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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, '10, 6:28 pm
The story is complete now!

Esmeray’s eyes welled up as she continued to study her leg. What had seemed like a great idea had cost her dearly, and at a time when she was already feeling alone and different from everyone else at Esper Mansion. As she blinked some tears away, she felt Firdaus put a hand on her back. She looked up at her mentor, only this time his expression was sympathetic.

“You try so hard,” he told her sincerely. “If only you would focus that enthusiasm on helping us here with your knowledge of animals and wildlife instead of chasing that... that...”

Esmeray knew what—or, actually, who—Firdaus was talking about before he continued. She looked away. Here comes the lesson, she thought.

“That... boy. Emanuel,” Firdaus sighed heavily. “I know he’s a lot like you, but I feel he’s been a distraction from your training for far too long. Some people come here looking for a mate, Esmeray, but you’re better than that. You have much more to offer than being a pretty face, and that... Emanuel... is only after one thing. He’s been a flirt for as long as I can remember.”

Esmeray really didn’t want to hear this. She was still young, only 17, and was still naive enough to believe that Firdaus simply didn’t understand the connection she had with Emanuel Vidar, another “outsider” to Esper Mansion. Right now Esmeray was feeling less emancipated from her parents and more like someone’s daughter again as she listened to Firdaus. Plus, it embarrassed her that her mentor was acting more like a parent than a teacher to her. Besides, Emanuel was 23. That made him older and wiser, right? She was only friends with him, anyway. Why was Firdaus so worried? It’s not like Esmeray and Emanuel were an item.

Esmeray crossed her arms and blushed. “H-he’s not after me,” she insisted.

Firdaus let out a snort. “Maybe not, but what about you?”

Esmeray was getting angry now. “He’s my friend! That’s all!”

“Oh? That’s quite the friendship, then. You were willing to risk life and limb to get to an abandoned nest of falcons just to impress him.”

“I...!” Esmeray was startled and choked on her sentence. “I... was trying to save those eyases!”

Firdaus moved to where Esmeray would have to look at him. He was shaking his head. “You care a lot about nature, but you’re not a fool. You knew those birds had no chance, and the risk involved in getting to them wasn’t worth it. You didn’t do it for the birds, Esmeray.”

He was right, but Esmeray wasn’t going to admit it. “Well... I’m sorry. I apologize for all the trouble I put everyone through, and I won’t do it again. It was a stupid and dangerous move on my part. Thank you for taking care of me, Master...”

“I’ve told you to dispense with the ‘Master Taheri’ business,” Firdaus interrupted. “Besides, I know you’re not being sincere right now. Look at me,” he lifted her chin with his hand. Esmeray reluctantly looked into Fridaus’s wise, hazel eyes. “I’m obligated to tell you to be careful and let this be a lesson; you already know that. What you don’t seem to realize, though, is that we need you here. I know it’s been a rough year for you, but once you’re done with your initial training just think of all the things you’ll offer Esper Mansion. That should be as important to you as it is to the Esper mission.”

Again, Firdaus knew exactly what to say to get to the young country girl from Karlan village. Esmeray was so excited she had been invited by some of the important Esper elders to join them and help with their livestock and domestication programs. Working with animals was her calling in life, so much so that she had already developed her own techniques for understanding and communicating with nature. Thinking about this now was already making her miss Gulperi, her own domesticated owl.

She smiled faintly at her mentor. “I hope Gulperi wasn’t too much of a nuisance the last two days,” she managed to chuckle a little.

Firdaus returned her smile. “You’ll have to ask Emanuel. He felt so bad about what happened that he’s been taking care of her and the falcons you tried to rescue.”

Esmeray’s face lit up, “So they’re safe after all?”

“Yes, but remember what I said, Esmeray. Don’t do this for Emanuel, OK?”

Esmeray slowly nodded her head in agreement. “Don’t worry, and thanks,” she said as she leaned forward and hugged the old Esper securely. She had come from a very close and affectionate family, and right now she didn’t care whether the old man liked being hugged or not. She was glad to have someone looking after her.

“Ohhhkay,” Firdaus said, nervously patting her on the back. He let the hug continue for a few seconds before pulling away and clearing his throat to regain his composure. “Well then, young lady, I’ll leave you to get some...”

Just then the door flew open, creating a gust of wind that blew a few strands of Esmeray’s hair into her face. As she moved them away, she noticed that they were shiny and silver, completely unlike her normally pitch hair. Her eyes grew wide, but there was no time to ask what was going on as she held them, bewildered, in between her fingers. The unexpected guest had already poked his head into the room and had locked eyes with Esmeray.

“Es! You’re awake!” Emanuel said with a huge grin. He strode excitedly towards her and planted a kiss on her forehead. Esmeray blushed and looked at her mentor, who was now standing behind the tall and sturdy young Esper and rolling his eyes.

“This is what I'm talking about, Esmeray,” Firdaus told her while giving Emanuel an eyeball. The young man turned to look at Firdaus, but he was already out the door.

“Did I miss something?” Emanuel asked Esmeray, scratching his head.

Esmeray thought about Firdaus’s advice as the door closed behind him. She really liked Emanuel, but getting in trouble all the time was a pain. A big pain, she thought as she rubbed her injured leg. For all his good looks: being taller and broader than most of the other Esper men, his scarlet hair that he tied loosely in a ponytail and had a habit of getting in his face, his striking amber eyes and his cool and confident smile... he wasn’t worth the constant turmoil.

It wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t asked her to try and impress him or to constantly tag along with him on his wild Dezolitian adventures. She could be his friend without being his groupie, she thought.

“Oh, you know,” replied Esmeray with a tilt of her head, “just the usual mentor/mentee stuff.” She stretched and started to get up. “Let’s go see Gulperi!”

Before Esmeray’s feet touched the floor, Emanuel scooped her into his arms, rather bearishly, causing Esmeray to let out a surprised yelp.

“Allow me, my fair lady,” he said, flashing his bright yellow-brown eyes at Esmeray.

She felt her heart skip a beat, but tried to focus on her newly-found self-confidence. “Thank you, Emanuel, but I need to walk for a change.”

He raised his eyebrows, surprised she wasn’t immediately smitten with the attention. “You sure?”

She stared back, slightly annoyed by his coddling. “Yes, now put me down, please.”

He looked a little crestfallen as he gently lowered her to a standing position. His mood changed quickly, though, as he focused on her hair. “Hey, by the way,” he said as he picked a few locks of her long hair and held them in front of her. “What happened?”

Esmeray observed her now-silver hair Emanuel was holding and sighed. It was probably a result of all the technique usage needed to rebuild her leg or maybe even revive her after her fall. She couldn’t wait to get to her room or Emanuel’s and see herself in a mirror.

“I don’t know,” she said quietly, putting the hair he was holding behind her ear. She quickly shrugged away the thought of having changed physically and grabbed a robe and threw it on loosely over her shoulders. “But I’m not going to worry about it. Maybe I look like a wicked witch now. Wouldn’t that be exciting?” She winked.

Emanuel laughed and opened the door for her. “You’d be the nicest wicked witch ever, if that was the case.”

“I already have the crazy hair, a pet owl and now a mangled leg. Now all I need are a few hag warts,” she said facetiously, giving Emanuel her best ghoulish expression.

“You look like you came straight from Guaron,” he teased. Esmeray kicked him playfully in the leg on their way out the door. Though, deep down Esmeray liked the idea of being a clever witch and not a helpless princess.

She let out cackle as she thought about her actions at Crevice. She meant to come back from her adventure a beautiful heroine, but had managed instead to turn into an old witch. At least she was wiser for it.

Last edited by Tanith on Sun Aug 15, '10, 6:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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