In Paprica Kingdom, activity began bright and early. The farmers who lived in the outlying countryside had to begin their work at dawn to make the most of the hours before dusk, or else people might be forced to deal with a food shortage come winter. Wanderers and mercenaries were also up early. However they just wanted to be the first to find whatever bounty was in the area in order to earn some quick cash; it didn't matter to them if the bounty was a human criminal, escaped animal, or wandering monster, just that the job paid well. And sailors would come to their docks in the pre-dawn mists so they might load their boats with supplies to ship to other lands for trading purposes.
The city was no different. Right after the first sunlight would shine down on the gray stone streets of the capital of Pot au Feu, its citizens were awake and ready for their work. Women would drag the laundry from the previous day and begin scrubbing it in their filled basins. One could smell the fresh cooking bread from Mr. Baguette's bakery on the western end, no matter where they stood. A newsboy ran from wood roofed house to wood roofed house to hand each person their paper. His route would end, every day on the dot, at 7:55 with the small yet grand church in the city's southern end. When he knocked, it was usually the kindly nurse, red-headed Sister Cherrie, who would be there to pick up the paper for Father Salade. She would thank the child with a smile, and return to her patients with a swish of the black fabric on the skirt and headpiece of her habit. As she went through the halls, the Sister would greet the others in their order; each one had been up as early as possible to begin their daily chores.
Of course, not everyone in the Church of the Holy Maiden tended to follow that doctrine…
Sixteen-year-old exorcist Prier was flopped on her bed in a long, purple nightgown with her shoulder length magenta hair flowing wildly around her head. Though it was eight in the morning, the girl didn't want to get up yet; she was notorious for sleeping in even when there was an important meeting. But as the sun shined through her window, the young girl was forced up, blinking her deep brown eyes.
"I swear," she muttered, "I've got to get a canvas sheet or something to cover that window with."
Though she was very young, Prier was an extremely skilled huntress. She had been training for four years to become a member of the church's Elite Demon Hunting Squad, La Pucelle, ever since she and her brother, Culotte, had left the orphanage. Joining the church had been her idea, as was everything else they got involved in, because of her dreams. As a little girl, Prier, like every child, had been told the legends of the Maiden of Light; she was a woman who was chosen by the Goddess to fight with a Demon known as the Dark Prince who served the Fallen Angel Calamity. But unlike most children, the story had struck a chord with her. After losing her parents in a carriage accident, she had made a vow to protect her brother no matter what. To Prier, that meant fighting the Dark Prince if he reawakened.
'He is my only family,' she had thought to herself, 'If I must die to protect him, then I gladly would.'
Then, Prier remembered the importance of this day. Her friend, Croix, had promised to go out to lunch with her as a "Thank You" for her help. Because the young girl had given him a vision of his past, even though two years of wandering without his memories had yielded up nothing, he was going to stay by her until he discovered what it meant. That was enough for him to thank her in such a way. Though it was only 8:00 a.m., she wanted to get herself ready; free food excited her because her job paid so little.
Because of this, the girl decided to wear something a little nicer than usual; her mentor, Alouette, was forever harping on her choice of attire, even though Father Salade had picked out both of their uniforms. So she put on a nice blue tunic and a violet skirt that swung down around her knees. Smiling at herself in the mirror, Prier felt she was ready. Now, all that remained was to wait for lunch time.
Around noon, the young woman arrived at the outdoor café that was two blocks from the church. Sitting under a white and yellow umbrella, was a young man of about 20 years; she had no idea how old Croix really was because he didn't remember. His blue eyes were covered by dark sunglasses and his short, rusty copper hair was being blown in the wind. Like her, he'd dressed nice for this luncheon, wearing a lovely white shirt, a black dress jacket and pants, black leather belt with a big silver buckle, and a bow tie around his neck. As always, Croix was smoking; though he did put it out when Prier sat down.
Their first meeting had only been a couple of days ago. Like usual, Prier had been out hunting a Demon with her brother and Alouette. However, Culotte had decided to go off and kill the thing on his own to prove himself a man, even though he was just past his twelfth birthday. Croix had been hired by an outside source to take on the same creature and aided the two women when Culotte had been captured. Prier was in his debt, and agreed to repay it by searching for his lost memory.
Two years ago, Croix awoke in a cave, only knowing his name and nothing more of himself. Between then and when he'd met Prier, there were no clues. But the first time he got a clear look at Prier's face, he saw an image of another girl appear. Her face was the same, but her hair longer and the color of caramel. Perhaps if Prier did something similar to the girl, he would remember more about her.
"Thanks for agreeing to treat me Croix. I rarely if ever get to eat out on my salary," she stated.
Croix replied, "No problem Prier. Freelancers like myself tend to have a little more money than those who work for a church. Mainly because we don't have to worry about finances for our institution. It's not like I charge an arm and a leg for my customers either. But because it goes directly into my pocket, there's no middle man around to take away what I've worked so hard to earn. Get the picture?"
She nodded as the waiter arrived. For drinks, Prier ordered cola while Croix was getting a small glass of wine. Food wise, the young woman decided to go all out; being treated to a meal had its advantages after all. Her order consisted of a large steak fried with mini-potatoes and topped with hearty brown gravy. Croix, on the other hand, wanted a simple burger; he knew he wouldn't be able to get away without paying for a large meal for his companion, so at least he would be conservative. The young waiter nodded at the duo, and walked away to deliver their orders to the chef, as well as to get their drinks.
For a moment, there was silence. Then, Croix cleared his throat. "Hey, Prier. What made you decide to fight with a baton in the first place? It seems like an odd choice for a weapon. Why not a sword or a spear? Or, you could have gone high tech like me and brought a gun or two to kill Demons with."
"I don't really know why," Prier admitted, "Ever since I was little, I was running around with a stick in my hand and fighting rocks and trees with it. Because of this, my father used to tell me I would be a good swordswoman when I grew up. However, around the time I decided to train to be in La Pucelle, I saw one of the older Sisters using her performance baton to hit punching bags with. She explained that given the proper strength, a person could use this as a lethal weapon. So, remembering back to the days when I hit stuff with sticks, I decided on following her words. Anyway, why did you decide to use a gun?"
"Well, right after I lost my memory, I found my way to a small hut owned by a guy who used to work as a Demon Hunter in his youth. He'd made a pair of guns out of Orihalcon, but his sons all wanted to become farmers and sailors. So, with no one else to give them to, he tossed them on me," Croix said.
Prier exclaimed, "Orihalcon! the legendary metal Orihalcon! It's never supposed to rust."
Croix smirked; he was used to getting that reaction from people when he explained what his guns were made of. "Yeah, it's that stuff. Legends say that the mineral will never age, that it was excavated from the ruins of civilizations that lived millennia before Paprica Kingdom was born. These guns, in fact, had served that old man for 50 years as a Demon Hunter. Plus I've used them for the past two on my own. In all that time, to hear him tell it, they've never shown signs of age nor have they rusted or broke."
"Sounds…interesting," Prier remarked, "I wonder if I could coat my baton in that stuff too."
"Well you'd have to find some first. It's extremely rare. The only reason that old man had any around was that his father had been a miner and pocketed some of the extras," Croix informed her. At that moment, the waiter appeared with their drinks. He bowed politely, and then left them to converse.
Prier, ever confident, stated, "If it's out there to find, then I'm going to be the one to do so!"
Croix chuckled at her attitude. Never before had he met anyone, man or woman, who could show this much bravado. Prier was a really odd girl, that's for sure. She was different from other people in many other ways as well. Prier was one who tended to get angry about the littlest thing, and at the same time be an extremely loving older sister. Her foul mouth seemed out of place as a Sister of the Goddess Poitreene. In fact, some people had accused her of being a man in disguise. Of course, comments like that were easily met with a punch in the face from an incredibly pissed off Prier.
But there was another side to Prier that Croix could see; she was lonely. He knew that she'd lost her parents when she was only nine and had instantly thrown herself into a motherly role for her five-year-old brother. When she babied him, she was afraid of losing the last of her family. In the few times he'd seen that expression on her face, Croix noticed a strange sense of fear radiating through her eyes.
He let his own fall on her once more. 'I wonder if the Prier we see most of the time was born as a direct result of her situation. If her parents had survived, would she be a more sensitive person? I doubt she'd be working as an exorcist, that's for sure. Plus, she's at an age where I'm sure her mother would begin looking for a husband for her; I've seen girls two years younger than Prier already eying potential candidates that their mothers had found working on nearby farms or fighting in the local militia. I'm sure if her mother had sent her to the church, she would have gone to become a missionary or priestess.'
The young man took a sip of his wine. Meanwhile, Prier began to size up her friend as well. In her life, she'd only met two kinds of men. There were the ones that were extremely by-the-books and didn't like her way of operating any more than Sister Alouette did. Or there were the ones that only spoke to her because they wanted to get into her pants. The latter were disposed of quite easily by Prier.
'I don't know what to make of him,' Prier thought, 'He's not a pervert and he's about as crazy as I am. I've seen him flirt, but it's just in the context of joking around. And he's an extremely skilled exorcist.'
At that instant, their eyes met and locked onto one another. Each saw the emotions radiating in their companion but could not read them. An air of confusion swept across the little table and rested on the lips of the two warriors. Prier began to feel hot and Croix had to take his glasses off before they fogged up. She now could clearly see the crystal blue eyes he often hid away from the world, and had to admit that he looked quite attractive without the glasses on. But Prier didn't know why she'd thought that.
"Here is your order, sir, miss. Please enjoy," called the waiter as he entered with the food.
Prier sighed for the quick rescue; she was beginning to feel extremely embarrassed just sitting there. Now, she and Croix could concentrate on their eating and not on one another. So with a small smile, the young woman stabbed her fork deep into her meat and began cutting rapidly with her knife. Croix soon found out that Prier's table manners were incredibly unladylike. The girl would eat huge bites of food in as quick a time as possible, and make no effort to conceal the noises she made in doing so.
Croix thought, 'No wonder some guys foolishly think she's a man; she sure acts like one at times.'
Later that night, in his own room, Croix was sitting up in bed. His whole afternoon had been nicely spent; they both had enjoyed occupying time together during lunch. Although being with Prier in that atmosphere hadn't brought him a single flashback, he'd gotten to know her better. And the more Croix spent time with Prier, even socially, the more he was sure he'd found a true friend for life.
The young man looked out his window towards the stars. "I know, one day, I'll discover where I really came from. But somehow, it doesn't seem to matter that much anymore. Ever since I met Prier and joined the Church of the Holy Maiden, I've been thinking that this is where I belong. It's a roof over my head, a place to work in a job I'm good at, and I have companions who would risk their lives for mine. What more could a person ask for? Plus, being around Prier makes me feel more alive than being alone and searching on the road ever did. Sometimes, I just want to stop time from going forward so I can be with my new friends forever. But that's impossible. One day, we'll all have to part, either by death or by moving on with our lives. I only hope that day is extremely far off so I can enjoy this as long as I can."
Teefa's Last Words...
This was actually my Creative Writing Project. And my professor loved it. So sorry if there was too much reiteration of the in-game information here; I'm writing this for a teacher who had no idea what the heck La Pucelle was until I showed this. The girls and I still can't believe I got away with doing this for a class, but I love it just the same. Any excuse to write some real sappy stuff for Prier and Croix is ok in my book. The future chapters are extremely fluff filled and fun.
Anyway…Orihalcon is a fictional metal that I've seen in several games and TV shows with a fantasy setting. The definition I used in the story is based closely on Slayers RETURN, where the main characters had trouble destroying a golem made out of that metal, even by using heavy duty magic.