Weve returned to the end and sent Ferris back to Kugg Village through the Teleportation Spell Circle.
Seeing Bright heave a sigh of relief, I then turned to Pochi at my side, whos still hanging her head down after all this time.
“Man, we sure walked around a whole lot today… my legs feel like lead.
I suddenly cracked a shoddy joke, which Pochi replied to quietly,
“And the soles of my feet… are called paws, sir…”
I know, I know.
I lack the energy to even laugh at that unfunny joke, as much as Id like to.
“Father, theres something I like to discuss.
Do you have some time to spare”
“Hmm What is it”
I listened carefully, waiting for what Chappie had to say about his issues.
But then Chappie shook his head.
“Well, not HERE…”
That caught Pochi and Bright by surprise.
He was keeping Bright away from the discussion… which had happened a handful of times in the past, but for him to do it to Pochi – his mother – was unheard of.
I signaled Pochi with my eyes, telling her to take care of Bright in the meantime, before following Chappie outside.
And by outside, I mean the inns backyard.
Seeing a bench, probably one for customers, I sat down on it… then Chappie sat on ME.
“Youre pretty heavy, you know that”
“Bear with it just this once, father – just for the private discussion, yes”
“Thats nice and all, but I cant even see anything in front of me.
Just be reasonable, damn it.”
I said and tapped on the bench.
“Ngh… all right, then.”
Chappie relented, getting off me and sitting down to my side.
I mean, a pretty damn big bird – not to mention a Violet Phoenix – sitting on a bench.
Thats got to be something.
“So, whats the thing you wanted to talk about”
I asked, but Chappie didnt answer immediately.
Well, not to blame him – Chappies naturally got Chappie things to think about.
Its been about a year since this Violet Phoenix was born.
His father and mother – me and Pochi – were from the future, and we had been told that once we did everything we needed to do here, we would be going back to where we belonged.
After much discussion with Pochi, I had decided to talk to Chappie about it at one point, but it wasnt necessarily something one could let sink in so quickly.
But now comes the Violet Phoenix issue.
An issue way beyond our scope.
By the way of the Violet Phoenix species, only a single fully-grown one of them is permitted to exist at any given time.
If that is imposed strictly, and the Violet Phoenix in the future is the OTHER ONE… that would mean that Chappie doesnt exist in our time.
Had he decided to not show up, so as to not jeopardize his very existence, or had something happened to him later in this era…
Also, what did Shishichou say to me that time before going away
If I remember correctly… itd asked me what my name was, and when I told it, it said……I see.
Remember to do me a favor later, and I shall let you off the hook, Asley, didnt it
Could it have realized who we were at that time At the time-travel shenanigans level of connection
That I was a mage it had met once before, more than 5,000 years prior to that encounter
But it did try to kill me for real back then… and only stopped once it heard Pochis inappropriately-timed yawn.
Could it be that Pochi had made more of a lasting impression on it that I had
But then again… the only ones of our group it had seen were me, Ferris, and Chappie.
Pochi must have been hidden in the bush all through the confrontation.
Thats probably what Pochis request to me came from.
Because we didnt meet Chappie in the future…-
“First off, father…”
Chappie broke the long silence, starting to talk with carefully chosen words after much thinking,
“You and mother arent from this era.
I still… cant wrap my little bird brain around that.”
“Before, I couldnt bring myself to talk about it.
Couldnt bring myself to ASK you two about it.
But now that thats changed, what should I do”
I feel like Chappies words really got all his emotions across.
“When you return to your time, will I be…”
“…Yeah, you cant come along with us.”
Id already told him exactly that before, but it seemed that Chappie had asked me again just to hear me say it again.
“So… what should I do”
It was such a simple question, but one that choked me really good.
But I must answer.
As a parental figure, and also as someone who had lived through most of my eternal life by himself.
Whether Chappie knew that… well, he probably did, and because of it, chose me over Pochi to ask that question of his.
All the more reason that I must answer.
Ive got to give him something to kill time with in his long, harsh, eternal life, without anything holding him down.
“Lets see… how about you start with flying around the whole world”
“The whole world”
Youve got great wings, Chappie – wings that I wont ever have.
No choice but to make use of them, right”
I said while stroking Chappies wings.
Chappie cast down his eyes and nodded.
I could see him smiling a bit, too.
“And then… try eating lots of stuff, I guess.”
“Yes, thats important.”
Rather than an immediate reply, it was more like his appetite doing the talking.
As one would expect of Pochis kid.
“Hahahaha… and go around to see a whole lot of places-“
“Then whenever youre bored, you can just go hang out at either the Fulbright or Adams houses.”
“Bright and Ferris places”
Chappie asked, tilting his head in confusion.
Now this isnt something youre supposed to know, but those two households still exist even in my time.”
“Oh Thats impressive.”
I DID hear that the Fulbright household had recently fallen, but at least some of the people of that house are still alive, so Id say I wasnt stating anything incorrect.
“Keep that a secret, all right”
Chappie answered, seemingly happy… because hes getting to share a secret between just us two.
“And you should protect those two houses if you deem it necessary, Chappie.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“If you dont want to, you dont have to, of course.”
“… What do you mean”
Chappie opened his eyes wide, surprised by my sudden change of direction.
“So I explained everything to you already, right”
“Yes, you did.”
Chappie, after spending a moment to think back on everything Id said thus far, affirmed my question.
“Then its all up to you to decide for yourself, Chappie.”
“I can… decide for myself”
Trying things out by yourself can help you learn a lot, you know”
“So THATs what you meant…”
Chappie, seemingly understanding of what Id told him, cast his eyes down again.
“BUT you have to operate under a guiding principle.
Thats the one thing you need.”
“The main topic here is what youll be doing from now on.
Think about it – your underlying feelings, policies, goals, those kinds of stuff.”
Chappie muttered that one word to himself and started giving it some hard thought.
Then, after a while, he seemed to have thought of something, and proceeded to ask me,
“And whats your guiding principle, father”
“Pretty simple, really – dont bully the weak.
Except the evil guys and monsters.”
Hearing me explain my guiding principles, Chappie sprang up from his seat.
Amid the moonlit night, he walked in front of the bench and spread his wings wide, his deep purple feathers fluttering in the air.
For just a brief moment, it was quite the fantastical view in my eyes.
“Ive decided, father! I wont bully the weak! And Ill travel the world! Ahh, Im so excited! These are the goals of my life! My guiding principles!”
With the genuine delight in Chappies voice, I saw him as an innocent yet majestic Heavenly Beast.
Not even noticing that my mouth was agape the whole time, I stared on as Chappie happily fluttered around.
Then, when Chappie settled down, he stared back at my face.
I woke up from the trance, as if I had just seen a brief yet beautiful performance.
I reached to stroke Chappies head and neck, then whispered,
“Yeah, this is fine.”