Leonel walked out from seemingly nowhere, a corpse as large as a moon, and only getting bigger, hanging from his silver, white-gold arm. The Shadow Tail's body seemed to be losing its form slowly, or what small bit of form it had once had, the longer it spent dead. Its billowing Dark Force spread out, and as it did so, its large, mangled body expanded as though there was a balloon within it.
He was so small compared to the corpse of the Shadow Tail that it was almost impossible to tell that the former was being carried at all, it seemed more like the beast was languid, beaten and battered with injuries, and it was only now slowly making its way back.
As for Leonel, his gaze was vacant and empty. They held an unfathomable depth, one worn and torn by the ages.
There was one person, though, who noticed him immediately.
Alienor, or rather Alienor in the body of a woman he didn't recognize, rushed forward with her greatest speed. However, in the devastation, and especially after being blown so far back by the destruction of the Fusion Core, just how far was that distance?
Who could stop a grieving mother, though?
It had been hours since Leonel had disappeared, and Alienor had already pried herself forward, looking through the debris of the destroyed Tier 1 Starship. When she saw the Shadow Tail suddenly appear, she rushed forward in a fury. But when she noticed its startling lack of a reaction, and then saw that it was actually being carried, her tears spilled forward in a torrent.
She rushed forward and buried Leonel's head into her chest, holding onto him maybe more tightly than she should have. She seemed to have completely forgotten that to Leonel, she should have just been a random woman he had never met before, but she couldn't be bothered to deal with this.
She didn't care how Leonel had defeated the Shadow Tail, she didn't care where he had gone, she didn't care about the Zone or what challenges they had passed or failed, she just pulled in her son as tightly as she could, and Leonel let her do as he pleased.
He stood there, silently listening to the sobs of his mother.
After a long while, he spoke, "there's never a need to worry when I'm here. I promise."
Alienor only cried harder when she heard this. These words, they were all too familiar. She had tried her best to not show Leonel her tears, to not show weakness, to be the same strong pillar that her husband had been, but the loss was weighing heavy on her, and just now she thought that she had lost even her son.
She wasn't strong enough, not nearly strong enough. Her son shouldn't have to say such words to her, her husband shouldn't have had to say such words to her, she should have been able to stand in front of the former and stand beside the latter, and yet all she could do was hold them and cry.
"I'm sorry, Little Lion, mom is sorry..."
Leonel didn't say anything. He had already said all he needed to say. He might understand how his mother felt, or how Aina had felt, but soon, there would come a day where their hearts could lay to rest and their calm could return, a day when their confidence in him was just as high as his confidence in himself... and if not? Then the day where there was no one left to threaten them would come first.
Alienor pulled back, teary faced, looking into the abyss of her son's eyes. She didn't seem surprised to see this. She had observed Leonel for far longer than he knew, at least until recently. She understood him better than most, which was exactly why she had never tried to coddle his feelings.
But it was ironic. She said that she would be a true mother, and yet she had indulged her son instead of doing the opposite. It was embarrassing, she wasn't all that far from 100 years old, relatively speaking, but she still didn't quite understand how to be a parent.
It was hard to accept. She had been talented all her life, and it could be said that she rarely came across any roadblocks, but this... She didn't quite know what to do.
"I'll be back," Leonel said lightly before Alienor could make up her mind.
He took a step and vanished into the distance. Alienor's shoulders trembled, but she bit her lip hard, so hard that blood dribbled down her chin. She didn't have a decision, but the one thing she knew was that her tears wouldn't fix anything.
Leonel moved into the distance, crossing large distances.
"Anastasia," Leonel said.
"Is the snowglobe large enough to take this thing?"
"You want to keep it?"
"I can't leave it lying around just anywhere, and I feel like I might be able to use it to strengthen my Lineage Factors with..."
His voice trailed off. He wanted to say Aina's help, but his intention switched. If Aina's skill increased enough, she could definitely succeed. If he wanted to use it to form an armor, he didn't know if even his current self, with all the improvement he had made, was enough to process this Envoy of Destruction into a Divine Armor. It was a task so complex he couldn't wrap his mind around it, and he had yet to ever use living existences in his armor, he didn't even quite know if it was possible.
"... None of the current snowglobes can contain it, but I can do something about that."
"Thanks," Leonel said lightly.
The corpse suddenly vanished from his hand, but not before a certain Pluto caught sight of it from the distance.
El'Rion's tongue felt both tied and frozen. That creature that had shaken him to his core was... dead? It was dead? And by the hands of this human?
No, the Timeless Event, it surely revolved around this creature, no? What did that mean for it, then? Just how...
He was stunned speechless.