"Ozen!" Ozen looked up from the papers in her hands at the call of her name.
"Yes?" Ozen called in a low tone but loud enough to be heard outside the door. She closed her laptop and set down forms and files.
"OZEN-SAN!" the neutral/feminine voice rang louder as it was getting closer to Ozen's range of hearing. Ozen sighed and lifted herself from behind her desk, walking over to the oversized doorway. The sound of heavy footsteps grew louder as a once shadowy figure came into clear view. An almost unnoticeable smile formed on Ozen's lips as she watched her 'housemate' run up to her with an excited yet bored looking expression on her face.
"Yes, Onyx? What is it?" Ozen looked at the now out of breath, young girl in front of her. Breathing heavy, Onyx held up a finger to Ozen, indicated to give her a moment to regain her composure. After a few seconds of heavy breathing, Onyx straightened her back with a soft popping sound and looked at the taller woman towering over her.
"I've returned from the forest."
"I'm aware of that," Ozen chuckled lightly, resting a light hand Onyx's head.
"You know it's not polite to interrupt, right?" Onyx pouted, acting like a child despite her mature age. "I've returned with some supplies. To hold us over until you go up to the city edge in a few weeks."
Ozen smiled at Onyx, rustling her once well kept black and pale grey hair, getting a groan in response.
"Hey! It took me 30 minutes to keep it in line." Onyx complained, trying to smooth her hair down. For her not being related to me at all, she sure does possess a striking resemblance to myself, Ozen thought, watching Onyx get defeated by her failed grooming attempts.
Onyx, though not being related to Ozen at all, bore a striking resemblance to the taller woman. She had shaggy, shoulder length, styled black and grey hair with bangs that covered her eyes despite her efforts of styling it. She had large black eyes with red tints to them and long lashes. Slightly above average in height, very thin, and pale in complexion, almost the color of snow due to the lack of natural light. She wore various shades of black, gray, and red with the occasional white; the same color scheme as Ozen. Around her neck, she wore a black Sardonyx stone, meant to symbolize a black whistle rank.
"What supplies did you manage to find?" Ozen asked her, turning on her heel and walking back into her chambers, motioning for Onyx to follow suit.
"I found some strong, abandoned rope that looked to act like a tether. I also found some cheap, grade-4 relics," she waved those words away with her hand, knowing that grade-4 relics are next to nothing in value, "and hunted for some meat." Ozen's ears perked up at the word meat. She sat back at her desk and put away the papers and laptop that once cluttered its surface.
"What kind of meat?"
"A-Around 20 pounds from a Corpse Weeper.," Onyx said quietly while picking at the skin around her fingernails, knowing Ozen's reaction.
"A Corpse Weeper?!" Ozen's eyes widened at the now scared girl. "Onyx, you know I don't want you going up that far." She pinched the bridge of her nose, sighing. You could get killed.
Onyx doesn't really have any kind of rules at the Seeker Camp, but there is one order she must follow. She isn't allowed in the upper terrain of the second level or down lower in the Abyss. Although the land looks safe AND is technically ranked as a Black Whistle, it is covered with creatures that will not hesitate to attack. Though, the creatures up there are nothing compared to the ones down below, where Onyx was found.
Her body was found unconscious at the top edge of the fourth level, half in the water, blood pouring from her mouth and deep lacerations on her abdomen. She was discovered by a team of Black Whistles who carried her up to the Abyss edge city, Orth. From there, Ozen was connected and brought up to the city where the team insisted that she take the girl only because she bared a similar look to the White Whistle holder. Reluctant at first, Ozen gave in and carried the still unconscious girl limply over her shoulder down to the second level Seeker Camp, letting her rest up in her bed until accommodations were made.
A few days after she was relocated to the camp, Onyx woke up with a mind-splitting headache, an empty stomach, and no knowledge of how long she has been out of it. She didn't have the name Onyx at the time. When she lived upon the surface, she was living in an orphanage in the South Side slum district, otherwise known as the Wharf. While there, along with the other kids who lived there, her actual name was unknown so she was given a number in order for proper identification. Her number was 9.
9 sat up in the weirdly large bed and took in her surroundings. A dark room where the only light was a low burning gas lamp. This is a big bed.., she thought as she looked at the space she occupied. 9 was about to go back to sleep when she heard a falling and crashing sound followed by profanity. Curious, 9 swung her legs over the side of the bed in the attempt to stand up. Though, the quick movement and lack of food in her rapidly caught up with her, causing her to almost collapse. Holding onto the wall, she walked down the hall, following the sounds of items being moved. She took mental notes of the decor, seeing that it resembled the bark of trees. Even the texture was the same, she thought, running her shaking hands along the wall. A soft light presented itself as 9 made her way farther down the hall, stumbling towards a now visible doorway. She peeked inside and nearly jumped. From the doorway, the thing that caught her eye was a tall woman, looking to be over 2 meters tall with hair fashioned like horns, framing her face. Who is she? 9 pondered, staring that the woman. She has the same hair color as I do.
The woman hadn't noticed 9 standing there, being too preoccupied with what resembled a knife and some form of food like item. 9 swallowed the lump she didn't know she had in her throat. Her heart was beating so fast and loud that she was sure that the woman could hear it from across the room. She quietly released the air she held hostage in her lungs and pushed herself off the wall to stand in the doorway, immediately regretting it. By not having the support of the wall and being in such a weakened state, 9 nearly fell forward. She reached out and hugged the sturdy frame, mentally hitting herself for making a noise.
The taller woman looked out of the corner of her eye towards the noise. When she noticed the weakened form in the doorway, she put the knife down and walked over to her, back slightly hunched over.
"You're awake." The woman said, more so as a statement than a question, looking at the girl with no change in her bored looking expression. She hunched over more, looking 9 in the eyes.
"W-Where. Am.." was all the girl could croak out before violently coughing. Her voice hoarse and throat dry. The woman wrapped an arm around the girl's frail frame, acting as a support beam. She led the girl to a table in the middle of the room, sitting her in front of a cup of water.
"Drink." The woman picked up the knife again and returned to her task. The girl did not hesitate to drink the entire contents of the cup, coughing at the sudden change of feeling in her throat. The cup was taken from her hand and replaced with a bowl. Inside the bowl was what looked to be a broth of some sort, with small chunks of meat and vegetables what could be only be obtained at the city level. The warmth radiating from the bowl calmed 9's nerves slightly.
"Eat. You look like a corpse." The woman deadpanned, putting the refilled cup back on the table and sitting herself down on the opposite side. 9 took the spoon and scooped up a small amount of the broth, bringing it to her chapped lips. She slowly let the warm liquid travel from the spoon into her mouth. The hearty taste of the broth was enough to make 9 abandon the spoon and drink the soup straight of the bowl, eating the chunks of meat and vegetables. "Slow down, you're gonna make yourself sick."
The girl finished her bowl and set it down on the table.
"T-Thank you. Very much, huh.." she said quietly looking at the woman.
"Ozen." The woman said, keeping her eyes on the girl. "What is your name? The team that found you unconscious never gave me yours."
"I-I…," 9 started, looking down at her hands, picking at the skin around her nails. "I never had a real name.. I was identified by a number.." Ozen looked confused then sighed.
"Guess I have to name you, huh?" she stood up, straightening her spine with a loud cracking pop, causing 9 to jump. She reached into a pouch on her belt and pulled out a stone tied to a cord. She walked behind the girl and clasped the cord around her neck. "This stone is a Black Sardonyx. I found it while I was out delving the other day while you were still unconscious. How do you like it, Onyx?" The girl turned and looked up Ozen, her once dead looking eyes showed a small glimpse of happiness. She clasped her hand around the stone and gave a weak smile. She stood up and wrapped her arms around the taller woman's waist, much to Ozen's distaste.
"I love it.."
"I'm sorry, Ozen. I just wanted to explore a little," Onyx looked at her shoes, arms at her side. She bowed in front of the older woman. "I'm sorry. It won't happen again."
Ozen sighed and softly patted the younger girl's head. Onyx looked up and saw a soft smile on Ozen's face. She pulled the younger girl onto her lap and held her close.
"I know you meant no harm, but just leave the higher and lower levels to me, okay?"
"But I can handle the low-" Ozen held up a finger.
"I CAN'T handle you being almost dead. Again. Or worse. You're special to me and I plan to keep you as long as I can." Onyx smiled and rested her head against Ozen's chest, listening to her heart beating. The surprisingly soothing sound luring her into a peaceful slumber.
"You've gone soft, Ooozeeen.." was all Onyx mumbled out before drifting to sleep. Ozen chuckled, rolling her eyes. She planted a small kiss on the younger girl's forehead before standing up with a tight grip on the sleeping form. She walked out of her chambers and walked to Onyx's room, laying her on the bed.
"Sleep well, little one."
Ozen exited out of Onyx's room, taking strides back to her chambers. Back hunched and mind deep in thought, memories for 4 years back flooded into Ozen's head. 4 years ago. Ozen thought. 4 years since Onyx arrived. She was so shy and timid around me.