Is this place good enough for you? It’s devoid of energy that would hint at your counterpart being here. You could take over again, couldn’t you? Mianite could never stop you. Ianite… well, either she’s dead or she’s weak. I don’t remember what the others said when they came to our world. This isn’t their world anymore, is it, Dia? It’s yours. Or is it ours? Say the word and I will take my mantle as your Champion again. I’ll show Tom what it truly means to be the Champion of Dianite. You all but raised me after my home burned to the ground. I managed for what? Seven years. You trained me to be ruthless. An assassin. A merchant. A diplomat with a poison-laced blade. Say the word, Dia, and that will be my life once more. Alyssa is grown. She’ll be fine. She has a new friend in Sonja, I think. They’re so much alike. A little hyperactive, so full of life. Martha can help care for her, if she ever leaves the side of her wizard-toy. It’s different, you and I. She’s weak and chose a champion that could give her a facade of strength and power. You chose me. A scrappy kid off the streets who spent most of their life fending for themselves. Skinny, plagued with creeper spores. But I earned my place. Didn’t I, Dia? You don’t regret choosing me, do you? I don’t think I could live if you regretted that. Not after everything that happened. All I did to get you back. … I never told you, did I? What I did the night I found out you died. That I wasn’t there to protect you? That I should have died instead, your guardian. I wasn’t there. You died. I thought I had lost everything. I gave Alyssa to Martha and Steve that night. I ran away. I ran as far as I could, not wanting to look back. I found that portal. Without a second thought, I jumped. I expected to die. I wanted to die. But… Alyssa followed me, escaping the watch of her babysitters. She found Spark and Jeriah, told them her Daddy was missing. Spark being the noble man he is and Jeriah likely wanting to kill me himself… they helped her track me down. I guess my scarf had fallen off just a few meters away from where I jumped. They followed me. Alyssa jumped first, so she told me. Spark tried to stop her, but when he reached for her, he fell in. Jeriah came last. I should thank him for what he did… one day. Maybe. I won’t say it to his face. They came for me and we all ended up in this realm. I’m so familiar with it. I can show you the castle I claimed. I think it would be the perfect spot to pursue the dream I told you once. Screziato Enterprises. Specializing in all the things needed to send people to either their certain doom or certain riches. Either one is fine by me. Oh fine. I won’t be so morbid. We’ll keep hopes that they’ll be fine, and we’ll provide them the supplies they need to keep themselves alive. Unless they’re completely inept. Knowing this lot, I don’t expect most of them to survive. Am I being too cruel? Yes… yes… I get it. They helped bring you back. I should be thankful. That night I jumped… I did it because I had a regret and thought all chances were lost. The lot originally from this realm found my journals, read them out loud. I hate that you learned my secret from those books instead of from me. I never got to say it straight to your face. Dianite… (Don’t say anything, Mottias. I won’t allow it.) No. I have to say it. Dia, I love you. (Heh. You don’t know what love is.) Yes. Yes I do. I thought I didn’t. I saw how Martha and Steve acted and knew they cared for each other. I saw Spark and Ianite, saw their love. I thought that how I felt about you must be the same. It was the only real positive emotions I had exposure to. Was it displaced or misunderstood? Yes. Maybe in the beginning. Maybe I was naive enough to think that my dedication to you and your cause was the same as Spark’s devotion to Ianite. They were married. They had a family. I knew we couldn’t have that, not with me as I am. But Alyssa grew so fond of you, and you accepted her when I brought her home. I thought that might be our family. Marriage never crossed my mind explicitly, but sometimes I fantasized about it. Sure, you would send me on missions to kill a target that fought against you… I knew I might die before I could tell you all of this. The flower crowns Alyssa made us? Sometimes I wondered if I’d wear one and you’d call me yours. I guess that’s what I hope from this. To be called yours. Your love. Your champion. Just… yours. It took me ten long years to piece together how I felt. That it was a true love and compassion and desire and yearning and --- (You talk too much.) Do I? Heh. I guess I do… Wait. Are you blushing? (Shut up.) Make me. (Okay.) ------- EWW! Daddy! That’s disgusting! I don’t wanna see you smoochin’. Take it somewhere else. I don’t wanna see it. EW EW EW EW. You’re so gross! Hehehe~ … I never wanna smooch anyone! I’m never gonna smooch anyone! -------- Heh. I didn’t think he had it in him. We were falling for three years. I gave him a little touch of the hand as the world fell around us. He beat around the bush. He tried to mention the things I knew already. Like I was blind. Poor guy. Then again, I didn’t pick him for his brain and emotional processing. Sure, he was cunning and clever. He knew how to get out of some pretty sticky situations. He was useful on many of my business trips. Did he really expect me not to figure it out when I gave him physical attention on those trips? He treated me well, and I knew he yearned for it. Even then, as not much more than a kid. It was apparent. I was happy enough to oblige. If it kept him on my side, then it was necessary. What I won’t tell him is that I didn’t exactly hate every minute of it. I have to keep some things from him. He might start getting ideas. Do I regret kissing him after he finally got up the nerve to make his confession? Hell no. Will I do it again when I get him alone? Hell yes. He’ll just have to wait until he shows me this castle of his. Get ready for a ‘right rumble’ boyo. -------- My daughter has returned to me and she looks miserable. She’s moved on to a new man, but she isn’t happy. My son is dead. Both of my grandbabies. My wife is dust in the wind. I don’t think I can blame her for being so down. No, not down. Depressed. It hurts to see my baby girl hurting. We’ve both lost our family; she’s all I have left. She lost her fiance, didn’t she, Mot? (Yes, Spark. Steve gave his own life to return Dianite to us.) A noble man. I liked him, even if he was quiet. I understand we all have alternate selves from this realm, yes? The man she’s with now. He’s the Other Steve. (Yes. His name is Waglington. He is a wizard. Much like she is, actually.) Ah. Are they a good match, Mot? Do you think he will ever make her as happy as Steve did for so many years? I want her to have love in her life from someone other than me. She’s my daughter, you know. I want the world for her. (I don’t know. I don’t think she truly loves him, but she wants to.) A shame. She shouldn’t have to settle. She’s settling. She doesn’t have to. She doesn’t have to marry or have a family or any of that. I’d rather see her free to be herself and free to grieve in whatever way she needs to. Not tied down to someone she feels is second best. She followed her mother’s footsteps already. I can see it surrounding her. She has that aura of godliness. It must have been after Ia turned into dust… I’ve already been told by my other self. He’s so much younger than me. It’s like looking back in a time machine. I’m proud of her. But she’s not being herself. She’s being her mother. Oh, but she has the same radiance her mother had. My sweet baby girl has grown up. She’s a woman now… with a woman’s heartache. I wish I could save her from that pain, but she must learn from it in time. Mot, what would you do if it were your child? (I… I don’t know. I’d probably kill whomever broke her heart.) That is you. I believe you would, too. But the past couple years, while you were gone, I think Alyssa has minimal interest in such things. You won’t have to worry about it. Raising a daughter is so hard to do on your own. You’ve done remarkably well, Mot. (Thank you, Spark.) But daughters are headstrong and resilient. We must be strong for them until they learn to be strong for themselves. Alyssa has no problems. She’s a tough young lady. She’ll benefit from having you back. And having Dianite. And her other self. You’ll be able to live your life how you want. Martha… My sweet girl. I want you to find your strength. Please. Find your strength. Daddy loves you, baby girl… and I want to see your true form before I leave… I don’t have much time left, I know, but I am here for you until you find your strength. Mot? I’m retiring for the night. Please tell Martha I’d like to talk to her in the morning. (Yeah, of course. Sleep well, old man.) Thank you, kiddo. You’re a good man.