Hello everyone, and welcome to my second story! As tales of vesperia was recently released in Europe, I was finally able to play it… and I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far.

To celebrate, I decided to start a story about a background reversal between Yuri and Estelle. I know that a few (somewhat) similar stories already exist, however, from reading some of them, I concluded that they generally tend to almost carbon copy the game script with very few alterations on the actual scenes or story development.

My goal is to be different in this regard; I want an alteration that big to have a meaningful effect on the way things turn out (and realistically, they have to, as Yuri's and Estelle's different personalities will cause changes in the way they react to situations, changes in their respective goals, and thus changes in the main storyline).

Whenever possible, I do not use any dialogue or situations directly from the game, meaning that almost everything you will read here is original text. If I'm forced to use the same situations, I'll have the party deal with it in a different way. In particular, i try to deviate from the main storyline when i can, to avoid a reader reading something he or she has already seen.

Of course, there will be lots of additional scenes and character interactions. The more original content, the better, right?

Well, enjoy :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of Vesperia.

Nobility, chapter 1: Out of Place

Finally… there was the sound of the baby crying. To Estelle, it wasn't a moment too soon; she had reached her limit. She allowed herself to slightly relax as she gradually became aware of the rest of the world again. The feeling of exhaustion was overwhelming, but she did her best to ignore it. There were much more important things to do than to rest…

The baby…

"…It's a boy!"

She slowly opened her eyes and forced herself to turn to the direction of the voice. Tom had wrapped a blanket around the newborn and was holding him close to Denise, so that she could see him as well. Denise, Estelle's good friend, shared Tom's look of absolute happiness despite her obvious fatigue. In their bliss, they had momentarily forgotten about the young healer and her assistant that had helped Denise through this very tiring delivery.

However, as Estelle watched the happy couple from the side, she felt nothing but happiness for them. How could she feel anything else? It wasn't every day that one of your oldest friends became a mother… or that any person became a parent, for that matter.

Regardless, she would have to interrupt their not too private moment together, as she still had to examine the baby. During the delivery, he had gotten stuck inside the birth canal, and as such a situation was very dangerous to both the infant and the mother, Estelle had immediately resorted to using her magic abilities. She had tried to prevent any damage done to the child while at the same time orchestrating the muscle contractions to counter it's dangerous position inside the womb.

Needless to say, such a process was a very complicated and tiring one, even for someone as experienced as her. It was a good thing she had had so much previous practise with other infants… living in the lower district did give you plenty of opportunities for it.

But the fact that the baby had been successfully delivered and was currently crying did not necessarily mean that the boy was completely healthy. She wiped the sweat off of her forehead with her glove before she spoke to the parents in the most carefree voice she could muster up. Being serious now might cause unnecessary worry to them, and might also cause them to interrupt her during the examination.

"Congratulations, both of you! Um, Tom, Denise, could I please see him for a moment? I need to make sure that he's healthy, just in case he needs more treatment."

Tom and Denise snapped out of their daze as her words pierced their shell of seclusion. They very carefully and slightly reluctantly gave their son to Estelle, whom upon thanking them immediately started looking for any outward sings of problems. Her assistant Gwenn was looking over her shoulder; she was judging the baby as well.

As the baby was still crying, and thus able to breathe properly, that was a good sign. There was also no grey or blue coloration over the body, which was also a sign of a healthy infant. He was actively struggling and responded to her touch, meaning he had the necessary vitality. The pulse was rather high, which was normal for a newborn.

Thus, she concluded that the baby was born healthy, and that she had done her job well. She did her best to hide a sigh of relief and smiled to the parents and her assistant. With that, joy seemed to burst back onto the scene after having been briefly subdued.

After a very short celebration, fatigue managed to catch up to Estelle again, and she knew that it was time to leave. At this time of day, it also gave her a good excuse to refuse payment. It was probably best to leave Gwenn here for now… in case something unexpected happened. She turned to her assistant.

"Gwenn", she said, "I need to go now… you can handle everything by yourself, can't you? Just follow the usual guidelines… repeat the examination… remember the placenta... "

Of course, it was really trivial to say it; the older woman had been on more such occasions than she herself. The only reason Estelle was usually the one performing the required tasks was her innate ability to use magic whenever things went wrong… which happened a bit more often than she would have liked to admit.

"Yes, of course," She replied, "But you cannot think of going outside alone, child? It is the middle of the night, this is the lower quarter and you are a young woman. It's not safe for you to do so, especially in your current state of exhaustion."

At this, Tom and Denise exchanged a glance. It was the father of the newly named Lucas who quickly spoke up. "You can always stay here of course! We have some extra mattresses..." She shook her head. "Well", he continued, "If you really have to go then, I can walk with you. It's the least we could offer you."

No, that wouldn't do. Staying here meant that she would be using up the money of her friends on food and whatever else they might offer her, and she had to be home in case some emergency came up. Next to that, Denise and Lucas probably needed their father/husband more at this time than she needed an escort.

She replied with a carefree smile. "No thanks, I'll be fine. After all, I used to be a knight."

Tom was slightly taken aback, but he brightened up as he remembered something. "Well, at least take this then", he said while tossing her a bundle of money. "It's your fee, and a little extra. You have more than earned it tonight."

In response, she swiftly tossed it back. "That's kind of you, but I could never accept it from my friends. You need it more than I do; I've already earned enough for this month."

She pulled her bag over her shoulder while walking towards the door. "And besides", she added as an afterthought, "The less money I carry, the less reason for thieves to try and steal it from me, right?"

Before any of the inhabitants could form a response, she had already closed the door behind her.

Gwenn sighed. Estelle was grossly overexerting herself. One of these days, her selfless behaviour was bound to get her into trouble she didn't deserve, just like her father before her…

She turned to Tom, who seemed to be too dumbfounded to know what to do. He made to go after her with the bundle of money before she decided to stop him.

"Wait. Can you really miss that money?" When she wasn't met with an immediate answer, but rather with a nervous glance in her direction, she knew enough.

'Men... they just don't know when to swallow their pride. So typical of them...'

"Well, it seems to me that you can't, or only with great difficulty. So keep it, she said she couldn't accept it. And as for going after her, what if you get robbed or killed on the way back? Then your son might never know his father. So stay here."

She looked back at the now closed door. "If there is some justice left in this world, she will be rewarded for it eventually."

To this, Tom could only nod.

Yuri rolled aside and narrowly avoided an attack that would have taken off his head if he had been only slightly slower. His attacker was relentless; even as Yuri had barely begun to roll, he was already following up the attack with a shockwave that was about to hit him dead on.

Doing the only thing he could, he used all the strength he had in his arms to push himself off of the ground, slightly changing the speed and direction of his roll. It didn't entirely work, as the wave had grazed his upper arm and drew blood from the resulting wound. However, he did keep himself in the fight, and that was what mattered. He could live with a little pain.

He got his feet under him as his opponent closed in, and had mere moments to decide on what to do. As his free arm was injured, any of his punches would be less effective. Using the only magic arte he knew, he formed a shockwave of his own with a slash of his sword, effectively mimicking the attackers earlier action. By now, his attacker was so close that he would also hit him with the slash at the end of his movement.

Anticipating his attacker to dodge the attack by jumping to the side that his sword was on, he already went to slightly turn his body towards that direction when something unexpected happened.

The attacker did not try to dodge.

A blue field surrounded his opponent briefly as the shockwave met its target, absorbing the shockwave to a point where there seemed to be no outward damage. The slash was met with a large shield, which the other fighter then used to strike him with, effectively throwing him further off-balance.

Yuri desperately tried to defend against the ensuing barrage of trusts, but it was a lost case. His opponent had far more stamina and strength than he currently did, as always. In the end, he found his sword on the floor while the enemies' sword was only inches away from his neck.

"It is my sad duty to inform you that you just died, your highness. Again, I might add."

Despite losing for the umpteenth time, Yuri had to smirk. Only Flynn could humorously mock him and still sound like the textbook example of an honorable knight at the same time.

He was also the only one who hadn't been scared off by the political issues and intrigue surrounding his position, to the point where they had actually become friends. Thus, he was one of the very few real friends that Yuri probably had, everyone that would do practically anything to get into his good graces aside.

"Well", he replied in a faked mocking tone of his own, "it is my sad duty to inform you that that means your access to all the high society events has been cancelled, as you just killed the person responsible for your invitations. Again, I might add. So all your efforts to gain social connections in favor of your grand scheme to change the world have basically been for nothing. You have my sympathies, sergeant Flynn."

However, this only seemed to widen the soldier's smile. He slowly pulled away his sword before continuing his sorrowful dialogue. "Ah, that is a pity really. But I won't miss those events as much as I will miss the sight of my liege being harassed by those lower quarter girls, who all seem to be after you whenever we successfully manage to successfully sneak you outside every once in a while. You could have given a tomato a run for its money when it came to redness, your highness."

Ignoring the pain in his arm, Yuri went to pick up his sword. Having to turn away from Flynn while doing so was an added bonus; in that way, Flynn wouldn't see the small blush that appeared on the usually roguish prince. As he had been locked up in the castle before he had gained the skills and the help required to sneak out of it, suddenly being surrounded by a flock of girls who were rather forward and blunt about their intentions had been a very awkward experience.

But Yuri wasn't beaten yet; if it came down to a battle of wits, Flynn wasn't nearly as certain to win as when it came to swordplay. His grin widened as the perfect retort came to him.

"I doubt you would miss that as much as I would miss seeing a certain sergeant coming to a costume ball dressed up as a strawberry. You're lucky that I take such good care of my subjects and introduced you under a false name. Seriously though, I never would have thought you would fall for the 'fruits are the fashion of this season' trick…"

"Knowing you, your highness", he replied, "I never would have had I heard it from you. However, I somehow hadn't considered the possibility of someone bribing the entire tailoring staff to just to give me to wrong idea. That was quite cunning of you. Fortunately, I know better now."

Yuri assumed his usual combat stance, turning his side towards Flynn as much as possible, before continuing. He tried to sound as accusing as he could possibly be with a smirk stuck on his face.

"Almost as cunning as a certain anonymous sergeant unknowingly spreading rumors about having to assist a wealthy and handsome young nobleman in escaping the castle, while leaking some vital information about the plan to a select number of girls? Such as… I don't know… our route of escape, for instance?"

Flynn, in turn, did his best to look thoughtful. "Yes, that sounds about right. What sergeant are you referring to, by the way?"

"Hmmm… I don't exactly remember his name, but I had a painter make a portrait of him while he was wearing a strawberry costume. It's one of my most prized possessions. Imagine what would happen if that ever fell into the wrong hands…"

The anonymous sergeant standing in front of Yuri swiftly had his smirk replaced by a look of absolute horror.

" Y-you didn't… I mean… you wouldn't…"

"No, of course not. Don't worry; I'll give it to you as a retirement gift, after let's say, forty more years of service? That sounds like a reasonable deal, don't you think? I'll even include a torch with the package, to make things easier for you."

Flynn just stared at him. "Give me a second to consider that, and to think of a good retort."

Yuri, being the noble prince that he was, gracefully nodded his head.

"Ah, I got it; how about trading that painting and the torch for my solemn promise not to find those girls from a few years back and tell them you were actually a prince? I'm sure some of them have families now… none of the children are yours of course, but that wouldn't stop them from claiming they are, right?"

Flynn paused briefly. "Besides," he said, "I'm sure the chancellor would have a heart attack if you suddenly had ten heirs that he would have to take care of as well."

Yuri took a moment to seriously consider this, as the idea of chancellor Naius having a heart attack wasn't entirely an unpleasant one.

"Well, that would almost make it worth all the trouble. But sure, you have a point. Let's consider this a draw then." He extended his sword towards Flynn, signaling that he was ready for the next fight. "And let's get on with this; we wouldn't want that armor of yours to rust while we were talking here, right?"

The blond haired knight, happy that he had found a threat big enough to prevent the use of the dreaded painting, nodded in return. "Yes, but maybe you should let me heal that wound of yours first. It would be dishonorable for me to duel a wounded opponent."

Yuri might have protested, knowing that it wasn't realistic to expect being able to go into every battle unhurt. Sadly, he had to accept healing in order to even remotely have a chance of beating Flynn.

Mana quickly gathered around the knight, as he used his Bhodi blastia to form a healing spell directed at Yuri. "By the way", he asked, "what will you say when someone asks about the blood on your clothes?"

"Heh, that's easy", Yuri replied nonchalantly. "I'll tell them that being locked up in this castle was so boring that it started to influence my mental stability, giving me the urge to try out some sharp weapons on myself..."

He took a moment to consider an alternative. "...Or I could tell them that I fell asleep reading the 36th change to the seventh law of the fifth area of rights while walking in a hallway, causing me to fall into a suit of armor and ending up wounding myself on one of those sharp halberds. You know how those things go."

It took a lot of willpower for Flynn to not burst out laughing and consequently mess up the spell he was casting. "Yes, but that probably won't explain why there will be no wounds on you when they find you."

"True. But it just so happens that I always carry around a multitude of gels, just in case I end up falling into a suit of armor, or running into some assassin. A prince can't be too careful now, can he? So, do you have any pointers for me?"

Flynn took a moment to go over their previous fight as a green light enveloped his friend, effectively closing all of his wounds again. His stamina was actually pretty good for someone without any actual combat experience. Very good, even…

"Just this: don't always assume that your opponent will try to avoid being hit. Sometimes, when they know they you're getting weaker, they may take a hit to try and go for a killing blow. There are also some enemies who might not care about their own well being, either because they are depressed, insane, heartbroken, fanatical, or whatever. Try to remember that when it comes to actual fighting."

"All right", said Yuri. "So how do you go about fighting such enemies?"

"For starters, it helps to wear actual armor. I somehow doubt that that piece of leather you're wearing will do much against heavier weapons and stronger opponents. Secondly, try aiming for the vital body areas. If you go up against an opponent who is determined to harm you and doesn't care about himself, you will most likely get hit eventually, so the best option is to end the fight as soon as possible. It should be easier to take them out quickly if you know where to aim."

Yuri made a mental note to be on the lookout for nutcases in the possession of sharp, pointy objects. On the armor subject, he couldn't really change that yet; wearing heavy armor would mean that he'd lose two of his advantages, namely his speed and his mobility. He preferred to avoid attacks rather than relying on an armor to save his life. And besides, he wouldn't always be able to wear his armor, unlike Flynn.

He had to dress up in some of the most ridiculous outfits for certain events…

For now though, he refocused his attention on the armored fortress that was his friend. Thus, he was about to rush into yet another fight when he saw that Flynn motioned for him to wait.

"Um, Yuri, you don't actually have that painting do you?"

"Hey, don't worry. Am I the type of guy who would blackmail people like that?"

"Well, yes."

Inwardly, Yuri had to smirk.

After three more rounds of fighting, Yuri was about to get up again before Flynn decided to ask what was on his mind. "Yuri, why are you so determined to learn how to fight from me? Don't you already have an instructor…? And what about the legion of knights stationed here that has protecting you as its highest priority?"

"It's not that complicated really", the prince replied, still on the ground. "If we can sneak out of the castle successfully, then unwanted guests can probably sneak in. I can't rely on you or the other knights to be there all the time. I need to be able to defend myself properly and I can't do that with all fancy fencing mister big shot teaches me."

Yuri repressed a sigh as he remembered the pompous instructor reprimanding him for his objections towards the overly flamboyant fighting style.

"That kind of stuff is for meant for tournaments, not actual combat," he continued. "It's not like some judge is going to yell at me or my opponent for not attacking in the correct way, or for attacking the wrong body part. Also, I can't exactly ask an assassin to give me a second chance if I mess up a guard."

He slowly made his way into a standing position as he continued talking.

"Besides, weren't you the one who told me the rumors about the corruption among the knights? I wouldn't have figured you to be someone who would leave the safety of his lord in the hands of some allegedly malevolent evil doers."

The knight shook his head with a feeling a sorrow. "It's hard to root out the truly corrupt knights… and even if there is enough evidence, the important ones usually have a way to cover for themselves, especially if they somehow gain the favor of someone in the council. I want to change the system so that they won't be able to keep hands above each other's heads anymore. It will be a while though before I gain enough prestige and rank to alter anything at all…"

Sadly, there wasn't much that Yuri could do to speed up this process. Despite the fact that Flynn was an extraordinarily capable soldier, it was still up to the leaders of the military itself to decide upon possible promotions. Even if he somehow successfully influenced this process, by legal or less than legal ways, there would at least be an investigation to the sudden strange behavior of the command staff.

If they were found out, Flynn would probably be discharged from the military, effectively ruining all his dreams. Thus, getting the promotions Flynn deserved was up to the knight himself. All Yuri could do for now was to ensure that his friend met the right people, and met them often enough.

The said knight continued on, shaking the black haired prince out of his thoughts. "… Even they would be better off if you survived, Yuri. As most of the other potential successors to the throne have disappeared in the last twenty years, it would create a lot of unrest among the population if something were to happen to either you or his highness Ioder. Corrupt individuals want peace to enjoy their luxury, not a civil war in which they could die."

"You know, I somehow doubt that anyone would care if something were to happen to me. My cousin is a far better candidate for the throne; being all noble and dignified, and actually able to stay awake in class. Anyone who has seen our grades would be an idiot to pick me over him as a ruler. The one thing I'm a lot better at than he is, is at swordplay, and that won't do a lot of people much good if I am supposed to be stuck on a throne until the end of eternity…"

He signaled for Repede to come closer, and the majestic dog immediately leaped from the bench he was laying on. It took him only a few seconds to reach Yuri, and the prince casually retrieved a bottle of water from the bags he carried over his frame. He then proceeded to pat the dog on the back.

"Thanks Repede."


He turned back to his friend, who had taken off his armor to give him a bit of practice against a faster opponent. "Do you want a drink too, Flynn?"

The knight seemed to snap out of a daze of his own, and politely declined. "No thanks, I'm not thirsty."

"Something wrong? You look a bit distracted…"

His friend responded to this in a far more serious and determined tone than Yuri had anticipated. "May I speak freely, your highness?"

When they weren't in public, Flynn never really addressed him like that, unless he really wanted to emphasize the importance of some matters. What was it that the knight wanted to discuss now? Curiously, Yuri nodded to give his permission.

"It's about the succession", Flynn continued. "Personally I do not think that Ioder is the better choice, regardless of his academic performance. I'm afraid that he is too kind and too naïve… I'm afraid that he will be easy to control by those that don't have the country's best interests at heart."

He looked Yuri directly in the eyes. "You shouldn't underestimate the weight of your own claim to the throne. You have the strength, will and general disregard for the rules that is required to fight those people, Yuri! And I know that I'm not the only one who thinks that way."


"Hey, don't team up on me all of a sudden! Great, so you say that it's better to have me rule, as I am less of a bad choice than Ioder? You sure know how to motivate someone, Flynn. That aside, it isn't very noble to goad me into leading the country onto a path of certain doom, is it? Can you really imagine me being a successful ruler?"


Yuri shook his head. "No, I'm sure my cousin would do better if he'd have the right people to assist him. I could even help him with that; I don't have to be on the throne to go and lead a hunt. It's probably be one of the few useful things I'll be able to do for the empire… but I'll need more time and freedom for it than I have now. And that's exactly what I'll get once Ioder makes it to emperor."

Not to mention more time to go and enjoy the world outside of this hollow pile of bricks, but he conveniently left that part out.

"By the way", he asked his friend, "You never told me your real reason for wanting to change the way things work around here. I know that it's a noble goal, and that just about all of those seem to suit you, but I can't help feeling that there's something more to it. And now that we're discussing serious topics and all…"

At first, the knight tried to deny it, but his smile was so faked that even the chancellor could have seen through it. After telling him that, his face fell to the point where Yuri thought it might have been a mistake to ask it of him. It wasn't possible to take the question back however, as Flynn was already talking.

"It's because I made a promise to someone, back when I was still a recruit. Do you remember -"

*Woof! Woof!*

The prince stiffened; Repede had heard someone approach. After a short glance at his friend, he immediately dashed to the side and hid while Flynn quickly made his way to the door. As long as Flynn didn't let the visitor enter the abandoned storage room that they were using for training purposes, he or she wouldn't be able to actually see Yuri.

It was highly unlikely that someone not in Flynn's unit would be able to find them here, but still…

Hiding proved to be unnecessary however, as he immediately recognized the visitor's voice as Sodia's, Flynn's second in command. She had helped in getting Yuri out of the castle on several occasions, for which she had his gratitude. Thus, Yuri and Repede reappeared from behind the boxes they had used for cover.

Sodia was usually an overly serious and dutiful soldier, but for some reason she seemed to be rather nervous or uncomfortable, or both, as she had a lot of trouble saying whatever it was that she meant to say. He guessed that might have had something to do with the sight of Flynn dressed in nothing but his sweaty, now semi-transparent white shirt and a matching set of leather pants and boots.

Yuri sighed. He supposed there was a reason that Flynn's entire unit, which wasn't exactly the one charged with the safest missions, consisted of female volunteers. Of course, his friend was completely oblivious to this.

Still, the female knight did her best to recompose herself and restarted her message while saluting. "Sir! I'm sorry to interrupt, but we have orders from captain Cumore. We are to investigate a recent failure of the defensive field protecting the town of Halure. I was informed that there have been civilian casualties. The directive was to leave immediately."

Immediately… they had to leave in the middle of the night? That was certainly unusual. From what Yuri had been taught about the monsters that made the fields outside of the city so dangerous, he knew that they were supposed to be more numerous and aggressive at this time of day. It seemed to make more sense to give an investigation party some more rest and to have them set off early in the morning.

After all, arriving slightly later was preferable to having them end as some monster's midnight snack.

On the other hand, if the field had completely stopped functioning, the villagers were in grave danger.

Going now would be required to try to save as many of them as possible, but waiting a bit might prevent unnecessary casualties on Flynn's part.

But hold on… why was Flynn chosen, of all people? His unit has just gotten back from their last mission earlier today. Come to think of it, he had been almost constantly burdened with tasks in these last few weeks, and none of those had been too easy or too close to home. Even though his friend tried to do as many difficult mission as possible in an attempt to gain prestige more quickly, this was becoming a little too much for comfort.

Flynn and Yuri exchanged a glance. Was someone trying to systematically keep Flynn away from the castle? And if so, why? Or was this person hoping that he 'accidentally' died somewhere? Maybe Cumore himself…? This was his third consecutive order... was he afraid that Flynn would outrank him eventually?

No… there was no use in speculating about it now; there was no evidence for that, and he was perfectly allowed to delegate certain tasks to officers of a lower rank. And as civilians were in danger, Flynn would immediately go to save them, regardless of his own risks.

Unsurprisingly, he gave the order to prepare for immediate departure. As Sodia left to inform the rest of the unit, after ensuring everyone that she hadn't seen Yuri there, Flynn turned to say his goodbyes to his friend. "Well, I'm sorry, your highness. Looks like duty calls… as it has done very often lately."

Yuri nodded, completely serious for once. "Don't worry, I'll get to the bottom of this. For now, just focus on saving the world again. I'm pretty sure someone will be forced to promote you soon if you keep completing those missions successfully."

Flynn slightly brightened at that. "Thanks, but don't do anything dangerous in the process. I won't be there to save you if you run into any serious trouble."

"Heh, You worry about yourself", Yuri replied with a grin. "Remember that I have a legion of knights here that has protecting me as its highest priority? I'm afraid I can't say the same about you."

After Flynn had left, Yuri sat down to treat his remaining injuries with the gels that Repede carried with him. The knight had forgotten to heal him in his hurry to set out, and he had forgotten to ask. Still, it gave him a bit more practice in treating his own wounds… not to mention some time to think about what had been said. For some reason, Flynn's words about the succession kept haunting his mind.

"... Do you really think I could be a good ruler, Repede? If something happened to Ioder, I mean."


" Yeah, I know I asked it before… but you're right. I'll need others to help me… others I can trust to do the right thing, and who will know what I should have known."

The gel stung heavily, and he gritted his teeth in reaction. He managed to put his pain aside however, as he had some very serious matters to ponder about.

"But where am I going to find those people? How will I recognize them, and how can I protect them if things are really as bad as they seem to be?"

For once, Repede had no answer and could only watch as his master continued to treat his wounds.

"But most importantly," he went on, "Will I have the support needed to claim the throne without a civil war breaking out? Flynn probably meant that there were other knights that might support me, not the council members or the general population. After all, the council is basically in love with Ioder, and with me being stuck here without any real power, I haven't been able to do much to gain the favor of the people…"


"Yeah… let's just hope it doesn't come to that…"

At this time of night, even the streets of the lower quarter were completely deserted. The utter silence seemed unnatural to Estelle, who had grown up being accustomed to the bursting activity that usually reigned here.

This was not what was really on her mind, though; she was worried. Very worried. Her feeling of tiredness was steadily growing worse while she didn't seem to make much progress in getting closer to her house. It was as if the roads were just a lot longer today…

As her tiredness increased, so did her paranoia of her surroundings. How many times had she believed to see something moving in the shadows? She normally wasn't afraid of a fight, but if a group of bandits attacked her in her current state, would she be able to hold them off? If not, would anyone come if she called for help…?

…Was Gwenn right? Had it been a mistake to leave as she had done?

'No. My mind is playing tricks on me... I'm armed and there wouldn't normally be any people wandering the streets, so there wouldn't be anyone for a thief or a murderer to rob or kill, right? I just need to stay awake… need to keep going…'

It was while she was repeating this mantra that another line of thought started to emerge.

'It is the middle of the night, this is the lower quarter and you are a young woman. It's not safe for you...'

Doing her best not to listen to Gwenn's voice of wisdom, she slowly continued her path up till the point where she saw the street widen up to the market square that included blastia enforced fountain which provided most of the lower district with clean water.

It was then that a gust of wind blew, which caused a loose plank from one of the higher buildings to fall down. The resulting noise was enough to terrify her, and she reflexively fell into her combat stance, facing the sound. When she realised that it hadn't been some assassin accidentally slipping up or trying to distract her, she slightly relaxed before being overcome by a feeling of anger.

This was wrong. All of it; she shouldn't have to be afraid to wonder the streets at night, shouldn't have to worry about facing a group of bandits when no one would appear to help her. If only those cursed knights who only came down here to collect taxes would actually bother to patrol here once in a while...

It had been quite a disillusioning experience for her to learn that most of them really did not care about anything that happened here. That was one of the reasons she had left the knights, and she had done her best to bury that part of her past as deeply as possible.

She shook herself out of her thoughts; the feeling of fatigue was becoming overwhelming. She needed to rest before continuing her way. There was only one spot to sit down, and that was on the stone railing surrounding the fountain. Maybe if she sat down for a little while she could make the rest of the way a little more bearable.

Slowly, she made her way over to the fountain. Even in its malfunctioning state, the aqua blastia shone brightly in the night, covering the structure and the water irregularly flowing out of it in a soft blue light. For some reason, Estelle found her eyes fixed on the blue sphere. There was something enchanting about it…

She blinked. She had already made it to the fountain, but found herself continuing to stare at the gem. She quickly sat down and scanned her surroundings; at first glance, she was still alone. She scoffed herself for her carelessness; dropping her guard like that didn't improve her chances of getting home safely.

But that blastia…

She glanced up again.

For one insane moment, she felt the urge to reach out for it. She saw her arm extending towards it…

… right before someone grabbed her and forcefully pushed her head into the water.

She might have gasped or called for help, if she could breathe and wasn't underwater.

And again she heard the voice of her friend:

'It is the middle of the night, this is the lower quarter and you are a young woman. It's not safe for you...'

Author's notes:

Wow, I actually managed to stay below 10000 words for once. With 6500, I guess I'm getting closer to more reader friendly chapters.

On the story, I was pondering on how much the different backgrounds themselves would have actively changed Yuri's and Estelle's respective personalities. While I could imagine Yuri being a roguish type of prince with more or less the same personality, I had a lot of trouble justifying Estelle to be the same.

After all, growing up in the lower quarter (which are more or less the slums) means she can't be nearly as naïve as the in game Estelle, having been forced to adjust to the far harsher environment. On the other hand, changing her too much would basically make her an OC, so I'll try to avoid that. It's a bit of a thin line I'll have to walk over… however; I'm confidant that I'll be able to make it work in the end.

So, was it a nice read and did you think I did a good job? Could anything have been done in a better way? Please review to let me know!