Hello! Thank you forchecking this story. I'm not very good at writing fanfictions, but I'll give my best try, I guess I have to start somewhere.

As a fan of VoH I'm aware that fanfictions are pretty rare, so I decided to add one of my own for the collection. I'm not expecting shocking clamor, but please if possible leave a review or two, so I may improve on my writing skills. Thank you!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Treetops swayed violently as the winds picked up, the desolate environment of the dense forest sinking heavily as dusk turned into a bleak and disheartening night. Patches of moonlight pierced the canopies, playing patterns and outlines through the ground.

A serene yet disturbing flow, they all sat amid hues of green and blue radiance; the melodic sound of droplets of water falling into a pool could be heard nearby, amid the moss covered stones and spreading glistening ivy.

Tightening his hold on Flute's skirt, Trom shrunk tighter onto her lap, drawing almost instinctively from her a motherly stroking of his head; she smoothed out loose strands of his hair, to finally rest her hand on the warmth of his smooth childish cheek.

"I'm cold…" Raising his head he sought after her red eyes, sad remains of her then seemingly unending charisma. Her face was lowered, unfocused eyes jeered at his. There were green and blue shadows playing her features against the colossal trees that disappeared into darkness.

"I'm sorry about that; we cannot light a fire this night. They're close by; we gotta be careful. Just try to sleep… it will be morning soon!" Frozen eyes responded to his cry, something had been amiss for a couple of days now.

For many days now they had been charging through the forest, trying to loose persistent troops on their trail. Any everyday basis activity held the risk of granting the troops knowledge of their position. Nothing left but hiding and awaiting an opportunity to reach the next town and intermingle their footsteps with the inhabitants; but they were unable to continue due to a feasible thunderstorm.

Grasping Flute's skirt tighter, Trom raised his head and observed briefly the surroundings, his sight diverted immediately to his companions. Raiel was close by, sitting against the exposed roots of a leaning oak tree, his knees drawn to his chest as to somehow reduce his growing despair. Perched smartly on his head, Oboe scanned the layout continuously, regarding often a worrisome glance at pink clad Flute and her fearful protégée.

Raiel's eyes flicked away gently, giving away the location of a figure sitting far off on a slope, overlooking the minuscule clearing. Hamel sat clad in his cloak, his eyes never disregarding the comforting figure of the sweet princess holding Trom, lost in her thoughts.

Suddenly rustling from his position, Hamel stood up. It took no more than a slight descent in just a couple of footsteps, to stand behind the stooping Flute.

Unaware, her head raised instinctively as a cloak came tumbling onto her back, impregnated heavily with the warmth and scent of the young mazoku, embracing her small frame entirely. As she looked up in his direction he had almost settled once more in his previous position, untouched by the aquamarine spectrum.

Sliding her slender arms along the lining of the cloak, she grasped the ends of the cloth; enfolding Trom and drawing his drowsy figure to rest against her chest, her sole comfort the feeling of being needed.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"We're almost there! I can already smell the scent of cooking!" Eagerly Raiel came up the slope, to get the first glimpse of a dormant town in the valley folds. Extending widely, the city was divided into two sections by a river; colorful bridges interlacing both sides, to end up on the east on a stretching meadow.

To the east of the town, farms and small cottages could be seen dotting the meadow, which ended abruptly in what seemed to be a plateau, overlooking a deep crag. On the west, barely visible among the hills, was a tiny glimpse of a water body. The wind picked up gently, and a faint trace of sea could be tasted in the wind.

Flute stopped next to Raiel, slightly behind, Hamel approached also with Oboe in his shoulder. The glistening river stood brightly, winding through. "Is the city of Escalante, isn't it?"

"Yeah; it'll be easy to lose ourselves, if we can make a deal with a ship, we may be able to cross the sea stretch and arrive further north on Moderato."

"We might be able to loose the land troops." Chimed Trom alongside Raiel, shading his eyes from an early sun, he drew in breath, holding the intake for a couple of seconds. "Whoa! It's a big city! We could go see their ships and cannons!"

"First we might want to find a place to rest briefly, before setting off again…" Raiel held a concerned arm for Flute.

Startled by a comment she did not quite hear, she realized the weary look she must have. She felt and probably seemed to be more exhausted than usual.

"Oh, no! I'm fine, I swear; it's just the winds last night, they startled me a little. C'mon, I'm dying to meet the city!" Her smiling face enticed everyone to descend towards the delightful city amid her cradle of hillocks.

Arriving on the city, they decided to continue on a walkway along the river. Soon they found themselves amid a market place running alongside the left bank, all kinds of glittering objects arranged to catch the passerby's eyes.

Walking on a wide cobblestone corridor between the sales persons and the river, to the right of the walkway, it sloped visibly, oval shaped stairs placed at intervals to descend to the river, and some leading to crafty and elegant looking bridges; all sorts of colorful and decorated floating vessels could be seen arranged neatly on the swaying waters.

The odd group ventured from stand to stand, admiring the odds and ends displayed here and there, often forced a pendant or a strange oversized hat onto their faces.

"Young man, this copper bracelet is— magic! Magical indeed!" An old woman with a crackling smile addressed Raiel, and held the bracelet to Flute, who tried it shyly; Trom latching onto her other arm to get a closer look. "Oh, pretty!"

Cheerful Raiel asked "Really! What does it do?"

"Why, with this magical bracelet, the pretty lady yonder can bear twice fold as many of your children! Isn't that wonderful!" The lady stated as a matter of fact, making Raiel blush violently, and hold his nose tightly while Flute tore frantically at the bracelet to get it off.

Also flushing intensely Hamel burst madly "WHY, YOU OLD HAG!"

"Hohoho, why, can it be I misplaced the righteous partner?" She smiled insanely, amused by the sudden outburst.

"No way! Can't you see that any product by those two would be an abomination! Even more if there were twice as many of them!" Retorted Hamel, Oboe humored by the little scene was smiling. "Hamel, no need to be rude."

Out of the loop, an annoyed Trom asked the embarrassed Flute "What does 'bearing children' mean?"

Clutching his nose securely with one hand, Raiel handed back the bracelet to the old woman. "Sorry, not today."

"Well, why, tomorrow then, when yonder beast is away! Hohoho!"

"YOU NASTY OLD HAG!" Hamel tore madly while Trom and Oboe hung to Hamel's cloak. Flute reddened once more while dragging loosely by the arm an unconscious blood bathed Raiel farther from the devilish old person.

"I can't believe some people, the nerve to suggest something like that!" Muttered a distraught Flute, slapping gently Raiel's face to wake him.

"It's your fault for hanging so close to him! 'Oh, Raiel this! Oh, Raiel that! This looks cute on you, Raiel-san! Please protect me from Hamel, Raiel!'" Hamel stated smartly, imitating Flute poorly and flailing his arms around in a girlish fashion.

"Oh, shut up you brainless prick! I so do not!" Flute retorted smacking violently Raiel's face, to which Trom intervened quickly. "Flute-chan! You're killing Raiel again!"

"Kyaa! Forgive me, Raiel!" Standing slowly with Flute's aid, Raiel smiled forgivingly "It's okay, it woke me up!" He proceeded to brush off any remaining dust on his clothing.

"See! There you go again! 'Forgive meeeee, Raieeeel!'"

Oboe standing no more, changed perch onto Flutes head. "How about we continue our walk? I can hear some music further, there just might be a festival going on."

"Whatever!.."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After walking further and avoiding mysterious old ladies with bracelets on sale, indeed they soon arrived at a colorful event, many artists could be seen performing around the over decorated plaza. Firecracker explosions echoed off the buildings surrounding the plaza on the left, while it lay also along the riverbank to the right.

Taking off her hat and throwing one of the tied braids over her shoulder, Flute offered Oboe a place in her left shoulder. "I'm sorry, but my hat feels too hot."

"Why! Look such a pretty maid! Here's a garland just for you, m'lady!" Distracted by a strange performing group, Flute did not expect nor see the plaited flower coronet until placed on her head.

Blushing slightly she looked into a pair of startling blue eyes, a tall young man with fiery strands of purple hair; holding in his arm a good amount of garlands, was looking down onto her. "It's the prettiest one, you're well worth it."

"You just wasted a perfectly good garland, now the flowers will wither and die horribly in a matter of minutes!" Hamel pouted, coming face to face with the unaware youth. Trom and Raiel were backing up slightly, separating themselves from the intolerable mazoku.

Quickly producing another garland he placed it stylishly on Hamel's hat. "Ho, jealous? Here's one for you too, why not! It's carnival time!"

"Why you little PUNK! I don't need your faggy tastes!" Seizing the garland he threw it on the ground, much to the amusement of the purple haired man.

Flute lowered herself to the ground; taking hold of the wreath she placed it on her head. "Geez, Hamel… If you don't want it I'll keep it."

"Why, such a sweetheart! How about you let me invite you and your odd looking friends to our Inn, it's located right there in that building! Noon meal is just about to be served for the guests, and I'll bet you'll enjoy nice hearty food, my treat!"

Pointing over at Trom and Raiel she said. "Are you sure? We are actually five pe—"

"Lead the way, purple freak!" Shoving the blue eyed man towards the beautifully arranged building he had pointed at previously.

The only visible part of the building above the crowd of feasting people, was a wide open balcony with many tables, overstuffed with all sorts of potted flowers and people.

Taking Trom's hand Flute pushed forwards following Hamel. Raiel was close behind, smiling still at Hamel's ridiculous temper. Somehow he felt that the depressing mood encompassing them had lifted from their hearts.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"What a great sight!" Raiel beamed, disengaging his piano and placing it in an unobtrusive way, yet close at hand. He took a seat next to the railing in a rectangular mahogany table and chair set, situated in the wide balcony overlooking the plaza and its merry occupants.

Trom took a sit on the other side of the table, between Flute and the veranda's railing. Hoisting himself up on the guarding rail, he produced a loud gasp at the sight of the cheering people. With childish glee he pointed to a group of performers slightly to the right of the building. "Look! A sword act! I bet my moves are more dazzling…"

Raiel took a glance at Flute, occupied with placing her hat on the table she was offering Oboe to sit on it and join the table. "Well, certainly Flute's charm has worked wonders! We even got a free meal ticket!"

"Flute's charm? Excuse me; I was the one who threw the prissy boy's flowers so she could pick them. You see, it was planned all along." Hamel retorted, placing his violin on the unused end of the table.

Being placed at the table, Oboe shot a restraining glance at Hamel and then approached a distracted Flute. "You're awfully quiet today, Flute."

"Uh? Oh, of course not… I was just thinking, of lately maybe I'm being too—" Her eyes had focused somewhere behind Hamel, who had just settled in his chair next to Raiel. She smiled sweetly and bowed politely.

At this strange reaction Hamel tilted his head backward, the bemused face of the purple haired man smiled, in his hands he had a tray with a rich looking broth, several meal plates and two formal looking bottles, chilled sake along chilled green tea.

Elbowing Hamel's upturned head, he placed the tray on the table. Immediately Flute realized her discourteous manner. "I'm really sorry; I didn't catch your name, sir…"

Placing the broth bowls and the beverages in the table, he proceeded to place a small bread piece and a cup with water before Oboe. "A sweetheart, indeed! You may call me Theremin. What shall I call you all?"

"My name's Flute, and this is Trom…" Cheerful she placed a hand on Trom's shoulder; barely lifting his eyes from the sword players to notice the food had arrived. "Oh, yeah! That's me"

Across the table Raiel added "I'm Raiel, the grateful looking crow is Oboe, and that sad excuse over there is Hamel" He pointed to some point beyond the table, where Hamel crouched in pain holding his damaged face.

"That's some weird instrument you are carrying there…" Lowering himself, Theremin took a close look at Hamel's violin. "It's a violoncello, isn't it?"

Slurping soup loudly while alternatively choosing the best pieces of fish out of the main plates, he retorted between bites. "Don't you dare touch it! Just shows how stupid you are, stupid head. That's not a cello, it's a violin. But you wouldn't know, you purple freak!"

Surprised, Theremin stood again. "Ah, silly me, a violin, huh? I wonder if you two would care to perform a little number for our costumers, it would be great!"

Raiel lowered his bowl and beamed joyfully. "Sure, it would be a great way to repay your kindness!"

"UNH-UH! No way! You beggars do anything you want, I won't be playing for free—" Hamel's reply was curt short by a spoon flung by Flute.

"He would love to!"

Theremin grinned at their unusual antics, and excused himself. "Great then, we'll await your exclusive performance when you are finished eating!"

"It's my honor to present you with the kindest offer from these people who will partake in a small showcasing of their musical skills!"

Clapping and cheering the makeshift audience greeted the two musicians, abandoning temporally their meals. Oboe led Flute and Trom to a couple of high stools situated at the counter of the lively inn.

Discussing briefly his piece with Raiel, Hamel mounted his violin in his shoulder. In rapid and swift strokes and keys, a sonata spilled forth, captivating the occupants into a midday fancying mirage.

Oboe as the ever trustful musical encyclopedia, commented informatively. "It's 'Arpeggione', by Franz Peter Schubert. The sounding of the chord notes in rapid succession rather than simultaneously gives this melody its name."

A sudden change of rhythm from Hamel made Raiel stop and glance at his companion, who was by now psychotically hacking away with his bow at the strings.

Dancing and spinning madly Theremin appeared forth, pirouetting and cart wheeling across the room. "Whoa, weird, I didn't know I felt like dancing! How joyous!"

"SHUT UP AND CRY, YOU BIG MORON!"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After the embarrassing episode with Hamel and his marionette themes, the group settled down to enjoy a cup of sake and tea in the table they were formerly sitting at.

Eyeing an absorbed Flute, Trom stood and tugged on her arm longingly. "Flute! Let's go see the sword players, they're still down there! I have plenty of money; I'll buy you anything you want! Come with me!"

Sitting with a sake cup, Hamel waved indifferently "Aren't you a little small to be buying sexual favors?"

Ah sudden blow to the head smashed Hamel's head onto the table, Oboe barely missing the fatal punch. "Ah, I'd love to go, Trom."

Setting her hat on the table, she addressed the remaining males. "Please look after my hat; it's too stuffy on this heat."

"Sure." Raiel smiled. "Don't stray far."

Trom tugged incessantly on her hand. "You can see most of the plaza from here, don't worry."

Giving in, Flute headed inside with Trom. "Flute, what's a sexual favor?" Embarrassed she covered his mouth. "Nothing, it's just Hamel's way of being a dork."

Hamel, Oboe and Raiel gazed towards Flute and Trom, exiting toward the staircase that would lead them downstairs.

"Stuffy in this heat? She's crazy; I think she just wants an excuse to wear those pesky flower things."

"Ha-chan, you should be kinder towards her. She obviously isn't feeling too bright today." Raiel emptied the small cup of water offered earlier to Oboe in a flowerpot, refilling it with a small amount of green tea. "I wonder what's gotten into her."

"He's right you know, if you keep up that idiotic attitude of yours all your friends will drop you."

Hamel swung one leg onto the table, reaching pensively for Flute's hat. He held the hat at his eye level with one hand, as if interested suddenly on the lace bow on front.

"It's her fault for going all pansy-assed with every dolt she sees…"

With a swift scan of the underlying crowd, they confirmed the location of the two members, standing merrily among the people observing the swordsmen.

"Ha-chan, it would be nice for you to get her something. How about it?" Raiel smirked playfully and added, "I know, maybe a purple wig for you so she will pay more attention to you!"

Hamel suddenly lost interest in the lace bow and reprimanded angrily "Maybe you should get that crazy hag's bracelet and give it to your purple haired prissy boyfriend."

"Now now, boys no need to get ill-tempered. Hamel's just fine the way he is." Oboe sipped solemnly from his cup. "He's just a little jealous he didn't get that garland first."

"Stupid bird! I'll show you a garland" Hamel snapped, holding Oboe tightly and diving the tiny black crow headfirst into the chilled sake bottle, Oboe's bird legs shuffling madly.

"Ha-chan, you are overreacting!" Chuckling insanely, Raiel turned toward the direction of Trom and Flute.

Springing to his feet, Raiel san pointed below. "HA-CHAN! OBOE-SAN!"

They stopped enough to see Raiel pointing towards the crowd; Trom and Flute were nowhere to be seen.