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Note of Warning: In the first chapters, there is little use of magic. It is purely introductory.
Maesters- Nine rulers of the Southland that make all decisions, etc... (the government)
Nirvanism- This is a religion. It will be explained later.
Sky Whale- A part of the Nirvanism religion
Patsu's Apple Obsession- Patsu doesn't suffer from cramps or cyanide poisoning. He just chugs apples like air. lolz.
patsu stealing apples, courtesy of tasogare101
It was one of those sunny days of early autumn. The leaves were just starting to fade into their bright array of reds and yellows, the cooled air staying pleasant due to the midday sun. In short, it was a day on which all citizens of the world should have not a care in the world. Raye Setter wished it could be that way, but, being the sole leader of the guards in the Southern farming village of Fare, he could never have too much peace. This morning, it was an irate farmer that was screaming at him.
"He is steal my apples! He is ruin life of mine! This is sucks bad!" the farmer spat out. As he spoke, a straw in his mouth bobbed back and forth between teeth yellowed from tobacco, and a hat consisting of little more than patches threatened to fall off of his head.
"I get it!" Raye said. "You've repeated the same thing almost a dozen times-"
"He is stealed my apples! My precious red apples!"
Raye sighed. "Now it's a dozen. Look, we can help, but we really need a description of the thief."
The farmer's brow furrowed as he tried to work through the English. Then his face cleared. "Oh, you want face, yes? His eyes bright green. He was a boy. I see eyes even from great distance."
Raye closed his eyes, brain automatically filtering through the citizens of Fare that had green eyes. There were admittedly few. He shifted his attention back to the farmer. "Anything else?"
"Yes. I remember now. He had white hair!"
Raye was suddenly interested. No boy he had ever known had exhibited white hair. This meant an outsider, possibly hostile to the village. He sat back in his chair, staring at the walls of the single-room guardhouse. Who-?
The farmer suddenly gestured to the open window. "Kind of like that boy out there with the white hair."
Patsu Longringer walked about Fare, trying to find a pub where he could find the bounty information he sought. He was facing away from the guardhouse when suddenly he felt a pair of eyes staring at him. He turned swiftly, looking in to see a farmer with squinty eyes looking at him. Patsu recognized the man, and cheerfully waved to him. Then, very deliberately, Patsu removed his hand from his sword's handle, reached into a pouch, and bit into the apple he drew out of it.
There was a moment of hesitation, then the farmer yelled out: "That is him! Guards! Catch the scalawag!"
Raye leapt out of the window, shouting orders to two guards outside the building to follow the boy. The boy had already started running, still cheerfully eating the apple. However, with longer legs, the two guards started to slowly gain on the thief. Patsu looked back, a little worry showing on his face. In that instant, his foot suddenly caught on a rock jutting out of the dirt road. His arms cartwheeled about comically, and then he made a perfect faceplant into the ground.
It was clear that the farmer was angry at him, Patsu thought as the other guards tied him to a chair. He quickly tested the knots, noting that he could probably struggle out of the loose rope if necessary. The chief of the guards, Raye Setter, looked down at him from across a desk.
"It is unbelievable that someone at your age would think of theft," he said disapprovingly.
Patsu shrugged in response. Apples were so good, after all.
Raye sighed at the boy's lack of remorse, before reaching into a desk to pull out the official complaint.
"You will have to pay this farmer back for..." his eyes widened, and he paused before reading out the sum. "...the theft...of 2149 apples."
Raye looked sternly back at Patsu. "Surely you couldn't have eaten all those. Return the ones you stole, and I'm sure you won't have to pay the farmer back."
For the first time, Patsu spoke, and it had nothing to do with the apples.
"What will you do with my sword?"
Raye stared at the boy, and then at the sword that had been placed in the corner of the room.
"Nothing will happen to it...for now. But a boy like you carrying a sword and stealing things brings up many questions-" BANG! BANG!
Both Raye and Patsu started, and they looked outside to see people running around banging pots and pans together. "A band of bandits are attacking the village!" they cried. "Sabin's Bandits have arrived! Run for your lives!"
Raye stared blankly at the people outside, then abruptly gathered himself.
"We must leave, we will resume this at a later-" But Patsu was already gone, along with his sword. A hole in the wall had appeared, apparently cut out by the sword. Raye could only stand there with his mouth agape.
Patsu rushed along the streets. Bandits, for him, meant income. If there was one thing that he loved almost as passionately as apples, it was money. "Now where were they?" he asked to himself softly. As he turned a corner, he could hear whimpers and cries of the villagers, and adjusted his path: he jumped straight to the roofs.
Sabin was not a kind man, and his bandaged face and neck gave him the appearance of a mummy, straight out of the tombs of Egypt. Though a fairly new criminal, he was famed for having a strong grasp of the black market in the Southland. It was thus that even though firearms had been forbidden in the Southland for almost a decade (except for the government), Sabin had gotten his hands on a rusty but high-quality pistol.
The citizens cowered in fear as Sabin stood in the center of the village square, pointing his gun at the mayor's head. Guards, killed by a few bullets, lay in a circle around Sabin and his party of hoodlums.
"Listen up, you useless chumps!" Sabin called out. "You better give me all the goods in this village. We are short on food supplies, and I'm gonna plug this guy unless you hand over enough!"
The mayor tried to shout out something, but a bandit slapped him.
Sabin saw this, and viciously kicked the mayor in the head, knocking him out. He was about to kick him again, but was suddenly stopped by a battle cry. Turning, Sabin spotted a figure jumping out of the sun from the roof, making the stereotypical "savior entrance."
That was all ruined as Sabin sidestepped and the figure (Patsu of course) landed in a heap next to him. Sneering beneath layers of bandages, Sabin spat on the ground and asked, "What is this? A boy?"
Patsu quickly stood up in a fighting pose, hand on the handle of his sword. Boastfully, he cried out,
"Stop now, for I have come here to capture you!"
Sabin gave the boy a half-glare, and swiftly shot the gun. A length of white hair drifted down to the ground, and a streak of burnt skin appeared along the boy's face. "You seek to stop me?" asked Sabin quietly. "No, to capture me? Fuck you, boy! This is such a joke! With this pistol, the whole of the Southland will become my territory as long as I don't attract the wrath of the Maesters!"
Patsu ignored all this, choosing instead to cleanse his clothes of dirt. Sabin looked up in time to see him rubbing some spit on his shoe, and stopped. His one visible eye narrowed to a dangerous slit, and without giving warning, he aimed towards Patsu's head and fired. The boy didn't hesitate either, in one motion jumping higher than the bullet could reach and pulling out his sword. In another fluid motion, his body twisted in midair, swinging the blade to add momentum. With great force, the sword struck downwards. Sabin barely got out of the way in time, and even so his face suffered a deep gash and the cloth on his shoulder was sliced open, including a chain that secured a cape.
Sabin tried again, shooting this time at the boy's chest. Patsu dodged again, demonstrating flexibility and at the same time swinging his sword again. The broad part of the blade hit Sabin, sending him sliding backwards.
Rubbing blood from his face, Sabin snarled at the boy. "Who the fuck are you, freak? Such speed..." He trailed off as Patsu stared at him with almost playful eyes.
"Name's Longringer. Patsu Longringer, rank-C bounty hunter, Swordsmen class, under the squad of C. Ling Kett." The villagers stood in shock, recognizing the name of the Maester. Patsu cockily re-sheathed his sword, showing no concern that he was now unarmed. "Now, Sabin, come quietly and I'll get more money."
The bandit lord leered at Patsu, even as some of his bandits began to flee. "C-rank? You're still a hundred years to young to try to catch me, BOY!" With that, one hand blurred, throwing a classic bomb at Patsu. He used his other hand to add push off the ground, leaping backwards.
However, Patsu was unfazed. His hand shot out, caught the bomb. For a split second the boy looked at the fuse. Then, with a childish giggle of glee, he threw the bomb back at Sabin, twirling it just enough that the wind would make the fire burn faster instead of putting it out.
Sabin's eye widened. "Oh, hell-" and then he was blown up, along with a large portion of the square. It was fortunate that by then all the villagers had gone far enough to not be caught in the blast.
After the smoke had cleared, the villagers had first chased the rest of the bandits out of the town. This was an easy feat, as most of the bandits were terrified by the boy already. Then they set about tending to the surviving guards and the mayor. It was only after all this had been done that someone brought up the fact that the boy was missing, along with Sabin (or his body).
Far away, Patsu laughed as he dragged a large bad he had stolen from the miller. Inside was Sabin, all blackened and bruised, but breathing. He was glad that the paranoid Sabin had thought to wear semi-fireproofed clothing. The man was now just terribly hurt, but with luck Patsu would be able to deliver him to a bounty station alive and get the fee for a living bandit.
Of course, there were other things in the bag. They were red and round, and there were approximately 1500 of them, the others having been eaten already. Crazy, huh?
patsu with pet bird, Jojiro
finis primus opus
All, Join Open Group Remnants of Acheron.
The first chapter's title is "Newborn Seed"
Second chapter: "Caravan"
NOTES: This chapter was hastily written and may have a few conceptual errors that will be corrected later. Also, it is quite a boring section, so I've tried to intensify the drama to a cheesy, manga-ish point. Also, no pics this chapter. No flames, comments appreciated!
Senbon: Slightly weighted needle, used as a throwing weapon, like a shuriken or kunai.
Patsu was a boy. A strong boy, but considering that he was dragging along the unconscious body of a fully-grown man and had only apples for sustenance, it was no wonder that he was tired out quickly.
As the sun rose on the second morning of his departure from Fare, Patsu sat against a tree, apple cores littering the ground around him. He groaned inwardly as his stomach gave a growling sound. It was to be expected, of course...but...
"Sheesh...why do I have to bring in the body to get the bounty? That whole town could be witnesses. Ugh-Sabin is so heavy, and my sword too. Got no tricks to make either lighter, nope-"
...and, looking for all the world like a child throwing a tantrum, Patsu continued his rant.
He wasn't the only one. Only a couple miles away, in a copse of trees, the remnants of Sabin's bandits grumbled. Already short on supplies when they raided Fare, they were now completely out of money and the only food remaining was a platter of dried mushrooms. To make matters worse, the lieutenant had taken over in Sabin's absence. He was a man with a head shaped like a gourd, and the squinty eyes of someone that spent his time gazing at the sun. With a brilliant smile, he had assured the crew of not-so-merry men that they had nothing to fret about. His speech was meet with a completely nonplussed crowd.
This man was Mohatmas Mohindi. He was an aggressive man with strong battle instincts and no other good points to speak of. It was rumored that Sabin chose him to be lieutenant only due to the fact that he was so easy to control and such a great swordsman.
It was to one conclusion that the boy and the bandit lieutenant came to: they needed a caravan. For Patsu, a passing group of travelers would be able to offer him a ride to the next town, along with a meal. For the bandits, a successful caravan raid would boost morale and provide them with necessary supplies.
Due to the nature of convenient story-telling, a caravan came in due course, picking up the starving boy first. The caravan master, a serious man in a bowler hat, looked on as Patsu inhaled food. With a glare, he asked the boy if he had any payment. Patsu readily handed the man a bag full of apple seeds.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!? ARE YOU MAKING FUN OF ME!?"
After the man calmed down, he asked if Patsu had anything of value in the bag. This then led to the discovery of the burnt body, panic, and finally an explanation by Patsu that he was an official bounty hunter, not some crazy pyromaniac hitchhiker. After calming the passengers of the caravan, the man agreed to let Patsu pay later. The boy promptly went to sleep, exhausted from his day.
The other passengers of the caravan were the typical group of traveling musicians, gypsies, and there were even a few dwarves mixed in. All of these were interested in the new passenger, but none as much as the girl sitting next to him. Approximately eighteen years of age, the purple-haired teenager constantly looked over at him, seeming to contemplate waking him up. She was given no time to make up her mind, however, before the entire caravan rocked and halted.
Through the front came a hoarse cry, and then a thwacking noise. Mohatma entered into the passenger's lounge, smiling wickedly. His scimitar was covered in the blood of the driver.
"Listen up, scum! If you don't want to get hurt, raise your hands up and come outside quietly! We are Sabin's Bandits, come to re-supply ourselves!"
The caravan master defiantly stood up to the bandit, full of confidence. "We have with us a bounty hunter!" he announced. Then, with a flourish, he cried, "Attack them, Patsu Longringer!"
"Wha- ...WHY HELL YOU SLEEPING?"
Of course, everyone was rounded up and tied up as the bandits had planned. Mohatma was filled with a mad glee as he tied the still-sleeping boy to a pole.
"Not so cocky are you now, eh? Your head will roll for the humiliation you have given to our name!"
As the leader of the bandits continued to cackle and make false swings at the boy's head, the other bandits stirred nervously. They all just wanted the bounty hunter dead. If he were to wake up, they knew he might break free of the rope and cause chaos. It was due to this tension (and their lack of nutrition in the past days) that they failed to notice that one of the poles had only loosened rope, and no captive.
The caravan master tried to yell out to the boy, but he snored on, oblivious to the fact that his life would end. Finally, Mohatma had tired of messing around, and his scimitar rose high and came down, aiming straight for the throat. The caravan master looked away, knowing that the rest of the passengers and himself would meet the same fate, and waited for the sound of metal cleaving through bone...
From atop a rocky ledge maybe a few hundred feet away, a girl cried out to the bandit leader:
"Attacking a boy is awful cowardly of you, isn't it, Gourd-head?"
Then, with a toss of her purple hair, she laughed. Mohatma stared. He had good reason to. The girl had accurately thrown a senbon from that far away, hitting his scimitar and jarring it out of his hand.
A vein pulsed in the gourd-shaped head. The boy could be dealt with later...but the time for vengeance on the girl was now!
finis secundus opus
All, Join Open Group Remnants of Acheron.
Chapter Three: "Rayne"
NOTES: I can't draw Rayne consistently, nor do I have the time to Photoshop the whole manga, so until later there will be no pic of her.
The manga, or at least what of it has been drawn, is all credited to Sipei.
-F U, from Sipei, Photoshopped by Jojiro
Though they had been short on food, Sabin's bandits had the necesssary equipment to quickly ascend the rocky ledge on which the girl stood. She looked down on them, a frown on her face.
The girl was also a bounty hunter, though normally she just ran errands for minor officers. Her specialty was projectiles, ranging from senbon to shuriken. Her plan had originally been to pick off the bandits as they tried to climb the small cliff she was on top of. However, these men were quite capable, sticking to concave hollows on the cliff face that her weapons could not reach, and then climbing quickly to the next safe point. Realizing that she would be outnumbered, she tried to use projectiles to pierce through Patsu's bonds and perhaps startle him awake.
The frown on her face grew more pronounced now as she looked over to where the young bounty hunter was tied. The ground was now littered with an assortment of thrown weapons, but none had even gotten close to Patsu. All had been blocked by the surprisingly able gourd-headed man. Though he quivered from exertion, he had still blocked all of her senbon and knives simply by amazing swordsmanship. A pig and idiot the man may have been, but he was no pushover...
The caravan master slowly loosened the rope binding him, untying the final knot and standing up. All the bandits were now angrily focused on that weapons girl, and the lieutenant was guarding the boy, facing the cliff. He seemed to be very simple-minded, having not paid attention to the sound of falling rope. He looked around. The rest of the caravan had also untied themselves (or were being helped by those who had). Swiftly, he gave a signal to them to sneak away, and another hand signal to indicate he would try to free Patsu. They obeyed as soon as the last few dwarves were untied, for the dwarves were tied the most securely, perhaps due to fear that they would be able to wriggle out with their squat bodies.
The caravan master took careful steps up to Patsu's post, taking care not to step on any dry grass. A few clangs alerted him that Mohatmas had again fended off some projectiles, and these clangs hid his last few steps to Patsu's side. Deftly his hands worked the knots, but they were very secure. In his haste, he simply tore the rope apart instead.
Mohatmas raised his sword and the caravan master backed up in terror, shouting, "PATSU! PATSU! WAKE UP, GODAMMIT!"
Then, with a roar, the lieutenant of the bandits leapt forward. There was a blur, a thump, and then all of a sudden Mohatmas' momentum was reversed. He flew backwards, flipping in midair and landed in a heap. Angrily, the bandit leader looked up, and found himself facing what could only be described as a demon.
The Longringer boy's eyes were terrible slits, his hands crooked and claw-like, and a few stray strands of hair looked to be horns at a glance. His mouth was open in a leer, showing off frighteningly sharp canines. Mohatmas saw that much, and fainted.
Patsu was very surprised. He had been angry, as he had been rudely awakened, but he didn't expect that his countenance to induce a fainting spell. Turning with his face still set in a demonic glare, he looked at the caravan master.
The poor man, already terrified that Mohatmas would end his life, also over-reacted to Patsu's glare. From an unknown pocket he pulled out a cross and held it in front of him, while he muttered some sort of prayer. Seeing this, Patsu couldn't help but laugh, dispelling his almost evil look and making him look like any other boy that had just been given a treat.
It took a bit of explaining for the caravan master to get Patsu to understand the danger they had been (and still were) in. The boy didn't even realize they were outside, mistaking the grass for a change of decor inside the caravan. So, it was with helpless amusement and anger that finally the message came through: a girl had saved all their lives, and that girl was now in trouble.
Rayne (for that was the girl's name) looked on as the first of the mountain-climbing thugs reached the top. He gave her a smile that would have been charming if his face were not grimy and his teeth were straight.
"A gal like you shan't be messin' with bandits like me, not fightin'! Cute gal, just let me hold you, -OOFPH"
With a vicious kick, Rayne sent him flying. She'd had enough of that conversation.
Four others reached the edge, attacking her from different sides. With a twirl and many well-placed needles, she dispatched them. As more came up, she looked down to see that Patsu and the caravan master were coming. Ruefully, she thought that it was too late.
"We're too late!" cried the caravan master. His bowler hat was perched on the side of his head now, barely staying on as they ran.
"Not yet!" cried Patsu. Then, "Pass me my sword!"
While they were running, the caravan master had taken up Patsu's sword from where it had been discarded, and now he tossed it to the boy. Patsu caught it by the scabbard and slid the sword out, and came to a halt.
"What are you doing, boy! We must hurry!"
"Did you not hear me?"
And then a huge burst of energy formed around the boy, knocking the man from his feet. The energy converged on the sword's handle, then spread across the blade. Patsu smiled as the energy gathered, and his mouth opened to form words that the caravan master barely caught:
"Emotion Channel: Desperation"
"What's happening!?" the man yelled as he got to his feet.
Patsu smiled. "I don't know...never tried this emotion before."
Then the blade burst, the metal giving way as a light shot out from the handle straight out and into the cliff. As the light faded, the man could see it was a new blade, thin and long.
Patsu gave the handle a flick as the tip reached the cliff, and the blade seemed to shiver as it made contact. The wind from the blade had cut into many of the ropes assisting the bandits, and still others had simply been so scared from the strange blade that they had stopped clinging to their climbing equipment. Those bandits fell from the cliff in a jumbled heap, not quite dead, but quite broken.
Then Patsu tapped the blade again, and the blade shortened, carrying his body up to the edge of the cliff as it contracted. He landed a bit rockily on the cliff's edge next to the girl.
"The old man says ya saved me, so I guess now it's my turn, hm?"
The girl gave him a look that said, I don't need your help, but I appreciate it. Out loud, she said,
"Your name's Patsu, right? Nice to meet you. I'm Rayne."
Then the bandits broke out of their shocked trance and climbed up over the cliff edge again, and there was no more time to talk as the two got ready to meet their enemy.
finis tertius opus
All, Join Open Group Remnants of Acheron.
Chapter Four: "Partnership"
NOTES: um...about the finis thing, because i got a pm asking about it. i just like using it. it means, "finish of ____ work", with second, or third, or whatever.
It was a long battle, and at first it was absolutely one-sided. Patsu's little trick with his sword had already dropped half of the bandits scaling the cliff, and Rayne was an excellent fighter in her own right. She spun like a top among the bandits, and they would fall clutching at their throats, eyes, or whatever other body part that had been suddenly pierced by her senbon. Patsu was having just as much fun, swinging his scabbard like a club to knock out the oncoming bandits.
Rayne ran out of senbon swiftly, but she didn't panic at all. Expertly she swung her leg up in an arc that could have been an elegant dance move, if not for the people her foot made contact with. Her kicks followed each other smoothly, sending bandits to the ground with grunts of pain and fear. However, the numbers of the enemy finally started to give them an advantage, as they forced the girl to the edge of the cliff. Patsu saw this out of the corner of his eye. He gave her a few moments to kick them back, but when that didn't happen, he prepared to help her.
Tripping a bandit with his scabbard, Patsu used the man's back as leverage and leapt towards Rayne's pursuers. He landed on one of the bandits' heads, and with a quick jab to the neck put him to sleep. Patsu continued to the next bandit. The other bandits milled about, suddenly confused as one by one they started to fall unconscious. Just as one of them noticed the blurred boy behind them, Rayne managed to get enough time to jump behind the thieves that surrounded her. A few well-placed kicks sent the remainder of them falling off the cliff.
And so, the battle was finished.
Patsu was the first to break the silence: "I took out more of them than you did."
Rayne had to laugh. Just moments ago the kid had looked to be a serious warrior, but now he seemed just like a competitive child. However, as she looked around, she saw that what he said was true. Not only had the boy taken out more than she had, (with just a scabbard!) he had killed almost none of them. She could not say the same for her victims. The senbon had been aimed with the intent to kill, and only those with quick reflexes had survived. Her kicks later on had all been vicious and probably broke many bones.
"Well, Patsu...your fighting style isn't too shabby!"
The boy smiled at the praise. "Same to you, Rayne onee-chan."
The girl was surprised. Most people didn't call others "sister" from just knowing them for such a short time. It was yet another reminder that Patsu really was quite young and innocent, despite his amazing ability to fight.
Patsu said yet another thing that threw her off. "Do you want to be partners? We're headed the same way, and both of us would benefit."
She bluntly blurted out a "What?" before revising her statement to something more polite. "Sorry, but how would we benefit?"
The boy had obviously not thought that far ahead. He struggled a bit before coming up with, "We can catch our targets more easily with two people. Same with finding lodging, information, and many other things!" He concluded his sentence with a knowing nod, as if he had just revealed a secret.
A smile appeared on the teenage girl's face. Rayne couldn't help but like the boy, and it would be interesting for her to learn how that trick with the sword had been carried out. It would be convenient, if they were headed the same way, to partner up for a few days. She could always leave the boy if he was annoying, she thought.
She bowed deeply and said, "I understand. I will be happy to work with you, if only for a short time."
The boy seemed a little flustered at her polite response, and looked at his shoes. Her smile only got wider. He was cute too, though she didn't have a good measure of his personality and power yet.
The caravan master looked at the two hitchhikers and shook his head apologetically.
"I understand you would like to reach the next town with us, but all of the passengers dislike the idea. They blame the attack on the fact that you two were there, and we do not want to have a reputation for helping bounty hunters. It will only bring trouble for us later on. I am terribly sorry, but we must part ways here."
Patsu kicked at the dirt road. His naked sword shifted from hand to hand, the battered scabbard having been discarded. The caravan master looked at the blade warily, as if expecting the boy to strike out. Rayne bowed deeply to the man and apologized profusely for the trouble they had caused. Patsu was rebellious.
"We didn't cause those bandits to-" he began angrily, but was cut off as Rayne pushed his head down in a forced bow. The caravan master seemed uncomfortable and gave an awkward half-bow before heading to the caravan.
As he reached the doors of the caravan, he turned to look at the boy and his new guardian once again.
"I don't know if I should bring this up, but witchcraft like that sword trick will get you killed in this part of the land...people here are even more superstitious than in the rest of the South." With that, he entered the vehicle. There was the sound of shouting, and then the caravan was off. Next to the road, the grave of the previous driver stood, unmarked except for a small ring of stones.
The boy could not be put off for long, and soon the two were on their way down the road, prepared for a slow trip to the next town. Rayne, the more practical of the two, still had food in her pack. Patsu was plain old unlucky. None of the bandits had high bounties except for Sabin, and he had mysteriously disappeared. The caravan master had refused to carry any bandits in his wagon, and so Patsu was both hungry and without anything to turn in for a bounty.
For a while, the girl and the boy walked in silence, Patsu obviously the more miserable of the two. Then...
"We have to save it for the journey."
"ALRIGHT! But only this loaf of bread, and I'm not giving you any more until we stop to camp at night."
Patsu was content, and the rest of the day passed uneventfully. When night finally came, the pair had made great progress. Rayne walked off the road a bit, and returned to tell Patsu that they would spend the night in a small grove of trees a little off the road. As Rayne rolled out a pallet to sleep on and Patsu prepared to nap on the ground, they started to chat. It was very basic at first, but eventually the conversation turned to their respective pasts.
Rayne had been born on a large island off the East coast of the mainland, and it was there that she had lived for most of her childhood. Then, she had left the island to come to the mainland, and due to her proficiency with thrown weapons, she had been invited to the Nirvana Academy. There, she was taught more of culture and martial arts. She took a particular interest to a style of repetitive kicks that had been adapted into a fighting style from dances. She was a quick learner of this kicking technique, partially because the dances from which it originated had been traditional on her island home. After going through more training, it was decided that she could be a great asset to the Maesters.
Then she had been fully accepted as a bounty hunter working for the sake of Nirvana. She often was used as a messenger or for negotiations with the North, so her knowledge of the towns and cities was quite vast. Officially, she was still a rank-D bounty hunter, fairly low on the scale. However, because she did other work regularly, she didn't mind. She was in a "squad," which was really just a general term for which branch of the Maester Council she should report to. Her squad was under the enigma "Fey," who was a great female Maester. However, Rayne had never seen the woman, as she usually reported to lower officers.
Patsu also offered his past, explaining his dream of becoming a Maester himself someday. He told Rayne about his hometown, which had been brutalized by bandits greedy for a Crystal that had been found near his village. Patsu said that the town had been completely taken over by powerful Crystal users when a lone man had come in and liberated the town. That man, he said, was currently the Maester of Flame, Peter don Vich.
Though Rayne was captivated by the story, it was really very late, and though neither the boy nor the girl had been aware of falling asleep, both found themselves woken by a streak of sunlight shining through the trees. Patsu had woken first, and Rayne was extremely embarassed to find him staring at her when she yawned and pushed herself off of her pallet in the morning. Patsu had apparently lost interest in sharing more of his story to her, and the two set off again down the road that would lead to the next town.
finis quartus opus
All, Join Open Group Remnants of Acheron.
Chapter Five: Koblitz
NOTES: spelled backwards, Koblitz is ztilbok, which would be pronounced "Still Book." ...which has nothing to do with the story whatsoever. moving on!
Koblitz was one of the few cities in the South, focusing far more on trade and with significant castes than the farming villages that were so popular in the southeast. Rayne quickly assigned Patsu the simple task of finding a place for the two to stay. She had venomously warned him to choose an affordable and defendable location with two separate rooms. Though Patsu didn't quite understand the stress on the last few words, he was happy to comply. Rayne gave herself the duty of travelling through the pubs to find a suitable bounty for C-rankers. A quick magic trick to her badge upgraded it to a C-rank bounty hunter.
She felt only slightly guilty as she pulled off a poster of Zaphilemon from a bulletin board. Surely, no one would complain after the criminal was caught. It mattered little who did the job, and if she was a little under-qualified, she had the boy. As she moved about the busy pub, she was shocked to see a well-known arsonist, Deedee Baron, freely ordering beer and some sandwiches for a group of girls. Not highly enforced security, then.
His bounty wasn't worth attracting attention in the pub, she decided. It seemed to be Baron's playing field, and she even received a few hostile glares from the people sitting about, just because of her badge. A criminal's pub, but still with a bulletin. What a terrible cover, she thought absent-mindedly.
The next moment, a huge hand knocked the breath out of her as she was thrust against a wall. She smelt alcohol-a high quality whiskey, probably. A piglike face shoved itself into her view.
"What have we here, huh? A cutesy girl trying to look cool, grabbing a poster off the bulletin?" Rayne quickly took stock of the rest of the room. Nobody else was moving. Good. That meant they didn't think she was trouble.
The pig-face continued in a low growl, "Now, missy, you've probably noticed by now our...careers, eh? Heh heh. Just one word gets out of here, and ya better wish ye ain't never been born for the torture we'll put ye through!" A couple men gave a cheer, but Baron waved and they quieted down.
"Jest in case, a should probably leave a mark on ye, eh?" the pig-face said. The Baron said something quickly, something that Rayne didn't catch. However, she did notice that the pig-face had turned to listen, and in that instant, her knee drove into his crotch. The man fell with a oomph, and she backflipped onto a bar counter.
The pub manager seemed unruffled. "Look, miss, it ain't my fault if those brigands hurt you," he said, cleaning a glass with a rag. "I'll just say that I didn't see them."
Rayne ignored the pathetic little man and went straight for the beer bottles. Baron had stood up, and so had the rest of his men. One seemed to be a spellcaster of some sort, mumbling words and conjuring a shining nexus above his head. Rayne chucked the first bottle right at him, smiling at the thunk of bottle impacting skull. With a whirl and a kick, she took out several more of the scoundrels and broke several more bottles. Now the manager was panicking.
"Look lady, that's my business you're-" he paused to wince as Rayne leapt toward Baron, smashing a bottle on his head. "-you're destroying my business...hey, crazy lady! HEY!"
Within another minute or so, Rayne had turned the bar upside-down, so to speak. Bandits littered the floor almost as thickly as bottles. The leader had been tied up, and when a passing guard came in to see "what the ruckus was," Rayne pointed out Deedee Baron to him and asked for a bounty.
The clowns ran about, shouting to the audience while a small elephant trumpeted in their midst. It was all very delightful to Patsu, who was watching the performance. It was an open and free show for all to see, and it was fittingly short. A teaser for the real circus, it seemed. The boy had had very little experience with such things as circus performances before, and was naturally delighted.
What a pity I don't have money to buy tickets, he thought. Then: Who is that red-haired girl?
For a girl in a t-shirt had jumped into the ring marked out for the performance, followed by a band of children. Each of them held what looked to be toy weapons, except the girl, who was carrying a real spear. It was admittedly short and even from this distance Patsu could tell it was crude, but the tip was sharp enough. The clowns seemed to share this opinion, as they hurriedly backed away from the child attackers. One of the men that had been tending to the elephant called out in an angry tone, and soon more of the performers took up the call.
"Stop interrupting the show!"
"Filthy thieves and orphans!"
"That girl is the leader!"
"Don't pull any more shit here!"
Patsu looked on, a slight frown on his face. These were regular visitors, it seemed. Or rather, regular delinquents. The girl was shouting out something to the crowd that Patsu couldn't hear, and then she suddenly gave a great hurrah and started to run away, the other boys and girls following her. The young bounty hunter became even more confused. A cheer for escaping? Then Patsu realized that she had somehow stolen all the tickets from the clowns. Several guards hurried into the ring, and after shouting a bit to the performers and getting shouted back at, they took off after the children.
There was no more excitement in the circus. Everyone was talking about the children, and some were even taunting the clowns. Well then, what to do? Give chase? To Patsu, the answer was obvious. But first, he threw a rotten apple at the performers. As he ran off, he heard curses and more splats behind him. His smile was devilish.
Oops...have I started something?
Miko ran for her life. The other children had mostly dispersed, heading into alleyways that they knew well, or jumping into trash bins to hide. She was the one with most of the tickets anyway, so the guards would focus their attention on her. As she jumped a low fence, the bottom of her shirt was caught and ripped.
Just a bit farther to the woods, she thought with a scowl.
The guards chasing her were hindered by keys and clubs dangling from belts, and they were growing increasingly weary. Every week, a few guards always had to chase the circus-crashing female, and she was never caught. A few of the senior guards were seriously considering killing her to be rid of the nuisance, which showed how terrible the city's morals had become. Asides from criminal pubs, underground markets and cults, ridiculous amounts of bribery and suggested murder, the city council ignored many other crimes, though whenever the Maesters sent people to check they would always find the city perfectly righteous.
Miko was a new case though. A female leader of a group of kids that would attack the circus. Quite curious...
From the rooftops, the bounty hunter watched the clumsy guards chase the surprisingly fast girl. Patsu gave the guards five more blocks before they would give up. The girl obviously knew the path better than they did, and she was more flexible. The first man went another four blocks before stopping, and the second stopped at the corner of the fifth block. Patsu smiled. He had guessed right.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Rayne's voice nagged at him. "Have you found an inn or hotel yet? Cheap? Safe? Two rooms, ONE for you and ONE for me?"
Patsu shrugged it off. This was too interesting. He leapt a few more roofs and followed the girl from a reasonable distance as she headed to the forest.
A few hours later, the girl had stopped. She was next to a stream, panting but looking extremely pleased with herself.
"I lost them, and far easier than last time!" she crowed.
Still with a smile, she emptied her pockets of tickets and dropped them all into the water. She was about to bend down and wash her face when Patsu stepped out from behind a tree.
"Good morning." the boy said. The girl warily observed that he had a sword in one hand, but no sheath. A savage?
"Who are you?" she asked, the voice coming out accusingly.
Patsu shrugged slightly, and went on, ignoring the question.
"What were you doing with those clowns? It isn't good to make the city's guards angry at-"
And then there was a spear at his throat, point quivering. Patsu blinked and felt a bead of sweat along his neck. Crude the spear may have been, but this girl was quite good at thrusting it.
Miko sat in her original position next to the stream, her hands holding on to the other end of the spear. It barely reached the boy, and if she wanted to stab him, she would have to get up.
"So, you're with that circus, huh? Bet Abram sent you. Just the sort of thing he would do!"
Patsu stared back at the girl, hearing real venom in her voice. Bad. He shifted to the left, moving out of the way of the spear. "Look, I-" but the girl didn't give him a chance to complete his sentence. She leapt forward like a predatory cat, spear swinging forward toward his throat again.
The boy dropped in a roll to move aside, but the girl followed with the tip of her spear.
"I don't care who you are, if Abram sent you, I'm not taking any chances!"
Patsu shielded himself with his short sword, managing a "Stop-" before he was forced back again by the girl's weapon.
Miko narrowed her eyes. Why wasn't he fighting back? A trick? She glanced around the rest of the forest, but saw nothing. There was, after all, nothing to see.
Patsu didn't want to fight her at all, but she insisted. It was strange how paranoid he had made her. Just a moment ago she had honestly been giggling to herself beside a stream, and now she looked more dangerous than Sabin had. He raised his sword.
Miko saw the slight motion and took it as some sort of threat. She feinted a few times to keep him off balance, then struck out. Her spear glanced off of the short sword, and she tried again, still calm, still flashing her spear out to confuse her opponent. Patsu watched all this, not particularly worried about being able to block, but still uncertain about how to talk with her. He decided to disarm her first, for the sake of safety.
With a twist, his figure blurred, and Miko barely had time to leap sideways before his sword came in a diagonal slash. She quickly made a stab at his exposed shoulder, but he grabbed the shaft of the spear while ducking. Miko kicked out at his chin and in response Patsu yanked the spear toward himself, pulling the girl with it.
She let go and landed in a crouch, while he momentarily lost his balance and fell on his back. She was on him again, this time with a sharp rock. With no time to block using his sword, Patsu rolled instead. As he got up, still looking bored, he saw a quick flash of uncertainty in the girl's eyes.
She was about to leap again, and perhaps pull some new trick, but a man was suddenly behind her.
The girl turned and dropped the rock. She seemed to relax instantly at the sight of the newcomer, and Patsu sighed softly in relief. It was as if the girl was a new person, gone from the violent tiger from before to a docile cat.
"Look at our new guest, Merry!"
finis quintus opus
All, Join Open Group Remnants of Acheron.