The sun looked down over Vacule Island as its denizens busied themselves with their daily lives. The shutters of the sole window in Chance’s room remained closed, blocking out the bustling activity coming from the streets. Chance’s calm snoring dominated the room until a pair of footsteps competed against it and burst into a voice.
“Oy,” Fols warned as he swept the burlap curtain to the side. “Chance, wake up.” He stifled a snicker as he looked over him. Chance sprawled over the bed with a crooked arm hovering over his head and his two legs stacked together to form a big tent with the sheets. He laid there unresponsively while Fols approached to push his legs off of each other.
Fols touched the top knee of Chance’s leg. Chance hurled the sheets off him and slapped the hand away, clutching Fols’ collar with his other hand and slouching over the edge of the bed. Fols stared at him with trembling hands, blinking his eyes as if he were dreaming.
I didn’t even see him move! Fols thought to himself. Fols gulped down a knot blocking his throat as the sheets finally landed on the bed. “Uh, Chance?”
Chance’s glazed eyes didn’t acknowledge him but his mouth let out an incoherent grunt. Fols tapped his hand softly in order to ensure another speedy act didn’t leave him dismembered or worse. “Yoo-hoo, boyo?”
The drowsy young man drooped his head as a tendril of saliva slipped down his lip. He snorted, wiped the drool with his shirt and then used both hands to rub his eyes. “Did you open the window?” he yawned as his face scrunched and relaxed. “I felt some draft come by.”
Fols looked at him crookedly. “You didn’t realize you grabbed my collar?”
Chance shook his head and yawned again. “What’s today?”
“Your off-day.” Fols opened the window and exposed the activity coming from outside. The swamped streets teemed with the shouts from open markets and the laughter of kids running around and bumping into people whose scolding did nothing to settle them. “You shouldn’t have any problem getting into Noble’s Paradise with all this going on.” Fols cleared his throat and steadied his nerves with a sigh. “Though, I think you’re already late.”
“What?” Chance barked out horridly. “What time is it?” He scrambled through his desk’s drawers so fast Fols felt his head going light. The two blurred hands turned into several as they took out an article of clothing from each drawer.
“It’s,” he stammered as his eyes watched the clothes pop onto Chance without a glint of movement. “Almost twelve o’clock.” Before he knew it Chance was fully dressed with navy blue cargo pants held up by a black leather belt, a white T-shirt with a gray colored anchor in the center and “Navy” printed above it that was diagonally crossed out in red. Fols stifled a gasp when a white windbreaker with a thick, navy blue stripe travelling from the shoulders to the wrists appeared on Chance without so much as a blink.
“Crap!” Chance scolded himself as he leapt out the window with a black, thick-soled shoe in one hand. “Thanks for this, I’ll pay you back!”
“Yeah,” Fols said breathlessly with a slacked jaw, watching Chance run off into the crowd and disappear. He clicked his tongue with a chuckle and mouthed, “What the hell,” as he turned to the burlap curtain. A fading thought crept back into light as he slowly walked through the small hallway. If he dressed that quickly shouldn’t he be running just as fast? He shrugged to himself and entered the main room of the restaurant. He fired up the grills and couldn’t help but address the thought once more. Demon fruits, he mocked with a slight grin. Only for the odd.
Chance zigzagged through the streams of people with such finesse no one realized he was passing them. The high, stone walls separating Noble’s Paradise and Vescle didn’t look any closer but caused Chance to quicken his pace with determination. He kept his eyes on the street and sighted a cart full of apples. As he drew closer to it his heart started to beat quicker and the warmth of his blood surged through his body. He thrust a hand toward one of the apples at the very top and plucked it off without unsettling the others.
“Damn,” he cursed to himself as the cart disappeared behind the sea of people. He caught the glimpse of something red in his hand and realized it was an apple. Something in his brain told him to stop and stare at it with a confused look, wondering what just happened in the past few seconds.
How did this get here? he mused with a narrowed eye. His brain started working harder as he chewed through the apple and caused life-giving blood to course through his body. A thick slab of realization smacked him that made him let out a gasp.
The fruit! he shouted to the deepest reaches of his mind. It worked! I couldn’t even see myself take this! His quivering hands fumbled with the remnants of the apple. Even though his whole body felt like stone his eyes watched the apple fall in slow motion toward the cobbled street. He sank to the ground with widened eyes as the half-eaten fruit plopped into his hand, just half an inch away from the street.
“Stop foolin’ around, kid!” A man on a bike began yelling obscenities as he skidded past Chance. Chance growled menacingly and gorged through the last bits of apple before hurling it at the biker with such fearsome velocity it shattered the back of his clothing and spun his bicycle around several times. He screamed out in pain as his side felt surging pain travel over his back from the apple lodged in it and side from the impact against the hard, stone street. An anxious scowl slapped over Chance’s face and he hurled himself into an alleyway while a crowd formed over the poor man and his wrecked bicycle.
“Whoops,” Chance mumbled with ridden guilt as he leaned onto the wall and slid to a sit. He swept a hand over his face, taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “Power and responsibility,” he chanted stoically to himself. He flung two fingers against his forehead for good measure and nodded with the look of newfound experience in his eyes. He lifted himself up but stopped as his ears picked up the sounds of whimpering. Chance furrowed his brows, staying carefully still in fear of losing the noise. He crept along the wall very slowly and looked over the corner to spy a towering man gazing down upon a child with a pouch clutched in his arms.
“I’m sure your mother would be worried sick if you didn’t make it back home,” the man said threateningly as a dark smile curled over his lips. The child cowered in fear, trying to stifle his whines as his arms tightened around the pouch. The smile on the man’s face twisted into a scowl as a growl rumbled in his throat. “You wouldn’t want to make an adult angry, would you, kid?”
The kid turned his head away from the man and shut his eyes. The hulking thief finally abandoned all restraint and swung his fist with a quaking growl that caused the child to let out a cry of pain. The blow connected but the man’s eyes widened with shock as Chance appeared in front of him and took the strike with a hand stacked behind the other. He glared at the thief, the fury of a fire-breathing dragon surging through his eyes that the man choked on as a knot clogged his throat.
“You should leave,” Chance warned with restrained anger boiling through his blood. “Or I’m going to kill you.”
The man’s face tensed up in half-hearted defiance while forcing down the knot in his throat. “Mind your business!” he cried out with a squeak as he prepared another swing. Chance swiped away the blow so quick he dislocated the thief’s shoulder with the sounds of muscle tearing echoing across the alley. He then spun around and reverse-kicked the thief in the torso where a loud crack reverberated from his body. The man felt such immense pain that his vision blurred out in an instant and he started frothing at the mouth as his body crumpled to the ground in a heap of limbs. The thief gurgled in hoarse screams, his eyes rolled to the back of his head while Chance looked down upon him with a pitiless glare.
“You alright, little guy?” Chance turned to the kid and smiled softly. The kid stared with sparkles of deep adoration in his big doe eyes that no words dared slip from his mouth. He let out a gasp of surprise when Chance crouched down and patted him on the head.
“You should head off, eh?” Chance chuckled with a grin. The kid blinked as a smile swept across his dirt streaked face. Chance gently nudged the child away and he happily ran off, waving back as he disappeared from the alleyway.
Chance continued grinning as he watched the kid leave. He lifted himself up and listened to the sounds of the busy streets until the flash of a bright reflection sped across the wall in front of him. He jerked around while his ears caught the noise of a strange bouncing sound echoing from the alley’s walls. He peered searchingly with a slight scowl on his face but found nothing. With a huff Chance sped out of the alley, leaving the thief to his pain and gurgling.
A roof tile slipped off from one of the houses and shattered against the ground. A tall, oval-shaped man with a violet suit shirt, white suit pants and a white coat with golden silk shoulder pads draped over his shoulders like a cape sat upon the roof with a slight lean. He tapped his brown dress shoes together where a bouncing sound jiggled out from the impact.
“Interesting,” he spoke with a slight whistle as he flicked up his sunglasses too small for his head. “Fwe he he, very interesting!” He straightened the black derby hat sitting plainly atop his long, wild black and brown hair falling across his back and watched as Chance continued running toward Noble’s Paradise.
Over the walls and deep within Noble’s Paradise a woman in a chair peered yearningly from a white, marble balcony. Her long, brown hair spilled down to the center of her back while her bangs hung elegantly just below her cheeks. She looked to be just above five feet but her gown obscured the figure of her body with lime green and white travelling from the front’s bottom up to the collar. She let out a sigh as her deep brown eyes scanned over the large yard stretching about a mile away.
The treeless yard held only a variety of neatly trimmed bushes in the shape of animals. Stone pavement divided the two sides of the yard and connected the main street with the mansion. Compared to Vescle not a single piece of litter or filth existed for miles across Noble’s Paradise and every man, woman and child dressed in expensive clothing which anyone below the terrace could only dream for. A white shine seemed to glean off the section of the city which the lady responded with a deeper sigh of melancholy.
“Your tea, milady,” An old, slender man said as he approached with a porcelain teacup and kettle on a silver tray. He set the tray onto the table beside her and elegantly poured the tea with two white gloved hands. The elderly gentleman looked to be around 5″10 with his short gray hair swept back and tied into a small ponytail. Not a single hair fell out of place from his neatly trimmed and bushy mustache which stretched across his upper lip and halted right beside his cheeks. He wore a thin black vest underneath a white suit shirt with a black, twin-tailed suit over his attire that also matched his black dress shoes.
“Ah,” Eirin gently gasped in surprise. “Thank you, Howard.” She smiled sweetly at him and took the teacup.
“Is something amiss, milady?” Howard peered to Eirin, who absently stared into the depths of her teacup. The light of realization swept over her face and she giggled reassuringly.
“I’m sorry,” she said with another sweet smile. “It’s nothing. I’m sure he’ll be here soon.”
“Please,” Howard said with strong, respectful regard. “Don’t apologize, milady! I am positive he will be here momentarily!” He puffed his chest up and looked to the sky with confidence. Eirin went into a fit of giggles and nodded.
“Thank you, Howard.” She smiled once more as Howard bowed deeply. After another sip she turned her gaze to the city and drifted off into thought once more. Everything seemed to go dark like clouds suddenly covered the sun while rain proceeded to drench the island. A terrible cry echoed from the back of her mind, the wailing of a small child drenched with water and huddled over someone who was lying on a dirty street with blood seeping from her dress.
Her eyes glazed over as her body slowly slacked to the side. Her hands went cold and she blinked, looked down and realized the steam coming from her tea disappeared completely. She closed her eyes and took another sip before placing the teacup onto the tray. She opened her eyes with a huff as she stood up and smiled bravely.
“Milady?” Howard said puzzlingly.
She looked at him with the smile still curled over her face. “Let’s take a walk!”
Howard arched his brows, blinked a few times and then nodded. “Very well, milady.” He took the tray from the table and closed the door behind him once Eirin made her way inside. Meanwhile down below near the gate into Noble’s Paradise a scowling Chance surveyed the guards patrolling across the entrance. He eyed over the two guards beside the gate and in his mind roundhouse kicked their faces in.
Figures, he thought to himself as he let out a dejected sigh, slumping beside the wall that caused his focus to stray to his hands. A thought jolted through his mind that caused a smile of growing hope to zip onto his face. He slid up the wall and ran through the alley to another adjacent street which was just as barren. The walls loomed over him like a noble sneering at a filthy peasant, the shadow it casted over the city seemingly twisting into a jeering face. Chance steeled his heart and stared back defiantly with his head high and mighty.
He spat out a mocking scoff as he crouched down like a frog. He bounced a few times as if preparing to leap but fell short to returning to his stance. His mind started to wander off while his eyes glazed in absence. The skies seemed to fall prey to darkness and Chance felt a shower of rain sweep over his back as the glaze of his eyes played tricks on his mind. A child soaked with rain and damp with blood kicked and screamed as another one dragged her away from a lifeless body laying on the side of the street. Echoes of unbridled weeping rang across his mind as he felt an arrow pierce his heart like heated steel through flesh.
The darkened blood of the weeping child bled into his vision. His teeth clenched hard while his brows furrowed, the glare of his eyes striking the wall with a look of indomitable rage as he tensed his muscles. He let out a beastly grunt and heaved himself upwards, rocketing towards the top of the wall.
One of the guards near the gate let out a yawn and looked up to the sky. He choked on his saliva when he saw a figure soaring closer to the top of the wall. “What the hell?” he screamed out, catching the attention of his peers. When they saw Chance pass over they scrambled to their feet and ran into Noble’s Paradise.
Chance laughed hysterically as he flew through the air, his hair catching the breeze from the flight and flailing wildly in the wind. As he continued soaring away from the wall his face dropped to a terrified frown while his heart sunk so low it felt like it weighed several billion tons. His laughing turned into abject horror when he found himself floating in the air as a seagull passed by to squawk at him. His heart pumped so fast his body seemed to reject the excess blood forcing him to choke on it. In lucid motion the air slowly swept over his face as he witnessed the descent beginning. His shrieking competed against the rush of heavy wind rippling through his body while his limbs flailed helplessly on his way down into Noble’s Paradise.
“Do you hear that?” Eirin asked to Howard, who held a yellow shade umbrella over her.
“Pardon, milady?” He looked around and held a hand near his ear. “What noise? I hear some sort of squeaking, if that is what you mean.”
Eirin shook her head. “It sounds like a mouse, but….” The young mistress gazed up into the sky and saw something in the distance falling at an incredible speed. She tilted her head and mused to herself. “What is that?”
“Get a move on!” One of the soldiers cried out to his fellow troops. “The intruder’s about to land!” They ran past the two, who watched with curiosity as the soldiers disappeared around the corner. The other nobles chattered amongst them, commenting that rats were falling out of the sky and that they should block the sky with smog to kill them. Eirin looked to Howard with a concerned frown.
“You don’t think that’s…?” Eirin looked to the falling object with slight terror and concern.
“It would be quite an adventure if it was,” Howard stated with slight enthusiasm. “Perhaps we can find out if milady is interested?”
“I’m only afraid of being right” she said, pouting her lips. Determination swept across her face while she balled her hands into fists. “So be it! Let’s check it out!”
They followed the soldiers, who continued chasing the figure falling from the sky. Every passing noble commented snidely, from jokes of flying rats to commoners growing wings to invade the terrace. Eirin’s blood coursed through her veins so quickly that her ears heated up and her attention keyed in solely on the falling anomaly.
“Milady, there!” Howard said as he pointed upwards. Eirin squinted, going wide eyed upon the recognition of Chance’s horrified face during his descent. She steeled her heart and sped up, getting closer to the soldiers and listening to them exchanging orders.
“He’s falling near the Ravonov Lodge!”
“Everyone get ready, he could be dangerous!”
“Only a commoner would try and fly into Noble’s Paradise! He’ll regret his foolish attempt!”
She gritted her teeth as Howard approached her from the side with the umbrella still in hand. “Please Milady, you might get sunburned.”
“There’s no time for that!” Eirin scolded. “He’s falling near my father’s lodge!”
“What?” Howard barked out in shock. “By your way, milady, with all due haste!”
They sped up so fast their feet left a thick trail of dust in their wake. The soldiers started sputtering and coughing, bumping into each other and letting out grunts of frustration as they tried to reassemble. Eirin felt herself become as light as a feather, her vision completely vivid as she and Howard sprung their way towards a large building constructed of solid oak logs with a large pink sign that said “Ravonov Lodge” in all uppercase lettering.