The ocean breeze swept through the peaceful land blessed with spring. The waters gently caressed the shores as the sun rose from the east, welcoming a glorious dawn of a new day. Tranquility could be witnessed all over the town: children laughing; Merchants selling their wares and conversing with locals; cute creatures roaming around and playing.
Within the home of the Battle Vixens, Heal-Do, the youngest sister and Assassin of the guild, was greeted by the morning sun as the warmth of its rays shined through her window. She gave a light smile as she got out of bed to gaze upon the clear, blue sky above and the beauty of the town below.
"It's beautiful… just like Alfheim before…" she thought before her smile turned into a frown. Shutting the curtains behind her, heal-Do got herself dressed and made her way down their pagoda-like home and passed by her elder sister Lupi's room – whose door was cracked ajar…
"Heal-Do," Lupi grumbled sleepily as she passed by her room, "is that you?"
"Y-Yes, Big Sister?" she answered timidly.
"Where are you headed?" the Knight said, now rising from her bed, looking at her baby sister through her matted tresses. "This is early, even for you."
"I was just going to get some air, is all," the Assassin replied.
"Well, while you're out there, get Elua inside – it's her turn to cook breakfast." The Huntress could be seen flying with Mukuhawk outside of Lupi's window.
"Uh, sure thing, Lupi - I'll let her know right away!"
She gave a tired smile and fell backwards as the back of her head landed on her pillow, her unkempt scarlet hair blowing in all directions. The Assassin continued her way down and left the abode, but as if she decided to take a detour first and made her way to a large castle named Toukoujyo. She sat by the lake which surrounded the castle and stares deeply into her own reflection in the water…
"Lupi… Aege… Elua… they have all gotten in touch with their element's inner core. Time is running short and I have yet to find mine. How much longer still must I wait…?" she thought. Dipping her hand in the water, she sighed softly as she felt a soothing sensation, as if her cares had all washed away for but a moment before cleaning her face. "What must I do..?" she asked again in her mind before washing her face once more. Before she dried her face, she would see another reflection in the water.
"You all right, Baby Sister?" said a voice. She turned around and saw Elua with her falcon perched on her shoulder, her earring glistening in the morning sunlight.
"Oh… good morning, Elua," spoke the Assassin in a somewhat dejected tone. "Everything is okay, really."
"I know, Heal-Do…" Elua reassured while patting her baby sister on the back. "You'll find your inner strength soon enough! Remember what you told me? I stuck with what I had to do and – wouldn't you know it, I unlocked my inner freedom!"
"Which reminds me," interjected Heal-Do, "Lupi said that you were making breakfast this week."
"Oh, yeah… I guess so, huh?" the Huntress said with a giggle. "Well, better do so now while she gets her 'Beauty Sleep!' See you soon, Heal-Do!"
Elua would make her way back home before waving farewell, leaving the Assassin alone to collect herself. Her gaze fell to her reflection again as she rose to her feet and unsheathed her Frozen Icicle Katars…
"These blades…" she thought, "they won't be enough to help me get through the rest of the Emperium Frontier… I must find my inner strength soon, or I will be the odd one out. But I must remember Elua's words; a good thing cannot be rushed, and I must take my time."
With a heavy sigh she sheathed her weapons and fell backwards and laid spread-eagled on the ground, gazing at the passing clouds. Meanwhile, Elua returns back home and sees a grumbling Lupi and sighing Aege still in their nightgowns…
Aege: Big Sister, you really should quit being so darn cranky all the time.
Lupi, brushing her hair: Shut up, Aege. I'm not cranky.
Aege: What is with you?
Elua, approaching the two: I think she's still mad because of that bet she lost!
Aege: You're still mad about that? Geez, what a sore loser!
Lupi, with clenched teeth: Keep talking, Elua, and this place'll be a murder scene before this day ends…
Elua: Oh, lighten up, you tight-ass!
Aege: With all due respect, Elua, that's my line – uh-oh…
After getting some fresh air Heal-Do went back home moments later to find her big sister holding Elua at "lance-point."
Heal-Do, alarmed: Whoa! L-Lupi!
Heal-Do: It's only morning and you're already trying to kill someone – namely our sister! Please, quit being so harsh…
Lupi: Easy for you to say!
Elua: You know, I keep telling her this, but her bloodlust is just too great!
Lupi, bringing her lance closer to Elua's neck: You've no idea how much I want to spill some blood right now…
Aege: Well, Lupi's never really been the fast learner-type…
In reluctance, Lupi pulled her lance away from Elua's neck and snarled.
Heal-Do: Very good, sister. Restraint is important.
Lupi: Shut up, Heal-Do… don't you have an inner power to get in touch with?
Heal-Do: Oh… y-yeah. I probably should get to it.
Aege: Don't worry, Heal-Do. You'll get it soon!
Elua: You can do this! You're a smart Elf!
Heal-Do: Thank you for believing in me, Aege. Elua.
Lupi simply watched on in silence as Heal-Do left home once more to visit a lily pond just outside their abode. The Huntress then stares at Lupi quizzingly…
Elua: Well! I think our baby sister will have no problems finding her inner strength, don't you think, Lupi?
Aege: Elua, no –
Lupi: And what is that supposed to mean?
Aege: Don't do this, you two –
Elua: Oh, nothing… I was just thinking you are heavily doubting Heal-Do's abilities just as you did when Aege was trying to tap into her inner strength.
The Knight glares at Elua for a brief moment before making her decision…
Lupi: … Bet you 50,000 Zeny she doesn't tap into her inner strength before the sun sets.
Elua: Is that a challenge, Big Sister?!
Lupi: Oh, you bet your sweet ass, it's a challenge!
Elua: Believe me, sister, my ass isn't the one that's sweet!
Aege: Oh, my lord…
The two sisters fistbump to seal the bet; a small explosion of fire and wind was set off as their fists made contact. The Blacksmith simply facepalmed to herself (with such force, mind, that she fell backwards and hit the floor hard, causing the ground to shake a tiny bit), knowing that this can only end in a negative fashion. Out at the lily pond Heal-Do sat down to collect her thoughts some more. Tiny Roda Frogs could be seen hopping from leaf to leaf, but an even smaller one was struggling to make the jumps, but it got back up and kept trying until it succeeded. The determination of that amphibian made Heal-Do smile, and steeled her resolve – if a baby Roda Frog can jump from lily to lily, then with enough perseverance, she could succeed in her own endeavor. And so she sat silently, meditating on the elements…
"Air… the element of freedom. Elua is flighty and carefree; she is always confident and outgoing, and everyone enjoys being around her."
The Assassin reflects on Elua's past battles, taking note of her always having a smile on her face even in combat before refocusing on the next element…
"Earth… the element of substance. Aege is stubborn and adamant, not conforming much to new things, but her stability and calm nature had always given her a level head…"
Heal-Do then focuses this time on Aege – the Blacksmith that seldom got upset or unnerved even in the most critical of moments. With a deep exhale, she refocused…
"Fire… the element of power. Lupi, our fearless big sister… she is belligerent and hasty, yet she is wild and untamed when roused. Just like the element she so embodies. A powerful ally, and a deadly adversary…"
Reflecting on the Knight, Lupi was ever quick to act, and always threw caution to the wind, affixed only on what was in front of her, but this short-sightedness augmented her strength in battle, making Lupi a fierce combatant on the field of battle…
"Water… my element – the element of change…" Heal-Do thought long and hard about that word. "Change". She was always tranquil and gentle in most situations, but she remembered how that would drastically change whenever the moment rose – namely her decisive and finest moment where she routed the Wizard known as Thiji Higuri in single combat and seized the Sapphire Emperium for herself and her sisters.
Meanwhile, Elua peeks from a sliding door and sees her baby sister gathering her thoughts, with Aege right above her, sighing.
"Ho-ho…!" Elua chuckled, "Lupi's soooo gullible! That 50K is as good as mine!"
"Someone is seriously going to die before this day is over…" the Blacksmith groaned.
Just then, Heal-Do began to slowly disrobe as she said in her mind, "But… do I have what it takes to accept these changes within me? Do I have what it takes to… tap into my inner strength?"
As the Assassin fully disrobed herself, she walked into the pond as a loud noise akin to that of a whoop was heard in the distance…
"The hell was that?" Lupi asked as she approached her two sisters.
"I don't know – a random wolf in the forest, maybe?" Aege replied.
"Anyway, what are you two doing? Spying on our baby sister? The sun is setting, Elua! You're gonna lose!" Lupi taunted with a swivel of her hips.
"We'll see about that! Until that thing is out of sight, this bet is still up!" Elua retorted.
"Elua, please don't," Aege implored, "We don't want to carry you to an infirmary in a matchbox."
Heal-Do sits upon the floor of the pond so that everything was covered from the chest down. Closing her eyes once more, she begins to fall into a deep meditative state. Meanwhile, from behind a large cherry blossom tree in town, two silhouetted figures are seen – one whom is robed, and another hidden in the shadows…
"Honestly, you need to control yourself sometimes," scolded the robed man.
"You know I can't help myself!" the shrouded man responded. "Anyway, it looks like Heal-Do is resting in a pond… meditating on something perhaps? Or someone?"
"Her persistence is amiable, I will give her that much…" the robed man said with a shake of his head. "But if you are done creeping on women, we've our own agenda to attend to."
The shrouded figure sighs and vanishes along with the robed figure in a mist. Back at the pond outside the Battle Vixens' home, Heal-Do took the time to focus on what attached her to this world. She surmised that whatever was keeping her from "changing" was the key to unlocking her inner potential. The sun would begin to fall upon the horizon, and Lupi was getting very anxious, but Elua kept her cool until the very end.
After a moment's meditation, Heal-Do began reflecting on her past events, and in every one there he was – the Wizard of ice – Thiji Higuri. Since the Emperium Frontier had started, he had been all that was on her mind. His presence – his skill – his demeanor – dulled the Elven Assassin's edge. She was not as ruthless in battle as she had been well-known to be. She had struggled to so much as raise her weapons at him whenever he entered the fray, which caused the Battle Vixens an otherwise crushing victory – namely when she was tricked into a small truce with the Wizard to take on and defeat Amon Ra, only to be outsmarted and have the Citrine Emperium taken from them.
Heal-Do was overcome with such a wave of emotion that tears began to fall from her eyes. Opening them, she saw an illusion of Thiji staring back at her for a brief moment. She could barely utter his name as the specter turned and walked away, vanishing from sight… It was clear now.
"So…" she whispered, "all this time, Thiji Higuri was what was holding me back all this time… but how can this be so bad? Why would I see these visions? What is my mind trying to tell me?"
She wiped her tears and thought for a moment on what message her mind was attempting to convey. Not a minute later did she find the answer, which made her gasp softly as a result before gazing at her reflection...
"I understand now. In order to tap into my inner strength, I must let go of my attachment… I must let go of Thiji…"
Her tears now dry, she returns to her meditative state, and focuses hard on the Wizard. The waters around her began to ripple as she inhaled deeply. As she exhaled, the waters went calm once more. Upon the second inhalation, the waters rippled with greater intensity, symbolizing her pent-up emotions, and exhaled once more, "letting go" of those feelings. Upon the peak of her third exhalation, however, the very pond began to churn and swirled around Heal-Do in a vortex, at which point her Frozen Icicle Katars would undergo a monumental change. Her katars were sucked in by the vortex before dissolving completely, leaving behind its elemental essence. A new weapon began to take form: the three prongs on her katars form into a singular blade materialized from the water, hardening into a substance studier than steel, and a guard is created from scales that protects Heal-Do's lower arm whenever the weapons are drawn. The essence of water can be seen shimmering within the scales, emanating from a small, sky blue orb around the center. The elven rune of water is etched upon the blade, giving off a small glint. As for Heal-Do, her elemental dominion over water was augmented through an earring born from the essence of the waves which appears on and dangles from her left ear. Once her transformation had completed, the waters become tranquil as she slowly falls back down upon the floor of the pond, staring at her newfound weapons…
"Forgive me, Thiji…" she whispered with a choked voice. "I… I had to do this to find power. My Poseidon Katars…"
As the Assassin stared at her Katars in awe, Lupi, Aege, and Elua were all peering from the sliding door, and the expression the Knight wore on her face was absolutely priceless as the sun fell upon the horizon mere seconds after the spectacle.
With a flurry of swear words, Lupi threw a tantrum as Elua chuckled victoriously; Aege simply planted a palm to her face in annoyance.
"This was rigged just like before…!" Lupi snarled before handing two bags containing 25,000 Zeny over to Elua.
"It wasn't rigged, Lupi," taunted Elua, "You're just gullible! You know, we really need to work on your gullibility!"
"You better quit making fun or I swear I'll…" Lupi said before she found herself caught in watery tendrils. "H-Hey…! Let me go, Baby Sister! I need to tear a new one in Little Miss Breezy Bitch over here!"
"Lupi, please! Control yourself!" Heal-Do pleaded, now fully clothed and brandishing her new weapons to restrain the Knight. Elua simply sighed and walked away from Lupi as she shook her rear at her tauntingly.
"You're such a sore loser, Lupi!" laughed the Huntress. At that moment, Lupi's rage had reached to such a degree that the tendrils began to emit steam, eventually breaking her free before brandishing her lance.
"I'LL SHOW YOU SORE!" bellowed Lupi as she charged after the now 50,000 Zeny richer Huntress.
"Heal-Do, you might want to get upstairs… this'll get ugly. You worked hard; you deserve rest. I'll handle this," the Blacksmith suggested. The Assassin nodded and immediately made a break for her room, stowing her Katars away in the meanwhile.
Later that eve Heal-Do was lost in thought, gazing out into the moon and stars above, memories of the Frontier filling her mind…
"Now that we're all stronger than before… things will change now… everything will change
after this year ends… Thiji… my lord… wherever you are, I hope you are doing well, too… And when we see each other again, I will show you just how much I have learned – how much I have changed…" Heal-Do thought.
Change. She thought long and hard on that word. That indescribable force that drives everyone into action. But like the ebb and flow of the waves, the Elven Assassin would learn to harness this force, and know when to let go of her attachments…
"Change is nature. And change is the part that we, as a whole, can influence… and it only starts when we decide."
The Tale of Heal-Do - End