He told him everything yet nothing at all. In the midst of war, he danced, used as a medium for souls. His melodies soothed away others' worries. Yet, he had to carry the burden of his own worries while pretending that he had no doubts at all... AkuRoku
Thank God to Meilynn64 for the title or I'll be spending my night thinking about the title. –orz- And yes, finally an update in a while. And I thank Lollipops and Roxas OH MY for her lovely message which eventually got me to decide to update.
And this fic is a promise for Tsuky-sama on dA which I should have written out a while ago.
The blood, the battle, deaths, pleads for help, greed, hatred, love, lust… everything was so common… too common that it turned sickening. Everywhere he went, it was the same. He wore heavy chain armors for protection. He carried a heavy sword. He travelled as a soldier. He was a general…but how different was it when he was travelling with his soldiers from town to town? Rampaging the enemies' villages, burning down their properties, killing adults and children.
Why would he commit such cruelty?
It was his duty and obligation.
He had sworn himself to his country and thus, he was responsible to tear down his country's enemies. His face depicts no emotion—even when blood was spilled all over the place, when he ordered his soldiers to bring down everything and everyone, elderly, parents, children…
"Why are you doing this?!"
"You will suffer in hell!"
If only he could experience hell… then maybe he could feel again.
Trudging through the remains of the village, he looked up to the bleak sky. "It's going to rain, soldiers. Better start moving fast," he commanded with a cold tone.
The smell of smoke assaulted his senses. The scent of blood made him dizzy. The screams and pleads for mercy haunted him. However, he had gotten used to it. He was already numbed to the emotion.
"Yeah… it's going to rain soon…" he sighed. His footsteps rang in the hollow of the air. His iron boots against the dirt a village used to stand on.
The dead bodies were already incinerated to ashes, carried away by the wind, and would soon be drenched away by the purity of rain water. "Let's move!"
He ignored his troops' complains about the endless trips they made without rest. He continued to walk to the next village, knowing that his soldiers had already fallen behind. He pulled his sword out of its sheath and took off a soldier's head in a single motion. The man's head went tumbling down the grassy field, staining the greens with blood-soaked red. The rest of the troops released gasps and screams of terror.
"Scram!" he roared.
The resting birds flew away from their branches, intimidated by the loud yell.
The soldiers were stunned, unable to move, only watching their general with horror. Then, he slashed his blade to the air, as if he was about to take down another one of his soldiers.
"Or I'll take down every single one of you," he hissed.
And the soldiers ran, screaming and crying for help.
"Babies…" he huffed and spat on the grass, putting his blade back to its sheath. He didn't need those sickening excuse of foot soldiers. They were obstacles to him.
The next village was only within a mile away, located deep within the forest, near the waterfalls. What a peaceful place… such a pity that he had to pillage and burn down the village…
All he needed to do was throw away his armors and weapons and he should be able to fit in.
He walked into the village's entrance, looking around. There was not a single guard, no protection whatsoever. Unlike usual, he didn't immediately wield his sword and started cutting heads off. That was his soldiers' job, to immediately barge into a village and start delivering hostilities and hatred. He always wanted to observe before taking lives away. However, he had no chance to do what he wanted because of his underlings' foolery. And now, even if he preferred it, he couldn't slay the villages, simply because of the fact that he had thrown away his weapon, leaving him extremely vulnerable with his usual attire that made him looked like a normal villager more than anything.
He looked left and right, admiring the simplicity and the beauty of the village. What was the village's name? he tried to recall…Sol Divina… ah yes. It was called Sol Divina, a village occupied by the Tribe of the Mountain—those odd people that had a strong affinity with the range of mountains and the water closed by. He always gathered information about the villages he was ordered to pillage. Why? He didn't know… probably just to waste his time. On second thought, it didn't even waste his time, since his shadow assassin was the one doing all his biddings.
It was a lively village. Some women were washing clothes by the lake, chattering and gossiping cheerily. Children were running around barefooted on the soft soil. Adult males were standing in groups, talking and laughing out loud at each other's jokes, each equipped with light weaponry—dull blades and axes from what he could observe. They wore clothes made of animal furs, no doubt from the animals they hunted down. Some of the villagers were black skinned, some were white skinned, some pale brown.
Some even had weirdly shaped ears—as if they were elves.
He watched with much interest. Sol Divina, such an interesting village.
"There's somebody at the gate…"
And all the villagers stopped their activities as if they were paused in time to stare at that one stranger that had intruded the village. He was relieved that he sensed no hostility. Not carrying a weapon made him feel very vulnerable.
"Welcome!" the male adults of the village welcomed him with broad smiles and grins.
He raised his eyebrows, confused.
"A traveler, aren't you?" A big man approached him, patting him at the back roughly. He choked and when he looked up, he was faced with huge, shiny giant teeth—what an enormous grin… under those roughly grown moustache.
He merely nodded, not saying anything, wary about the villagers.
"The southern village has been destroyed!!!" a sudden yell echoed throughout the village.
"What?!" The big man growled. "That fast?!"
"If they are attacked, that means…"
"We will be…"
"What happened to the villagers?"
"More importantly, what will happen to us?"
The distress grew.
"Everybody calm down! The priest will protect us all!" the big man roared, slamming his huge axe down to the soil, making a huge tremor.
He watched calmly, surprised, but never showing it. The other villagers went silent.
"The enemies won't come here," he opened his mouth, speaking calmly.
The big man turned to him, watching him with surprise. "Why do you say that, young man? Are you a survivor from that village?"
Ah, what an interesting turn of event… he nodded. "Yes, I am. I barely made it out without them noticing me. I saw them going the other direction… not towards this village…"
"Well, you certainly look surprisingly calm for a survivor of a devastating attack," a shorter man with lean body and shoulder length silver hair showed up, staring him up and down.
He stared back. "I guess I'm just raised that way," he raised his eyebrows, shrugging, challenging the other's man stare with a smirk.
"I will go ahead and inform the Elder," and the big man walked away, carrying an axe as equally big as him.
The silver head man gave a suspicious stare and walked away along the big man. He stared back at everyone who stared at him and he walked into the village, uninvited. Upon taking the first two steps into the village of Sol Divina, he heard a very bizarre, yet soothing melody carried by the air. It was the melody of a flute. He was sure of it.
He looked around, trying to find the source of the melody. He knew that it came from northeast; however he decided to be ignorant and merely stay where he was, not having the desire to venture deeper into the village. The villagers showed obvious distrust towards him and would possibly show hostility at any time presented, all because of the words of that silver head man. Not that he cared. However, he was somehow intrigued by the village and he didn't want it to go down in flames… not just yet.
The night came within a moment's notice. The sun sank behind the hills, disappearing from the sky, bringing in the dark. It was a bleak, starless night. He was surprised to overhear some of the villagers talking about how the sky was starless because of the deaths of so many people in the southern village. Such superstitious belief…
He walked through the wet soil. The pouring rain ceased earlier, leaving the soil wet and soggy. He hated the sounds of his iron boots against the muddy earth. It made him feel uneasy. He had been given a shelter by the big man, who later introduced himself as Lexaeus, the single old man in the village, from what he had learnt. However, the villagers had a certain grim looks on their faces every time the "single"-ness of Lexaeus was mentioned. He wondered if it was because of the typical losing his family in the war and fight business. He wouldn't be surprised if it was. It was pretty common, not that he had the ability to read minds or predict anything.
"Hey, boy," called Lexaeus. "Come join us!" he said, holding up a big jar of sake in his right hand while his axe was resting on the ground. The men of the village were having a sit out at night, gathering around the big fire bon. He raised his eyebrows and walked over to the big man to then notice the same silver head man from earlier sitting next to the big man.
He casted the silveret a short glance.
"I'm going to head back to my room," he said flatly.
"Boy, this is men's night. You'd better gather around with us."
"No, I'll be leaving early in the morning tomorrow. I respect and am grateful for your hospitality," he gave a curt bow.
"What are you talking about? What was your name again? Axel?"
He nodded, spiky red hair bobbing up and down with his nod.
"Where are you going to go?" a blond asked, tilting his head to the side.
Axel turned to the blond sitting at the other side of the circle.
"I'm Demyx," he smiled, grinning hyperly and friendlily.
"Axel," he said, introducing himself.
"Well, Axel. I think you should stay here with us and make yourself home."
He smirked inside. However, he already knew how it worked. Decline and you would be forced to stay over. "No, I would be too much of a trouble. He is right," he pointed to the silveret. "You all have every reason to be suspicious of me. After all, I might be a spy, conspiring with the enemy to take you all down."
"Riku," the silveret said shortly, drinking his sake.
"Right," he raised his eyebrows. "Nice to meet you."
Riku scoffed, looking at the blazing fire.
"I don't see why the enemy would send a spy after all this time of blatantly destroying and pillaging villages after villages," Demyx voiced his question.
"You never know," Riku glared at the blond.
"Look, I don't want to spark quarrels amongst you. I will leave early tomorrow morning," he commented.
"No, Axel. Stay," Lexaeus stood up from where he was, putting a hand on his shoulder.
The other men gathered there didn't voice their opinions. They were merely staring at him.
"Ansem the Wise had given him the permission to stay in here. Make yourself at home, Axel," the big man gave a friendly smile.
He didn't say anything. He looked over to the silveret who stay silent, drinking sake. He didn't expect Riku to comply so easily. He had expected him to be more stubborn and uncooperative.
Before the conversation could continue, the same soothing melody from earlier rang through the air once again. "Ah, the Priest's tune…" Demyx whispered, smiling, closing his eyes and enjoying the melody.
Axel couldn't help but felt attracted to the melody. The sadness and sweetness and also the tranquility contained deep inside the melody…
Though… the word Priest reminded him of someone old and crippled. He wouldn't be surprised. Must be someone very old and experienced to be able to produce that kind of melody.
Morning marked his first day in Sol Divina. He woke up to find out that the rest of the village was still sleeping. He wore the slippers Lexaeus had provided him the night before, telling him that his iron boots were inconvenient to walk in and that the villagers weren't used to the noise.
He walked out of his tent, looking the blue sky that had grown dull to him as time passed by.
"Up so early?" A soft boyish voice coursed through and he turned to the source of the voice. The boy was leaning against a persimmon tree nearby, arms crossed, cerulean eyes staring wide at him.
"Yeah," he nodded curtly in response. "You too."
"Oh, I can't sleep."
He smirked. "And I thought a boy like you would be snoring all day in bed."
"Now, isn't that a typical stereotype that you adults love to make?" the boy grinned childishly, his innocence and pure complexion showed through his smile.
"Oh? I am surprised. For once, I am actually proven wrong."
"Oh, you'd be surprised to know that I am older than thirteen, mister."
He raised his eyebrows. He was actually thinking of that.
"Oh, I know what's going through your mind. Just as you adults stereotype, I also do the same. So, I suppose you are the newcomer?" the boy smiled, holding out his hand.
"Yes, I am," he took the boy's hand and shook it. The boy had a certain charm he couldn't explain.
After the little exchange, the boy walked circling around him, examining him up and down. "You sure don't look very much like a refugee to me. But that's just Riku's suspicions."
"What? You're not gonna give me your name?" he grinned.
"Adults with manners usually give their names first."
"Axel. I am, as you have so smartly stated, an adult with manners."
"Roxas. And please do remember to call me Roxas."
"Got it memorized."
Roxas chuckled. "Very well. I shall take my leave, Axel. Don't be a stranger."
"I'll try not to."
This game of pretending wasn't so bad after all…
He knew that somebody was following him as he checked around the village, but he wasn't smart enough to know who. Though he could guess that it was probably Riku. The whole village was still suspicious of him. He didn't worry about it. He knew that all he needed to do was to do something that would make them fully trust him.
There was a commotion in the afternoon. Lexaeus told him that some kind of ceremony was going to occur from the waterfall at Sol Divina. He was interested, so he attended—something about the priest giving his prayers to the dead. He didn't know why he was interested in a ceremony where an old man would be mumbling and chanting prayers. However, since he was the one responsible for the deaths, he might as well participate and give those dead people some of his prayers. It wouldn't be too bad.
The whole village was gathered near the waterfall, watching from the sides, standing by the rocks. He didn't see any elderly with robes, so he assumed that the priest was not yet there. However, he did see the same boy from earlier in the morning in blue robe, standing with half of his legs submerged in the water and his robe floating, wet and drenched.
"Feeling the water?" Axel decided to approach the boy.
"Oh hi new guy," Roxas smiled nervously. "Yeah, I am."
"Weird. You would typically wear shorts if you are feeling the water, not robes."
"Oh yeah, I am definitely weird."
And then, Axel noticed that everyone was looking at them. He wondered why. He shrugged the curious glances away. "And you're the one who told me not to be a stranger."
Roxas laughed softly. "Haha, right?"
"So, what's happening here?" Axel asked, looking around. The scenery was definitely beautiful. So tranquil, so different from all the war and killing he had gone through. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to stay in Sol Divina.
"Here's a trivia for you. Know why this village is called Sol Divina?"
Axel raised his eyebrows. He was silent for a minute before he shook his head. "Well, you're the smart one. Tell me."
"The Divine Blessing of the Water. That is what Sol Divina means. And as you can see, we have a waterfall here," Roxas pointed out the obvious, chuckling.
"That's it? And here I thought that there is going to be a huge revelation."
"You know, it's really weird for you to not know about this. Almost everyone around knows how to answer that question. So, the next time somebody asks, you know how to answer, alright?"
Axel didn't say anything.
"You're not from around here. And you're not a refugee, Axel. You can't hide that from me," Roxas gave a knowing smile, whispering his words softly, careful not to be overheard by the other villagers.
There was an awkward silence between them.
"So, as I was saying, I think it's a pretty dumb name… but pretty nonetheless," Roxas nodded, smiling.
"The water can't bless anything."
"Well said. When the enemy soldiers attack, I doubt the water would be able to do anything about it. But we'll see."
And there it was again, the knowing smile.
"Well, I shall take my leave on you once again. Preparation. The ceremony should start soon. I hope you enjoyed. People take it as entertainment, but you can take it however you want. I'll see you around, Axel."
And Roxas stepped out of the water, running away barefooted into the forest.
"An entertainment, huh?" Axel whispered, leaning against a tree, watching the waterfall from afar. Everyone, including him, was anticipating the ceremony. He wondered why a ceremony to give prayers to the dead would be an entertainment. He supposed he just had to wait it out and find his answer.
There was gasps a while later. A boy in flowery blue robe stepped out from the small cavern behind the site and into the waterfall, walking, and then stood on the rock that was sitting in the middle of the waterfall. It was the same boy Axel knew. Roxas.
The boy was holding a long flute, eyes closed, standing calmly, facing everyone.
"So, he's the priest…" Axel whispered, surprised.
"Hey, Axel!" Demyx called, walking over to him, waving and smiling. He then took a spot beside Axel.
Axel turned to the Mohawk blond boy. "You are…"
"Demyx. I told you my name."
Axel grinned. "I tend to forget the names of unimportant people."
Demyx pouted. "You definitely sound a lot like Riku," he threw a sandal at his direction.
Axel was hit. He rubbed his head. "Right, sorry about that," he laughed.
"Well, except that Riku has no fun side and you do."
"I take that as a compliment."
Roxas took a step forward with his right leg; he raised his flute to his lips and began blowing gently into it, producing a soft, entrancing melody. Bubbles of water began rising up to the air, floating beautifully in the void and then burst as the tune grew stronger.
Axel watched with wide eyes, entranced by the performance and so were the other villagers.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Demyx smiled, never turning his eyes away from the Priest.
"Wow…" Axel commented breathlessly.
And Roxas opened his eyes, staring straight with a determined expression. He danced, using the flute to dip and swish the water, making beautiful little ripples. The water then gathered together to hoist him up to the air and encaged him within a cage made of the pure liquid.
"Is this part of the ceremony?" Axel blinked several times, still trying to register in what was happening. He had never seen such magic before.
Inside the cage of water, Roxas blew his flute again, this time a quiet and sad melody, grim, but at the same time sweet. And the water's ripples grew wild. Water began swishing here and there, splashing furiously as if enraged.
The Priest's eyes were closed.
Then, Axel could hear moans and shrieks coming out of nowhere. He looked around to find little orbs of light floating about, heading to one direction—to Roxas' direction. The orbs of light molded together with the water, circling around Roxas.
"What are those?"
"Those are souls… The souls of the dead, trapped in the world. The dead gathered around the Priest, using him as a medium to travel to another world."
"As a medium…"
"Yeah. Else, they can't rest in peace."
The tune stopped and Roxas used his flute to draw a six pointed star in the water which then took shape as light came out of the traces he made. The six pointed shaped star burst into more of the little orbs of light and then, suddenly, it all calmed down. No more moaning, no more shrieking. And the water submerged, bringing Roxas down to the ground gently.
The orbs of light disappeared into the sky—far away.
The Priest panted, taking in labored breaths, face red with exhaustion.
Everyone clapped, voicing their excitement and amazement.
"Is he gonna be alright?"
Demyx merely nodded, looking away with sadness. "Well, Ax. I'll catch ya around. See ya!" and Demyx ran away.
Axel still had to get used to people running away from him.
The Dance might be beautiful…however, he couldn't help but feel the hopelessness and the sadness the dance represented. It might just be his imagination. However, the exhaustion and sadness apparent in those pair of cerulean eyes were no lie.
So, Roxas had to do the dance every time people died?
Axel watched for a while longer before frowning. Wasn't anybody going to help the priest? The crowds were dispersing, leaving the area. And there he thought the priest was a very wonderful and well respected person. They were just going to leave him there? What a joke.
He walked over to the boy without a single doubt. "Are you ok?" he muttered with slight worry in his voice. He knew Roxas was going to be alright. From how everyone was taking it, this was not the first time Roxas performed the dance.
Roxas looked up, still panting, a soft smile on his face. "I'm going to be alright. Just leave me here and I'll recuperate fairly quickly. There is no need for concern."
"You look pretty exhausted and everyone's leaving you alone."
"It happens," Roxas shrugged, smiling weakly, taking in deep breaths.
Axel sat down near the exhausted Priest. "Well, I'm just going to sit here and enjoy the scenery while you recuperate."
"Stubborn, aren't you?"
"Well, the scenery is fairly nice here. That's all I have to say. Other than that, watching you going all exhausted from that dance is pretty amusing. Shouldn't a boy be healthy and full of energy?"
"You old people are always assuming things," Roxas laughed, breaths calming down. He sat down from his kneeling position, putting his legs into the water.
"That was a really nice job. I might not say that it's an entertainment, but I do enjoy watching it," Axel commented briefly. "Other than that, I'd rather you not do it again if it caused you to be this exhausted," he spoke without looking at the Priest.
A tear rolled down Roxas' eyes, unnoticeable by the redhead. "Trust me. I'd rather not do it if I have the choice."
Axel merely nodded, looking at the water below his feet. He had a lot of questions in his mind, but none that he was able to voice out.
A final word, I already have 20k words written out for this fic. That means I already have 5 chapters written out if I divide it into 4k words chapter. So, yeah, I'm on to a good start. Tell me what you think, if you will. (: Thanks a lot, all of you who are still reading what I write.