"So what?" Lith asked, sighing in relief.

"So, I know I can't teach them how to handle their powers, but you can." Rena replied. "I know that at some point in Leria's life, if she Awakens and then turns into a new kind of Divine Beast, she will feel lost and confused.

"I know that I'm asking a lot of you, but please, be their parent for the things I can't help them with. Be their parent when I won't be here anymore. Please, promise me that you'll protect them and take care of them like you did for me."

"Why me? Why not Tista?" Lith felt a lump in his throat, not for the commitment that the promise implied but at the idea of living in a world without his big sister.

"Because Tista still looks up to you to find her path in life. I know that she can keep my children safe but I don't think she can teach them anything about being a hybrid, let alone a Divine Beast.

"She may be older than you, but in my eyes, she's still a little girl. You instead, are a man and a father."

"Dya!" Elysia puffed her chest out with pride.

In her mind, it was a shared achievement since they had graduated from the father/daughter academy on the same day.

"Dya indeed." Rena offered her index finger to the baby and Elysia grabbed it. "What do you say, little brother?"

"You have my word." Lith nodded.

"Thank you. You have no idea what this means to me." Rena hugged him again.

"Don't thank me. Thank Elysia." He returned the embrace, holding his sister tight.

"Because she made you a better man?" Rena asked.

"Be?" Elysia echoed.

"No, because by then she'll be old enough to take care of her cousins in place of her old man." Lith coughed while hunching his back, pretending to have suddenly aged decades. "I'm too old for this stuff."

"Dya!" Elysia shapeshifted into a small Voidfeather Dragon to have a neck long enough to reach Lith's shoulder and pin-like teeth to bite him.

"Thank you, Elysia, then." Rena caressed the small scaly head and then ran her hand along the neck. "Don't be angry at your dad. He is right. As the older sister, you'll also have to take care of your younger siblings, just like I did."

"What siblings?" Lith froze in horror.

"Wa?" Elysia asked with a mouth full of Voidwalker armor.

"Feel free to use your brothers and sisters as practice, Elysia, so that when you take care of my children, they'll have the best mentor on Mogar." Rena chuckled, ignoring them both. "As for you little brother, our family has twins often.

"This time you were lucky, but the next…"

"Please, stop!" He looked at Elysia, imagining all the trouble he was going through doubled if not tripled like it had happened to Rena.

"Fine. Now bring me to the moon. I bet that I'm going to be the first woman ever to take a bath in a lake under Mogarlight."


City of Valeron, Royal Castle, a month later.

The full spring had come and with it the good weather and the first exam for the students of the six great academies.

Much to Lith's dismay, Void Magic had been introduced as one of the mandatory courses for the fourth year and he was still the only person qualified enough to teach the subject.

Elysia was now three months old and he still couldn't get 100 meters (328') away from her without becoming violent. It was a great motivator whenever the Kingdom requested his help to slaughter a local branch of the Undead Courts, not so much for teaching.

Thanks to the information that Lith and Vastor had extracted from their respective prisoners, the Distar Marquisate and the Essagor Arch Duchy were undergoing a purge of their most influential undead.

The army and the Association rarely needed help, but when it happened, the Archmage and the Magus were happy to give them a hand. It was thanks to the intervention of their personal forces that the raids had yielded an unexpected bounty.

The more intact Ancient Gates they found, the more the Kingdom's Wardens could study the outdated runes employed by the Undead Courts and use them to discover the position of new branches.

On each Gate was carved the fixed sets of dimensional coordinates that connected it with its twin. Even if the Gate on the other side was destroyed to prevent the invaders from activating the dimensional door, the mages of the Kingdom could still study its remains

The Undead used very ancient runes that were allegedly lost to time and only a few of them were recorded in the Royal Library. Unfortunately for the undead, Tezka was more ancient.

He had written those runes millennia ago and even though he couldn't remember them all, he could reverse-engineer them.

It was only a matter of time before he recovered the full set of runes and discovered the dimensional coordinates to which a specific set led. With a bit of luck, with each conquered branch, more would fall in a domino effect.

"I swear, if they want to force me to enter a classroom and command respect while wearing a baby carrier, I'm going to give them a piece of my mind." Lith snarled and so did Elysia.

For some reason her father was angry and she was doing her best to express her support for him.

"Maybe they have prepared a side room for me and the baby. It would explain why they have summoned me as well." Kamila cooed at the baby, finding Elysia's attempts to be threatening quite adorable.

Her maternity leave had yet to end and she had decided to not resume her work as a Constable until she had overcome the depression caused by the loss of her powers. Accumulation and training were making Kamila stronger, but the only moment she felt truly at peace with herself was when she held her baby girl.

It was only then that her suffering became irrelevant and the voices in her head shut up for good.

"That's actually a good idea." Lith nodded. "But I would rather stay home and rest. Is it too much to ask the Kingdom to survive for a few months without me?"

At those words, the Royal Guards escorting them from the Warp Gate to the High Council Room located in the King's private headquarters coughed awkwardly.

"This isn't a good sign." Lith said.

Once they reached their destination, they found the representatives of the Awakened Council, the Royals, the Empress, Kelia, General Vorgh, and Archmage Akham, the new head of the Mage Association, waiting for them.

'I'm confident this isn't about Void Magic.' Kamila said via a mind link while their arrival was greeted with bows and niceties.

'No mind links without establishing physical contact to hide them.' Lith warned her. 'Awakened can see them and it's considered a very rude gesture.'

'Sorry.' Kamila cut off the contact, wondering if mind links were the reason public displays of affection were universally frowned upon on Garlen.

With everything that had happened since Elysia's birth, there was no time to also teach Kamila about the etiquette of the Awakened community.