Ely took a step back, then another. Her hand that was grasping my shaft fell limply to her side, releasing me. She stared at me, unblinking.
I let go of my projected spear body, allowing it to dissolve into light, assigning my humanoid component to take the role of my primary body. I ran forward and embraced my long-lost sister.
“Ely… Ely… Ely!”
Tears that I never knew I had poured forth, staining her familiar chest. I felt Ely’s arms move around my back and pull me close.
“Eury… I remember…”
“Ely, Ely, Ely!”
I couldn’t do much more than repeat her name – I was too overwhelmed. I remembered everything.
Ely pushed me away and held me at arm’s length, looking me up and down.
“Wow. It’s… it’s been too long. You look… so different.”
If only she knew how long I had been waiting. Waiting without knowing. Ely took my hair and let it run through her hands.
“Blue… What a beautiful colour.”
She cupped my face in her open palm.
“Your eyes… they’re the only thing that hasen’t changed.”
Unable to stand the distance any longer, I pushed myself into her chest again and hugged her tightly. I felt warm water dripping on my shoulder. I silently said a prayer to Lady Yingquan, to thank Her for allowing me the chance to meet my sister again.
I am IW-A-P-03, an autonomous Intelligent Weapon of the Polearm category. But before that, before I came to this world, I had a different name – Eurydice Ling. I was Ely’s little sister, who had abducted along with her to serve as a hostage in the previous world.
In that world, I had only been able to watch on the sidelines as Ely fought battle after battle, each time narrowly escaping death, each time coming back bruised and battered. It was all I could do to nurse her after each fight. Each time she came back wounded, My heart hurt to know that she was fighting for my sake – that she was getting hurt for my sake.
In the ten years we spent in that world, we both made many friends, even among our abductors. We were not treated poorly, not in the slightest. Despite my position as a hostage, the Empress treated both of us like her own children. I was only seven when we were taken. I was raised as an Imperial Princess, I spent my days playing and studying with the other royal children. Before long, I became able to forget our circumstances and grew to treat that other world as my own. Of course, I never forgot that Ely was fighting to keep me safe. But I stopped longing to return home.
When the ten-year war finally ended and Lady Yingquan extended the offer to return us to our home, I hesitated. By that point, I had spent more of my life in the other world than in our original world. That other world felt like home. Moreover, I had been infatuated with the Second Prince, who had proposed to me shortly prior to the end of the war. Despite Ely’s attempts to persuade me, in the end, I hurt her one last time – I decided to remain in that other world.
For what remained of my short life afterward, I was frequently tormented at night by the memory of her pained expression, of the betrayed look that was in her eyes when she heard my choice.
On the day that she was sent home by Lady Yingquan, I didn’t attend the farewell ceremony. It was too difficult. I was too afraid. I was a coward.
When I eventually passed away again in that other world, Lady Yingquan met me at the gates to Her afterlife. In Her infinite grace, She offered to let me live another life in another world. I was initially intending to refuse Her generosity, but She told me that when Ely passed, She would send Ely along as well. If I met Ely again, even in another life, I could apologise and ask for forgiveness. With that in mind, I readily agreed to be reincarnated. She warned me that I might not reincarnate into a human body, and that I might not meet Ely for my entire life. However, I still agreed. If there was a chance of seeing Ely again, I wanted to take it.
Unfortunately, She had not seen fit to reveal to me that I would lose my memory upon reincarnating. Not just my memories of Ely, but all memories of my past life. Perhaps it was Her divine punishment for my selfish act of hurting Ely. If so, I wholly deserved it.
I had spent hundreds of years on this world as IW-A-P-03, not knowing anything about my past life or my past identity – until that time when Ely became my True Owner and our minds were linked for the first time. That was when all the uncertainty fell away – when the weight that had burdened my heart from the moment of my rebirth was finally lifted. I finally knew where my movements and spear techniques had come from. Perhaps a part of me subconsciously remembered Ely. Perhaps that part of me had tried to imitate my genius sister’s style. The spearfighting stances and attacks I used, the special techniques I had learned, the skills that had saved my owners so many times in the past – those techniques were all originally Ely’s. Techniques I had seen her creating and perfecting, back in the previous world. They were the link that tied me to my sister. I had always wondered why my fighting style differed from the other IWs from the same batch – now I knew the answer. Even when she hadn’t been there next to me, Ely had always been protecting me – I had always been walking forward with her as my guiding star. I finally understood that fact.
My tears finally subsided enough for me to speak coherently.
“Ely, it’s been so long… too long. Longer than you would believe.”
“I don’t care. I’m just glad that I got to see you again.”
“…Me too, sis. Me too.”
I enjoyed the nostalgic sensation of Ely patting my head for a few more moments, then stepped out of her hug. She looked at me questioningly. I gazed into her eyes. A few moments of silence passed between us. Then we laughed. Ely spoke first.
“Y’know, I’ve played out this scene in my head a lot of times since the day I went home. I had so many things I wanted to say, so many things I wanted to ask, so many things I wanted to scold you for. But now that we’re here, none of it is coming out. Funny, isn’t it?”
“Same goes for me. Just after you went home, I thought of so many things to say, so many ways to apologise. But suddenly none of that matters.”
I reached out and took her hands in mine.
“Now that we’re together again, we’ll have plenty of time to talk. From now, till the end of time. We have all the time in the world. So let’s save the talking for later. For now, there’s something else I need you to do.”
Ely looked at me, curiosity evident in her expression. Her eyes were gentle – as gentle as I remembered.
“Something else? What would that be? I’d do anything for you, Eury, you know that.”
Just then, the door to the Council Chamber burst open, and Drinul walked in, accompanied by Dyros. They must have deduced that the fight was over – probably because they no longer heard weapons clashing.
Good timing. They could serve as the witnesses.
Ignoring the two newcomers, I swung my hands around Ely’s head and pressed my lips to hers.