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Because these were the initial settings created at the beginning of production, there may be small details that differ from the final product.
In the beginning, the world was void.
Then the goddess appeared. In her left hand she held the light of hope with which to illuminate the darkness, and in her right hand she held a holy sword with which to smite evil.
In order to create the land, sky, and sea, the goddess first summoned divine beasts. Next, in order to aid the creation of life, the goddess summoned the spirits. Finally, for the sake of peace, the goddess cast away her sword. It is said that the sword became covered with rust as soon as it left her hand.
And in order to support and protect the world, the goddess transformed her own body into the Mana Tree. That holy land is even now protected by a mystical power.
Several centuries before the present day… a pair of youths set out to unravel the mysteries surrounding the goddess and the world. These youths were called Vandole, the wandering warrior, and Cibba, the sage of freedom.
The lonely young boy Vandole was charmed by the world, overflowing with life… the ugly Cibba despaired of the world, overflowing with conflict and war…
The reasons that they set out were completely opposite, but strangely enough, the two were drawn together. Seeking the riddles and the form of the world, they traveled through various lands together.
The continents and ocean that were supposed to have been created by holy beasts. The volcanoes and lakes that the spirits were supposed to have used to aid the growth of life. The two young men traced the goddess’ footsteps with hearts as pure as children looking for their mother.
Seeking the Mana Sanctuary
At last, the various legends remaining in the world taught the pair of the Mana Sanctuary’s existence.
Within the Mana Sanctuary, the goddess’ tree still lived… but the tree must never be touched.
The words of the storytellers were stained in hope and in riddles.
“What would happen if someone ever did touch the tree?”
This was the single question that occurred to the wandering warrior Vandole.
In order to know the mysteries of the world, the two traveled and traveled, and finally succeeded in discovering the Mana Sanctuary.
The giant tree whose roots powerfully bound the entire Mana Sanctuary. The two of them realized immediately that this tree, overflowing with beauty and life, was indeed the transformed shape of the goddess.
The sage of freedom Cibba asked these questions.
“I have traveled a long journey in search of the true shape of the world. Famine, plague, war… there are so many problems in this world. Oh goddess, how does the world look in Your eyes? Oh goddess, why did You create the world? Oh goddess, was this war-torn world really what You so hoped for when You changed Your body into this tree?”
The tree of the goddess simply wavered its branches and did not answer.
Cibba, who was a great sage, despaired. Precisely because he was a sage, he carried great worries.
“Have we humans not twisted the world the goddess gave us into its ugly shape?”
Vandole, who was his long-standing traveling companion as well as his best friend, spoke to him kindly.
“I know that you are a royal sage in a certain country. I know that that country wants to merge with its neighbors and expand its territory. By war and invasion. You want advice from the goddess on how to prevent the war. You wanted to know if it is like your king says, and it is the goddess’ will that war is neverending.”
“That is wrong. I do not doubt the goddess.”
“Is that so? Well, like your king, I do not have so faithful a heart as you. That is why I can say this. There is no goddess in this world. There are only rusty, half-hearted traditions and an old tree.”
“You are wrong!”
It is said that they argued long and passionately. Not out of hatred, but out of friendship.
Breaking the silence after their long dispute, Vandole whispered.
“Cibba, I am going to break the taboo, and touch the goddess’ tree…”
“W-what are you saying?! All the legends, all the storytellers have told us that the tree must not be touched!”
“But what will happen if I do touch it? None of the legends and storytellers explained that, did they?”
“That is… certainly true.”
“I think that all of that is probably wrong. That the goddess changed her body into a tree to support and watch over the world… It’s too good to be true. No matter how gentle a mother is, she’ll get angry if her children do something bad, right?”
“Vandole, don’t tell me you…? Do you mean to challenge the goddess to be an example to the king? Do you mean to accept divine punishment?!”
Cibba understood Vandole’s will. In order to prevent a war, Vandole meant to break the taboo and touch the tree, in order to be punished by the goddess.
“I was bewitched by the world, abandoned my parents and my country, and wandered around the world selfishly. I’ve already given up living as a person. At the end of my journey, I even discovered the Mana Tree. I’ve had plenty of fun. So let me shoulder this burden.”
“Don’t stop me. Sage, though you are ugly to behold, your heart is the most beautiful of all. You will go on to save many people. And besides…”
Vandole gazed into the distance.
“I want to see her at least once. This woman who is said to have created the world…”
The wandering warrior Vandole broke the taboo and laid hand to the tree. A brilliant light erupted from the goddess’ trunk and scorched Vandole’s body.
The Goddess’ Power
But Vandole survived.
“What’s going on?”
Before the troubled pair’s very eyes, the goddess’ tree began to rot.
“The goddess’ tree is drying up…”
“Because the power of the goddess now rests in you.”
When the pair turned to face the mysterious echoing voice, people in unusual robes stood behind them.
“We are the race of the goddess. We are the Mana Tribe.”
“…Are you here to capture us?”
“We people of the goddess, the Mana Tribe, exist to watch over the world, and search for the light of hope and holy sword that the goddess is said to have held. We do not intend to arrest you.
“And besides, the goddess does not refuse those who come here. You have obtained the power of the goddess. This is Her will, so we accept it gladly.”
“The goddess’ power…?”
“It will probably be easier to explain by demonstrating. Sorry!”
The people in robes drew swords in swift movements, and all struck out at Vandole at once.
Even Vandole could not dodge every blow, and was injured in many places. But before he could even bleed, the wounds all sealed themselves: Witnessing this, Vandole and Cibba were shocked.
“You have obtained the power of immortality. In place of the goddess, you must guide the world until destiny intervenes.”
“S-stop joking. I’m just a swordsman. I don’t know anything about government. Oh, I know! Cibba, you could make a much better world than me. If you touch the tree…”
Cibba watched as Vandole panicked. The robed people of the goddess, the Mana Tribe, spoke.
“That is impossible. The power of the goddess will reside only in the person who first touches the tree. And now it will only dry up and rot… Until the time comes, another tree of the goddess will not be born.”
“Are you saying the world’s in my hands until then? Me, even though I’ve abandoned my own parents?”
“Yes… Because the goddess loves all living things equally.”
“No way… That’s too irresponsible!”
“We, too, have high hopes for your world. Then…”
The Mana Tribe, people of the goddess, vanished as quietly as they had appeared.
Vandole and Cibba, left behind, could only stare speechless at the rotting tree of the goddess.
Birth of the Empire
Cibba, sage of freedom, brought his irreplaceable friend Vandole the wandering warrior to the west, to Cibba’s homeland. Immediately, they joined forces with the small neighboring countries, and went to war with the kingdom.
Vandole, who was now immortal, became a general leading the army, and Cibba, who had learned of the mysteries of the world in the Mana Sanctuary, served as the tactician.
Through the work of the two heroes, the great kingdom was defeated. And naturally, the hero Vandole was made emperor by the people.
The Sage’s Disease
But peace did not last for long. Cibba, who had resumed his seat as court sage in order to advise the people, collapsed from a serious illness.
Its cause was the curses of those who aimed for the position of emperor.
“We saved them from oppression, and now they’re all turning against us?!”
“Vandole—no, Your Majesty… You must not hate the people. The goddess loves all life equally. You must do the same… *cough* *cough*”
Emperor Vandole worried. Cibba’s illness was very severe, and the court was torn apart by factional dispute. And he himself was immortal.
“If only I could die… I can’t be a replacement for the goddess!”
With his best friend Cibba’s condition worsening by the day, Vandole could find no peace of heart.
Hearing that Cibba was dying, Emperor Vandole made his move.
“Oh power of the goddess that resides in me! Awaken, and help me! Please, drive away the grim reaper who tries to take my friend from me!”
Miraculously, Cibba returned to life. And he regarded Vandole, his savior, with hatred.
“Why would you use the goddess’ power for someone like me?! Shouldn’t you be more concerned with the state of the world?!”
“Do you want me to be the goddess that badly?”
“It is your duty to act thus. Please, use the goddess’ power correctly, and make the world that the goddess has given you into one overflowing with the joy of life…”
“But I am an ordinary person. I was just a wandering warrior. I was your friend. I didn’t want a castle, or influence, or immortality. I just wanted to travel the world to my heart’s content. I wanted to live as a swordsman. I wanted to be with you. The goddess’ power has taken all of that away from me…”
“Vandole… even so, you must live in the goddess’ place. You must find a way for an ordinary person to use the goddess’ powers righteously. I believe that you can do it…”
There was a very long silence.
And Cibba the sage realized. Somewhere, somehow, the gears of fate had gone astray.
Emperor Vandole realized, too. That his friend was weak, that people were foolish, and that the goddess was merciless…
The Bright Dark Ages
Rumors that Emperor Vandole had miraculously saved his friend Cibba the sage from death began to spread in an instant.
From then on, those who knelt at Vandole’s feet praying for the goddess’ power and a miracle were endless. Watching the people who all sought a convenient miracle for themselves, Vandole felt sick.
“Oh, you foolish humans. What good is there in immortality, in miracles, in the protection of the goddess?”
Emperor Vandole started wanting to test the goddess.
“Oh goddess, do You truly order me to love these foolish people? These people who want me to kill their political rivals, who cling to the beauty of the flesh, who want me to be their miracle worker? Then all right, I will accept it all.”
Emperor Vandole began to use the goddess’ power for everything. Culture advanced by leaps and bounds. The people of the empire danced madly in their joy, and loved Emperor Vandole from the bottom of their hearts.
“Your Majesty! You must not use the goddess’ power so indiscriminately!”
Only one person, Cibba the sage, thought to scold Emperor Vandole.
“I’m only trying to create the righteous world you told me to. The empire is beautiful and flourishing. This is what my people wish for, not me.”
“…Then why are you strengthening the military? Is that also because the people wish for it?”
“No, Cibba, that is because you wished for it. In order to create a world with no war, then there should be one ruler. And that ruler will be me, the goddess’ representative…”
On the day that the Vandole Empire declared war on the world, Vandole and Cibba’s friendship ended. Cibba left the Vandole Empire, and Emperor Vandole ruled the land.
The People of the Goddess
It was not only Cibba who watched over the change in Vandole with pained hearts.
“Who would have believed that such an unassuming boy would turn into a tyrant like this…”
So too did the Mana Tribe, who still protected the empty Mana Sanctuary with its dead Mana Tree.
“What a fearful thing, for a human to hold the power of a goddess. Even being proclaimed as a hero and receiving an immortal body, a person cannot manifest the goddess’ mercy so easily…”
“What shall we do with Emperor Vandole?”
“We only watch over the world. We cannot interfere directly.”
“But they say that the Vandole Empire is building a Dime Tower that will reach the heavens.”
“The rumors say that he is aiming for our homeland, the Mana Temple.”
“If only our bodies still held the blood of our ancestors, who directly served the goddess, we could protect the Temple, but…”
“The times have changed. When the goddess became a tree and decided to live with Her roots stretched throughout this land, we too gave up our forms as divine beasts and spirits, and became human. To live in this land with Her… We must not desire the power of our ancestors!”
The discussion ran aground. Even the Mana Tribe, descended from some of the divine beasts and spirits who had served the goddess, no longer had the same magical powers as those ancestors after all the time that had passed. It was impossible for them, who were human, to stop someone with the power of the goddess.
At that time, one eccentric youth spoke out.
“Elder. I’ve got a good idea.”
“Oh, not you again! Rascals who spend all their time fooling around ought to just be quiet!”
Even as the adults scolded him, the boy did not step down.
“Oh, just listen to me, you grouchy old men. The goddess was carrying some things when She appeared in this world, right? Nobody’s found either of them, right?”
“You mean the light of hope in Her left hand, and the holy sword in Her right, correct?”
“Yeah, those. I don’t really get what they mean by a light to illuminate the darkness, but the idea of a holy sword to smite evil is pretty easy to understand, right? And old documents and scrolls have pictures of the sword in them, right? We’ll go look for that.”
“What foolish things are you saying? The goddess despised war, and because She had no need of a sword to smite evil, She threw it away; it is said that the sword is rusted. Such a holy sword could not exist in reality!”
Even though the adults shouted, the youth laughed.
“Don’t you believe in the goddess’ legends? If She threw the sword away, doesn’t that mean She left it for humans to use? And if it’s rusty, well, we just have to polish it.”
“Stop twisting our traditions for your own benefits! Elder, this man is a danger. We must exile him!”
“I agree as well.”
“He is unpardonable.”
“You guys are the idiots! All you do is sit around and talk, and never try to change anything yourselves. You’re bringing shame to our ancestors! Even if I’m alone, I’ll be looking for the holy sword. Laters!”
At the elder’s sharp tone, the youth paused.
“It is as you say; we do nothing. We have no means of deciphering what the light of hope is. We have departed from the age of myth, become nearly human, lost the strength of the divine beasts, and lost the magic of the spirits—that is what I had thought. But perhaps we have ignored the world for too long because of that excuse.”
“If it is as you say, and the goddess meant for Her sword to pass into the hands of humans… then perhaps a holy sword for smiting evil does exist. As the elder of the Mana Tribe, I order you to search for that sword.”
“Hell yeah, I knew this is how it’d go! I’ll be back soon, Elder!”
On the morning the youth departed, his parents watched him worriedly. So too did a young girl.
“Be careful, big brother. They all say the outside world is dangerous.”
“Yeah. It’s okay, everybody’s just a big fraidy-cat. Our village isn’t that different from the rest of the world.”
“Don’t worry. I’m strong. You know that, right?”
“Yeah. Come back safe.”
“Of course I will.”
And so, the youth departed from the Mana Tribe. Storytellers say that this man’s name was Bogard.
The Church in Wendel
Far away from the Vandole Empire, the great sage Cibba too had his own thoughts.
“Did the goddess not cast away Her sword for the sake of times like these? So that humans may settle things by themselves…”
He obtained a run-down church in the borderlands, and gathered up children who suffered at the hands of the Empire’s tyranny to teach them of the heart. Making limited dealings with the empire, he made sure of the children’s safety. At the time, rather than recklessly opposing the empire, he thought it more important to save what small lives he could.
Even though he realized the importance of the holy sword, Cibba did not move in search of it. He could not simply abandon the orphaned children he cared for.
The Boy and the Sage
As if depending on Cibba, a little boy appeared before him. For days he did not speak, and his body was covered in terrible wounds.
“I was a slave in the empire…”
As he regained his health, that was all the boy said. The boy’s eyes were dark and gloomy. Cibba tried to open his heart, but the boy refused him fiercely.
But the circumstances changed quickly. Witnessing a girl being whipped for not bowing to an imperial soldier, the boy struck the soldier with his bare fists.
By the time Cibba arrived, the soldiers had beaten the boy half to death. The chaos refused to abate, and Cibba’s little church was deemed to be a nest for rebels and burnt to the ground. Many children had still been inside.
“It’s my fault, it’s my fault!”
“It couldn’t be helped, you mustn’t blame yourself…”
Cibba said so gently as he nursed the boy back to health. When he did, the panicking boy became calm.
“Oh, I see… So you’ve been deceiving yourself like that all this time.”
“What do you mean?”
At the sage’s question, the boy raised his head, expressionless. Only a cruel smile began to appear on his young face.
“Sage Cibba, the emperor’s irreplaceable friend… The coward who couldn’t stop the emperor from running wild… It’s incredible that you’ve lived so long without even feeling any shame!”
The boy glared at Cibba.
“Are you an imperial citizen?”
“Yeah, I am! My parents were courtiers in the Vandole empire. But Father started doubting the empire’s methods because of how badly the slaves are treated… and he made one suggestion. He said that even slaves are alive… and because of that, both my parents were murdered. As traitors!”
It seemed the boy was so controlled by his hatred that he couldn’t even cry.
“Father hated war, and was part of the faction that desires peace. That faction is positioned right against the emperor. So they were probably ready to die at any time. Mother always said that if anything happened, I had to run straight to the church and rely on Lord Cibba the sage. Because he used to be the emperor’s friend, and maybe he could do something to stop him!”
The boy’s anger rose explosively.
“But if you ask me, you’re just a coward who couldn’t stop the emperor from going wild. For all you had the emperor save your own life, you let the emperor’s heart fall to darkness and take the whole world with it, and ran and hid all alone.”
Tears fell from the boy’s eyes.
“And you know what, I’m just as bad as you. When my little brother and my big sister got caught, I abandoned them and ran away by myself. Even though my baby brother was crying and screaming my name! I, I…!”
“Hatred will not get you anywhere. You must not hate yourself.”
“I can’t forgive myself! I can’t forgive the empire! I don’t want to forgive anything!”
“We are the same… We are cowards who could not save the people important to us; I wonder if we cannot at least try to create a future.”
“That’s impossible! I hate everything so much it feels like my heart is being crushed! Even if I push it away and push it away, even more disgusting black hatred keeps welling up from the bottom of my heart!”
The boy was screaming.
“I hate the world! I hate the goddess! Part of me thinks this world should just hurry up and get destroyed!”
“For now, that is all right. But little by little, we must try to do something for the world. There must be something that even cowards such as we can do. And the world isn’t as bad as all that…”
And so the boy embarked on a journey with Cibba. In order to find the holy sword. It is said that that boy’s name was Gemma.
The Gemma Knights
Cibba wandered the land once more, tracing again the steps of the goddess. Remembering the past he shared with his now-unrecognizable friend, that once-straightforward and peerless swordsman Vandole, there were many nights when he could not sleep for crying.
“Vandole, I forced all my burdens onto you, and twisted your life’s path. I never stopped chasing my ideals, but my way of thinking cornered you. I should never have left the empire—nay, I should never have left your side. I ought to have stopped you, even if it cost my life.”
Only by losing his friend could Cibba realize how immature he still was.
Soon afterward, Cibba met a pair of young men.
One was the swordsman Bogard, a rascally youth of the Mana Tribe who had been sent from his people to recover the holy sword of the goddess.
“So you’ve realized how important the sword is, too… You got a good brain in there, old man!”
The other was a strange minstrel named Granz who had traveled in Mavolia.
“I will not carry a sword. I want to speak to people’s hearts with music, and end the fighting that way.”
And finally, there was Gemma, the son of the imperial courtier, who had grown into a brave young lad…
The three young men cooperated with the sage, and traveled in search of the sword. While following the path of adventure, the three helped people who were suffering under the rule of the empire.
“My parents were killed right before my eyes, and my sister and brother were taken captive. I don’t want anyone else to suffer the pain I felt.”
Gemma’s youthful sense of justice tended to cause more trouble with the empire than was necessary, and eventually it became such that their safety in traveling could not be guaranteed, but at the same time, their allies and collaborators continued to increase.
“Honestly, Gemma and his little hero games are a huge pain in the ass. I wish he’d settle the hell down and be good once in a while.”
When Bogard complained like that, Granz would smile.
“I completely agree. Even in Mavolia, there’s no one as shortsighted as him. When we’re traveling with Gemma, we could have more lives than a cat and it wouldn’t be enough to save us.”
Even though they whined about it, both Bogard and Granz were captive to Gemma’s charms. They felt the strength of Gemma’s heart, which feared nothing. Gemma, who had once been held captive by hatred and despised the world and the goddess, was finally free. Guided by Cibba, Gemma had grown into a warm and charming young man.
For love of Gemma, eventually a great many people rose up. Before they knew it, Bogard, Granz, and Gemma came to be known as the “Three Gemma Knights”. And the people who followed them, too, were called Gemma Knights themselves.
The Goddesses of Destiny
Even on a journey where they risked their lives, the youths found time for passion. Bogard in particular played at love with many, many women.
“Bogard, don’t you think you’re being a bit too promiscuous? If you can’t rein yourself in eventually, old man Cibba and the young master Gemma will be angry with you.”
Worried about Bogard’s gaudy exploits, Granz called out to him once.
“Aw, shut up. You’re always so damn gloomy. You oughtta take after me and enjoy your body better.”
The two glared at each other for a while, but immediately both of them sighed.
“So I’ve got this little sister…”
“This is news to me. Is she too of the Mana Tribe?”
“Nah. My parents took in an abandoned kid. My other objective here is to try to find out where she’s from.”
“Well, that’s a wonderful thing to do. Why does it seem to pain you so?”
“The more I hear of the old legends, I get scared. Like, even the goddess was a woman once. And then She turned into this unmoving, unspeaking tree… I mean, I bet She got lonely…”
Bogard’s eyes were bright, as if with tears. Granz nodded.
“The mysteries of the Mana Tribe are even whispered about in Mavolia. They say that the women of your people are sometimes chosen to fulfill a great mission.”
“Yeah… and it looks like my sister has been chosen for that. Even though I don’t really understand what it is…”
“Bogard, you must love your sister dearly. That’s why you are worried.”
“……What about you? You’ve got a lady of destiny too, don’t you?”
At Bogard’s question, Granz made a lonely expression.
“She certainly is a lady of destiny… But our social rank is too different. I can only bring her unhappiness.”
“Would you tell me her name?”
“Yes. She is called Medusa.”
That was the name of a monster princess of Mavolia.
“Please don’t say anything. I know. Please, tell me the name of your beloved as well, Bogard.”
“Mana… that’s what he named her. Our Elder did. Because she was the daughter of the goddess…”
The two of them had fallen deeply in love with women who were grasped in the hands of fate, never to be released. Even though it was lonely, the two strong men would never regret it.
The Sword of Mana
And the sword that they found at the end of their journey was coated in thick rust, but when Gemma took it in his hands it gave off a beautiful sparkle.
“What did you wish for?”
When Cibba, surprised, asked him, Gemma answered.
“I said that I wouldn’t murder people out of hatred. That I want to reclaim a world where people can live their lives without being killed. So I wanted the sword to lend me its power…”
The people lent their ears to Gemma’s words.
“If I just fought concentrating on avenging my parents and resisting the empire, I’m sure I would fall down the same path as the emperor.”
“We fight, we are betrayed, we are hurt, but we were all born into this world. The goddess loves everyone in this world.”
“But what about the way the emperor does things? Are you saying that the goddess thinks that’s okay?”
Bogard questioned Gemma fiercely.
“We people are swayed by the truths that we can see with our own eyes, but there’s one thing that we cannot afford to forget. That is that everything has a right to live… The goddess entrusted this world to everyone that lives in it.”
“Even though Dime Tower is defiling the Mana Temple?”
“It is the goddess’s own heart that forgives it.”
“I don’t get it! I’m born of the Mana Tribe, but I don’t understand how the goddess’ brain works. I can’t believe in the goddess!”
The knights all murmured restlessly at Bogard’s words. Everyone held worry in their own hearts.
To begin with, why had the goddess given her power to the man named Vandole? How could the goddess let him harm the world unchecked? The questions were endless.
“Bogard… the enemy we really have to defeat is in our own hearts. We can’t let ourselves be held captive by shadows of hate. We can’t let ourselves be stained in doubt. The goddess became an immobile, unspeaking tree, and left this world to us. What do we stand to gain by denying Her trust in us? Doesn’t faith help us move forward? Isn’t it meaningless if we can only believe in people when they do things for us?”
“Don’t tell me that you’re going to believe in that bastard? The scum that killed your parents?”
“Yeah. I have faith in the emperor’s heart. Well, it’s more like I want to have faith in him… Honestly, I don’t really know either. But if we don’t cut the chains of hatred somewhere, they’ll just keep entangling more and more people forever, and everyone will wind up unhappy. That’s the feeling I get…”
“The feeling you get… Ugh, what are you gonna get by being a nice guy now?!”
Bogard criticized Gemma, but the great sage Cibba intervened.
“No. What Gemma says is correct. I, too, abandoned my best friend out of fear and hatred…”
“And besides, the Sword of Mana regained its sparkle when Gemma picked it up. I believe in this miracle—in Gemma’s heart!”
“Yeah, let’s stay with Gemma!”
“I don’t really get complicated junk, but we’re only alive because Gemma saved us!”
“I’ll trust my life to Gemma!”
Thanks too to Cibba’s help, the knights decided to obey Gemma.
“Thanks, everybody. We all relied on the goddess too much to answer our questions. I think the emperor is the same. We can’t just ask for answers and dreams and hope to be handed to us. We have to make hope for ourselves!”
The great sage Cibba, and Bogard, and Granz all felt as though every riddle had been solved. The hope that the goddess had held in her left hand, the light which illuminated the darkness, surely referred to the hearts of people.
The Final Battle
Hearing the rumors that Gemma had restored light to the holy sword, the people were hopeful. “The Gemma Knights are on the move, with the Sword of Mana in hand!” These reports inspired rebellion throughout the land. It was time for even the great Vandole Empire to crumble.
At Dime Tower, Gemma challenged Emperor Vandole.
“You have done well to come this far, Gemma. Now come, and vent your parents’ grudge to your heart’s desire!”
“Everybody, leave this to me!”
Everything came down to a one-on-one fight between Vandole and Gemma. The battle was a long one. Compared to Vandole, who freely used the power of Mana, the mere human Gemma could not hope to compete. But at last, Gemma struck Vandole through the heart.
“Impossible! How could I have lost…”
“If you were still Vandole the wandering warrior, then I might have lost.”
Gemma said so.
“You impertinent child… Do you mean to tell me that you could have used the goddess’ power correctly?”
“The goddess’ power has nothing to do with anything. No matter how you used the goddess’ power, the world will keep living on its own.”
“Don’t speak as if you know anything…”
“You fell into the darkness because you tried to test the goddess. But there’s no point in that. She won’t appear in front of you.”
“Yes… No matter how the world is drenched in evil, she won’t show herself. No matter how many I kill, that woman won’t show her face.”
Emperor Vandole was steadily losing blood. He spoke in a whisper, his consciousness hazy.
“Everyone must wonder. Why won’t the goddess rid the world of war… Well, I answered that question. The goddess loves everyone. Even someone who steps on the lives of others like me…”
“Yeah. So, see, you ought to have just lived life the way you wanted to. It was never really your job, to have to lead and guide the whole world.”
“Is that really what you think? What a naïve man you are. I can hear it. I can hear the goddess laughing at me… You have turned your eyes away from reality… If the goddess loves me so much, then what about your parents’ deaths?”
“You see? *cough* *cough*”
Emperor Vandole threw up blood.
“Even so, people should be able to live more freely…”
Gemma had a conflicted expression, half smiling and half crying. He held Vandole’s hands, and spoke as though to whisper to him.
“To shatter a person’s heart, a person’s life, a person’s dreams, it’s all so wrong. Even the goddess mustn’t do such a thing. Your life is yours and yours alone. It always has been, and always will be.”
The great sage Cibba thought that Vandole’s eyes were beginning to regain their sparkle of old. Vandole’s body seemed to age rapidly, until he was old and wizened.
“You foolish boy… It’s incredible that you trust that merciless woman so much. There is no one who understands her better than I…”
In the end, Emperor Vandole seemed to smile.
Vandole’s soul, which had been bound by the goddess’ power for centuries, was released; peace came upon the world once more.
A New World
With Vandole dead, everyone wanted Gemma to be the new emperor. However, Gemma refused.
Perhaps he hated the thought of becoming a ruler, or perhaps he feared being changed like Vandole, or perhaps his role as the wielder of the Sword of Mana was done: There were many different theories.
Only very few knew his true intent.
Gemma only told what was in his heart to the other two Gemma Knights, and to the great sage Cibba.
“I couldn’t save Emperor Vandole.”
The great sage Cibba realized gradually what he must have meant.
“He must have refused to go to heaven. Vandole is that kind of man. I am sure that he will travel forever until he has solved the mysteries of the world and seen the goddess, even if he is naught but a soul.”
“Cibba, you don’t mean…?”
“Will Vandole resurrect?”
Bogard and Granz both blanched.
“Probably. Vandole’s soul is still alive. Perhaps he has been reincarnated. If not, it is very strange that I, who lived because of his power, have not died as well.”
“Then, will Vandole’s reincarnated soul… attempt to start another war?”
At Granz’s words, Cibba answered.
“If Gemma’s way of life is natural, then Vandole’s way of life is unnatural. The goddess loves both… Whether or not they realize the difference between them, that is all that there is.”
“What should we do?” asked Bogard.
“First, we shall close off Dime Tower. Then, let us seal the Sword of Mana away in a deep-sea volcano. We will create a new country… and then…”
“Not that! I meant, what are we gonna do about Vandole!”
“What would Gemma say at a time like this? Whatever we do, the world will continue to change all by itself. It will only turn as it will turn, so all we can do is believe in it… isn’t that right?”
And so Dime Tower was closed off, and the sword was sealed away in a deep-sea volcano. The great sage Cibba built a great chapel upon the ruins of his church in Wendel, and revived the city. Bogard returned to the hidden Mana village and married Mana. And Granz became Duke in the duchy that rose from the empire’s ruins.