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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, '11, 8:17 pm
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The young lady slipped through partially-opened gate and stepped into the ghost town. Her first thought was, “Just like the other place.” However, that initial observation was soon met with her noticing certain little details that confirmed her earlier suspicions and pushed her to continue walking through the once bustling seat of Layan culture on the Alisa III.

All of the houses were abandoned; some of them had been burned to the ground years before. Those that still stood more the markings of a brutal assault: shards of glass littering the ground, bullet holes in the walls, tattered roofs. The vision reminded the visitor of the other city back on the other island, which she had been to the day before. The cobblestone road that she strode down bore many of the same markings as the other one: cracked and weathered away from years of rain without any sort of maintenance whatsoever, occasionally adorned by amorphous reddish-brown splotch.

It was with the first sea breeze that blew through the gates that the girl noticed that the state of this city was quite different from the last. As she took in a deep breath of cool, salty air, she noticed that the eerie, lonely sounds of doors and shutters banging hopelessly against the walls of the house were curiously absent. That had been the creepiest part of searching through the last city; those strong mountains winds slamming the near-ancient wooden panels against the derelict houses. There was good reason for her to be surprised at the relative silence in the wake of that delicious maritime wind: both cities had been evacuated under the same circumstances: a bloody assault from robot invaders against which the military forces were less than properly equipped to deal with. Closing the doors and windows behind them would be the last thing that the inhabitants of either town would be worried about.

And yet, the young lady noticed that all of the doors--where there were any—had been closed and the shutters were as well. It was upon this slightly-deeper inspection that the female visitor noticed orderly piles of rubble next to each house. Logic told her that the robots wouldn’t have organized the mess they made, so she couldn’t help but smile and reassure herself that she wasn’t alone—most likely.

Coming to a large grassy square past the residential district of the town, the silent trespasser saw a few dozen mounds of earth in the midst of the grass, mostly overcome by weeds at this point. Each mound was rectangular in shape, its dimensions being about three feet by four feet. Kneeling next to one of them, the young lady reached out with her pale ivory hand and cupped a small handful of earth. It was cool and moist and, most tellingly, loose as well. She let the soil fall through her calloused fingers and back onto the resting place of the mound’s inhabitants.

Unlike the other berg, this place was bereft of any random skeleton of some unfortunate townsperson who had fallen victim to the marauding force and was left unattended to in the wake of the survivors’ flight. It was pretty clear that he had been here and had most likely come directly here, bypassing the other island for whatever his reasons might have been. The girl smiled; whatever his reasons for coming here were, he had at least demonstrated a level of respect to this place and its original denizens that had not been seen in about two decades.

Continuing her trek through the heart of the once ghost town—population: most possibly two—she came to a series of fountains that decorated a huge grassy park in front of the castle walls. As she gazed upon those marble tanks of beauty, she noticed something in their color that was a bit unexpected. Each one of the stone structures was bright white, not too unlike her skin. She had presumed that the fountains, being left alone for so long, would have accumulated a layer of dust and loose earth —carried by the sea breezes—so thick as to leave each fountain some sort of drab gray color. Not the case, here.

More surprising was that some of the fountains were now filled with water. She sat down on the recently-cleaned rim of one of them and placed her hand into the still, crystalline water. No algae. No little creatures dancing upon the surface or swimming blissfully beneath it. Just pure water. She brought her cupped hand to her lips and drank the drought. Her eyes closed and she smiled as the fresh water tickled her gullet on its way down.

“You’ve been busy, haven’t you?” she said to herself, talking at him.

The young female visitor decided that he must be in the castle now, and so she made her way through the gate into the castle courtyard. Much like the houses and stores on the other side of the wall, the strewn rubble had mostly been gathered and placed into neat triangular piles near the wall. Parts of the wall had obviously been blasted away, leaving behind gaping openings, but the majority of the castle had remained intact.

Taking a few cursory glances around the courtyard, she noticed a strange shiny heap of peculiar metallic objects stacked against a tree. Curiosity getting the better of her, the young damsel walked over to the tree to see what sort of unusual wreckage he had gathered this time. What met her was a collection of metal parts, ranging from jointed, arthropod-esque limbs made of iron to steel plates with inhuman, expressionless faces sculpted onto them.

“Casualties from the enemy’s ranks,” she mused, picking up a gem-like eye sensor and looking at it closely before chucking it back into the pile.

The maiden walked into the castle, no longer expecting to be entwined in some unearthly labyrinth of cobwebs that might dress the stone corridors of the castle so long unsoiled by human feet. Nor did she expect the dust to have gathered along those probably once-majestic walls that to drag her finger across them would turn her ivory fingertips black. As she had expected, the place had been indeed seen to by human element, and recently at that.

The dust had been haphazardly removed, although the young lady chalked up the incompleteness of the work to lack of time and not effort. Small spider webs still bedecked the upper corners of the walls and ceiling, but there was no danger of some unholy army of fanged arachnoid fiends descending upon her and turning her into a much-desired feast.

Sounds of shuffling and rustling could be heard in the distance. He’s here, she thought. However, content that he would still be there in a couple of minutes, she took her time, gazing upon the portraits that garnished the walls. One portrait showed a young blue-haired man with his equally-young bride with long flowing aqua tresses. Another frame held the picture of the same couple, but with a young toddler in the young maiden’s lap, his hair the same color as his mother’s.

“His father,” she mumbled, touching the painting lightly with her finger. “I would’ve liked to have met him.”

The corridor led into a large chamber with a pair of spectacularly large chairs near the back. The visitor stepped onto the antique carpet of crimson fibers that led up to the thrones. She heard the squishy sound of water being squeezed out of the material as she moved. Looking down, she noticed that part of the carpet had been washed, or at least an attempt was made to do so. She could notice a familiar white cape draped about one of the thrones.

As she drew closer, a young man appeared out of the shadows. Their eyes met and he stopped in his tracks to gaze upon his visitor. He wiped the locks of dust-caked emerald green hair out of his eyes and the sweat from his lightly-tanned brow. At first he seemed surprise to discover that he was no longer alone, but soon gave his guest a welcoming smile.

“Hello, Sean,” said the young lady.

“Well now. I guess if anybody could find me, it would be you.”

“You know your aunt and the others are worried sick about you,” responded the visitor in a light reprimand.

“Even Wren?”

The girl nodded. “I believe I heard him use the term ‘the little scamp’ when inquiring about your whereabouts.”

Sean looked at her thoughtfully and then nodded. “I know. I don’t know what possessed me to leave in the first place, but here I am.” He wiped the thick beads of goo, formed from his sweat mixing with dust, off his face with his cape. “So, how did you find me?”

The visiting maiden smiled. “Call it a hunch. Besides, you technically are the King of Cille, aren’t you?”

Sean nodded slowly. Then, with a distant, albeit in no way morose, voice, Sean said, “Did you know that granddad fought against my great-grandfather here to be able to marry grandma?”

The young lady nodded. “Mieu told me the story. Your father was a visionary man—being the first to start trying to break down the boundaries between Orakians and Layans.”

A proud smile formed on Sean’s face as he scanned the throne room around him again.

“So why didn’t you go to Shushoran, too? That kingdom also belongs to you.”

The young prince of Cille chuckled. “I only have two hands, you know. So how did you get here?”

“After seeing that you weren’t in Shushoran, I was able to pay a fisherman in Agoe to take me here.”

The emerald-haired prince gave her a thumbs-up sign. “I came straight from Rysel to this place.” He turned away for a moment and stared into space. “They thought I was mad, but sometimes meseta talks louder than logic.”

The damsel examined and scrutinized the room for a couple of seconds and nodded in approval. “I have to congratulate you on all that you’ve been able to accomplish. I admit that I expected you to be sitting in the corner, moping about when I arrived.”

Sean walked over to the guest and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Well, you’re half right. I spent the first night like that.” His visage turned dark for a moment. “I wasn’t ready, you know. I wasn’t ready to be around civilization after so many months of killing, some of it necessary, a lot of it senseless.”

“Senseless?” asked the girl, a bit confused.

“Uh huh. My parents and the inhabitants of Azura. Their murder was unnecessary and resolved nothing. It just led to more and more killing.” Sean’s frown grew more and more intense. “And then I had to kill and kill. In the name of justice, of course, but I slaughtered our people’s enemies nonetheless.” He paused and took a deep breath. “When we got back to Landen, I didn’t know how to be around others anymore. So I fled here and tried to find a bit of peace.”

The young woman took one of Sean’s hands into hers and pressed it against her lips. “Are you feeling better now?”

Sean’s mood lightened up a bit. “Of course. While I was pondering the events of my life during those past few months, I remembered something mom once said, ‘The best cure for worry is work.’ So I just got up and started straightening things up, clearing away the rubble, you know, little things.” Sean took her by the hand and led her outside. “As the light of day caressed their faces, he continued, “As the rubble began to clear, I...just got the vision of rebuilding this place. It’s hard to explain, but now I feel like I have a purpose.”

The young Layan stared at him in awe. “Wow,” was all she could muster. She let a few seconds of a rather comfortable silence pass by. “So who’s going to populate this town?”

The young man laughed and answered, “People will come. Layan and Orakian. Young and old. A few fishermen may come here so that they have a place to stay while sailing far from Rysel. When the fishermen come, a struggling restaurant owner in Agoe will find new and willing clients here. Then, that small, insignificant pharmacist who can’t win against the bigger monomate peddler will discover that there’ll be business to be had in Cille, too. Those young restless souls who grow tired of the same old life in Landen and Draconia will hear the legends of Cille and will come here for a new beginning. Give it time, it will happen.”

The young woman gazed admiringly into Sean’s eyes as he laid forth his plans for the future of his little nation. She reached over and lovingly stroked his cheek. “You’ll need a queen to rule this kingdom with, you know.”

“Are you proposing?” he asked, his cheeks growing red.

“Maybe,” the woman responded, coyly.

He cocked his eyebrow and tilted his head at her. “Don’t you have your own kingdom to attend to?”

“I imagine they could always immigrate here,” she said jokingly. “In any case, I love your vision. I love that you’re ready to start things afresh and move forward.” She slowly slipped her hand into his, interlocking their fingers. “And most importantly, I love you.” She cupped her head around his hand and pulled it toward her lips.

Sean gazed longingly into her eyes for some time. “Have you always felt this way?”

“For a while now.” She pinched his cheek affectionately. “Besides, I think the fact that I was able to track you down while everybody else was turning over every single stone in Landen just goes to show how much I understand you.”

“Well, I’m glad that it was you of all people who found me.”

The young Layan woman started toward the castle again. “Come, we have work to do,” she said with a grin. “We can’t live in a ramshackle castle now, can we?”

Sean blushed again. “Aren’t your worried about getting your dress dirty?”

The damsel laughed and then shrugged. “It’s just fabric.” She grabbed her long hair and tied it into a bun. “Come, let’s clear out our bedchamber first.”

“Uh…bedchamber?”

“Just pulling your leg,” she responded. She dragged him by the arm back in to the castle.

The Prince of Cille got into his companion’s rhythm and laughed again. “Gotcha. Well, let’s finish the throne room today. Maybe then we can go back to Landen and get some help. I’m sure Aunt Sari and the others will want to know that I’m safe.”

“Or we could enjoy our time alone and just send a messenger from Agoe. We could also hire some poor carpenter to build a set of docks, too.”

Sean pulled her against his body and kissed her forehead. “I like your thinking.”

Before the prince could head back into the throne room, the Layan beauty bid him stop for a moment. He gazed at her as she walked dreamily along the wall, caressing the faces of the Cille royal family depicted in the numerous old portraits hanging from it. “I love the portraits on this wall, but I think something is missing.”

“Oh?”

“Of course,” said the woman calmly. She reached into her knapsack and removed a folded piece of canvas. She opened it slowly, the intrigued prince peering over her shoulder. Painted on the canvas was a young lady, probably no older than fourteen years old. She was dressed in an elegant blue dress that fell to her ankles, leaving her dainty feet exposed. Her head was crowned with long emerald hair, which hung in large curls over her cheeks. Two large, doe-like eyes gave off a feeling of naïve innocence.

“Mom,” whispered Sean as his eyes scanned the portrait, his eyes studying his mother Thea’s image numerous times.

“I picked it up while I was looking for you in Shushoran. I figured that any picture of her would’ve been lost when Azura…well…you know. In any case, I think it would look great on this wall.” She held the picture in place on the wall with her hands, allowing Sean to see it from a distance. Fixing her eyes on her prince, the young lady sighed.

The Landen family would continue its legacy of doing great things for the Alisa III. And she would now be a part of it.

Last edited by H-Man on Mon Jun 13, '11, 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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