He couldn’t believe what he just did. Chance struggled to contain his anger as he hopped from roof to roof, the chains of his handcuffs rattling in the wind like numerous cobra tails. Every time he blinked he saw Eirin’s face filled with malice and contempt that lumped up with each scumbag noble that met his eye. Remembering that face opened a cache of memories that he now wished would go the hell away.
Damn it! he cursed at himself in his mind. His face twisted in agony as he tried to scrape away Eirin’s unbridled fury from his mind. He felt his body replace the poor soldier as each kick and swear landed into him. Even if that dumb soldier was in cahoots with the nobles nobody deserved such merciless punishment, though if it were up to him he’d punch the soldier hard enough to send him to the moon. Chance grunted as his feet crashed into a red tiled roof before bending his knees deeply and shooting into the skies much higher than intended.
“Oh crap!” he yelled out as the island disappeared before his eyes. He kept repeating the words like an overly excited child who gulped down too much sugar except added a pinch of horror syrup by accident. The rush of the wind screamed through his ears he found himself squealing like a little girl halfway down his descent. His heart beat faster than a racehorse at a derby while his mind tripped over itself trying to figure out what to do in such an inhumane situation. Two nerves bashed into each other that made Chance gasp with a mix of desperation and fear as he started to flail his legs without aim. Somehow the plummet started to slow and his eyes realized his legs blurred so thickly they resembled watercolors.
By some grace of God his aimless leg flailing worked. Golgi Isle slowly came into focus below him and he noticed all the little dots of people moving around the streets. He and his body drank in every corner of the sight but his body also drank from the cursed cup of exhaustion and gave notice to Chance through his quickly blurring vision. A high pitched gasp shot out of his throat as the valiant young man went half-conscious and let gravity take over. If any relief fixated in his mind it was that he’d tear right through the roof of his house.
Chance crashed right into Fols’ attic with the sounds of thunder and lightning travelling behind. His conscious shot to life and he stared at the large hole in the ceiling with narrowed eyes of irritated surprise. The size of the hole shocked him more than the aching pain at the top of his head but a little deducing helped him figure out he crashed through the roof like a missile. He got up, looked around and noticed Fols huddled behind some crates with a hand up.
“S’up,” he said nonchalantly with a small, calm wave. Chance crooked a frown and furrowed his brows.
“Why aren’t you minding the stations?” Chance didn’t seem to realize how strange the predicament looked. Him in handcuffs and crashing through the roof surely meant something odd was going on but Fols didn’t seem to mind either.
“Forget that, you look like a wreck!” Fols quirked a brow as he sized up Chance’s bruises and scratches. “Did you have some sexy fun time with Eirin or something? What’s with those cuffs?”
“Oy!” Chance barked out. “What kind of stupid remark is that? I got caught by the noble’s soldiers.” A needle pierced through his heart when he remembered the soldier’s merciless beating. Like a lashed dog he lowered his head and clenched his teeth. Fols tilted his head and frowned.
“Looks like something bad went down.” Fols crept to Chance’s side and leaned onto a crate. “Hey, tell me about it.”
“This seems like a weird place to talk about this stuff.” Chance pouted and gazed to the side. “You still haven’t told me why you’re up here, too.”
“About ten minutes after you left some navy folk barged in and locked the restaurant down.” Fols scratched around his ear like his words didn’t bear any weight. “They wanted to take me in for questioning but I hid up here when they turned their backs. I think they’re messing up your room.”
“What!?” Chance growled as he recognized the sound of his bookcase crashing down below. “Argh! It took me days to organize that bookcase!”
“Hey now, calm down.” Fols waved his hand like he didn’t have a care in the world. “Tell me what happened up there. Something got you spooked.”
“How can you be so calm?” A crooked scowl flew onto Chance’s face. He shot it toward Fols but it proved ineffective.
“Friends first, it’s not like those folks are gonna be a problem anyways.” Fols disarmed Chance with a smile. The blonde held back a scoff and looked away as his mind organized his thoughts.
“Remember that day when Eirin’s father almost killed me?” Chance didn’t need to see the cringing expression tightening up on Fols’ face. Fols nibbled on the insides of his lower lip. “I got surrounded because some navy captain smacked me off from the second floor. Eirin bluffed the guards but one of them had a hair trigger and almost shot her face off.”
“Jeez, you guys are magnets for trouble.” Fols shook his head and snickered empathetically. “That poor guy must’ve gotten the crap beaten outta him.”
“You have no idea.” Chance blew out a quick sigh. “I felt every blow, my whole body just froze up and I couldn’t get her to stop.”
“It’s not your fault anyways.” Fols patted Chance on the back a few times. “Things could’ve gone a lot worse, I’m sure you know that, Mister Smarty Pants.”
Hesitation bogged Chance’s mind. Things could’ve gone a lot better too. “I guess so.”
His words made Fols frown in disappointment. “You’re so uptight. You’re both still breathing, whatever else happened can easily be made up as long as you have the hope for it. You know, give yourself a CHANCE!” Fols laughed like he made the best joke in the world. Chance choked down an ungrateful smile, knowing such stupid humor shouldn’t get the best of him but for some reason the thought made him want to smile even more.
So he bonked Fols in the head. “Ow! That hurt!” Fols calmed down as Chance shook his head. The commotion below them stopped and they heard words being exchanged.
“I thought I heard something upstairs,” one voice said. Chance narrowed his eyes in disbelief. How did they not realize there was an attic, especially after crashing through the roof?
“There are no stairs, idiot!” another voice barked out.
GAH! Chance struggled to control his anger. Are they that stupid!?
“Calm down now,” Fols cautioned with a nervous smile. “C’mon, it’s fine, don’t be like that.”
“They can’t be…,” Chance’s breathing accelerated. He hoped to the lord almighty the people below them weren’t as stupid as he thought.
“That doesn’t mean there isn’t an attic space or something!” the first voice retorted angrily.
“Oh I’m sorry, I don’t see a ladder anywhere, do you?” quipped the first voice’s friend.
“AUGH!” Chance screamed out. Fols choked down a startled cry as his friend started going on a tirade.
“Chance! Hey, calm down, they’re gonna hear you!” Fols’ urging only caused Chance’s anger to grow.
“They should’ve heard me when I crashed through the stupid ceiling!” He rose up and started stomping down on the floor. “You hear me, you idiots? Don’t you think the ladder would be INSIDE the attic and that you wouldn’t be able to see it? Are you that stupid!?” His anger blinded him in vibrant red and his stomping accelerated so quickly it blurred out with each connection with the attic’s wooden floor. The poor wood cried out for mercy in the way of numerous cracks but Chance’s satanic feet carried none.
The wood continued giving way and finally consumed his foot. Chance struggled with livid anger as he grunted and pulled to free himself but the hungry floor tasted delicious human flesh and quickly gulped down the blonde’s whole leg. The attic creaked violently as more of the wood splintered apart. Fols looked down with defeat as the floor completely collapsed and hurled the two down into Chance’s now messy quarters.
A cloud of dust splashed across the room amidst the cries of surprise and pain. Chance’s back smashed against one of the navy soldiers and Fols landed butt down against the other soldier’s head. The window popped open from the pressure and guided the dust and loose debris through it like a shepherd guiding his lost sheep. The last dust mite barreled out of the room while Chance clawed half his body out from the wooden shambles of the attic floor and let out a cry of rage.
“Perfect!” he barked out with a growl. “I can’t even see my bookshelf under this mess!”
Fols sucked in a breath of air as he climbed out from the mess. He glanced around and chuckled a bit. “Well, that was interesting.” He lifted himself out from the wreckage and helped a seething Chance by pulling him up by the chain of his handcuffs. “Up you go! I think you made a bit too much noise.”
A navy soldier swept the burlap curtain aside and gazed with utmost shock at the display of carnage. His orange ascot drooped down as a squeak of disbelief shot from his throat. Fols studied the soldier’s blue and white uniform and stifled a snicker.
“Is that the new navy uniform? Yuck!” Fols laughed as Chance cringed ever so slightly.
“It looks a lot worse in person,” the blonde added.
The navy soldier pointed apprehensively at the young men and cried out with a stutter. “He’s here! The traitor kid’s here!” Even as several soldiers with cutlasses rushed past their comrade and towards the two Fols’ laughter continued. Chance looked to him with a disgruntled stare and frowned.
“They’re coming to arrest us,” he said affirmatively. “Why are you still laughing?”
“Eh?” Fols stopped laughing as a navy soldier lunged towards him. The soldier let out a grunt as Fols ducked down and flipped him over his back and through the window. “That was pretty impolite,” he said with a calm demeanor. The remaining soldiers felt no fear as they climbed over the wreck and barked out warnings toward the two young punks.
“We don’t have to kill you here, Traitor Kid,” one of them said. “But maybe you’re better off dead anyways!”
“You know our orders!” another one barked out. “Take him alive!”
Chance scoffed and sneered at the sailors. One of them lunged at Chance but found himself with a face full of rubber sandals. The inhuman speed of the impact dislocated the sailor’s jaw and hurled him down the little hill of debris like a lifeless ragdoll. “Hope you enjoy hell with a nice slice of dislocation, morons!”
One of the sailors looked to the unconscious one and gasped. “What the hell was that? It didn’t even look like he was hit that hard!”
“Think we should leave?” Fols asked as he nonchalantly pushed a soldier down with his foot.
“You first,” Chance quipped. The display of his once clean roomed seared a painful mental note in his mind. Organizing that small bookshelf of his took several hours; as far as he cared he could keep kicking faces in until time stopped. Fols tugged on the chain of Chance’s handcuffs and then thumbed towards the window. The blonde frowned with a sweet longing to rage out but succumbed to his friend’s plan and hopped out of the window after him. The sailors inside started yelling out orders as the two landed on the soldier Fols hurled through the window and ran down the street.
They expected a lot of congested traffic in the middle of the afternoon but the streets were barren save for the unfortunately numerous amounts of navy soldiers littering the streets. The two stopped in their tracks and glanced around for a better exit as the troops ran towards them.
“Alley!” Fols yelled. Chance managed to uppercut a sailor with his foot before jerking to the side and heading into the alleyway. Two other soldiers whipped around the corner to block them but the young punks didn’t stop for a moment. Fols gripped one by the head and twirled over him while Chance slid over the ground and dropped the soldiers onto their faces.
“Morons!” Chance barked out, putting more salt into the wounds of disgrace. Fols couldn’t help but to chuckle. The street started coming to life with people and the two assimilated themselves with the local populace. The pursuing soldiers stopped near the edge of the crowds and cursed their luck as Chance and Fols solidified their successful getaway.
“Guess you’re gonna have to call another place home.” Fols joked cheerfully. Chance didn’t feel the love and scowled.
“I’ll be back for my books,” Chance replied with conviction. He kept an eye on their surroundings as the two continued their way towards the gate leading out of the city. Despite their escape Chance’s face kept a constant look of worry which Fols noticed as he glanced over to him.
He already knew what bugged him. Fols nudged Chance on the shoulder and smiled reassuringly to him. As hard as he tried Chance couldn’t help but to smile in return. He knew Eirin would be fine but still couldn’t help but feel ashamed for not sticking around even under the surveillance of the navy goons.
The unfortunate truth of the matter was that Eirin was already captured by the time they escaped. She yelled and scolded as her captor tossed her onto the street like she was nothing.
“How dare you!” she fumed incredulously. “Did you forgot who I was, you scum?” Some of the city guards laughed spitefully at her useless words.
“Any friend of the Traitor Kid is just worthless,” the chief replied with a sneer. “I’m sure your father would think the same thing.” Eirin’s face tensed up with anger as the chief shook his head. “That was quite a stunning performance at the lodge, but this time it won’t help you.”
“Sir!” a navy soldier said as he saluted the chief. “Lord Ravonov is coming! He wants to speak to the prisoner!”
“What?” the chief muttered in shock. His heart accelerated a thousand beats per second as he ordered all the navy soldiers and city guards to form up and clear the street. His mind reveled in the commanding power as they stood with their heads held high and eyes focused like a discipline corps of well-trained defenders. The chief straightened out his cap and folded his hands behind his back as he and the rest of his troops waited for the lord to approach from the road.
The wind seemed to blow from a different direction however. A refined gentleman in a red three-piece suit approached from behind the chief like he flew in with the waves of the wind. His salt and pepper hair was trimmed as neatly as his muttonchops and beard while the stoic expression on his face portrayed nothing but civility and elegance. His broad, confident shoulders undoubtedly caused the chief’s attire and stature to pale in comparison. Eirin let out a sigh of disappointment and shook her head as the chief and his soldiers continued facing in the wrong direction.
The sound of Lord Ravonov taking out a hickory pipe caused everyone but the young mistress to jerk and look in his direction. He examined it for a moment before adding some tobacco leaves from a leather pouch with the word “Montrel” embroidered on the mouth. Beads of sweat started forming on the chief’s forehead as Ravonov took out a match and twirled it with his fingers. When he used the chief’s face to light the match the soldiers in formation gasped out in mountainous horror.
“I see my daughter is safe,” he said with such a calm demeanor that further unnerved the chief and his crew. “But I have to wonder why she is on the ground like that.” The scent of raspberry filled the air as Ravonov continued blowing out smoke. The chief struggled to keep himself standing up straight where his fellow crew already surrendered to Lord Ravonov’s indomitable presence. Many of them paled, wondering how he managed to avoid them without causing a single sound across the street.
“She was conspiring with the Traitor Kid, sir.” The chief started to doubt his own words. Ravonov simply nodded but it was with the special tinge of bitterness that the chief noticed.
“I see. And how do you know this?” Ravonov gently tapped some ashes from his pipe. The chief struggled to maintain his composure and felt himself giving way like the ashes dissipating into the air. Every second Ravonov eyed him caused him to stifle a wince or a fidget.
“She aided in his escape from your lodge and said he was her slave.” The head guard swallowed down a knife of a lump lodged in his throat. The more he spoke the less his words felt convincing.
“So you’re accusing my daughter of being a liar.” Ravonov nodded as if he knew all the facts. The words gutted the chief like a poor fish in a butcher’s clutches.
“With all due respect, sir!” the head guard said as he stuttered uncontrollably. “That’s not what I meant, I meant that she –”
“I’ve kept a tenuous truce with the navy, you know.” Ravonov turned his back on the chief and calmly looked around. “I’m certain you’re old enough to recall that they massacred almost more than a third of the populace looking for the Traitor Kid’s father.” He let a slow tendril of smoke out from the corner of his mouth and turned to face the chief again. “Not only has the navy destroyed one of my lodges but one of their measly captains is now walking around my city like he owned it. And do you know who I fully blame?”
The chief tried to respond but Ravonov cut him off as he pointed to him with his pipe. “You. Were it not for the incompetency of you and your soldiers Eirin’s slave would have not escaped his quarters and my lodge would not be in shambles.” He loomed over the chief like a man over an ant and glared venomously at him. “And do you know what I’ve heard? I’ve heard several navy ships are coming to dock momentarily because they believe this ridiculous Traitor Kid is still alive. How do you think I feel about this?”
Silence coiled around everyone like snakes. Eirin’s body refused to move an inch as she watched her father break down the chief’s spirit with mere words. The whole street thrived with the deathly pale soldiers standing on the sidewalks, all of which dared not to move a single millimeter without fearing of furious rebukes from the imposing lord. Ravonov quirked a brow as he waited for the head guard to respond.
“Very angry,” the chief finally said with a limp tone. Ravonov closed his eyes and nodded serenely.
“Yes,” he added calmly. “I am very angry.” He put his hands on the chief’s shoulders and smiled. “But there are many ways to forgiveness, and I’m sure you’ll find a way to acquire redemption for these mistakes.”
Every sailor and city guard near the two gasped out with shock. They couldn’t possibly believe after that tongue lashing that the chief was going to be let go without more than the matchstick burn on his face. The head guard smiled and opened his mouth to speak when Ravonov let go of him, but as soon as he did a bullet whizzed through the chief’s brain cage and implanted itself into the side of the street. An expression of utmost shock stuck onto his face as his body slumped to the ground. A few miles away upon the grounds of Ravonov’s estate Howard peered from the balcony with a musket in hand and the barrel still smoking.
“Redemption found,” Ravonov uttered calmly. Every pair of eyes that made contact with Ravonov’s flinched away violently. He looked to the rest of the soldiers and guards and sent a commanding stare towards them. “You all stay here and ensure the slave doesn’t return. I’m sure you can do a better job than the one sprawled across my street.” They all loudly acknowledged the order with and scattered to surround the restaurant. Eirin gazed at her father with suspicious eyes even as he lent a hand to help her up.
“Well?” he said with a terse voice. “If you want to help yourself up then do it faster.”
So she did while brushing dust off from her dress. Her father wrapped a gentle hand around her and urged her to follow even if she didn’t want to. The display of affection made Eirin’s stomach roll around in displeasure.
“So what now?” Eirin asked impatiently. “Shall you confine me in my room as usual?” She let out a huff of pride and swiped her father’s hand away. “Typical. I bet mother would be most pleased.”
“Are you happy here?” Ravonov asked. The tone of the question caught Eirin off-guard. His voice felt touched by a sorrow left unchecked for years.
“Of course not,” Eirin said spitefully. “You should know why.” Her spirit felt no urge to back down against a man like her father. “I’m sure your mistress will realize the same as she gets to know you.”
The words jarred Ravonov in his tracks. In a flash his face broke down from its stoic composure to one of extreme sadness. “Is that what you believe?”
Eirin crossed her arms and glanced away. “I see no other reason for you to depart the house in the middle of the night.”
Ravonov nodded. “I see.” He continued walking with his hands rested behind his back. Eirin lurked around his side, waiting for a chance to escape his presence before it chokes her. “Then please let me explain.”
She couldn’t believe the nerve he had. “Explain? Nothing you say will convince me.” The words peppered Ravonov with melancholy but he still found the strength to continue.
“Then if nothing I say will change your mind then so be it.” He paused for a moment before adding, “But regardless I will not stop you from doing whatever you wish from this point on.”
The young mistress stopped as he did. The words lured her to a false sense of security even though her mind knew who they were coming from. Only her father would be this forthcoming, and she supposed that if that was his decision she would hear him out. “If you believe it will make a difference,” she uttered with slow caution. Lord Ravonov nodded and gestured towards a small safe with an outside patio. Simple wooden seats and tables with umbrellas hanging over them decorated it that made the scene look quaint, and the two took a seat near the corner and began their discussion while Chance and Fols finally made their way into White Fog.
Eirin never dreamed of her father being this honest, but as she listened the winds of change calmly rolled by and whispered a vision of the future into her ear.