EDIT-A/N (3-21-2010): For those who have already reviewed, thank you, I truly appreciate your feedback. But if you are new to this story, please do not review unless you have constructive criticism to give me. I don't want to be told how good I am or how much I sucked if you don't have a reason for saying so. I'd rather you say nothing at all if you can't tell me why you liked or hated something. If I am out of character, if my writing sucks, if my plot sucks, if my description sucks, if my dialogue sucks, if my style sucks, if my vocabulary sucks, if I'm not interesting you, if I put in a deal-breaker, if I irritated a pet peeve, if I am missing something, if I don't meet expectation, if you think I have potential but have too much to say, if you wish I had done something--anything-- differently, if you just plain hate what I've done with a character, plot, action, description, suspense, if I failed at an attempt at using a writing tool, if I have spelling errors, if I repeat words, if I use the wrong word, if the first sentence didn't grab your attention and you want to hit the back button, if I have grammar errors, or any kind of errors at all for that matter, if something is wrong or doesn't feel right and you just can't put your finger on it, if you hate my title or summary, even if all you can say is, "you want to know why, but I'm not sure so I can't tell you. It just doesn't work" with a copy of the quote that doesn't work for you, please do me the honor of telling me so, even if it's in the form of an email, PM, or review, I don't care how you do it, just tell me. Yes, I am begging for concrit. But please don't leave feedback that simply says "that was good. Nice job." I want to know the why. Thank you.
By Baby Kat Snophlake
The Fiertia pulled up to Nordopolica's dock. Yuri couldn't help but enjoy the beautiful sight of Nordopolica's old coliseum set against the moonlit sky alight with bright colorful fireworks. The wind blew gently through Yuri's long black hair, and dark clouds were lazy in their drifting, and even as Yuri stepped onto the dock itself, the people bustling in the market candlelit by streetlamps seemed so inviting. His companions had disembarked just as quickly as he and soon they were walking up the flagstone towards the coliseum, taking in the new surroundings. A woman stood on the docks muttering to herself about how she loved seeing the bloodshed of the coliseum. That should've been his first clue.
Yuri led his party up the stairwell, past a Krityan who mentioned being unable to leave to find her homeland. Another woman on the flat half-way up the stairs looked panic-stricken muttering about how no one believed her stories about a monster. Still, none of this fazed Yuri in the slightest. They arrived at the door to Belius's chambers where a guard stood. He wouldn't grant them an audience with Belius, stating instead that she preferred to meet people at the new moon. This time, though, Yuri was curious about a man in the corner scratching his head in a fury as if he had fleas.
With no choice but to come back later, Raven mentioned heading off to the inn, and Yuri wandered around Nordopolica some more. Another man was drunk, wavering back and forth to keep standing, and another kept swinging his sword as if practicing for a fight in the arena, but Yuri passed up the inn in the hopes of seeing more of the city. The others decided to turn in for the night and stopped off at the inn with Raven.
Yuri walked down the stairwell again, this time meeting a little girl staring at a headless statue loudly commenting how she wanted a statue of herself made, but that would never happen. A woman he passed saw him and said something about "a lovely place, a lovely face", a man at the bottom of the stairs was taking bets and giving tips for who would win at the coliseum. A man listening to him was in debt, the woman beside him in doubt, and Yuri past them both up thinking it would be a waste of time and money.
Then he arrived at the only gate leading to the rest of the continent. There, a woman stood behind a desk, smiling at him in greeting. Yuri nodded to her and peered past her to see the flat plains of the wild and as beautiful as it was…
"Good evening. The coliseum is back that way." The woman pointed.
"To reach the coliseum, please continue to the north and go up the stairwell, okay?"
Yuri looked around, but the nearest other person was shaking his head at the ocean, almost like he was upset about something. Yuri was the only other person she could be talking to. He stared at the woman behind the desk. "Did I say I was looking for the coliseum?"
"Well, that's what people usually come to Nordopolica for. Is this your first time in Nordopolica?"
"Well, yes, but what if I want to leave?"
The woman laughed, and though it was a lighthearted laugh as if he told a joke, Yuri had a sinking feeling she wasn't as innocent as she was leading on. "Why, I can't imagine anyone wanting to leave Nordopolica…" The woman said. "No one would really choose to go outside, right?"
Yuri hesitated, turning his head so he could see the world beyond Nordopolica's barrier. He wondered if the barrier was set up only to keep the monsters out, and somehow, he doubted that was the barrier's only purpose. Still, the rest of the party was back at the inn, and he really shouldn't leave without them. He nodded to the lady and turned back up the path to the coliseum. Even as he looked around now, though, the odd behavior of so many citizens seems to sharpen and he had the feeling he wasn't looking at normal people anymore.
Was this another Heliord?!
He remembered back to the new Imperial city where no matter what, he wasn't allowed to leave. No matter how many times he tried, there was something… always this little voice in the back of his mind reminding him of reasons he had to stay. It didn't matter that he needed to kill monsters for money to buy more gels, equipment, and whatnot. And though no one else seemed to notice, care, or catch on, for a couple days it seemed he couldn't leave Heliord… Was Nordopolica going to be the same way?
He slept uneasily that night, dreams of being trapped by cages of light dropped from the fireworks that were shot into the sky, hearing the voices of ghosts taunting him, and being chased by a giant monster that people from this city were calling their Duce… When dawn peeked in through the windows and everyone decided it was time to go, Yuri sighed. He felt like he hadn't slept at all, but that wasn't due to any concerns he was having about leaving Nordopolica. It was silly to think anything like what happened back at Heliord would happen again. No, he assured himself, he was tired because of the nightmares and they suggested nothing.
On the way out, two men were arguing and Regaey, the leader of the excavation guild Ruins' Gate, stood between them trying to stop their fight with his meager body mass. Yuri looked on as Regaey was doing all he could to stop the fight but it was only at Judith and Yuri's persuasion that the tension finally dissipated between the two men arguing.
"You need to build some muscle before you go breaking up fights," Yuri told Regaey.
"I-I-I'm sorry. Th-thank you for your help." But as the party tried to leave Regaey stopped them. "F-forgive me, b-but may I h-have a m-moment of your t-time?"
"Huh? Yeah, sure, what's up?" Karol asked. Yuri kept his sinking feelings to himself.
"W-well, I was hoping f-f-for a f-favor. You are B-Brave V-Vesperia, correct?"
"That's us," Yuri replied, cautious. "But we're already caught up in a job right now. We can't take on anything else."
Regaey was looking more nervous now. Yuri noticed Regaey's hands almost feverishly rubbing together. "B-but this could affect all g-guilds. P-please at l-least hear m-me out."
"Wait, Yuri," Karol said, "he wouldn't ask if it wasn't important, right?"
"Yeah," Judith said. "There's no harm in listening, we might as well hear him out."
Yuri glanced around at the market again. He could be just imagining it… Yeah, that's what it was. "Yeah, I suppose there's no harm in at least listening to him. But there's no guarantee we'll be doing what he asks."
"Th-that's all I c-could ask for." Regaey looked around, too, and added, "b-but p-please m-meet me inside the coliseum. I d-don't want to be ov-verheard." Regaey started up the stairs to the coliseum with the rest of Brave Vesperia following like obedient sheep, but Yuri couldn't help looking at the blue sky as if it was the last time he would ever see it. How odd. He'd never had that feeling before.
When Regaey was satisfied with the lack of eavesdroppers, he gathered everyone close and whispered, "the ch-champion of the coliseum n-needs to be d-d-defeated. He's been w-working with L-L-Leviathan's Claw. L-Leviathan's Claw wants to t-take down B-Belius s-so they c-can take over c-control of the coliseum and d-dominate th-th-the other guilds."
"Dominate the other guilds? That doesn't like something we can just ignore, Yuri…" Karol said.
"Yeah, that sounds like something Cumore would devise." Yuri again remembered back to Heliord. Cumore and Leviathan's Claw had been teamed up back then, too. This was certainly beginning to mirror the situation in Heliord more and more. That didn't settle his feelings at all.
"So who's going to fight then?" Judith asked.
"I will." Yuri said. "The boss shouldn't have to get his hands dirty in this mess, Rita, Raven, and Estelle aren't really part of Brave Vesperia so pushing our job onto them isn't right."
"And what about me?"
"Sorry, Judith, but no offense. I don't want to have to go up against you."
"Aww, okay, I suppose I can sit this one out."
The crowd cheered as Yuri was introduced and Yuri walked out into the arena. It had been a while since he had a good fight, and surely fighting humans in the coliseum would be more rewarding than fighting monsters on the field. Sure enough, the first two battles left Yuri feeling elated but now it was time to face the champion. The announcer was hollering into his cone, but it all sounded like buzzing to Yuri who was listening to his heart beating from the excitement. Only two words punctured the haze and Yuri paused to listen. The Champion was…?
"Yuri? What are you doing here?"
"Flynn Scifo… I could ask you the same thing." Yuri faced his best friend from childhood, a captain of the knights who wore his armor to hide the strings attached to the Empire's fingers.
"I'm sorry, Yuri, but I can't tell you that." Flynn said.
"No, it's okay. I know what's going on. You're the dangerous man who is trying to take over the coliseum."
"I'm what? No, wait…"
"So we're being used then…"
Both Flynn and Yuri stared at each other until the announcer broadcasted the start of the battle. They unsheathed their swords and swung, displaying a sparring only two best friends for life pitted against each other could give the crowd. The battle was intense, but Yuri and Flynn were still muttering to each other between strikes.
"You could ease up a little bit, Yuri," Flynn said, wiping his brow with a steel-covered hand.
"You're not having any trouble blocking me," Yuri countered, though he had to throw aside his own sweat with his leather glove.
"This sure does bring back memories, though, doesn't it?"
"If you keep up with the reminiscing, you'll end up forgetting this even happened."
The crowd cheered louder as the fight wore on, despite not being able to hear Yuri and Flynn's hissed commentary. Though both of them were beginning to tire, neither allowed signs of fatigue to interrupt their fight. But on both their minds was one question: "So how are we going to finish this?" Yuri asked finally.
"I don't know," Flynn replied as he swung once more.
Yuri and Flynn both paused, looking up at the sun high in the sky and the dark spot that grew as it fell. Flynn stepped back.
"A friend of yours, Yuri?"
"He was originally your friend, Flynn. You just got lucky and never met him!"
The man landed between them, straightening as much as his curved spine allowed. His spiked red and black hair was all Flynn could see, but Yuri stared into the wild eyes of a madman.
"You've lived long enough for me to kill you. I'm grateful."
"Sorry, but I'm not dying here." Yuri replied.
"Oh you don't have a choice, Yuri…" The man raised his arm now covered in a huge blastia. "This is, after all, your doing!"
"Is that a blastia?!" Rita's hands immediately became fists. "How dare he abuse it like that!"
"Come on, let's help Yuri!" Karol said, but Judith was the first to hurdle the wall into the arena. The rest of Brave Vesperia gathered around Yuri, facing off against the enemy they had already met several times. The crowd cheered at the new developments, booming louder than Yuri could hear. He finally got a good look at the stands full to the brim of people of every kind.
"Yuri! Look at me when I kill you! I want to see the light fading from your eyes!" Zagi ran for them all, and Yuri braced for another battle. It didn't seem to matter how many times they struck him with their weapons or used their magic, Zagi would fall but keep standing as if he was his own little terminator. Estelle had to keep healing with her magic and the battle wore on…
The sun was hiding behind the western stands, showering the whole arena in a salmon glow, before Yuri stopped in mid-battle and realized how much time had passed. The sinking feeling of being trapped within the city had returned and that made Yuri uneasy. "Come on, guys! Let's end this!"
"But it doesn't matter how many times we stab him, he won't die!" Judith hollered, returning to the fray after a quick break. Karol was dragging his sword, barely able to pick it up when Zagi was close. Raven was running low on arrows, a first for him, and Rita had about depleted her magic. Repede panted on the edge of the arena, taking Judith's place at resting. He was too tired to bother with Estelle's petting him, but he was lucky that she was sitting next to him too tired to try.
"Yuri's right! We have to finish this somehow!" Karol said.
Then Zagi's blastia glowed, aer gathered around it, swirling like a tornado.
Everyone paused; even the crowd was holding its breath. Zagi's blastia fired off aer at the monsters' pen, destroying the blastia gate that held them imprisoned within.
Yuri ran, checking over his shoulder at the others. The only people running faster than him were the people from the stands and Regaey who had set up the whole mess to begin with. Everyone was running in all directions and Yuri kept getting turned around. When he thought he was headed the right way, he met a dead end or wound up in the residential part of the coliseum.
"Yuri, we're lost!" He heard someone from his group say, but he ignored it at first.
"We're not lost! We just have to find the passage back to the inn!" But that was easier said than done. Going against the flow of the human flood was impossible and Yuri had to admit that his feelings were now justified. There was no way he was going to leave Nordopolica at this rate. It seemed forever that they were shoved around and trampled on before they finally reached where the inn was supposed to be. Yuri eyed the front door almost sure the door didn't lead where he hoped, but he tore it open anyway.
Night covered the whole town, but it was fresh air. Yuri finally felt sense returning. He hurried down the docks with the rest of the party at his heels. Finally, they could get out of this city, but as soon as they reached the stand where the woman was keeping watch, Estelle stopped.
"It's Repede!" Estelle bent to take something out of the dog's mouth, but Yuri's focus was on the outside world. Did Repede really make it out there just fine?
While everyone else was going on about the case Repede retrieved, Yuri never tore his eyes from the sun rising in the east and he thought he heard the woman behind the stand snickering… "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." When Yuri looked at her, she was smiling. Yuri sighed. It was silly to think what happened in Heliord wouldn't happen again.
But no one else seemed to notice.
I know one question that might be on everyone's minds is how did I connect ToV to the Eagles? Well, I was in Heliord and I wanted to buy something and I couldn't because I didn't have enough monies, so I tried to leave town to earn monies, but it wouldn't let me because of some stupid reason or another. I apparently had other things to do. And then the same thing happened in Nordopolica and by that time, I had recently heard Hotel California and I was like, "that's exactly how I feel!" And this idea was born. Several months later, I finished it. It's only loosely based off the song, but I think there were enough similarities to warrant. So yeah....