Where Can I Go?
*Turning back the clock to the day before, close to sunset*
“Where the hell is he?”
I growled out loud and slammed my hand into the bartop, startling a few of the people nearby. They jumped back and looked at me with frightened glances, I sheepishly giving an apologetic wave of my hand. Turning away slightly as I facepalmed myself with one hand while the other gripped onto my tankard and pulling it up close to me.
Out of everyone I had expected to get back first since my task was probably the least problematic, but there shouldn’t be any reason that Blue would be taking this long to visit the castle and back. That guy seems to have a good head on his shoulders most of the time, but I’m not sure how much I trust him yet. Hook’s words were niggling in the back of my mind, adding to my irritation.
I shouldn’t believe anything he said, but it wouldn’t hurt to verify things. Clarion was more worried about him messing up more than the idea he was hiding things from us. The guy didn’t know much about western fantasies and fables so we had the task of educating him on top of trying to keep him safe. I had to give Clarion that, at least until recently, Blue hadn’t given me any reason to harbor any doubts aside from questions of his competency as Primary.
But that was before his weird moments of staring off into space, the flashes of emotions while he was out of it and just standing there half-dead to the world. Like he was reliving some vivid memory he didn’t want to talk about while this look in his eyes haunted in the background. Clarion and I both knew that look from experience. Clarion from his friends and war buddies he knew back in heydays. I from my little brother after his return from duty in Afghanistan.
Then there were the things the demons had talked about when I was being hunted back in the forest, and now Hook little snide remarks. I guess it was alright Blue wasn’t back yet if I could get time to ask Clarion what Hook was talking about with Blue’s soul. Hopefully, he hadn’t done something stupid like getting caught in human form.
I really need to learn how to use magic.
Taking a long drink from my tankard, I sigh and then look around the bar again. For the most part, the people here all seem to be visitors from the outlying parts of the kingdom. Probably the last of the arrivals for tomorrow’s christening. From what I could overhear from the conversations around me that were the main topic of discussion. A snippet or two about the foreign noble but nothing I haven’t already heard, just the same rumors cycling over and over across the tavern.
I was about to take another drink when I felt something buzz in the back of my mind. Focusing on it slightly, a couple of words suddenly swam in front of my vision like ripples of floaters one could see occasionally out of the corner of your eye.
That was likely Clarion since Blue was still a bit unrefined with something like this. I stood up from the bar and moved over toward the window, opening it slightly to let the rustle of feathers fly in and land on my shoulders. He seemed to be a bit unsettled while perched on my shoulder, looking around the tavern before looking at me.
“Where is Blue?”
Yep, I knew this was going to be his first question. I felt like retorting ‘am I his keeper’ but I kind of was. Instead, I gave a slight shrug with my reply.
“Hell if I know. He hasn’t come back from the palace.”
Clarion’s feathers rustled up and I could feel the annoyance and worry radiating off him.
I walked back over to the bar and called for another tankard of beer. It wasn’t too bad, but I don’t think I’d ever get drunk on this. It’s really watered down for alcohol, which was good and a little annoying. I’m not a heavy drinker but after the last couple of days, I needed a time where I could just not think at all. A chance to reset and get my self emotionally back together.
“This could be bad…”
I glance at my shoulder when Clarion spoke.
“Don’t tell me he got caught…”
“I-… I don’t know. I… I can’t find him.”
“He isn’t dead… We’d know if he was. But it’s like he’s completely cut off from the system… “
“Because I put him out of the way.”
A new voice came from behind us, I turned and raised my hand to defend or strike the person who suddenly appeared. Stopping as I saw the purple hood of her robes covering her head. Clarion looked at the young woman who was now sitting beside me at the bar. No one seemed to be paying any mind aside from glances at me for my sudden behavior, paying her no mind at all.
“Put him out of the way?”
Clarion looked at her curiously with a tilt of his head.
“You guys shouldn’t be here. I had this story already underway and I can make sure it reaches its proper conclusion. Hook’s altering the course slightly but it’s still on track to go smoothly if you all just stay out of the way tomorrow morning.”
She sent a hard look at the two of us, it almost felt like a threat to stay out of her way tomorrow. Something was tingling in the back of my mind about things. Blue had told us she was the Harajuku girl who had been with us.
“You seem pretty knowledgeable about this. Aren’t you basically the same level of Pagemaster I am? Granted I don’t know how long you’ve been here but you seem really skilled for a beginner.”
I asked and turned the table around with my own hard look. There was something she wasn’t talking about, no way she could be more informed than Clarion about how things work. She looked the same age as Blue and I unless this body is an immortal unaging vessel or something.
“I had a really good tutorial system.”
She quipped and turned her face to avoid eye contact. Liar… I didn’t have any proof but that answer was beyond incredible. Want to try selling me a bridge across the Pacific while you are at it? Clarion seemed to share my doubts as well but he didn’t press on it.
“Are ye sure ye got a handle on this? The kingdom might not be around in a couple of weeks if that noble to the west gets his chance to invade. Maybe internally you have it but I can feel other forces working here.”
“Minus a couple of road bumps, everything is going like it should, Clarion-sama. That noble is just a side piece to some alternate telling. He’s nothing. I came here to tell you two to not worry and let me do my job. I won’t say leave since I’ve got Blue locked up, but just stand to the side and let it all happen without getting in the way. Please. He’ll be released as soon as the day is over. Then we can all go jump forward and seal this story up when the prince comes to wake her.”
Clarion looked at her for a moment and then shook his head.
“Violet-san, I’m afraid that the noble is not some random person. He’s the Main Character from a different story. I didn’t get a name for him but his two lieutenants have names. And… I’m fairly certain he is from one of those perverted light novels in the adult fantasy section…”
Violet paused as she was about to counter, her eyes widened and then her face paled as she started to realize something. She looked at me and then to Clarion her eyes getting blurry with tears.
“Oh crap… No.. Shit. Crap… No, no, no…”
Her body seemed to sway as she leaned against the bar, using it for support as she shook her head, her body shaking as she tried to hold back sobs. Her breathing getting harder and faster, she was starting to hyperventilate. I stood up and got behind her, trying to rub her back and calm her down.
“If he’s… that person… No.. I don’t… No… Blue… help me…” She was muttering under her breath, her body shaking and trembling as Clarion and I exchanged looks. What the hell had these two been through?
“Violet-san. You’re safe. Violet-san?”
She jerked away and swung out at me with her fists. I ducked away from her fist, dodging back again as she tried to kick me. A trail of shadows following her foot, leaving a rail of cuts through the floor. I step back to get away from the dangerous attack. Unsure of what to do right now. I know I needed to subdue her quickly.
She wasn’t fighting me. I could see her eyes were completely unfocused as she looked at me and charged with purple glowing nails on her hands. Gripping her wrist I shifted into Kenpō form and spun her off to the side, tossing her against the wall. I watched her nails gouge out the wooden wall like it was wet paper. Crap, this was getting dangerous.
The rest of the bar had started to get away from us in a panic, fortunately, no one seemed dumb enough to get between a pair of heroes fighting. Not after witnessing the long marks left by her barehanded attacks.
“Call the guards!” An onlooker, possibly the barkeep, called out after one of the fleeing patrons.
Double crap. I needed to stop her now before things spiraled way out of control. She seemed to have eyes on me to direct her horror-ridden flashback onto. I think it’s good she wasn’t using any magic aside from what she could generate on her person or there might be casualties besides the floor and wall.
Her nails glowed again with energy as she charged forward, I received her attack, pulling her closer while narrowly avoiding the weaponized claws she had turned her nails into. Wrapping myself around her and putting her into a full standing body lock.
“NO! NO! NO! NO!”
She started screaming shrilly, thrashing around the moment I had my arm locking around her body and holding her arms still. Her feet kicking and body shaking from side to side. I prayed she’d be recovered when she awoke later as I pressed my hand against the side of her neck cutting the flow of blood into her brain. She struggled a moment longer before she passed out and grew limp in my arms.
The guards stepped inside the tavern just at the moment and drew their swords looking at me.
“Unhand the Mademoiselle!”
I slowly lowered her to the floor and stepped back with my hands raised. The two looking at her then at me.
“She started having a waking nightmare and attacked me without provocation. Hopefully, she will be better when she wakes up. I just knocked her out to keep her from harming anyone.”
Another pair of guards walked inside to join their companions, one I recognized from the gate yesterday. He looked at me and then to Violet laying on the ground. Her body already starting to stir back to wakefulness.
“Red Hero… what is going on?”
“He claims the Mademoiselle started attacking him. We came in he had her in a restraining grip while she was unconscious.”
“Only because I just knocked her out right before you arrived.”
“We’ll see what the Mademoiselle says about your actions, Hero.” The earlier guard spat out the name like it was something disgusting sitting in his mouth. Of course, I’d be the one getting this kind of treatment. Though on the other hand she’s basically considered royalty around here.
Leaning down, one of the guards slipped out a small vial of smelling salts from a side pouch on his belt and lifted it up under Violet’s nose. She twitched a moment before opening her eyes and gazing up at the ceiling.
They seemed to be more focused as she glanced around confused.for a moment before looking at me. A blush shown on her cheeks as she turned away and gracefully accepted the hand offered to pull her back on her feet.
“Mademoiselle, are you hurt? Did this man attack you?”
She shook her head and looked down, her voice unsteadily shaking. “N-no, Corporal. I… I was overcome by… something, for a moment. The Red Hero stopped me from harming anyone in my… moment of madness.”
“Let’s get you back to the castle, Mademoiselle.” the Corporal offered while lending his arm to her for support.
“Y-yes… That is for the best… My apologies, Red Hero. Perhaps we can speak tomorrow after the Christening is over.”
I nodded my head slightly, giving her a questioning glance that she returned with a silent reply that seemed to say it wasn’t something I could help with. Watching the five of them leave, Clarion landed on my shoulder again and gave out a small huff.
“I’m starting to think ye may be right about Blue…”
“I haven’t even told you what happened with the pirates yet.”