Welcome to the age of darkness, the age when the world was at the face of its own destruction, the age where only the strong thrived while the weak lost their right to survive, when evil became virtuous and the true virtue faded and mankind was haunted by hatred and fear.
There is HOPE.
One day, surely, when the world was crumbling within the Devil’s grasp, seven who bore Heaven’s blessing would rise—those who still had faith in the kindness of a pure heart, those who would put an end to the dark and call forth dawn of a new era when love would blossom once again.
Yes. We were waiting for you.
Fight for us, O’ Angels of Virtue!
“…Due to the strange occurrence and the increase of people missing around Dominio Academy, staying within school ground past six p.m. and hanging around out on the street at night are highly discouraged—”
Nobody actually paid attention to the poor class rep. Even the speaker himself seemed reluctant to spend another second delivering the message from the student body when he could have run off back home or wherever he wanted to go after class ended, but still… It was a warning given with good will. If it weren’t because he cared for the safety of everyone, why would he even bother saying it at all? At least he deserved a few seconds of attention, not completely ignored like this, as if he hadn’t existed.
“You know what? That rumor was rubbish! It’s just some crap made up by losers so pathetic that they had nothing better to do!” somebody yelled snobbishly from the back row, “What do you call a bull-headed giant carrying an axe and attacking people out of nowhere? Bull-headed bullshit, I tell ya! The idiot who reported it must have had too much coke or simply watched to much action movies!”
“Aww, shut up! Everyone knew you were the one who freaked out the most when it came up on the news for the first time!” someone else remarked, followed by a string of gut-wrenching laughter.
To make it simple, nobody actually took the recent incident reports in Dominio City seriously. Even the clueless Eve wasn’t sure whether the bull-headed monster was real or not, but still… Even the student body had specifically ‘order’ that no one was to be in the school ground after the sun sets. It was pretty likely that the thing was real, not to mention the one about people missing all of a sudden… Gee…
“—Alright! Class dismissed!”
There was no need for any kind of cheer. Everyone simply rushed out of the classroom door in a huge, unstoppable burst.
Eve let loose a long sigh, bid the teacher goodbye and joined the remainder of the class.
This school was completely messed up. No. The whole city was completely messed up. Even without bull-headed monsters and random disappearance of the citizens, the criminality rate was already sky high. Hell, even teenagers at Eve’s age—maybe younger than that—were already grouped into two; the bullies and the bullied. The richer and more good looking yet conscienceless ones would ruthlessly beat down the less lucky ones who would do nothing but bend to their oppressor’s will and accepted the fact that they had no right to just talk back, even less to stand up and fight.
Yes. Eve lived in such miserable society.
The redhead turn to one side and found somebody waving at her.
“Jack!” Eve slipped away from the crowd and moved towards her caller, “Don’t tell me you have another practice today!”
“Well, you’ve guessed it…” the other girl played with her brown hair—although she didn’t have much to play with, being cropped real short and all—while putting on one of those guilty smiles, “But this seems to be the last before intensive practice before next month’s tournament, so expect me to walk back home with you tomorrow!”
“Alright, alright! Good luck with the practice, ‘kay?” Eve replied with as much spirit, “See you later!”
“Yeah, thanks! See ya!”
Eve waved at Jack as she walked on. Her best friend Jacqueline was one of the few normalities Eve could actually hold on to, and she truly believed that there were more of the nicer people out there, probably enough to make a difference. And by then, people would one day stop hurting others and everyone could live happily with no worries about their well-being.
Someday—hopefully someday soon—things would change for the better. Eve was sure of it.
“Remember it, Eve, you should never lose faith. And you should always do what you saw as right, do not doubt! No matter how insignificant it might seem, it will still cause a little difference. And through these little changes, bigger change will occur and return this city to its former joy and beauty!
“Keep that faith alive in your heart, Eve—
“—and never ever let it go.”
Eve took out her cell and simply stared at the display picture. She was greeted by her father’s, her mother’s, and finally her own blissful smile—a picture she captured from the seven-year-old original photograph framed on the wall of her living room.
Now, it was impossible to take another picture like that. There was one person lacking; one very valuable, irreplaceable person.
“So you dare talk back at me, eh?!” an uncomfortably offensive yell forced Eve back into reality.
“T-that’s not it… I just—j-just…”
Eve turned sideways and found a skinny boy surrounded by other students who looked as if they could break all of Skinny Boy’s bones single-handedly. Everyone would have realized what was happening at the barest glance—the bigger guys were going to give him a good thrashing.
Eve stopped and looked around.
Everyone passed by as if nothing was happening. Fellow students, teachers, staffs, nobody actually did anything to help. Nobody truly cared.
“Do something, Eve!”
Her mother’s voice rang once again inside Eve’s ears. But what could I do? I’m just a freshman and a girl. If I crossed those brutes, I would definitely ended up in the hospital. Nobody would help me, ever… Just like nobody cared enough to help the poor boy.
“Hah! This loser’s face was practically begging to be our punching bag!”
But still… Someone ought to do something about it. But who would?
“Do not doubt, Eve… You’ve got to believe… Have faith…”
Eve bit her lower lip and tightened her fist while her legs advanced towards those boys.
One of the bullies’ fist stopped just an inch or two from Skinny Boy. The next second, everyone was staring at Eve. Eve swore she could see a hint of surprise in their eyes, but it hadn’t lasted long enough. Soon it was replaced by disgusting grins. They advanced slowly, leaving their previous target and started to trap her among themselves. Finding the perfect timing for escape, Skinny Boy practically ran for his life.
C-crap… What should I do now?
“Hear here, this young lady is quite brave,” said one of those brutes.
Eve stepped back, but her back ended up crashing against the chest of one of those boys. She turned back—now there was truly no gap for her to escape…
“Seems like this bold little missy was so bored that she would step into our playtime,” added in a tone that made Eve want to barf.
“It doesn’t really matter, does it? We have enough time for a more hardcore game,” another boy added while caressing one smooth, reddish strand of Eve’s hair while the rest got hold of her wrists from behind. Eve shivered in disgust.
“What do you want?!” Eve struggled to get free, “Let me go, you jerks!”
Eve’s right cheek felt as if on fire. These bums… They actually slapped me! How dare he?!”
“You! Who do you think—”
This time it was her left cheek.
“It seems like your mouth need a stricter lesson! What should we do with her now? Or rather… How?”
“Just rip off her lips then!” one of those brain-dead meanies took out a shiny object out of his pocket… Something shiny and… sharp.
Eve tried even harder to break off of the hands that held her so tight that her wrists hurt like hell. What the hell they actually want to achieve? This is way too much!
“Good idea,” the guy who slapped me took the razor from his equally rotten buddy. His other hand reached for my chin and roughly pulled my face forward, just a few centimeters away from his ugly, serpent-like one, “Still, before that, there are still many ways to enjoy these shameless lips, no?”
Their laughter was scary. That snake-face was even scarier. This is too much… This is really crossing the boundaries. What were they trying to do? Eve would bet all her money saying it would not be a pretty one.
What should I do now?
In a time like this, shouldn’t there be someone who rush in to rescue a damsel in distress like me?
Isn’t there really anyone at all? Anyone who actually care?
I couldn’t leave it like this… Not without a fight. Eve decided, I have to act!
She closed her eyes tightly and kicked the snake-face’s groin HARD.
All that’s left was a masculine scream echoing into the air.
“Y-you… You bitch! Go get her!” the snake-face barked his order among his moans of agony. His friends—or should we say, his underlings?—tighten their grip on Eve. One of them even went to the point of pinning her feet to the ground. Meanwhile, the remaining schoolboy-slash-thug raised his fist, ready to hit any second then.
I’m done for…
Eve didn’t dare to look. All the worst possibilities ran swiftly inside her overactive mind. Probably they would disfigure her face… They might would tie her up and lock her up somewhere… Heck, they could even… They could even get rid of me once and for all…
Mom… What now?
Eve threw her head sideways, hoping the punch would somehow miss its target. It seemed unlikely though… Eve could only wait for the pain…
Suddenly all the hands that had been keeping Eve immobile let go. She fell sitting on the ground. Doubtfully she started opening her eyes. It was a peek at first, but finally her eyelids completely sprang open. Slowly but surely, all the jerks who had been trying to pick on her stepped away one by one before fleeing in fear, leaving the one who was about to hit Eve alone, waiting for command and unaware of what was happening. Eve looked up and found out what was actually happening.
A guy Eve had never seen before was standing stiffly before her, just like a marble statue. He was quite tall—if he hit the two-meter mark, Eve wouldn’t be surprised. Judging from his paper-white skin, he might not even be a local. He was wearing Dominio uniform though, maybe a senior.
Eve looked for his face and sudden chill ran down her spine.
His face was simply perfect, way too perfect. His mouth was firmly shut, his jawline left a strong impression, and the perfect arc of his nose made him truly look like the god statues found in museums. But his eyes… Those eyes were…
One word. Scary.
His golden eyes looked as if it was piercing through the heart of the last thug standing. If such glare was directed at Eve… No word could describe the horror she believed she would have to go through. It was so intimidating to the point that Eve believed what she had gone through earlier was child’s play. His longish black hair that glowed reddish under the sunlight simply added up to the gloomy ambiance that seemed to gather around him. He grabbed the other boy’s collar with one hand, and If he had crushed him to pieces, no one would be really surprised.
Eve’s common sense was yelling at her, insisting her to stand on her feet and left as fast as she could, but her body was frozen on the spot, mesmerized by the gripping mixture of beauty and terror before her.
“I-I’m sorry! P-please let g-g-go…” the other guy stuttered real horribly. He didn’t even dare to look at the golden-eyed guy in the eye. Once the grip around his collar loosened, the wimp made the best of that chance and escaped like a dog with his tail between his legs.
And that left Eve with her ‘savior’.
Eve wasn’t even sure if she had truly been save or simply thrown into another lion’s den.
That guy’s gaze fell upon Eve, still intimidating yet the intensity had lessened. It was just a fleeting moment. It must have been no more than a split second before he decided to walk away without a word.
Eve didn’t know what kind of ghost had took over her body that particular time, but she gathered all the strength left in her to stand up and grab his coat sleeve. He stopped and turned.
Right then, Eve lost all the words hovering within her mind. Her face grew even hotter. Now that she managed to stop him, she couldn’t say what she thought she had to say. If she had known it would be like this, she would have just let him go…
A pair of golden jewels bore into Eve’s eyes, waiting.
The redhead turned away, avoiding the pair of eyes that seemed to strip her innermost feelings.
There. She said it.
He pulled away and left.
Apparently Eve’s horrible luck hadn’t met its end yet. How could she be so careless and leave her chemistry homework at school? No one was supposed to be on the school ground this late. It’s way past six and you wouldn’t know when bull-headed monsters would show up and eat you down to the bones…
Enough! There was no monster! It’s just a rumor! Yes, the monster is not real… It’s just some loser trying to get public attention… Nothing more…
Eve tried to convince herself. She tried to, she really did. But the weariness wouldn’t leave her alone. Eventually, after so many precious minutes spent on debating whether she should face an uncertain, very unlikely danger or lived in an unavoidable hell made by her teacher the next morning, now here Eve was, tiptoeing down the corridor that led to her class with a baseball bat in hand, you know, just in case any monster or kidnapper appeared all of a sudden.
A creepy female giggle came from the direction of Eve’s class. Was that the monster? No way… It couldn’t be… With such brutish image, a giant monster with the head of a bull wouldn’t sound so… like a sissy, right? Or could it be…
No way. It’s even less likely. It must have been the wind playing trick on Eve’s mind or something. Ghosts no longer existed in this era, didn’t they? Ha…
But there was a lot of whisper about Dominio Academy being built on an abandoned graveyard…
Aaaargh! Stop being superstitious! Eve scolded herself. She should really start being more rational. After all, the only thing she needed to do was to enter the classroom, fix her gaze on her own desk to avoid seeing… things she didn’t want to see, grab her homework, and run home as fast as possible. It’s that simple!
Eve carefully pushed the door open, not wanting to grab any attention from whatever hiding inside.
Eve cursed without words. She had hoped she could enter without a sound, but her fingers were trembling so badly that the door made a screeching noise as she pushed it forward. And now, whatever creature waiting inside the class would be alarmed of her presence… Don’t look up, Eve… Don’t look up. Even then, Eve could still hear the giggling voice, don’t look… Don’t turn around… Just walk on…
The giggle was gone.
“Look who’s here!”
Oh my… I’m SO dead.
However, the remark didn’t sound anything like the giggling girl she had heard before. It was a male voice, a low baritone that somehow sounded… sweet? Gosh, what the hell am I thinking? Those ‘ghosts’ had noticed me! I’m really done for this time! God… How could I be this unlucky?
Wait a sec. That voice sounds familiar.
“Don’t be shy, cupcake, raise your head! There’s nothing to be afraid of. You really shouldn’t put that pretty face to waste by drooping it so low, you know.”
Ignore it, Eve. Your desk is just a few steps away. Keep on walking, grab the book, fly!
“Wait a minute, I think I know you… Eve?”
Eve gulped and froze on the spot.
“It’s really you! Come here, Eve, join us!”
And instead of sticking to the original plan, Eve couldn’t keep herself from turning towards where the voice came from. Eve… You’re such an idiot!
“You look like you’ve just seen a ghost, Eve! Come on… You know me. Just come over here!”
Eve looked at the… the creature sitting on one of the tables, the one who was talking to her. It was too dark to identify his face, but that tint of purple under the moonlight peeking through the slit of the curtains… She couldn’t be wrong. It wasn’t something alien to her…
Eve was pretty sure of herself this time. It must have been Lux, one of her classmates. It couldn’t be anyone else, right?
“Yeah! Finally Eve recognized me! I’m so glad!”
“What are you doing here this late? Aren’t all students forbidden from staying past six?”
“What are you doing yourself? You can’t be looking for me, can you?” Lux chuckled as if it was the most natural thing to do at such time.
“Ah, I just… I forgot something, you see…” thank God… So it wasn’t a ghost. Eve walked on and picked up her homework from under her desk. Before leaving, she turned back at Lux, “Don’t stay here too long, okay? It‘s dangerous! There could be s-something…”
“Isn’t it even more dangerous for you to go home alone? Accompany me here a little longer, then I’ll walk you home!” just listening to his tone put Eve at ease. She could easily imagine him saying those invitation with the most refreshing smile she would ever see. But still… Something felt wrong. Terribly wrong.
“Don’t make fun o—”
“Come here, Eve! Let’s play!”
Lux was definitely smiling at her. Eve could see a glimpse of the whiteness of his teeth, but there was something disturbing about that smile… It was kind of… creepy? Then something strange happened to Lux’s eyes. Those eyes… Did they just.. .glow? Eve swore those eyes were glowing gold in the dark. That’s when Eve realized that they weren’t alone in that room. There were other people—girls—surrounding Lux. They must have been the source of all those giggles. Eve only noticed them now because their eyes also glowed gold, just like Lux’s.
What’s going on here? Suddenly Eve felt sick. Something was urging her to leave at once, away from those glowing eyes and creepy grins…
“Come on, Eve… Come play with us!”
Eve stepped back. Was that person really Lux? Or… Could it be ghost disguised as Lux?
Then the smile disappeared.
“You… My charm isn’t working…”
“It didn’t work! Hahahahaha…”
‘Lux’ exploded into a hearty laugh… It wasn’t anything like the giggling girls or the laugh of an evil lord, it was the most normal of normal laughs. But still… It sent chills running down Eve’s spine for no reason at all.
“Too bad, Eve darling! I truly thought we could spend a lot more quality time with each other and have fun, but apparently we wouldn’t be seeing each other again after—”
Eve convinced herself that she didn’t want to hear the rest of the sentence. She fled.
As she paced away from the accursed classroom, Eve kept on wondering, what was actually going on? What was wrong with Lux? How could he act so much like a…
Cut it off, Eve, there’s no such thing in this world. This is reality, not some kind of fantasy! Eve told herself. Yes… She must have been hallucinating. She was too worried about the recent incidents that she started imagining such stupid things. Right… That must be it… After all, no one else was supposed to be here at this hour, right?
Suddenly Eve felt something approaching from behind—something big and hostile. She turned around.
She saw it.
This was definitely too much for a mere illusion. It’s way too scary… Too vivid…
Eve had left the school area and hadn’t stopped running all the way there. Feeling like she couldn’t hold it any longer, she hid behind a deformed statue in front of a building and looked around. There was no sign of the monster… She’s safe, at least for now…
Eve entered the building in front of her. Only ruins were left of one part of the marble double-door. She chose to hide inside for a while just in case the monster was still on her track while strengthening her grip on her baseball bat.
That bull-headed monster… It existed. At least, that was how Eve saw it. That monster started running after her right when she ran from Lux and his ‘friends’. No matter how much she hoped it was no more than a dream or eveen a schizophrenic vision, it seemed impossible. If this hadn’t been real, she would have woke up for long. Lux’s eyes wouldn’t glow and he wouldn’t laugh as if he was possessed. The bull-headed monster wouldn’t manage to chase her away from school building…
Eve really hated to admit it, but this thing—all the thing she had been through up till that moment—it was reality.
The moon provided enough light through the large hole on the ceiling to allow Eve to recognize her hiding place. She found herself inside a crumbling church that had been abandoned for years. It wasn’t just the ceiling and the door, the walls were full of cracks and the benches were covered by layers of dust and spiderwebs, some were even completely broken. The statues and ornaments were also in very poor condition…
Eve knew she had been there before. She could still recall the time she had spent in this very hall. It had been her mother who brought her there although it was already deserted by then. Still, the damage back then wasn’t this severe. Eve’s mother had always loved this particular place. It was where she could find peace, right in the very place where people used to reflect and encourage the kindness within their heart.
Eve never came to that church anymore since her mother’s death, not even once. It was too… emotional?
But now, in the moment of fright and distress, she could somehow feel what her mother must have felt.
It was as if she had found her sanctuary where she was truly safe.
Another memory of childhood silliness came across. Eve remembered herself telling people that she had seen weird light floating on the big altar over there, right in the middle. She had insisted that she was telling the truth and got mad when someone accused for telling a lie. And now after years went by, even Eve herself doubted her vision back then. She wouldn’t even deny it now if anyone told her that she was simply making it up to get people’s attention.
Eve… Eve Dragoste Giandra…
Come closer, Eve…
Eve was starting to get tired of mysterious sound, seriously. This time, it came from the altar. It wasn’t the creepy kind of voice like that of Lux’s and the girl’s giggles, it was also nothing like the growling of the bull-headed monster who chased after her. This one was more refreshing, soothing and compassionate voice of a mother…
It might have been years since the last time Eve heard her mother’s voice, but she could still hear it clearly through her mind’s ear.
Yes, it was identical to the mystic voice coming from the altar.
A light! There was a light! Eve could see a flash of dim red light fluttering above the altar, exactly the way she had seen it years ago! Could it mean… Could it mean her younger self hadn’t been lying at all?
It was quite a night. First a possibly possessed classmate, then bull-headed monster, now childhood fantasies turning out to be real…
Eve could no longer differ between reality and her own fantasies. Probably what she needed the most now was a consultation with a psychiatrist.
Eve stared at the red light once again. She knew at once that that’s where the latter voice had come from. And the way that dim glow was fluttering… It seemed like it was calling out for her, inviting her to come closer and reach out… The voice, too, had wanted her to come closer to the altar. The voice… The light… It wanted her to come closer still…
Eve stepped forward. She hadn’t wanted to do so, but her body had its own will. Her mind was flaring a long list of what-ifs—what if the red light was another hostile trap? What if it consumed her once she got close enough? All of them led to one conclusion—stay away from the red light, or any other conspicuous object she knew nothing about.
But the red light was different… The voice was different… Eve felt nothing like fear or disgust like she did during the other curious encounters she had gone through earlier that night. She felt only sincerity… The purest of it…
Eve stopped just before the altar. She had found the source of the light, a beautiful heart-shaped pendant. Its chain glowed under the moonlight as if it was forged out of pure gold. The glowing red gem was a wonder, surrounded by small diamond-like stones that shone like stardust. Eve couldn’t help wanting to touch it, yearning to feel its weight with her own hands…
But she also feared. Feared that the beauty would crumble when it met the impurities of her fingertips.
Pick it up, Eve, the pendant is yours.
Do not hesitate. Take it. It would bring out all the strength in you.
“Strength… in me?”
At a time like this, Eve somehow wished her body would move on its own again. It would be much better than being too suffocated by hesitation and unable to act.
After some time, Eve finally allowed her trembling fingers to touch the ruby-red gem.
And everything disappeared.
“Who’s there?! Where are you?”
I’m here, right in front of you. I am your strength…
There it was again, glowing before Eve’s deep brown eyes, the dim red light that had been talking to her before. Her strength? What did it mean?
You are the one fated to save mankind from the demons’ grasp…
You are Ange Rouge, the human girl bestowed with heaven’s blessing to stop the demons from invoking an end to this world. You and the other six Angels of Virtue should fight and keep the Seven Deadly Sins at bay, or else, apocalypse would be inevitable.
“A-Ange Rouge? Seven Sins? What is actually going on here?!”
Remember. I am the faith and courage within you, the core of the power of your soul. Do not hesitate, and do not let these feelings go.
“Wait a sec—”
Rise, Ange Rouge!
“Hey! I really don’t get your—”
Before Eve could really say anything at all, the red light flashed and went into the heart pendant that had somehow found its way round Eve’s neck. What was it now? Eve couldn’t understand a thing. Even worse, she couldn’t even keep track on what was going on anymore. Angels? Demons? Saving the world? What the hell was that about?
But there really was no time to think about the information explosion if those things could be called information at all. Eve was back from nothingness to where she had stood before, in front of the altar, with the glowing pendant now magically hung around her neck. And all of a sudden, she felt a hostile aura crept up from behind, followed by a loud crash.
Eve turned around and found the door as well as the part of the wall around it completely destroyed. And there was the bull-headed monster, coming in through the large hole that had been a door before it came and smashed everything that was on its way. That monster walked towards Eve with its ax lifted high, ready to strike anytime. Its steps were slow and heavy, proportionate to its weight, leaving cracks on the fragile floor. The hostile glow of its small eyes showed its confidence that its prey wouldn’t be able to escape.
Eve panicked. Her eyes wildly searched for an escape route. She couldn’t possibly run past the monster’s gigantic body and get out through the door before that vicious ax fell upon her. The only opening she could find was the large hole on the ceiling, but it was impossible for her to jump that high, wasn’t it?
Eve was trapped.
“Don’t just stand there, idiot! Transform!”
Suddenly Eve heard something that sounded just like the way a mad little boy would sound… A boy? Here? At a time like this?
Kids shouldn’t even be out at this hour, with monsters swarming around!
But where was the boy?
Then Eve happened to look downward and noticed a little fox with golden fur squealing at her. His angry red eyes were fixed on her.
“What are you doing? Do you want to die or something?”
Let’s recount on all the weirdness that happened to Eve throughout the night. A possessed classmate—check, being chased by bull-headed monster—check, being told by weird lights that she was some kind of world savior—check, and now, talking fox—check.
Conclusion: What. The. Hell.
“You’ve got to transform! What are you waiting for? Defeat that Fury!”
Transform? Transform how?
Eve must have said that out loud since the fox replied in desperation, “Just say some random thing and imagine the strength of Ange Rouge pumped through all parts of your vein!”
Ange Rouge? The red light had said something similar… Transform, huh?
Should I scream some kind of spell and invent some kind of pose like those superheroes in movies and comic books?
“Quick! There’s no time left!”
Right. The monster was only a few steps away from where Eve was standing. Its body filled every corner of Eve’s sight. Its ax was still raised high, ready to split her into two any moment now.
I have to transform!
“ANGE ROUGE ALTERER!!!”