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Re: [ARC 1] Tales from the East

Postby Kamikaze_X » Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:43 pm

AERETH DU LÉON
LÉON | FLAMELLE


The people in white cloaks were more abundant than in the days past. Aereth wasn’t sure when she first started seeing them in Léon, but judging by their accents and their overall demeanor toward the people of Flamelle, they were certainly foreign. As she sat at a cafe that morning, one leg casually crossed over another, sipping a cup of tea, she watched one such character with curiosity.

“I beseech you, good people of Flamelle, to heed my words!” The white-cloaked man shouted from atop a wooden crate. 

He stood within a small circular stone courtyard, surrounded on all ends by small cafes and local restaurants. Though she had only arrived for a relaxing cup of tea and a pastry that morning, she knew at once the man had been there for hours already. He looked weary and worn down—perhaps he’d gained no one’s attention in all the time he had been standing there.

“A great plague torments the land! It’s only a matter of time before it comes here, if it hasn’t already. Please, good people, visit our clinics to be checked for this foul disease! Before it’s too late!”

Aereth rolled her eyes. Flamelle was a relatively clean country—at least within her own stomping grounds—such a disease would be unheard of. And being a proverbial gem of the world, Flamelle was likely far better off than other developing nations. Whatever disease that ‘plague prophet’ was yammering on about would find no home in the likes of her country.

Finishing her tea, she set her cup down and gave a contented sigh, tuning out the preaching zealot. It had already started to grate on her nerves.

With no real plans that day, she had considered simply heading out about Léon, or perhaps heading to the lakeside district of the city to relax for a while, allowing the soft waves of the lake to soak her feet.

“Miss, yes you, miss! With the tea, over there!”

Aereth found her wandering mind yanked back into reality. Her eyes found the plague prophet, who looked pointedly in her direction. She raised her eyebrows, pointing to herself questioningly.

“Yes, you! Do you not care for your wellbeing? Or that of your parents? Your husband? Your children!?

Aereth smirked, placing some Loréin down on her table to pay for the bill, then stood up to leave the cafe. Hands on her hips, she strolled over to the white-robed prophet.

“This plague of yours, I haven’t heard about it until you started going on and on. I don’t see anyone ill around here, and I’m around people all day.” Aereth stated flatly, casually gesturing toward the groups of other citizens milling about.

“Perhaps it hasn’t come here yet, but I assure you it shall if your people do nothing.” The prophet responded. “I’m a doctor, so I know this for sure.”

Aereth matched the man up against the Flamellen doctors she had known—by comparison, this prophet seemed more akin to a beggar than a physician. He wore tattered robes and a pair of worn sandals. His hair was unkempt and dirty—he looked unwashed, and smelled like it too. Giving him a distasteful look, she started to turn to leave.

“Will you be checked, Miss?” The prophet asked.

“I’d sooner drown myself in Lake Bourdeaux.” Aereth answered with a short laugh.

“You’d take those words back if you find yourself burying your children—you whole family!” The prophet shouted back, obviously frustrated by Aereth’s carefree attitude.

Aereth walked out from the courtyard and away from the shouting prophet. 

Then I suppose it’s good that no disease can infect ashes.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Lake glistened invitingly in the sunlight that afternoon. Sporadic clouds hung over the water, slowing, lackadaisically moving past as minutes turned to hours. Although Lake Bourdeaux was indeed enclosed on all sides—but for the Rivers Sein and Rein which flowed in from the north, and the River Somme from the south—its body was large enough that one would swear they were looking out to a vast sea with no discernible end in sight.

Although comparably cooler than the summer, the last few days had been unusually warm—enough to be able to lounge outdoors without the need for any heavier clothing. Taking full advantage of this lapse in seasonal coolness, and eager to rid her mind of the foreign ‘plague prophet’, she promptly headed for the lakeside of Léon.

Hours later, Aereth sighed as she lay on her back in the warm sand, soaking in the rays of the high Autumn sun. Bare-chested, like many others on the beach, she closed her eyes and found herself dozing—she decided to ignore the men who walked by, gawking so very obviously. As though they’d never seen a woman’s body before. 

Let them stare. Aereth thought with the hint of a smile playing on her lips. Perhaps one of them will entertain me tonight, if any have the backbone to approach.

Beyond spending and earning money, leisure was always Aereth’s favorite activity. It was something she hardly remembered from her youth—much of that was spent running, or scrounging for food, or groveling for scraps like a dog. But now? She had found her talent, and used it to make a life for herself. A life of self-meaning, and self-worth.

She didn’t need anything else. Even if anyone else would consider her ‘talents’ immoral, and her worldview perhaps a bit jaded and narcissistic.

Yes, leisure is what she desired. The lake offered that for her, in that moment. Just as seduction, thievery, and manipulation offered her a purpose in life.

She opened her eyes and spotted another man slowly walking by—his pointed staring at her obvious. Sighing, she expertly batted her eyelashes and rolled over onto her stomach facing away from him, casually lifting a leg and glancing over her shoulder back at the man, who had momentarily stopped in his tracks.

Hooked him, did I? Aereth thought, chuckling to herself.

He had started to make his way towards her until he stopped dead in his tracks. Aereth lifted her eyebrows when the man quickly turned in step and headed back along the water.

Well, that’s never happened before.

Turning away from the water, she almost jumped from her beach towel—inhaling sharply with a noise that sounded more like a hiss. Right in front of where she lay, a pair of black boots stood, belonging to a cloaked figure. Their face, hidden in the shadow of their hood, looked directly down at her.

“I see you’re still trying to fuck your way through the entire male population of Léon.” The masked figure said bluntly. The voice was female.

Aereth immediately recognized who’s voice it belonged to. Her eyes narrowed.

“Can I help you, Fiona?” Aereth answered with as bored a tone as she could muster. “You’re blocking the sun. Move.”

Fiona sidestepped after a moment. “The Guild has need of you.”

“I don’t answer to the Guild. You of all people should know that.”

“Indeed. However do remember that just as you scratch our backs from time to time, we scratch yours.” Fiona answered. “That last job you did in Sainté Bourdeaux—after a week, the man realized he was robbed when he went to the safe. You covered your tracks just fine, Aereth, but that didn’t stop him from going off to the authorities, pinning blame on the Guild.”

“And? Who cares?” Aereth answered after a moment. “It’s just one dullard with some money and a title. Sainté Bourdeaux doesn’t know where the Guild is located.”

Silence.

“Fiona. There’s not a chance that they know where the Guild is. They’d be chasing shadows.”

“Ordinarily, you’d be correct. However, our sanctuary is now threatened. We scratched your back by not informing our moles in the city guard to rat you out,” Fiona answered, bending down until her hooded face was close to Aereth’s from where she still lay. “It’s your turn now to scratch ours.”
Last edited by Kamikaze_X on Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [ARC 1] Tales from the East

Postby Kamikaze_X » Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:08 pm

AYA SASAKI
ISLAND OF HEKKAIDO | KYOKAI • Pt 2


She had left early in the morning, on that cool Autumn day. As the sun rose higher in the sky, she felt the sweat bead down her bare neck as her long dark hair clung limply to her skin. Although Autumn had just begun, and the colors of the trees had started to shift, the sun still managed to cling to a bit of its summer strength. Even so far north as she was.

Aya headed onto the main road out from Izu, bearing east through the mountains. High grassy slopes rose on either side of the dirt road—or perhaps it was more of a rough dirt path—and the trees grew tall and thick. All about her, a cacophony of nature called out; the tweeting melodies of birds, the long drawn out chirrups of cicadas, and the slight scurrying of ground squirrels and chipmunks moving through the dense underbrush.

Deeper into the forest, the branches of evergreen and deciduous trees formed a canopy just thick enough to shelter her from most of the sun’s rays. She sighed deeply as she continued to walk, allowing the shade to cool her down. Every so often, she would stop at the edge of the path, choosing a large boulder or mossy hillock on which to sit and rest. Closing her eyes and humming a tune, she couldn’t help but feel as though she were walking through a dream.

Did I truly just leave Izu? I was there for eighteen years. Everything I know is there, and yet here I am… walking through the woods like some folk story fairy, my feet leading me ever further away.

Her eyes watched, transfixed on the great spruce tree above her, swaying with the wind.

I could go back if I wanted. I could go back and live a perfectly ordinary life. I could see my mama and papa once more, and just till the soil and harvest rice. I could go back…

Aya smiled, shaking her head to herself.

I already said my goodbyes. Now its time to see the world.

She had already taken several drinks from her waterskin. The gurgling of a brook nearby allowed her to fill it back up, and start back on her journey refreshed and ready to go. Brushing herself off from where she had sat, she made her way back down the road, eager to reach the small port town of Miwa by the next day.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


After walking for much of the day, and watching as the sun sank down below the trees, she found herself walking a bit quicker than earlier. Although she wasn’t exactly afraid of the dark, she knew better than to stay in the woods through the night, as all manner of creatures prowled through the darkness as they slept through the light of day. Though it was uncommon, folk from Izu and the neighboring towns had been attacked by wolves in the night before. All of them had remained in the woods for the night, rather than heading to a clearing.

Luckily, as she trekked throughout that day, she kept up a good pace. It wasn’t long before she found herself at the edge of the woods, just as the moon and stars began to light her way. The road ahead led to a steep slope, after which opened up a large valley. The land came to a sharp point, far ahead, from which the waters of the Hagane Ocean, and the inland Strait of Sankatsugawa gleamed in the moonlight.

Long grass swayed with the wind in an open field bordering both ends of the road. Aya made her way down the slope, entering the valley below. She gazed for a while upon the twinkling lights of the town of Miwa far on the road ahead—despite how inviting the scene was, she had not the coin to buy a room at the local inn while still affording passage across the water. No, that night she would camp out in full view of the moon and stars. Something about the prospect of camping out alone gave her goosebumps.

Walking off the path, she decided to make camp near the eves of the forest. Finding a small clearing she cleared a bit of underbrush from the trees that towered ahead and positioned some rocks she had found into a rough circle. Hunting for loose twigs seemed a simple task as they littered the ground about her. Once she arranged her wood and stuck some dry grass into the fire pit as kindling, she placed her palm above and closed her eyes.

“Hoka no Kamote o araetai yo.” Aya muttered an incantation beneath her breath. A spark ignited eventually, under her deep concentration. Blowing slowly into the kindling, she waited patiently for her magic-created flames to spread before sitting back and relaxing. She always found the effort to use even the simplest magic a strain, however it was a gift she was happy to have.

Though her stomach growled, she was determined to keep her food for the following morning. Arms around her knees, she watched the flames as though transfixed. The sounds of leaves rustling in the wind and crickets chirping in the high-grasses of the valley mixed into a wondrous ballad which conspired to make her eyelids fall even quicker. 

Aya yawned tiredly as she curled up nearby the fire, letting its warmth slowly lull her into a restful slumber.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


The following morning, as soon as the sun started to climb over the mountains to her west, Aya was up. The fire had died to embers sometime long into the night and now sat as blackened coals. Stretching lazily, she watched as the world around her slowly came to life for another full day. Even at dawn, the suns rays foretold of another hot day, though she knew that the hours spent onboard Miwa’s ferry to the mainland would certainly help to cool the temperature.

Without delay, Aya packed what belongings she carried and eagerly made her way into the valley and back onto the road. With every step she took, Miwa drew closer, and the sounds of the ocean grew more distinct.

A cry of seagulls. The lapping of waves against moored boats along Miwa’s docks. The swearing of sailors trying to get their adjutants to move faster so they could set out earlier and get to the best fishing spots around the island. Aya’s face wore a grin as she made her way into the town and toward the pier and all its noises.

Posted on a public notice board were the day’s prices for passage across the Strait of Sankatsugawa to the main island of Joushu. She approached, and ran her finger down the long list of port names.

“Aikaze, Tsukishima, Fushima, Yukigawa, Onozaki…” Aya read aloud to no one in particular. She pondered the names for a while, thinking back to all the time she gazed at a map of Kyokai. “I think Fushima’s the closest.”

“It’s also the cheapest fare.” A voice stated behind her.

Aya jumped, surprised as she was ripped from her thoughts. She looked back and saw a grizzled man wearing a cloak, with a thick coil of hempen rope slung around a shoulder.

Sumanyo. I couldn’t help but notice your contemplation—I take it you’re from around here?” The man asked, his expression not unkind.

“Ah… yes, from Izu.”

“Izu, huh? What’re you doing here in Miwa, if you don’t mind me asking? It’s rare to see anyone from your village seeking passage across the sea.”

Aya gave an embarrassed smile, fidgeting idly with her hair. “I’m on an adventure, sir. To see the world.”

The old man’s eyebrows raised, though his expression remained otherwise stoic.

“Can’t say I’ve heard that one before.” He finally said with a short laugh. “An adventure, huh.”

Aya blushed and looked down at her feet as she felt her ears grow hot from embarrassment. Just as she was almost ready to turn about and walk away from the man, he called back out to her.

“Do you have the coin to get to Fushima, Adventurer-hana.” The man asked with a smile.

“It’s Aya. And I think I do.” She looked back at the price. 200 En. “I should.”

“Well, Aya-hana, it’s a pleasure. Listen, I sail that ferry over there.” He pointed at a small vessel with two red triangular sails named the Miwa no Tenshi. “I already have a few passengers lined up, but there’s room for one more. If you have the coin, I have your boat.”

Aya picked out two 50 and then ten 10 En coins, then opened her palm out toward the man. “200 En, right?”

When he only took half of what she produced, she looked back at her money confused. “But the sign…”

“Forget about the sign, Aya-hana.” The captain of the Miwa no Tenshi said with a grin. Walking off toward his boat, he motioned for her to follow.

“Come now, it’ll be a windy day—can’t let that go to waste, now can we?”


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


Aya leaned over the edge of the boat, letting her fingers glide along the surface of the water. The Strait of Sankatsugawa was still for the moment, but with hours to go before hitting the shores of Joushu, and the wind distinctly picking up, the captain of the Miwa no Tenshi seemed to think that the waters would become rough in only a matter of time. Sliding back into her seat along the starboard side of the small sailing vessel, she watched the other passengers curiously.

She wondered why they all traveled that day, across the waters. How many people, she wondered, made this trip every day? A voyage such as this was a large endeavor for the villagers of Izu. In fact, most of the people from her village had never left Izu, let alone the island. Glancing to the Miwa no Tenshi’s other passengers, however, Aya couldn’t help but wonder what their lives were like.

A younger woman held her baby to her breast, shielding him from the chill winds and the salt spray. Aya figured she was likely leaving to see her husband, or perhaps family members on the mainland. An older gentleman, stooped with a cane and a long beard wrapped himself tightly in his cloak. She wondered if he was a traveling monk or an elderly scholar on his own adventure.

Until she felt the waves start to get choppy, and the winds pick up, she had given every other passenger a story of their own. Daydreaming certainly helped to pass the time on her voyage.

The Captain of the Miwa no Tenshi asked that everyone go below-deck as the waters became rougher. They still had another few hours to go before reaching the coast. They did so, though Aya was careful to remain as close to a window or opening as she could. She wanted to be the first to see land as they approached. Before she climbed belowdeck, she noticed the sky growing dark under a blanket of gray.

She felt the ship creak from below deck, and the vessel rocked to and fro as the waves tossed it about. Sitting against a bulkhead, with one hand clamped around a post, Aya willed herself not to get seasick. Though she had been out to sea plenty of time, she had always taken caution not to go out in rougher waters. Looking to the other passengers, she obviously wasn’t the only one feeling the bile rising to her throat.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


The hours crept by with little respite from the rough seas, which only seemed to get rougher as time crept onward. She could hear the ship’s crew yelling to each other above deck, and the captain barking orders as he steered the vessel through what felt to be a storm. Aya was nauseous, but felt she had nothing in her stomach to wretch up. Perhaps then it was good that she hadn’t eaten anything in over twenty four hours.

Whatever storm the gods threw at their tiny ship—if it indeed could even be considered a storm—it made Aya wonder if the divines had it out for its captain. Nevertheless, as the maelstrom outside seemed to reach its peak, she could hear some of its passengers pleading with the God of the Sea, Soumei, for safe deliverance across the strait. 

The boat lurched ferociously, and the sounds of creaking wood and strained rope mixed with the yells of the crew on deck. Aya realized she was shaking violently—perhaps due to the cold, or her terror, she wasn’t quite sure. She closed her eyes tightly and wished there was a spell of calming that she knew—none came to mind. So instead, like the other frightened passengers, she gave a desperate prayer to the divines above to have mercy on their ship and spare their lives.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


After some time, she felt the ship start to steady. Her knuckles were white from gripping the edge of the bulkhead so tightly; she found it difficult even then to let go. Attempting to stand, her legs felt like jelly. Aya noticed then that the yells had calmed from above deck, and it seemed as though the sounds of the wind had died off as well.

Unsteadily, she ascended the steps to the top deck, squinting as the light of day met her eyes. When her vision cleared, she audibly gasped.

The deck was a mess of sea salt and debris from loose bits of wood and rigging. One of the sails was ripped, but still functioning. Looking to the sky, its hue was a deep unhappy gray all around, though directly overhead she could see blue. Further down the strait, the clouds were as dark as pitch, and a misty haze enveloped the sea where she knew torrential rain was falling.

They were in the eye of a storm.

“A squall.” The captain said, his voice gravely as he approached the curious passengers who emerged from below deck. “We’re at its center. But it’ll hit us again soon enough, though it’s most likely we’ll be moored nearby Fushima by then.”

“A squall?” Aya asked, her voice sounding hollow to her own ears.

“Aye. A quickly passing storm. Sometimes they can be quite destructive, though.” The captain explained, wiping his brow to clear the saltwater from his hair and eyes. “Apologies everyone, for what happened there. We saw the ox-eye clouds off to the distance of Miwa, but didn’t expect it to turn this way.”

The passengers looked shaken from the whole ordeal. The captain gave a small understanding smile. “If anything, we’re already close to shore. The storm may have tossed us about, but it tossed us in the right direction.”

Aya looked toward the bow of the ship and her eyes widened.

The rugged coastline of Joushu loomed far ahead, and despite the misted fog that lay over the land and sea, she could see the jagged peaks of mountain ranges, the high cliffs and rolling hills, and the rocky coastline. Her heart started to beat with renewed anticipation. Despite the trials she had to face, so soon after beginning her journey, the scene ahead of her, and the promise of a grand adventure seemed so very promising.

Kyokai lay ahead, in all its splendid grandeur. In all its newness and mystery, for the girl from Izu Village.

And yet, she knew her trials were only half complete. They lay in the eye of a storm, and were still a ways from the port of Fushima. Their boat carried them ever closer, however, and despite the sky darkening once more, they eventually made it to their destination; just as the wind started to pick back up.

“Come now, everyone off board. We need to get this ship away from the pier before the storm comes back. And you all need to get somewhere safe, with a roof overhead and a fire to keep you warm.” The captain urged as the boat’s plank was dropped from the ship to the dock.

Everyone off-boarded as quickly as they could, clutching their belongings as their shaky legs brought them back to solid land. Aya was the last to leave the ship, and before her feet hit the gangplank, the captain stopped her and grabbed her hand. He dropped 100 En into her hand.

She looked up to his weary face with confusion. The man offered a smile and nudged her toward the plank gently. “This was no way to start on one’s adventure. May the rest of your journey bring you great fortune, happiness, and clearer skies, Aya-hana.”

Before she could say much of anything, the crew of the Miwa no Tenshi, bringing supplies and cargo off board onto the pier—all quite in a hurry to finish the job—forced her off the ship and onto the docks. When she spotted the captain watching her from the deck of his ship, all she could muster was a grateful bow as she felt no words could sum up the gratitude she felt then.

With something of a heavy heart, she looked to the vast city ahead of her. 

Fushima awaited.
Last edited by Kamikaze_X on Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Kamikaze_X
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