, and slightly out of sync. “Hello! Welcome to the Boar’s hat!”

“Sit wherever you want,” I said by myself to the new customers.

Elizabeth followed up. “Someone will be with you in just a moment!”

“Mizzzz,” the customer that I had served the meat pie just a moment ago spoke. “My ale - you zzzaaid yoou woouuuld…” His words became incomprehensible at this point, but I knew what he was asking.

“Yes, yes, of course, your refill.” I ground my teeth. “I’ll be right back with it.”

But as I turned to head to the back to get a new tankard of ale, I felt something brush against my short skirt. I jumped slightly and looked back to find Meliodas there, holding the wrist of a drunken man’s outstretched hand. “Tut, tut. No touching the servers.”

It would’ve been so much cooler, had he not been using his free hand to fondle Elizabeth.

 

* * *

 

“Uggghhh…” I face-planted into my bed, simultaneously transforming back to my fairy form. “That was awful ! How can anyone do that almost every day?!”

No clue. The fox’s words were punctuated by small laughs, and a smile covered his face. When I just shot a glare his way, he did his best to take a deep breath, stop smiling, and smother his laughs. If you hating being a waitress so much, why don’t you try to find something else to do around here? Surely there must be something.

I sat up, contemplating. “That does sound like a good idea! But what? Ban cooks. Harlequin buys ingredients. Hawk cleans up spills, and Meliodas cleans the tables. Diane and Elizabeth gather ingredients, while the boys hunt. What’s left…?” Truthfully, I couldn’t think of anything.

Well, what are you good at? He gave me a slight nudge. What are some skills you have?

“Not much,” came my automatic response. The fox shade gave me a skeptical look, so I tried harder. “Well, I’m good at swimming, but that doesn’t do anything for me. Animals like me and I’m pretty in touch with nature, as is obvious by both my being a fairy and the fact that I’m talking to you right now. I have most of the abilities that all fairies have, plus some that only a few have. I’m okay at sewing… I can draw… somewhat well? I’m okay at cooking, but Ban already does that, and far better than me. I’m pretty good at finding stuff, but that would be used to find ingredients, which Diane and Elizabeth already do. Ummm…”

Anything else?

“Baking…? I can bake, or, I could.” When I noticed Zephyranthes eyeing my pointedly, I quickly added, “But that was over a thousand years ago! Who knows if what I learned back then even translates over to now? I haven’t even used a modern oven before. And I’m certain that Ban could bake anything that I could, and make it better at that…”

You never know until you try. The fox stood from his place beside me and he trotted over towards the door.

I got up from my bed, confused. “Where are you going?”

I was just thinking that, since the tavern’s closed for the day, now’s probably a good time to check if you’re still any good at baking. He glanced at me out of the side of his eye and licked his lips. Hmmm, I think that muffins sound pretty good right now. His tail swished as he disappeared out the door and down the stairs.

Muffins , really?! I know you don’t like muffins!” I called after him, trailing him out of the room.

(To be continued in First Day of Work Pt.2)