The air of Sanctuary is calmed. A year had passed since the end of the Holy War against the forces of Hades. A year since Athena-sama, Pegasus Tenma and Alone sacrificed themselves to drive Hades back to Elysion. Sanctuary is now almost completely restored to its former glory and trainings had started for the new trainees, candidates for Athena's Saint in preparation for the next Holy War.
Pope Shion surveys the place from the front of the Aries Temple. This used to be where he protected Sanctuary. Being the Aries Gold Saint, he is the first in line of defense against any intruders into Sanctuary. But things had changed. With the demising of all but him and Libra Dohko, Shion had been tasked to become the new Pope of Sanctuary and prepare Sanctuary for the next Holy War against the forces of Hades.
In the distance, he can hear Teneo and Celintha teaching the new trainees. Many had come from far and wide to become Athena's Saint but only a few will ever qualify to fill up the ranks of the Bronze and Silver Saint that had been left bare a year ago, let alone fill again the ranks of the Gold Saints. But it'll be years before any of them reach anywhere near those positions.
Shion turned to head back to the Pope Palace. There are still some things he have to do there as the head of Sanctuary. Orders to be given out. Further repair works to be assigned to the appropriate parties and knowledge to gain as the new head of Sanctuary. Afterall, Shion never expected himself to become the next Pope so was never groom for it previously.
Suddenly Shion felt a familiar presence coming towards him. Shion turned around. A long figure carrying a Silver Cloth Box drew nearer to where he was in front of the Aries Temple.
A familiar face and a familiar Cosmo.
Shion stood there stunned. He is alive? The final battle between Crateris Suikyo and Hanuman Tokusa at the Neptune Demon Palace had ended terribly and Shion thought Suikyo had diminished together with Tokusa at the end of it. Shion didn't see him among the ruin of that palace.
"You are alive!" Shion whispered under his breath.
"It seems I still breathe the last I checked." Suikyo smirked.
"But I saw you
.Tokusa and you
.." Shion stammered.
"Heh! Twice dead and twice I came back alive. Guess even Hades-sama hated me so much as to kick me even out of his Underworld Realms!"
Suikyo glanced at the area around him and put down the Crateris Cloth Box beside him.
"Sanctuary looked peaceful and the air feels warm again. Just like old times. I can also see the training ground full of candidates for Athena's Saint. And yet
.." Suikyo's voice wandered
Suikyo suddenly turned towards Shion again and went down on his knees, head bow down as though in shame.
"I came back
I came back
." Suikyo whispered
Shion saw tears suddenly running down Suikyo's face.
"I will not ask to be forgiven for what I did as the Garuda Specter, for I do what I was tasked to do but I know I do not deserve anymore to be Athena-sama's servant. I know I still haven't repay my dues but I came back to return what I don't deserved to don anymore in the first place."
Shion looked at the bowed figured of Suikyo in front of him. He sighed. Specters
.. The Holy War had made a beast out of all of us, putting friends and family against each other on both sides of the battlefield. Broken promises and broken lives. Lost hope and forsaken innocence.
"When I came to train under Master Hakurei, I always thought that the Holy War will never come in my lifetime. I choose to become Athena's Saint because I thought I just want to be powerful. Those days I spent repairing cloths; I peeked into others' lives and savored the thrills of their short span on Earth. I crave their knowledge. And yet all changed the night Balrog Lune came and offered me his hand, to be his Minion, to be able to see into all human lives. The night his cursed whip touches my bare skin, my eyes which was blinded by my own naive and greed were opened. And yet Master Hakurei still saved my life and forgiven me"
"What is that sin compared to what I had done? I fought against the ones who had saved me. I broke the vow I took before Master Hakurei and Pope Sage. I killed innocent lives and even used my own minions to fire my attacks upon you Saints. And in the end, I lost again what I gave up my Sainthood for in the beginning. Half of me died that faithful day and the rage clouded my mind that I destroy even more around me. I will not ask to be forgiven nor do I deserve to be forgiven
Shion went down on his knees and embraced Suikyo.
Suikyo tried to pull away but the warm embrace of Shion just engulfed him. An embrace that is as warm as what Hakurei had given him in his darkest hour back then. All the feeling he had buried all these years for abandoning his vow to Athena just pour out at that moment. His sob grew louder.
"We still need you, Suikyo. To train our next generation of warriors for Athena-sama. With the war, many of our greatest trainers had perished."
"I do not deserve to be forgiven
"Suikyo whispered between sobs.
"Be part of us again, Crateris Suikyo. Do it for Master Hakurei who had taken you in like his own when you were lost. Take it as a way to repay Athena-sama for saving your soul in this era."
Suikyo looked up into Shion's face.
And it's at that moment he not only see the gentle face of Shion but also that of Hakurei. The gentle smile of hope that had bring light into his darken world over 2 decades ago and the gentle hands that reach out to the lost.
"Do you think Master Hakurei ever forgive me for what I had done? He put all hopes into me and yet I had forsaken it for my own greed"
"He would have forgiven you a long time ago, Suikyo. For in the end, Master Hakurei knew he can never stop the sun from setting and you from being claimed by your Masei. He might have tried but circumstances in the end do not allow it. We are but Pawns in this Holy War".
The flame of hope that had dimmed inside Suikyo's heart all these years reignited itself again. To live is the greatest punishment for his sins.
A new beginning
A new life
Just as the Sun set on Sanctuary to bring in a new day tomorrow, a new life raised from the ashes of the war.
Yes, I will rebuild my life again, Suikyo tell himself. A new day, a new life and a new Future.