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Spirit Chained

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Nine months, nearly three hundred days, almost a year.

The sun peers in, glaring light casting across his face. Day two hundred and seventy-one since the Blood Purge. Since fires danced around him, ashes falling from the sky to rest in blonde hair. An accurate name for a massacre. No, much more likely a slaughter.

Emil sits up, resting his head into his hands. Why bother leaving the room at this point? No one believed him, likely, they never would. Half a year, nearly three hundred days later that he kept counting, and no one believed him. That Lloyd- Emil cut off his thoughts there, his teeth grit as his eyes stung. Crying wouldn't bring them back to life. Nothing would. An unsteady breath is claimed, and he forces himself to rise, dress for the day.

A glance at the underneath of his nightstand reveals old clothing. A long white coat and a black shirt. He couldn't remember buying them, and honestly, felt wrong when he did try to wear them again. As though they were not his, perhaps just the thought of wearing them, bringing his memory back to day one. A sharp bite to the inside of his cheek. It was better to forget, it had to be.

He should've thrown them into Lake Sinoa before it had dried up. Maybe they would have decayed, or at least, wouldn't be recognizable to him. Shaking his head, the teen moves to the door, hand shaking briefly before twisting open the knob. The house above the Inn was rather small, and he should be grateful to have his own room. But it simply seemed to serve more as another way to isolate him. His Aunt and Uncle were there, at the dining table, with breakfast already set.

Unsurprising that they had started without him, a routine they picked up after day thirty-nine. Simply, they could not tolerate his lies about Lloyd any longer. Speaking about it was just as taboo. Aunt Flora had been the one to snap at his first, telling him to quiet his voice, to not tarnish the dead with untruths. Day sixty-three, his Uncle struck him.

"What are you just standing there for? Sit down."

Emil startled, quickly throwing his gaze to the ground, hands wrapping around each other before he shuffled to his seat. Simply bread and bacon, some eggs. Nothing out of the usual. But he waited, waited as he slowly brought apple green eyes to look for permission. He hadn't needed it once, but now, he wouldn't dare act without asking. The risk of his Uncle losing his temper was far too likely and far too frightening.

Deep brown eyes cut a glare at him, a scowl etched into a weathered face, before a hand waved across the table, agitation clear in his body language.

"You either eat or you don't, it doesn't matter to me." Voice was rough and shook to the bone in his annoyance. Hands placed to the table and the older male rose to his feet, a glare going down the edge of his nose. Emil quickly looked away, the only sounds being the quiet breathing, and the slight tink of utensil against the plate as his Aunt continued with her breakfast, no longer batting an eye to the display of aggression.

"I- I'm sorry." A muttered apology and the tension that blanketed the air almost seemed to lift, before his Uncle stormed out of the house, the front door slamming behind him with a deafening cracking of wood. A heavy sigh from his left had Emil glancing back over to Aunt Flora, her gaze was neutral, with a certain chill that seeped into his bones.

"You had nothing to apologize for." The older woman shook her head, as she rolled up her sleeves. "Of course, if you never spoke all of the lies that you did, we wouldn't be so outcast from the rest of Luin now would we?" Flora's quick in her words, never missing a beat she went around the dining table, picking up the leftovers. She served him his food, neglect was never really an issue it seemed. So Emil had no right to complain.
"I..."
"Don't bother apologizing, you know it's your fault, your cry for attention." A wave of her hand and she has already begun doing the dishes. Her entire body language yells for him to be quiet, to stop talking and leave. Utterly dismissive of anything he may have had to say for his defense. Granted, if he said anything to Flora, she would just ignore him, or worse, tell his Uncle. His mouth turns sharply down, hands fiddling together before picking lightly at the food on his plate.

"I didn't...I didn't lie." A hushed whisper, vivid green eyes locked down at the plate, food not quite touched. "I didn't make anything up for attention."

The gentle clatter of glass stopped from the sink's direction, and Emil froze. He hadn't meant to say that aloud. He stood quickly, rushing himself with the scrambling of limbs, only for his Aunt to give a single noted hum. The melody was soft, sweet even. She had done that quite a bit when he had initially come to their home. To try and calm his nerves, even if she hadn't agreed with his mother's choice in men. What was once soothing only installed an overwhelming sense of dread.

"I'll see you when you get home, Emil. We can both talk to Alba then about your tall tales." Ice shot through his veins, and he could only offer a squeak of an agreement to his Aunt, before fleeing to the outside. Fresh air came through with a gusting of wind, carrying with it the faint scent of water and woods. The lakebed may have been dried up, exposed now, but there were still little hints at what once was. Emil hurried down the stairs then, to put as much distance between the house and himself as possible.

His Uncle was likely out with the watch again, and he dared not interact with anyone at this point. Sheer terror swept through his shoulders, quivering as he moved through the accusing eyes of the townsfolk.

It was only when he reached the edges of the stone walks he could relax again, sitting down on the edges as he glanced over the dried lake bed. A faint stirring of curiosity. He couldn't remember, was he always calmer away from people? Even if he tried to recall, nothing came to mind. Not really. Though it didn't quite bother him as it should either, which Emil was easily accepting of being a leftover trauma from the Blood Purge.

Closing his eyes, he just tried to calm the frantic beating of his heart, he could almost hear it in his ears, like a hummingbird's wings. If he hadn't spoken up as he had at the dining table, he might have been able to bring one of the books out with him today. He had found quite a few theater books in the house, much to his great surprise.

Sharp pain in his shoulder broke him from his thoughts, and the teen let out a short cry, whirling around to his feet in an instant. A little girl, he knew her name too. Molly, the one who always thought he was bad luck. Or at least, she did now.
"You're not supposed to move!" Molly was rolling another stone in her hands, and really the pain was already fading from his shoulder, it wasn't that bad. Just, Molly had never been violent or angry towards him either. Why wasn't he supposed to move?

"I... M-Molly? Why did you hit me?!" His voice came a little louder, a little more scandalized than he would admit, green irises wide in shock.

"Dida promised me candy if I could get your head!" A wide toothy smile, she really didn't think she was doing anything wrong did she? Why wasn't he surprised it was Dida who had set the little girl up to this anyway? The twins had taken a favored habit to bully him after the town, and his family turned their backs on him for his account of Palmacosta.

"What if, I b-bought you some instead?" The girl simply harrumphed at him, dropping the stone with a somewhat annoyed look.
"I lost the game anyway, and the store doesn't sell to you cause your bad luck!" A matter of fact tone, and the blonde teen wilts as she happily skips away, humming to herself until she was long gone from Emil's line of sight. He didn't want to go back to the house, yet if he stayed, Molly's little visit only led him to believe that Dida and Moll were looking for him. If Aunt Flora was true to her word, he would rather not get shoved around before facing his Uncle tonight.

Leaving town wasn't an option either, however. A distressed whine in the back of his throat, why did everyone have to be so cruel to him? Just for telling them the truth!

"N-No...Lloyd..."

They worshipped him and all of the other Heros of Regeneration. If they were even Heros, being friends with a monster like that. It was entirely possible that they were just as cruel, just as ugly as what he knew of Lloyd. Emil had seen monsters. On the way to Luin. They were scary, frightening, and could kill people with a few strikes. Yet Lloyd, it left him trembling in his shoes, and not just from anger.

Emil hated to admit it, but he was just as scared of Lloyd as he was hateful of him. What could he do if he ever saw him again? Kill him like he killed his parents? Emil knew he wasn't strong enough. He would run like a coward, tail between his legs.

And it made him angry.

Not like that would change anything, but angry indeed. A heavy sigh and the teen sticks to the outskirts of town, slinking in and out of shadows and out of sight as much as was capable. All the way until the sun dipped from the sky, only to be replaced by his pale twin the moon, the stars hung with glittering light. It was pretty, if not instilling more dread into his mind. More monsters came out at night sometimes, and, for some reason, he always wanted to go observe them.
It didn't make any sense, wanting to see them relaxed, at ease. In their own world. They would kill him if they saw him, and he was so scared of them to boot.
But nothing was more terrifying than what was behind this door, this house, this home perched right over the Inn.

Unfortunately, waiting would make it worse, so Emil opened the door, wanting to close his eyes but keeping them open as he stepped into the house. The door quietly closing as he fiddled for the key in his pocket to lock up for the night, the house dark and quiet. Perhaps Flora hadn't told his Uncle after all.
A sharp sound ringing in the air, pain blossoming behind his skull, told him otherwise.

"You defiant little brat!" Emil nearly let himself curl away, arms raising to shield his front as his eyes clenched shut, teeth clattering wildly. He could never anticipate Alba, where he was going to strike, if he did, or if he was just going to yell. A hand clasped firmly over one of his arms, dragging him up, hot breath fanning over his face.

"Open your eyes, now!" Bidden to do so, with really no other choice, Emil did, breath hitching in his throat with a quivering little sob catching at his teeth, poorly bitten back.

"So-sorry! I'm sorry!" His pleading fell on deaf ears, as his Uncle dragged him to the center of the room, his breathing hard and angry before all but throwing Emil to the ground, to his hands and knees before the feet of his Aunt. A single arm was crossed over her middle, a single cup of hot liquid in the other, that she sipped at with a show of disinterest. "You're home late, despite me telling you we would be talking with your Uncle. The disrespectful child you are."

There was a silence in the air before Aunt Flora placed her cup onto the counter by the sink.

"We took you in, my sister's only surviving son, and this is how you repay us? By disrespecting us? By insulting Lloyd and the rest of the Heros of Regeneration? Only for you to become uncertain when we press you for details." Her words were even, as his Uncle carefully returned to Flora's side, arms crossed as his posture struck up strong, unyielding.

Emil knew he did nothing wrong. Didn't he?

"Go to your room, and don't come out until morning."

With his Aunt's dismissal, mercy, the teen scrambled, nearly tripping over himself to get to his room. His ears were still ringing, and his head hurt, but it wasn't the worst, and he was grateful for that.

It would be better in the morning.

At least, Emil thought it would've been, until the howling started up, started calling him from the edges of sleep. To come, to follow, that a monster wanted his attention where the rest have abandoned him, Emil please-

He had to ignore it.

Chapter Text

When morning came, so did the aches and bruises, forming quietly out of sight on his knees. Alba never really struck hard enough to break anything, in which Emil was eternally thankful for, but regardless it hurt nonetheless. A mournful howling woke him further, green eyes blinking slowly as the room came into focus around him. He had heard it the night before too, though Emil hadn't paid it much mind.

He had refused to actually. But that was another time it had called to him- No. Monsters weren't calling to him, they weren't asking the attention of him. He was just, terribly lonely and imagining things. The teen shook his head, swallowing back a huff of discomforted annoyance. It was sore, moving, and the back of his head bloomed with promising of a headache. Nothing too terrible. But he wasn't keen on staying inside today either.

So began day two hundred and seventy-two. The day everything would change, not likely that Emil could ever have predicted it. Fully prepared for simply going out, slinking into shadows and keeping footsteps quiet along cobblestone pathways. Maybe this time he would grab one of the theater books too, perhaps the Man in the Mask? A shrug, and Emil steels himself, a book shoved randomly into his pack as he readied himself to leave the room. Door carefully swung open, Emil walks out, the table was long cleared, and Aunt Flora stood near the center of the room, drying her hands on a towel.

They must have eaten earlier than usual, or, he had been later waking up. "Good... Morning Aunt Flora." There wasn't a response, at least, not from his Aunt anyway, as that same howl from only moments before cut through the tension of the room again. Stirring that same response, that same longing to go. The confusion must have shown on his face, as his Aunt laid down the towel with a frustrated harrumph.

"Monsters have been in the Lakebed since dawn, you're Uncle won't return for some time." The, your lucky, went unsaid.

Or perhaps he was actually lucky, he didn't know. Emil cast his gaze to the ground, a murmured apology. It was all he could think to do, his Aunt was clearly upset, scared even. Sure monsters have gone down into the Lakebed before, but, if they had been there since sunrise, it was obviously something to worry about. His Uncle could get hurt.

"Why are you apologizing?" A sharp frown downturned at her mouth, the lines of age, stress?, making her seem far older. Far more annoyed. "I-" She cut him off without a second thought, and Emil let her. It would make her feel better right? To talk about her concern for her husband?

"Despicable child, always so indecisive." There was something terribly sad in her eyes now, as Flora spoke about his mother. Her sister. "You must take after Reysol." The sharp anger returned to her, and she turned away from him, arms crossed, yet Emil could see the slight grip on her sleeves. He had clearly upset her, despite his intention to not do so.

"I... I'm sorry." That was part of the reason why Aunt Flora hated him, she blamed his father for marrying his mother. For bringing her to Palmacosta where the Blood Purge would eventually take both of their lives. Stolen in an instant, a candle flame blown out with the comfort of ease. Blood on a 'Hero's' hands. Anger woke in his chest again, and, clenching his teeth, Emil left the house.

He couldn't be around his Aunt, he risked saying something out of turn again, of getting hit again when his Uncle inevitably returned. After all, nothing had beaten him yet, and Emil doubted even Lloyd- No. He wasn't going to think about it. Just follow the pathway, mind's eye drawing patterns in the stones under heel. Coincidently, the howl from earlier sounded again, and he hardly noticed his following of it.

Maybe if he had paid more attention, he couldn't have found himself near the statue of Lloyd. The gleaming stone shimmered in the sunlight, giving an almost ethereal feeling. Yet all it did was bring the stir of anger to a boil, as he grits his teeth, and sharply turned away. He would find a ledge to sit on, open his book and forget about Lloyd, stop thinking about him and everything he had stolen from him. Maybe then he would have a good day for once, without arguing with his Aunt and Uncle, without talking about Lloyd or monsters.

"Hey, we saw that!"

A shiver ran down his spine, and Emil whirled on his heel quick as he could. He hardly wanted his back turned to Dida or Moll. Cautious, Emil tilted his head, before his mouth slowly stammered out a response, confused. "What, What do you mean?"

Sometimes the only way he could get by was playing dumb, but on top of that, sometimes he could hardly figure out who was Dida and who was Moll. It was even worse when they switched their colored coats of red and blue. Forcing him to guess, and really, Emil knew he was right, but in that game, he never was. Must have been fun for them. "You bow to Lloyd the Great, right now!"

Was it Moll who was donning blue today? It seemed like it, but the twins were working on an unusual synergy today it seemed.

"I... I already did-" Both of them were quick to cut him off, how unsurprising. "No, you didn't!"

The blonde took a few steps back, as Dida crept closer, a sinister glint in his eyes. "You don't like Lloyd the Great, do you?" As though they had practiced, Moll leaped in, that same sinister light dancing across a furious grin. "That's why you're trying to destroy our city! Because Lloyd restored it to its former beauty!"

They had to have rehearsed this. It was all Emil could think as they stalked closer, only a mere foot away, their shoulders curled close as their bodies crouched low. Predators in a circle, pinning him down without any chance to leave without one of them being able to pounce.

"What- What are you talking about?!" Even if they had planned this, this was just too much, he would never- "Don't act dumb!"

"Ever since you arrived, Lake Sinoa dried up, and there have been more monsters!" Both twins were sporting angry smiles now, their eyes narrowed before Dida straightened his back, which intimidated Emil all the further.

"I bet, you're going to get your monster friends to attack Luin, aren't you?" Emil found himself shaking before Dida had even finished talking, denying it far too quickly. His teeth chattered, and fear gripped him tight because the howling, what if they knew?

"Of course not!"

"Then prove it." Moll swung his arm over his brother's shoulder, the wicked smile suddenly gone, expression serious. "Swear to Lloyd the Great, right now. Maybe we'll believe you then." A curious look flitted across Dida's face, before he crossed his arms, watching him with Moll now. Emil sucked in a sharp breath, swear to Lloyd? He couldn't, he had murdered his parents in cold blood!

Fists clenched at his side, the scent of ash suffocating his lungs, coating his tongue. Blood on his hands, his father, dead on the ground, his mother's inability to even see him as she left this world.

"I won't."

"What was that?" The chance he was waiting for, a sharp smile as Dida moved closer, only for Emil's eyes to screw shut, fight back a wave of angry tears.

"I'll never swear allegiance to that murderer!" His arms raised, white-knuckled fists.

Silence deafened them all, until Moll shattered it, triumphant. "So that's how you really feel, huh?" Moved into action by his brother's confidence, Dida returned with a venomous bite to his tone, hiding the fear he had felt from the conviction of Emil's words.

"We'll teach you a lesson!"

"N-No wait-"

"Be quiet you monster!" The twins advanced like wolves, shoving him down untill his fell into someone else's legs. Someone else they recruited to join in most likely- Until Emil saw it wasn't a face he had ever seen in Luin at all. Not in his two hundred and seventy-one days, but, two hundred and seventy-two seemed to be a mark for change.

From the monster howling, all the way to the man who offered him a hand up. Offered him help.

"Get lost." Stern words, countering the soft, grainy leather of the man's gloves. But they had not been directed at him, deep emerald irises cutting a glare when Moll spoke up to interject.

The red-haired man, he excluded an aura of little tolerance, and it showed very quickly. "I said, go."

Emil could hardly look at him, instead casting his gaze quickly to the ground as the sound of Dida and Moll running away echoed through the area. This wasn't someone he wanted to make mad, at least with the twins he could handle it. Emil had seen the weapon holsters on his sides, and while he didn't know what they were, he didn't want to find out the hard way either. The man seemed short-tempered after all. Inpatient even.

"You... you're-" He couldn't keep his head down now, and it was only then that he got a good look at the man. Deep crimson hair that was both wild and tame, fanning out like a flame, with a simply elegant suit. The center flared out and refocused Emil's attention to the man's face again, a pair of glasses on his nose that Emil hadn't really paid mind to a few moments before. Shock and a deep longing marked the other's expression.

"Yes?" Why was he staring at him like that? How long had he been watching the exchange with Dida and Moll? Maybe he was going to scold him for his actions and thoughts against Lloyd-

"Nevermind." His words were very short and to the point. Almost like he wanted this conversation to be over with before it had even begun. "You know, you should stand up for yourself." Then he started to walk away, and Emil could only watch after him, black and red slowly becoming smaller and smaller into the distance. "I.." A hand rose to his chest, to calm the furious beating of his heart. "I couldn't even... say thank you... "

Was this why he couldn't make any friends? Because he couldn't talk, let alone take the man's advice and stand up for himself? Yet, an echoing pain in the back of his skull, a phantom reminder of what happened when he did so.

But...

"Okay. That's what I'll do." The man was a stranger, so he wouldn't know of Luin's treatment of him, let alone why. He saw the scene with Dida and Moll, yet refrained from shunning him, even helped him. He deserved to be told thank you at the very least. Yet, what Emil couldn't figure out why the man seemed so sad. At least, it had seemed that way to him. Shaking himself, Emil poot foot to the pathway, and took off. He had gratitude to express. Luckily enough, Luin wasn't so big he couldn't see the red-haired man in front of the statue of another of the Heros of Regeneration. Raine. The same glimmering, shimmering stone.

Approaching, Emil couldn't help but notice how intently the other was staring at the statue. "What is it?"

Maybe this had been a bad idea. He seemed so clearly bothered now that Emil had found him again, even if his intentions had been good in nature. Emil made to step back and leave before the man spoke up again. Almost as though he didn't want him to go? No, he was reading too much into it again. "If you've nothing to say, then I have something to ask you."

"Okay...?"

"So, they said your name is Emil. Well, Emil. Have you seen a girl with a red jewel on her forehead?" Complete and utter bafflement overtook him. A jewel, on someone's forehead? Was that sort of fashion trend now? He knew there were some strange trends now and then, but, nothing he could think of rang for a jewel on someone's face.

"I, No, no sir." The teen shook his head here, trying to think. Aside from this man, he hadn't seen anyone outside of the normal residents of Luin. Just this man, and Dida and Moll from the earlier scene from mere moments before. The man's expression changed, vaguely annoyed before he asked, yet again, another question.

"What are you so nervous about?" Sharp. Emil could describe his voice that way, sharp and clear. He could only try to stammer out a response, teeth clicking awkwardly together as he tried to form a response. What if he thought he had been lying to him? "Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality."

Sudden sharpness was gone from the man's voice, dare Emil to think it, was warm. Fond even. He was facing Emil now, with that same, confused longing in his eyes again. "They're words, that a human with a few screws loose, said long ago. When you refused to swear allegiance to Lloyd, didn't you feel courage, welling up inside of you?"

The man had long since turned to face the statue, and Emil found there was, a strange emotion on his face. Something he couldn't quite place. "Those who would grovel and beg, or run away at the sight of another's anger, are dogs, or even worse. Are you a dog, or are you really a man?" Emerald green eyes peered intently at him, awaiting an answer. An answer Emil felt he couldn't give. Of course, he was a man, a human being! But the words, they, they wouldn't, and couldn't come. Phantom pains and bruises that were only marked into his flesh by memory, what sort of man would allow that-?

"Just try your best to be a man, Emil." The walls were up again and thoroughly did their job at putting emotional distance between them, and the man left him, walking away from the teen, leaving him to stew over the words in his mind. Courage was magic, right? Yet, everything. Everything that happened since Palmacosta, would courage, or any other kind of emotion, even something so fantastic as magic, have changed what happened? Yet, the red-haired man, with his stunning emerald eyes and sharp voice. He believed in him, somewhat right? Why else would he have even interfered, it wasn't really his concern. Yet he helped Emil anyway.

Why? Unless... "I... I'm really, not a monster."

The realization hit hard. He was a human being. Just like everyone else. Emil stood for a moment, before really thinking about it. Dida and Moll were long since gone, and he turned back to the central plaza. A smile gingerly touched his face. That man, he really was interesting. Are you a dog or a man? He could never say something like that to anyone! It left a strange, giddy feeling in his chest. Hope maybe? If this one stranger believed he was a human being, believed he should, and was capable of standing up for himself- A not so distant howling shattered his thought process.

"Is that... coming from the lakebed?" Aunt Flora would kill him if he dared try to leave town to check it out. Emil tried, briefly, to ignore the calling that had stirred in his mind again. That it was asking of him to come to the Lakebed. It was things like this that had everyone so hateful of him. All thoughts of the man and his kind, if sharp, words were gone. Yet even as he tried to ignore it, he found himself near the exit of Luin. His Uncle stormed through, panic loudly screaming all across his features, as he approached one of the town's watch guard. If Emil remembered correctly, this was Axa. He knew him from the beginning of his stay in Luin, Uncle Alba had introduced him with a smile on his face.

'Emil, this is Axa. He's a good man, despite his slacking!' Jesting words from a memory rang about in his head.

Things had been better then. "Uncle Alba-"

"What do you want, get the hell out of here you little nuisance! Always getting in the way, just go home and stay out of trouble, just the sight of you puts the whole town into distress!" Emil stepped back, an apology at the ready, just like his Uncle likely wanted. Possibly still angry from last night, that had to be why he was so much harsher than usual- It struck Emil then. Apologizing so readily, like a dog trained to a single command, at the sight of anger. A quiet sound built at the back of his throat, so slight, it was barely heard, and if it was heard, it was ignored.

Axa spoke over him then, dark brows knitted with concern. "Forget about the Vanguard-loving brat Alba, did something happen?" At the moment, Emil was grateful to Axa, despite his treatment of him. Harsh words and scowls. It was minimal by comparison.

"Monsters I've never seen before are in Sinoa's Lakebed, several of the city watch are down! I'm going to gather reinforcements, go tell the Mayor what's happened!" Urgency overrode whatever hatred Alba was feeling towards Emil. It was, strange. To see how quickly something he despised, was cast aside for favor of those he knew. Cared for. Both men ran past him, and shortly afterward, the howl which brought him here echoed through the air again. Calling him, captivating his thoughts. If he left now... he could make it to the lakebed.

See just what it was that was enticing him so. Yet, if he did, everyone would be even more upset with him. A hard swallow. The unheard whine from just moments ago. He was going. He wasn't a monster. He wasn't a dog. He was a human being, so he was going to go. Emil quickly made his way to the Lakebed, running along the wooden pathway until he came to its end. A little drop and a small pathway was there. Well worn by the city watch. The ground had been dried up for some time, and yet, there was still a soft consistency in the earth.

So that's what it felt like underfoot. A daydreamed curiosity from a few months ago answered. Grass barely grew near the edges, but some patches were growing in the lakebed now. The ground was rich from the dead fish, long decayed, so Emil supposed it made sense. The howling was absent, and Emil began to wonder, what should he do now? If he encountered the howling monster? Quietly, he picked up a discarded blade. It seemed in good condition if anything else. Maybe he could learn to use it? Ah, an idea! If he learned to fight, maybe he could join the watchmen? Maybe then the townspeople would like him.

Curious, he then looked around, glancing at the hills and sunken boat int he distance, now exposed to the open air. He had made it this far already yet, what was he supposed to do now-?

A low, rumbling snarl and a large beast rose before him. Startling clarity of the situation slammed into him like a bag of bricks. The city watch, the discarded sword, several unknown monsters- The beast roared, gleaming yellow eyes dancing like wild flames, burning embers in dying light. Long fangs hung from its maw, and the sounds of thunder rumbled from its chest. Emil rose the sword, running away from the beast, yet it followed. Growling and snarling and roaring as it struck, leaving gouges in the earth where it missed him.

Its clawed paw, heavy and sharp grazed his lower arm. Emil cried out, dragging the, suddenly far too heavy blade up. A gash was left through fur, and it only served to make the bear-like monster angrier. Blood smeared at his arm, and the beast swung up, barely missing him, but enough for Emil to lose, his already uneven, footing.

He was going to die. He couldn't die here, he didn't want to!

"Watch out!" A voice... a girl's voice? A heavy sound, of something falling to the ground, and Emil dropped his arms, looking up, shaking in his place. Sky blue eyes glanced him over, a blade attached to her arm, like a spinner of sorts. He had never seen a weapon like that, and another stranger as well. Today was full of strangers, and offered hands it would seem.

Long, chestnut hair parted from the girl's back, with twin white flower pins in her hair. How could such a pretty girl knock down such a beast! Speaking of which, it was coming back to its feet, or paws? The low, rumbling thunder of growling came again, and the girl swung out her arm, the spinning blades at the ready.

"Are you going to fight with me, or run?"

Emil barely had a moment's notice to catch his breath from nearly dying and she wanted an answer!- "Come on, you're a man speak up!" A flash of crimson and emeralds in his mind's eye. Courage and magic, it ran through his thoughts so quickly. His arm burned like fire, and Emil swallowed hard. If he went back home, tail between his legs and wounded, then the point of leaving would be for nothing. "I'll fight."

"Then I'll leave the front lines to you." Emil nodded, swallowing hard as he yanked the blade from the earth. The handle felt awkward, and he wasn't sure if he could use it properly. But he had to fight.

The girl hung back, as a glowing, white light surrounded her."Oh, healing power." Magic? Did she know magic? Focus. He had to stay focused. Running forward, he slashed at the beast, only after dodging it's great, fearsome claws did he notice the white light around his arm. "First Aid!" Her voice rang like a bell, and the wound knitted together so quickly, it was like a dream. So that's why she wanted him on the front lines. She could heal.

But she could fight too. How amazing was that? Clumsily, he bought the blade up to block a battering of claws, just as the nameless girl ran forth, spinning wildly like she was dancing, as she attacked the great lumbering beast. It was distracted from him now, and the teen ran at an angle, swiping awkwardly from the side, bringing the sword up from underneath just as it turned it's maw to glare at him.

It went like this for what felt like an eternity, him lunging from the sides with his awkward, uncertain strikes, and the girl, falling back to heal him, only to run back into the fray and dancing around it. His limbs burned, and everything ached. Had it not been for her, Emil was certain he would have died. Finally, finally after the last swing, slicing through the beast's arms and into its chest, it fell. Breath it no longer drew, and Emil's heavy breathing was all he could focus on, as well as his pulse, roaring in his ears.

Had, had he really just done that? He did. He did! Not by himself but, he had taken down a monster! "Good work. It's pretty dangerous here, so you should probably get going." Her spinning blades were sheathed, silently tucked back away. She seemed to study him for a moment before shock colored her features with awe and excitement.

"Hey, it's you!"

"What, do you mean?"

"You, don't remember me, do you? Maybe I'm wrong but.. you look just like him too." She shook her head here, after looking him over this way and that. Disappointed. Who was it that she thought he was? "Anyway, you should get going. It's dangerous here like I said." She had quickly turned on her heel, and Emil called out to her, he needed to thank her. He wasn't able to properly thank the emerald-eyed man. He could at least thank the girl who had literally saved his life just now.

"I..."

How hard was it to even just say thank you? Why did he have to hesitate and stutter?

"What is it? I'm in a hurry." Annoyance colored her tone now, a hand on her hip as she changed her posture. Sky blue eyes were not exactly soft, instead cutting through him. Here he had thought the man from earlier was impatient. The girl before him now was even more so, entire body language all but shouting an all too familiar emotion. Ah, but there was an idea, right? He didn't know her name. A pang, he hadn't even gotten the man's name either.

"I wanted to say thank you, my name's, Emil, so, um, what's yours?" That actually wasn't too hard!

"I'm Marta, is that it?" His confidence wavered, just a bit. But, Emil would push just a little more. Even if she was annoyed, she wasn't nearly as intimidating as the man or his Uncle.

"Well, I, if it's dangerous here, maybe you should leave too?" He felt like he was tripping over his words, stammering just ever so slightly. Before the girl then approached him, her hands tucked behind her back. "If, things get dangerous, will you save me again?" Her voice was so soft now, body language shifting almost instantaneously. It was, baffling to say the very least of it.

"But, you were the one, who was kind enough to save me...?" How could she expect him to save her? He would be dead without her magic, the sword long since abandoned to the ground.

"You really don't remember do you? Anyway, I really have to get going, take care, Emil!" Just like that, she turned, the wind catching her hair just enough for the glowing of the crimson jewel on her forehead.

Wait a minute.

A red jewel, just like what the man had been looking for!