A Brief Explanation
Ely pushed me away, eyes wide.
I quickly glanced at her expression to see if there was any kind of disgust or anger or anything of the sort, but thankfully all I saw was her look of surprise.
“Well, I guess that’s to be expected if I just up and kiss you with no explanation. Well, I’ll try to make this short. You people, too. I’ve made the barrier such that you can hear and see what’s going on inside. Bear witness to what I’m about to say.”
I addressed the second half of my statement to the elves and catkin who were at the door to the Chamber, but barred from entering further by my barrier. I’d never carried out this particular protocol before, though I did know how it was to be done.
I caught myself thinking like a machine again and shook my head. This wasn’t a “protocol”, this was a ceremony. I turned to Ely.
“Well, there’s a lot to explain, and a lot to talk about, but for now, I guess I should start with telling you more about the current me.”
“Yes, please do. I’m curious as to how you appeared out of thin air. I’m also curious about why you’re suddenly so good with the spear. You don’t get that level of skill just by watching and learning. That takes experience. Years of experience.”
Ely nodded, getting over her surprise with marvelous ease. However, the back part of her sentence was tinged with a bit of anger. I recalled the times Ely had yelled at me for saying that I wanted to fight alongside her. Those were… painful times, for sure. I was helpless. I couldn’t do anything but watch as my sister risked her life time and time again for my sake. But it also made me a little happy – happy that my sister cherished me enough to scold me over that. It seemed that Ely’s protective streak had not faded in the least. There was a real chance that if I explained everything to her, she would blame Kyrin and his people for forcing me to fight, then proceed to destroy them. I decided to avoid this possibility by beginning my explanation with the most absurd fact about my new body.
“Well, to put it simply, I’m a spear now.”
“…I’m sorry, run that by me again?”
Her agitation completely disappeared, replaced by a confused expression. I breathed an inward sigh of relief. I had managed to successfully avert her thoughts from straying into a dangerous direction.
“Well, uh, I’m not quite sure how to explain it. Or, rather, I do know how to explain it, but it’s really complicated, and would take really long, and I’m not sure whether it’s suitable for the ears of some people here…”
I trailed off as I spoke the last bit, partly due to being conscious about the elves and catkin just outside the barrier, but also because I realised that I had slipped back into my old habit of rambling – a habit that I had as a child. It was probably because Ely was here with me – with her in front of me, I felt like a child again. I felt like her kid sister again. It was both a happy and upsetting thought – happy because I knew that even though I had changed bodies, I was still the same person, and upsetting because it showed how little I’d matured in more than half a millenium. I took a deep breath and formulated my thoughts. I decided to approach it slightly differently.
“Um, well, do you remember Butterfly?”
“Of course. As I recall, you didn’t get along very well with her. But why are you bringing her up now- oh, I see. So that’s how it is.”
Butterfly was one of Ely’s weapons back in the Second World. She was a beautiful double-edged sword, with a deep violet tassel and a silver-coated blade that shone brilliantly in the first rays of dawn. More importantly, she was an existence similar to my current self, though her origin was a little different. She was an heirloom that had been given by Lady Yingquan to the first Emperor of our country, and was a sentient sword who could create her own material body and move around – much like myself. The key difference is that she was given life by Lady Yingquan, and I was artificially created in a laboratory.
As Ely said, I didn’t like her very much. She always took on a haughty attitude, as if looking down on us humans, constantly deriding our struggles as “time-wasting trivialities”. Well, having lived as long as I have – though my years of life only amounted to a fraction of Butterfly’s – I could sort of begin to see where she was coming from. Living for so long, for so many years, seeing wars and cataclysms come and go before my eyes, it became too easy to see the day-to-day struggles of short-lived humans as trivial matters. If not for my efforts to walk among the new humans as one of them, I might have developed a similar attitude.
Regardless of my attitude to her, my objective in bringing her up was to let Ely understand the kind of existence I now was.
“Well, I get what you are now, but how did that happen?”
“I was reborn into this world in this form. I’m certain Lady Yingquan had her reasons for having me assume this form.”
“Yingquan, I’m going to fucking kill you-!”
As always, Ely somehow had the courage to blaspheme against Her, even though she knew irrefutably that Lady Yingquan was indeed a god. The day I had met Her in person, I had grown faithful – how can one deny god when graced by Her own presence? Yet Ely seemed unfazed by this and often showed Her blatant disrespect. I feared what might have happened had Ely not been Her favorite. I silently prayed for Her forgiveness on Ely’s behalf. I coughed my throat and attempted to change the subject.
“A-Anyway, now that you know the kind of being I am, let’s move on to why I kissed you.”
“It’s probably something like the Blood Dance, right?”
The Blood Dance was a binding ritual in the Second World that bound Butterfly to her chosen user. It was a rather messy affair that involved the user slitting their forearm on Butterfly’s blade and coating her blade with blood, after which a sword dance would be immediately performed. The sword dance would only end when Butterfly decided that she was satisfied, and if the prospective user collapsed from blood loss at any time, the ritual would be considered a failure. From what I recall, Ely’s dance had the record of being most quickly acknowledged – Butterfly ended it after only two verses of the accompanying song, just a bit over three minutes.
“Well, it’s similar in nature, but not quite as bloody. See, as a spear, particularly as an Intelligent Weapon, I’m made to seek out an owner. Not just any owner, but a True Owner – someone who can use me to my fullest potential, someone whose mana wavelength resonates with mine.”
Well, in truth, Ely’s mana wavelength was nonexistent, so that bit was kind of irrelevant. Still, I knew in my heart that she was the only one who could be my True Owner. Perhaps Lady Yingquan, in her kindness, had bound together our souls with a thread stronger than mana.
“…You want me to be your True Owner.”
“No, it’s not as simple a matter as wanting you to be my owner. You are my True Owner. Nobody else. There is no other person who can fulfill this role. Just you.”
I blinked in surprise. I hadn’t been expecting Ely to refuse.
“Can I ask why?”
“…I’m your sister, not your owner. It doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t want to restrain you. I especially don’t want to own you, that’s fucked up…”
I took Ely’s hands in mine and looked into her eyes.
“Ely. I’m still going to be your sister. I’m still Eury. I always have been. But in this world, in this body, I’m not just Eury. I’m also IW-A-P-03. I may have memories of being human, but in this world, I’m not. I’m not human. I’m an Intelligent Weapon. Searching for my True Owner is quite literally hardcoded into my nature. I have been searching for seven hundred years. I have finally found you. My Sister and my Owner. This is important to me, Ely.”
Ely locked eyes with me for a few moments, but I saw her will wavering. Finally, she sighed.
“…Fine. But in name only, okay?”
Well, that wasn’t exactly what I intended. The acknowledgement of the True Owner was absolutely binding. Whether she liked it or not, Ely wasmy Owner. To call it just a title was kind of upsetting. In any case, I supposed that it was the only way she could bring herself to accept the idea, so I played along.