Tuneless Melody: Moschet Manor

A/N: Er... Hi, FFCC realm! Rikku here. Let's see what can I say? First off, this was inspired by a fic my sister started on but will not be finishing. I aksed her if I could do a short excert about what it would be like if her group go to Mochet Manor and she said it was okay, so I am not violating any rights or anything. I did ask. So, you might want to read the first chapter of Tuneless Melody before reaidng this. It should be on the first page in the FFCC category though, but if you don't here's a little who's who. Oh, but first, the Tip Caravan conists of people literally from everywhere. They main objective is to gather myrrh for three differnet places, four every five years. The myrrh they give goes to the Fields of Fum, Leuda (every five years), Tipa, and Shella. Their myrrh counts as back-up myrrh pre-say. (I believe that the trees allow each caravan to get a drop of myrrh for them eveyr other year. Meaing The Marr's Pass caravan can get a drop of myrrh from Tida even though the Shella caravan has already been there, as long as they don't have any member of the Shella caravan with them. But, hey, that's my philosphy. It just doens't seem like there's enough dungeosn to supprot each town so me and my sister came up with our own idea.)

Roane: Main character. Half-Selkie, half-Clavat; Selkie appearence though. Eighteen. Raccoon Tail. Discriminated against becasue of mixed race her whole life. Used to live in Shella but reaosn for why are unknown. The only reason she was allowed to live in Shella was because she is fluent in the Selkic language, often translating texts for Yukes passing through. She has an easy-going personality and really doesn't take anything seriously. She is also very sarcastic and speaks her mind whenever she gets the chance. Because of her living in a racist city for much of her life, she's become very hardened and unsenistive about the subject of racism. Her environment also affected her trust in people and because of this she finds it very hard to actually have faith in people. The girl's very independent and likes to do things her own way so following a team doesn't come naturally to her. Overall though, she's trying...to some degree.

Cadell: Leader of Tipa Caravan. Second oldest caravaner. Seventeen. Clavat. Natural style. From Tipa. For a leader, Cadell takes his job very seriously. He's overprotective of every member of the caravan and much like Roane, he finds it easier to just bare the burden himself. He doesn't like being a follower for spectilated reasons and mostly keeps to himself. He is open and honest to a certain point but Roane suspects that he's keeping secrets and his true feeling bottled up for the sake of the group.

Rin Tara: (My fav.) Oldest caravan member. Nineteen. Pure-bred Selkie; Wolfie. From Leuda and joined Tipa Caravan for a extra chalice of myrrh every five years. Rin Tara is an interesting character. She comes off cold, but there's more to her then meets the eye. Most of her beliefs are explained in the story, but I'll hit on a few others. She's wise and because she's the oldest she often acts the most mature. Her and Cadell are extremely close but she's made it perfectly clear that it's a vague partnership and nothing romantic. Besides, she says her heart belongs to a Selkie traveler who's trying to rid the world of miasma. (I'll give you three guesses.)

Rangune: Youngest caravan member next to Roane. Yuke; Black Mage. From Tipa. Intelligent caster but somewhat clumsy. The first thing you notice about Rangune is that he has an extremely over-sized helmet that he refused to get resized. Because of this, he's prone to falling over when he tips his weight to one side. He also appears extremely flustered around the female half of his race but is strangely calm when around Larissa, Roane, or Rin Tara. Go figure.

Larissa: Second youngest caravan member next to Roane. Clavat; Long Hair. From the Fields of Fum. Is said to have some Selkic blood but no one can prove it. Is involved with a male Selkie living in Tipa. Larissa is the protector of the team. She owns a very large shield and the majority of her job is to carry one of the three chalices they have about and to deflect oncomign attacks. But when she picks up a sword on rare occasions, watch out. This sweet angel can go from caring and protecting to a real devil in the mere blink of an eye. She also seems extremely fascinated with her family history for reasons unknown...

Beatrice: Briefly mentioned. Old female Yuke living in Shella. Took in Roane when no one else would. Works on farm and has a bitter edge to the world. Harsh.

Maxwell: Briefly mentioned. Tallest male Yuke in existence. Mayor of Shella. Let Roane live in Shella when no one else accepted her. Has a hearty look on life and loves to laugh.

Disclaimer: Characters belong to MistressLeia24 (my sister) and whole idea belongs to SquareEinx.

That's about it. Any questions, just ask me in a review or PM. On with the story now!

"By the dawn of miasma…"

"Wow."

"Dang."

"Oh my. It's so…so BIG."

"Now that is my kind of palace," I agreed, gazing up in wonder at the marbleized mansion in front of me and my teammates. You'd be surprised what's lying just a few miles and one miasma stream away from home.

Pure white rock made up most of the vast pillars and statues guarding the oak door that was twice the size of a normal entrance. Probably big enough to fit one of Shella's houses inside without scrapping the sides. Golden indentations scrolled along the chalky surface. From the very peak of our covered wagon, I could just barely make out the edges of the trimmed green courtyard on the other side.

Moschet Manor…also the location of our third and last drop of myrrh. One single boss that wanted to crush us into tiny pieces was our only obstacle…along with a set of extremely difficult puzzles and monsters leading up to it. But hey, nothing was a piece of cake anymore; no, now everything was that gross sugar free stuff.

Larissa was already loading the three chalices into our side sacks when I jumped down from my post, landing swiftly besides her. "Need any help?"

Turning slightly, she acknowledged me with her bright hazel gaze, cheeks flushed slightly from the cold wind whipping along the road. "Uh…No, I think I just about have it. Are you worried?"

"'Bout what?"

"The manor," she replied, as though it were obvious. "We've been here before; the monsters are horrible here. Rumor has it that the Lord of this place feeds them corpses of the caravans that have fell to his fist. That's why the courtyard is always so well-kept. He wants to hide the evidence of such brutality while still maintaining a decent battlefield." Turning back to her work, the Clavat tugged at her shield resting under a crate inside the wagon. It came loose easily and it was soon strapped to her back along with one of the shoulder bags holding a filled chalice.

I suppressed a shudder, keeping myself busy by grabbing some of the elbow pads from our supplies. "Sounds like one crazy Lord."

"Oh he is," Larissa agreed, dipping her head as she loaded one of her belt pouches with Rainbow Grapes. "But he's actually pretty easy to beat alone. All power, no brains. It's his Lady that you have to watch out for."

My fingers that were fiddling with the strap of the right elbow pad froze. "You mean he doesn't fight alone?"

"Yeah," the brunette solemnly answered. "His Lady—Maggie's her name—always joins him in battle after we score one hit on him. She is the deadliest mage to reside on this side of Alfitaria."

"Knows a lot of one-hit-and-your-down-for-the-count-spells?"

"Those and a set of healing artes."

"Oh… We're screwed." Having secured the elbow pads, my hands fell limply to my sides, the breeze tickling my nose at the same time. Healing artes were basically what our team survived on. I dreaded to think what a well-adapted boss could use them for. We were already fighting on their turf and playing by their rules; couldn't they give us a break?

"Not necessarily," Larissa hummed, heaving the two other messenger bags onto her petite frame. It never ceased to amaze me how such a small girl could carry so much weight. "We've beaten him before and that was when we only had four members. Even though he does get tougher with each passing year, so do we hence, theoretically speaking, he should be no threat to us now."

"He's no threat," I corrected, grabbing a Striped Apple from the food crate and shoving it into my pocket. Being a half-Selkie and half-Clavat hybrid, I had a strange mix of tastes that were normally appalling to one or another race. "But his wife is." At least now I could never say that bosses were sexist.

"I guess… But really, there's nothing to worry about. We've beaten them before and we can do it again," the female defender reassured me, tossing back of her long, envious chestnut locks. "If it makes you feel any better, would you like to be on the chalice carriers this time around? That way, you won't have to fight as much and I'm positive that Rin Tara and Cadell can keep us breathing…until the end." The last bit of her sentence held remorse that I picked up on. Until the…end? She meant, like, until we retire, right? Or…don't tell me… Until we die? 'The End' usually always came at…the end.

Setting aside the meaningless thought, I gave my head a hard shake after a moment's consideration. "Nah. I would never forgive myself if I let those two do all the bashing a second time around. Besides, it's Cadell's turn." I wasn't going to be a weakling this time. This time, I would be the one doing the protecting.

Larissa's arched eyebrows furrowed. "Alright… If you're sure. Just make sure you take a good supply of healing items with you. Who knows how long it could take us to find a Cure stone this time around." With a careless shrug of her shoulders, she patted the two extra chalice-filled bags and started towards Cadell and Rangune—who were both still gawking at the manor. It's a building, boys. A rather large building of course, but still something built from stone. Get over it.

"By the dawn of miasma…" I heard Rangune murmur again, his over-sized helmet threatening to send him backpedaling towards the ground if he tilted his head any farther back.

"You can say that again," Cadell snorted, one of his hands resting on his sword while he studied the far wall. "This place has gotten bigger since last time, hasn't it?"

Still too stunned to function correctly, Rangune flipped open his eye grate with a creak. All I could see was blackness where his eyes should have been. After a moment, the Yuke snapped the grate down again. "By my calculations, the answer would be yes." I swear he had some kind of artificial intelligence thingie inside his head whispering all the answers of the world to him. Weak point of enemy, meaning of life, stuff like that. Maybe that was true for all Yukes. That would explain why they wore helmets.

Cadell let out a low whistle, knocking on the hard stone with his knuckles. "How much gil is he hiding in there?"

Rin Tara looked up from her place on a nearby rock, her legs daintily criss-crossed over the smooth surface. "How is the Lord revived after every defeat via caravan? Why is there miasma in the world? How is it you grew up with a fisherman as a Dad and despise fish?" She shrugged her shoulders, lips quirked into a coy smile. "Some questions just don't have any answer."

Cadell made a face, pushing a section of his curly brown hair away from his face. "Have you ever heard of all the diseases those fish can carry? Plus, their skin tastes like rubber. I don't know how you Selkies can stand it!"

Rin Tara gave a lazy shrug of her shoulders, silver lilac eyes closing and smile lengthening. "They saw we Selkies are from the sea," she began in a thickly accented voice. "It would only make sense for us to enjoy such delicacies the water has to offer. We may have been born on land, but we aren't Earth Walkers by nature. …Of course, there are some that belong in neither the sea nor on the land." Unbeknownst by everyone there, I could see her eyelids open a fraction to reveal dark irises looking directly at me.

I'm telling you; racism everywhere. You didn't know how badly I wanted to get out my Dual Shooter and just turn her into a shiskabob right then and there. I wasn't wanted by the Yukes of Shella and Rin Tara was making it perfectly clear that the Selkie majority of the group—which was her and her racket—didn't want me there either.

Well, tough luck, suck it up, as were the words of Beatrice. I was here and I'd be damned if I was leaving to go back to that hellhole anytime soon.

Simmering like an egg on a summer side path, I grudgingly heaved my Dual Shooter out of the wagon, locked the blue weapon onto its carrier upon my back, and composedly trotted over to join the group, not letting Rin Tara's hostile gaze bother me. "So we gonna go in or just stand out here like a bunch of idiots ogling a monster's lair?"

Rangune shut his hanging mouth accordingly. A flush of pink covered his neck feathers and he gave a strangled cough to hide the embarrassment. I gave him a dismissing wave to say it was nothing to worry about; I was used to Yukes and their obsessions with historical and mythical artifacts. I grew up among Yukes after all.

The soft padding of feet behind me signaled that Rin Tara had added herself to the cluster. "As much as I hate to admit it, the girl is right. We should be moving out as soon as possible. This is the time where caravans are making their last-ditch of round trips. If we don't hurry, we could be faced with more competition than just the Lord and Lady."

Girl? I was no girl. I was eighteen and techinically considered a woman. We were the same age for the love of Clavats! Where does she get the nerve to call-?

"Right," Cadell agreed, cutting off my inner rant as he drew his sword. The sound of fine, untainted metal against thick leather filled my ears and I had to blink away the sudden glimmer the blade made when it was fully visible in sunlight. Dang, those Tipa blacksmiths are good. "This is our final drop of myrrh for this year, men…and er…women." Real smooth, Cadell; as smooth as ice…cracked ice at least. "One more enemy and we're home free! Step lively and follow me."

Before he could take another step forward, Larissa handed him his side sack with one of the three chalices carefully cradled within its leather bounds. A look of mild surprise flashed across his face and I could've sworn he glanced in my direction prior to taking the bag and positioning it over his shoulder as did Rangune. Three chalices equaled twice the power of a normal protection circle…thingie…whatever it was called. Either way, it still meant we had a greater chance of kicking more tail without, you know, dying a horrible death of miasma poisoning.

Okay, I was doing nothing to increase our morale here. In fact, I was probably doing the opposite. To myself that is.

"Did anyone tie the bison to the posts?" Larissa questioned, stopping our ascent up the three steps leading up to the stairs. With a shy smile, she guiltily looked to me. "'Cuz, you know, last time they kind of…ran away."

Sure, rub it in. I forget to do a double knot one time and now everyone's against me. That really upped my spirits.

Rin Tara's voice rose above my own thoughts, possessing a hard edge to her otherwise emotionless pronunciation. "I made sure to secure them when I retrieved my weapon. They won't be escaping without dragging the post along with them."

I grumbled a string of cruses beneath my breath at the remark. Her sourness was directed at me and I sure as hell knew it. And to think we would have to work together on the attacking… Lord help us. (Er…but not the Lord of the manor. I mean if he would help us by falling over dead with one hit, then I'm all for it but otherwise we would rather not accept any of his "help".)

The door loomed over us when we came to a stop in front of it. Rin Tara poised her racket as if hordes of monsters would just come pouring out and trample us all. (What a weak way to die.) I had mine lazily thrown over one shoulder, one hand on my hip as I gazed at the door. It seemed bigger and more intimidating now that I—being my scrawny five-foot-five self—was standing next to it. Rangune seemed to be the only one unaffected as he was still scanning his book. Curse Yukes and their unfair height advantages.

"Get into formation everyone," Cadell ordered, his voice no more than a hushed whisper above the uncomfortable silence. They were remembering something; I could tell. Something they didn't want to share with me.

…I'd figure it out later.

Rin Tara and I—bitterly—took up a front offensive line in front of three. Larissa's metallic shield was unhinged and ready to reflect any oncoming attacks on the main party. Rangune had his spell book out and was nervously flicking through the pages, trying to find a well-suited and affective spell with the remaining three seconds.

Cautiously, Cadell fit his sword under the rusty lock. He suddenly paused, looking up at us through his bangs. "Whatever happens, keep in mind your own safety. If one of us falls, no matter how close we are to the myrrh, we pull back. Our lives are more important than any drop of water. Understood?"

Another one of his corny speeches; I thought he was out of them by Mushroom Forest. Nevertheless, I heard the confident promises of my teammates.

Rangune dipped his head, once again at risk of falling forward. We so needed to get him a properly-sized helmet. "Understood."

"Roger!" Larissa answered, tightening the chalice's strap.

"Worry about yourself!" Rin Tara retorted, her muscles taut.

I rolled by pale blue eyes. "Can we just go?"

Cadell glanced at me, hazel eyes wide with sudden fright. His mouth opened and closed, like he wanted to say something but thought better of it. Did I do my hair weirdly today? All I had to go on was my blurry reflection the grimy pot and a simple comb… Instead, he tightened his hold on his sword and tore upwards, breaking the rusty padlock into tiny, breakable pieces.

Cadell hurriedly scampered over to join Rin Tara and me in our fighting stances as the door ever-so slowly creaked open. Now that he was beside me, I could identify a tenseness about him that I had never felt before. The way his breath came in shallow gulps, the sweat forming around his brow, and his quaking limbs were obvious signals.

But…he had never acted this way on any other dungeon. What made this one so different? The two for one boss special? Har, har. I'm a comedian.

It was almost like he knew something awful was going to happen and was trying the carry the burden himself. The others didn't seem to pick up on it, but maybe that's because they were all feeling it too. That oh-shit-we're-gonna-die sensation. But we hadn't even seen the number of monsters yet, so why--?

"Focus," Rin Tara hissed from her place on Cadell's right. The harshness in her voice made me uncontrollably flinch. Sheesh. What was she? A mind reader? Or did I just have one of those things that gave you away when you were daydreaming or lying?

Unfortunately, I wasn't given the needed time to ponder it as my companions were already warily treading through the tiny crack in the doors and into the enemy's lair. "Move in!" came Cadell's rough command.

I gave myself a good shake to get rid of any insignificant thoughts before I jogged after them—once again grateful for the rather large circle of protection panning outwards for some good feet. If I was in a regular caravan, I would be suffocating with miasma right now with what limited space a single chalice provides.

It was a tight fit, even for me, and I vaguely wondered how Rangune managed to fit his head through the crack as I tripped over to the other side.

Out of the water and into the fire.

The courtyard was just as I predicted: Amazing. Vast green plains kept to perfection with intricate pillars bordering the outer edge of the manor. The whole place held this air of arrogance and royalty that I hadn't seen in, well, my whole life. It was a shame this had to be wasted on an enemy and a stinking myrrh tree.

Seriously this would be like the perfect place for town. The only problem I could see were the statues. They were just…creepy to say the least. The one closest to us looked almost exactly like a real Coeurl—only in black and white. The others, I had no doubt in my mind, were made with the same fine detail and realism.

Dear myrrh, I think one just blinked at me. Seriously. I swear I saw its stone eye move.

"It's quiet," I heard Rin Tara observe from a couple paces ahead of me. Her voice was cold and guarded, lost of the little good humor she had around the other members. For me, this voice was no different. "Too quiet."

Larissa had redone the buckles on her shield so that it was only hanging on her right arm, the chalice being on her left. "Rin Tara's right. Cadell, last time we were here, wasn't there an army of Coeurls waiting for us?"

Cadell—who was stiffening and getting ready to pounce on every little whisper the wind created—tried to appear relaxed to respond to Larissa. He failed miserably when he jumped at the jangle Rangune's helmet made while the Yuke clambered down the stairs and onto the main turf. "There…There were a lot of monsters here last time. A whole… A whole… A whole defense force of them. They we-were all v-vicious. Maggie was present also, wasn't she?" He scanned the area like the scenes of the past would just magically play themselves before his eyes. As if.

…Strike that. We had been to weirder places before.

"I also recall encountering the Lady upon this terrains," the older Selkie replied with an air of superiority. I think she was trying to rub in the fact that she had been with them longer then I had. Please, do us all a favor and grow up. "The only time she even acknowledged our presence was when we attacked the Lord." Rin Tara swept back a long lock of her lavender scented hair. I swear, I must get the name of her shampoo at some point or another when we weren't, you know, hating one another.

"If my memory serves me correctly, we always entered around the time of the Lord's supper." Rangune flipped through the pages of his book with a feathered digit. "The Tonberry Chefs were preparing it and the only way to summon the Lord and get to the myrrh tree was to eliminate all the chefs."

I would never understand how Yukes remembered all that stuff let alone recalled it at the snap of a finger. I wished I had been born a Yuke. Then I'd be taller, smarter, and more 'magical' then Ms. I'm-all-that. …Know what, forget that; it's a selfish type of wish anyways and if I die here I don't want it to count against me. I'd wished to be someone else I don't know how many times and I don't want 'them' to add another tally mark to my sins or whatever they score up there.

Larissa dipped her head in remembrance, smile brightening. "Ah yes. I remember now. When he didn't get his supper in time, he came storming out into the courtyard with a rage that could rival a Lilty's." She tried to put a light tone to the subject, but all the memories seemed to do was damper our confidence even more.

Cadell bowed his head in reminiscence, hands balled into fists and quaking with rage caused by reasons I didn't understand and probably never would. Something had happened here…

"That either must have been one good meal they were preparing or he was really, really hungry," I commented, padding over to join the group at Rangune's side. Lame joke, but whatever. Maxwell's words rang clearly in my ears, Brightness and cheerfulness is contagious.

Larissa shot me a grateful smile, Rin Tara just ignored me, Cadell stopped shaking at least, and Rangune was too fascinated in every little crack in the wall to even notice a meteor smashing into him, let alone hear my futile attempt at humor.

Weren't we just fantastic in the team cooperation category? I sometimes wondered how we made it four myrrh trees—at least when I joined the group—without one member of our little unit dying. I would almost say that it'd be better for each one of us to just go to a different myrrh tree and meet back up later. If one us died a horrible death, then that was just something we had to live, er, die with.

"We should head in further," Rin Tara stated, breaking the silence enveloping us once again. "Perhaps the myrrh tree is regenerating this season or by chance there may be another caravan already stalking these grounds." Swinging her racket over her shoulder, the Selkie's gaze swept over Cadell, as if assessing his stability at the moment and whether or not he should really take lead with his condition.

Let me make this perfectly clear: Cadell was not and never will be a follower. Example, on my first mission with the squad at Mushroom Forest, we had split into groups. Larissa and Rangune, me and Rin Tara,—this was when we weren't hating on each other—and Cadell all by his lonesome self. From his perspective, I was just a Shella girl who didn't know how to fight and was about to go into the belly of the beast with only an unreliable (to me that is) Selkie as my defense. He would have nothing of it and I think I could kind of see his point. He probably also didn't trust me alone with one of his most trusted companions...

Before I go on, let me clear something up for you. Cadell is the protector of the team. Sure, Larissa has a big shield but Cadell is the one that would fight to the bone for any one of us—and I think that includes me. If we had a family thing going on, he would be the tough, overprotective father. Larissa would take up the role as a caring mother; Rin Tara, a vain older sister; Rangune, the intellectual and klutzy scholar; and I… I didn't really have a place yet. Still testing the waters I guess. I don't want to get too attached because if I just get kicked back to Shella I do not want to arrive in tears. I would never hear the end of it from the town gossipers.

Back to Cadell and my first mission… Well, Rin Tara actually went against him and gave him orders. This was a big no-no in the group as I had soon found. It wasn't that he wouldn't listen to people, it was just...at that particular time, Rin Tara was trying to take over and I suppose he didn't like that. You had to be there to fully understand it. Cadell was furious but Rin Tara just dismissed it with the excuse of needing to talk to me. It was around the time we left Cadell fuming in the mushrooms thingies that she finally discovered I was a hybrid. Thus, the cold war began.

Rin Tara comes from a line of pure-bred Selkies who don't believe in inter-mixing/inter-breeding. They still clung to the hope that Selkies would one day return to the seas and live the happy-go-lucky lifestyle they had deserved. (Wake up and smell the miasma people. They have legs; they live on land and aren't sprouting gills any time soon.) Of course, Rin Tara inherited these beliefs and I was kind of the one thing she despised more than miasma so…yeah… We haven't gotten along at all since then. Before, she was tolerable; now, not so much.

Yet again, back on track with Cadell. (I'm straying more than I need to.) So, like I said, Rin Tara gave him orders to follow his path and he threw a fit. Seriously, he looked like a little kid that didn't get his way. It was hilarious. Happy story so far, wouldn't you say? Forget the fact that Cadell defied her orders and actually ended up…saving…our…butts because, well, that doesn't matter. Technicalities. What's important is the fact that Rin Tara nearly got her head bit off for that one little thing. She was glad she only got off with water duties for the remainder of the year.

The moral of the story is, do not ever give Cadell a command or take the lead whenever he is capable of such things. That's like telling a father he couldn't be a father anymore. You're just asking for trouble and a severe, old-century styled whipping. It wasn't that he was obsessive with always being the leader because once and a while, if it were best for the team, he would let someone else contribute to the team. My guess would be that he just wanted to shoulder the blame himself if anything went wrong. If someone else took lead at the time, they would be condemning themselves for the incident. Like a father figure, Cadell didn't want that. I suppose it was sweet in way; sometimes I found his over protectiveness annoying. I could fight my own battles thank you very much.

At least that was my conclusion. I couldn't really talk since I had only been here for two missions and wasn't really close to Cadell per say--yes, I thought he was the best-looking Clavat this side of Shella, but that didn't really qualify me to judge him. But, this was what I had come up with so far. He did have leadership skills and did let others take the lead when absolutely neccessary but otherwise...he, I guess, wanted to bear the burden alone.

Therefore, question his leadership either out loud or mentally like Rin Tara was doing, and you were just asking for it.

As predicted, Cadell's head snapped up when he felt the older female's silver eyes on him. A scowl crossed his lips and with stubbornness that could rival a Lilty's, he grabbed the hilt of his sword and halted the quaking his body was involuntarily doing. "I'm fine," he declared harshly, answering the unsaid question. "I'm perfectly fine." He gave his head a good shake to clear whatever thoughts were swirling around behind his eyes, finally noticing the group gazing at him, awaiting commands.

We go in and kick some tail; how hard could it be?

"So," I started, grin playing across my lips. "What are your orders, oh Captain?" I made sure to put a thick accent on the word Captain, earning a stifled giggle from Larissa.

Rangune made a noise that sounded like a chuckle, though muffled by his helmet. "We shall follow you into the depths of hell, sir." He was trying to play along; I had to give him credit for that. His words came out a little more serious then intended though. But it was quite amusing to hear him try to imitate a Lilty accent.

Blinking in surprise, Cadell's gaze swept over us. I tried to look ready to take on the world, but I'm not sure if my facial expression came out right. I was trying not to laugh at Rin Tara's exasperated appearance.

Larissa's quiet voice drifted through the air and I was quite sure that it was only meant for Cadell's ears alone. But, hey, what could I do? It wasn't my fault I had perfect hearing and it technically wasn't eavesdropping since I was only—what—six feet from the two? Clavats' had this strange ability to speak in almost inaudible voices to one another. Usually it was only used among the women to pass on town gossip but I suppose every Clavat learned it sooner or later.

"Everything will be fine. We won't let that happen again. I promise."

What in the name of miasma did she mean by 'that'? If you hadn't already guessed, I hated being left in the dark or being kept secrets from. Really, when someone says that they won't tell you something because they don't want you to worry, you're probably already worrying about what it is. So, then, what's the point?

"I know… I know… …Keep an eye on Roane for me."

I clicked my tongue in annoyance, earning a perplexed look from Rangune—the only reasonable male on this caravan. Again with the protectiveness! I could beat him in a fist-fit for the love of Shella! When was he going to get it through his thick skull that I could take care of myself! I had been doing it for ten years in a racist city and I could sure as hell do it now!

Rant over. Moving on… No, wait one second… THAT STUPID, EGOTISTICAL, IDIOTIC, PARANOID MORON OF SIMPLE CREATION!! Okay, after screaming mentally, I felt better.

If you couldn't already tell, I didn't like being taken care off. Damsel in Distress didn't fit me at all.

"Let's move out," Cadell said suddenly, interrupting my thoughts as he started towards the courtyard, making sure to keep on the walkway bordering it. Rin Tara followed him without question, a small smile on her face as she took up her normal position on his right side. Glancing back at me, she mimed a scoff, coldly turning her back on me.

Real mature.

Rolling my eyes, I reluctantly jogged after the two, Rangune padding after me and Larissa taking up the rear. I hated to admit it, but they were the two I felt most comfortable around. Rangune: probably because I had grown up around Yukes and Larissa because she was just too darn sweet to hate. Saint would fit her perfectly if it weren't for the fact that she was killer when she had a sword in her hand.

Rin Tara and Cadell were quietly discussing whatever important matters we had in the front, sometimes going silent as the passed a door before starting up again. Other than their whispers, it was eerily soundless. The kind of quietness that made you scream 'Don't you in the basement!!' at suspenseful moments in a play. Cadell glanced back at us more than once and I simply gave him a small, taunting wave each time he did. Rangune merely studied and Larissa was warily searching the area around us.

Gazing around at the stone walls, red sky, forbidding courtyard, and massive doors, I finally felt the usual dungeon ambiance that accompanied every other monster's den 'd been through.

"Welcome to Moschet Manor," Rangune whispered to me, features hardening as he looked towards the courtyard.

I halted in my tracks, feeling the cold wind sweep along my bare arms and legs as I too turned towards the plaza. Larissa treaded the few paces to join our little cluster and was also assessing the yard with a solemn expression.

The motionless statues that had sent shivers up my spine weren't on their pedestals anymore. Instead, five Coeurls stalking about the green grass took their place, eyes hungry as they tasted the air.

Great, the fiends were out to play and they didn't look like your average pussy-cat.

I couldn't stop the shudder going through me. Looked like I was right; this was a darling place to stay, especially if you wanted to be Coeurl chow.

What a fun place this would be. Not.

A/N: This will be a three-shot or four-shot thing so that's it for right now. Reviews are appreciated and encouraged. Face it, we can't write without feedback. I did try my best on this but I feel like it fell short compared to my other works. Ah well, can't change anything now.

Again, review people! I need to know what y'all think about this! I live for reviews! (Okay maybe I'm exaggerating.) Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed this and until next time!