Skies Of Arcadia Legends
Book Three- Where Loyalties Lie
Chapter One- Drachma's Fate
The young girl found herself unable to sleep much. Instead of waking up the other person who she shared a room with, she quietly exited and made her way to the abandoned bridge, where she could think in peace. The entire ship seemed oddly quiet, as the Little Jack's engines had all been cut for the night to conserve fuel.
She was Fina, last product of a dieing race, and only one of two Silvites who still lived. Her purpose had been, as all Silvites had done, to watch over the world of Arcadia and ensure that the destructive superweapons of ancient times were never used again, lest they invite the apocalypse of the Rains of Destruction twice. She was a very gentle, kind, and innocent girl, and she was told that she had great beauty, along with a host of special powers and abilities of the Silver Moon. Her small companion, a technological creature named Cupil that could morph it's shape at will, floated just off her shoulder as usual, the telepathic link they shared submerging them both in pensive thought.
The skies overhead were a gloomy, dark color as usual. Their ship rested at the bottom of a deep trench in the blighted lands of Valua, the continent under the sway of the Yellow Moon and where it was impossible to tell day from night. A flash would occasionally illuminate everything for a split-second before it returned to darkness. The lands themselves all seemed slightly yellowish, as if the entire nation had some form of disease. That would certainly fit the profile of the Valuan Empire's quest to rule or destroy the world.
Her thoughts turned to a more inspiring subject- her friends.
Her friends... without them, she would be in irons in the Valuan Capitol, or worse, would have ended up dead and left her vital quest unfulfilled. Vyse, the heroic son of air pirates, strong and brave- Aika, his childhood friend, loud and proud, with magical abilities rivaling her own- and Drachma, owner of the vessel, the stout and quiet fisherman who more than once saved all the rest of them from certain death. He was the reason they were lying in wait, as well. They were preparing for battle.
She was not aware that the two men were awake, nor that they were out on the deck of the ship, talking in a way that Drachma had never before. Her mind went to her childhood friend, and the other Silvite, a beautiful and powerful man named Ramirez. She had been tasked by her superiors with finding him and discovering why he deviated from his mission- Ramirez had been the first choice for the task of defending Arcadia from the Gigas, and she was only the back-up plan that was forced into action.
She vacantly noticed that the air was beginning to change out the forward view-screen over the top of the canyon. Bringing herself back to awareness, she saw the fog swirling about in the sky and frowned. "Rhaknam," She said to herself, her quiet voice speaking out in the darkened pilot-house. Cupil squeaked several times nervously. "I'm a little scared as well," She admitted to him, sitting up.
After the base silence of the ship, the thundering of Vyse's brown boots on the wooden staircase leading up to the bridge sounded incredibly loud. The Silvite girl glanced back and blinked, surprised, while Vyse emerged into the room. "Fina," He said. "Good. You weren't with Aika, she's down getting awake... Rhaknam's here! Captain wants us all ready to rumble in five minutes."
Vyse Dyne's handsome features made him stand out, even in the very dim illumination of the fishing sloop's bridge. His unruly brown hair flowed down around his shoulders, uninhibited mostly in it's growth. A skyglass covered one of his chocolate-brown eyes, and under the other lurked a nasty scar that was a relic of an act years ago in which he had thrown himself in the path of an attack to spare Aika. Healing magics of all kind had failed to even partially erase it, perhaps because of it's symbolism of his heroism and willingness to sacrifice for others. He wore a regular blue sailing tunic, and twin moonstone cutlasses were holstered on either sides of his belt. His figure was not that of great brutish muscle, but a lean and agile build.
Fina nodded, bringing her hands up to her mouth. "I saw the fog. Where are the others?" The mists outside only seemed to continually intensify, and already the faint illumination cast by the yellow orb in the sky had been completely snuffed out.
A loud yawn and a flash of red hair emerging up the steps heralded the coming of her other teenage friend, Aika. She didn't look much like a pirate at all, with beautiful pale skin, a feminine figure wrapped in a tight yellowish one-piece dress, and large, friendly eyes. Luckily, the scarecrow-braids of her flame-tinted hair and the massive green boomerang holstered across her back dispelled any notion of normalcy. She smiled groggily and said, "Jeez, was I the only one who actually slept?"
"Looks like it," Vyse replied, walking up to the helm. He pulled up the power, throttling the controls forward. The ship gave a great shudder and a series of jolting coughs as it's moonstone engines leapt back to life. Fed by the reactive powers of the small meteorites, the stolen Valuan drives pumped energy throughout the ship and gave it the familiar hum of a live ship.
Drachma was the last to reach the bridge. His hulking frame came into view, and he huffed in approval. "My quest is at hand. Everyone, to your stations! Get movin'!" Captain of the Little Jack, the old fisherman had a snow-white beard and hair pulled back in a functional ponytail. His skin was tanned and body muscled from many years of heavy labor, and he had an actual black eyepatch around one of his eyes. An enormous rusty mechanical arm replaced one of his missing limbs, by far the most noticeable thing on this remarkable man.
He was the one who had brought them to this place, to hunt the behemoth arcwale known as Rhaknam. The pursuit of the murderous creature had consumed over twenty years of his life, and by now all aspects of him were tailored to extracting eventual hard justice, in the name of his crew and his lost son, whose name was taken for his ship's title.
The old man walked over next to Vyse and said, "Bring us up, boy. We'll man the cannons. Everyone, if you see anything in the fog, holler at once. We won't be caught off guard this time." He led the girls out onto the deck, hefting the ammo caisson into position.
Little Jack lifted itself up off the uneven bottom of the trench they were in. Fins to either side of the hull beat frantically in a pattern intended to give maximum lift to the aged ship. Rising above the crest of the trench, they were in open sky now, even if the fog was at it's thickest and visibility was reduced to a few meters ahead of the prow. They sat their in the air, floating motionlessly, for several minutes, straining to catch a glimpse of the massive foe, or hear something of worth.
The sharp reports of cannon-fire echoed out, and soon the entire crew heard the telltale noises of airship weaponry. Vyse frowned. "Where's that coming from?"
Drachma stood up in alarm, pointing forward. "Boy! Dead ahead!" Out of the mists emerged the dull outline of an enormous winged creature, and it was growing larger as it approached their position. "It's him!" As it drew nearer, the features of the arcwale began to come into focus- it's skin was an off-purple color, and many odd carvings adorned it. It let out a rhythmic wail, still heading for them with power and mass unmatched.
Vyse frowned, slapping the wheel with all of his strength. The rattling ship responded, lurching so quickly to starboard that it just managed to avoid being completely crushed by the beast as it passed within meters of them. "Oh shit!" He cursed, and the deck shivered under him.
"Moons Alive," Aika said, bracing herself against the deck's rail and squeezing her eyes shut. "That thing is enormous!"
As they finally cleared it's long tail, three ships appeared in the distance- one was painted night-black with a shock of the deepest red across it's angular hull, and the other two had a dull gray metallic sheen. Both were definitely Valuan in profile, and the metal airships moved in formation to pursue the great beast. Their cannons spoke out again, bursts of flame heralding the flight of dozens of explosive shots which slamming into the writhing tail of Rhaknam, making it let loose another of it's shrill bellows.
Vyse frowned. Two regular Gunboats, escorting... a black cruiser... looks like a flagship of some kind. "Captain! Whose ship is that? I've never seen it before!"
Drachma looked up from the blaster he had just finished loading with three rounds of high-explosive ammunition shells. "While we were in Valua savin' your crew, I heard rumors that the Armada had changed their chain of command. That must be Ramirez's ship! He's Galcian's Vice Captain, and the most feared man in the fleet."
The Silvite looked up at the black ship and gasped. "Ramirez?" She echoed.
"Fina, what's up?" Aika asked from beside her, having finished loading the rest of the guns with their ammo. Icy winds blasted them and whipped over the wooden deck of the fishing sloop as the Valuan ships rained yet another round of fire onto the Arcwale.
"... nothing," She replied. "I'm alright!" She promised herself she would tell Aika all about it later, if they survived that long. It puzzled her- could it really be the Ramirez, the one she was sent to find, commanding a Valuan fleet? Many things left unanswered, but she refocused her mind on just the fight, leaving other matters for less important times.
"We can't fight them both," Vyse said, turning the wheel to follow them and powering on the throttle. The ship roared in reply, leaping forward to join the chase. "Captain! Orders?"
"Take down the Valuans first," Drachma commanded. "I don't want any chance of them interferin' when we go after Rhaknam. Don't attack Ramirez's ship, go for the two escorts! We're behind em and they don't see us, boy, so fire as she bears with that Harpoon and make it quick!"
"Aye," The teenager replied, subtly steering the ship up. The massive point of the Harpoon Cannon mounted on the nose of the Little Jack aligned up with the rear of the port Valuan gunboat. "Never even saw it coming... say good night, then." Pulling back the firing lever, he felt the ship lurch more. Shoving it's way through the fog like a knife, the metal point landed square on the enemy. Slamming into it's engineering section, it demolished the power systems for the ship and caused a feedback loop, which jammed every single one of their propellers.
Without this source of lift, the heavy metal ship simply couldn't stay afloat, and began to sink towards the ground at an alarming rate with the influence of gravity reigning supreme. Pulling their valuable weapon back by the thick black tow-cable attached to it, Vyse felt the harpoon re-enter it's launcher, ready for re-use.
"A hit!" Aika whooped. "Dead-center, and they're going down! Nice job, Vyse! One more to go!" Vyse fired again, but this time he missed due to the distance and the shaking nature of the ships in the wake of the arcwale. Instead of piercing the ship's rear armor, it veered to starboard and slammed into one set of it's propellers. Snapping them off like branches from a tree, it sent the second escort into a wild spiral for several moments before they could activate backup engines and stabilize themselves.
The Valuan escort began to turn in a wide and indolent arc to return fire, finally seeing their assailants in their vulnerable blind-spot. Drachma frowned. "Oh, no you don't. Boy, broadside. We'll give em a volley and convince em they want to leave." The ship turned harshly, now presenting it's armored side to the Valuans. Lighting the fuse, Drachma watched as their first round of fire slammed into the enemy ship. The explosive rounds tunneled through the armor and detonated, rendering it's defense very underpowered. Ripping through whole decks, molten and twisted metal shards began to fall from the ship as it was hit hard.
Vyse smirked. These HE shots are supposed to be used on arcwales and other enormous flying creatures of Arcadia. Even the Valuans don't have the defenses to stand up to that. He watched the damaged regular boat and Ramirez's flagship begin to veer off, retreating from the formidable foe they faced. "Alright! We've got a straight shot at Rhaknam, sir! The enemy's running."
He looked over, to find Drachma entering the bridge. "I've been waiting for this... for a very long time. I'll do it personally." Vyse stepped aside without a word, and he assumed the controls. "Harpoon Cannon... FIRE!"
The massive harpoon shot out for the third time, the motors straining to give it maximum force. Spinning in the air, it embedded itself into the side of Rhaknam, shaking the fishing boat. The arcwale let out another noise of pain, and began to react to the metal invader on it's body. Now being pulled along by the creature as well as their engines, they easily kept pace.
"Heh," The old fisherman said, glaring down at Rhaknam. "Now there's no escape for you. I'll finally have my revenge, in the name of Little-" He was cut off by the ship shaking again. The lights suddenly dimmed as the roar of twin explosions filled the bridge with noise. More shots landed all around them, puffing out with energy released from the Valuan shells.
Aika leaned out over the side. "Look out, everyone! Enemy ship behind us! Ramirez is back!" The large horned Valuan flagship continued it's bombardment, intending to blow the smaller fishing ship clear out of the darkened skies.
Drachma looked in the back window the bridge at the outline of the enemy ship, brought into sharp focus every few seconds by the light from it's own blazing guns. "Damn! We didn't make them retreat enough, and underestimated him! Now he's behind us..." Explosions ripped apart the sails of the boat, and tore flaming holes into the armor. A blaze started going in the fore-decks, spreading billowing smoke and deadly heat throughout the ship. More fire landed around them. They were defenseless to the Valuan shots, and couldn't even evade while they were connected with Rhaknam.
Aika and Fina quickly dashed up the steps moments before a flaming timber dropped onto where they were, crushing several of the cannons and shaking them loose of their connection to the deck. They joined the males on the bridge, where Vyse was desperately trying to control the ship. "Little Jack is on fire," Aika reported. "Armor is not effective enough!"
"We're loosing rudder power," Vyse said. "The engine's hit... we can't maintain the altitude for long! This ship is going down!" The wrecked fishing boat continued to absorb the lethal blows from the enemy flagship, which never relented for a moment. A dud crashed through the back window, clattering to a stop on the wooden deck right behind them. "Oh, this is not good! At this rate, we're all going to die!"
"NO," Drachma said angrily, gesturing in the air while his ship was being torn asunder. "I've waited far too long for this day! I might never get another shot like this again!" His thinking was being affected by his blood lust, and Vyse could see the urgency in his good eye.
Flames licked the back window, heating up the glass panes until they were opaque and white-hot. Flickering red and orange lights illuminated the bridge as Vyse turned towards the old man. "Captain! We have to abandon ship! We need to get to the lifeboat dock before it's destroyed!" He stared right up into the eyes of the other man with an intense glare on his normally laid-back features.
"... What?!" Drachma asked angrily, meeting his gaze. An entire side of the ship tore off, the hollow green metal flying backwards in several sections of debris and wood splintered and burned. "You're tellin' me to abandon the Little Jack?!" An explosion knocked into the side-window, cracking the glass but luckily not breaking it in fully. Air whistled through the cracks. "You're tellin' me to let Rhaknam go?!"
"YES," Vyse shouted, anxious eyes flickering from the two girls who watched in fear their exchange, to the burning sails and deck below them in the viewscreen, to the white-hot back window, and back up to his Captain. "In about fifteen seconds there won't BE a Little Jack for you to abandon! If you die, it won't bring back your son! As long as you're alive you've still got a chance!"
Drachma looked away, growing angrily. The dilemma was tearing him apart, and he seemed unwilling to stop his attack, even if it meant his own demise.
He stepped closer, shaking the larger man, even while his voice began to get softer. "Captain... if you die now, today, because of this, then the lives of your crew, and your son... will have been lost in vein." A very ill-sounding groan slowly wracked through the superstructure of the Little Jack, and under pressure the superheated metal supports near fires became more pliable, and thus bent. The entire ship began to lean slightly, and the hull's integrity was rapidly dropping.
Drachma pushed him away and roared again in anger and frustration, years of hatred emerging to the surface at exactly the time where it would not benefit him at all. He sighed and looked down to the deck, nodding slightly.
"Alright, we're abandoning ship," The Blue Rogue ordered, looking over to Aika and Fina. "Let's go! The lifeboats should easily get us out of here." They ran down the steps, Drachma following up in the rear, anxiously avoiding several passages that were already clogged with flames. The engine was a wreck, an enormous hole in the wall creating a near vacuum-effect that they had to fight through before getting to the lifeboat dock.
Another shell hit the bridge, causing it to explode outwards, and leaving only a tangled mess of wood and metal on the deck above them. The ship rattled again, but despite all the damages seemed to be holding up well enough to let them escape.
Vyse leapt with agility up onto Centime's spare lifeboat that he had given to the crew only about a day ago. He looked back, seeing Fina helping Aika into the regular escape boat on the other side. "Come on! Move! Move! We need to get out here now! Captain, get aboard!" Instead, the large fisherman leaned over the back of Aika and Fina's boat, beginning to push it towards the open bay doors at the other end of the dock.
"What are you doing?!" Aika demanded, watching him steadily power their lifeboat over to the open ramp. The whipping winds once again bit into them, and they heard Rhaknam's bellow again. "Captain! Don't!"
"Get movin'," He commanded, and shoved them off. The lifeboat took to the open air, and although it had only a limited engine and small maneuvering fins, it was designed to allow for rapid escape. The form of the small craft quickly shrank into the swirling mists. He then turned and went around to the back of Vyse's lifeboat.
The teenager stood up, looking down at the bulky man. "Come on, sir! There's no time left! We have to get out here right now!" Instead of replying, he saw the side of Drachma's whiskers twitch up in a smile, and he pushed. The boat slid along it's track, and out like the other one did. Before Vyse could react, he was out over the sky, and the metal boat began it's unsteady descent away from the burning hulk. He watched Drachma's form shrink until it became impossible to tell from the Little Jack, and then turned towards the other lifeboat, which was still within shouting range.
"Vyse! I think we're going to be separated!" Aika shouted. Before he could reply, a thundering boom cut him off, and the front end of his lifepod exploded. More shells landed around the small rescue boats as Ramirez began to target them for bombardment, forgetting about the doomed fishing boat and the arcwale he was pursuing.
Vyse fell onto the boat's bottom, hitting his head on the rusted metal and falling into darkness.
Pink. Having just been through what she had, the color pink was down at nearly the bottom of Aika's list of things she expected to see in her mind. Nevertheless, she was surrounded by pink. The room she was in was pink. The bed was also pink. The entire room seemed... soft, maybe even cuddly. Feminine was the word most apt to it. She quickly surmised that this was not a Valuan detention center.
She looked around again, and found Fina laying next to her in the bed. She was peacefully asleep, but soon stirred as the redhead's movements disturbed her. They both sat up, surprised and confused. Aika groaned, and managed to speak first. "Ugh... what is this place? Where are we? And how did we get here?"
"I do not know," The platinum-blonde alien said quietly. "This... place is very... um... pink..." She looked over at Aika. "Aika, you're beautiful!"
Aika blinked. "Huh?" She looked over, blinking several times. "Thank you... but... why?"
"Your hair," The Silvite replied. "It's... not tied up." It was true- the cascade of smooth red hair that was usually restrained in an intricately braided hairstyle was now freely flowing, and reached over her back. Stray bangs covered a little bit of her eyes. She always was very pretty, but with her hair down, the effect seemed rather striking to her.
"So it is," The redhead replied. "Hunh. So, someone rescued us, put us in a fluffy pink room, and did my hair for me..." She sighed and leaned back down onto the bed on the comfortable pillow. "... I'm going to stop thinking about this. Might give myself a hemorrhage."
Fina blinked, looking around. "Cupil? Cupil, where are you?" A muffled squeak caused her to move, revealing the very squished shape shifter. Indignant, he sprang up, inflating and chattering angrily. "I'm sorry," She said. " I didn't know... where are we?" Cupil didn't know, either.
With a metallic groan, the door to the room opened and both girls looked over towards it. A young woman leaned in. She was dressed in a very expensive-looking pink dress, and had large, friendly eyes that resembled Aika's, only several order of magnitudes more lively. She smiled and happily said, "Oh, you're awake!" Walking into the room, she put her hands onto her hips. "There's no need to get up just yet," She assured them. This woman was also beautiful, but Fina sensed something just a little bit off about her. Her hair was red like Aika's, and worn similarly. "Let's see... what can I get you... how about a nice, hot bowl of soup?"
Aika grinned, taken aback by this sudden kindness. "Sure! I'm Aika, by the way! Thanks for saving us!"
Fina nodded in agreement. "I am Fina. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us. We owe you our lives."
She walked closer, closing the door behind her. "Aika and Fina... you both have such pretty names! You're lucky I found your lifeboat, it only had about an hour's worth of fuel left and you were over sky. You were both out cold. What exactly happened?" She twirled around once, putting her hands up to her face excitedly. "I love to hear stories!"
Aika blinked, suddenly a little worried. No matter how nice or pretty her surroundings and hostess were, she was still an unknown factor, and she considered that maybe telling her about their quest to defy the Valuan Empire wasn't a smart idea yet. Sensing the refrain in the teenager, she leaned in over them. "Oh, that's ok. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. But by the looks of you... I'm gonna say you're Air Pirates. Yes?" Aika looked down guiltily while Fina frowned. "Ha! I guess I guessed right. You don't have anything to worry about, because I'm an Air Pirate, too!"
Both of the girls seemed interested by this. "Really?" Aika asked.
"Yes," She answered. "I'm Clara, of the Blue Rogues. Nice to meet you." She leaned forward, extending her gloved hand. After explaining that they were comrades of a sort, she finally got them to tell her their story. Staring from their quest in Nasr, they outlined the basic points of their adventure. Clara seemed fascinated by this story, believing it, and noting at several points that rumors had been circulating about just such events. She had brought in soup while she listened, and now the bowls laid on a tray to the side, empty. "I see. Well, I'm sure there's nothing to worry about. Vyse sounds capable."
"You both like him, riiiiight?" At this question, both of the girls went a little pink, and she deduced the answer from that. "I thought so. Well, you have to have faith in your man!" She winked at them.
"Yeah," Aika nodded, grinning. "You're right." Fina looked down quietly.
"Captain Clara!" A muffled female voice said from the other side of the door, before it opened, revealing a female sailor in a red striped shirt. She seemed young, younger than either of the rescued girls. "Nasrad's in sight and we just got landing clearance."
"Okay," Clara acknowledged. "Thank you, Belle. Prepare for landing." She looked over at the girls. "We'll be arriving in Nasr's capitol city in a few moments. Who knows? It's a large place, and maybe you'll find out what happened to Vyse while we're there."
They proceeded up to the bridge of the ship, discovering that most of the ship was like their room. Pink. It was a wooden sailing ship of a similar class to the old Albatross, but Clara had christened it the Primrose. The ship's many fins and sails flapped, guiding it onwards through the sky towards the expansive docks of the huge city. It's cannons and side-hull were painted a gentle beige or creme color, and the while thing seemed a little weird. But that was piracy, and most pirates were eccentric in some way or another.
Nasr was the second most powerful country in all of Arcadia, and the only one to even come close to rivaling Valua. It's capitol, Nasrad, boasted a population of over half a million people, and was shaped in an enormous pentagon, with well-planned out streets and building codes that continually expanded out on the island that it was situated in. Nasrad harbor was nearly constantly full of merchant and sailing ships, and the docks of the city made Maramba's seem like two twigs and a rock.
Pulling alongside one of the docks, the crew laid out anchor and attached lines to ground the ship, turning down their engines at the same time so the ship hovered a few meters away. They brought out a boarding ramp, and Clara debarked with their impromptu guests.
She smiled and said, "Well, now that we've dropped you off, we'll restock our supplies and we'll be off. It was very nice meeting you two, and I wish we could have spent more time together." She pulled out a small but heavy pouch from her dress and handed to to them. "Here... take this. It's only five-thousand, but it should help you get back on your feet again."
"Wow," Aika said, taking the money as reverently as Fina had taken the Green Moon Crystal from Isapa a while ago, "First you save our lives, and now you give us money? Thank you for everything, so much!" Fina bowed to her.
"Don't give it a second thought," Clara replied, waving dismissively. "I am a Blue Rogue like you, after all. I know you'd do the same for me."
Fina asked, "Where are you going to go now, Clara?"
"Me? Well, I'm going after the man I love," She gushed. "He's an Air Pirate too, you know. He's a little on the wild side, but he's strong... and smart... and... and so yummy!" Clara giggled. "I follow him around a lot, until he realizes his true feelings for me and we get married. Isn't that so romantic?"
"Um, sure," Aika replied, keeping her judgments to herself on that matter.
"Well, I'd better get going," She said. "Again, it was lovely meeting you two." She walked back up the boarding ramp to her ship, and began to supervise her female crew in the unloading of cargo.
When the redheaded teenager had made sure she was well out of earshot, she laughed. "She's the nicest stalker I've ever met, Fina. Well, at least that explains why her entire ship looks like a frickin' honeymoon suite."
Fina blinked. "Honeymoon?" She tilted her head, having one of her I-don't-understand-what-you-are-talking-about moments.
Aika sighed. "I kinda figured you wouldn't know what that was, but it's not important right now. Let's check out Nasrad, and see if we can find a place to stay for the night." She led the way, walking down the alabaster docks and up a flight of steps into a set of double-doors that were actually gates through the city's vast walls. Cannons lined the roof of the fortification, sticking proudly into the sky. Nasrad was a well-defended city.
The people were lively and proud, going about daily life in the metropolis. They compared this sight with their memories of the Valuan capitol, with it's crushing squalor and sickening largess literally side-by-side on display. This place was much different. Passing a fountain that gushed a stream of cool, clear water, Fina wondered how they managed to get so much water for what was literally a desert island. The heat also seemed to be much less, perhaps because of some Blue spells that might have been casted over the city.
The skyline of buildings spread out to the horizon, but the palace of the Nasultan stabbed up directly ahead. The seat of governance for the Nasr Kingdom, it was restricted to the public. They had to business with the Nasr government anyway, at least for now.
After exploring for several hours across the enormous city, they returned to the search for a place to sleep, and soon found a white marble building three stories high, it's sign proclaiming the Desert Provost Inn. Entering the building, they felt a gush of cool surround them, similar to when they sought indoor shelter in Maramba.
The innkeeper leaned out over his receptionist's desk and smiled, speaking up in nearly perfect Valuan. "Welcome, ladies. Are you here for a room?"
"Yeah," Aika replied. "For two, please."
"Aah," The man said, nodding sagely and winking. "Honeymoon?" He chuckled mischievously, as if guessing a confident secret, while Fina stood there, looking between the two of them and fairly confused.
Aika turned red. "Um... no. No. No. We're just... friends," She replied. "So, how much? Unless you don't want our business." Crossing her arms, she looked very unamused.
"Oh, no, I will gladly assist," The innkeeper said, his laugh now a little bit nervous. "Um... for two... 100 rhira a night, or you can let me change your gold for you." Rhira was the national currency of Nasr, and the only other type of popular money besides the standard gold coin.
Aika blinked. "Um... I think I have some spare rhira back from our stay in Maramba..." She dug into her pouch and produced twin handfuls of the coins, dumping them onto the desk. After counting off the correct amount and grudgingly giving them the difference back, he provided them a room key. They went up the stairs and through two levels of rooms before finding their number range. They walked past expensive-looking gold-gilded oak doors, Aika glancing between the key and the doors. "407... 409- 409! Bingo!" She opened the door and looked in.
The room was a fairly lavish place, with twin comfortable beds side-by-side, a glass window with a clear view into the sky, and a fully equipped bathroom. Cupil emerged from his camouflage as a bracelet around Fina's hand, squeaking and zipping through the air around their room. Aika giggled, watching him and plopping down onto the nearest bed, laid out upon it's comforting covers.
"What are we going to do now?" Fina asked, walking over to the window and looking out upon the city's skyline at dusk. Rays of red light bathed the handsome marble buildings, and in the distance ships sailed around the horizon near the clouds.
"Well, we'll need a job to keep staying here and eating and stuff," Aika said idly. "We can run up a tab, then when we get our paycheck we can burn off all of our debts and buy a ship. Nothing fancy, just a simple Nasr sloop or something, and start searching for Vyse if he hasn't found us by then."
Fina nodded. "Very well." She sighed, looking up at the Red Moon. "Aika... so much has happened today..."
"Yeah," The redhead agreed. "I can't believe our horrible luck... but things'll probably get better, Fina. Don't worry about it." However, she herself was also worried. Vyse... you'd better not die on us, or I'll kill you.
Fina's thoughts also returned to their missing comrade. Are you looking up at the same Moon that we are right now, Vyse?