A/N: Most apologetic I am for leaving this story without any updates for a year. This chapter is an introductory phase to the events ahead! So, no romance or flirting here. xD Next chapter will have lots of drama, though! (hint hint)
Historical factuality of the Romanian empire, pertaining especially to the dates and geography mentioned, are misrepresented in the storyline.
Chapter 4: Kruser Fall
The staleness and cool air shrouded the train, and wisps of gray smoke veiled the transporting vehicle, leaving visibility an impairment and forming nothing but silhouettes of the alighting commuters.
Three figures stood promptly before the departing train, brown suitcases in hands and leather black cloaks billowing against the strong wind. Their distinctly incongruous appearance raised a couple inquisitive stares and glances from passer-bys.
Allen shivered visibly as another rush of wind rattled against his cloak, his bones chilled and skin cold to the touch. Oddly enough, he found himself not so much cold from the biting wind but the icy stares which he had been receiving since his landing at Station Moldavia.
"It seems we have the government of Wallachia on our track." Komui shifted his glasses, despondent. "To put it bluntly, they have closed the doors on our faces."
"Wallachia?" Allen stared down at his mission deployment documents. "Did the government not receive word of our coming?"
"Yes, they have indeed and in response to our proposal to warrant our people the authority to investigate their sites, imposed a government blockade on all incoming vehicles and travelers. I'd submit a report to the higher authority regarding this matter and–"
"And have them remove the blockade for us?" Kanda interjected, "It is not in my knowledge that the Black Order would, in their self-servicing interests, possess sudden kindness to assist an exorcist in his mission."
Malevolence was smeared in every word, and the room took a sudden dip in temperature.
The Supervisor, however, remained unfazed and he threw a soft, almost apologetic look. "I understand where you're coming from.. the paperwork would need at least a month to be processed. What do you propose then, Kanda kun?"
Kanda's eyes remain transfixed on the map that was neatly clipped to the file of documents. He traced a finger across the map diagonally, stopping at the North East. "Station Moldavia. Since the government denies any passage of entry, we'll just have to create another route ourselves."
Station Moldavia, the only operating transportation site for Moldavia, was a neighboring state of Wallachia – their designated area of investigation. Formerly known as the hub region of Romania, Moldavia flourished and thrived economically with travelers and tourists from all walks of life. Its former glory however was now covered in mud and ruins, having been a proxy country for a war, a manifestation of the war-torn now breathed through the cracked walls and pavements. Psychological warfare was but another crucial component of the war, and it had undoubtedly produced the most far-reaching and drastic effects on the Moldavia denizens, leaving them suspicious and filled with bitter hatred for foreigners who have purportedly come to 'soil' their land.
Allen, having equipped himself with the historical knowledge of Moldavia, knew only too well of their current ill condition. They were labeled as nothing more but uninvited strangers.
"I believe the situation calls for us to move on, and move on quickly." Allen glanced around their surroundings, and the general impression he had formed in his mind of their current circumstance was most daunting.
Kasha rolled her eyes at his comment, "Since when were you allowed to give orders? I don't recall ever having regarded you as our leader." She folded her arms, putting up a show of impertinence.
"Orders? I –"
"There is no reason for you to offer any explanation, Moyashi," interrupted Kanda, looking at neither of them but darting his eyes warily across the gloomy station and its people. "Leave her be, ignorant or a mere hindrance... Our first order of business should be finding the exit... though this may prove to be much more of challenge than I have predicted."
True enough, more people have started gathering, albeit slowly, towards them. They moved cautiously, faster with each pace. Inaudible words left their lips, and they crowded together speaking in low, hushed tones.
"Let us make haste," said Kanda. "Any moment longer would have us enveloped in human hordes."
"We will not have you outsiders treading on our motherland!" A sudden voice erupted from the crowd. A middle-aged man, clothed in tattered overalls, emerged – face clutched with anger. "We have had enough of you sinners coming down 'ere and ruining our country! Get out! Get out!"
Like a burning matchstick to a pile of wood, the man's remark took its immediate effects on the crowd, flames of hatred ignited in the voices of the people.
"GET OUT OF OUR COUNTRY!"
"Argh, as if anyone would actually wish to travel here. This place is disgustingly foul!" Kasha hissed under her breath.
"Sorry," Kanda took a firm grip on his katana. "We have little time to entertain your welcome party. Five seconds, or I'll simply cut through all of you!"
The tenacious mob refused to back down.
"SINNERS! SINNERS, THEY CURSED OUR LANDS!"
"Damn you, outsiders," the same man stepped forth. "Our country was cursed 'cause of all you damn outsiders!"
'Cursed?' thought Allen, in all his readings of the documented Moldavia history has there never once been any mention of a curse. It piqued his curiosity because the Black Order would most certainly have this recorded down in their statistics. Yet, Supervisor Komui had asserted the lack of any strange occurrences, and the reason to which they were dispatched to this area was on a follow-up basis.
"Come now, my dear friends, let us be mindful of our words." came a soft, Romanian-accented voice above the boorish shouts of hateful intent.
The throngs of people dispersed, almost too dutifully, to reveal a tall, slender young man. He took quick strides, past the crowd with faces riveted with god-like adoration and esteem, halting only a few steps from Allen.
His tailored, dark clothes was fast to capture the attention of the three exorcists – the man's well-groomed and handsome appearance was manifestly out of place in the poverty-stricken setting.
Allen looked him in the face, a well-structured feature – sharp prominent nose, thin lips and a fine chiseled chin - he found himself more drawn to the dark blue eyes that glinted under the dark tangle of brown hair.
"Governor of Moldavia," he said in bureaucratic tone. "I believe I possess the right to question the purpose of your visit."
Allen was startled. Why, the man was barely in his 20s!
"Be rest assured, governor, Moldavia is not our area of intent." Kanda said dispassionately.
The young man raised a brow. "Not your area of intent? Despite having arrived at our station, if not the state itself.. pray tell, where else could you and your companions (his eyes lingered a moment on Allen) make journey of?"
"That, you have no need to know," Kanda stared hard, eyes aloof. "We will be out of your way soon enough, governor, if you and your people would let us pass."
The otherwise pacified crowd was beginning to heat up, enraged perhaps, from the disrespectful attitude displayed towards their governor.
"Wallachia. We are heading to Wallachia state," Allen spoke up finally. He had felt for very compelling reason that he should steer the conversation away from Kanda. The last they needed was an angry mob of townsfolk on their trail!
"Wallachia?" The young man faltered over his answer. "That city has imposed a blockade since last week and has denied any passage of entry forthwith, travelers such as yourself would find barren results in your undertaking."
"Yes, we are well aware of that, governor, and have decided to make head of our journey from Moldavia station. We..." Allen's voice trailed off, unsure of how to proceed with this conversation and unsure of how much he should divulge in the Governor of their investigation. Would he assist them? Or would he, like the government of Wallachia, perceive their proposal to be detrimental to their city and chase them out of the country?
Allen decided to take a bet on the former. "And we hope to acquire your assistance, governor."
"Just one question before I give you my word on this matter," the young bureaucrat said, abruptly. "What is your objective in going to Wallachia? As a neighboring state, I am pledged with a responsibility to protect not only this city but Wallachia, and I would be deemed inefficient and irresponsible in my duties as a governor if I readily consent to strangers with unknown motives."
Allen looked at Kanda, who nodded at him.
"Well, we received word from our superiors of missing colleagues who have been previously dispatched to that city. It has now become our assignment to retrace the steps which they have taken and locate their whereabouts. They may still be out there, alive, in the wilderness of Wallachia, and searching for means to contact us." Allen produced for him two polaroid pictures, depicting clear faces of their missing counterparts on the glossy print.
"Very well," said the man at last, returning the photos. "Our city may disapprove of wandering foreigners, but we are not so heartless as to turn away a call for assistance when your intentions are so clearly defined to be in goodwill and camaraderie."
Allen let out a long relieved sigh, not knowing he had held his breath in trepidation. "Thank you, Mr... ?"
"Kruser. Kruser Fall." His blue spheres rested on Allen's.
Allen smiled, silently glad to have the governor as their aide, the crowds have began to disregard their presence. He then, in civility and formality, introduced himself and his company to the bureaucrat, revealing everything but their association with the Black Order.
"Now, the night has fallen, it does not bode well for visitors unfamiliar to our lands to roam around at this hour of darkening." Faint shadows have started to creep out from under their feet. "We can speak into greater lengths at my humble abode." He continued, making a gesture towards the exit, there was a horse-drawn carriage waiting.
"Ah! Thank you so much for your invite, Mr. Fall! But... um..." Allen turned to look at the couple. "We were dispatched as a team, so..."
"Oh, fine by me," Kasha titled her head at Kruser in a winsome manner, smiling flirtatiously. "What do you say, Kanda? Let's go to this gentleman's house. My hands and feet are sore from all the standing and talking!"
Frank disinclination remained on Kanda's face, somehow the appearance of this gentleman and his sudden kind invitation didn't quite sit right with him, but out of mindful consideration of their circumscription he couldn't bring himself to reject an invitation from a person holding the highest command of authority in the region.
He nodded his head in consensus.
The bureaucrat smiled. "This way."