Auren could not believe what he was seeing.
Right before his eyes, there Evlin was, standing tall over a pile of destruction, a deceased giant demon, a crowd of people engulfed in fear, and a man bleeding and twitching in pain being dropped on the ground like a bag of trash.
"Evlin!!?? Evlin, what did you do!! WHAT DID YOU DO??" Auren shouted.
The woman just tilted her head revealing her multi-colored eyes and began to raise her arm towards him, "You loud... You annoying..."
Auren sensed something trembling beneath his feet and immediately leaped away from the spot, right before a massive spike made of hardened sand appeared where he was.
Auren's breathing began to accelerate, his friend just tried to kill him, "EVLIN!!?? ARE YOU CRAZY?? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU!!??"
The mage continued to stare at him, this time with a frowned face, "So loud... So annoying..."
The ground began to shake again and Auren quickly started to run as every part of the ground he stepped on suddenly would turn into a massive spike of sand attempting to stab him.
"Evlin!! Please!! Its me, Auren!!"
"Not Evlin... " she commented, "And you loud..."
Auren began to think. Something wasn't adding up. One second he was being close to death after taking a hit from the giant demon, next thing he knows, he's close to death from being attacked by his old leader.
Something happened while he was passed out.
He tried to run towards Evlin and once he was close enough, he pounced on top of her like a panther and locked the woman to the ground.
"Evlin!! Evlin, please, look at me! It's me! Your friend! Auren!!"
"Friend...?" she repeated, still not showing any emotion.
"Yes! Friend! We used to travel together! Fight together! Save people together! Do you not recognize me??"
Evlin closed her eyes for a moment and began to search into her memories. Images appeared inside her mind, times of her and Auren trading ideas about the differences between their methods of healing, about the time he stood up for her to stay on the team when Gustav tried to push her away, about her tried attempt to play wingman for him and Ria, and about her turning him into a monster to enter the demon kingdom.
The memories continued to play one after another and suddenly, her hostility towards Auren began to shrink.
"Friend!" she stated again, this time more cheerfully.
"Yes! Friend!! I'm your friend!!" Auren added, glad to see that he was finally reaching for her, "Do you remember me now?"
"You friend..." she said once again.
"Yes, I'm your friend!"
"Friend... Which means..." she said before finally standing up and raising Auren by simply grabbing onto his shirt, "You... Not a threat... You... Weak..."
"W- Wha- Whaaaaaaaaa!!!" Auren screamed as Evlin threw him to the side without a care in the world.
She watched him rolling on the ground and proceeded to gaze at all of those present and analyzing them one by one until reaching a conclusion, "Everyone here weak... Everyone here, not a threat..."
The mage closed her eyes for a second and began to focus on another image, the image of a man with white hair and orange eyes that caused a lot of turmoil inside her heart.
"Him, caused pain... Him, threat..." she whispered.
Evlin pulled her whip into different directions and split it into two pieces, followed by tying the pieces on her shoes and, releasing as much power as she could, began to perform her plan to finally find out where Knucker's real body was located by using her geo-radar over the entire globe.
"Gotta find the threat... Gotta eliminate the threat..." she whispered again.
Auren stood up and gazed at the chaos going on. He looked at the emperor closer to death than ever and hurried to his side to revert his wounds. Since the injuries were from not too long ago, he was able to save his life successfully, but he still had lost a lot of blood and would take some time to recover.
"Are you okay??" Auren asked while holding his head and removing his mask, revealing the emperor's pained face.
"Y- You saved me... Thank you!! Thank you so much!!!" he replied while bawling his eyes out, but Auren couldn't tell if these were tears of pain, fear, regret, relief, or everything combined.
Evlin's sudden emotional outburst had throw everything into a mess and Auren needed to find a way to fix this, to help her.
He stared at her and began to slowly walk towards her direction while thinking about what exactly was he supposed to do.
Once he was inches away from her, standing completely stiff worried that she might break him in half like a stick if he made her angry, he took a deep breath and began his attempt.
"Evlin... Evlin, can you hear me?" he asked.
Evlin, who up until now was staring at the ground to focus on her mission, lifted up her face and revealed that her eyes and nose were bleeding.
"What do you want...? Busy... Go away..." she replied.
Her appearance made Auren lose his composure for a moment, "Evlin, I'm going to ask one more time... What are you doing??"
"Gotta find threat... Gotta find Knucker... Gotta eliminate threat..." she answered.
Auren began to search inside his memories and realized what she was doing, "Evlin, look at yourself! You have to stop this or you will get yourself killed!!"
The woman looked at him one more time, still not showing any emotion with her multi-colored eyes wide open, "I can do this... I have to do this.... I stronger than everyone..."
"Do what? Destroy your own body!!? Terrorize civilians? Kill innocents? This isn't you!! What's going on with you, Evlin!??"
Evlin finally stopped trying to perform her spell and began to walk torwads Auren, "I'm not Evlin!"
"What do you mean? If you're not Evlin, then who are you??"
"I'm strong... I'm fire... I'm power... Evlin was weak... Was fragile... Was useless... She would let everyone walk over her, she would always fight for others, injury herself for others, suffer for others, die for others..." the woman replied. She was finally talking with a more matured speech again, as if she had evolved, "Evlin was a bomb... A bomb about to go off by constantly putting her own life in danger just so that others would be safe... She was a threat... A threat to us... So we got rid of her! I got rid of her!"
Auren still wasn't sure what was going on, but he knew one thing, as this person said, she was not Evlin, and he needed to bring her back, "Who are you...?"
"I'm the ultimate power that lives inside this body... I'm the combination of magic, curses, and blessings that give birth to the strongest force in the world... I'm the fire that can burn any living being... I'm Evlin's living terminal energy..."
"... ... ... Right... ... ... That's not what I was expecting...." Auren admitted, "But it doesn't matter, I need the real Evlin back!"
The woman began to release a smirk, "So you can use her? Like everyone else?"
"W- What? I would never-"
"Liar!!" she exclaimed while jumping on him and choking Auren with her hand after knocking the man against the floor.
"S- Stop!! I'm not your enemy! I'm your friend!!" Auren tried to tell.
"That's even worse..."
"If you were an enemy... Evlin could just trash you and move on with her life... But because you are her friend... She refuses to say 'no' to you... To all of you!! You claim to be on her side, but you are all just as bad as the rest!!"
"That's not true!!"
"It is true!!!!" She began to choke him with more strength "Everyone wants to use Evlin! Everyone wants to use her power! Be it to put on a show to entertain their people like an animal on a cage, to use her threat as a trigger to activate their ability to see the future, to kill a dragon in order to fulfill your revenge, or in your case, to reunite with your wife and child!"
Auren did not respond. It was true that in a way he also wanted to use Evlin's power for his own desire, but he wasn't like the others who wanted to use it for something evil.
"Everyone wants to use her... Use me... Use us!! Nobody cares about what we want! What we have to suffer through! Nobody ever tries to help us! Nobody tries to do things on their own!! And this useless girl... She just lets people use her!! She just refuses to stand for herself and say 'no' to you all!!"
"She's weak... Too weak!! and this weakness will get her killed! Get us killed! So before she gets to kill us... We are going to kill her!!" she mentioned while releasing her tears on top of Auren without him even noticing.
Auren then realized, this person was in fact Evlin, or at the very least, a part of her. A part of her that had been born deep inside and had constantly been growing without anyone seeing. Her remorse, her fear, her anger, her sadness. Even though Evlin had so many friends by her side, the truth is, she never actually felt safe around them, she never felt she could rely on them to take care of her.
It didn't make sense for Auren, after all, he heard an entire war was fought in order to save her. But when the war was over, everything just came back to the way it was before, everyone just stepped in line to see who would be the first to make use of Evlin again, as if the war wasn't done in order to save her, but in order to use her later.
All that Evlin wanted was to feel safe, free, to feel like she would be able to find peace again one day.
But the more time passes, the more this dream feels like nothing but a wish that will never come to be, or even worse, as if this dream shouldn't come to be. After all, so many people rely on her and need her help. If she does end up finding peace, what happens to them? Who will take care of them? Who will protect them?
"I... I'm so sorry..." Auren spoke while starting to tear up himself.
"You're sorry...?" she questioned.
"I'm sorry... I was being so full of myself, thinking that I knew you better than them... As if I understood your struggles, your pain... But I really did not... I did not understood you at all..."
Evlin began to weaken the power of her hands and released Auren's neck.
The man continued to talk, "You were in pain all this time... And you couldn't tell anyone, right? You thought you couldn't, because that would make you look weak... And you can't look weak when so many people rely on you...
Hell... Even me... The moment things start to go wrong, the first thing I do is run crying to you and beg you to fix everything... I really am no better than these guys... I just realized that I never even asked if you were okay... I never even considered that you could be in a situation even worse than mine... We really do put a lot of pressure on you..."
"... It's too late now... Evlin is gone... And she's not coming back..."
Auren stared at her with determination, "I can't have that... I haven't properly apologized to her for being such a bad friend yet..."
He then proceeded to grab her face and started to reverse the time for her body.
"Wha- What are you doing!!??" she gasped in confusion.
"I'm proving to my friend that she can count on me!" he declared.
Evlin's terminal fire felt her essence being pulled away from her body and before she noticed it, she was back at the white void where the door to the dark void was open with Evlin standing there in front of it with her arms crossed.
"You guys had your fun, now go to your room!" she declared as the terminal power divided itself into her three forces one more time.
"You!! You lock us away now, and we swear we will never lend our power to you again!!" the powers declared while glaring at her.
Evlin began to ponder for a moment, "Fine by me... My friends are all the power I need..."
"You fool!!! Your weakness will be the death of us all!!!" they yelled as Evlin began to vanish and finally exited that space to return to her own body.
She began to think about the declaration from her daughters and silently gave her reply.
"There is no way the universe will let me die that easily... I'm its favorite punching bag after all..."