Disclaimer: Don't own Summon Night: Swordcraft Story or any of the characters within it. The characters that are mine, however, belong to me. So there. Also, the song lyrics at the beginning do not belong to me; they are from the song "Sugar We're Going Down" by Fall-Out Boy. It's just there for flavor. So... please don't sue me.
NybCR: New story! Wait, what do you mean I should finish the others first? Bah! Nonsense!
Okay, this one is a modified version of Summon Night: Swordcraft Story. The reason I wrote it is, essentially, back story for another story... because I will tell you now it is very different from the story you're familiar with, so don't be too surprised if you come across something and you're all like, Hey, THAT wasn't in the game! because I warned you. I promise it'll be interesting, though!
Oh, and just in case you're confused... the title of this story has changed! It used to be called "Trip", but I changed it on the grounds that that title didn't have anything to do with the story. At all. Seriously.
Now that that's covered, on with the story!
"Am I more than you bargained for yet?"
Rasho opened his eyes. He was in a different place than he had been a moment ago. In the background was the sound of a hammer pounding metal. He heard the sound of ocean waves lapping against a wall of stone and metal, though the sound was too far away to have been picked up by human ears. The distinct scent of rust, salt, and brimstone was in the air—and something else; something metallic and familiar that he hadn't come across for over three years.
"...Is this Wystern?" he said aloud, putting a name to the unmistakable scent. "Indeed, it is. I recognize its smell."
"It's you..." said a voice from behind him.
Rasho turned around, nonchalant as ever. Three people stood there—a child, a Summoner (judging by his clothes), and Bron—the latter of whom he almost didn't recognize at first, he'd changed so much since Rasho last saw him. Bron, once a tan, broad-shouldered lady's man in his mid-thirties, was now a middle-aged, bearded man with a hefty beer gut. He raised an eyebrow at that. Seems that the Master of the Silver Guild let himself go, teaching children how to forge weapons.
"If you are here," Rasho said as he finished scrutinizing Bron, "that means only one thing... I have been summoned here by a Craftknight, again..." He cast a glance around the room he'd been summoned into. It was unspectacular, decorated only with a desk, a couple of chairs, and a weapons rack... not much for such a big room. It was probably meant as a place for fighting lessons. After all, the Silver Guild was not a place to train simple blacksmiths, but Craftknights—the most honored of all warriors, whose weapons would be an honor for anyone to wield.
Of course, the fact that there was a desk and chair in what was clearly meant to be a sparring room spoke of an owner too cheap to get a separate room as an office... Oh look, there he was.
Bron stepped forward, a scowl on his face. "Well, whaddya know. Didn't think I'd be seein' you again."
Rasho smirked. "Disappointed?"
Bron laughed shortly. "I'm just feelin' sorry for the poor kid, here," he replied, jabbing a thumb in the direction of the girl still standing by the Summoner. Rasho looked her over.
The child was, presumably, the Craftknight he was to be partnered with. He stifled a groan. The kid really didn't look like much. She was scrawny in every sense of the word—perhaps with some potential for speed, but not much else. To her credit, she didn't look soft: at least her arms looked like they had some muscle to them, and since her hands were so dirty, it meant she wasn't too prim to do some hard labor. Judging by the lack of baby fat, she was probably in her mid-teens, probably fourteen. Her hair was silver and tied into two stubby little ponytails. It was also completely drenched—odd, since the rest of her seemed dry enough, but he decided not to comment on it. Her eyes were a clear blue-gray—the color of the ocean reflecting an overcast sky. There was something vaguely familiar about those eyes.
But the point now was that she hadn't taken those eyes off of him since he appeared, and it was really starting to grate on his nerves.
"Little girlie," he growled. She snapped to attention, and he continued. "Wipe that foolish expression off your face. If your only desire is to stand and stare at me, then return me to my world."
The girl blinked. "Pardon?"
Rasho sighed, exasperated. "Surely you aren't so ignorant as to be unaware of what I'm talking about?"
"We're not sendin' ya back to yer world," Bron cut in, his expression one of annoyance. "And since when did ya come to think so highly of yerself?"
"I see you've changed as well," Rasho replied, amused. "You must weigh at least fifty pounds more than when last I saw you..."
"Shut yer mouth, Beast! I oughta—"
The girl chuckled.
Bron turned on her. "Somethin' funny?"
The girl grinned. "Well," she said, "It's just—I hadn't noticed how much weight you've gained, Master…"
Rasho laughed aloud. "Well! It seems this girl's got a well-developed sense of humor. She does seem rather young to be a Craftknight, though."
The girl crossed her arms and looked up at him defiantly. "What's that supposed to mean? You don't think I can be a proper Craftknight?"
"This is Pratty, the daughter of Shintetsu," Bron interjected, never one to be left out. "And she's as cheeky as her father ever was, alas."
Rasho shot Bron a glance. "Shintetsu's daughter?" He looked back at the girl, giving her a closer look. It was true; the eyes that had seemed so familiar were just like Shintetsu's. He appraised the girl once again. Yes, now that he thought of it, the girl's silver hair was also the same as that of his former Master's... as was the determination in the set of her jaw. Rasho grinned. "Is that right?"
Pratty backed away from him slightly, looking at him with suspicion. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
He ignored her question, instead voicing his thoughts. "You were an infant the last time I laid eyes on you, but now you are a beautiful young lady." Rasho crossed his arms, a confident grin on his face. "I'm Rasho, and going to be your partner. I'll make you the best Craftknight in the world!"
Pratty smirked. "Well, you're certainly not lacking for confidence..."
"All right!" Bron exclaimed. "It's about time I took ya to yer workshop. Follow me to the second floor." He glanced at the Summoner as he walked out of the room. "Just wait here a sec, Penndel, I'll be right back." The Summoner nodded and Bron led Rasho and Pratty out of the room and up the staircase.
As they went up the steps, Rasho watched the girl out of the corner of his eye. All that he really knew about Shintetsu's daughter was what Shintetsu told him—when he would mope and say that his daughter was such a tomboy, or when he would laugh and say that she would someday be the greatest Craftknight ever, even greater than him. Rasho wasn't so sure of that. Even with him as her partner, this scrawny little kid still had a long way to go.
"Well, here we are," Bron said as they reached the top of the stairs. He stood beside the doorway of a room two yards in front of the staircase. "Only the tournament entrants have workshops on the second and third floors." Rasho cast a glance around the room. There were eight doors on this floor—all of them, presumably, leading into identical workshops—and another staircase on the other side of the room leading up to a third floor. Pratty didn't notice the lay-out. She simply raced into the room Bron indicated. Once inside, she looked around the workshop, grinning from ear to ear.
Rasho followed her inside. The workshop was rather bare, with a large forge taking up a good third of the room. Furniture consisted of two cots, a desk with a single chair, a standing screen (presumably to change clothes behind, since the workshop didn't have a door), a pair of empty shelves on one wall and two shelves brimming with forging equipment on the opposite wall. All in all, a modest set-up, but appropriate for an apprentice. He didn't think much of it, but Pratty's eyes shined with excitement.
Bron entered the room soon after. "Well, here it is," he said, "yer very own workshop. Remember you'll be livin' here for the duration of the tournament, so go ahead an' make it as cozy as ya please."
"Yeah, I know," Pratty replied off-handedly. "My mom told me about that already."
"Huh. She did? Well then—"
"In fact, she even gave me a direct quote from you, Master," she went on, trying (and failing) to hide the mischievous grin lurking beneath her lips. "Of course, it would be kind of inappropriate to quote you now, seeing as how half of it was you hitting on my mom..."
Bron growled and grabbed her ear between his thumb and knuckle in the manner of a parent with his child; Pratty yelped in protest. "Oi, don't ya sass me, girl! Just because yer—" He stopped abruptly when he caught the grimace on Pratty's face. He released her ear and leaned forward to inspect it more closely. Curious, Rasho floated closer to see what was going on, but Bron's bulk was in the way of his view.
"This happen when ya fell earlier?" Bron asked gruffly.
"…Yeah," Pratty mumbled.
Rasho came a little closer and peeked over Bron's shoulder (for which he had to hover off the ground a little higher than normal, since Bron was taller than him). She had a nasty-looking cut along the back of her ear.
Bron sighed wearily. "Ya gonna tell me what happened?"
"Well... I tripped..."
"Don't gimme that, Pratty. Ya don't get a cut on yer ear like that fallin' forward. Now what happened?"
Pratty sighed. "Chaves pushed me off the second level harbor. But that's it, it's no big deal."
Bron stood up straight (nearly ramming into Rasho) and rubbed his temple. "O' course he did. But what were ya doin' up there, anyway? I toldja ta come straight here after the ceremony."
"I know, but Derrick was waiting for me right outside the Ceremony Hall, and he wanted to hear about what was going on. And it's not like I could just tell him to beat it. You know how he gets when he wants something…"
Bron sighed. "Well, that's true. Kid's got a bigger pair o' puppy-dog-eyes than most puppies…"
"Who's Derrick?" Rasho interrupted.
Bron and Pratty turned and looked at him, startled, as though they had forgotten he was there. Pratty recovered first. "My little brother," she said.
That gave Rasho a moment of pause, but then he recalled that Shintetsu had, indeed, mentioned that his wife Amariss had given birth to a second child. Oh, yes, he remembered now... Shintetsu sighing like a school girl and saying that only his daughter wanted to become a Craftknight like her daddy, but his son wanted to become a Summoner, and he would have to go to Zalum to study at the Cerulean Society and then he'd miss him so much and... God, Rasho'd remember that mope-fest for a long time.
When Rasho pulled himself out of his thoughts, he found Bron and Pratty looking at him strangely. Apparently something of his thoughts had shown on his face. He crossed his arms and tried to recover his composure. "So, who's Chaves?"
Pratty tilted her head a bit—apparently not so young that she didn't notice a deliberate subject change when she heard one—but had the good grace to answer his question anyway. "Just this bully who's been messing with me for years. Usually he just throws a couple of insults my way every now and then, but he's gotten a lot more up in my face lately because of the tournament."
Rasho frowned. A tournament, eh? He'd have to be sure to ask about that later. "I take it this 'Chaves' is competing in the tournament, as well?"
"Yeah, but he's no real problem," Pratty answered, shrugging. "He may be big, but he's slow. Not to mention he doesn't even have the guts to face me head-on."
"So he pushed you off the harbor?"
Pratty shrugged. "Could've been worse," she said. "Almost bashed my head against one of the support beams. It's pretty lucky I got away with only a nicked ear and a scraped shoulder."
"Your shoulder's hurt too?!" Bron roared.
Bron sighed again and covered his eyes with his hand. He took a deep breath. "Look," he said after a short pause. "I got to get back to Penndel. But you oughta go downstairs and get that 'nicked ear' o' yers bandaged up before it gets infected."
"All right. Now, yer free for the rest o' the day, but I expect ya to be in the main forgin' room by eleven tomorrow mornin' with all the other apprentices. Ya got that?"
"Good." With that, he strode out of the room, the sound of his footsteps tromping down the stairs following after him.
After a pause, Rasho turned to Pratty. "Do you always get into this much trouble?"
Pratty looked up at him and grinned. "Usually more, actually. Why? Don't tell me it's too exciting for you."
Rasho snorted. "Nothing's too much trouble for me."
"Good then. Now…" She began walking toward the doorway and looked at Rasho over her shoulder. "I've gotta go meet someone. Wanna come with me?"
Rasho growled. "You know, Bron may be an idiot most of the time, but you should get that cut wrapped up before going anywhere."
"I will, I will… but after that, I mean. Do you wanna come with me?"
Rasho snorted. "May as well," he replied, looking around the bare workshop. "It's not like there's anything else to do around here."
Pratty smiled brightly. "Great! Let's go, then." She set off at a brisk pace out of the room, Rasho following leisurely after her.
"You can wait here if you want," she said as they reached the bottom of the stairs. "I'm gonna go ahead and find the first aid kit."
"As if," Rasho retorted as he floated down the last step and crossed his arms. "No self-respecting demon stands around waiting for some teenage girl. I'm coming with you."
"Suit yourself," she said, heading through a door to their right. She led him past several forges and into another room supplied with cupboards, sinks, shelves, a table, and a stove—a kitchen.
"Why is the first aid kit in the kitchen?" Rasho said, leaning against the stove.
"Well, what better place to have the first aid?" she asked, walking over to one of the shelves and taking down a box labeled "first aid" in big, red letters. She set the first aid kit on the counter by the sink and opened it. "After all," she continued, "it's got all those sharp, pointy objects, the floor gets slippery if the pipes under the sink start leaking—not to mention all the burns you can get from using a stove…" she replied, pulling out a two-inch-tall jar and a small roll of linen.
"All right! I get the idea." Rasho sighed and glanced around the kitchen. It was clean, with the smell of food and cooking oil in the warm air. He looked back at Pratty, who had turned on the faucet and started splashing water onto her ear. He watched for a moment before deciding to say something.
"You're doing it wrong," he said flatly, still standing by the stove. "If you don't clean it properly—and with alcohol—it's going to get inflected."
"Don't need alcohol," she said, her brow creased into a frown. She did, however, start rubbing the dirt out of the wound instead of simply getting it wet. She nodded to the small jar sitting by the sink. "That stuff's just as good for preventing infection. Plus it doesn't burn." She turned off the faucet and reached for the jar.
"Tch." Rasho looked away and placed his hands behind his head, elbows raised—his "bored" pose. "A little burn is good for you every now and then. Don't be such a girl."
She gave him a side-long look. "I am a girl, thanks for noticing," she stated dryly.
"Heh. Well, it's that kind of thinking that'll stop you from becoming a decent Craftknight." He pushed off from the stove and crossed his arms. He looked at Pratty, who was spreading the wet, clay-like substance over the cut on her ear. "You want to be a Craftknight, you have to think like one above all else."
"Hmm." Pratty rinsed the clay off her hands, still not looking at him. She picked up the linen and wrapped it around her ear with a swiftness suggesting that she was used to bandaging her own wounds. Rasho raised an eyebrow at that. Clearly, Shintetsu had not been exaggerating when he said that she was a tomboy... just as well. No way would Rasho want to be partnered with some prissy little girl too prim to get her hands dirty.
As soon as Pratty had the first aid kit put away, she turned to Rasho, a hint of mischief in her blue-gray eyes. For a split second, he saw Shintetsu's eyes looking back at him. But then she smiled—the smile of her mother, Amariss—and the illusion was broken. "Ready?" she asked.
Slowly, a responding smirk crept onto Rasho's face. He had known both Shintetsu and Amariss, the former of whom was a born trouble-maker and the latter of whom could intimidate the fiercest of men. God knew their eldest child would be something to hang around.
NybCR: Well, there's the first chapter! Hope you enjoyed it. Oh yeah... that's right... Pratty gets picked on by Chaves! For those who want to know, that is NOT as a result of a change in her character, it's a result of a change in her circumstances as a kid... i.e., having friends and also enemies. Cookie to anyone who can guess how Pratty got on Chaves's bad side in the first place!... although I'm not sure there are enough hints yet... oh well.
Edit: Thanks to Magicookie for telling me the name of the capital! Yays for accuracy!