Chapter 71: The Promise

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Byakuya Ikemoto stupefiedly watched the hand that was stretched out to him, and the man who was his deadly adversary just a minute ago.

"Eh?"

Von Drachen was still smilingly holding his hand out as if nothing. Ikemoto shrugged and wanted to grab on his hand to stand up, but there, blood poured off his chest wound and he winced, falling back to the ground. Seeing his troubles, Byakuya von Drachen ordered his blue-haired female muse:

"Debbie, please tend to his wound".

"Yes, my lord!"

The girl walked up to Byakuya Ikemoto, knelt beside him, and touched his wounded chest. Ikemoto blinked in stupefaction as her hands glowed purple and closed his entire wound.

"Wow..." he mumbled. This time, he stood up without any problems, and instantly shot a frowning gaze at smiling von Drachen: "The heck does this mean? First, you nearly kill me, and now you smile at me?! What is it you want?"

"Nothing," Byakuya von Drachen chuckled, "It is just that I've noticed how Tamie greatly depends on you so I wanted to hone your skills. Tamie expects you to defeat all of her enemies and uses you as her trump card. You too, highly depend on your Blue Fire and amaze everyone with your rare muse powers. But suppose your opponent, like me now, was a mused one? You wouldn't stand a chance. Did you see how Tamie's friend Riza awakened her muse too? Muses are rare, it's true, but it is not impossible that your enemy possesses it, so you need to be prepared, as when Tamie reaches the highest rank of the Writer Class, she will have many dangerous enemies on her path".

"Huh? So you want to say you scared me to death just to train me?!"

"Precisely. Well, it was also a little amusing. You and I are similar in many ways. We both love teasing people," Byakuya von Drachen playfully winked.

"Hmph!" Ikemoto turned around and crossed his arms.

Von Drachen chuckled at such a funny gesture of his and then offered:

"It is still time until morning when we all wake up. What would you say if you stayed for a while? I'd be glad to show you some of my dream world".

"I don't know... Hell knows what comes to your mind if I decide to stay... You might not let me go later and imprison me in your conscience. Guys like you are unpredictable".

Byakuya von Drachen laughed and shook his head.

"Well then, you'd better get going back to Tamie's conscience, until it dawns and she notices you're not there".

"Yeah, I guess..." Byakuya Ikemoto shrugged and took back the form of Kokujin. He was ready to leave when suddenly he spotted some ruins of a once-magnificent palace up ahead on one of the hills. "Huh? What's that?"

Byakuya von Drachen curiously looked where Kokujin was pointing at, but once he noticed the ruins, he sighed with bitterness and turned around as if feeling too painful to watch that demolished palace.

"That... is von Drachen estate..."

Kokujin widened eyes - he meant... his home?! He questioningly looked at Debbie, wanting to confirm his assumption, and when he indeed received a silent nod, he deeply sighed, glancing at sorrowful Byakuya again.

So his home indeed exists no more. That is why his eyes always looked so gloomy even when he was cheerful... I guess indeed all he has left of his home and Clan now is his younger brother he has recently discovered. No one can know better than me, a muse, the principles of the dream world - if a person so vividly dreams of their destroyed home, it means it has left a large scar in their subconscious... he now sadly looked down, having pity on Byakuya - he was not just a Blade Warrior for nothing, he had indeed experienced a bitter past as every other warrior had. Maybe that was why he now selflessly fought to protect what he loved? Because, just like his warrior brother Kokuyo, he knew too well what it felt like to lose something dear to one's heart...

"Byakuya!"

"Huh?" Byakuya awoke from his thoughts and curiously looked at him.

"Do you truly love Tamie?"

The young man widened eyes and went all red - the heck of a question in all of a sudden?! He bluntly stared at Kokujin who had a fairly serious gaze. 

"Please, be frank. I need to know... And as you said, muses are forbidden to tell their Creators what's happening in other Creators' minds, so whatever you say will remain between us. I won't be able to tell Tamie anything, so you needn't fear".

Byakuya first blinked, but then chuckled and shook his head:

"You caught me in my own speech. We two are indeed so similar... Yes, I do love Tamie, Kokujin D'Infernal".

"Then I guess, I will trust you too, just as she does. Byakuya von Drachen, promise me you'll protect my Goddess for eternity, whatever may come, and you'll stay beside her forever so that we two could guide her towards her happiness together..." Kokujin held out his fist.

"I give my word of a Blade Warrior," Byakuya bumped his fist to the muse's one.

Thus their promise was sealed. Kokujin left Byakuya's conscience and returned to Tamie's one, instantly feeling peaceful and safe. Once Debbie and Byakuya remained alone again in this latter's conscience Debbie surprisedly looked up at him:

"Why did you give such a promise, Byakuya-sama?"

Byakuya beamed:

"It doesn't prevent me from reaching my goals, does it?"

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