An assassin goes asunder
An assassin goes asunder
Kraine kept a close eye on Colloyd as the three of them left the Triet ruins and reunited with Noishe. He had been rather quiet during the journey and it didn't take a genius to understand that the trial of becoming the Chosen was starting to take its toll. As they ventured away from the location of the first seal, Colloyd's condition finally worsened and he only barely managed to stop himself from falling to the ground in a stumble by digging his sword into the sand and leaning against it. Gesea rushed to his side quickly. "Col are you alright? Your face has gone pale!"
"It is likely the result of the trial that Remiel spoke of," Kraine explained, making sure his face and voice remained calm. If he wasn't the adult voice of reason then their journey would fall to shambles as time went on. "I think it would be best not to see a doctor about this and simply let the Chosen rest for a while."
"But-" Gesea cut her own argument off, knowing her brother was right. She looked at Colloyd with concerned blue eyes. He gave her a fake smile. "I'm fine. I'll be okay after a short rest. Sorry to cause so much trouble."
"You don't have to be sorry," Gesea replied, her concern still unwavering. "It's not like you can help suddenly being turned into an angel."
"Gesea is right," the professor agreed. "Nevertheless, we should set up camp here for the night. It will make more sense travel wise as we will need to journey the Ossa Trail in order to get close to the sea."
Colloyd thought he'd heard disappointment in his teachers voice, but nodded. "Okay. Sorry."
As Colloyd tried to ignore the strange tingling sensation that ran his entire body, he looked at the professor curiously. He was sitting close to their camp fire and flipping through the pages of his red book, nodding to himself and occasionally using the pen that was connected to it by a string to write something down. The man had yet to really explain much about himself. Perhaps he thought it was apparent that he had never been simply a teacher. Colloyd's eyes drifted over the exsphere and key crest attached to the professor's right hand. He had yet to explain that either. Granted he hadn't asked yet. Given what Gesea had briefly told him about with her involvement with something called the Angelus Project, he had to wonder whether Kraine had been subject to the same experimentation.
He realised he had stared for a little too long when the professor looked at him. "Is there something that I can do for you, Colloyd?"
Colloyd shifted uncomfortably, trying to decide in the split moment whether he should just ask. This man had been his teacher for several years and through that time he had asked thousands of questions he hadn't necessarily really wanted to know the answer to. This was one question he actually did. He decided to bite the bullet. "Why do you have an exsphere?"
For only a moment, a flash of something strange appeared on Kraine's face. Colloyd would have missed it if he had blinked. He didn't know what to call it though.
The professor cleared his throat and looked down at the gem on his hand. "I have had it for a very long time. It not only improves my fighting abilities but also serves to remind me of my sins."
Kraine glanced away. "Now that I've answered your question, can you answer one of mine?"
The professor turned to him and he startled a little. He could see both of his eyes, which in itself was a rare occurrence since his bangs usually covered one of them at all times. "Why were you raised by a dwarf?"
"Dad found me and mum in the forest at the bottom of the cliffs along with Noishe. She died before she could tell him her name but he said there was no doubt that she was my mother."
"Do you know what happened to her?"
Colloyd looked down. "Dad says it was wolves but I know better. It must have been because of my lineage... and I.. I remember something."
Kraine turned back to his book. "It is none of my business. You don't have to tell me."
"I remember my mum looking different. I remember her voice crying out in pain. I remember that it was someone with a human figure that attacked her."
"And what of your father?" The words tumbled out of Kraine's mouth before he could help himself.
Colloyd shook his head. "I don't know anything about him. I remember looking up at the stars while sitting on his shoulders though. I think he must have been quite-" The boy frowned and tilted his head. "Why am I telling you all this stuff anyway?" He got up from his spot as a signal that their conversation was over and headed over to Gesea who was happily stirring the curry she was making. It smelled delicious.
"Do you want to try some Col?" she asked.
The elf nodded. "It's pork cutlet curry. My favourite food." She looked over at Kraine. "Don't worry, I haven't put any cabbage or tomatoes in there."
Kraine nodded only slightly. "Then I will not have to eat sand tonight."
"You don't like tomatoes?" Colloyd questioned. "Looks like we have something in common."
The usual solemn line of Kraine's mouth twisted into something of a grimace. "I had thought you liked all fruits, Colloyd."
The dual wielder shook his head. "As far as I'm concerned, a tomato is a veggie and up there with bell peppers." He cringed at the thought of the food he disliked the most and at remembering a time in home economics class when he had first had the misfortune to try a bell pepper. His dislike for tomatoes had been fully known by then. He wasn't exactly sure why he disliked them so much, but even looking at the bright red vegetable made him feel oddly uneasy.
He took the bowl Gesea had offered him and thanked her for her work before settling down on the opposite side of Noishe to Kraine. He shoveled the food into his mouth, almost burning his tongue in the process. Kraine glanced at him and heaved a sigh before lifting a spoon to his own mouth and blowing the contents. Colloyd ignored him and grinned as he complemented Gesea to hide how sick he suddenly felt. So that he didn't give her the wrong impression, he abruptly stood from his place and excused himself.
"Don't wander too far," Kraine said to him as he walked by. He nodded absently and hoped his face didn't look as green as he felt it should. Kraine watched him leave their immediate camp to go over behind a group of dried out bushes, ignoring every instinct in his body to follow to ensure nothing bad happened.
"Do you think Col is undergoing some biological changes in his body?" Gesea asked. Kraine snapped his head back to his sister to listen. "Becoming an angel sounds like it'd be tough," she continued.
"I expect that it is," Kraine nodded, before going back for another spoonful of curry.
Gesea sat next to him to eat her own food. "What do you think will happen at the next seal?"
"I'm afraid I don't know," Kraine replied simply. Gesea watched him, looking somewhat skeptical. Kraine cleared his throat. "Although study suggests that he will become closer to becoming an angel of course. We will have to wait to cross the sea to find out." He was unable to hide his cringe at that.
Gesea reached her hand out to his arm. "Kraine? Can you tell me why you're so afraid of water one day?"
"We have gone over this many times," Kraine responded, his voice suddenly authoritative. "There are certain things that I do not wish to recount, even to you."
Gesea crossed her arms and looked to the fire set in the middle of their camp. "At least you have those memories."
"I'm sorry Gesea," Kraine apologised.
Gesea gave a sigh as a meaning that she heard and accepted his apology, but said nothing more on the matter.
Kraine awoke the two children early the next morning so that they could get a good start toward the mountain where the Ossa Trail awaited them. After a very rationed breakfast, they made sure their camp site had been demolished completely and moved on. The desert air seemed noticeably cooler as they got closer and closer to the trail and though Colloyd and Gesea seemed none the wiser, Kraine noticed that someone else must have recently made the trek. Two separate pairs of footprints were imprinted in the sand every now and again. While he convinced himself that the Ossa Trail was a normal route for travellers so long as they were relatively prepared, something in his gut told him it might not be as simple as the first explanation he could think of. He reached a hand out to Noishe to give him a light petting. The "dog" whined and looked at the ground, signalling that he had noticed the footprints as well and possibly a scent.
During their first steps onto the Ossa Trail, the group were forced to don the extra coats that they had lugged around in their packs for some time. As Colloyd pulled his over his shoulders and made his way toward the first incline of the trail, a small pebble fell in front of him from above. He looked up, squinting as the sun glared in his eyes a bit.
"Stop!" yelled a voice from above.
The light from the sun was suddenly blocked out by the shape of a person dropping right toward him. He quickly backed away and watched as she landed on the ground. She glared at him, making him take a few very quick steps backward down the trail and toward Kraine who had his hand to the hilt of his sword. The girl fearlessly stepped toward them. She looked to be around his age. "Are you the Chosen of Mana?"
"Um.. yeah? Do I know you?" Colloyd asked curiously. She was wearing pretty strange clothes. If they weren't memorable enough, then the red curly locks of hair held high above her head in a topknot was something he thought easily identifiable. He stood staring, searching his memory banks. It wasn't every day that someone asked you if you were the best kept secret in all of Sylvarant.
The girl raised one eyebrow at his quizzical expression. "You're cute but definitely not observant!" She drew a dagger from the small sheath connected to a belt around her thigh and charged for him. "You're going to have to die today!"
The dual wielder Chosen took another quick step back as the girl charged at him while Kraine strode forth, withdrawing his sword with a metallic scrape. Before anyone could do anything violent though, Colloyd found himself tripping to the ground and hitting something round beneath himself. With a strained squeak, a wooden trapdoor right in front of him opened while the girl stood directly above. She seemed to hover comically there for a split second before giving into gravity and falling with a high pitched scream.
"Uh oh," he gasped, Gesea mimicking him exactly. He jumped up from his spot when he heard a crash from the hole. "Uh.. Whoops! What should I do?" He frantically looked left to right at his friends.
Kraine stood beside him. "You don't need to worry about it. If she had not fallen in, you might have been killed."
"You really think she was trying to kill me?"
"Likelihood of her trying to kill you, one-hundred percent," Gesea answered, slapping her hand to her forehead in exasperation. "Col, she had a knife and everything."
Colloyd looked down the hole. "I can't help but feel a bit sorry for her."
Gesea looked too and started doing something that looked like counting with her fingers. "Even assuming her weight to be about fifty-five to sixty kilograms, and this hole to be ten metres deep, and calculating the gravity constant at nine point eight, the impact shouldn't have been fatal."
Colloyd laughed. "So you basically mean she's alive, right?"
"Probably," she concurred.
Kraine walked past them and stopped at the foot of the incline where Colloyd had first been attacked. "In any case, we shouldn't linger. If the fall was not fatal, she is likely to come after us as soon as she is able."
Gesea and Colloyd agreed and followed him, accompanied by an unsettled Noishe.
As they made their way up and around the trail, Kraine would have wondered why it was so quiet if an assassin hadn't tried to attack them earlier. Clearly she had wound her way up the trail and climbed to a higher point to obtain the element of surprise. That must have meant that she knew that they would be passing through. He took a note to self to ensure he investigated how she knew their movements if they had the misfortune to come across her again. There was also that matter of that second pair of footprints.
As though Colloyd had been listening to his thoughts, he fell into step beside him. "Why do you think people are trying to kill me? I'm not doing this journey for fun." He tilted his head in the other direction from the one it was in currently. "But I guess it is sort of better than the alternative since I'm almost eighteen and all."
"There are always those that reject salvation," Kraine replied before stopping for a brief moment. "Do you mean to say that the church even had an arranged marriage set up for the Chosen?"
Colloyd shrugged indifferently and glanced ahead at Gesea, who had stopped to wait for them since they had slowed their walk considerably. She still seemed to be out of earshot. "I guess even a dead man needs to contribute to the W.S.P."
Kraine's mouth went dry as he wondered what to say to him at that point. The boys expression only lingered on a frown for a moment longer before his eyes expressed curiosity. Kraine steeled himself for the question he knew was coming.
"By the way Professor.. Do you have a-"
"-That is not a topic for discussion," Kraine spoke over him, trudging forward and hoping he hadn't sounded too irritated. "You know that everyone must contribute to the Worldwide Survival Project by the time they reach twenty-one or face the penalties. There is no need to ask such a silly question."
Colloyd blinked and followed quickly. "Sorry."
Kraine sighed and shook his head. "Think no more on it, but bear in mind that asking such personal questions can get you in trouble."
Colloyd nodded thoughtfully, apologised once more, and headed up the trail to join his best friend. Kraine followed silently and with Noishe at his side for the rest of the trip up and around the mountain side, brooding in his own thoughts. He was only able to relax a little when they finally exited the last rocky slope and began to smell the relaxing scent of sea breeze. The small fishing port of Izoold awaited them as their first destination to attempt finding a way to sail across the sea.