Wystern, the City of Swords, was once under the spell of darkness. Earthquakes rocked the seaside town without explanation, until even the men and women who lived and worked there knew that something had to be amiss. The Craftlords, master smiths and fierce warriors, said nothing, although it fell to them to guard the people of Wystern; some even whispered that the Craftlords themselves could not save the city from this latest curse. The Craftlords were almost like gods to the people of Wystern, and it was said that the power of their weapons could banish any darkness with their shining steel… But they had lost the greatest among them three years before, and even the best among them did not seem able to find a resolution.
In the end, it was true: The Craftlords themselves could not resolve the earthquakes that threatened Wystern. The task fell to a young woman named Pratty, only child of the lost Craftlord of Iron, and her Summon Beast. Alongside Rasho, Oni King, Pratty fought through dangers that would have slain men and women twice her age, for she was only fourteen; it seemed that age made no difference, for the blood of Shintetsu ran through her veins, and her skill rose to match her unwavering determination. In the end, it would be easier to list those whose lives she hadn't touched: From the city as a whole to the individuals she met along the way, Pratty became an unknowing inspiration to those who knew her. After all, if such a young girl could achieve so much, purely on the strength of her heart…
That was why, when she left with the Craftlord Sakuro two years later, many were sorry to see her go.
"S-Sanary? Are you… Are you crying?!" Pratty's eyes widened as she fidgeted in place, uncertain of what to do; Sanary never cried, after all, and even as Pratty panicked Sanary scrubbed hastily at her eyes with one hand and glared at Shintetsu's daughter.
"Well, what's wrong if I'm crying?! My best friend is leaving me behind for who knows how long!"
Sanary's tone was almost defensive, and Pratty resisted the urge to take a step or two back, as others would have; by now she recognized Sanary's habits, and knew that the other girl was only being thorny out of embarrassment for her tears. Seeing her strongest friend struggling not to cry caused Pratty's eyes to well in sympathy, and somewhere behind her Rasho shook his head and muttered something to himself about his master's soft heart.
Hugging Sanary tightly, Pratty smiled although she knew that Sanary couldn't see her face. "It's not that bad, Sanary… I'm sure time'll pass by so fast, you won't even notice!"
"That's a ridiculous idea," sniffed Sanary, but as Pratty pulled back she was relieved to find that Sanary was smiling too. "Just hurry up and go already, so you can be back that much faster."
"Honestly," came a voice from behind Sanary, causing her to whirl and glare at the tall young man now shaking his head. "Girls are so emotional at times like these, it's embarrassing."
"You shut up!" snapped Sanary, her tears still lingering on her cheeks but now apparently forgotten. "You're still as much a sexist jerk as you were when we met you!"
"I'm a what now?" blinked Varil, before narrowing his blue eyes to return Sanary's glare. "Who do you think you're talking to here? You might be a Craftknight but I'm a Craftknight and a Guildmaster, so you should watch your tongue!"
"C'mon you two, can't we not do this?" cut in Pratty, palms out to head off Sanary's reply. "I mean, I'm leaving and everything, and I don't want this to be the last memory I have of all of you! Besides," she added, turning slightly pink with embarrassment, "Master Sakuro is standing right there…"
"Oh, I don't mind," smiled Sakuro, from his place near Master Bron and Pratty's mother. "I think it's a refreshing thing to see young people so energetic. Ah, youth…" And Sakuro faded off into a wistful sigh, before Rasho interrupted his nostalgia with an inelegant snort.
"You're not much older than the kids, y'know. I can still remember you runnin' after Shintetsu like a puppy…"
And Sakuro did his best to look dignified while Amariss smiled, a hand over her mouth to hide what one suspected was a laugh.
"I remember that too; you were adorable, Master Sakuro."
"Miss Amariss, please!" protested Sakuro, until everyone's attention was diverted to Pratty, where a flash of yellow had barreled from the city proper and was now clinging to Pratty in tears.
"Big Sis, don't go!" sobbed Razzy, obviously distraught as she kept a deathgrip on an astonished Pratty's waist. "I don't want you to leave us!"
"Hey now, Razzy!" managed Bron, starting forward as if to pry his niece off of his former student. "Don't make a fuss; you'll make Pratty feel bad."
"But… But…" Pratty rested a hand on Razzy's shoulder, and the younger girl looked up at her 'Big Sis'; two years had passed but Razzy looked as young and boyish as ever, even with her wide eyes filled with tears. "What if something happens? What if you don't come back like you're s'posed to?!"
Pratty looked down at Razzy, and for a moment she remembered a faint, fleeting image, almost like a dream: Her father, so tall and strong, and herself as a little girl even younger than Razzy, tugging on her daddy's leg and asking him not to leave again.
"B-But Daddy, what if you get hurt?? What'll happen to Mommy and me???"
Pratty smiled then, although her tears were threatening to win out once more.
'Don't start crying again,' she told herself, as firmly as she could manage it. 'Remember, you have to set an example for Razzy.'
So Pratty patted Razzy's head fondly and said exactly what her father always used to say to her, as her mother stood by even as she was standing now:
"Don't worry about those things, all right? Believe that I'll come back, and I will. And that's a promise." Razzy's tears slowed somewhat, and Pratty gently detached the younger girl's arms from around her waist.
"I'm not the kind of person who'd break a promise, right? A Craftknight's promise is stronger than steel!"
There was a moment or two when Pratty worried that her words hadn't worked, and then Razzy beamed like the sun breaking through heavy clouds, and pumped he black-gloved fist into the air.
"Big Sis doesn't break promises, period!"
"That's right!" laughed Pratty, briefly embracing Razzy and relieved to see the usually-sunny girl back to her happier self. "So don't forget your promise, all right? You promised to become a great Craftknight so we could make Wystern a city of flowers, and I'm gonna make sure you keep it!"
"Okay, Big Sis!" Pratty patted Razzy once more on the head, then rose and walked past the girl to her mother. Quietly, with a smile that was muted yet somehow still bright, Pratty met her mother's eyes.
"I'm going, Mother," she said, and Amariss nodded.
"I knew you would, someday. You're so much like your father, Pratty."
With one hand, Amariss smoothed out Pratty's silver hair, grown out now but still prone to flying every which way, as though reminding herself that she wouldn't do so again for some time. Amariss' smile softened, giving a half-sad, half-triumphant light to her eyes.
"I can see him in you, telling me that he's going away again, and he'll be back soon."
Amariss wavered for a moment, and then she leaned forward to tightly embrace her daughter, who had grown to almost her mother's height within the last two years. Holding Pratty as though she were once again just Amariss' little girl, Amariss' smile vanished, just for then.
"I'm not going to cry while you're gone," she murmured, as Pratty reached out to return her mother's embrace. "I know you'll be brave out there, so I'll be brave right here at home." Pulling away, her reassuring smile back in place, Amariss finished "So you don't cry either, all right?"
Shaking her head, Amariss gently seized Pratty's shoulders and turned her towards the ship, where an unusually quiet Rasho was hovering idly next to Pratty's luggage. Aboardship, Sakuro was waiting, watching from over the railing with a patient eye. "Hurry up, dear. You don't want to miss the tide."
Forcing back her tears, Pratty nodded and started towards the gangplank, thinking as she did so how far she'd come in the past two years. Three years ago, she'd only hoped to become a Craftknight… And then, as though she'd always meant to do so, she'd quieted Parista and saved Wystern, become Craftlord of Iron like her father had been before her.
'But there's still so much I need to learn!' she reminded herself, and Pratty had just set foot on the wooden gangplank before she heard Varil call out.
Startled, Pratty turned to see Varil standing there, fists clenched at his sides and looking as though he were about to step onto the battlefield. At the odd color in Varil's cheeks, Pratty tilted her head in confusion, only to blink nonplused when suddenly Varil spoke.
"Even after two years, you're still my rival, you know!" he blurted, noticeably red in the face. "I'm going to be bored until you get back, so hurry up and find what you're looking for, all right?!"
Pratty looked blank for a moment, then smiled so brightly that Varil turned a deeper shade of red. "Thanks, Varil!" she called, striking a determined pose. "When we get back, let's spar again!"
And then she plucked up her backpack, filled with her tools but worn as though it weighed nothing, and clattered up the gangplank as the ship's siren called out preparations. A porthand removed the plank and carried it away, and Pratty reappeared at the ships' railing as the lines were cast off, flanked by an aloof-looking Rasho on one side and a smiling Sakuro on the other.
"Goodbye, everyone!" she called, waving madly with both hands as the shop began to pull out of the harbor. "Bye! I'll see you all when I get back, okay? Wish me luck, everybody!"
And the small party on the docks stood and waved until the small figure with the silver hair had disappeared from sight.
That was three years ago. For the first two years or so, the people who were waiting in Wystern received regular messages, more or less; they'd arrived in this port, they were taking this route across the mainland. Sakuro's missives were direct and befitting his personality; Pratty's letters rambled and often went in circles, with interjections by Rasho in a scrawling hand that was obvious from Pratty's. For two years, things seemed to go well…
And then, without warning, the letters stopped.
Of course, Pratty's loved ones believed that it wasn't anything serious: The weather was making it difficult for letters to be transported, or perhaps they were in some cave system, or far from a post-office. But as time stretched by, their worry grew, and no-one who visited Wystern from the lands abroad could bring any recent news of the Craftlords of Sapphire and Iron.
A year passed, and life went on, but things were not as they once had been. The Gold Guild's master was more short-tempered than ever, and people feared his wrath as greatly as they trembled before the flashing eyes of the aspiring Craftlord of Ruby.
Bron could only watch, helpless for all of his strength, as Amariss quietly and smilingly refused to lose hope.
And then, one day, a storm descended on Wystern's shores and flooded much of the lower level. Fortunately, no lives were lost, as evacuation measures were efficient and spearheaded by the remaining Craftlords; those of the lowest level were moved up to safer ground, and while property was damaged the populace itself did not suffer. On the morning after the storm had worn itself to pieces, the sun shone brightly over the seawater-soaked stones that made up Wystern, causing the puddles to steam in the heated light. Slowly, in groups, citizens began the walk back to their ruined homes, salvaging what could be saved and disposing of everything else. Amariss, politely refusing Bron's offers to escort her home, carefully stepped over a sunken pool and turned the corner, only to blanch ghostly pale and cover her mouth with both hands to stifle a cry.
Washed up before the steps of Amariss' home was a drenched, unconscious young women with long, sea-matted silver hair.
Author's Notes: Well, here we are! Obviously this takes place after the Pratty ending of Summon Night: Swordcraft Story, and while I changed the main character's name in my game I went with Pratty to avoid confusion.
There may be warnings for violence, but that should be all; there will also be multiple pairings, largely Pratty-centric, including a few that may be shoujo-ai/girl-girl/femmeslash, but again this isn't gonna get M-rated or anything.