Although Gods have always tracked the Demons’ movements through the realm of Humans, they overlooked the harm Demons inflicted. The Courts of Zodiacs gave their best protecting humans but an uncountable number of people still suffered from the damnation...
Court of Aries: Armstrong! Can you hold on?
Armstrong the City Taker: It’s just a few enemies. No problem!
Court of Aries: I heard cries for help... Cover me!
Poppy: ‘The flame... is getting warmer...’
Court of Aries: Hang —
Poppy: ‘Am I going to melt?’
Court of Aries: Don’t give up!
The Court of Aries cut off the arm of the charred skeleton and hurriedly picked up the girl burnt by the demonic flames from the lifeless grasp of the corpse.
Armstrong the City Taker: Court of Aries, this girl is contaminated.
Court of Aries: I know. The flame will not die as long as she lives.
Armstrong the City Taker: Then why are you insisting —
Court of Aries: Armstrong, have you ever complained about your overwhelming strength?
Armstrong the City Taker: Why would I?
Court of Aries: That’s exactly my point.
The Court of Aries tenderly flicked the dust off the girl’s face. The Astralist understood the Court’s will. When the Court of Aries infused his power into the girl to help her fight against the contamination, the power of constellations also transferred into her body...
Poppy did not want to live. She lowered her head in silence, paying no attention to what the others were doing.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Right... She has talents with elements. No wonder Demons targeted her.
Court of Aries: How is she?
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Mm. The Astralist did well.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: The power of Gods and Demons are fusing into a stable state. She’ll be fine.
Poppy: What...did you say?
Poppy: I’m not dying...I’m not going to Mom and Dad?
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: It’s your part now.
Poppy lifted her head and looked at the Court of Aries in front of her.
Poppy: Why didn’t you let me die?
Court of Aries: Why do you want to die?
Poppy: Mom and Dad died — in the flame...I should be with them...
Court of Aries: Don’t worry, we’ll live with you.
Poppy: I don’t want you. I want Mom and Dad!
The demonic flame burst out and lit Poppy. She cuddled herself in pain, wailing. No one figured if she was crying or laughing —
Statue of God of the Sun: Please step aside, Court of Aries.
Court of Aries: Do not harm her!
Poppy engulfed herself in flame. No matter how much her body’s pain told her to resist, she did not respond to the instinct. When she cuddled her burning body, Poppy remembered that she lost her consciousness inside her father’s embrace. He had used his body to shelter her from the demonic flame. Upon realizing her father’s wish through the Court of Aries’ action, she hugged the Court; tears streamed down her face but they evaporated with the contact of the flame.
Poppy: Dad, I’ve disappointed you...again!
Court of Aries: Don’t cry! You didn’t disappoint him!
Poppy: Even...if I make it...no one will...notice!
Court of Aries: I will. Hang in there!
At last, she found a reason to live. She stopped the fire and fell into a deep sleep in content, while the Court of Aries suppressed the power inside her body with his own...
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: No swordsmen would protect the sword at the cost of themselves!
Poppy pouted in discontent. She would rather fall than to scuff the sword given to he by her brother. Wounds would heal in a short time while a damage on the sword needed a long time to fix.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: When your enemies take the sword from your body,
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: they won’t appreciate you for being considerate!
Poppy the Armed Handmaid: My brother would never let anyone take my sword!
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Really? It happens that I have an idea to separate you from the Court of Aries.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: A weak sword cannot accompany a Court of Zodiac...
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: If you don’t show a bit of hard work,
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: don’t blame me for sending you to do trivial jobs!
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Concentrate! And swing your sword!
In a bitter battle, the Court of Aries fought to death. They must retrieve his shield as per the tradition of the Court.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Thank You, Pollux.
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: It was my brother’s work.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Then...please send him my gratitude.
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: Please be reassured. He has heard it.
Courts of Zodiacs aided in the search for the Court of Aries’ body, and finally the Astralist found it with the Court of Gemini’s help. On their way back, the Court of Taurus struck up a conversation with the Court of Gemini.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Everything alright?
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: No problem.
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: The Court of Aries’ body is not contaminated. The rituals will go fine —
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: No, I was asking about Poppy. Didn’t she go with you?
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: ...You have changed.
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: You used to only care about wars —
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Pollux, I’m asking about Poppy.
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: She...she just held his body until I left.
The Court of Taurus could picture the scene: Even the power of constellations would disseminate in the fight against contamination, the body of Gods would not decay having served as a longtime vessel of strong power. Hence, when Poppy saw the Court of Aries lying who now lie in an eternal slumber, she would likely be inconsolable and would burst into loud sobs...
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: No, she did not cry.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Really?
Court of Gemini - Castor & Pollux: Really. The Astralist taught her well.
Divine flame descended from the constellations, illuminating the mountains at night. The Courts of Taurus and Aries undertook the mission to investigate the heresy worshipping Elder Gods. They searched among the mountains and finally reached Faugn’s whereabouts. To protect their sacred ground, the heretics under assault fought against the army of Gods.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Get out of the way!
Silver Twilight Adherent: Hateful Gods! If the Saintly Maiden is here —
Despite losing ground, the heretics held the line of defense on the mountainside, keeping the raid out of the private chamber of Faugn.
Court of Aries - Poppy: Armstrong! Duck!
The Court of Taurus thought Poppy was going to shoot an arrow. Instead, a foot stepped onto his back and the agile Poppy jumped across the defenses. She enveloped herself with fire and dashed through to the back of the enemy lines. The sudden charge disconcerted the heretics, creating a chance for the Gods to strike. Poppy then swiftly but rashly barged in the cave.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: That fool!
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Hurry! Keep up with her!
Court of Aries - Poppy: Faugn the Elder God, explain yourself,
Court of Aries - Poppy: or there is no chance I will forgive all the killings you’ve committed.
Court of Aries - Poppy: Even you’re the primitive origin of all, you can’t reap souls at will.
Court of Aries - Poppy: The realm of Humans isn’t just another one of your playgrounds.
Court of Aries - Poppy: Excuse my rudeness!
— the dragon splintered and exploded in front of Poppy. A sphere of purple light shone through the fragments and hit Poppy in the face. When she opened her eyes, she found herself on her ram mount, returning home with the others.
Court of Aries - Poppy: Faugn!
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: You woke?
Court of Aries - Poppy: What happened? Did I take out Faugn?
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: You ripped one of its incarnations, and was defeated by an even stronger one.
Court of Aries - Poppy: How did... At least we stopped the heretics!
Court of Aries - Poppy: They can’t randomly slaughter people now, right?
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: For now. After all, a religion can’t be simply eradicated.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Poppy, How many times do I need to repeat myself? Don’t be rash. We —
Court of Aries - Poppy: — are the envoys of Astralists. We shall not be impetuous,
Court of Aries - Poppy: and our missions should serve as our first priority.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: You would do well to remember.
Poppy tapped her mount. The ram accelerated but could never catch up with the Court of Taurus. ‘Someday, I’ve got to ask Hertz to switch to better parts.’ She gazed down at the realm of Humans, only to see a few scattered cities emitting flickers of light. Nevertheless, it was much brighter than when the last Court of Aries laid eyes on it.
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Things would get better, bit by bit...
Poppy held the shield in her arms, whispering in her heart —