Echoes of the Eternal Recurrence
"Memories of Old"
First off, I must apologize for the previous chapter of suck!! I rushed and it suffered and I apologize for my lapse of sanity! I fixed it this weekend, so hopefully it will be better! So, if you read it before uh, November 5th, please go back and check it out!
On a similar note, sorry for the short chapter, I have a lot of stuff to pound out at school, and I'm going to be trying harder to make my writing better. My job is to satisfy all y'awl, so…:)
Sometimes I lie awake at night, afraid of my dreams, what lies in store.
Isn't strange how often you forget the things that are important to you?
Who would you want to be with at the end of the world?
Don't worry for the future.
The path from the Forest of Spirits to Crell Monferaigne was one of the most peaceful paths in the entirety of Midgard. A wonderful place for a stroll or a confidence boost for some nooblet adventurers.
In other words, boring.
Rufus stretched his arms and yawned obnoxiously. Alicia giggled as she poked him in the side.
"What was that for!" Rufus demanded, dramatically clutching his side.
"You must be really old if you get tired at dusk," Alicia snickered.
Rufus merely squinted at Alicia and quickened his pace. They had left the Forest of Spirits hours ago and were just about to enter the city of Crell Monferaigne.
"Well, you know me, eat-sleep, eat-sleep. You got on my case then, too."
Alicia stopped. "Then?"
Rufus turned to face her. "Yeah, you know…?"
Alicia continued to give him a blank stare. Don't tell me she doesn't know that it was her all the time? If she doesn't remember, maybe it's for the best that I don't tell her…
"Nothing, never mind, it's nothing," Rufus laughed in a high-pitched tone and walked around Alicia to push her into the city.
Naturally, Alicia began to protest, but thought better of it. Obviously Rufus was covering something up, but she would get to the bottom of it eventually.
"We need to make some Oth."
"I don't think I have enough money to pay for dinner and two rooms," Alicia said as she pulled out her money and counted it.
"What? Two rooms?" Rufus scratched his head.
Alicia flushed deeply and punched Rufus in the arm. She turned with a huff and tromped to the city gates.
"What'd I say?"
Alicia gasped as she entered Crell Monferaigne. Her first thoughts were of Solde, a city fashioned after this one, but lacking in the overall elegance. The buildings seemed to stretch to meet the clouds themselves, the exteriors of them shouting of their superior craftsmanship. The entire city seemed to glow like a beautiful jewel.
Rufus cantered up to her side. "Impressive, huh?"
Alicia graced him with a dubious look.
"I meant, we could take turns in the room! I wasn't up to anything—honest!" Alicia humphed and started walking deeper into the city.
"Where are we going?"
"The tavern—I'm hungry!" Alicia dropped her aloof act and clutched her stomach which gave an envious grumble as a passerby chewed an apple.
"Oh, it's this way!" Rufus declared and took Alicia's hand, taking them to the tavern.
Alicia felt faint as they opened the door to the tavern and the wonderful smells of cooked meat and steamed vegetables wafted in to her nostrils.
"Hey, there, special night, eh?"
Alicia turned to see an over-weight man with a scruffy stubble around his face leaning over the bar. She looked to Rufus and noticed their hands were still clasped firmly. She and Rufus both coughed as they released their fingers and headed over to the man.
"Uhm, actually we're looking for some people. Do you happen to know a Lezard?"
The man shook his head.
Rufus jerked his head to Alicia in surprise, but she seemed not to notice as the man shook his head once more.
"Ah!" The man set down the rag he was wiping a glass with. "You must be her sister—I should've guessed, you're a real looker, too." Alicia's eye twitched and Rufus hid a laugh behind his hand. "Naw, she's not here now, but Leone's over there." He jerked his head over to a secluded part in the back of the tavern.
"Thank you!" Alicia bowed and yanked on Rufus' sleeve to drag him over to the table pointed out to them.
As they neared the table, Alicia got a good look at the woman sitting there. Alicia guessed Leone was taller than her—after all, Alicia was such a midget, as Fortuna daintily pointed out—and her raven hair reached about half-way down to her neck. Her eyes were closed in apparent pleasure as she glugged down a mug of beer.
Rufus felt his body shudder as he noticed that Leone was decked in out in a suit of dark purple armor. As they neared the table, he noticed there was a black helmet sitting near her legs, like some loyal pet. Just what he always wanted—Hrist Valkyrie, round two.
"Are you Fortuna's sister, Leone?" Alicia asked.
The woman opened an eye, the glass pressed to her lips. "Aye," she said as she set it down. Alicia felt herself riveted into place by Leone's eyes. A strange sense of familiarity flooded through her as Leone looked at her and motioned to the seats.
"I'm Alicia," she stammered as she pulled out a chair and sat next to Leone. Rufus took a seat next to Alicia.
"Hrm. So you know my sister?" Leone swiftly ignored Rufus and turned to Alicia.
"Yes, we met about a year ago. I've been hoping to run into her again—I want her to meet Rufus," she smiled as she indicated Rufus with a glance.
Leone smirked. "A marriage, huh?"
Alicia and Rufus seemed to choke on their breath. Leone merely took another gulp of booze.
"I guess not. I suppose my sister told you about me. She's really no different from me—amazing, talented, gorgeous, the list goes on."
She was no different from Hrist; arrogant, snide and chock full of confidence. In a way that frightened him, Rufus found it endearing, especially when she spoke of her sister.
"Do you always take on a catatonic state when a person speaks to you?"
Leone's curt comment cut through Rufus' daze. Fire flashed in his eyes. "Of course not! Is it a crime to think?"
Leone smirked. "I didn't realize it took such an effort to pay attention. Are you diseased?"
Rufus felt his face redden as Alicia burst into peals of laughter and Leone chugged down a large portion of her beer. I guess some parts of people will never change. Ever. "Of course not," he snapped defensively.
Rolling her eyes, Leone beckoned the server for a refill. Alicia was calming down and turned to Leone once more. "Your sister, Fortuna, where is she now?"
"Well, we recently were commissioned to take care of a large troll that has been plaguing the outskirts of town. Technically, the farmers all chipped in for our reward, since the city doesn't care a whit about what happens outside of their border," she darkly added.
Alicia and Rufus were silent until the shadow lifted from Leone's face. "Fortuna went to scope out the surrounding area. I am to join her at Dragon's Crypt tomorrow."
"Isn't that dangerous?" Alicia interjected.
Leone raised an eyebrow. "You met my sister; you must have seen some sort of display of her skills in battle. I have confidence in her."
Rufus chortled. "I'd have thought you were the type to do all the dangerous stuff yourself."
"Fortuna is well-suited for any task," Leone slammed her palm on the table. "Do not mistake my intentions—I care for her greatly, and that is precisely the reason why I have faith in her."
Alicia stared as Leone's cheeks flushed and Rufus pursed his lips. You can hide your feelings, but not your intentions. How similar Leone and Fortuna were in that sense. Startled by that unbidden thought, Alicia attempted to placate the two. "Please, Rufus didn't mean to imply any sort of thing…"
"Yes, I suppose that is just a result of his socially awkward condition."
Rufus growled. "As if you're some sort of stranger to being emotionally inept!"
Alicia giggled as Rufus swiveled to meet her gaze. "I know I shouldn't be laughing. It's just that you two argue as if you're the best of friends."
Leone let out a non-committal grunt and Rufus folded his arms. "Whatever."
Turning to Alicia, Leone stroked her chin. "I believe I remember my sister mentioning you. You do seem to have the spark of a warrior in your eyes, among other things," she leered as Alicia turned pink. Glancing Rufus over she shook her head. "However, with that build…you seem woefully inept at combat."
"What's that supposed to mean!?"
"Relax. I merely jest at your misfortune."
Alicia roared with laughter once more as Rufus got insulted again. He growled in vexation. If only I could tell her that I'm the ruler of Asgard and whip out my godly powers! But, then again, he sighed, she'd probably dismiss it all as an obvious class disadvantage and say that'd she be better than me on even grounds.
"Would you care to accompany me?"
Rufus looked up and Alicia took a few deep breaths. "You mean on your expedition to slay the troll?"
"Of course," Leone said. "You wish to see my sister, do you not? I am sure she will be pleased to see you as well." She nodded to Alicia. "I believe that the two of you can handle yourselves well."
"I knew all that was talk," Rufus puffed out his chest.
Scowling, Leone shook her head. "I merely saw that you have an extremely good bow. Only a person with some sort of talent could afford it, yet alone wield one. Anyway," she pushed her chair back noisily, drowning out Rufus' remarks, "we can sleep in one of the farms on the outside of town. Shall we?"
Alicia rose immediately. "Yes! Is there anything else we can do to help prepare for tomorrow?"
Leone smiled gently. "That is quite alright. I've gotten all the information I need."
"Information?" Rufus echoed as the trio exited the bar and were met with the crisp air of the night.
"Yes," Leone repeated, exasperated. "Do you have trouble comprehending words?"
Rufus leapt in front of Leone. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't assault me at every turn, thank you!"
Leone's eyes widened. "That is just my humble way of showing my affection. If you would care for my hatred, I would be more than happy to oblige."
"Why aren't you like this to Alicia, then?" Rufus demanded.
"Simple," Leone stated. "I express my affection differently for different people. Please try to think for yourself in the future."
"Aren't you glad that you two became friends so quickly?" Alicia asked as she laid a hand on Rufus' arm.
Leone placed her hands on her hips. "I won't take any of your cheek."
"I suppose I shouldn't talk about your body like that, Alicia will get jealous," Leone flipped her hair and strode off for the city gates, leaving a flustered Alicia and Rufus behind.
"Well, maybe this is a little forward, but do you have a…" Rufus shuffled his feet.
"Oh, no! She's going to leave us behind!" Alicia yelped and started racing after Leone.
Sighing once more, Rufus picked his feet up and started after Alicia when he was jolted in the right side. Turning, he saw a tiny girl, face covered in soot and baggy clothes sneering at him. For some terrible reason, Rufus thought she looked like Freya.
As if she would condescend to come here.
"Are you al-ow!" Rufus cried out in pain as Leone roughly pinched his arm. He grabbed her hands in an effort to prevent any further attacks.
"Alicia wouldn't appreciate your advances on other women."
Leone clucked as Rufus waved emphatically at the shadows. "There is no one there. Having delusions will undoubtedly place a strain on your special relationship with Alicia."
Rufus gulped as Leone thrust her face at him, noses inches apart. "Am I making myself clear?"
Rufus was familiar with Hrist's methods of coercion. He could already feel himself unconsciously preparing to get duped once more. Whatever Leone had in mind for him and Alicia was being reflected in her eyes, the dim light of the streets casting a shadow over them, effectively placing a barrier to her mind.
"Hurry, you two! I'm tired!"
Alicia's pouts reverberated through the streets and Leone and Rufus cringed at the ringing clarity of it. Leone grabbed Rufus' collar and tug him over to Alicia.
"You know, Alicia, I'll have to take you shopping for a leash sometime," Leone stated as she flung Rufus at Alicia.
Alicia's reply was muffled by the folds of Rufus' fabric.