A/N: Hey guys! So, I've been thinking a bit on where I wanted to take this story, and I've wrote down a basic route for it. From beginning to a somewhat end! That way, it's not all chaotic and rushed. I'll actually be able to take my time hahahaha! Oh, good news! I'm off mandatory study, and am now able to write just a bit more! *Puffs out chest* I feel like a king! Anyway, enough about me, let's continue Kaneki's journey through Tristain! Also, it seems like I'll be stuck in 1 hour mandatory study again ;v;.
A cloaked figure silently walked a small dirt path of a forest. The wind gently blowing as small chirps and whistles echoed through. The serene atmosphere barely carried comfort for this figure. The soft crunching of leaves and rocks under multiple boots followed behind as the figure scowled.
"Will you hurry up!? We don't have a whole lot of time, in case you didn't know!" A female voice echoed, the chirping stopping momentarily. It was followed by simple grunts and moans, causing the figure to halt her movements.
"If you have time to groan and moan, then you have time to move your ass in gear! I didn't pay you enough to slack around!"
"Give them a break, hot stuff. We aren't mercenaries, so don't treat us as such." The voice of a man warned as she looked to her right. Her scowl turned to a sneer at the man before her. He was clad in bandit attire: fur coat, metal chestplate, leather boots and pants. The whole nine yards.
"If it was my choice, I would've picked mercenaries, not some disgusting brutes." She chastised.
"Hey, Who th-", another bandit was cut off mid sentence with a raise of a hand, "Calm down, Lloyd. She simply doesn't know the appeal of a bandit, yet." The man replied to his companion, a smug grin plastered on his face.
"I wouldn't want to, knowing how you all work…" The cloaked woman trailed off, remembering the scene she came upon when first meeting them. The blood and bodies littering the ground as some of the bandits in their group raped and pillaged a small caravan. It was not a very welcoming sight, to say the least. She shook her head slightly, gazing out into a small clearing. In the distance, her eyes caught the sight of a Large, castle-like building.
"Soon, I'll have all I will ever need…" She silently spoke to herself as she let a small grin show through the darkness of her hood.
"Hey! Wake up!" Louise screamed in Kaneki's ear. Jolting him awake and causing him to jump to his feet. His heart pounded as he tried to regain his bearings. He looked around the room for a brief moment before planting his eyes on Louise, who stood next to him with her hands on her hips.
"Just how long do you plan on sleeping!?" She asked, her brow furrowing and the scowl on her face deepening. "We're already behind schedule! We need to hurry and figure out what you can do before time is up, jeez!"
Kaneki blankly stared at her for a few seconds before he finally remembered what it was. Louise had told him yesterday that the school was holding some sort of talent show for the mages and their familiars.
"I don't really feel comfortable doing something like that." He said, scratching his cheek as he smiled awkwardly. Louise only huffed before pointing her finger at him.
"I will not be embarrassed out there. We must find something you're good at, lest I remain a laughing stock." Louise stated firmly, Kaneki nodding his head slowly as he went to grab his mask from under the pile of hay. As he pulled it out, Louise grimaced at the sight of it.
'If it's true, and he really has such a horrible past, then maybe it is best to have him not remember at all…' Louise thought to herself.
"I guess we won't find something sitting around here, will we?" Kaneki asked as he pocketed the strange mask. Louise led him out the door and into the fairly long hallways of Tristain Magic Academy.
Kaneki looked on in mild curiosity as most of the second years were practicing their routine with their familiars. They weren't paying him any mind (for once), instead opting to focus all of their attention on making sure there were no mistakes in their performances.
"First, we'll see how good you are with a weapon." Louise stated, tossing him a longsword from god-knows-where. He caught it deftly, staring at it for only a moment before tilting his head slightly to the side like a confused pup.
"I don't think this is for me. It doesn't feel too comfortable." Kaneki said, causing Louise to sigh.
"So that's a no, then." She said in defeat, cupping her chin as she thought about what else he could do. That's when something brilliant came to her mind.
"Can you sing? Or play an instrument?" She asked, feeling herself jitter a bit, albeit the action going unnoticed from her familiar. He did the exact same thing she did, cupping his chin in thought.
"I don't think I can, but we can give it a shot." He said, Louise smiling like a child as she went inside to get something. Kaneki just stood there, looking out into the field of Mages. The amount of creatures astonished him, some making him uncomfortable. He saw the blue haired girl, Tabitha, flying on her dragon. He couldn't keep his eyes from widening as this was the first time he'd actually seen her familiar.
"Amazing…" He said under his breath, relishing in the sight. He looked around the field some more, spotting the red head the clung to Tabitha like a moth to a flame. She was having her familiar do some fire tricks, patting its head every so often. So many different and unique things were going on, that he couldn't help but smile.
'I wonder what hide would think if he saw this…' He thought to himself, before he finally caught on to what he just thought.
'Hide…? Who is that? It sounds so familiar, but I can't put a face to the name…'
"Kaneki! Hurry up and play!" Louise demanded as she pushed open the front doors of the school and ran towards him. Immediately, she knew something was wrong with him.
"Hey, are you alright?" She asked, dreading that something similar to the day before was happening once again. He turned around to face her his expression blank, but somehow saddened.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just lost in thought…" He said, cupping his chin. Louise, eyeing him suspiciously, thought that action to be quite strange. She couldn't pinpoint exactly why, but it just felt off to her.
"Okay…" She said, before remembering what she had brought along.
"Here! Try playing this!" She handed him a bow, along with a Violin. He stared at it for a bit, remembering it from somewhere in a book he once read. Somehow, he could only remember odd things from books he's read. Even now, as he placed the instrument under his chin and held the bow in the correct position, he gently pulled down on the strings. What came out wasn't the soft melody of the strings, but a scratching sound that hurt Louise's ears. Kaneki immediately stopped, Looking at the instrument in confusion.
"Hold on." He stated, making a few tweaks here and there to it, before trying again. Louise prepared herself this time, keeping her hands near her ears in case the horrific noise came again. Instead, a beautiful medley of sounds echoed through the grounds. Some of the students near them halted, eyeing the pair with wonder. Kaneki stopped midway, looking at Louise for any input or criticism.
"O-Okay. Now that we know that you can play, we should think of a song…" She said. She couldn't help but be astonished at the fact that he could play it even though he has no memory of it to begin with, but now comes the real challenge. Will he be able to play any songs. She wracked her brain around it, before giving up and just asking him.
"Kaneki, do you remember any songs that you could play?" She asked, fingers crossed as she prayed that he knew at least one.
"I may know one, but as of right now, I can't really remember…" He stated, Louise cursing under her breath.
"Well, we'll just have to deal with it when it comes then. For right now, go do whatever you want until the show starts. You have my permission as your master." She said, walking back inside. Kaneki scoffed, getting slightly annoyed at what she said at the end of her sentence. He was about to head inside when he heard someone call out his name.
"Kaneki! Hey, Kaneki!" Kaneki turned and saw that Siesta was waving at him.
"Good morning, Siesta" He greeted, bowing slightly. She smiled at him, giving a bow of her own.
"Are you preparing for the Exhibition?" She asked, tilting her head slightly.
'So that's what it's called.' Kaneki thought to himself.
"Yes, just taking a break until it starts. How have you been, Siesta?"
"I'm just preparing the chairs and other items. After all, it's become such a big event since the Princess herself showed up this year." Siesta stated, her face a mixture of happiness and worry. Kaneki gave a hum of acknowledgement.
"It was nice to see you, Kaneki. I have to get back to work before I get a scolding." She said, giggling a bit behind her hand and taking off. He kept watch until she disappeared behind the building, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
"I guess I should just take a nap, then." Kaneki said to himself, placing the violin down on the grass while laying down himself. He observed the clouds hanging around in the sky, each one taking a different shape as time passed, but none able to really captivate him. He felt his eyes get heavy, slowly closing themselves as he barely put up a fight. The darkness swallowed him, embracing his being in sweet dreams, but right before he fell asleep, he couldn't help but feel something was off. The faint hint of smoke and sweat carried themselves through the soft wind.
"Kaneki! Hey, Kaneki! Wake up!" Louise screamed, again, in his ear. This time, however, he didn't jolt awake.
"The exhibition is about to start! I said to take a short break, not nap through the whole day!" She yelled, doing her signature stomp. He merely sat up and dusted himself off. He managed to pick up his violin before Louise grabbed his arm and dragged him off to where they needed to go, the whole place already filled to the brim. Most of the second years were behind the stage with their familiars, some patting their familiars for encouragement or simply sitting in silence.
"Damn! We're already behind!" Louise cursed, dragging him behind the stage and taking the very last seat available. Kaneki looked around, seeing the crowd from behind the stage. He couldn't pick out any familiar faces, thinking that maybe Siesta would be sitting amongst the crowd.
'Guess she still has work to do.' He thought to himself, a hint of sadness in his eyes.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 106th annual Exhibition of New Familiars! We hope you enjoy the show!" a voice announced, allowing the first mage to take the stage.
"First up, we have Malicorne de Grandpré and his familiar, Cubasil!" The crowd cheered and clapped as the heavyweight boy made his way onto the stage with his owl. Kaneki wasn't very interested in how he performed, but watched him nonetheless. The announcer called up others in a similar fashion. Each one performing amazing stunts and tricks (except for that one blond boy he fought.), the audience taking in each and every performance. However, the performance that actually captivated him the most was Tabitha and her dragon. The aerial performance making him go wide-eyed and gaining every bit of his attention.
"And for our last event, please welcome Louise Francoise le Blanc de la Valliere and her familiar, Kaneki!" He and Louise took the stage, the crowd going eerily quiet except for a few who gave a halfhearted clap. Louise looked out into the crowd, seeing the princess in the front row giving her an encouraging smile. She made no effort to acknowledge the subtle support, but it did not go unnoticed.
"Kaneki, don't embarrass me." She whispered, Kaneki merely nodded before putting the violin under his chin. He could hear some whispers out in the crowd, some curious about what he would play while others scoffed and badmouthed him. With a gentle tug, he began to play. The soft melody of a foreign song echoed through the crowd as he played with gentle hands.
Kaneki could feel the the fuzziness in his mind fade slightly, words echoing through his mind as he continued to play. Suddenly, without missing a beat, he began to sing, catching both Louise and the crowd off guard at how beautiful his voice was.
"Darkness falls on another day, and the light just seems so far away", the crowd remained silent, captivated by his melody, "am I here all alone? Cause it just feels so cold, oh~ so cold." Kaneki could feel something well up inside himself, someone else entirely taking control of his body as he continued to play. The darkness within his mind barely obtaining a small light. Louise looked on in wonder, never before hearing such a song. The beauty captivated her, but somehow all she could feel was the astonishing amount of sadness in Kaneki's voice.
He played for what felt like hours, but was really just a few minutes. The crowd remained silent, watching him with what felt like scrutinizing eyes before erupting into cheers and applause. He stepped back a bit, not expecting such a cacophony of praise. He looked at Louise, who had small tears in her eyes. She saw him looking her way, and quickly wiped away the tears, turning back to him with a sad smile.
"Absolutely amazing! Wonderful!" The crowd bellowed. He took a simple bow, heading off the stage as the judges tallied up the votes. As they exited the stage, Louise couldn't help but think how the melody fit Kaneki so well.
"That was amazing! The crowd praised and cheered and-", Kaneki was currently listening to Louise jump for joy and recap what had happened in her own words. He smiled, the much more cheery side of Louise making her rare appearance, "how do you even know how to play that song!? I thought you lost most of your memories?"
"It just came to me, really. Like I was merely watching myself play." He answered, caught off guard a bit at the sudden question. Louise seemed content with that answer as she danced around, the grounds still completely packed with people. Soon enough, the voice of the announcer echoed through the crowd.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to announce our winner for this year's exhibition! Give a round of applause to…" He stopped for dramatic effect. Suddenly, the smell of smoke assaulted Kaneki's nose. He quickly looked towards one of the many walls guarding the academy.
The explosion shook everything within its vicinity. Some of the crowd caught in the explosion as many people scrambled around, trying to figure out what just happened. the smoke causing many to cough and become disoriented. Kaneki went to grab Louise's hand, but found nothing there. He looked around, seeing that she was nowhere in sight. His adrenaline pumped through him like a firehose as he came to a very undesirable conclusion. Louise is gone, and the school is currently being attacked by an unknown enemy.