Perhaps joking around with Kai was a bit cruel, but Sunny was really annoyed by how ridiculously good-looking the other Sleeper was. Plus, he had not talked to another human in such a long time that his already lacking communication skills had become truly rusty.
Since they were going to visit the castle soon, Sunny had to prepare himself for the inevitable moment when he would be forced to talk to strangers. Stretching his Flaw to its limits was a good practice. He wouldn't want for something like… that accident to happen again.
The unpleasant memory soured Sunny's mood.
Meanwhile, Kai was staring at him with a very strange expression on his face. Sunny cleared his throat.
"Uh… that was a part of the joke, by the way."
The handsome young man continued to stare, his face full of doubt.
'Did I go too hard on this poor guy? He must have been scared out of his wits already… he's probably in an utter panic now. Who wouldn't be a bit apprehensive about meeting a madman? Yeah… maybe it wasn't as funny as I thought.'
Kai cautiously shook his head.
"It's not that. I just feel like I have to inform you about something."
Sunny raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah? About what?"
Kai hesitated, then said in a very calming tone:
"It's about my Flaw. I can actually tell when someone is lying to me. So, uh… when you said that there's a rock that tells you what to do, I knew that it was true right away."
Sunny glared at the beautiful young man with an incredulous expression. Internally, he didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.
'Flaw? How is that a Flaw?! That's a damn superpower, you despicable bastard!'
Why was that Kai so lucky? He had the charming voice, the tall stature, the perfect face. Even his Flaw was a damn blessing!
Coincidentally, it was also a perfect counter to the better half of Sunny's tricks. If Kai had not informed him about this strange Flaw of his, Sunny would have gotten himself into really big trouble pretty soon.
Luckily, the beautiful young man happened to be a very honest guy.
'What an angel!'
While Sunny was seething in outrage, Kai said in a gentle tone:
"So Sunny… what exactly does that rock ask you to do? Do you maybe want to tell me?"
'I'll have to be really, really careful and watch what I say around this guy. '
"Well, you're no fun at all. The talking rock is actually a Memory capable of repeating words. I use it as an alarm occasionally, so it mainly tells me to wake up. As for that stuff I told about my shadow being opinionated… that's also true. Uh, but you already know, I suppose. My shadow has a bit of personality due to its function within my Aspect."
Kai thought about it, then smiled.
"Oh, I see! So it was really a joke. Very crafty. Sorry to ruin it with my Flaw."
"Don't you patronize me…"
Then he stopped, thought about something, and said angrily:
"Wait, if you can tell when someone is lying, then why did I have to spend half an hour convincing you to get out of that well?!"
Kai blinked a couple of times, looking innocent and hurt.
"Well, how do I know if my Flaw works on Nightmare Creatures? I've never had a conversation with one before! A person can never be too careful when making deals with ancient horrors, you know."
Sunny covered his face with a hand.
"Yeah, I know."
Kai looked at him with concern.
"Ah, Sunny? Are you alright?"
'This is those cursed strings of fate screwing with me again. What are the odds of meeting a person whose Flaw is almost the exact opposite of mine? And why is he so goddamn stunning… is that supposed to be the opposite of how I look, huh? Huh?!'
"I am. Anyway. Let's get down to business."
"Of course. A promise is a promise. I will help you do whatever it is you want to do in the castle. Shall we go together?" 𝒾n𝒏𝚛𝗲αd. 𝒄om
Sunny shook his head.
"Not yet. I'll have to stop by a place first. Do you know the big ruined cathedral to the south of here?"
The other Sleeper thought for a bit, then nodded.
"I think I do. I fly over that part of the city often, and it's hard to miss. Are you taking me there?"
On one hand, Sunny didn't want anyone to know where he lived. On the other hand, he didn't trust Kai enough to simply let him return to the castle and wait there.
But moving through the city with a source of light was not something he was prepared to do, either.
Was there a compromise?
"I can't take you anywhere with that lantern of yours. I survive by hiding in the darkness, remember? So you can go on and fly to the cathedral on your own. Wait for me on the roof."
Kai looked south, remembering the location of the ruined temple, and nodded.
Sunny raised a hand, stopping the young man from flying away.
"Wait. Whatever happens, don't go inside the cathedral, okay? I'm not joking. There's a Fallen Devil residing inside, so if you do, he'll butcher you just like he had butchered that bunch of idiots who had kidnapped you."
Kai stared at him in shock.
"What? They are dead?"
"How do you think I found you in that well? One of the dead thugs had a map on his body. I thought there'll be treasure hidden in the marked location. But…"
The beautiful Sleeper smiled.
"But it was something much better? Aw, thank you for the compliment! I'll be careful not to enter the cathedral, rest assured."
Sunny stared at the smiling Kai for some time, then shrugged in exasperation.
"Sure. Off you go, then. And remember — if you break our agreement, I will…"
"...find and kill me, yeah. Don't worry, Sunny. I never break a promise!"
With these words, Kai raised his head and looked up. A soft gust of wind touched Sunny's skin, and in the next moment, the charming Sleeper suddenly soared above the ground, quickly disappearing into the sky. Soon, only a tiny dot of his paper lantern could be seen, moving south through the black skies like a lonely star.
Suddenly, Sunny trembled.
A cold feeling of dread grasped his heart like an iron grip.
Following the dot of light with his eyes, he whispered:
"...There was a lonely star burning in the black skies, and under its light, the castle was suddenly consumed by fire, with rivers of blood flowing down its halls."
He stood for a while in the darkness, motionless.
If Sunny didn't know better, he would have thought that this part of Cassie's prophecy talked about Kai.
But he did know better.
He had known the truth of that prophecy for some time now.
Lowering his head, Sunny licked his lips and asked the voiceless shadow in a raspy voice:
"Is it… is it already starting?"
Like always, the shadow did not answer.
'What a stupid question.'
Of course not. It had started a long time ago.
Right at the moment when the three of them had entered the ruined city.
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