The Royal Palace is a beautiful place, everyone who walks by it stops to admire the building. The palace was designed by the greatest architects in the kingdom with the greatest artist creating truly marvelous pieces of art to decorate the white walls. Knights of the Royal Army are standing tall and proud in their polished shining armor keep watch over the palace and the Royal family. It's a place of luxury and the pride and joy of the empire but also a prison for a certain princess.
Eleanor Hume walks through the halls trying not to remain undetected. She is next in line for the throne, but she hates that fact now. She's thrown into one boring lesson after another which are designed to make her a good ruler for the kingdom. However, those lessons did nothing but make Eleanor feel trapped and robbed of her freedom. She hated the lessons, and she hated her teacher, Lord Melchior. She hated him since the moment they first met. He would hit her with a stick whenever she did something wrong. Not let her take any breaks, and give her so much homework she couldn't sleep at night because of the hours it would take her to complete the work. The only lesson she enjoys is the combat training. Her combat instructor was nicer then Lord Melchior, and it was a great way to blow off some steam after the endless lessons she would receive from Lord Melchior. She could only train whenever Lord Melchior decided to fit it in the schedule, but it was the only lesson that Eleanor enjoys.
Eleanor hadn't been happy with her life in a long time. She was living comfortably, and she never feared she would go hungry. However, she would question if this was really 'living' at all.
"My life is so boring," Eleanor mutters to herself as she enters a hiding place she found many years ago, she hides behind some boxes in a storeroom, she feels safe here because it looks like no one has used it in a long time.
Cobwebs hang from every place possible, and everything's covered with a thick layer of dust, it's clear no one has used this room in a long time. This room is Eleanor's safe place, the only place in the palace that Eleanor feels free, and she can relax without fear of receiving a beating from her teacher. At first, she didn't like this place. At first, she hated how filthy it is, but she has grown used to the dust and now likes them because the dust and cobwebs it lets her know that no one has found her hiding place. The knowledge that no one knows about the place is the main reason Eleanor likes it.
"Eleanor!" She hears her older brother Oscar calling her name, and she is tempted to go to him, but she will be there, Teresa, Eleanor's older sister and twin to Oscar. Teresa hated Eleanor ever since she was named the heir of the country. She always wanted Oscar to be the heir. "Eleanor!"
"Just forget about her Oscar." Eleanor hears Teresa tell her brother and from the sound of her voice, Eleanor can tell they are right outside the dusty old forgotten storeroom. "It's her business if she wants to ruin her future, you still have yours ahead of you so don't waste any opportunities looking for her."
"But Lord Melchior looks furious this time," Oscar replied showing his kind and loving side that he shows to all, Eleanor must admit he would have been a great king if he ruled the kingdom next instead of her. "You know what he's like in a bad mood" Eleanor shivers hearing that, Lord Melchior's punishments are always cruel and horrible even when he's in a good mood. "I'm her brother; I should be there to bare some of his anger because it's what siblings do."
"Oscar," Eleanor whispers as she starts to cry, Oscar is so kind and wonderful that Eleanor doesn't believe she deserves him as a brother.
"Let's just keep looking for her," Oscar tells his sister. "Eleanor!"
"Ok but remember we are having tea in an hour whether we find her or not," Teresa happily says as Eleanor hears them walk away thankfully never once noticing that she was so close to where she is hiding.
"I'm sorry Oscar," Eleanor whispers to the darkness of the storeroom, Oscar her loving brother who is willing to share the blame with her when he doesn't have to is worried for her, but still, Eleanor doesn't move leaving him to bear all the blame in her absence. "I'm sorry Oscar, I don't deserve a brother like you, not in a million years."
It isn't until late at night that Eleanor emerges from her hiding spot. By now the sun has long set beneath the horizon, and the palace halls are pitch black barely lit by the flicking light of the candles stuck along the walls. Very few guards are around, very few people to see her. She hopes to time this right and returns to her room undetected. She also hopes no one is waiting in her room for her to return, she doesn't want to be lectured by anyone right now. Right now, all she wants to do is crawl into her bed and sleep. So being careful not to be spotted as she tiptoes down the halls and looks around each corner making sure the coast is clear before she proceeds.
When she reaches her room undetected, she is too nervous to be relieved, as her hands grip the door handle she silently prays that no one is on the other side waiting for her. She slowly opens the door just enough for her to peek inside and lets out a sigh as relief floods her body, no one is waiting for her in her room. Not bothering to light a candle she changes into her nightwear in the darkness, years of hiding in dark places to avoid one thing or another has given her an unmatched sight in the dark. As she crawled into her bed and huddled under her blanket, she closes her eyes and soon finds sleep.
Years later when she thinks back to this night, she wonders how different her life would have been if she had noticed the rope hanging out of her bedroom window, or the eyes that watched her from one of her many closets. If she had the events of that night that would forever have changed her life would never have happened. The person watching her thinks like that too, that if she would have just followed her orders and killed the princess as she slept, she wonders how differently her life would have turned out. No matter what never girl regrets those events, it changed their lives, but it changed them for the best, and they couldn't deny that. It gave them happiness, something that they didn't feel before.
Velvet Crowe was not a good person; she didn't hide that fact or pretend she wasn't. She would rob and steal, murder and kill, anything she wishes and deems necessary to achieve her goals. Any job you offered her, she would take if you pay her that is, but if you try and cheat her, you will see just how evil and cruel she is. She is a pirate, the captain of the Van Eltia a feared ship in the eleven seas. She inherited the ship from its former captain and her father, Van Aifread who was a feared and deadly pirate but died while battling the Royal Navy three years ago, his death destroyed a part of her and it's an injury Velvet is yet to recover. Ever since then, Velvet has led his band of pirates.
She spent years building her reputation as someone who gets the job done but now on her latest job she hesitates, normally she wouldn't, but the sight of the girl she is meant to kill makes her stop. She doesn't know why but she can't go through with this job. Normal she can kill without hesitation, without mercy. For reasons, she can't explain she can't kill the princess before her, just thinking about doing it proves difficult and makes her heart ache. But she must do something, her reputation as a merciless pirate is a stake. Many ships surrender their cargo without a fight because of that reputation, if her reputation gets ruined then things will get bloody for a while she repairs her tarnished name.
"What do I do?" Velvet asks herself as quietly as possible, so the princess doesn't discover her presence. "What do I do? Kill her" The feeling she feels when she says that is so unbelievably bad that it can't be described in words, killing her isn't an option for her. "No then, what else can I do then? Leave and abandon the job?" That isn't an option ever, not only will her reputation be destroyed but someone else will take the job. That will still mean the princess will die, once again that terrible feeling returns. "I can't leave, so I should… kidnap her?" Velvet runs that idea through her head a few times; she can keep the princess alive and keep her reputation by calming she killed her. "That could work, Laphicet would approve."
Laphicet was a slave Velvet saved and named after her brother who died of the twelve-year illness around the same time their father died in battle. Laphicet is a kind boy and a great navigator, he quickly earned the respect of the crew and became part of their close group of sailors.
"Eizen and Rokurou would too."
Eizen is a kind man and Velvet's second in command; he trusts Velvet and Velvet trust him. He would take the princess in and help protect her; he has his code of honor despite being a pirate. The only downside is his Reapers Curse, for some reason Eizen brings bad luck to those around him. Velvet can only hope the princess won't become the latest victim of that curse.
Rokurou Rangetsul, he's a skilled swordsman who owes Velvet a debt that has been long paid off. To Velvet, he's a friend, and she thinks he's using that debt as an excuse to stay around. Velvet is fine with that, she enjoys his company and relays on his swordsmanship in battle. He too will accept the princess and Velvet's decision to bring her back to the ship inside of killing her.
"Magilou will love this."
Magilou is an odd girl who happens to be a witch, Velvet knows little about her past and wants to kill that woman sometimes, but she also respects her power. Velvet didn't believe in magic until she met Magilou, that mischievous witch has opened her eyes to it. Magilou will welcome the princess aboard, but only so she could tease Velvet about it later.
"Yes. Magilou will love this." Velvet whispered to herself as she made up her mind. "I'll take her back to the ship. Hopefully, I'll be able to convince Teresa she's dead, and she won't send anyone after us."
Her mind focuses as she makes up her mind of what to do and how to do it, she takes out a white handkerchief and rubs a sleeping gel on it that would knock a full-grown man out for seven hours. Velvet reckons the princess will be out for eight or nine hours.
"Plenty of time," Velvet concludes to get her to the Van Eltia. Carefully she leaves the wardrobe she hid and waited in being careful not to let the hinges squeak. She tiptoes over to where the princess sleeps and doesn't hesitate to cover the mouth of her target with the gel soaked handkerchief. Startled by the sudden attack the princess wakes up her eyes wide which soon fill with fear.
"Hmmm!" Eleanor's muffled cries went unnoticed by everyone except for Velvet. It didn't take long for Eleanor to become weaker as her body gave into the effects of the gel. All she could do was look up into the cold, empty eyes of her assailant as her world slowly faded to black. However, unlike many others before her, Eleanor would live to see the light again.
"Sheesh." Velvet keeps control of the situation and holds the handkerchief in place until the princess has completely succumbed to the gel, once done she simply carries the princess back to her ship. Velvet isn't weak, years of sailing the seas have made her body stronger than most girls her age and the Van Eltia is close enough, so it will be easy to return undetected. She will just need to return later to tell Teresa the job is down; she has the time it takes to get to the ship and back to come up with a convincing story.
When Eleanor open's her eyes the light of the sun almost blinds her, she finds herself in a soft, comfortable bed with soft sheets and a nice fluffy pillow. At first, she mistakes it for her bed but once her eyes adjust to the light in the room and she sees a wooden ceiling instead of the stone one of the palace she knows she isn't in her bed. Then she feels her bed sway slightly from side to side as if she is on a boat. Eleanor can't even remember the last time she was on a boat; it must have been at least five years ago, she futilely hopes that this is her families boat and she just forgot about boarding. She knows it's stupid, but she still hopes its true. Then the image of last night enters her mind, the image of that woman with cold eyes makes her shiver as if it's a cold winters day. She sits up hugging her body as its warmth returns and wonders one thing and one thing only.
"Where am I?" Eleanor asks the empty room not expecting an answer but.
"You're on the Van Eltia." A gentle voice answers her, Eleanor turns her head and discovers the room isn't as empty as she thought. A young boy that looks like he's barely ten stares back at her with green eyes that look like grass and short blond hair, Eleanor can't help but think he's cute and wonders how he's connected to the cold-eyed women who took her from her bed in the middle of the night. "Velvet brought you on board last night; I'm glad she did instead of killing you as that person ordered her to."
"She was meant to kill me?" Eleanor says both scared and relieved to hear that. "Why? Why would she kill me? Why didn't she kill me?"
"I don't know why she spared you, but I'm happy she did, I don't like it when she kills," The boy looks down as he says that, it's clear he doesn't like that side of Velvet. When he raises his head again, he is smiling brightly and happily. "I'm glad you are all right can I get you anything to eat or drink?"
"I'm fine, thank you," Eleanor replies shaking her head. "You never told me why, why was this Velvet you speak of trying to kill me?"
"She was paid to," The boy answers losing his smile reviling his hatred for violence. "A pretty lady called Teresa came to her and offered Velvet a lot of money to kill you."
"My sister did" Now it's Eleanor's turn to look down. "Why would she want me dead?" The answer is simple, Oscar, Oscar would be the next heir if something were to happen to her. Teresa only cares for her twin brother; it was clear she wanted him to be king, but Eleanor never thought she would go this far to make her desires a reality. "All so Oscar could be king."
"Did you say something?" The boy asks having not heard a word of that.
"No, no I was just talking to myself," Eleanor tells him as she looks up and does her best to smile, it's hard after hearing you own big sister wanted you dead and hired an assassin to kill you but Eleanor does her best anyway. "By the way who are you?"
"Oh me, I'm called Laphicet," He replies with a smile. "Velvet gave me that name after she rescued me from my former master."
"You are a slave," Eleanor's eyes widen as she hears that. Slavery is illegal, but people are keeping slaves is still, and it's common practice in certain area's the kingdom.
"Not anymore, Velvet saved me. She gave me a home on this ship and taught me so much" Laphicet tells.
Laphicet speaks of Velvet with such pride that Eleanor can see he respects and admires her, the same person who stole her in the night instead of killing her. Eleanor doesn't know what to make of her; Velvet is so confusing when she hears this boy speak of her. She kills but has mercy, Eleanor is living proof of that. She saved this boy before her from a life as a slave, but the boy makes it sound like she's not a good person. Just who is this Velvet? Eleanor wonders as the boy finishes the list of things this Velvet has taught him.
"To fish, sail, navigate and defend myself but she doesn't like me fighting and always says I should hide when we are in danger."
"She sounds like quite a woman," Eleanor comments.
"What's you name miss?" The boy asks her now, the princess just can't say no to him or leave that unanswered questions as she looks him in his puppy dog eyes.
"Ahem." Eleanor cleared her throat before answering. "My name is Eleanor Hume. I'm the princess and heir to the throne of the Holy Midgand Empire."
"Ah!" Laphicet's eyes widened, and his mouth was agape upon hearing her answer. He was clearly not expecting to hear that.
"However..." Eleanor reluctantly admitted, "I doubt I still am the heir since my sister ordered my assassination. Not to mention, I'm on this boat, and I don't have a clue where I am."
"Hmm ..." Laphicet replied, "I guess not ..."
"Umm ..." Eleanor leaned closer to Laphicet and asked, "Anyway, about this Velvet ..."
"Yes?" Laphicet asked.
"Can you tell me more about her?" Eleanor inquired.
"For starters," Eleanor heard a voice behind her, "She's right behind you."
Eleanor's eyes widened as she slowly turned her head to see the raven-haired girl standing behind her. Eleanor immediately recognized her as the one who kidnapped her last night. "You ..." Was all Eleanor could voice before becoming choked up.
"Hmph." Velvet dryly replied, "Good morning to you as well."
"You… You kidnapped me," Eleanor shuffles across the bed putting more distance between her and her abductor.
"I could have killed you too," Velvet points out. "But I didn't, and here you are, laying in my bed with the world thinking you are dead."
"People think I am dead?" Eleanor asks already knowing the answer.
"They sure do," Velvet tells her as she throws a pile of clothes at the princess. "Now get dressed and meet me outside" Velvet's voice becomes more commanding as she says that, Eleanor can tell by her voice alone that she is the captain of this ship even if no one tells her so. "We need to talk about what will happen next."
"What will happen next?" Eleanor asks not making a move for the clothes.
"Get dressed and find out," Is all Velvet says in response in that same commanding tone as she and Laphicet leave the room shutting the door behind her to give her some privacy as she changes clothes.
Eleanor quickly dresses in the clothes Velvet had just thrown at her; they were plain clothes and something that a man would normally wear, completely different from the clothes she normally wears as a princess. They are a just a simple brown shirt with short sleeves, black trousers, and boots that look worn and old with mud covering their soles. Eleanor stands and finds the clothes may be a size too big for her, luckily a belt is provided for her so her trousers don't fall but the shirt looks baggy and is hanging off her body. When she starts to walk, she finds the boots are heavy and feel completely different to her nice comfortable shoes she wore around the palace that was as light as a feather. But she doesn't let that stop her; she wants answers. She wants to know where she is, why she is here and most of all why Velvet did not kill her when she was paid to kill her by Eleanor's very own older sister. She walks to the door and carries on through it to find both Velvet and Laphicet waiting for her on the other side. They are talking to each other and Eleanor can't see the murderous side to Velvet as she listens, she sounds very. Motherly that is the best way Eleanor can think to describe her as she listens to Laphicet moan about eating spinach, Velvet tells him he must eat it if he wants to grow up to be big and strong. In her mind, she's seeing Velvet as a warm, caring mother right now, not the merciless pirate that stole her in the night.
"I am still making them with the rest of the food for dinner tonight, and you better eat them," Velvet lectures him bending over so their eyes are almost level with each other.
"Oh, Eleanor's here," Laphicet says looking around Velvet.
"Follow me," Velvet instructs as she straightens back out and turns her head around just enough to confirm Eleanor is standing there behind her before she turns and walks off.
"Where are we going?" Eleanor asks.
"Somewhere we can talk," Velvet answers as she continues to walk, the three of them walk until they reach a set of double doors Velvet lets them inside to a room with a large wooden table and windows giving a perfect view of the sea as the ship sails through it. "Take a seat," Eleanor quickly finds a seat and both Velvet and Laphicet take a seat on the opposite side of the table. "So, you probably want to know where you are and why you are here."
"Yes," Eleanor says with a nod of her head. "I know I am on a ship, and it's clear we have set sail already, but I don't know where to. I also want to know why you didn't kill me like my sister wanted you to."
"You told her that didn't you Phi?" Velvet asks the boy next to her.
"Yes," Laphicet answers without fear of punishment for telling Eleanor something she wasn't meant to know.
"While first, the Van Eltia is on its way to Hellawes, we need to steal some Flamestone for our cannons," Velvet tells her admitting her intent to commit a crime so openly and freely. She must think it's safe to do so since the person she is saying it to is stuck on this boat trapped by the endless miles of blue sea around her. "We are running low and need to stock up."
"You are going to steal it?" Eleanor asks shocked to hear that. "Why can't you just buy that stuff?"
"We can't, you should know that only the Midgand military can own the exploding kind of that stuff," Velvet replies and Eleanor did already know that she knew that but still asked a stupid question. "So, stealing it is the only way we can get our hands on it, a large shipment should be there in a warehouse, and I don't think anyone will notice if some of it goes missing."
"Ok that answers where we are going, but you still need to tell me one thing…" Eleanor pauses taking a quick breath. "Why didn't you kill me as my sister wanted?"
"I don't know," Velvet answers shrugging her shoulders. "I must have had an off day; I always follow through with my orders."
"I'll say." A voice from out of nowhere spoke. Eleanor looked throughout the room to find the owner to no avail. However, Velvet knew that annoying voice all too well. It belonged to none other than to a certain mischievous witch that Velvet had the misfortune of knowing. The witch suddenly appeared out of thin air right behind Eleanor causing the former princess to jump. "Our fearless captain is a cold-blooded killer without a shred of mercy." Magilou paused as she eyed Velvet then Eleanor, "Well ... that was until you. You should feel lucky to be the only target of hers to live."
"Magilou what are you doing here?" Velvet asks sounding irritated at her presence.
"I wanted to meet the princess who lived," Magilou answers not taking her eyes of off Eleanor. "It is a once in a lifetime event, never again may the world see a target of Velvet that survived to tell their tale."
"Who are you?" Eleanor asks calming down after the jump she had from the sudden unexpected appearance of the witch before her.
"I'm glad you asked," Magilou replies sounding like she couldn't be happier to answer. "I am proud to introduce to you the great witch of the eleven seas Mazhigigika Miludin do Din Nolurun Dou, Magilou for short. I am the famous witch who fears no dragon or death; I'm happy to meet you, princess."
"It's nice to meet you too," Eleanor says still nervous of this unexpected guest to the meeting. "But I never heard of you before."
"You wound me," Magilou responds by clutching her heart. "Never did I think it possible for someone not to hear of a witch as great as myself."
"Well you know someone now so gets out," Velvet orders with a hint of danger in her voice that Magilou doesn't miss, she quickly leaves the room leaving the trio to themselves again.
"Who was that?" Eleanor asks as she sits back down.
"A pain in the ass," Velvet replies still sounding irritated. "She just sits around doing nothing but her abilities do come in handy when she can be bothered to do anything that is," Velvet quickly looks Eleanor over before continuing. "To be honest I'm surprised with you, I was expecting you to beg to be released and return home, to cry your eyes out but you don't look like you are ready to do ever."
"I know you wouldn't release me even if I beg, I know I am trapped by the sea, so escape is impossible right now," Eleanor says meeting Velvet's gaze. "Like it or not I am stuck here, now my family thinks I am dead, so I can't expect a rescue."
"That's right," Velvet answers with a nod. "I told your sister you fell from the window during a struggle and I disposed of your body, everyone thinks you are dead, so you are right about there not being a rescue coming. Like you said, like it or not you are stuck here."
"So, what are you going to do with me?" Eleanor asks another question she desperately wants to have answered that's been eating away at her.
"Offer you a position in my crew," Velvet answers like it's no big deal for a princess to become a pirate. "You can refuse of course, but when your sister Teresa finds out you are alive, she will place a price on your head, at least with us you will be safer than on your own."
"You want me, a princess to become a pirate?" Eleanor asks not knowing what to say or how to act after hearing that; she was expecting Velvet to ransomed her off not welcomed as part of a crew of pirates. Part of her wants to refuse and return home taking her chances with her big sister, but part of her wants to agree, the part of her that finds the life in the palace unbearable wants to agree, and that part is the part of her that wins. "Ok," Eleanor answers after thinking it over. "I'll join your crew… For now, at least, as soon as I am safe I will leave."
"Ok, but what can you do princess?" Velvet asks her. "I need to know so I can put you to good use on my ship."
"I can fight," Eleanor tells her again surprising Velvet. "That's the only skill I have someone like you can use."
"So, the princess is a warrior," Velvet says as she stands up. "Show me."
"What?" Eleanor asks not wanting to fight to prove a point as she jumps up.
"Show me your skill, I will spar with you on deck," Velvet starts to walk towards the door, and Laphicet follows, after a few seconds Eleanor does the same too. "Show me that you won't be a dead weight."
"You want me to fight you?" Eleanor shouldn't be surprised to hear that a merciless killer pirate wants to fight but she is.
"Yes, I do," Velvet replies and Eleanor can't help but see the smile form on her face.
On deck Eleanor and Velvet stare off. Eleanor grips her spear keeping the tip pointed at Velvet. She was giving this weapon after being asked what her weapon of choice was. It's a simple spear with a wooden handle and metal tip. Velvet meanwhile remains unarmed making no move to draw a weapon or collect one. Eleanor just stares at her waiting for a weapon to appear in her hands, but none do so, Velvet just stares back at her waiting for her to make the first move. Finally, Eleanor makes that first move.
Eleanor thrust her weapon forward aiming for Velvets chest, years of combat training have taught her what to do. She trained with spears from a young age, and the weapon in her hand feels like an extension of her body. Her thrust is powerful, and her aim is true, the metal point heads straight for Velvet's heart. Velvet continues only to stare, not making any move to dodge and not reaching for a weapon or shield. Not letting that affect her Eleanor continues her attack. She does what she always does when she trains; she pictures Lord Melchior as her target. With hate and anger in her spear her attack strengthens, faster and harder her spear continues to close in on its target. For a moment, it looks like Eleanor will run Velvet through with her weapon, but at the last-minute Velvet, side steps out of the way.
"Not bad," Velvet comments.
Eleanor turns to see the pirate captain still unharmed with her arms folding, Velvet smiles as she waits to see what the princess will do next. Eleanor doesn't leave her waiting long. She swings her spear in a wide sweeping action, but it's just a simple job for Velvet to jump back avoiding the weapons swing. Velvet lets out a quick, quiet giggle that only her and Eleanor hear. All this does is just fuels the anger within Eleanor; she makes another attack with a powerful thrust. Once again Velvet easily dodges the spear with a step to the side only this time Eleanor has her boot waiting for her. Barely, just barely is Velvet able to duck under the princes' boot. She didn't see that coming as is truly impressed with that move.
"Stop toying with me!" Eleanor yells angered by the smirk on Velvet's lips and the fact she isn't fighting back.
"I'm not toying with you," Velvet replied. "I seeing what you can do."
"Then draw your weapon," Eleanor demands. "Draw your weapon and fight me."
"If that's what you want," Velvet says in a voice that doesn't seem to care. A blade slides out of her gauntlet on her right wrist, the blade shines in the sunlight as it locks into place and Velvet takes up a fighting posture. "Prepare yourself."
Now it's Velvet's turn to attack. She rushes forward with astonishing speed giving the princess little time to react, Eleanor only just manages to raise her spear in time to block the blade with the wood of the handle. But Velvet is strong, much stronger than she expected. Pressing down Velvet forces Eleanor back, after a few steps she lets up. Relieved at the respite Eleanor lets her guard down. Velvet doesn't let the opportunity presented to her go by, he moves with grace doing a back flip but at the same time using her feet to kick the spear from Eleanor's hand. Surprised Eleanor just stares at the spear as it lands with a loud thud when she looks back at Velvet she sees the blade sliding back into the gauntlet and Velvet staring at her.
"Ready to give up yet?" Velvet asks.
For some reason that annoys Eleanor, she looks around to see several crew members watching her. They laugh, stare at her and exchange money. Not wanting them to see her as weak Eleanor does the unexpected, she attacks. She charges forward catching Velvet off guard and manages to tackle her to the ground. Landing on the deck Eleanor's victory doesn't last long as Velvet gets her feet under her and pushes her off. As they both get to their feet, Eleanor can see the impressed look on Velvet's face, for some reason that gives her a warm feeling inside but that feeling is lost in the heat of the moment as Eleanor attacks again. Eleanor throws a punch hoping to land at least one solid hit.
"This isn't over yet," Eleanor tells her as she strikes.
She may not be as well versed in hand to hand combat as she is with a spear, but she still received some training in it. Velvet defects the hit but Eleanor is quick to send a second punch; again it doesn't connect as Velvet sidesteps out of the way. She then makes her attack. She slams her knee into Eleanor's stomach knocking the wind out of the princes' lungs. Eleanor collapses on the ground gasping for breath; tears start to form in her eyes as the pain from the attack is registered. Never in her life has she been hit that hard, not even Lord Melchior when he was angry. Now she is looking up at her attacker with her vision blurred by her tears, she can't tell what Velvet is thinking, but her gut tells her the pirate isn't going to attack.
"You got guts princess," Velvet says as Eleanor sees a blurry arm being extending, she takes it knowing the fight is over and wipes her tears away. "Welcome to the crew; now you are a true member of the Van Eltia."
"So, you still want me," Eleanor replied. "Even if I may try and kill you and escape."
"It'd be ironic if you did. The only person I spared being the one to kill me," Velvet tells her not sounded bothered by the threat. "Live life with your hands at the wheel of your life, that's our creed, so if you want to kill me, you are welcome to try. I will fight back though so don't expect an easy kill."
"I wouldn't expect you to be an easy kill," Eleanor says as Velvet walks off leaving her alone."
"You should be proud," A voice says, and Eleanor turns to see a man with a giant sword on his back. "I have never seen anyone knock the captain over before; I'm Rokurou Rangetsu, by the way, it's nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you too," Eleanor replied, "I'm…"
"Everyone already knows who you are," Rokurou interrupts her. "The famous Princess Eleanor who lived despite the merciless Velvet being sent to kill her."
"Is it that odd for someone to survive being her target?" Eleanor asks after hearing the same thing from that witch Magilou.
"It is," A blond haired man who is tall and strong answers as he walks up to her. "I'm Eizen the first mate of this ship, and I can confirm that you are the only target of hers to live."
After that everyone comes up to her, and so many names given, but only one question. Why did she live? It's a question she can't answer; it's a question only Velvet can but when she asked the pirate captain that she didn't get an answer. So, she just says she doesn't know why she lived; it's the truth and the only answer she can give. She just tries to make the best of her new life, as a pirate far away from the palace, her evil sister, and Lord Melchior's boring lectures. She isn't sure a life of a pirate is a life she wants but it's the life she has right now, she takes a deep breath as she accepts her new life as it ready to live it. Velvet meanwhile watches her from the bridge, looking down at the princess with Magilou by her side. She wishes the witch isn't here beside her right now.
"So, you lied to her and yourself," Magilou says calmly. "I think we both know why you let her live even if you don't admit it."
"Eleanor! Hey, Eleanor! Where are you?" Oscar called, but Eleanor can't see him. All she sees is darkness, a black mass that spreads endlessly in every direction. There is nothing here, nothing but the voice of Eleanor's beloved older brother. "Eleanor!"
"Oscar!" Eleanor shouted back into the void around her hoping Oscar can hear her, hoping Oscar can follow her voice to find her and get her out of here because she can't see a thing. "Oscar! I'm over here!"
"Eleanor! Please answer me! Eleanor!" Oscar continued to call. Eleanor's voice must have gone unheard because he doesn't sound like he noticed her. "Eleanor! Where are you?"
"Oscar I'm over here!" Eleanor shouts as loudly as she can, praying so desperately that he will hear her this time. "Oscar I'm right here! Oscar!"
"Eleanor!" Oscar continued still not hearing her.
"Just leave her" Now Teresa's voice joins his and Eleanor can feel her body fill with a fear of being left alone in this black void. "It's clear she wants to stay here, just leave her."
"No don't go!" Eleanor cried.
"But she is our sister," Oscar replied but to Teresa. "We can't just leave her."
"Yes, we can," Teresa tells him forcefully. "Just come with me."
"Ok," Oscar sighed giving up. "Let's go."
"Don't go!" Eleanor shouts in vain as she tries to leave the darkness moving towards where she heard her brother's voice, but all she finds is more darkness no matter where she goes. "Oscar!" Eleanor starts to cry and panic; she doesn't want to be left here. "Oscar! Please don't leave me!"
"Oscar!" Eleanor is suddenly out of the darkness and into the light, her body shoots up, and her arm reaches out. Her hand grasps the empty air, and her throat is sore as if she has been shouting and screaming for hours. Eleanor feels her heart pounding in her chest beating a mile a minute and the sweat covering her body, looking down she finds her blanket has twisted around her body wrapping around her as if it was a rope.
Eleanor lowers her arm and tries to control her breathing as she remembers where she is. She remembers the abduction in the middle of the night, the news that her older sister Teresa hired an assassin to end her life and that the assassin that was sent to kill her offered her a position on her ship among her pirate crew.
"It was just a dream," Eleanor tells herself, she places a hand over her heart and feels the muscle in her chest start to slow down. "I'm on a pirate ship now, not in that void," A few seconds' pass before she moves again this time she moves to untangle her body from her blanket, almost as soon as she has freed herself there's a knock on her door. "Come in."
Laphicet opens the door and walks in, he stops inside the room and looks at the princess with a smile on his face.
"Velvet sent me to tell you breakfast will be served in a few minutes," Laphicet tells her before he turns to leave but he stops when his hand touches the door handle, he turns and faces her once again. "Do you remember where the galley is? I can wait for you outside and show you if you don't."
"No, I'm fine," Eleanor answers with a small shake of her head. "Thank you for the offer, but I can find my way there, so you don't need to wait for me."
"Ok" Laphicet replies with a smile. "I see you there, you better hurry Velvet is cooking, and her food is the best and always goes fast."
With that warning, Laphicet leaves Eleanor alone to change. When she joined the crew of the Van Eltia Velvet gave her a few sets of clothing and since all she had was a nightdress. Some of the clothing fits her surprisingly while but others hang off her body because they are a size or two too big.
Once Eleanor dressed she leaves her room, at first, she was worried the ship would be a maze, but she was relieved to find that the Van Eltia has a surprisingly simple layout. Eleanor has already memorized the locations of all the important areas on the ship she needs to know about so she walks through the halls of the ship with confidence and soon finds here destination. She also finds out that Laphicet wasn't joking around when he warned her that the food would be eaten soon, Velvet's cooking must be something as the sailor's shove and push each other to get some of it.
Too nervous to get involved Eleanor decides to wait at the back of the crowd for an opening, she's too afraid to make a move to get to the front of the crowd as she watches the elbows from the crew thrown wildly around and how the sailors fall over after a rough shove.
"This is madness," Eleanor comments as she stares at the scene.
"This is normal" Eleanor jumps at the voice, she turns to see Eizen stood right beside. "When Velvet cooks it's always like this"
"Is Velvet that good of a cook?" Eleanor asks as she looks at the crowd once again, she has never seen someone's cooking make such a commotion before.
"She's the best," Eizen tells her. "No one's cooking has ever come close to hers."
"Hey, Eizen!" A large figure emerges from the crowd, and Eleanor soon recognizes its Rokurou carrying two trays of food with Laphicet right behind him carrying another two trays. "I got your food."
"I got you some too Eleanor," Laphicet says as he offers a tray of food to Eleanor which she accepts gratefully happy that she won't have to fight her way to the front of the crowd.
"Thank you," Eleanor replies as she takes the tray.
"Aren't you going to thank me First Mate?" Rokurou asks in a teasing tone.
"Only if you want me to punch you," Eizen warns him as he forcefully takes his tray from Rokurou.
"Ha, I never expected you to," Rokurou says with a laugh. "Man, that was a tough one right kid?"
"Right," Laphicet nods his head in agreement.
"I enjoy a good fight but that was brutal, I'm glad it's the Reapers turn next time" Rokurou smiles looking at Eizen.
"Are you sure you want a repeat of last time?" Eizen asks as all four of them sit down at a nearby table.
"Of course, it was a sight to remember" Rokurou answers before he starts laughing his head off.
"What happened last time?" Eleanor questions while looking at the group. Rokurou is laughing, Laphicet is smiling looking like he wants to laugh and Eizen, well Eizen just looks annoyed.
"I tripped…" Eizen admits looking down at his food. "I tripped and the food I was carrying spilled all over me."
After breakfast Eleanor was put to work, she was ordered wash the dishes, clean the deck, and help another crewmate with the laundry. To say that things didn't end well would be an understatement. When she was washing the dishes, she broke several of them. As she swabbed the deck of the ship, she hurt two sailors by tripping them over with her mop. She also did a lousy job of cleaning, because of her several sailors had to take over and show her how to do it. Finally, when it came to washing clothes that too ended in disaster. She tore several shirts as she scrubbed them, she shrunk several more, and the only thing she managed to clean was herself. She only managed that because the sailor who was doing the laundry with her pushed her in the wash tub.
All this left Eleanor embarrassed and left her hiding in her room as she dried off, an unhappy crew and caused Eizen to storm into Velvet's office. The two pirates normally agree with each other but when it came to Eleanor Eizen and Velvet are on different pages. Eizen sees her as useless; he saw her make a mess of her jobs and how she seemed nervous around the crowd of sailors at breakfast. He doesn't trust her in a fight; he doesn't even trust her to be loyal to the crew and to be loyal to Velvet. He thinks the first chance she gets she will run, turn them in and ruin their plans to steal Flamestone. That's another thing he doesn't understand; he also wants to know why Velvet told Eleanor about her plans. He would have kept that a secret, at least until he knew he could trust her with that information.
"I don't understand what you are thinking," Eizen tells Velvet as he leans on her desk. "Kidnapping her is one thing but recruiting her and telling her our plans is a completely different story… What are you planning?"
"I don't know," Velvet admits shrugging her shoulders. "I have just been doing everything on a whim since I met her."
"I know," Eizen sighs knowing this isn't Velvet's normal self because if it were then Eleanor would have died instead of destroying everything she touches on the ship. "But can we trust her?"
"We have to wait and see," Velvet tells him with a small smile forming.
"That's why you told her our plans isn't it?" Eizen asks seeing his captain's motives; he knows what the smile on Velvet's lips means. "You are testing her by letting her know about our plans and seeing if she reports us to the authorities."
"I told her the wrong target if you are still worried about that," Velvet replied, "I told her we would hit a warehouse instead of the ship as we planned. If she betrays us than the ship will have fewer guards because they will be protecting the warehouse, if she is loyal then we can carry on as planned."
"I see," Eizen says rubbing his chin and thinking over what Velvet just told him. "I guess I should have trusted you."
"Don't worry about it," Velvet tells him. "It's your job as my second in command to question my decisions, that way I can see holes in my plans and plug them before it's too late."
"I guess that's the First Mate's duty," Eizen smiles. "We still need to give her something to do, I know she's a princess, but I didn't know she was so useless as part of our crew."
"Ask Rokurou to look after her" Velvet decides. "At least he can fix her fighting problems, she may be good, but she still has some rough edges that need to be worked out."
It's a beautiful day in the palace, the sun shines, and the flowers are blooming in the garden fill the air with their lovely scent. Sat amongst those flowers at a table covered with a pure white cloth the Royal Twins sit, drinking tea from a beautiful tea set and enjoying each other's company. From a distance the people passing by would see a peaceful sight, just the two twins relaxing in the sun but up close, you will see that everything is not ok. Oscar isn't as happy as he seems and Teresa is annoyed at that mostly because of the reason he is unhappy.
"Oscar just try not to think about her," Teresa gently says reaching over to touch her brother's hand.
"I don't understand…" Oscar replied. "I know she was upset, but I never thought she would kill herself."
"She didn't deserve to be queen," Teresa tells him. "You will make a better king then she would."
"That's not the point," Oscar snaps pulling his hand away from his sister's touch and making Teresa flinch. "She is our sister Teresa, don't you miss her?"
"Of course I do," Teresa lied. "But I didn't get along with her; you know that Oscar, after all, you spent most of your time breaking up our fights."
"Sometimes it feels as if I don't know you," Hearing that makes Teresa's heartache, she did this for Oscar, and he doesn't even see he is better off with Eleanor out of his life. "You are always so warm and loving, but now, our sister took her life, and you haven't let out a single tear."
"I do mourn her," Teresa tells him. "I just mourn her in privet, so the people don't see, you are the next King Oscar, how do you think the people will feel if they see you crying and depressed all the time?"
"I can see your point," Oscar answers. "But here in the palace, no one can see us; we can mourn her and every will understand."
"I'm sorry Oscar, I am, but crying isn't going to bring her back," Teresa says, and she instantly knows that it was a mistake to say that, Oscar looks at her with pain and hurt in his eyes.
"I'm going now," Oscar tells her before he walks off.
Teresa knows Oscar is upset with her. Whenever Oscar is upset with a person, he won't shout and scream. Instead, he will walk away from that person and give them the silence treatment. Teresa doesn't know when he will speak to her again, it could be weeks, it could be months, and it could even be over a year till they next speak. Teresa looks down at her hand to see blood; she opens her hand to find a nail has dug into her palm. She must have clenched her fist at some point; it must have been when she watched her brother walk off because she knew what that meant.
"Damn you, Eleanor," Teresa bitterly says to the empty garden. "Even when you are dead you are still getting between Oscar and me… I wish I were the one that killed you instead of that assassin."
"You still can kill her," Teresa barely reacts to the voice, she knows who it is even without looking.
"What do you want Shigure?" Teresa asks the tall, muscular man behind her. "If you said that in same vain attempt to cheer me up you failed, Eleanor is dead and I know this because that assassin never misses her target. As much as I want to I can't kill her, Eleanor is dead and soon to be forgotten."
"But she's not dead," This time Teresa does react, she turns right around to face the massive swordsmen.
"What?" Teresa asks in disbelief. "That assassin told me she killed her."
"She lied," Shigure tells her. "My informant on the Van Eltia says that the princess is still alive and the newest member of their crew."
"Are you sure?" Teresa asks still not believing what she is hearing. "How reliable is your source?"
"Very," Shigure confidently replied. "He's the reason why we killed Van Aifread three years ago."
"I want her dead and that assassin dead," Teresa tells him through gritted teeth. "I want them both dead."
"They are on their way to Hellawes right now, Velvet is planning on stealing some Flamestone there," Shigure says. "I know some mercenaries in Hellawes, they will take the job without asking any questions, but they do charge a small fortune."
"I don't care what it costs I want them dead," Teresa replied coldly with an evil smirk. "And make sure that the pirate suffers, she charged me for that job she didn't complete."
"You paid her," Shigure laughs.
"Yes and she will pay for ripping me off," Teresa answers through gritted teeth.
"Ok I'll go make the arrangements," Shigure says as he walks away. "I'll tell them someone is pretending to be the princess and dishonoring her memory unless you have any better idea."
"Make sure that you do," Teresa tells him. "I want her dead this time."
As Shigure leaves Teresa alone in the flower garden, Teresa has never been happier. First, she learns that her sister will soon be dead and then that she is about to get her revenge on the pirate that ripped her off, she couldn't be any happier.
There is nothing Eizen enjoys more than a good drink, he sometimes thinks could switch his drinking partner with anyone else on the ship but in the end, he wouldn't want to drink with anyone else. For Rokurou drinking is the only thing he enjoys as much as fighting. This late night drinking has become a ritual for these two sailors, meeting up on deck after the sun goes down for a glass or two of the hard stuff. They do this every night, Velvet joins them sometimes when she's having a bad day, but those are rare times, she doesn't drink and prefers to spend some time with Laphicet instead.
Eizen and Rokurou never miss a night on deck. No matter the weather they can be found on deck even if it is pouring with rain but on nights like this night are perfect for drinking. The air may be getting colder as they sail further north and the wind has a bite to it, but they don't let that bother them, as they drink they let the liquor warm their bodies and their conversation distract them from the coldness of the night.
"So…" Eizen asks. "How's the princess doing?"
"Better than I thought she would," Rokurou replied. "She already knows how to use her spear, she has good stamina and is determined but…" Rokurou pauses nodding towards a part of the ship where someone has split the wooden deck. "She swings her spear around wildly when she starts to get tired or angry, in a prolonged fight I think she would only endanger herself and us."
"I'm still not sure about her," Eizen admits. "The captain may be willing to give her a chance, but I think it's reckless."
"I heard about the test Velvet has planned," Rokurou says as he pours himself and Eizen another drink. "I think it's smart; we will win ever way with this plan."
"I know, but so much can go wrong," Eizen says shaking his head. "It's reckless to bring a princess aboard, if she's spotted with us every ship in the Royal Navy will be coming after us to rescue her."
"I see your point, but Velvet always leads us to victory," Rokurou replied. "For all, we know this could be part of a bigger plan."
"I hope you are right," Eizen tells him. "Someone with the reapers curse is bound to bring out the worst case scenarios."
The city of Hellawes is a busy trading hub, and the only exporter of Flamestone, ships of all shapes and sizes fill the harbor. Their captains brave the frozen waters filled with icebergs to transport these vital shipments of Flamestone. Hellawes is a busy place but it wasn't always like this, several years ago Hellawes was a small town whose main export was fish. Now ever since a large discovery of Flamestone near the city, it has changed, the city grow almost overnight with its population tripling within a week as more and more people flocked to the city looking for work.
Few people in the city still fish, the only real fisherman who fish for a living are two old men. Every morning at dawn they shake and shiver on their small fishing boat, they endure the cold days in Hellawes not just because it's their jobs but also because it's their passion. These men love to fish and to sail on their boat; they have been fishing since they were kids and can't see themselves ever doing anything else. This morning for them is like any other; they take their small boat out to sea dodging the larger ships as they go, they set their lines and then sit back and relax as they wait for their first catch of the day.
An hour past and then two with the two senior men catch several large fish and even more small ones, nothing is different from any other day in their lives. The only odd thing in the harbor is the arrival of several people covered in black robes, the two fishermen don't recognize them, but they know the ship they are boarding well. It's a merchant ship that was about to be loaded with as much Flamestone as it can carry. From their small fishing boat, the two men watch as the robed figures force the merchant ships crew off of their ship and stop the loading of Flamestone, confused but not wanting to get involved the two fishermen just watch. The merchant ship then sets sail leaving the ship's crew behind as well has the vital cargo it was meant to carry.
One of Magilou's favorite places to relax is the crow's nest; it's nice and quiet all the way up there. Very few people disturb her when she's up here, it's a difficult climb, and many of the sailors hate the height. It is a perfect place to relax. Magilou can stay up there for hours humming or singing to herself, she sometimes worries her fellow pirates when she walks on top of the wooden poles that keep the sails in place, she never falls, but people still worry. It's no surprise that she is considered the craziest person on the ship.
"The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow," Magilou sings, "And what will poor robin do then poor thing?" Snow starts to fall as she continues to sing. "He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm," Magilou spots something in the distance but continues her song. "And hide his head under his wing, poor thing," Now that object becomes clear, it's a ship and not just any ship, it's the ship they are coming to Hellawes to plunder. "Ship! Dead ahead!" Magilou shouts as a smile grows on her face, "Finally, some excitement."
The merchant ship wasn't moving and had its distress flags flying. Confident and hoping that fate has given them some luck for once the crew of the Van Eltia pulls their ship alongside. Velvet and Eizen are the first to step aboard the merchant ship; they find the deck empty. There is no sign of anyone being aboard.
"I don't like this," Eizen says.
"Me too," Velvet agrees. "Search the ship but be careful, the crew might be below deck with the Corsair's Scourge."
Most of the crew members from the Van Eltia now spread out covering every inch of the ship. They form small groups to search below deck while Velvet and Eizen head straight for the captain's courters. They want answers; they want to know why this ship left port several days earlier then it was meant to set sail. The crew spread out in their search as Eizen and Velvet disappear into the captain's courters.
Meanwhile back on the Van Eltia Eleanor and Laphicet wait. They were left behind and told to wait in Eleanor's room by Velvet. Laphicet doesn't seem to mind, and Eleanor understands why he isn't going, he is just a kid, and by every right, he should be anywhere near any dangerous situation, but Eleanor can't understand why she has was left behind. She could understand why she had to stay if Velvet wanted her to protect Laphicet but she didn't ask her too. Instead, she told Laphicet to keep an eye on her like she was the one who needed protection.
"Eleanor," Eleanor feels something tug at her sleeve, and when she looks, she finds Laphicet's tiny hand and concern covering his usually happy face. "Is everything ok? You look like something is troubling you."
"I'm fine Laphicet," Eleanor replies putting on her best smile. "Thank you for your concern but I just have a lot on my mind right now."
"I'm worried about them too, but I know they will be ok," Laphicet tells her. "Velvet is strong, and she always comes back, I just know she will come back."
Still, in her favorite spot on the ship, Magilou continues to watch the scene unfold. From all, they way up in the crows nest the mischievous witch has the best view of all what's happening. She sees things everyone else has missed, things that could potentially cause disaster but as normal, she keeps them to herself. This time she sees a plank of wood extending out of a cannon hull on the merchant ship to a gun hole on the Van Eltia. Magilou is giddy with anticipation and excitement as she wonders how this will end, her eyes follow the dark robed figures as they slip aboard her ship undetected by the pirates who climb onto theirs only a meter above them.
"Oh Velvet, whatever will you do?" Magilou says to herself. "Will you save the princess in time or will she die?" A dark evil smile fills the witches face. "I can't wait to see how this will end."
Velvet kicks down the hard oak wood door with ease, the force of her boot causes the door to shatter sending splinters flying in every direction. As the door flies open Velvet confidently walks in with her blade out of it gantlet, and Eizen doesn't carry a weapon instead he relies on his fists. Any sword Eizen always handles breaks, no matter how well made it is the blades of those swords always breaks. To some, that may seem like a weakness, but for people like Velvet who has seen what Eizen is capable of with his fists then it is clearly a strength. The things he can do with his fists are unbelievable; he can kill a man in countless ways before his body hits the ground.
Inside the room, they find nothing, just a bed, a footlocker, a desk, a chair and a fat man trying to hide from them. His hat and uniform give him away as the captain of this ship, Eizen wastes no time in running over to him. He grabs the man and roughly pulls him to his feet by the man's collar before slamming him into the wooden wall of his room. It's clear this man is terrified. He is shaking in Eizen's grip, and his eyes are as wide as saucers. Velvet can smell his fear, she smiles and knows he is the person that will answer her questions. Velvet has always been good with fear; she knows how to cause it and is an expert when it comes to using it.
"You will tell me what I want to know or…" As Velvet says that Eizen tightens his grip on the man's collar making it harder for him to breath, he struggles to get free, but Eizen doesn't let go. "You will find my friend here is excellent at getting information from people with tight lips."
"I'll tell you what you want!" The man shouts. "Just don't hurt me!"
"Where is your crew?" Velvet asks as Eizen loosens his grip on the man.
"They are not onboard," He answers. "These people came and took over the ship; they had papers from the Royal family so we couldn't refuse. They forced my crew off of the ship; I went to get a few things from my room when they set sail with me onboard."
"And they were ok with you onboard?" Eizen now questions. "Judging by how they forced your crew off the ship I'm confident they don't want any witnesses."
"They said they were going to kill me!" The man yells. "They locked me in here and stated that they were going to throw me over the side."
"I have just two more question," Velvet tells him. "Where are these people and what are they after?"
"I don't know who they are I swear!" The man cries hoping that answer won't get him killed. "I overheard them talking; they said they were going to kill some princess!"
"Eleanor," Velvet says as she turns on her heels and runs.
"Velvet wait!" Eizen calls as he lets the man go and gives chase. "It could be a trap!"
"Velvet," The man says as he watches them go. "That was Velvet, the horror of the eleven seas."
Eleanor hated the wait. She had little to do, and although Laphicet tried to talk to her, no conversation got off the ground because Eleanor was not in any mood to talk. She wanted to be on the other ship; she wanted to help any injured crew member that may be onboard that ship. Instead, she is stuck here imagining Velvet and the others looting whatever treasures they find. She hates this waiting, her mind runs wild, and she can do nothing to stop it. She doesn't know how much time has passed since Velvet lead her band of pirates aboard the merchant ship so it could have been minutes or hours by the time she hears footsteps approaching her room, expecting them to belong to Velvet she turns to the door ready to yell at the pirate for leaving her behind. When she sees the doorknob to her room turn, she opens her mouth.
"I hope you had fun on that ship," Eleanor says as the door opens only the person that enters isn't Velvet or one of the other pirates.
Instead, she is face to face with a tall man wearing a black robe that covers his body and a white skull mask over his face. Eleanor can tell he is a man by his body structure and by the bread she can just make out under his mask. In each hand, he holds a deadly looking dagger. Both daggers have long razor sharp blades with a serrated edge. Eleanor quickly grabs her spear and points at the robed man who takes up his combat stance.
"Who are you?" Eleanor demands.
"That doesn't matter," The man replied. "All you need to know is that my friends and I will be very wealthy after this thanks to your sister."
"My sister," Eleanor still feels hurt hearing that, a part of her wanted to believe that Velvet was lying and her sister didn't want her dead. Now she knows the truth which is that her sister is trying to kill her.
"Put down that spear, and I'll make this quick," The man tells her as he gets ready to strike.
"I won't give up," Eleanor replied. "Laphicet get back."
See the princess won't give up the man smiles under his mask as he rushes forward slashing both his daggers through the air. Eleanor is quick to react blocking both blades that dig into the wooden handle of her spear. He jumps back pulling his blades free, Eleanor is shocked to see a large chunk of her spear is now missing.
"What's the matter, princess?" The man taunts. "Can't handle a real fight?"
He swings this making contact with the same spot of Eleanor's spear again, this time her spear breaks in two. Eleanor's attacker starts to laugh as two more robed figures emerge, soon they to start to laugh.
"Hurry up and finish her off," One of the new arrivals orders.
"I was just about to," The first man replied. "Killing her is half the job, we still have our second target to kill."
Eleanor pulls out a knife from her boot; it's a small one with a blade that's less than the length of her index finger, but it's all she's got to defend herself with now that her spear is gone. Rokurou gave this knife to her and a quick lesson on how to use it, it may seem like her knife won't do much, but Eleanor has seen with her own eyes what it can do. Rokurou gave her a demonstration where he used it to knock the sword out of the hands of one of the pirates onboard; it took him less than a second, and it truly amazed the princess. Now with this useless sort knife, Eleanor stands ready to defend herself from these three robed men.
"Get away from her!" In a blink of an eye, Velvet is there and has run through one of the attackers with her blade. This assailant was a woman; she screams as Velvet removes her blade causing the woman's blood to splatter all over the floor.
"You are making this too easy for us," The first man laughs. "Not only is both our targets in one room but we also have one less person to split our pay with."
"You don't care that your friend just died?" Eleanor asks feeling sick. "How can you be so cold?"
"It's just life," The man answers. "We all got to die someday; she died today just like you two will."
"No you two will be the ones that die!" Velvet yells as she attacks with a swift thrust.
The man jumps back just in time to avoid being run through as that woman was, but Velvet is quick to add in a high kick aimed at the man's head. Eleanor watches a blade appear out of Velvet's boot as she swings her leg, the blade hits its mark slicing into the skull mask and the flesh of his cheek below. As the man drops to his knees yelling out in pain the other robed figure attacks, Velvet moves with almost superhuman speed blocking one blade then the other before throwing a left hook which sent the robed figure flying. As that one land the first gets back up, holding one of his hands to a nasty gash on hs cheek and attacking with a blade gripped in his other hand, he makes his move. For Velvet dodging, this is child's play, in less than a second she is behind the man and plunging her blade through his heart. But by doing so, she doesn't notice the other robed figure has gotten back up or that they two are thrusting their weapon towards their target going for the kill.
"Lookout!" Eleanor calls out as she moves.
Velvet turns to see the shiny dagger heading straight for her and instantly knows she can't avoid it, with her blade still buried in her recent victim there is nothing she can do to prevent this potentially life-ending blow. But Eleanor can, moving faster than she has ever moved before she get between Velvet and the robed figure. Before she knows wants happening she feels the robed person run into her tiny little pathetic knife. Then Eleanor feels a warmth wash over her hands and onto her stomach, it's only when the robed figure falls to the ground and off of her little knife that it becomes apparent that warmth is the blood of the person Eleanor just stabbed. She must have hit something vital inside that person, her hand and the front of her shirt is soaking with their blood.
Eleanor falls to her knees and throws up when she realizes what this means. She just killed somebody, ended the life of another breathing thinking creature like her. Eleanor drops her bloody knife that clangs against the wooden floor and just stares at her hands. They are bright red, stained with the blood of the person she just killed. She has never killed before; not an animal despite the many hunting trips she's been on with her family and certainly not another human being. Eleanor just kneels staring at her hands until she feels something. A light pressure on her shoulder which she is surprised to discover is Velvet's hand. She finds the pirate captain kneeling next to her, blood stained but somehow not looking like the merciless pirate she is right now.
"Was that the first time you killed someone?" Eleanor just nods to that question. "Laphicet get some water and towels."
"He can't go!" Eleanor calls out worried for the boy's safety. "There could be more out there!"
"It's ok," Velvets voice is oddly soothing to Eleanor, she can feel the fear she had for Laphicet melt away with each word Velvet spoke. "I took out two other on my way her, Eizen took down another and right now I have my crew search the ship for any other assassin that might be on the Van Eltia."
Laphicet quickly returns carrying a bucket of water and towels over his shoulders.
"I got what you asked for, and Eizen said the ship is clear, he found two more trying to sneak back onto the merchant ship and no signs of anyone else." He reports as he places the water bucket down being careful not to spill a single drop.
"Good," is all Velvet says as she wets a towel and starts to wash off the blood from Eleanor's hands. "The first one is always the hardest, you need to wash this blood off of you, or you will get sick."
"Was it hard for you?" Eleanor asks as she lets Velvet clean her up.
"No," Velvet answers stopping dropping the towel.
"How come?" Eleanor questions her, and if she weren't in the state, she is now she would have seen the signs and not asked that.
"I had my reasons to kill him," Velvet tells her as she quickly walks away. Eleanor flinches as she slams the door shut. She knew she hit a sore spot; Velvets voice changed from being something to cold the moment she asked that question. She was left staring at the doorway wondering what had happened to make her kill whoever she killed so easily.
Standing is something Eleanor struggles to do right now. She is tired; she couldn't sleep last night because every time Eleanor closed her eyes, she sees him. Eleanor would see the man with the skull mask standing in front of her, her knife in his body and his blood covering her hands. She wanted to scream, she wanted to throw up, but she held herself back. She didn't want to wake the others or make them worry; they are willing to keep her safe, Eleanor is grateful for that knowing now her sister is trying to kill her. But Eleanor doesn't sit down to rest; she throws herself into her work hoping for a distraction to keep her mind from wandering back to her kill.
She is currently working in the kitchen chopping up vegetables for the person on cooking duty. Eleanor is not a good cook; she can prepare simple dishes but not on the scale required to feed this ship's crew. So she helps out doing the small jobs while the cook does the larger ones. Eleanor likes the man next to her; he is big and with powerful muscles all over his body. Scars criss-cross all over his body and at first Eleanor was a little scared of him but she ha comes to like him. He is kind and gentle, he tells Eleanor about his daughter and son back home but doesn't mention where his home is to keep them safe. He didn't even tell her his name, Eleanor only learned what it was when another pirate called him over for a quick word. It is Vic, Eleanor believes it is short for something, but she doesn't ask what knowing he wouldn't answer.
"Are you almost done?" Vic asks.
"Almost," Eleanor answers. "I just got the tomatoes to cut up than I am done."
"Hurry up," He orders. "We haven't got long before breakfast is going to be served."
"Yes sir," Eleanor replies as she slices into the tomato.
Too late does she realize her mistake. As the tomato split in half and she sees her knife, Eleanor feels like she is going to be sick. Her face pales as she sees the blade of the knife is red. Deep down she only knows it's the juices from the tomato but in her mind its blood, the blood of the man she killed yesterday. She drops the knife which gets Vic's attention; he quickly comes over to Eleanor's side and gentle moves her, so she's sitting on the stool that's kept in the corner of the kitchen.
"Eleanor are you ok?" Vick asks, but Eleanor doesn't respond. "Hey Eleanor, Eleanor can you hear me?" She still doesn't respond so Vic starts snapping his fingers in front of her face trying to get her attention. "Hey Eleanor, answer me, Eleanor. Are you ok? What's wrong?"
"What's happening in here?" Vic turns to see Eizen enter the room and walk up to his side. "What's the matter with her?"
"I don't know sir," Vic replied. "I heard her knife drop and when I turned to face her she was like this, she just stares off into the distance sir, I can't get her to answer me."
"I think I know what's wrong with her go back to work and I will handle this," Eizen tells him.
"Is she going to be ok sir?" Vic asks as Eizen picks Eleanor up.
"I don't know," Eizen answers. "It al depends on her."
Vic can only watch as the first mate carries Eleanor from the room. He returns to work, but he is slower now, distracted with his worry for the princess. It scared him. Eleanor was right in front of him, but he couldn't help her, he didn't know what was wrong and what to do. He just can't get Eleanor off his mind as he works. He hopes she will be ok and trusts that Eizen will take care of her.
"Hey Vick, what happened?" A pirate and one of Vic friends ass as he steps into the kitchen. "You don't look good, I think you should go and lay down, I can take over for you."
"I'm all right," Vic assures him. "Something happened to Eleanor, the first mate took her and said he can help her but I'm worried."
"We just have to trust the first mate," The pirate says. "He wouldn't say he could help her if he can't, I know he will help her, so we just have to have faith that Eleanor will recover."
"I know," Vic replied. "I have faith, but I still worry about her."
Eizen takes Eleanor up onto the deck of the ship where the fresh sea air works wonders on her bring her back to life. Eizen puts her down so she can stand on her own then waits in silence. He knew what has happened Eleanor and caused her to zone out like she did. It happened to him before, and he has seen it happen to a lot of other pirates, it's a common thing amongst people who has so much blood on their hands. Eizen knows what he is going to say; he said it countless times before to others, so he justs waits. He remains silent for now allowing Eleanor to recover enough, so he knows his sink in and takes hold.
Eleanor can already feel better, just a few minutes up on the deck and away from the kitchen has been just what she needed to recover. She feels alive again, the wind flowing through her hair, the seem of the sea and the sound of laughter from the crew. It's the complete opposite from the blood stained room her mind just trapped her in. Just what she needs right now. Eleanor turns to Eizen wanting to thank him and then go on her way, but the moment her eyes meets his, she can see he has more to tell her than just simply asking if she is alright.
"It is never easy," Eizen says confusing the princess as she wonders what isn't easy. "Killing, taking another person life. It is never easy. No one is unaffected by death; the killer has to live with what they have done for the rest of their lives."
"Was it hard for you too?" Eleanor asks afraid of what the answer will be.
"Yes, it was," Eizen answers. "It became easier but the first time I killed was hard for me, even now I still see his face when I close my eyes."
"Velvet told me it wasn't hard for her," Eleanor says still wondering how it was so easy for her.
"For Velvet it was different," Eizen replies shaking his head. "I can understand why after what happened."
"What did happen?" Eleanor inquiries.
"It's not my place to say," Eizen answers. "It's personal, so only she can tell you the answer to that question."
Magilou must be crazy; it's the only way to explain why she is so calm right now. Most people will be shaking and fearing an imminent death. Not Magilou though, she sits the checking her nails for dirt without a care in the world. Meanwhile sat opposite her Velvet is looking like she is about to kill the witch before her. Velvet's eyes shoot daggers into Magilou, her teeth grind, and her fists are clenched so tightly under the table that the blood supply to her fingers is cut off. But Magilou doesn't care; she just sits there calmly instead of in fear like any sane person would be.
"So are you just going to stare at me?" Magilou asks with a smirk breaking the silence. "That will cost you by the way."
"Like I would ever pay you after what happened." Velvet spits back.
"And what did happen Velvet dear?" Magilou leans forward on the desk as she speaks.
Velvet is taken back by that. Both she and Magilou know what happened, but Magilou still feels the need to ask. Velvet sighs shaking her head, she doesn't know why she keeps Magilou around. Velvet can't deny that Magilou is good in a fight and her magic has saved her and the crew of the Van Eltia more times than she can count but, the girl is the most annoying person Velvet has ever met in her life. Magilou is lazy, irritating and hardly ever does her job. All she seems to do is cause trouble and then watch the aftermath from a distance. All Magilou does is get on Velvet's nerves.
"You know what happened," Velvet tells her. "You let those people on my ship, you saw them board, but you didn't try to stop them or raise the alarm."
"Yeah I did that," Magilou confesses as she leans back into her seat. "Are you saying you didn't have fun with our guests?"
"Of course I didn't!" Velvet snaps but still Magilou is unaffected, she doesn't flinch or even blink at the sudden outburst. "I almost died! Eleanor… Eleanor almost died. Now she has blood on her hands because of you; I hope you are happy with yourself."
"I am, I am very happy with myself," Magilou smiles in reply. "Besides she was bound to get blood on her hands at some point, we are not good people Velvet; we are pirates."
"I know but she wasn't ready," Velvet says more calmly. "She wasn't ready to take a knife; she would have stayed safely on the ship until she was."
"You took a life, and you wasn't ready," Magilou points out. "I believe you were still a child then."
"I was," Velvet replies thinking back to that event.
Seven Years Ago
The small village of Aball has always been a quiet, peaceful place to live. The beautiful forest surrounding it makes you feel like there is no ever place on earth that humans live, the building is made from the wood of the trees that surround them, and the people that live in them are the friendliest people in the world. To Velvet, her father, and her little brother Laphicet the sleepy village of Aball is perfect. Taliesin, where they lived before, is so loud and lively, but it is not what the family needs. They need the quiet this village will bring them, they need to mourn their loss, and that would only be harder back at their old home. It held too many memories for them to stay. They mother had passed away recently, everything at their old home reminded the family of her, so they had to get away. They came to Aball to do so; they had family here they could stay with during their time here. Celica Velvet's older sister lives here with her husband, Arthur.
Just the sight of Celica is enough to make Velvet feel better; she loved her big sister a missed her so much in the time they have been apart. The first thing Velvet does when she sees her older sister is to run up to her and give her a big warm hug. Celica stumbles back as the full force of her sister's impact hits her, but she quickly returns her hug. The warmth and security her sister's arms give Velvet a welcome relief from the misery and heartache her mother's death brought her. The happy reunion is short-lived though as he makes his presence known. Arthur. He pushes the sisters apart ending the happiness their reunion brought in an instance.
"We should be getting back," Arthur tells his wife.
"Yes, dear," Celica replies with a smile and nod.
It's no secret that Velvet and her father hate Arthur, the constant fights and arguments were the main reason he and Celica moved to Aball in the first place. In return, Arthur hates them back and is always doing whatever he can to ruining Velvets time with her sister. Last Christmass when Arthur and Celica visited them in Taliesin he cut their visit early with some stupid excuse that Velvet can't remember after only spending less than an hour at their house. It was a stupid reason he wanted to leave too. It was because Arthur wanted to eat dinner at the time he is used to but it wouldn't be ready for an hour after that. The small one-hour difference was enough to make him explode. For Arthur, everything has to be in its place and on time.
The house is a large wooden structure with its own wheel next to it; outside there is a vegetable garden and a large patch of flowers. Inside is a spacious living space and kitchen, upstairs on the second floor is several bedrooms and Arthur's office, and in the attic, there is a large space used for storage. The house is beautiful, and tidy thanks to all of Celica's hard work. As the family disperses to their rooms to unpack Arther heads for his office and Celica starts making lunch for everyone. That is another thing that helped cheer Velvet up, her big sisters cooking is the best in the world according to her.
The room Velvet will be staying in she has to share with her brother, it's small with barely enough space for both of their beds and only a single trunk for their belongings. The window doesn't let much light in thanks to a tree right outside, but it's still bright enough in the room for Velvet to see what she is doing to unpack her clothes and everything else she brought with her. Velvet didn't bring much with her, she always traveled light, so she is soon unpacked. Her brother quickly finishes too with some help from Velvet leaving the two with nothing to do. Laphicet decided to read a book; he lights a candle to aid his eyes before he collapses on his bed and starts to read a book. Velvet shakes her head and sighs; she can't even begin to understand how her little brother could understand the complicated things in the books he reads.
"I'm going downstairs to sees if Celica needs any help," Velvet tells her brother. "Do you want me to get you anything?"
"…" Laphicet doesn't respond and is to caught up in his book to even notice that his sister has moved to the door.
"You never change," Velvet comment shaking her head smiling as she leaves the room.
Velvet heads straight for the kitchen where she finds her sister hard at work preparing lunch for everyone. She smiles and hums to herself as she works. Velvet can't help but stand in the doorway and stares; she rarely sees her sister like this, but when she does she finds it a sight she can't help but stop and watch. It's an enchanting sight, a sight that leaves Velvet wide-eyed and speechless. After an amount of time Velvet couldn't even begin to work out Celica catches on that she has an audience, she stops what she is doing and turns to stare at her little sister who is still standing unmoving in the doorway to the kitchen.
"Lunch will be ready in a minute Velvet," Celica tells her as she gets back to work.
"Do… do you need any help?" Velvet asks nervously; it's not because she is afraid of her sister that she is afraid of her sister's skills when it comes to cooking. Compared to Velvets own cooking abilities Celica is on a whole different level.
"Sure," Her sister nods. "Can you cut up those vegetables on the counter so I can add them to the soup?"
"Ok," Velvet smiles.
Cutting up vegetables is something she can do, she used to do it all the time with Celica and her mother when they all lived together in Taliesin. She enjoyed cooking, and her mother and older sister were always happy to teach her everything she wanted to know. Everyone in Taliesin always used to say that the Crowe women were the best cooks in the world, during feasts when everyone would cook and share their food with their friends and neighbors the Crowe family always had problems making enough food because many of the people wanted seconds and even thirds. Some people even told them they should open up a restaurant, that their cooking could make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. But they refused, never of them wanted to run a restaurant.
"Nearly done?" Celica asks, and Velvet happily nods her head. "Good now pass the here and let's add them to the soup."
"Here you…" Velvet trips and spills all the vegetables she just sliced up all over the floor. "Ow."
"Velvet are you ok?" Celica asks as she kneels down next to her sister.
"My hand hurts," Velvet answers.
"Show me," Velvet holds up her hand revealing a large bruise from where her hand hit the floor. "That's not so bad," Celica says kissing the bruise. "Better?"
"I'm not a kid anymore," Velvet replies taking back her hand; it always annoys here when her sister treated her like a little kid. She does it every time they see each other, even now when Velvet is twelve she still treats her like a child. "But it does feel better, thank you."
"Your welcome," Celica smiles as she stands back up. "Now let me help you cut up some more."
"Why do you need to cut up more?" Arthurs' voice enters the room, and suddenly Velvet isn't feeling better anymore. Arthur walks into the room and sees the mess, Velvet steps back as he looks at her already knowing this is her fault. "You did this didn't you?"
Velvet nods her head as fear steal her voice, Arthur is a terrifying man when he is angry. He is angry now, and his anger is directed at Velvet. Luckily her sister is there; she moves between her husband and sister shielding Velvet from his staring eyes that felt like hot pokers against her skin.
"It was my fault," Celica tells him covering for her sister. "I slipped and dropped them."
"It was me," Velvet says stepping out from behind her sister. "I did it, Celica didn't drop them I did."
"Then you are the one who wasted this food," Again Velvet nods. "Clean it up and try not to get in the way."
"I'm not in the way," Velvet replies only to be slapped so had by Arther she sees stars.
"Don't argue," Arthur tells her as Velvet rubs her cheek. "Just clean your mess up we don't live like animals here."
"Arthur, please calm down," Celica calmly pleads with her husband, but he shows no sign of cooling off.
"I will when she stops getting in the way and wasting food," Arthur replies not taking his eyes off Velvet.
"Well if I'm in the way then maybe I should just leave!" Velvet yells.
"Go then!" Arthur shouts back. "No one is stopping you just go!"
"Fine," Velvet says as she runs out of the kitchen then out of the house.
"Velvet wait!" She hears her sister's voice call after her, but it's too late, and Velvet is already gone.
Velvet runs, and she doesn't stop running until she is out of breath, she doesn't have any idea as to where she was running to she just picked a random direction and ran. By the time Velvet comes to a halt she finds herself lost. Everywhere she looks there is nothing but trees and flowers. Velvet suddenly knows where she is, Tranquil Woods. Tranquil Woods is a small woods but a beautiful one, Velvet can remember Celica telling her once that the path to the Cape lays through the Tranquil Woods. If she remembers correctly, her sister told her that there is a beautiful view of the sea and some impressive ruins at the Cape. Not wanting to go home just yet and curious to see the view for herself Velvet decides to go and find the Cape herself. She isn't sure where to go so she just carries on walking in the direction she was running.
As Velvet moved forward, she was soon knocked over for the second time in less than an hour. This time it isn't because she tripped but because of a pair of small dogs. They knock her down and jump on her before Velvet can recover they are both licking her face. Velvet struggle to get them off but as soon as she gets on one off of her, the other replaces it, in the hopeless battle against them Velvet can only struggle in vain.
"Bad boys," A voice calls out. "Orthie, Russ come here now."
Instantly they leave Velvet alone and return to their owner. Velvet follows them with her eyes as they run to their master. As they sit in front of their owner Velvet gets a good look at the person as she gets up. Stood before she is a girl about her age with ginger hair tied into twin tails that meet on her chest. She is scolding the dogs, but the loving smile on her face undermines her words.
"How many times have I told you not to jump on other people?" The girl asks her dogs before she looks at Velvet. "I'm sorry about that they can be very energetic around people, are you ok?"
"I'm all right," Velvet says.
"I'm Niko, it's nice to meet you," The girl tells her. "And these are Orthie and Russ."
"It's nice to meet you too," Velvet replies. "I'm Velvet."
"What are you doing out here Velvet?" Niko asks. "Hardly anyone comes here apart from me when I walk these two."
"I ran away after arguing with my brother in law," Velvet tells her. "I was heading for the Cape so I could be alone."
"If you don't mind the company I can take you there," Niko offers. "That's where I am going, I let these two run around there."
Four Years Ago
Years have passed since Velvet first came to live in Aball, but most things haven't changed. Arthur still makes everyone's life miserable, Celica makes every meal, but with more and more of Velvet's help as every day, the little sister becomes a better cook. Velvet's growing abilities in the kitchen are one of only two things that have changed; the other thing is Velvets looks. During the time she's been in this sleepy village, Velvet has grown into a beautiful young women that is caring and kind from the job of taking care of her brother.
Laphicet has been sick most of his life, but recently his illness is getting worse. Taking care of him has become a full-time job for Velvet, and one that annoys Arthur, her brother in law believes that Velvet should use her time to do something productive instead of taking care of her younger brother. This situation usually ends in a big fight where Velvet runs out of the house and to the Cape. She doesn't want to be alone this time, though, she goes there because of Niko. Niko has become Velvet's best friends; Velvet knows she can always find Niko at the Cape. That's where she always walks her dogs.
When Velvet arrives at the Cape Niko is there like she always is, her loyal dogs are as fearless as ever as they hide behind Niko once they spot Velvet's arrival. Niko smiles as she sees her friend and a small smile grows on Velvet's face. Velvet is always happy to see her friend, when she is with Niko it's like Arthur doesn't exist and Velvet quickly forgets whatever fight she had with him that caused her to run out of the house and to the Cape.
"Good morning Velvet," Niko greets with a wave of her hand.
"Good morning Niko," Velvet replies before she looks down at her friends cowering dogs. "I see they are still terrible guard dogs."
"I know, during that storm, last week that hid under my bed," Niko says causing both herself and Velvet to laugh. "It's a good thing that everyone here is so friendly."
"Yeah if we lived in Taliesin these two wouldn't make it through the day," Velvet tells her. "The people there don't trust each other like the people her, in Taliesin people, lock their doors but her they leave them wide open even if no one is at home."
"It's great isn't it?" Niko asks rhetorically. "So what fight did you and Arthur have that drove you here today?"
"Do I have to argue with him to come here?" Velvet questions. "How do you know I didn't just come here to see you?"
"As much as I would like that I can tell the two of you had a fight," Niko answers. "It's written all over your face so tell me, what did you two fight about this time?"
"Fine," Velvet sighs. "I'll tell you." Velvet takes a deep breath. "He wants me to marry a friend of his son, an ugly man that is five years older than me and just as mean as Arthur."
"I'm sorry," Niko says moving forward and hugging Velvet, Velvet hesitates at first but hugs her back.
"It's ok," Velvet tells Niko. "It's not your fault, so you don't need to apologize and to be honest, I don't think he would want to marry me now."
"Why?" Niko inquires breaking the hug to too Velvet in the eyes worried that her friend had done something she shouldn' have. "Velvet, what did you do?"
"Nothing much," Velvet replies with a smirk. "I just throw my tea in his face and walked out, as I was leaving I heard him say I was an ugly little girl with no manners. So I think it's safe to say the marriage is off."
"I don't believe that you are ugly Velvet," Niko says, and for some reason it makes Velvets heart flutter. "I believe you are beautiful."
"Niko," Velvet replies as she sees a change in her friend's eyes, they soften and fill with warmth.
"You may lack manners, but I like that about you," Niko continues. "You are strong, smart, fast and brave. I wish I could be more like you."
"Niko," Velvet repeats this time blushing at her friend's words.
"You really are amazing Velvet," Niko tells her hugging her friend again.
This hug is different from the hug before it is gentler than the last hug. Niko's hands start to stroke Velvet's back; her fingers travel all over the place as if they are explorers mapping out an unexplored territory. For Velvet, the soft touch of Niko's fingers gently gliding along her back sends shivers up and down her spine. It's not an unpleasant feeling so Velvet doesn't complain or tries to break off the embrace, she jus hugs back letting Niko's warmth envelop her. But soon Velvet is aware of another movement, she can feel Niko move her head, and her friend's breath travels along her cheek towards her lips.
"Niko what are…" Before Velvet can finish her question, Niko silences her with her own lips.
Velvet didn't expect this to happen; she never suspected her friend to do something like this. Niko has been her friend for three years and never once has she done anything like this in the past. Once again Velvet just stands there, at firs it was because she was surprised by the kiss, but now it is because she was enjoying the feeling of Niko's lips pressed against hers. They are so soft and warm and cause heat to shoot through Velvet's body. If it wasn't for the need to breathe Velvet could have stayed like that till the day she died. The way Niko's lips felt, the way they made her feel and the taste of Niko's lips, Velvet can't complain about that kiss at all. When it's over Niko lowers her gaze and refuses to look up, Velvet just stands there not knowing what to do or say.
"I'm sorry," Niko finally says after a minute of awkward silence. "I had to do that. If one of us was a man, then we could marry and fall in love." Niko runs off with her dogs right behind her loyaly following their owner. "I'm really sorry!"
"Niko!" Velvet calls after her friend, but she is already gone.
"So that's why" Velvet turns instantly at the sound of his voice. "That's why you refused to marry him." Arthur somehow got right behind Velvet without her even noticing. "Someone else already has your heart."
"It's not like that," Velvet tells him.
"You two can't be together," Arthur says ignoring what Velvet just said to him. "Her family is poor and has nothing to offer our family, marrying her will be a waste of time."
"I don't care!" Velvet yells. "I don't care about money, and we never said anything about marrying each other. Niko is my friend. She is funny, friendly and Niko is not worthless."
"You are coming home right now Velvet," Arthur orders grabbing Velvet's arm so tightly she hisses in pain. "You are not seeing her again. You are going to marry into a wealthy family and pay me back for all the food you ate and all the medicine I brought for you weak little brother."
"Let me go!" Velvet scream clawing his arm in an attempt to break free but Arthur's grip doesn't relent. "You don't own me!"
"What are you doing Arthur?" A new voice demands.
Velvet recognizes the voice and feels safer when she looks up to see her father standing nearby. He is gripping the hilt of his sword ready to strike, and his eyes look outraged. Velvet has never seen her father like this; she had seen him mad when she misbehaved but never to this extent. Right now he looks like he can kill Arthur and it scares Velvet, in an instant her relief, and secure feeling from seeing her father is gone.
"Something you should have done years ago," Arthur calmly answers. "Your daughter needs to learn her place Aifread."
"I think she is fine the way she is," Aifread replies drawing his sword. "I have had it with you Arthur, I watched you treated my children like dirt and held myself at bay because I knew I would get in trouble with I struck you. But now you try to sell my daughter to your friend and then take away her only friend. I can't sit by and do nothing anymore."
"I don't care what you think of me," Arthur tells him as he draws his own sword. "But I have had enough of you too, you are always interfiring and can't let me do anything that will benift us all."
Aifread rushes forward swinging his sword at Arthur, Arthur quickly pushes Velvet aside and swings his own sword blocking Aifread's blade. The two swords meet hard causes sparks to fly and both men to stagger backward from the force of impact. Arthur and Aifread stare at each other for a second before they make their next move, at the same time they swing their weapons forward both with the intent to kill. Once again the blades of the swords clash and once again the men stagger. Velvet has seen how strong both Arthur and her father was in the past; she has seen the muscles on both men and felt her dads whenever he carried her. She knows that this will not end well for anyone, ever way Velvet knows something bad will happen despite who wins.
Again Aifread strikes this time with a high blow directed towards Arthur's simply sides steps avoiding the blade. Velvet swears she can see him smiling as he sees her father's sword stuck in the ground. Before Aifread can pull his weapon out of the ground, Arthur lands a hard kick to her father's ribs causing the man to fall over and roll away from his sword. Arthur slowly advances on his target as Aifread picks himself up. Arthurs grip on his sword tightens the closer he gets. See this Aifread shows no fear or any signs like he is going to beg for mercy. Instead, he just smiles as he gets to his feet. Velvet meanwhile is terrified for her father's safety and fears losing him.
"So, you going to kill me, Arthur?" Aifread asks looking up into assailant's eyes.
"Yes," Arthur simply replies as he readies his sword for the next strike. "You will keep getting in my way."
Velvet can feel her heart pounding in her chest like it's about to explode; sweat collect on her body as she watches what she believes to be the last seconds of her father's life. She fears to lose him. When her father dies Velvet will have to face Arthur alone, she will end up marrying someone he tells her to and lives a miserable life. Her brother Laphicet won't get his medication because Velvet knows Arthur will cut him off from it and leave him to die. Velvet will also never see Niko again if Arthur kills her father. She has to see her again Velvet is full of questions she wants to ask her friend after she kissed her and then ran off.
Not wanting that life Velvet knows she has to act fast to save her father's life. She spots his sword still stuck in the ground and that Arthur has his back to her confident she doesn't pose a threat to him. Seeing these two things Velvet acts on them. She runs to her father's sword and quickly draws it out from the ground. The blade of the sword is covered in mud but still sharp and deadly. She turns to her target with the sword dripping. Aifread's sword is heavy, and Velvet isn't as strong as her father so just holding it up is a struggle. Velvet can tell she doesn't stand a chance in a fight, so she stays quiet. She doesn't shout or make and sudden movements, she remains calm and gets into position before she strikes. Once ready she thrusts her sword towards Arthur who is still unaware of what she is up to.
"Velvet don't!" Her father yells.
But it's too late. The sharp point of the blade enters Arthurs body piercing his skin and drawing blood from his body. Velvet doest stop there, she pushes with all her might forcing the blade deeper and deeper into Arthurs body until the hilt of the sword collides with Arthur's back. Blood is everywhere. It pours from the wound Velvet just inflicted, it drips off of the now blood soaked blade sticking out from the opposite side of Arthur, and it is on Velvet. It's on Velvet's hand, her face, her neck and it's on her clothes. Blood is everywhere.
"You will regret this," Arthur warns through gritted teeth as he falls to the ground, soon a pool of blood appears all around his body, and it's rapidly growing.
"Velvet," Aifread quickly hugs his daughter, but Velvet doesn't respond. Her whole body is numb, her mind is blank, and all she can think of is one question. What have I done? "Velvet listen to me," Velvet looks to her father as he breaks the hug. "We are going home and packing; we can't stay her. Only pack what we need and say goodbye to your brother, he can't come with us Laphicet is too ill to survive with us."
"Why do we have to leave?" Velvet asks.
"Because we have to," Aifread answers. "People will be coming after us now; we need to leave before they find out what has happened here. I have a friend who owns his ship; he can help us disappear."
Velvet looks up as that horrible memory of Arthur and confusing memory of her friend Niko to see Magilou looking at her with curiosity burning in her eyes and a mischievous smile on her lips.
"So what did you think about Velvey?" Magilou asks. "Tell me because it looks like it was something interesting, especially when I saw you touch your lips."
"It's nothing," Velvet replies as she stands up. "I'm going to talk to Eleanor."
"I will find out eventually," Magilou tells her captain as she watches Velvet leave.
Eleanor is at the front of the ship watching the see. She hugs herself as the cold air hits her, it's been gradually getting colder and colder as the Van Eltia sailed towards Hellawes. Most of the crew are wearing coats, but Eleanor isn't, she doesn't have one, and she doesn't want to ask Velvet for one. Eleanor doesn't know what to say to her right now, ever since Velvet walked away from her Eleanor hasn't been able to speak to her. So Eleanor endures the bitter coldness and just stares out at the sea, shivering and thinking back to her kill and what she could have done to avoid it.
"You are not very smart are you, princess," Eleanor can feel something warm wrap around her as she hears Velvet's voice. "You will catch you death if you don't keep warm in these waters."
"Thankyou," Eleanor replies appreciative for the coat.
"So how are you holding up?" Velvet asks.
"Just fine," Eleanor lies.
"No, you're not," Velvet says seeing through that lie. "No one is after their first kill."
"You were," Eleanor points out. "You told me so yourself."
"I hated the person I killed, for years he made my life miserable," Velvet tells her and Eleanor turns around to face her hearing this. "He was going to kill my father, so I killed him. It helps to think that it was to save someone, that's what I did to get over it."
"I think saving your father is different from saving a murderous pirate," Eleanor smiles.
"Your probably right," Velvet agrees. "But whether or not you take my advice it up to you if thinking you saved a feared pirate helps you then take my think it, if not then don't."
"I believe that you are more intimidating than frightening," Eleanor tells her. "A feared pirate wouldn't protect Laphicet like you do."
"That reminds me Phi told me that you tried to protect him from those killers," Velvet says.
"I ... um ... hardly did anything," Eleanor admits lowering her head. "They would have killed both of us if you hadn't shown up."
"I appreciate that you did what you did," Velvet "A lesser person would've used him as a shield."
"I would never do that!" Eleanor almost yells offended by that last comment.
"I never said you would. I'm just glad you didn't," Velvet calmly tells her. "Does that mean I can count on you to protect him again?"
"I ... I would never let anyone hurt him. He's a child. He shouldn't have to worry about such dangers." Eleanor replies knowing in her heart she could never forgive herself if she let that boy die.
"That is one thing we can agree on." Velvet says. "Another thing is that we should get inside before we both freeze to death."
"Agreed," Eleanor says with a nod of her head as she follows Velvet inside the ship.
Cannons blaze and muskets fire relentlessly as the fierce battle rages. Smoke from the many guns fills the area reducing visibility to only a few meters, but still, both sides continue to fire. Musket balls, cannon balls and even bolts from crossbows fly towards both sides and when they hit they devastate their targets. Blood is spilled, bones shattered and limbs severed by the onslaught. As screams fill the air only one person is calm, Velvet walks the deck of her ship the Van Eltia watching the devastation unfold. Dead bodies pile at her feet and blood covers her body but Velvet doesn't care, after years of bloodshed on the high seas Velvet has become immune to the horrors of battle and the sickening sight of dead bodies.
Velvet looks off of the side of her ship and through the smoke she can see the enemy ship. It's a large, powerful ship from the Royal Navy with nearly double the amount of guns the Van Eltia has, but still, it is struggling to win this battle. From where she stands Velvet can tell the crew of that ship is inexperienced, they fired too soon when the fight first started, and now they take too long to reload plus when they do manage to shoot most of their shots miss. The enemy captain to has made many mistakes which now has given the edge to the Van Eltia in this battle.
From down below deep inside the ship Eleanor and Laphicet wait in Eleanor's room hoping the Van Eltia won't sink. Laphicet is more confident then Eleanor about their odds having already seen his fair share of battles, but this is the first for Eleanor, she has never once been in a real battle before today. The cannons make her jump; the screams make her tremble, and the angry shouts and curses scare her. Eleanor knew the people on the ship are pirates, and she expected them to be uncivilized but she is still shocked at the words she hears echoed through the halls of the ship.
"Don't worry Eleanor everything will be fine," Laphicet reassures her. "The Van Eltia won't sink, and Velvet can't be beaten."
"Thank you Laphicet," Eleanor replies with a smile. "I feel better now."
Laphicet smiles back. "Good, no one should ever feel afraid."
"I agree," Eleanor nods.
"The world will be so much better that way," Laphicet happily says.
"Why is it that you are traveling with Velvet and her pirates?" Eleanor has been wondering that for a while now. "You are smart enough to you can live without them."
"At first it was because I had now where else to go but after away I started to like it here," Laphicet tells her. "I liked the sea, and I love seeing new places, Velvet started telling me all about the places she has been, and I wanted to see them too. It's become my dream to sail around the world and see all its beauty."
"That's a wonderful dream Laphicet," Eleanor says. "I wish I had a dream, right now all I am doing is going with the flow of things. First, my sister hired Velvet to kill me but she kidnapped me instead, and now I am hiding on a ship full of pirates."
"Isn't there anything you want to do?" Laphicet asks.
"Right now, I just want to survive," Eleanor answers. "I wouldn't mind being more helpful in these situations; I hate hiding and waiting I imagine it's worse than the actual fighting up on deck."
"You can if you want to," Laphicet tells her. "Your smart and you managed to knock down Velvet; I'm sure she will let you fight if you want to."
"I don't think so," Eleanor answers with a shake of her head. "She wants me down here to keep you safe."
"I can take care of myself," Laphicet pouts. "Velvet is just overprotective of me."
"I don't doubt that you can look after yourself," Eleanor replies. "I think it's good in a way that she is protective of you; it shows that she is more than a merciless killer."
Back on deck, the battle is coming to an end, Velvet smiles as she sees the last of her enemy's cannons go silent blown away by her ship's guns. A fire burns the sails to a crisp, and the ship's crew desperately try to prepare some sort of defense to face what is about to come. Turning to look at her own crew Velvet can see they are entirely different, as the Pirates prepare grappling hooks and swords they look confident and eager for a battle unlike the crew of the naval ship. Closer and closer the ships close in on each other until they are almost touching.
"Throw grappling hooks and board them!" Velvet orders as her blade come out of her gauntlet.
Several grappling hooks are thrown and grip onto the enemy ship and pull her in close, the more intelligent of the enemy ship's crew try to cut the ropes, but before they are able to, they are cut down by a murderous volley from the pirates. Another volley of muskets and crossbows follows before the attack begins, Eizen swings across with several pirates and drops down amongst the Navy sailors breaking up their hastily formed defensive line. Watching from the ship Rokurou waits until chaos grips the enemy sailors, Velvet is soon by his side, and once the time is right, they charge.
"Attack now!" Velvet cries as she and Rokurou are the first to charge onto the enemy ship.
It's a tried and tested tactic Velvet learned from her father, thin out the enemy numbers with cannon fire before boarding, send a small elite team swinging across to break up the enemy before charging with the main force. It worked perfectly this time, Eizen really did swing in with the best of the best pirates and succeeded in splitting the enemy sailors into three groups that are unable to work together. The final part of the plan is a mass charge with the rest of the crew giving your opponents no time to recover and in most cases scaring them to the point they surrender. Unfortunately, the enemy doesn't surrender.
"Force them back!" The enemy captain shouts. "Don't lose heart men and fight!"
"We can't win!" A scared sail cries clutching a nasty looking wound on his arm.
"They're too strong!" Another voice adds seconds before he is cut down.
"Don't give up and fight!" Their captain still orders. "We are sailors of the Royal Navy, the pride of our nation and its shield! We won't lose to some pirates men! Fight!"
"Fools are the same wherever you go," The captain shakes as he turns around, his eyes widen in fear as he comes face to face with Velvet, the ruthless pirate of the elven seas. "Surrender, you have already lost."
"You are the fool," The captain replies regaining his composer and drawing his sword. "If you think the Royal Navy would lose to scum like you."
He rushes Velvet with his sword flying high in the air, he brings it crashing down, but his swordsmanship is sloppy and amateurish at best. It's almost too easy for Velvet to dodge his attack with a side step but her opponent is quick to recover. With a faster than expected speed, he slashes at Velvet's stomach with his sword nearly catching her but Velvet manages to jump back just in time to avoid being split in two.
"Velvet," An unexpected voice calls out, Velvet looks and sees Eleanor run onto the enemies ship.
"I told you to stay below deck!" Velvet growls.
"I want to help," Eleanor tells her as the enemy captain attacks again thrusting his sword towards Velvet's chest.
"You will only get…" Velvet spins avoiding the blade and positioning herself behind her opponent. "In the way," Velvet now thrust stabbing the man in the back. "Now go back below deck."
"I won't," Eleanor replies watching as Velvet positions her blade to finish off the enemy captain. "Wait!"
But it was too late, and Velvet's blade ends the man's life. Velvet looks back at Elenor to see her looking horrified and sickened.
"What?" Velvet asks. "You have seen me kill before."
"You didn't have to kill him," Eleanor answers. "Before you had little choice when I saw you kill but this time you did."
"This is life out here on this ship," Velvet tells her retracting her blade. "If you don't like it then you are free to leave when we reach Hellawes. Now go back below deck. Everyone else search the ship for anything of value."
Two Day's Later
Back in the Royal Palace, the sun has long set, but one person is still awake, burning the midnight oil Teresa searches for a way to deal with a growing problem. Sat at a desk in the corner of her room Teresa reads over every report anyone has ever made ion Velvet and her pirate crew. She has learned that a direct attack won't work, her assassins have failed and news reached the palace an hour ago that the Van Eltia has attacked a Royal Navy warship. Seeing that fighting this feared pirate head one is a stupid idea Teresa desperately searches for a weakness, a flaw in Velvet's tactics, a weak link among the crew that she can turn to her side or anything else she could use as a weapon against not just Velvet but Eleanor too. For years the kingdom has kept tabs on Velvet, and her father up until his death, spies, scouts, and survivors of Velvet's attacks have written hundreds of pages of reports that Teresa is desperately searching through looking for her trump card.
"You should give up," Shigure says entering the room. "Unless you want to make things public you won't be able to win."
"There has to be a way," Teresa replies not looking up from the many pieces of paper on her desk. "There's always a way."
"I doubt it," Shigure sighs shaking his head. "Velvet is a deadly and skilled foe, many have challenged her, but none have bested her."
"Things can change," Teresa tells him turning to face the great swordsmen. "Your brothers a member of her crew isn't he? And you never thought to inform me."
"I haven't spoken to him in years," Shigure says. "Yes I know he is a member of the crew, but he won't help with any plan you come up with, he hates me and is loyal to Velvet."
"I didn't think he would help but he will," Teresa holds up a detailed report on one of the pirates. "We can use him; he's your informant right?"
"Yes he is, and yes he will help,"
"Good, I will use him when the time is right," Teresa replies with an evil smile.
The Next Morning
Eleanor is wide awake as the sun rises determined to prove her usefulness to Velvet and her pirate crew, if she is honest with herself she doesn't know why she wants to impress a bunch of pirates her just mercilessly cut down a crew of sailors from her nation's navy. Eleanor was shocked and sickened at what she saw but yet she still somehow wants to be part of this crew. It must be because she spent so much time with them she tells herself, but nothing can change the fact that she still wants to be more useful to the people of this ship.
Eleanor has already made a plan on how to become stronger and is determined to see it through, with purpose she moves through the ship and straight towards the man she was looking for. The pirates on the ship don't try to stop her, just one look and they can tell she doesn't want to be interrupted, so they just watch as she walks past them wondering what she is up to. Eleanor quickly finds the person she is looking for; he is on the top deck training like she thought he would be. As he notices Eleanor, he lowers his daggers and turns to face her.
"Rokurou," Eleanor says as she reaches him. "I want you to train me."
"Why?" Is all Rokurou asks in reply.
"So I could be more useful in combat situations and to be honest I hate being below deck and not knowing what is happening," Eleanor tells him.
"Well I agree with you there," Rokurou laughs a little. "That would be a living hell for me too; I have to be in the thick of any fight I see."
"So you will train me?" Eleanor asks hopefully.
"Why not?" Eleanor asks disheartened. "I am willing to do whatever it takes so why won't you train me?"
"Because Velvet will kill me," Rokurou answers. "This is her ship, her crew, and her kingdom. Nothing happens on the Van Eltia without her say so, so I can't train you without her permission."
"Who cares about what she thinks," Eleanor tells him feeling angry that Velvet is in her way. "If I want to train I should be able to train."
"Then train," Both Rokurou and Velvet turn to see Velvet standing close by. "You have one week, we will have a rematch then, and I will decide if you can join us in combat."
Six days later
It is the end of the last day of Eleanor's training and tomorrow is the day of her rematch with Velvet and the day that her future as part of this crew will be decided. As the sun sets Eleanor is covered in sweat and struggling to breathe, her whole body is aching all over, and she can barely stand, but she is stubborn and refuses to fall. Eleanor right now is only standing thanks to the assistance of a nearby barrel. Laphicet who was standing nearby approaches Eleanor with a wet towel in his hands and hands it to Eleanor who gratefully takes it.
"Thankyou," Eleanor says before she wipes her faces clear of sweat.
Rokurou meanwhile just watches from a distance impressed by how far the princess has come. When she first joined the crew, she only knew the very basics of fighting, and now she wields her spear like a pro, he can see she still has a way to go, but the rapid improvement is very impressive to him. Rokurou quietly waits watching Eleanor wipe her face clear of sweat, despite the cold air the princess worked up a real sweat. Another thing he came to admire about the princess was her stamina and drive, no matter how tired she was or how hard the training became she didn't complain and just pushed through it. All in all, Rokurou is very pleased with the princess and has got a new respect for Eleanor.
"You have come a long away Eleanor," Rokurou tells her as he sees Eleanor lower the towel. "This fight is going to be close."
"Really?" Eleanor asks feeling good about her odds.
"Yes, it is," Rokurou tells her with a smile.
"I think you can win Eleanor," Laphicet says with a smile.
"Yeah maybe you won't have to catch her off guard this time," Rokurou says. "By the way why are you so determined to win this match and get more involved."
"Because I was brought up to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals," Eleanor answers. "Oscar and I was tested as we grew up to see which one of us would be the heir."
"Wasn't Teresa tested too?" Rokurou asks.
"No, she never was," Eleanor tells him. "She was the daughter of one of the castle maids my father had an affair with, because of that she was never considered to be the next heir."
"So why does she hate you then?" This time it is Laphicet that asks the question.
"Because she thinks Oscar should be the heir and that I cheated on the last test," Eleanor answers kneeling down, so their eyes are level. "But I never cheated."
A few months ago
The throne room in the Royal Palace is an important and spacious room designed not only to impress guests but to be an impenetrable fortress itself. To get into the chamber, you will have to pass through a large double door made up of wood which is reinforced metal. To get to that door, you will have to go through a corridor which in times of peace is decorated by paintings, but in times of war, the pictures are removed revealing the hidden arrow slits behind. Inside the throne room, a single red carpet leads up to the throne which raised up by several steps, stone columns which the nations banners hang from line the carpet with knights waiting at their bases. All in all the throne room is a secure a stylish place.
Inside the room, Oscar and Eleanor kneel beneath their father who sits on the throne, both looking their best in the presence of their king. Oscar is wearing a long white cape with blue as an inverted color; white and golden top and shoe gear; black pants; and long white gloves. On his hips rests a sword which he inherited from his grandfather. Eleanor meanwhile is wearing a white dress with a golden pattern similar to that of her brothers. The most noticeable difference between the two siblings is that while Oscar has his grandfather's sword, Eleanor is unarmed, her father never liked it when she used a weapon, and it took a while for him to agree to let Eleanor receive combat training.
Upon the throne, the king puts away a handkerchief as he stares at his children. The tissue is covered in blood giving away the illness the king is desperate to hide. The king is a kind and gentle man loved by his people, but because of his health he has been stepping back from his duties more and more, as much as he hates to admit it he knows he doesn't have long left. It's because of that knowledge that he has brought his children here today, for months now he has been watching and setting up little tests for them to help him decide which one will rule but he can't decide even after all that. So far Eleanor has shown great compassion and cares towards the people of his nation while Oscar has shown he has the knowledge to lead and the strength to protect his kingdom.
The choice between Eleanor and Oscar has become the hardest thing the king has ever had to do, but he has decided on how he will make up his mind. He will give them one final test, a test that whoever completes first will be crowned the heir to the nation. The king and his advisers all worked on this trial to make sure it will benefit the future if the kingdom. It will test his childerns strength, negotiation skills and their knowledge of the country. The king's eyes fall from one child to the next as he stands, even now on the eve of this final test the king still can't decide whether Oscar or Eleanor will become the next heir.
"Oscar, Eleanor, my beloved son and daughter I have called you here today because there is a pressing issue that needs to be resolved," The King says standing up.
Both Eleanor's and Oscar's eyes widen slightly hearing this, and a shiver goes up their spines, usually when their father says something like this means that someone is in trouble. Both Oscar and Eleanor frantically try to remember if there is anything they have done wrong recently but came up blank, both of them are well behaved and well-mannered children. The unknown reason for this summons only scares them more as they fear an lie or rumor has started about them, never Eleanor or Oscar has any idea what kind of trouble they can be in let alone defend themselves against this unknown accusation.
"You can both relax," The King continues seeing and hating the fear in his children's eyes, as a parent he wants them to be happy and free of fear. "You are not in trouble," Eleanor and Oscar quickly relax hearing that letting out sighs that were louder than they intended. "I have brought you here because the time has come when I must name my heir."
"So it is one of us?" Oscar asks.
"Yes," The Kings answer is short and to the point. "You two are the only ones who can become the heir, it is unfortunate that Teresa can't be here with you, but the nobles will never accept her as my heir."
"Father," Eleanor speaks up looking concerned. "Please don't tell me your illness has gotten worse again."
"No it hasn't Eleanor," The King replies with a reassuring smile. "But it is only a matter of time before it does, that is why I am deciding my heir now so I can prepare them for what is to..."
The king is forced to stop as he starts to cough, he is too slow with his handkerchief, so some blood ends up on his clothes, and a few drops hit the floor.
"Father," Eleanor is quick to her father's side. "Are you ok? Do you want me to call your physician?"
"I'm fine Eleanor," The king tells her. "Please go back to your brother's side." The king waits for her to return before continuing. "To be honest, I can't make up my mind as to which one of you should be named my heir so with my advisers we have decided to give you a test, the results will decide on which one of you will be the next heir."
"What do you want us to do?" Oscar asks sounding ready to start right away.
"You will have one task to do, in Port Zekson there is a problem," The king tells them. "What that problem is you will have to figure out for yourself, now get ready to leave you to go in an hour. A knight will accompany you each of you as well as one of my advisers to assess you during this test. Good luck and stay safe out there."
An hour later both Oscar and Eleanor leave the royal palace in separate horse-drawn carriages heading for the nearby port. Port Zekson is a major hub for trade in the kingdom with hundreds of ships stopping off at its docks every day. Located close to the Capital it doesn't take long for Eleanor and Oscar to arrive at the walls of the town. The defenses aren't as good of those of the capital, but they would still make any invading army think twice before attacking. It is a town they are both familiar with since the Royal families ship is docked here whenever it is not at sea.
"Good luck Elanor," Oscar says as he starts to walk off. "I'm going to walk the streets and take a good look around town."
In the past in Port Zekson
Eleanor walks through the port town of Zekson receiving smiles and waves from those townsfolk who she passes. She smiles and waves back even stopping to talk to a few of them, most of the conversation is not about her task at hand, but Eleanor enjoys the conversations she has with the people of the kingdom. Not all of those talks were useless towards completing her quest, not that Eleanor would ever call talking to the common people a useless thing to do any, some of those talks she had have given her an idea as to what is wrong. To confirm her suspicions, she heads to the center of information and gossip in any town in the world, the local tavern. It doesn't take long for Eleanor to find the place, it's well-kept but filled with unsavory people. Despite the fear she feels Eleanor enters the place knowing this is where she will find the answers, she is looking for.
Oscar meanwhile wonders the streets ignoring the people but keeping his eyes open for any sign of danger and clues to completing his mission. The people he passes refuse to look at him, part of the reason for this is because of Oscar's lack of attempts to become closer to the common people, but the main reason is his sister. Teresa has done everything in her power to keep people away from her brother, men out of fear they may attack and women because she sees them as a threat that will take Oscar away from her. Teresa has done a good job at keeping people away from Oscar, the fear that the people feel in Oscar's presence is proof of this, they have all heard rumors of a well-dressed demon who attacks those who go near the prince. Oscar struggles to find someone to talk to and just wonders aimlessly around; he is smart though so he doesn't let this lack of communication bother him as he walks on looking for the problem.
Unknown to Oscar and Eleanor a third party observes them. Teresa stands in one of the watchtowers built into the town walls and keeps a close eye on the unfolding events. Her knuckles whitened as her grip on the rail tightens along with the rise in the level of frustration she's feeling. Teresa watches the difference between the way the people treat the two heirs; she hates how they ignore Oscar and not show him the respect she believes he deserves, but she is furious at the level of love they show Eleanor. Teresa continues to watch, but she doesn't watch along, stood behind her is the old Royal Tutor. Lord Melchior watches not the two heirs but instead, his gaze is fixed onto Teresa, he rubs his beard feeling now is the time to set his plan into motion and Teresa is the perfect tool to use in achieving his goal.
"There is only one way to secure the throne for Oscar," Melchior tells her, Teresa turns to face him wanting to hear this way Melchior has in mind. "Look at the people, Eleanor is beloved while Oscar is feared. Just from this fact, Eleanor will be named the heir while Oscar will be pushed to the side."
"And how can I change that?" Teresa asks, and Melchior answers in a cold voice free of any emotion.
"That will be easy," Teresa replies as she grips the handle of a knife she has hidden in her dress. "There are plenty of dark, empty alleyways here; it will be easy to make it look like a robbery gone wrong."
"I have something else in mind; you see that black haired women at the table there?" Melchior points to the women in question.
"The one by the man with the giant sword on his back?"
"Yes," Melchior tells her with a slight nod. "She is the feared pirate Velvet Crowe; I'm sure you have heard of her." Teresa nods, there is not a soul alive who doesn't know her. "For the right price, she will kill her for you, not questions, no witnesses."
"I'll consider it," Teresa replies as she stares at the pirate, a hint of a smile forms on Melchior's lips as he knows the biggest threat to his plan is about to be eliminated.
Inside the tavern, Eleanor walks straight up to the man running the place; he is an elderly gentleman with very few grey hairs on his head. His eyes are a pale blue, and his skin is worn and wrinkly, several scars cover his skin, and despite his age, Eleanor can still see plenty of strength in his body. Eleanor walks straight to him ignoring the stares she receives from the sailors and most likely criminals who are drinking and eating here. The owner is cleaning a mug and only gives Eleanor one quick look before going back spitting into the cup and starting to whip it again.
"We don't get much of your type here missy," The owner says as he places the mug on the bar in front of the princess. "What can I get you? Our alcohol and food are the best in town."
"I'm fine thank you," Eleanor tells him not wanting to drink from the mug. "I came for information and would be grateful if you would answer some questions for me."
"I am no stick missy," The owner replies giving Eleanora death glare that has her bodyguard on the verge of drawing his sword. "If you think I am then you don't know me, now leave."
"Sir I assure you I am not looking for someone or investigating a crime," Eleanor assures him which seems to calm him down. "I am looking into problems in the town and trying to fix them; I'm sure someone in a profession such as yours hears all about this towns problem so will you please help me, sir."
"Alright missy ask away but like I said am not a stitch and won't incriminate anyone," The owner says putting away the mug.
"Thank you," Eleanor tells him with a smile. "As I said, I am looking into this town problems, so I was wondering if you have heard anything from one of your customers."
"Just the usual complaints, bad hours and pay, high market prices and fights at home nothing someone like you will be interested in," Hearing this Eleanor lowers her head and wonders where she went wrong, she was confident that she would find out what the problem this town experiencing in this place. Just when all seems lost, and Eleanor is about to leave she sees them owner suddenly move, she looks up at him and sees a look on the proprietor's face telling her that he had an idea. "Wait, there was this one thing that I hear. If I remember correctly one of the guards was complaining about the water supply to the eastern half of the city being cut off. If I recall his name is Drake, and he is on guard duty today at the east gate."
"Thank you for the help," Eleanor says happily that her coming to this place wasn't a waste of time. As she leaves she passes a young boy she thinks is out of place and nearly knocks him over but doesn't pay him much attention, she is just too focused on finding this guard to do so.
The boy returns to the table he has been sat at with his friends and rescuers ignoring the incident as Eleanor did. No one on the table saw what happened and he doesn't bring it up. The young boy is more interested in the Mabo Curry in front of him to give a second thought to the person who just nearly knocked him down.
"Enjoy Phi," The dark-haired women sat next to him says. "We set sail so it will be a while before we can eat like this again."
"I will Velvet," Laphicet replies happily eating his meal. "It is impossible for anyone not to enjoy eating Mabo Curry."
"The kid has a point," Magilou says as she plays with the fish she ordered. "Food that good is impossible to hate."
"Are you Velvet Crowe?" Everyone at the table turns to face the voice; they find Teresa stood next to their table, but none of them notices the old man stood at the bar watching their conversation.
"What if I am?" Velvet asks ready to strike; she is no stranger to bounty hunters trying to arrest her when she comes to shore.
"I have a job for you," Teresa replies dropping a bag of coins the table. "You will receive three times that on completion."
Eleanor walks with purpose and speed towards the east gate, she still smiles and waves at the people around her but she only says a few words now. The people Eleanor passes seem to sense that she is in the middle of something and don't stop to talk to her like they normally would. It isn't hard for Eleanor to find the east gate there is a large road that runs from the west gate to the east gate that is lined by shop after shop. As she walks, Eleanor is assaulted on all sides by smells of foods that makes her mouth water and stomach rumble. Her eyes are drawn to colourful silks and jewels imported from all over the world and all she can hear is the shop keeps shouting out trying to get the crowds of people who fill this street to buy from them.
Zekson really is a lovely place and the wall that is getting bigger with every step Eleanor takes towards it only serves to make it feel like the safest place in the world. Eleanor can see why the famous battles she was taught about by Lord Melchior most took place in defence of Zekson. Time and time again Eleanor read and listened to stories of how would be invading armies assaulted the walls of Zekson only to be thrown back, for that reason Zekson has been known as the Unbeatable City. Eleanor feels pride in her country and proud of the soldiers she sees guarding the gate, they really have done a great job in defending this Kingdom.
Eleanor wastes no time in her task, she quickly spots the commanding officer at the gate and walks over to him. The soldiers and their commander instantly recognize the princess and stand to attention at her approach. Eleanor reaches the leader as his soldier's part to let her through without needing to be ordered to. They smile but remain silent as they stand at attention in Eleanor's presence. The commanding officer is a young man with a long scar cutting through his left eye that is covered by an eye patch, he has short red hair and is a tall, muscular man. He smiles brightly at the princess and is the first to speak.
"What can we do for you, my lady?" He asks as he bows. "My men and I are at your service."
"I was hoping to talk with one of you men," Eleanor answers. "I am looking for a man called Drake and was informed he was here."
"He is my lady," The soldier replies standing up straight once again. "Drake come here!"
Eleanor can hear something behind and turns to face that side discovering it is another soldier stepping out of line and marching towards her.
"Yes sir," The soldier responds as her moves. "Reporting as ordered sir."
"Drake, the princess, would like to have a word with you," The commander says.
"You are not in trouble I just need to ask you some questions," Eleanor reassures him.
"I will be happy to do so ma'am," Drake replies sounding scared but willing to help.
"I will go about my duties and leave you to you questioning my lady," The commanding officer says as he takes his leave along with every other soldier apart from Drake.
As she waits for the soldiers to disburse so she can question Drake in privet Eleanor looks over the soldier before her. Drake isn't a big man and is only slightly taller than Eleanor, he is still strong thanks to his training, but Eleanor has the feeling that he is inexperienced. Eleanor can see his armor is shiny and new, the sword on his hip also looks like it has just come from the blacksmith. Drake's face too also shows signs of his lack of combat experience, unlike the rest of the soldiers Eleanor has seen in this city Drake's youthful face is free of any scars. After several seconds of waiting the soldiers are gone, and Eleanor begins her questioning.
"You can relax Drake I just want to ask you some question and nothing else," Eleanor again reassures him but he still is acting nervously around her, Eleanor sights guessing that won't change anytime soon.
"Yes ma'am," Drake replies shaking slightly. "Ask away, and I swear on my honor I will be honest with you ma'am."
"Thank you, Drake I appreciate that and the service you are doing for our kingdom," Eleanor tells him, and she sees Drake smile in pride at that. "I want you to tell me what is wrong with the towns water supply; I was informed that you know of a problem with the water supply to the eastern part of the city."
"Yes ma'am," Drake says. "The water supply to the eastern part of the city has been unreliable for the past two weeks; the maintained crew sent down to fix it never returned." Drake pauses a moment, and Eleanor can see a tear roll down his cheek. "My friend led a search party to find them, only half returned… He wasn't with them."
"I'm sorry," Eleanor says see more tears leave the poor soldiers eyes. "I know this is hard but can you tell me more about this incident."
"Yes ma'am," Drake replies wiping his tears. "I heard there is something down there that attacked them; I don't know what, I'm sorry I can't be much help."
"It's ok," Eleanor tells him. "You have helped me enough, take all the time you need before returning to your duty Drake. Thank you for your help."
Eleanor gets up and starts to walk away but is stopped a few steps later by the hands of her bodyguard on her shoulder; she turns to face him surprised that he is stopping her now after spending the day just sitting back and watching her.
"Princess I can't let you do it," The Knight says. "I know you want to go and find whatever it was that attacked those people but I can't let you do it, it's too dangerous."
Because of the time Eleanor is taken to one of the local inns to spend the night before heading back to the castle first thing in the morning. Eleanor knows it's for her own safety and that despite Zekson and the Capital being in the center of the kingdom they can both be dangerous places after the sun has set. The road between the port and capital can be a dangerous place, caravans of goods have even been banned at night because of the frequency of the bandit attacks. But it's not fear for her safety that keeps Eleanor awake this night; it's the powerless feeling she has right now that's keeping her awake. Eleanor can't sleep because she wants to help the people of this town and knows how to but her bodyguard is stopping her.
Eleanor paces her room walking back and forth in an attempt to tire herself out and take her mind off of the situation, but all that pacing is in vain, Eleanor still can't sleep. Eleanor finally gives up on the idea of sleep and goes over to the window of her room, she throws it open and closes her eyes enjoying the feeling of the cold breeze hitting her skin. She leans on the window still hoping to find a way that she can help this town but she comes up blank, Eleanor can think of nothing she can do to help this town, nothing her bodyguard will allow her to do. Eleanor looks down and spots her chance, a tree is just within reach of her window, without a second thought and regrets she jumps into the tree and climbs down its trunk determined to help this town no matter the danger.
Meanwhile across the town in another inn Velvet and Eizen talk and plot, their latest job is going to be a big and dangerous one. They look at a map of the castle the Bloodwing's sold her at a steep price, but Velvet believes it was worth every penny. Velvet has always thought highly of the Bloodwing's, and their information has always benefited her. So, Velvet has no regrets about buying this map and hiring their scouts at a high price because she is confident the end results will be worth the cost. Eizen, on the other hand, isn't happy, he has always been more careful with money than Velvet and thinks he could have negotiated a better price f he was allowed to haggle.
"I don't like this job," Eizen tells Velvet, along with the price of the Bloodwing's he also is unhappy with this job because he knows first-hand that killing someone like their target can be a messy business. "It will be nearly impossible to complete without getting everyone killed."
"That's why I hired the Bloodwing's," Velvet replied not looking up from the map. "They will give us the edge we need."
"I hope so," Eizen sighs seeing it's impossible to talk Velvet out of taking this job. "I'll make sure the Van Eltia is ready to sail at a moment's notice."
"Good," Velvet says. "I have a feeling we will need a quick exit even if we are successful."
The streets of Zekson might as well be an entirely different planet to what they are during the day, gone is the sense of security Eleanor felt early in the day as every shadow seems to hide a watchful pair of eyes. Eleanor knows she is being watched; she can feel someone watching her and out of the corner of her eyes she can see movement in the shadows. The main road is well lit with burning lamps, but the side streets and alleys are a void of darkness which seems to hide an impending threat. Eleanor does her best to stay on the lit main road and keeps her guard up as she carries on walking forward, her left-hand grips the handle of the sword she was given before leaving the palace ready to draw the blade when the time comes. Eleanor's gut is telling her the time is fast approaching when she will need to draw her sword, but her body is reluctant to do so. Instead, her hand shakes as her fingers tighten their grip on the handle.
"It's nothing," Eleanor's voice only comes out as a faint whisper to reassure herself, but she fails to convince herself that she is safe, despite that she continues to whisper. "I'm just imagining things because it's my first time."
It was Eleanor's first time, never before in her life has the princess walked the night streets of a town and never before has she been unescorted from the palace. Eleanor can feel her body shake, and she knows it not because of the cold night air, her eyes dart around finding danger in the empty shadows. To make things worse the streets are deserted, Eleanor has a feeling things wouldn't be so bad if she could see just one person walking around this night too. It would at least make her feel safer knowing there is one person out there in the darkness, maybe she wouldn't feel like she is constantly being watched by some unseen stalker all the time if she can only spot one more person.
Final, after a walk that had Eleanor look over her shoulder more times, then she is willing to admit the princess arrives at her destination. The entrance to the underground water canal is just off of the main street; it's not a big building, but the town's architect did his best to make it look as grand as stone pillars hold up a roof that is covered with red tiles and a pair of solid oak doors grants entrance to the place. The doors are flanked ever side by a fountain and flowers. Eleanor can't help but admire its beauty even if the darkness of night hides most of it. But Eleanor's admiring gazing doesn't last long; the princess is quick to snap herself out of her trance and remind herself of her task. Eleanor walks up to the doors and lightly pushes the doors open, to her surprise they are unlocked. With one deep breath Eleanor enters, she starts to descend a staircase that will take her beneath the town and towards whatever is behind this city's troubles.
Eleanor follows the staircase into the depths of the down where the darkness is barely held back by a spread out trail of lamps. The princess draws her sword knowing the creature that attacked those soldiers and the civilian workers is a dangerous threat. Eleanor finds it odd that she feels so much safer with her weapon in her hand now then she did back up on the street with it still holstered. The safety Eleanor feels also scares her, part of her is worried that she enjoys the feeling of a weapon in her hand too much, but the princess ignores those feels knowing she has more important things to be concerned about. The thing that attacked those who entered this place is top among Eleanor's concerns, her worries and fears of this unknown threat also have Eleanor questioning if it was the right idea to come down here in the first place.
Despite her fear of the danger she will face, despite concerns about whether or not this is the right thing to do Eleanor continues onward. Eleanor follows the stairs to the bottom, looking back up she can't even see the door she entered this place through the darkness making Eleanor feel like she is trapped down here. Eleanor turns back to the path and moves on determined to see this through, she pushes all her doubts and fears away, but her hands still shake as step by step she goes deeper and deeper into what may become her tomb. Step by step, meter by meter, Eleanor walks on struggling to control her fear. More and more Eleanor regrets coming alone, the only thing that keeps her moving forward is her constant self-reassurance that she is doing the right thing here. Eleanor already knows the knight who accompanied her would never agree as he told her so himself early this day, Eleanor tells herself that this is the only way, that this will be for the best. Only by her telling herself this is Eleanor able to continue moving forward.
"Who's there?" Eleanor asks as she seems something ahead of her, it's too dark to make it out, but Eleanor can see it looks like it is a human. Eleanor takes a step closer. "Are you hurt? Do you need help?" Eleanor questions as she continues to walk closer and closer, with each step she takes the figure in front of her becomes clearer and clearer until Eleanor can finally see what it is. "Oh no."
Eleanor falls to her knees, she feels like crying, she feels like throwing up, but she doesn't. Eleanor remains on her knees unmoving for what seems like forever unable to take her eyes off the scene before her even thought that the sight is making her feel worse and worse the longer she stares. In front of the princess is a sight that will never leave her mind and one that will haunt her till the day she dies. A body is pinned to a wall by some kind of blue liquid; the arms are turned off causing blood to pour out of the body coloring its sides a dark red. Eleanor can the face; she can tell it's a young man and from the agonized look on his face that he died in pain. Finally, Eleanor is able to look away, but she soon wishes she hasn't as what she sees makes her puke. Ahead of her is a small room, a small room filled with death and the overwhelming scent of blood. Bodies fill the room, none of them are intact or show any signs of life.
"Eleanor lookout!" A familiar voice cries as something hard and strong tackles Eleanor knocking her several feet from where she once was. "Are you alright Eleanor?"
"I'm all right," Eleanor answers surprised by who she sees. "Oscar." Eleanor blinks serval times not believing her brother is really here. "What are you doing here?"
"For the same reason, you are," Oscar answers as he stands up. "We both came to fix the water supply problem, but right now we have an obstacle to overcome."
Oscar draws his own sword and stands ready to fight, Eleanor looks in the direction her brother's blade is pointed and gasps. Right, where Eleanor was just kneeling is a blue monster, a blue slime three times the size of a regular one. Eleanor looks to Oscar grateful he is here if he wasn't then Eleanor would have just died and her body added to the horror show she discovered down here. Eleanor stands up and joins her brother point her sword at the monster ready for a fight. Side by side the two heirs stand, together they watch and wait as the giant slime begins to slowly slide towards them eager for their blood.
"Is your knight here with you?" Eleanor asks keeping her eyes fixed on the advancing monster.
"No," Oscar replies like his sister without taking his eyes off of the enemy. "Since your knight didn't save you I take it you snuck out too to come down here."
"Yeah I did," Eleanor tells him. "He wouldn't let me come down here."
"Mine wouldn't ever, so I didn't tell him I was leaving when I did," Oscar admits as the enemy sudden rolls charging at great speed towards the siblings.
Both Oscar and Eleanor jump to avoid it ending up flanking it on both sides, without uttering a word to each other they both slice the slimes sides at the same time. The slime screams in pain, but to the heir's horror, the watch as the deep cuts they just inflicted heal themselves, the blue goo that makes up the slime's body melts together healing its wound at an astonishing speed. Oscar charges without hesitation at the slime swinging his sword, his blade cuts cleanly through the slimes middle, but once again its body is quick to heal. Oscar jumps back avoiding the slime as it tries to crush him by falling forward on top of the prince. Eleanor can only stare as Oscar attacks again and once again the body of the monster is quick to repair itself. Oscar strikes again, but this time the slime rolls out of the way before Oscar knows what is happening the slime shoots out some of the goo that makes up its body towards the prince. Oscar couldn't dodge the attack or withstand its impact; he is thrown into the wall where the blue goo that hits him traps the prince against the cold stone surface.
"Oscar!" Eleanor screams.
"Eleanor run!" Oscar yells struggling in vain to escape his sticky restraints. "Just go! Don't worry about me Eleanor just run!"
"Oscar!" Eleanor cries seeing the giant slime start to move towards her brother.
Eleanor could never leave Oscar, even if it would put her life endanger her life Eleanor could never abandon him. Instead of running Eleanor charges the slime, she regrets not aiding Oscar, and she is determined to not make another mistake by leaving him to die. Eleanor moves fast and reaches the monster before it reaches her brother and strikes, with two quick slashes of her sword Eleanor cuts a perfect X into the slime causing it to cry out and break off its advance towards Oscar. The slime turns to face Eleanor as his wounds heal, the sword in Eleanor's hands shake but the Princess holds her ground.
"Eleanor," Oscar pleads. "Just leave me and go."
"I can't," Eleanor tells him as the Slime attacks.
Eleanor rolls of the way as the slime tries to jump on her; the slime barely misses but this near miss doesn't convince Eleanor to run away and leave her brother to die. Eleanor is quick to counter attack charging the monster thrusting her sword towards the slime's body. Eleanor's blade makes a direct hit sinking into the slime's body all the way to the hilt, the slime screams but Eleanor realizes her mistake too late. Eleanor made a terrible mistake; she stabbed the slime instead of slashing it. The princess first discovers her mistake when she tries to pull her sword out of the slime's body, unlike when she penetrated the skin her blade refuses to budge feeling as if it is stuck in concert instead of a monster's body. Eleanor knows she is in trouble, and so does her opponent. Without hesitation the slime attacks, a blue wipe grows out of its body and strikes Eleanor. The princess is thrown backward and lands hard, the impact knocks all of the air out of Eleanor's lungs and steals her bodies ability to move. All Eleanor can do is lay there gasping for air like a fish out of water while the giant slime approaches her determined to finish the job.
"Eleanor!" Oscar shouts fighting harder to free himself as he helplessly watches the scene unfold."Eleanor, you need to get up! Eleanor!"
Just when Eleanor had lost all hope, just when she was about to give up and wait to die something unexpected happened. Eleanor watches in disbelief as what appears to be a card floats towards the slime; it enters its body before exploding finally killing the slime. Eleanor sighs in relief and lets her body given to unconscious. As she fades away she can hear a set of footsteps, but her eyes close before she can see who it is, befoe she is completely out of it Eleanor swears she hears someone's voice.
"I can't have you dying so quickly," The voice says, because of the state she is in Eleanor can't be sure, but she believes the voice is very feminine. "I have a good feeling that you will be very entertaining to watch in the near future."
Eleanor opens her eyes and shoots up so fast into the seated position her body complain with aches and waves of pain, Eleanor groans and lays back down which thankfully helps the pain fade away till its barely noticeable. Eleanor is slow to notice it, but slowly it dawns on her, she is no longer in a the underwater canal, infect she is laying in a bed and a room above ground with a window that lets enough sunlight into light up the chamber. A knock on the door draws Eleanor's attention; she follows the sound to the door as her brother walks into the room.
"Oscar," Eleanor is relieved to see him looking well and unharmed.
"Eleanor, your awake," Oscar says looking surprised to see that she is awake. "Are feeling ok?"
"I hurt all over, but the pain's not so bad," Eleanor answers before asking a question of her own. "Where are we? I don't recall anything about leaving the canal."
"We are back at the palace," Oscar tells her. "The Knights found us about five minutes after you killed that slime." Eleanor is taken back by his answer was she the only one that saw that card and heard that voice? "How did you do that by the way, all my attacks failed?"
"I didn't," Eleanor replies and now it's Oscar's turn to be surprised. "Didn't you see that card or hear that voice?"
"Eleanor, no one was down there with us," Oscar says, and Eleanor can't believe it she was certain she heard a voice as she blacked out. "We were the only ones down there."
The next day Eleanor was named the heir to the throne, because of the king's poor health Eleanor's injuries there was no ceremony just a crown delivered to Eleanor as she lay in her bed. Teresa didn't take the news well at all, Oscar was happy for Eleanor, but Teresa started to be a lot more crueller and colder to Eleanor then she was in the past. When Eleanor asked why she was chosen all she was told was that she had a way with the common people that Oscar lacked. At first Eleanor was happy to be the heir but then she started to hate it, part of her has always wounder if it was because Oscar knew how hard being the heir was that he was happy Eleanor was named the heir instead of him.
Present time on the Van Eltia
As Eleanor wakes up to the rocking of the Van Elita in the morning, she finds tears have damped her cheeks; she misses her home her family a lot. That test seems like a lifetime ago now, so much has happened since then. Eleanor spent countless hours in boring lessons, had her sister Teresa try and kill her and became a pirate. If you would have told her that one day she would sail the seas as a pirate, then Eleanor would have laughed and not believe you. Being on this ship still doesn't feel real for the former princess. Before she can get to caught up in comparing her old life to her new one her door opens and a certain witch twirls into the room.
"Good morning," Magilou sings. "Your favorite witch has brought you breakfast in bed, my dear princess."
"Thank you Magilou," Eleanor says, but she isn't sure she should be thankful when she sees what Magilou has for her. "Um.." Eleanor freezes seeing a green liquid with frog legs sticking out of it. "May I ask what it is?"
"Well it's a froggy stew of cause," Magilou beams with a smile so wide Eleanor is worried she will hurt her cheeks. "I made it myself out of a crew member who made fun of my name, so the test is guaranteed."
"I'm mot really sure it's to my taste," Eleanor replies going green in the face.
"Come and try it," Magilou says taking what looks like a frogs eye and holding in front of Eleanor's face for her to eat. "It tastes so good."
"I'm not really that hungry," Eleanor tells her feeling as if she is about to throw up. "Thankyou but I think I will pass."
"Too bad," Magilou sighs shaking her head before eating that frogs eyes. "You don't know what you are missing out on." Magilou happily takes the bowl and starts to eat the froggy stew. "You really needed a meal like this if you want to stand a chance against Velvet, that reminds me your fight is in an hour isn't it?" Eleanor nods afraid if she opens her mouth she will throw up. "You better get ready because Velvet promised not to hold back, it will be entertaining for me to watch but I can't say I feel sorry for you since you did bring this on yourself."
An hour later the Van Eltia has come to a halt, and the crew all gather on the top deck to watch the rematch between Velvet and Eleanor. They form a circle and crowd the deck as Eleanor and Velvet ready themselves for the fight. Eleanor is surprised to see how excited everyone is to watch a fight, the crew cheers and shouts as weeks as place bets. This isn't the first time Eleanor has fought Velvet, but this time it feels different, the air is filled with tension as Velvet's blade appears from her gauntlet. Eleanor can see Velvet will be true to her word about not holding back, the killer intent she sees in the pirate captain's eyes confirms it as well as sends chills down the princess's spine.
"Are you ready?" Velvet asks with a smug smile on her face already confident that she will. "I won't be holding back so if you want to give up, I won't feel any less of you."
"I'm not backing down," Eleanor reples pointing her spear at her opponent. "And I don't intend to lose to you a second time."
"As you wish," Velvet says, and Eleanor may be mistaken, but she believes she sees a hint of Velvet being impressed by her response in her eyes. "Here I come."
Velvet charges Eleanor with speed that Eleanor wasn't expecting, but Eleanor has improved a lot since the last time they fought and thanks to Rokurou her reactions have significantly improved. Eleanor blocks the attack with a clang as steel meets steel, Velvet's blade is deflected bouncing off of Eleanor's spear creating an open that Eleanor doesn't miss. Quickly and catching Velvet off guard Eleanor strike by slamming her knee into Velvet's stomach landing a clean hit. Velvet staggers backwards, and the crew of the ship is silent surprised by what has just happened, a few seconds later they are cheering and shouting Eleanor's name. Velvet gets back into a fighting stance and smiles clearly impressed.
"That was good, but it will take more than that to win," Velvet says.
"I would certainly be surprised if something like that would stop you," Eleanor tells her. "Now it's my turn to come at you."
Eleanor now attacks thrusting her spear, but Velvet dodges with ease and quickly counter by swiping the princess's legs. Eleanor hits the deck but is quickly back on her feet and just in time for Velvet's next attack. Eleanor isn't even standing for more than a second before Velvet's next move getting in close and slashing with her blade. If this were their first fight, then Eleanor would have been sliced in two, but with all the hard work Eleanor is able to get her spear up to block the strike with another clang of metal on metal. This time Velvet guards herself against any chance of another knee from Eleanor and launches a similar attack of her own. Before Eleanor knew what hit her with the last attack Velvet's hand grabs Eleanor's arm, and she throws the princess right off the side of the ship, seconds later a splash is heard on deck, and a column of water is seen soaking the deck and several crew members. Everyone moves to looks over the side expecting to see Eleanor floating on the surface but instead find and empty sea, seconds pass, but Eleanor doesn't surface.
"I don't think she is coming up," Magilou says as more seconds pass without a sight of Eleanor.
"Is Eleanor ok?" Laphicet asks worriedly for the princess.
"Eleanor's a tough girl," Rokurou comments. "I'm sure she's fine and is just trying to scare Velvet to get back at her for throwing her overboard."
"Can she swim?" Eizen asks. "I never asked her if she could."
In the water Eleanor sinks lower and lower unable to surface, her arms flap uselessly at her sides, and her feet kick out in an attempt to surface, but all that happens is her body sinking lower and lower into the depth of the sea. Eleanor's lungs burn for air her eyes start to struggle against the blackness that is starting to form on the edges of her vision. When she tries to scream for help all that leaves her mouth is bubbles. Eleanor feels so helpless and hopeless, everything she tries fails and as time passes, and no help arrives she stops struggling all together. Eleanor just starts to focus on the beautiful way the sun looks as it hit the water hoping to drift away admiring the sight. As she stares Eleanor sees something above her, she can't make it out, but it is swimming down towards her. Eleanor hopes it's not a shark before she passes out so there is at least a chance her body will wash ashore, and she can receive a proper burial.
When Eleanor opens her eyes, she quickly realizes two things. The first is that she can breathe, her lungs no longer burn, and every breath she takes doesn't fill her body with water. The second is that she is laying in a bed instead of under the sea. At first, Eleanor wonders if she actually has died, the last thing she remembers is sinking, and then Eleanor recalls that black dot slowing diving towards her, she never did see what it was before fading into blackness. The moment Eleanor tries to sit up is the moment she knows she is alive, Eleanor doesn't believe a dead person will feel their body ache the way she does. The former princesses whole body aches, Eleanor can't recall the last time her body was as weak as it right now because just moving a single limb is a hard and painful experience.
Given up on sitting up Eleanor decides only to turn her head to try and figure out where she is. There is something very familiar about the room, Eleanor knows she has been here before. When the former princesses eyes fall upon a now familiar sight in her life, she quickly learns where she is. The long black hair and eyes that scare her tells Eleanor exactly where she is as the memory of the first time she awoke on the Van Eltia comes to her. For a split second Eleanor could have sworn she saw relief flood the pirate captains eyes only to be quickly pushed aside by her usual cold stare as Velvet notices Eleanor is awake.
"I see you are awake," Velvet says as she stands up from a small wooden chair in the corner of the room and walks towards the bed. Each step makes the floorboards creak, but neither girl could care about that slight annoyance at the moment. "How do you feel?"
"Rough," Eleanor answers relaxing into the softness of the pirate's captains bed. "But that's to be expected when some brute throws you overboard."
"Sorry about that," Velvet quietly tells her and Eleanor gets the impression that the pirate before her apologizing is as rare as a target of that said pirate living, but before Eleanor could think about that Velvet brings up a new subject. "So you really can't swim."
"No," Eleanor looks down, she knew this conversation would be taking place soon after all that happened. "Every time my family left the palace a massive crowd would gather around us, the Royal Guard never let me swim because they were worried about my safety."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Velvet asks with anger in her voice making Eleanor flinch. "You almost died today."
"I never thought about it," Eleanor asks wonder why she never brought it up herself. "I know it's stupid since we are on a ship but it never crossed my mind, everything has been happening so fast recently that I never had a chance to think about something like that."
Velvet exhales as she stares at Eleanor, she doesn't know why she let her sail on the Van Eltia when she knew nothing about the princess. Velvet begins to wonder if that unknown dominant force that guided her into sparing Eleanor's life was Eizen's reapers curse at work. Ever since her brother pasted has the pirate captain met someone who worried and frustrated her as much as Eleanor does. Laphicet had the same effect on her, but she was obligated to stay with him by their bond of blood and love, the young slave Velvet saved and name after her brother indeed worries her but rarely frustrates her. Only Eleanor, only the former princess has this effect on her. If it were anyone else, then Velvet would have let them drown, but something is different with Eleanor, for some reason Velvet is compelled to protect Eleanor.
"You will need to learn how to if you want to fight," Velvet tells her. "If this were a real battle you would have died, I would have been too busy to have seen you fall; I definitely wouldn't have been able to save you."
"You saved me," Eleanor looks to Velvet and thinks, her mind quickly pieces together everything she saw when she was drowning. That black figure, that last thing she noticed before she passed out looked like it had long flowing hair, hair just like Velvet has. "I think I saw you, right before I passed out I saw someone diving towards me. Thank you."
"It was nothing," Velvet replies. "It was my fault anyway so you shouldn't thank the person who almost killed you." Velvet pauses for a moment as she thinks of what she is about to say before continuing. "I could teach you how to swim, I'm pretty good, and I am sure I could teach you the basics."
"I would be grateful if you did," Eleanor says with a smile.
Less than a second later the door bursts open smashing into the wall with such a bang it nearly makes Eleanor jump off the bed. Velvet meanwhile just merely turns and stares knowing all too well that there is only one person on her ship that would make an entrance like that. The pirate's eyes narrow giving a stare that would cause the bravest of men to die of fright, but her target doesn't flinch or fall dead much to Velvets disappointment. Magilou has seen and experienced fear and pain far worse than what Velvet could inflict on her, so she just walks into the room like she usually would without a care in the world.
"Come on Velvet," Magilou says as she takes a seat where Velvet once sat. "If you want to spend more time with her then all you have to do was ask the girl." Velvet's stare intensifies as Eleanor looks between the two of them. "Who would have thought that one kiss would have made you this clingy."
"A ki… kiss," Eleanor's face reddens as she touches her lips, no one has kissed her before, and now she can't remember her first.
"It was not a kiss!" Velvet snaps back as the rosy color in her cheeks become hard to miss. "It was CPR! Nothing more than that." Eleanor remembers her CPR lesson; she remembers placing her lips on her dummy only seconds later to replace that image with one of her and Velvet kissing causing a warmth to spread through her body and her heart to skip a beat. "I did that in order to save her; only you would see more than that."
"If you say so," Magilou teases as she makes herself more comfortable by putting her feet up on the bed.
"How many times do I have to tell you to not put your feet up with your shoes on," Velvet complains, and Magilou smiles as she pretends to think.
"Don't know," Magilou answers shrugging her shoulders. "You have told me so many times I stopped counting; I bet it in the hundreds though."
"It's bad enough when you do it on the tables and my desk, but now I will have to wash my blanket," Velvet lectures pushing Magilou's legs off of her bed.
"Fine," Magilou sighs taking off her shoes before returning her feet to the bed. "Happy?" Velvet doesn't answer she just shakes her head, so Magilou turns her attention towards Eleanor. "So tell me was that your first kiss, can the bloody pirate Velvet who has stolen everything from gold to a potato calm to have taken chastely of this fair maidens lips?"
"It wasn't a kiss!" Both Velvet and Eleanor yell.
The Next Day
It takes a full day for Eleanor to recover, she is grateful that Velvet switched rooms with her because even now her body screams in pain as she walks through one of the many halls of the ship. Everyone on board seems to be being extra nice to her, but as she gets stopped by more and more people, Eleanor can't help but start to find it annoying as she is continuingly asked how she is doing. When the former princess finally arrives at her destination, she can't help but feel relieved. The only person she spots is Vic, the pirate she tends to spend most of her time with after Velvet and Laphicet. Eleanor has come to find comfort in his presence because he treats her like an average person and not as some sacred object like most of the other pirates. Eleanor lets out a sigh of relief seeing only Vic is here, she is glad it is just him.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Eleanor asks stepping into the room. The day may only just be beginning, but Eleanor can see Vic already has his hands full, the kitchen is full of ingredients that need to be prepared for today's meals.
"As long as you are feeling up to it can you start by peeling those potatoes?" Vic replies only looking up from what he is doing for a split second.
"Yes sir," Eleanor says with a smile. This is what Eleanor likes most about Vic, he doesn't give her any special treatment because of her birth and always treats her as a fellow human being.
"When you are done with those can you start on the carrots," Vic adds again not looking up. "Let me know if I a, working you too hard."
"It's fine I need this," Eleanor replies as she gets started. "It's good to get out of bed and doing something."
Meanwhile, Laphicet does what he always does; he walks around the ship making himself useful to the crew. So far he has carried a laundry basket from the deck to a storage room, used a compass to check the ships barring and found where Magilou was hiding so Velvet could speak to her about something. Laphicet doesn't know what about; he could only guess it was something Magilou has done because Velvet looks angry while the witch seems overjoyed by the situation. Velvet didn't give him the chance to find out as she quickly ushed him out of the room. Knowing trying to sneak back into the room to see what is happening won't end well Laphicet wounders the ship looking for any way he can be of help.
On deck Rokurou and Eizen watch the day pass by, taking it easy Rokurou lays on the wood of the floor staring up at the cloud filled sky. Eizen Meanwhile keeps both his hands on the helm, and his eyes fixed on the sea in front of the ship. Both men at relaxed and enjoying the peace after the Van Eltia's last battle. That Battle took its toll not just on the boat but the crew too. Looking around Both Eizen and Rokurou can see the damage, warped wood, torn sails and bandaged pirates. Eizen shakes his head and tries not to think about those who were lost, Rokurou meanwhile just lays there, he has always been better at taking loses then Eizen.
"How many did we lose?" Rokurou asks.
"Three dead," Eizen tells him looking down. "Three good men, Blake, Bennie, and Manuel."
"It doesn't get easier," Rokurou sighs. "I've lost track of the amount of people I have had to bury over the yeara. Blake and Manuel were good fighters; Blake could even give me a challenge, and I always enjoyed sparing with him. Bennie had good eyes; he could spot enemy ships a mile away."
"They were good men," Eizen replies shaking his head. "They will be missed and hard to replace."
Ten Days Later
It takes ten more days for the Van Eltia to reach the nearest port, it would have usually taken them six days, but several cannon balls have torn gaping holes in the sails during that last battle slowing their speed to a limp. After the recent events, Velvet decided to head south and abandoned her plans to steal Flamestone until the next shipment, the Van Eltia needs repairs, and the crew needs to rest, after all, the island she has set course for is also the perfect place for Eleanor's swimming lessons.
The island Velvet has directed the ship to sail to seems out of place, where other locations in the area are cold this island is surprisingly warm. The island of Grurs is considered a paradise in this frozen landscape. Grurs isn't a massive island but thanks to a volcano at its center it is a warm one. People from all over this region flock to these islands for fun and relaxation, but despite the bliss, these isle offers Velvet was hesitant at first to set sail to them. The island of Grurs is the center of the of the illegal slave trade in the kingdom, and the place Velvet freed Laphicet from, she worries about how he would react when he returns to this place and how Eleanor will feel seeing how many laws people ignore this far away from the capital.
When the island comes into sight, the first thing people notice is the tall volcano towering above everything else with a thick column of white smoke pouring from its peak. At first, that mist scared people, it drove away all, but the brave and those courageous souls who ventured ashore were rewarded by the warm waters and abundant fish that the island had to offer. It wasn't long before someone built a hotel there, the Northern Spire Resort which has become the most visited and shadiest hotel in the whole kingdom. The Spire Company who owns the resort has always been on the wrong side of the law. They use slave labor, fiddle with their books, so they pay less tax and help crime lords lay low whenever the law is getting too close to them. Velvet is thankful that the docks where she'll have Van Eltia repaired are some distance from the resort, the last thing she needs is more trouble after she kidnapped the princess.
Northern Spire Resort Penthouse
The sun had barely risen, the day only just starting but one senior man has been awake for a long time struggling with his latest problem. His long boney fingers tap his wrinkled chin as he thinks, the man's cold grey eyes narrow at the paper in his hands. When he opens his mouth revealing how little teeth he has. The old man mutters with a voice full of stress and fatigue. "What a mess."
"Farther," The door swings open and a young lady walks into the room; her long blond hair glistens in the sunlight and with a few strides of her long legs she reaches her father's desk. "Farther you should leave your office; it's not good for your health if you stay cooped up like this."
"I know dear," It is as if the old man became a different person at the appearance of his daughter. The old worn down eyes that were so cold became filled with warmth, the cracked frowning lips turn upwards int a smile, and even the old man's aurora becomes less scary and more welcoming. "But I need to deal with this problem before I go anywhere."
"Are we still low on goods?" The question comes from the sweet young lips of the daughter, but she would never ask that question if she knew what the word "Goods" really meant in her fathers business. "A ship just arrived, maybe they could trade with us."
"I'll look into it Grace," The old man replies hiding the inspiration his daughter just gave him. "Thank you for telling me, now go, you don't want to spend the day in this stuffy office do you?"
"I'll be having lunch on the balcony if you care to join me later," Grace says as she leaves.
Her father watches her every step and waits a few more seconds after she has left before he makes another move. The old man walks towards a secret door hidden in the bookshelf that lines the wall and into a room he has kept hidden from his daughter. The inside of the chamber is filled with cages which hold four people each, they all have the same dull, broken looks in their eyes and cower as the old man walks past them. He pays them little notice and walks right up to the person in charge of this room, a small thin man with a nasty temper but a brilliant mind.
"Tulon, I have a new job for you." The little man smiles, he always loves his work. "I want you to check out the latest ship to arrive; it may help our stock problem."
"With pleasure," The man replies smiling.
Later That Evening
After a day of arranging repairs and haggling for supplies, everyone has retired for the night in one of the many inns and taverns spread out across the town. Many of the crew had wanted to spend some time at the resort on this island, but Velvet refused to let them, she doesn't want the slavers that frequent the place to know they are here. The inns and taverns on the island are still nice if a little run down due to most of their business has since left them to stay at the resort. The owners are always friendly, and the food is always great, most of the crew feel these places are a second home and always stay here when not at sea.
"I said I am not wearing that!" Eleanor yells red in the face as she looks at the gift Magilou brought her.
Laphicet has been watching these two argue for some time, ever since Magilou reviled the swimsuit she brought Eleanor. Elenors face instantly turned bright red, and she quickly returned the gift. Now she is learning the hard way that Magilou doesn't take no for an answer.
"Come on at least wait till you try it on before you judge it," Magilou requests.
"No," Eleanor firmly tells her. "I will never wear that besides, I bought a swimsuit for myself."
"You must really like being in Velvets debt to take money from her,"
"I don't, and I didn't borrow a single piece of gald from her," Eleanor says. "She gave me the money and told me I couldn't learn to swim without a swimsuit, and that I should use what's left to buy myself whatever clothes I need so I wouldn't have to keep borrowing hers."
It is at this point that Laphicet zoned out their disagreement, they are just going round in circles now and have been ever since their argument first started. The young boy leaves the warmth of the building and the glow of the fireplace for the dark of the night and the chill of the air. He hugs his petite body as the gentle breeze wraps itself around him like a blanket of ice. Laphicet is grateful for the warmth his white and blue clothes provide; many told him he should have got rid of them because they were given to him by his old owner but the young boy has come to like them.
For as long as he could remember Laphicet has lived is life in a cage, he was sold from one person to another as if he was just product and not a living breathing human being. No one even once showed him any kindness. He was always alone, no friend or no family, he didn't even know if he had a family. The only thing Laphicet ever go in return for his work was the clothes he wears that one gift was the single light he saw through the darkness of hi past. For that reason he will never give up his clothes, they always give him hope when things seem down.
"You'll catch a cold if you stay out here too long," Laphicet smiles as he turns round to face the person who gave him freedom and a name. He spots Velvet standing in the doorway with loving smile on her face. "I take it you are getting tired of the fight too."
"Yeah," Laphicet nods, Velvet doesn't miss the hint of sadness in his voice.
"I know it must be hard to be back here Phi, but I promise you, we will leave as soon as the ship has been repaired." Velvet knelt down, so her eyes are level with his as she spoke to him in a kind voice only he and her deceased brother have heard. "So are you ok?"
"I'm fine," Laphicet answers shaking his head. "Being here has brought back some memories, but I'm fine."
"You're the strongest person I know Phi; I don't think I would hold up this well if I were in your position." Velvet tells him as she wraps her arms around him. "If you need to talk then I am here for you."
Far from the coldness but still in the depth of night the Royal Palace looks even more beautiful then it does during the day, knowing that the guards will need light to protect the Royal residence the architects incorporated the positions of torches in their design. The features of the palace are expertly highlighted with light are shadows working together in perfect harmony. Despite the shadows, the palace is still a hard place to sneak into, every approach is light up and where there is darkness a guard with a torch is nearby. Most of the window are unlit as everyone has already gone to bed, but one window remains bright as the candles inside continue to burn.
On the upper floor of the palace is a library as grand as the building itself, books from all over the world fill its shelves, and ancient scrolls fill its vault. One such scripture that has repeatedly been read by own man over the years is spread across one of many oak tables. The paper is old and torn in places; the writing is faded and written in a language lost to all but a few. This one piece of paper, this one leftover relic from a time long ago has been the bases of a scheme set in motion years ago. Reading it over for what he considers to be the last time before he takes his plan to the next stage Lord Melchior careful examins its contents taking in all the knowledge it has to offer.
"For years we have dreamed of this, Claudin you may not be with me, but your work will soon be complete." Melchior quietly whispered to himself as he takes out a tiny bag of green powder. "I will not fail or hesitate; I will do what is necessary and whatever it takes."
Northern Spire Resort Penthouse
It was only twelve hours ago that the order was given, but in all that time Tulon has been hard at work. He has identified every member of the Van Eltia's pirate crew and noted where they were staying and how long till their ship will be repaired. While conducting his reconnaissance, Tulon learned two interesting facts. The first is that the recently deceased princess is alive, that didn't come as a surprise to him though as an anonymous party has placed a large sum of money on her head through the underworld. What did surprise him was the fact that he learned she couldn't swim, that Eleanor was going to learn how while she is here. He laughed hearing that. The second thing Tulon learned was that an unexpected guest has returned to the island, Laphicet, the slave that escaped his master's grasp.
"So Number Two is back," Tulon's master replies hearing his report, he looks out the window as his finger trace a scar that the women who stole his favorite slave gave him. The scar is clear to see when the man takes off his shirt; a long pale line cuts across his chest from his shoulder to the top of his hip. "And the women who stole him too." His face darkens, and his eyes turn cold. "Gather the boys; we have work to do."
Eleanor is starting to reach a point where she hates the water. The water that she floats in is warm and pleasant, but not even that can lighten her mood. Eleanor can feel her muscles ache, and she wants to stop, but her merciless instructor watching her every move from a nearby pier refuses to let her come back to dry land. Velvet meanwhile stares at her student who can barely keep herself afloat with a look that is a mixture of boredom and frustration. For nearly two hours the duo has been working on the basics of swimming, but all they have accomplished is getting Eleanor to the point where she can just barely keep herself afloat. Velvet shakes her head as she can't take any more of this.
"Get out of the water," Velvet grumpily instructs ending the lesson.
Eleanor sighs feeling disappointed in herself as she makes her way back to shore, she has learned the hard way over the last two hours that it is pointless to argue with Velvet. So holding her tongue, Eleanor does as she is told as comes ashore. Once on dry land, she can't meet Velvet's eyes, Eleanor is too disappointed in herself after her recent failure to even raise her head.
"…" Velvet finds herself speechless and staring at her student.
Velvet has to force herself to look away and focus her attention on the sea so her eyes won't go back. She only had a quick glimpse of Eleanor's skin as the water rolled down its surface making it shine and sparkle in the sunlight. The way Eleanor's bare skin look had Velvet under a spell for a few seconds until through sheer willpower the pirate captain was able to force her eyes away. In her mind Velvet silently thanks the Empyrean's that Eleanor refused to wear the swimsuit that Magilou selected for her.
"Was I really that bad?" Eleanor asks hoping she wasn't as bad as she thinks she is and that Velvet saw something that was good.
"You wouldn't be able to survive at sea," Velvet bluntly tells her. "The waters here are calm and gentle. You can barely float here so once we are at sea where the waves are dangerous and large you will drown again, and this time I might not be there to save you."
"But I am getting better," Eleanor counters worried that Velvet would use this as an excuse to keep her safely locked away in the hull of the Van Elta.
"Anyone would improve with practice," Velvet tells her. "You are improving but slowly and there is a good chance we will set sail before you are good enough."
"I will prove you wrong," Eleanor declares.
"Good," Velvet replies as she turns to see the determination in the former princesses' eyes. "I hope you do. I can't afford to waste my time saving you every day."
With that Velvet walks off leaving Eleanor alone to dry herself off. Watching the pirate captain leave Eleanor is even more determined to prove Velvet wrong. Never before has the former princess wanted to prove someone wrong more than right now with Velvet. Eleanor tells herself it is because this way she can escape the depths of the Van Elta and become more useful whenever danger presents itself but some part of her wonders if there isn't some other reason that she wants to impress the merciless pirate. Twenty minutes later Eleanor is preparing to jump back in when a hand stops her. Several strong fingers effortlessly wrap around her bicep preventing the former princess from diving back into the water.
"Don't rush things," Eleanor turns to find Eizen stood behind her. "You have enough time to rest before jumping back in."
"I only have until we set sail again to get good enough," Eleanor replies as Eizen lets go of her arm. "I need to practice as much as I can if I want to get good enough to get Velvet's approval."
"So you think that drowning again will impress Velvet?" Eizen asks as he takes a step closer to the edge and stares into the blue water below him. Just the sight of the liquid below him sends a shiver down the pirate's spine. In his hand, Eizen tightly grips a single gold coin engraved with the reapers head. Despite the uneasiness the water makes Ezen feel he refuses to back down. "If you start to sink then I won't be able to pull you out."
"Surely you can swim," Eleanor says stepping up next to him. "If it wouldn't be any trouble could you watch me from here in case I do sink."
"I can't swim," Ezen sighs shaking his head. "I never learned how to so, if I jump in after you then we will both die."
"Then why does Velvet let you fight and make me take swimming lessons?" Eleanor asks feeling slightly angry at Velvet for treating her different from the ships first mate.
"I joined when Velvet's father was still captain," Eizen tells her. "Van Aifread washed ashore on my home island and said he saw a great potential in me. I still remember the fight we had and the way he dragged me onto a small raft to ride some wild waves. He was a great man, and he could have shown you the time of your life. If it weren't for Aifread, then I wouldn't have been able to go near the water."
"Are you afraid of the sea?" Eleanor asks, but when she sees the pained look on Eizen's face, she wishes she never spoke up. "I'm sorry you don't have to answer if you don't want to."
"Laphicet isn't the only person who has a past with slavers. My home island was raided continuously by slavers, so the sea became a place of fear for my people and to even go near it was considered taboo." Eizen says flipping his coin around between his fingers. "Aifread and helped my people defeat them. After seeing him in action and hearing his stories, I knew I wanted to travel with Aifread so when Velvet arrived to pick up her father I instantly requested to go with them. No one asked me to learn how to swim, and I was teased at first, but after several battles, I proved my worth to the crew."
"I wish I had that chance," Eleanor sighs.
"You will," Eizen assures her. "You already impressed Velvet and everyone else on the ship including me with your combat skills, if Velvet wouldn't have thrown you overboard, then you may have been given a place in the next battle."
"Why does Velvet treat me so differently from everyone else?" Eleanor shakes her head. Her question is not meant for anyone imparticular she just asked a question that has been on her mind ever since she first woke up on the Van Elta.
"I have no idea," Eizen says. "Ever since she kidnapped you, Velvet hasn't been the same. I still can't explain why she didn't kill you. If you want to swim, then I'll get Laphicet. The kid may not look it, but he is a strong swimmer."
In the Royal Palace as the day begins the halls are filled with servants bringing the place to life. Amongst the maids and butlers, there is a young boy in the service of the Royal Famly quickly walks through the halls with a small bag. He pushes and dodges his way through until the young boy reaches his destination. The palaces kitchen isn't as big or grand as the rest of the rooms but is laid out more practical with most things in arms reach so only a small staff can man the stations. It's more for security reasons that the kitchen is like this, ever since a king was murdered by someone poisoning their food the kitchen staff has been kept down to a handful of trusted cooks. The guard stationed at the door was only a recent posting after security was increased following Eleanor's assassination. The guard lets the boy pass with just a quick glance. The boy's job is to run supplies from the storehouse so seeing him running around from room to room isn't an uncommon sight in the palace.
"Good morning," The elderly women who runs the kitchen greets him as the boy enters. "Are you looking for the list?"
"Yes ma'am," The boy nods, people always give him a list of supplies they need him to fetch them from the storehouse.
"I'll go get it," The elderly woman says as she turns and starts looking for that piece of people. "I know I put it somewhere around here."
The boy quickly looks around and sees the other three chiefs have their head down focusing on preparing breakfast. With a glance at the senior woman, the boy sees her back is still to him, so he makes his move. Working quickly and moving silently the boy pours the green powder into Teresa's teapot. The powder instantly dissolves into the water not tinting its color or giving off any odor. There are no signs that there is anything but water in the teapot.
"Ah," The boy is back where he started when he hears the lady exclaim. "Here it is." The old cook turns back to face the boy with a small piece of paper in her hands. "There are only a few things I need you to fetch for me today."
With that, the boy takes his leave. Once again the young kid is running down the hall dodging and pushing his way through the crowd of servants and guards in his path. But instead of going to the storehouse to gather those supplies the boy heads for the library. There the boy finds the man who gave him the powder and his real master. Melchior looks at the boy with no emotion on his face and a hand stroking his beard.
"I put the powder in the pot as you told me to sir," The boy reports.
"Good," Is all Melchior replies with. "Now go about your duties as normal."
"Yes sir," The boy says before he runs out of the door and back to work.
"The pieces are falling into place," Melchior says to himself. "It won't be long now master. Soon everything will be as you desired."
The island of Grurs
Eleanor has once again entered the water only now she is doing much better than before under Laphicet's directions. Unlike Velvet, the young pirate has been patient and good at spotting mistakes that Eleanor is watching. Under Velvet, Eleanor could barely float but with Laphicet Eleanor can swim and is getting better with each passing minute. Right now Eleanor is swimming back and forth trying to improve her speed, both her and Laphicet believe that speed and time will be a factor in whatever test Velvet has up her sleeve.
"Your doing better," Laphicet says handing Eleanor a bottle of water as the former princess pulls herself up out of the water. "I never expected you to be such a fast learner."
"I had to be," Eleanor tells him. "In the palace, I had to learn fast under Lord Melchior. He would never accept any excuss or slack."
"Well, I still think you will pass," Laphicet smiles. "You look like you can be a great swimming with some more practice."
"It won't be enough," Eleanor grumbles. "Velvet will find some way to fail me. Do you happen to know why Velvet doesn't seem to like me?"
"I don't think she hates you, Eleanor," Laphicet tells her. "She refused to kill you and when you nearly drowned I think that was the most scared I have ever seen her. While you were sleeping, she stayed by your side, and I don't think she would have forgiven herself if you died that day."
"Then why won't she stop locking me up or finding an excuse to?"
"Because she doesn't want to lose you," Laphicet answers. "I heard her talking to you when you were sleeping, for some reason she doesn't want to lose you, Eleanor."
The Next Morning
The next morning is the day of the test. Eleanor stands next to Velvet shivering as the cold morning breeze hits her. A small crowd of pirates appears cheering Eleanor on, and even some locals turn up to see what the commotion is. Laphicate is by Eleanor's side as well. It is thanks to his teachings that Eleanor stands her ready to take the test. The former princess can only stand still as she waits for Velvet to tell her what the test will be. Velvet meanwhile is still trying to come up with the test. The Pirate Captain was surprised by the former princess yesterday as she with Laphicate in tow burst into her room saying she is ready to prove Velvet wrong. Now Velvet is trying to come up with a test on the fly having expected Eleanor to have needed more time to prepare.
"See that rock over there?" Eleanor follows Velvets fingers to a rock that sticks out of the water about three hundred meters away. Eleanor nods her head the second her eyes meet the object. "I want you to swim around it then come back here."
"Is that all?" Eleanor asks surprised by how simple the test is.
"Yes if you can do that then you have proven you can stay afloat until someone can rescue if you fall overboard again," Velvet answers. "But if you want a harder test then I could have a boulder tied around your ankle, or I can have you swim with one hand tied behind your back."
"No this is fine," Eleanor says not wanting this test to get any more complicated.
"Then starts as soon as you are ready," Velvet instructs.
Eleanor steps closer to the edge and stares at the water taking deep breaths. Eleanor tells herself she can do this and has swum this distance before, but she still feels nervous as this time she is being tested.
"You can do this Eleanor," Eleanor smiles and nods feeling betting with Laphicate's encouragement.
With one more deep breath, Eleanor jumps in. In an instant, the water warms her body surprising Eleanor by how much of an improvement the water temperature is compared to that of the air. As soon as she hits the water, her body automatically starts to swim propelling Eleanor through the water at a steady pace. Everything is just like when she practiced, the movements of her body, the resistance of the water and the calmness of the sea. Eleanor does her best to time her breathing so she can avoid sucking in the water but some gets into her mouth and nose. The water in her mouth doesn't pose her many problems as she can spit it out but once it enters her nose she Eleanor struggles to remove it.
Eleanor reaches the rock, and when she swims around it, the former princess starts to see why Velvet chose this as her test. Feeling tired and seeing the distance to the shore Eleanor now releases that Velvet is testing her stamina more than her swimming abilities. But the former princess carries on pushing through the tiredness and ignoring the aches starting to form in her limbs Eleanor continues to swim determined to pass the test. Little could have prepared Eleanor for this. Training with Rokurou tested her stamina, but then she could rest without the fear of downing, and now she has no choice but to keep moving.
"You're nearly there Eleanor you can do this!" Eleanor can see Laphicate on the pier cheering and waving at her giving the former princess the motivation she needs to complete this test. When she finally returns to her starting position Laphicate the first one to get her. "You did it, Eleanor."
"Only because you helped me," Eleanor replies bring a smile to the young boys face before she turns to the person her will decide her fate.
"Congratulations you passed," Velvet says as she hands Eleanor a long object wrapped up in brown paper. "Here, you will need this now."
Eleanor unwraps the package and is surprised by what she finds. In her hands, the former princess holds a silver spear with two points at the end. Eleanor finds herself speechless as she admires the craftsmen's work who truly outdone themselves with this piece of art. Eleanor looks back at Velvet not believing she is being given a chance to fight.
"So are you going to let me fight?" Eleanor asks with a whisper in her mind telling her that won't be the case.
"I said if you can swim you can fight," Velvet replies before a serious look takes hold of her face. "But you will need to kill when the time comes, remember it's you or them out there, and they won't hold back against you because of your high birth."
"I…" Eleanor stops not sure she can kill again. She still sees the blood on her hands from her first kill whenever she sleeps, but she doesn't want to give Velvet another reason to lock her away in the hull of the ship again. "I understand."
The Next Day
Early the next morning the streets were empty as the merchants opened their stalls the only people out are those who are taking their morning jog and a small group heading to pick up some supplies for their ship. There are also those who hid in the shadows out this morning. Hidden in the alleyways and behind street corners, those outlaws stalk the group of supply runners waiting for the right time to strike.
Leading the group of bandits is a small man with sharp eyes locked onto his prey, smile on his face and his weapon in hand. This is a man who loves his work. In his sights is a young blond haired boy who laughs as he talks with his fellow sailors oblivious to the danger. The man's name is Tulon, and his job is to catch slaves and break their will. The boy he stalks is called Number Two, and he was a former slave himself. For some reason his master let him have free reign to explore as he pleased whenever he wasn't working, a mistake that Tulon believes made it impossible for the boy not to escape. Tulon is confident he can make it so the boy will never even think of escaping. His smile grows as he imagines what he will do with Number Two when the boy is in hand. Feeling excited at the thought he gives the order to strike.
"Now!" Tulon yells as he rushes the group of sailors.
As Tulon shouts, he charges and is quickly joined by two other men from the same alleyway he was hiding in. From across the street, two more men charge from the opposite alley, and four more men rush out of a nearby building. All of the men are armed with short swords and wear a black leather armor.
Their attack catches the sailors off guard, and they struggle to draw their weapons in time to meet this attack. The first one to bring his weapon bear doesn't have enough time to raise it before he is struck in the chest by a blot sending him crashing to the ground. Apart from number two, there are only two sailors left, and their hands shake as they hold their swords to meet the onslaught of these thugs.
The first bandit to reach them is slashed across the chest by the longsword of a sailor, but his killer is swiftly brought down as two short swords are plunged deep into his body. The sailor falls as soon as those blades are removed with blood spewing from his mouth. The last sailor doesn't live long as when he locks blades with one thug another runs him through. The dagger effortlessly pieces the sailors back tearing into his heart and ending the man's life. Alone and frightened the young boy shakes as he stares wide-eyed at the bandits who are rapidly surrounding him. Chuckling to himself Tulon approaches the boy loving the fear he sees in the kid's eyes.
"Someone what to see you," Tulon tells the terrified boy. "Welcome home Number Two."
What no one noticed is that one of the sailors survied the ambush. Cluching his chest where the bold is deeply buried the sailor crawls his way towards the docks, towards the Van Eltia.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is in chaos as the guards, servants and Royal Famly members struggle to grasp the situation. Teresa a Princess who is guarded around the clock by well trained, well-armed knights has been poisoned. Out of nowhere the young lady collapsed well drinking her morning tea. A maid who was working in the hall heard the sudden crash as the princess collapses and imminently rushed into her room to find Teresa laying face down on the floor with a high fever. She screamed for help, and soon more servants and guards arrived and put Teresa in her bed. It was only by chance that an eagled-eyed guard noticed the poison, all that remained was a few grains of powder but once examined it became clear that those grains of powder were some kind of poison.
Upon hearing the news, Oscar immediately abandoned his lecture with Lord Melchior and rushed to his sister's side. If he was thinking straight and his mind not clouded with worry for his sibling, then he would have noticed the way Lord Melchior didn't seem to mind him leaving as if he was expecting his lecture to come to an end so suddenly. Instead of being angry or calling out for the prince to return to his lesson the senior man just silently follows the prince as guards and servants part making a clear route of the prince to take.
"Teresa," Oscar says as he burst into his sister's room to see her laying in her bed sweating buckets with red marks starting to appear all over her body.
"Lord Melchior," The Royal Physician quickly walks up to the Lord as he too enters the room. "I am in need of your assistance." The Physician shows Melchior the grains of powder. "Do you know what type of poison this is?"
"Yes," Melchior replies nodding his head while he takes a mental note to punish the boy from the storehouse for leaving those grains as evidence. "It is a poison made from a rare flower found only in the south. The only known cure is written in a book that has been locked away for decades in the Royal Vault."
"If I open the Vault would you be able to find that book?" Both men turn to face Oscar as he walks to join the two of them. "And make the medicine that can cure her."
"Yes I can," Melchior answers seeing the plan his master set out to accomplish so many years ago is coming closer to completion.
"Then I will take you there," Oscar declares. "Have a ship ready to sail first thing tomorrow morning."
On the Van Eltia
Velvet was watching a sparring match between two of her pirates on the deck of the Van Eltia with Eleanor and Eizen at her side. Rokurou meanwhile stands close to the fighters refereeing the fight and accessing their combat skill and technique. The rest of the crew who are not enjoying their last hours on shore have gathered on the deck to watch the fight. As soon as Velvet heard the Van Eltia was seaworthy again she orders the crew to set sail as soon as their supplies have been brought aboard. With the way things are going, it should be around noon that the Van Eltia will leave port.
"Is fighting all you pirates do for entertainment?" Eleanor asks, after watching several fights and taking part in two of her own the former princess struggles to remember the pirates doing anything that wasn't violent to keep themselves entertained.
"No there's also drinking, gambling and some of the crew even enjoy swing from mask to mask," Eizen answers. "There are also a few who likes to read and Magilou likes to…"
"Captain!" Eizen and the fight are stopped as a fellow scourge of the sea comes aboard with an arrow stuck into his chest. "They took him! They ambushed us at the market and took Laphicet!"
"Who has him?" Velvet urgently asks rush to the wounded sailor's side just in time to catch him as he falls. "Who took him?" Again Velvet asks, but she soon realizes the man she is holding is dead in her arms. "Damn it. I want everyone to spread out and search the city!"
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The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is in mourning as early this morning the king passed away. The heir and kings only son kneels by his father's lifeless body holding one of his cold hands in both of his. The only two other people in the room are the strongest knight in the kingdom Shigure and Oscar's teacher Lord Melchior. Both of those men stay at the back of the room giving Oscar the space he needs. After shedding some tears and collecting his thoughts, Oscar stands and faces the two men with eyes filled with determination.
"Lord Melchior, the ship will be ready to leave in four hours will you be ready to go by then?" Oscar asks wanting to leave as soon as possible.
"Yes, that will give me enough time to prepare," Lord Melchior replies stroking his beard. "But are you sure you want to leave now. Everyone will understand if you wish to delay our departure and mourn your farther."
"I'm sure," Oscar answers. "I have lost Eleanor and a farther, I don't want to lose anyone else." The young prince then turns to Shigure. "Shigure can I ask you to watch over Teresa while I am away."
"Your sister is in safe hands," Shigure assures him. "Unlikely as it is I will keep your sister safe if an intruder gets past the legions of guards."
The Island of Grurs
Pirates spread out throughout Grurs looking for Laphicet armed to the teeth. It would be a lie to say that these pirates weren't also out looking for blood to avenge their fallen comrades. Locals watch the crew of the Van Eltia from creaks indoors, and they peek around corners not wanting to be caught up in this mess. Generations of living with crime lords and their underlings have taught the people of this island paradise that its best not to stick their noses where they don't belong.
Only a few locals who are either brave, stupid or unaware of this cities dangers remain on the streets with the pirates. Most of those people are the merchants of this city trying to sell their wares to the pirates, but a small number of citizens are out too buying whatever supplies they need. One of those citizens who walks the city streets blissfully unaware of the unsavory sailors around her is long legged blond haired girl filling an expensive looking basket with fresh fruit.
"Is that all you need today miss?" The store owner asks nervously watching the pirates scour every inch of the market.
"Yes thank you," The young blond girl replies with a sweet smile as she starts to take out her money, but the man's eyes soon fill with fear.
"No charge miss I must be going," The man quickly tells her before making a rapid exit.
"Sir!" The blond calls after the man but he is already long gone leaving the young lady confused and mentally debating if she should walk off with the fruit or put it back.
"I'll ask her," A new voice appears, and the girl turns around coming face to face with two new faces in her chest, the blond girl's heart skips a beat as she suddenly discovers why the merchant ran away. "We can't have you scaring her off like that merchant."
"Do what you want," Velvet says taking a step back. "But if you fail I know a few ways to make her talk."
"That won't be necessary," Eleanor assures her before turning her attention to the blond girl. "I'm sorry to bother you but could you answer a few questions for me, you see one of our friends is missing, and we were wondering if you have seen them."
The blond girl takes a deep breath and calms down a little. The dark haired girls still scares her with a piercing look and murders air about her, but the scary woman's friend looks and sounds so much friendlier that the fear almost goes away completely. Almost.
"If you can tell me what he looks like then I will let you know if I have seen him," The blond girl replies doing her best to smile but it is a forced smile due to the fear Velvet has put in her.
"He's a young kid with short blond hair and a bell around his neck," Velvet answers before Eleanor can even open her mouth. "His name is Laphicet but he also goes by Phi so have you seen anyone like that today?"
"I'm sorry I can't say I have," The blond answers shaking her head. "But my father might be able to help he has people all over the city so I'm sure with his help you could find your friend quickly."
"Will he be willing to help us?" Eleanor questions but Velvet pulls on her should.
"The people here are scum, and that's coming from a pirate," Velvet keeps her voice low so the girl can't overhear her. "We shouldn't be talking to any unless we have to."
"I think this is a time when we have to," Eleanor replies in a whisper before once again she turns her attention to the stranger before her. "So will he be willing to help us?"
"Yes he's a good man," The girl tells them.
"Then would you be able to take us to him?" Eleanor requested causing Velvet to shake her head.
"Sure follow me," The blond replies with a real smile now. "I'm Grace by the way, so who are you two?"
"I'm…" Once again Velvet doesn't let Eleanor answer the question.
"We are Jane and Army," Velvet tells her. It takes Eleanor a minute to remember that she is a kidnapped princess who has a price on her head by her own sister so using a fake name probably is a smart thing to do. "I'm Jane."
"And I'm Amy," Eleanor quickly gets in line feeling slightly scared at how easy it was to tell that lie just now.
Eleanor was always brought up to be an honest person, so she never had many times in her life when she had to lie. Now here she is speaking lies in the form of a false name, and she doesn't feel guilty or ashamed of her actions. Part of her wishes Grace would see through her deception so she would feel something but the blond just smiles.
"It's nice to meet you," Grace says. "Please follow me and I will take you to my father."
Meanwhile, as Velvet and Eleanor search the streets with one group of pirates, Eizen and Rokurou lead more members of the crew along the beach and coastal areas of the city hoping to spot their missing friend. So far all they found is sand, rocks and a few embarrassed young couples under the piers. Frustrated and about to give up Eizen turns to his shipmate.
"Found anything yet?" He asks hoping for better news then he has to give.
"Nothing," Rokurou replies before asking that dreaded question. "What about you?"
Eizen hangs his head in shame at his failures. Taking his coin in his hand Eizen tightly grips the object feeling the cold metal and reaper head cut into the flesh of his hand. This coin is proof of his bad luck and one of the few things in Eizen's life he hasn't lost. In a lust for adventure, he left his home and sister behind, in a fierce battle Van Aifread his former friend and captain was taken from him and know a kid that looks up to him, and he has taken under is wing has been taken from him. Quietly cursing Eizen loosens his grip on the coin before putting it back in his pocket. He looks back up to his friend and is about to speak when another pirate comes up to him.
"First mate," Eizen turned to find another friend and trusted crew member who always seems to have a bird nesting in his hair.
"Have you found him Benwick?" Eizen asks with hope raising within him once again.
"Sorry but I haven't, but I may have a lead," Benwick tells him. "I spotted a group of slaves and slavers enter a nearby cave. If these people took Laphicet, then he may be in that cave."
"Good work I'll go check it out in the meanwhile I want you to gather our crew searching this beach in case we have to storm the place," Eizen orders turning to face Rokurou. "Are you coming with me?"
"When have I ever backed down from a fight?" Rokurou responds with a chuckle. "Let's go get Laphicet back."
Unknown to everyone in the city something else walks the streets and has other motives and goals for its actions. Sticking to the shadows and remaining undetected it stalks its target all the way to a hotel. A big sign above the main entrance reads "Northern Spire Resort." And the place looks like a fortress with armed guards at the door but the targets get inside without any problem. The shadow walker smiles, it wouldn't have as much fun as it would in a few minutes if they were stopped at the door.
"Pervidere," Soft words muttered by the thing in shadows go unheard by anyone nearby, but the effect they have is nearly instantaneous.
All of a sudden the shadow walker can see through the walls of the hotel and continue to track its target. The creature of the shadows watches them walk through the buildings with the guards letting them go unchallenged and up the stairs until they reach the top floor.
"Oh, poor little Eleanor and unlucky Velvet you have no idea you have just walked into a vipers nest do you?" Magilou says to herself as she steps out of the shadows. "It's a good thing I followed you." A smile grows on the witches face as she sees Velvet about to enter the room of a soon to be a dead man. "I hope you save some for me. Volant." With the magic word spoken Magilou begins to float getting higher and higher until she reaches the roof. "I hope I can have a better landing this time."
Northern Spire Resort Penthouse
Velvet freezes the moment she steps into the room. It isn't the darkness in the room or the chill in the air that stops her, but the man sat in the chair before her that stops Velvet's movements. She doesn't have to see him to know who she is in the presence of.
"What can I…" An old man spins round in his chair, and his eyes widen while his heartbeat triples its speed when his grey eyes fall open the pirate captain. "I never thought I would see you again."
"I never thought you would still be breathing," Velvet replies drawing her sword. "I'll be more than happy to kill you again."
"And I will be more than happy to repay you for this scar," The old man says touching a finger to his chest where a pale line marks his flesh while his other hand pulls a small rope under his desk that makes a bell ring. A smirk appears on his face as his guards burst into the room. "Seize them I want to repay an old debt before they die."
"Father whats happening?" Confused and scared Grace slowly takes a step forward her eyes locked on the short sword her farther quickly draws.
Throughout the room guards wearing leather armor grip their weapons ready to fight, and Velvet takes up a combat stance Eleanor too takes up position to fight, but as her hand reaches behind her back Eleanor can feel her heart sink. Instead of her spear, Eleanor's hand finds only the thin cold air of the sighs shaking her head as she remembers putting her in her room before going on deck to the sparring match.
"Grace I need you to leave now," The old man replies nodding to one of his men to take her away, Grace meanwhile ignores her father taking another step towards him.
"Why won't you tell me…" The guard takes hold of Grace's arm and starts to pull her out of the room. "Let go of me! Father tell me what's going on!"
He father never answer her as Grace is taken out of the room. The door is slammed shut and Grace can still be heard screaming for answers as she is taken further and further away. In the room, things are about to get started as the guards take a step closer to the girls. The man looks confident as he points towards them.
"This is your one chance to surrender," He tells them.
A hidden cave
Rokurou and Eizen creep through the cave keeping low and to the shadows, so they aren't spotted. Moving slowly and carefully trying not to make any noise they get closer to where they hope their little friend is being held. Voices can be heard up ahead as while as the flickering of a flame in the distance can be seen, so neither Rokurou or Eizen doesn't want to be detected. Both men would hate for the people up ahead to run away after they have come so close to finding them.
When they reach the end of the tunnel, both men see why these people are hiding in this cave. At the end of the tunnel is a wide-open cavern with several cages containing people lining the walls and surrounding the center of the cave. In the middle of the room are a group of ten men all drinking and laughing as they throw scraps of food into the cages around them. Twelve more guards stand around the room ever checking the pens are secure or talking in other small groups. Eizen motions for Rokurou to follow him as he quietly moves back down the tunnel.
"Can you keep those guards busy while I deal open those cages?" Eizen asks in a whispered voice.
"About time I have some fun," Rokurou replies with a grin. "I am not really the sneaking type."
"Good," Eizen says knowing that there is rarely a fight in which Rokurou can't win. "Keep their attention on you so I can work."
"Do you think it was him too?" Rokurou asks drawing both his daggers.
"Yeah," Eizen answers. "I could only see his hair antenna, but I know it's him."
"Go get him then while I have some fun," Rokurou tells his friend before charging off into the opening.
The first man to die doesn't know what hit him, none of the men do as Rokurou buries both of his daggers into the mans back. Shattered glass, the dying man gasping, and the sound of chairs being scrapped along the floor as their occupants stand up is all you can hear as Rokurou makes his first move. As Rokurou pulls his blades free and the now dead man's body hits the floor, his friends finally draw their weapons. One of the men Charges Rokurou, but with ease, he is killed too. The man charged Rokurou with a hatchet, but Rokurou deflects the blow with one of his daggers and the plunges the other blade into his assailant's chest piercing his heart. A blot from a crossbow whistles through the air but with a swing of his blade Rokurou knocks the blot away.
"He's some kind of demon," A scary man says as he and the rest of the guards here brace themselves for a tough fight.
"I've been called a demon before, but my name is Rokurou Rangetsu," Rokurou replies taking up his own defensive stance. "Now show me what you've got."
"Show off," Eizen mutters as he runs towards the nearest cage.
Inside the cage, Eizen finds seven people, men, women and also a child locked inside. Memories of his past hit his mind, Eizen shakes his head banishing the thoughts of his people locked in similar cages back on his home island. Eizen has seen those sights too many time and too many times did those people he saw caged vanish without a trace. It takes someone bumping into the back of him to reality. Eizen turns to see a young kid who looks barely sixteen wide-eyed and scared out of his mind, behind him Eizen can see Rokurou takedown one of his comrades. When Eizen notices the kid is about to shout for help, he doesn't hesitate to strike. With one punch to the side of the head, Eizen knocks the kid out thankfully without drawing the attention of the guard to himself or those helpless souls trapped in the cages.
"Who are you?" A voice asks, Eizen turns to see it came from the kid locked in the cage.
"My names not important just know that I am a friend and here to help you," Eizen tells him as he takes out his tools and starts picking the lock.
Northern Spire Resort Penthouse
"Did you forget your weapon?" Velvet asks as she notices Eleanor standing still without a weapon in her hand.
"I just didn't think about bringing it," Eleanor replies not looking at Velvet but at the guards as they close in all around them.
"Then pick one up there are about to be plenty on the floor in a minute," Velvet tells her focusing her attention back on her opponents. "You won't last long with unarmed in this situation."
"So you won't give up," The old man's smile grows bigger as he sees Velvet ready and willing to fight. "I want them…" The door swings open interrupting the man and an out of breath sweaty guard runs up to his boss. "What is it? I'm removing a problem right now, so it better be important."
"The cave… is under attack…" The man pants. "A man with two knives… is tearing the guards apart and… another man is freeing the slaves…"
"Send reinforcements right away,"The old man quickly orders and despite being out of breath, the tired guard moves to obey. "Kill them we need to get to the caves I no longer have time to deal with them."
"Do you have time to deal with me?" Both Velvet and Eleanor recognize the voice and Eleanor may be surprised to see its owner, but Velvet isn't she has been around that witch too long and seen her appear out of thin air more times then she can count.
"Who said that?" The old man demands only to be unprepared for the response.
"I did," Magilou appears behind the old man twirling as she comes out from behind him making the man jump at her sudden appearance. "And I come bearing gifts."
Eleanor nearly drops her spear as Magilou throws it at her.
"Who are you?" The old man asks pointing his sword at the mischievous witch.
"I am a simple girl looking for love, adventure and a good time which is why…" An evil look dominates Magilou's face as she pulls a card out of her sleave. "I can't let anyone go running off and ruining my fun." Magilou throws the card, and it slices into the exhausted guard's skull, he drops like a stone and is dead before his body hits the ground. "Now then the boys seem to be doing well, but I think us girls can do better."
"I'm surprised you want to fight," Velvet says as she and Magilou stand next to each other ready to fight. "I thought you would be watching from a safe distance like you normally do."
"A girls got to let her hair down and blow off some steam from time to time," Magilou replies taking out more cards, so she's holding three in each hand.
"Eleanor, Magilou and I will handle these guys I want you to cover the door just in case more of these guys show up," Velvet orders.
"Right," Eleanor responds with a nod and a smile happy to be of use instead of hiding away in the hull of a ship.
"Kill them!" The old man commands and obediently all his men rush the girls.
Two men rush Velvet both armed with a short sword. The first man slashes his sword bring his blade down from above his head towards Velvet how simple sidesteps out of the way causing the sword to hit the ground with a loud clang. The second man attacks know with a thrust and this time Velvet parries the blow before landing a punch on her assailants check knocking him back but not out of the fight. The first man strikes again but this time with the second man. Velvet doesn't seem fazed and acts fasts blocking one attack with her blade and preventing another by kicking her opponent in the stomach. Then moving just as fast she strikes down the man she kicked. One clean and quick cut severing his head from his body. With a blood-soaked blade, she faces her other opponent.
Magilou Meanwhile is using her cards to fight with a smile never leaving her lip. Three guards attack her at once, but all three are repelled as Magilou's cards grow ten times their standard sizes in front of her opponents blocking their blows. Another card in her hands extends till it's a meter long and Magilou's blocking cards sink back into the ground she brings it down onto the man stood in the middle of her three. Magilou's victim is paralyzed with fear unable to do anything but watch with wide eyes as the now long card slices into his shoulder cutting him cleanly into two pieces. As he falls and splits apart the man's mouth is open, but no sounds come out, and his now lifeless eyes stare into his kills oddly cheerful face.
"So," Magilou asks enjoying the fear she sees on the other two guards faces. "Who's next?"
A hidden cave
More and more people run down the small tunnel entrance to the cave unchallenged as Eizen frees them and Rokurou holds off the guards. Benwick and several other pirates have arrived and ever aid in opening the cage or fight beside Rokurou. Several of the caged people also join the fight taking out their anger and frustration on those who imprisoned them. Mainly because of Rokurou's swordsmanship and the fear he instilled into the guards the pirates and freed slaves have the upper hand. As more blood is spilled and the guards try to flea only to find their only escape route blocked by pirates and slaves Eizen reaches the last cage. This one is further back and filled with child. The lock is more robust than the rest, but Eizen doesn't have any trouble picking it.
"Eizen?" A small voice that Eizen was praying to hear asks.
"Laphicet," Eizen says as a small boy hugs him.
"Thank you," Laphicet replies letting the man who has become a role model to him go.
"Don't worry about it and let's get out of here," Eizen tells the kid before he turns and faces Rokurou. "Rokurou! We're done here! Everyone start heading for the ship!"
Northern Spire Resort Penthouse
The fight in the penthouse is nearly over and as the old man attempts to flee Velvet and Magilou face off against the last two guards. For her part, Eleanor has had little to do. So far all the former princess has had to do is watch the door, the guards in the room had their hands full, so they never made a move towards her, and no reinforcements tried to enter the room. But all that changes when the old man tries to escape. He heads straight for her, and neither Velvet or Magilou can help her. Taking a deep breath, Eleanor readies herself and points the tip of her spear towards the old man baring his only exit.
"Step aside, and I'll let you live," The old man threatens as he stops in front of Eleanor and holds his own sword out towards her. Eleanor's reply is quick and clear as she shakes her head. "Fine, then I'll step over your corpse."
The old man thrust his sword forward but compared to the times she fought Velvet she doesn't struggle with defending herself. If it was Velvet, she was facing Eleanor would be doubtful if this would work because of the speed of the pirate captains strike but here she is confident it will succeed. Eleanor catches the old mans blade between the two points of her spear and twists forcing the man to give up his weapon. Eleanor's body moves by itself, Rokurou taught her this move, and she practiced the steps with him so many times that it feels natural to move the way she is right now. Before the old man knows what hit him, Eleanor uses the staff of her spear to strike the side of his head. The blow causes the desired effect as the man stumbles back far enough for Eleanor's next and final move. With a single thrust of her spear both the tips piece the old man's chest.
Eleanor is both surprised and worried about the way she feels no remorse as the old man falls and blood appears from his wound. Eleanor tries to tell herself that it is just because she witnessed Velvet and Magilou kill several people today that she feels nothing but deep down she is worried that she is getting use to the feeling of ending someone's life.
"Good job," Eleanor feels a hand on her shoulder and turns to see Velvet stood next to her. "I see all your training with Rokurou is paying off."
The compliment makes Eleanor feel strangely warm inside and proud of what she just did, but what she just accomplished is something she doesn't want to feel so pleased about.
"I don't think I want to be praised for this," Eleanor says looking at the old man's body for a second then back to Velvet. "But, thank you."
"We should head back to the ship now," Velvet says walking towards the door. "Phi isn't here, so hopefully someone else has had better luck."
One Hour Later
The penthouse is covered in blood and filled with death as Grace walks through the carnage towards her father's body. Soldiers from the Royal Army are already removing the bodies and investigating the scene, kneeling by the lifeless form of her father Grace sees the Captain leading the group. Sorrow and anger consume Grace as she tells the Captain of the Van Eltia and of the two girls she let into the room. After she is done talking the Captain sends a message by bird to his true master.
The Royal Palace
Fire crackles and glows in the corner of the room where a beautiful golden fireplace sits. The only other source of light in the room is from the moon as it shines into the room through an open window. Sat by the window tieing a small not to the thin leg of a pidgin Lord Melchior hears the crack of his bedroom door opening and sees some extra light enter the room but doesn't react as this is a guest he was expecting to drop by.
"You called for me," Shigure says stopping in the center of the room. To most people, it would look like he is cautious of the senior man but in reality, he stays where he does to get the best use out of his long sword. Shigure is a man who never lets his guard down.
"Yes, I just learned of the location of our lost princess," Melchior tells him releasing the pidgin letting it fly from the window. "I want you to take you knights and finish the job those assassins failed to do; I take it that facing your brother won't be a problem."
"Of course not I'm actually looking forward to seeing how much he has improved," Shigure replies with a big grin. "I'll leave after you, and the prince does so he doesn't notice I've gone."
"Good and I hope you spy is a good as you claim him to be because he is needed for this plan," Melchior says throwing a piece of paper towards Shigure. Shigure catches it with ease, and his smile grows as he reads this.
"He should have no problem with this order," Shigure assures him. "It will certainly mean less work for me."
Word meaning (These Words are Latin translation from google)
Pervidere: See Through
The Island of Grurs
The first time Velvet set foot on the island of Grurs, she was not having a good day. The warmth of the island did little to warm her, and the beauty of the island had no effect on her. Behind her, Velvet can hear Eizen bark orders and yelling at the newest addition to the crew a so-called witch named Magilou to get up and do something for once. Velvet is glad to have such a reliable first mate who can pick up the slack while she's struggling to hold herself together.
It has only been a month since her father died and ever since then Velvet has been switching from being numb and quiet to angry and violent on such regular bases only the bravest among her crew will approach her now. Even now, Velvet still sees her father take that bullet for her whenever she closes her eyes and hear him cough up all that blood whenever things get too quiet.
"It should have been me," Velvet whispers to herself as she fights back the tears in her eyes refusing to do such a weak person thing like crying. "It was my mistake."
Velvet is continuously playing the scene back in her head and always come to the conclusion that it was her fault her father died. She was the one that ran ahead of everyone else, she was the one that tripped over that dead man's outstretched out limbs, and she was the one that didn't see that sailor with still alive and was aiming a pistol at her. If her father didn't throw himself between her and that bullet, then he would still be alive, and Velvet would have died for her mistakes, not him.
"It's all my fault," Velvet tells herself.
"Oh my! What do we have here?"
"Leave," Velvet hisses not even bother to face her new visiter as she feels the numbness in her body start to boil with anger.
"And what kind of friend would I be if I left now before I had a chance to rub salt in your open wounds?"
"I told you to leave," Velvet tells her with her voice sounding demonic and turning to face the witch giving Magilou a death glare that would send ordinary people running. But Velvet learned very quickly that Magilou isn't a normal person and the witch just stand there without a care in the world. "Get going or your fish food."
"Don't I at least warrant a Kraken?" Velvet just shakes her head. It's impossible to argue with Magilou, just attempting to is a good way to go insane. "I would settle on an elephant tuna."
"What do you want?" Velvet asks feeling more and more tempted to run this witch through with her blade with every passing second. "If you just came here to annoy me I will kill you."
"There's the scary pirate I heard so much about," Magilou says badly pretending to be scared. "Please spare this sweet maiden oh ruthless pirate she is only here to tell you that your first mate said its time to head for the tavern to toast the dead."
"Got it," Velvet said sounding ruffles, but inside she feels her heart sink.
This is it, the moment when Velvet has to say goodbye to her father and the other pirates that fell that day in the traditional way her crew always do by going to a tavern and raising a glass to the people they lost. Usually, this would happen within a few dies of the person's death but with the Royal Navy pursuing them the crew of the Van Eltia the ceremony had to be put off until now. Velvet starts to walk towards the gangplank feeling her anger fade, and once again, her body and mind becoming numb.
Even though the day is only beginning and the sun has barely risen above the horizon, the streets are already busy with locals buying from the street vendors. The island really is a lively place with a wide range of people from all over the world and various forms of entertainment from talented performers to con artists trying to rob you of your gald. Velvet ignores everyone and everything around her and just follows the group of pirates heading for the tavern liking the fact the ruff looking group of no good rouges were keeping the people of Grurs too afraid to approach her.
"Do you think that barmaids still working there?" Velvet looks to her left to see the Van Eltia's helmsmen Dale nudging Benwick. "You know she was giving me some strong signals last time we were here."
"Probably," Benwick replies. "But I'm pretty sure Kurogane also said she was sending him some signals to last time."
"Please, there's no way she would go for an old man when she can have me," Dale says with a smug look on his face as his hand swipes through his long brown hair.
"I don't know," Benwick smirks. "For an old guy, Kurogane can be pretty smooth, and there is a reason why the first mate never lets him near his sister."
"That doesn't mean that he will steal this barmaid from me," Dale confidently declares.
Northern Spire Resort Penthouse
Staring out at the rising sun from the top of the tallest building on the island certainly makes you feel like a king. Despite the construction work going on and the mess that comes with that said work, the owner of the resort still finds his home a place fit for royalty with the most elegant furniture and beautiful of artwork. Pacing back and forth between in his office in front of the open space where a large window will be the owner of the resort shows little fear of falling, he just simply enjoys the view.
"Number Two," The owner, says as he turns away and looks into the room towards where a young boy stands. "Go tell Tulon to make contact with the ship that arrived." He orders before muttering to himself. "Pirates always make the best customers when it comes to my products."
"Yes sir," The small boy says as he stands with a nod of his head and a voice as drained as emotions as his eyes.
"Oh and tell Number One to hurry up if you see him that brat was meant to be back here with my book five minutes ago,"
"Here's to the Captain!" Ezine toasts raising his glass. "And all those we lost!"
"To those we lost!" The room shouts back.
"To those, we lost," Velvet voice is barely audible, and unlike everyone else, she goes ahead and drinks fro her glass instead of raising it.
The taverns in Grurs are unlike any in the rest of the world. On this island, the taverns are just as luxurious as the hotels to cater to the rich who come to this island on mass. Where the other taverns the pirates frequent the taverns on Grurs have soft cushioned seats instead of hard, cold wooden ones and the glasses that everyone drinks from is so clean the glasses sparkle in the light. In the lap of luxury, the pirates on the Van Eltia stick out like a saw thumb and out of the corner of her eye Velvet can see people walk in and then walk out once they spot her crew.
Behind the bar, Velvet watches the two barmaids argue over which one will serve her crew with both struggling to convince the other to take her crew their drinks. Considering how rowdy her crew can be Velvet can understand how they feel, if only those ladies knew how much kinder, her crew was then they looked then they wouldn't be so scared to approach them.
But amongst the scared crowd who are keeping their distance Velvet notices, one small man flanked on both sides by a large, strong man in leather armor with short swords on their hips looking more interested in the group then fearful. Putting down her drink Velvet readies herself for a fight as she sees the men approach her. The man in the center of the group may be small and appears to be unarmed at first glance, but Velvet quickly spots what seems to be a sword under the man's coat. Velvet stays ready as the men get closer and closer waiting for any sign that she should draw her blade.
"Excuse me, but could you be sailors from that ship that just docked?" The short man asks stopping just short of the group of sailors.
"Depends who's asking," Eizen replies, stepping forward.
"My employer wishes to discuss some business with you and your ship," The man says. "I take it you are the ship's captain."
"No," Velvet says as she stands up. "I am."
"Is this some kind of joke?" The man asks. "Your just a kid. There's no way you would be the captain of a ship."
"It's no joke," Velvet tells him. "Believe me or not, it doesn't make any difference to me."
"She is the captain," Ezine confirms. "So what business do you have with us?"
"Right well our employer believes you would be interested in our product," The man pauses as he pulls out a card and hands it to Velvet who does a good job hiding her disgust as she sees what's written on the business card. "If you wish to do business then please come to the address on the card."
With that, the men leave, and Velvet crushes the card in her hand. She really wishes to have run that man through, but her father's words stopped her from spilling their blood. "Never act fast when you have time, plan and prepare before you waste the lives of your crew," Her father's words told her stopping the girl from drawing her blade. Those words were some of the first words of wisdom her father told her once he started to groom her for command.
"Eizen, Rokurou," Velvet says as she looks at the scrunched up card again. "Come with me, everyone else heads back to the ship and prepares to set sail the moment we return."
"Planning on causing some trouble?" Rokurou asks.
"Yes," Velvet smiles, handing him the card. "I'm planning a raid."
Sorry for not updating this story but I'm back now. Anyway, in the next chapter, we are going to learn more about Laphicet's life as a slave and how Velvet freed him.