The sea green grass was cool to the touch, and was almost as soft as a feathered mattress. The warm sun and the nearly cloudless sky was a welcoming setting to them, a sky blue haired boy and a sea greenish-blue hair girl. The two laughed as they played magic with one another. The boy created bubbles out of thin air, and then popped them with sudden slices of the wind.
The girl watched in amazement at how fast the boy had learned both wind and water magic spells. The way he created the bubbles and moved the wind was fluid in motion.
When it was the girl's turn, she stood up. As she began chanting, a small orange light warmed the air around them. The feeling was nice to the boy, as he closed his eyes and lay back against the grassy hill.
He hadn't noticed it until it was too late; a sudden flash warped him in time. The next thing he saw was the sky in a pale pink. Time flashed again, he was now being carried by somebody everything still seemed pink, the man yelled out bleeding... Was he bleeding, is that why he saw pink? Another flash, he laid in bed. The girl he was playing with held his hand, she was crying, why? There was another child there, a brown haired boy, his best friend, why did he look so worried?
One more blank flash of time... It was night. There girl still sat by his side. But a man, an Elias guard... He suddenly grabbed the girl and pulled her away from him. He tried to reach out, to stop him. But another man, a doctor, pushed him back into bed.
Why... What happened, what is going on.…?
Belos Inn's restaurant was just starting to settle down after the early day rush. Erin sighed and plopped into the chair next to the entrance. With the rush over, she finally had a chance to wipe the sweat under her strawberry blonde hair and rest. But just as she began to relax her muscles, the bell just above the entrance door chimed as a figure entered the Inn. Erin Mentally wanted to cry out in frustration, but instead she bottled it up and stood to her feet.
"Welcome to Belos Inn, how may we serve- hey!" Erin shouted as a hand suddenly lay on her head. She glared at the culprit, ready to swing the serving dish in his face. But anger turned into joy when she noticed the familiar grin of the brown haired Gunslinger.
"Hybird!" she chimed out happily
"Heya missy. How's it goin'?"
Erin sighed as she lifted Hybird's arm off of her head. "Busy as usual. Heeeeey..." Erin curiously danced around Hybird, who only blinked blankly. "When did you get new gear?" She asked, noting that the Gunslinger no longer wore his green and blue Hanbok. He instead replaced it with a black sweatshirt that had a large splattered red print of a heart on its lower right side, and black pirate pants which held his gun case nicely.
"Oh yeah, I bought this when I went GS. Still kept the headband though," he replied pointing to the blue scarf and the silver headband.
"So, what brings you to Belos?"
"Was supposed to meet Mr. heart-throb here. Is he 'round?"
Erin began walking towards the bar, with Hybird following behind. "Oh Artemist? Yeah, he's been hanging out here playing his music. Earned quite a following. He just ordered his usual, you want yours?"
"Definitely. Still nothing better than a Root Drink after a big hunt."
Erin Giggled as she filled up the mug and handed it over to Hybird. "Some things never change." She leaned over the bar and pointed towards the center of the restaurant. "He's over there."
"Thanks missy," said Hybird as he walked in the direction she pointed. It wasn't long before he found the teen he was looking for. It wasn't hard to find him, his white black and gold armored Sweet Angel top and white beret gave his position. His calm dark pink, almost purple eyes and wavy blue Elraim hair was very distinct, and attracted many female Adventurers. If Hybird couldn't see Artemist in a crowd, he'd just have to follow the girls. "So, this is where you've been, thought you slunk off to Atlantis or something."
Artemist looked up, then back down to his drink, the Bard's usual welcome reply to the Gunslinger.
Hybird slid into the chair across from Artemist, resting his head in his hand propped up on the table. "Y'know, I never understood what you saw in coffee. It's bitter and chalky, and you have more than enough energy to not need it," he said as he dug out some Ely from his pocket to pay for his drink in advanced. As he placed the money on the table, he noticed a trio of female Magicians all sitting at one table whispering to each other, while giving swooned glances at the Bard. "Also never understood how you'd get so many groupies clamoring for your music. Combat Musicians aren't supposed to be popular."
Artemist merely took another sip of his mocha and looked away from his friend, not amused by his jabs.
"Or, maybe that's it. Your cold and distant behavior? I heard the girls love something they can never have."
Artemist set down his Mocha onto the small plate it was served with, and shot his friend a warning glare. Hybird quickly replied by waving his hand over the table, signifying that he would back off the subject.
"Anyway, 'bout why I wanted to talk to you," Hybird stated as he leaned back in his chair. He surveyed large room, mentally noting each "Newbie" Adventurer he saw. "I've been thinking... About starting a Guild..."
Hybird didn't even have to see the expression on his friend's face to know Artemist was questioning him as to why he would ever even consider a Guild.
"Yeah, I know, I know. With our history of dealing with Guildies, why start one? But that's just it. We know everything those losers do wrong. Why not start one and do things right? Y'know, teach the Rookies the correct path of an Adventurer?" Artemist silently looked away again. "Seriously? You're not interested in teaching idiot Guildies a lesson?"
Hybird looked in the direction Artemist was, and noticed a paper attached to the Mission Wall. Hybird hadn't noticed it when he entered, but there was a new article mentioning a girl suspected of being an Agasura, had been kidnapped by a group of overpowered Goblins near the Temple of Pluton.
The Gunslinger sighed. He now knew what was on Artemist's mind. "Don't even try... This one's been out of our hands for a while now, and it's only gotten worse with the recent rash of juiced-up Monsters."
Artemist's right eyebrow twitched. Anger filled his eyes and his grip on his cup became shaking strong.
"Calm down," Hybird muttered flatly. "It's not as if I don't agree with you. But this has gotten big. Those goblins were no joke from what I've been told. They were so juiced that they took out Elite Elias Guards... And I heard they're under the control of a Goblin King, who knows how powerful that thing is. We can't just go to Pluton guns and guitars a blazin'." Hybird propped his arms up on the table, and locked his fingers together so he could rest his forehead at the edge of his hands. "Even... Even if we did save her from the Goblins... What do you think will happen afterwards? The Elias Guard still think of her as a threat, they'll just lock her away again..."
There was a moment of silence. Artemist suddenly stood up, causing his chair to scratch loudly against the floor. The Bard lifted his Corala Guitar and walked out of the restaurant, without saying a word to his friend.
"Dangit," Hybird muttered to nobody. He lifted his drink, and in one shot, gulped down his root drink. He stood up and stretched, letting his muscles pop from the long sit. As he lowered his arms, he noticed Erin sitting at the entrance, a somewhat bewildered look on her face.
"Yo Erin, something wrong?" He asked as he walked up to the door.
"Artemist just paid off the rest of his tab. Weldon said he didn't have to make such a huge payment, but... He insisted on it."
"He paid the tab...? But that's over a million Ely..." Hybird asked himself. He remembered Artemist's tab all too well. It was after an incident with a bantering Sword Warlord resulted in the two getting into a fight with an entire guild at the Belos Inn, Hybird offered to help pay for the damages, but Artemist insisted on paying it himself, as he felt he instigated the fight.
He couldn't figure out why Artemist paid for the tab so soon. He had plenty of time to pay it off. It wasn't until his eyes wandered to the flyer again, as well as remembering that he slipped the location of the Goblins, that he realized what Artemist had intended on doing.
"That idiot..." Hybird uttered out.
Pluton was once a place where young Adventurers just starting could train themselves. In fact, some of the monsters like the Bogle welcomed the sparring against the Rookies. Goblins however, were a bit different. They had no real will to fight, rather lazy and 'laxed, in fact. Unless a Goblin King was around, then they were as aggressive as they come.
But as of late, Goblins have been unusually strong, and frighteningly aggressive without a Goblin King. With word going around that now an Overpowered Goblin King has been running rampant, Adventurers have been avoiding the entire temple, and even some of the lower leveled monsters have abandoned their home.
Two Goblins, both of whom looked far meaner looking than the average Goblin, marched back and forth in front of the Portal that led to the Ancient Forest. The Goblin King made it clear that no portal would be left unguarded, not until it was made clear that this was now their territory.
One Goblin stopped its marching midway. A sound had echoed in its ear coming from the portal. The Goblin jabbed his friend with the tip of its mace to grab his attention. Then pointed towards the portal. Both now watched the portal to see if an intruder had began teleporting in, but saw nothing. The second Goblin punched the first in its arm grumbling in annoyance. The first Goblin grumbled back, swearing it heard something.
As the two argued, a soothing tone began to fill the air. Within seconds, the second Goblin fell to the floor, sound asleep mid shouting. Bewildered, the first Goblin used its mace to poke his friend, but to no avail, the second Goblin merely snorted and rolled over. The first Goblin shook its head in disappointment, and turned back to its guard position. Before its mind could even register the figure standing in front of him, a sudden flash of blue collided with the Goblin's head, knocking it unconscious as well.
Artemist stood over the two Goblins, his guitar still echoing the blunt strike to the Goblin's skull. Hastily, he grabbed both Goblins by the collars, and dragged them to a nearby pillar that has fallen due to age, to make it look as if they abandoned his post and buy him some more time.
With a quick scan of the area, Artemist stealthily made his way up the Pluton path. He suspected that they would hold the girl near Invoke's Lair, where Goblins normally dwelled. And as Artemist suspected, the area was littered with overpowered goblins. All heavily guarding their territory from intruders. However, no matter how powered up they felt, they were still Goblins, and some were getting very lazy with their guard.
Artemist took advantage of this laziness. Quietly he snuck around the Goblins, hiding behind the rubble and fallen pillars on the ground. Whenever he had the chance, he would play the same song he used on the first two Goblins to make it easier to sneak further into the Goblin Den.
He soon noticed a stair way leading down. Strangely enough, no Goblin guarded this spot, but guarded every where near it. That had to be the spot they were holding her, it was just too heavily guarded, though not directly, not to be investigated. He quickly slid over the pillar he hid behind, and snuck down the steps in a crouching position.
Not one Goblin was below the steps either. It was until he felt a sudden rush of energy pelt him right in his gut. The Bard nearly fell over from the jolt, only to be saved by the fact that crouching allowed him to quickly sit down on the steps. He had felt this energy before, the sudden flash of dread and impact was like a strong warning signal that many Magicians used to gain an advantage over monster. But this... This was alarmingly strong, as if the person had been sending off signals on a constant basis. It was also familiar because each Magician's aura had a different vibe. While unnoticed by many, a trained person like Artemist can tell the distinct difference in aura.
It had to be her... That was the only thing that drilled into Artemist's heart and soul as he stood back up and rushed down the stairs. It was far too familiar not to be. Artemist jumped off the last set of steps and looked around the dilapidated room. Again, the magic force struck him hard, but by now he had adjusted, and was not knocked off his feet. He instead followed the energy to the room connected to the one he stood in. Next room was brighter, even though it was in day light. The glowing light cam from a clear rectangle structure in the center. He couldn't tell exactly what the box was made of, possibly an anti-magic glass. One could only imagine what the energy would feel like if it wasn't contained.
But those details did not concern Artemist; it was the direct source of the warning energy that he cared about. In far right corner of the container, huddled a light blue, long haired girl, no older than Artemist. He couldn't get a good look of her features because she was hugged her body against her knees. But he could see her eyes, her ever so familiar bright blue innocent eyes; he could never forget those eyes.
Without hesitation Artemist ran over the container. He called out to grab her attention, but she could not hear. The container must have had a spell of silence where no sound could get in or out. But Artemist knew a way around such spells; he instead pounded his fist against the container, forcing sound on both sides to emit. Finally, she raised her head, and looked in Artemist's direction. At first, she put her head back down, her eyes spook for bewilderment, as if she thought the site of him was an illusion. It took a more aggressive rattle of the box by Artemist to snap her back into reality. Her eyes widened and she tried to stand. But just as quick as she got up, she stumbled into the side of the box Artemist pounded on. It was then he finally had a chance to look at her. Her clothing was starting to slip, her body mass thin from lack of food. Her skin had also paled and dark bags were starting to form under her eyes. She had been kidnapped over a weak ago, and apparently the Goblins did not feed her much, if anything at all. That combined with her constant warning auras, it was a shock she was even conscious.
Artemist tried again talking through the container, but no luck. She only replied in shaking her head, signaling she couldn't hear. Artemist instead mimed his hands for her to stand back. The girl complied, and leaned at the far end of the wall. Artemist readied his guitar, directing all his energy for the wall in front of him. He looked at the girl once again to visually tell her he was about to begin. But the look in her eyes stopped him. He could tell that she saw something behind him, something that sent chills into her bones.
Artemist carefully turned. Behind him stood a large group of Goblins. But behind them was the real threat. A large Goblin King stood in the way of the exit. It was larger, and darker toned than the normal Goblin Kings. Its grin was wider than most Goblin Kings as well. Something about the grin irritated Artemist to no end. Perhaps it was the rash of attack it commanded on people. Or that Pluton was completely ransacked by Goblins. Or maybe it's because it kidnapped, and malnourished a girl.
Whatever it was, the usually calm Bard was officially pissed.
The Goblin King pointed one Goblin to attack. But before the Goblin could even within five feet of the Bard, the blue Guitar he wielded rammed right into the gut of the Goblin, and as it hunched over, Artemist again swung the guitar upside its head, sending it flying back into the Goblin crowd. Goblin King snorted, and sent the other five Goblins at once. Artemist quickly took out one with a quick left hook, and a second after twisting his body and slammed the broad back of his Corala guitar into the face of another. The last three jumped over Artemist's head, all with their maces aimed for the Bard's head. Artemist quickly countered by lifting his guitar, expertly aiming it so one mace would hit the guitar cords. He quickly spun his body and crouched down, the sharp sound the guitar made slammed into the Goblin, launching them back in the air, and as Artemist stood, he again plucked his cords, sending the Goblins flying outwards in three directions.
The battle was quick, but Artemist did overexert his energy from the battle combined with the travel to this point. He huffed out a breath and shook his head to clear his mind. In the moment of blurred senses, a large round object shot past his head, past the container, and into the far wall. Artemist's eyes snapped open, far end strands of his hair cut off by the giant Morgenstern's spiked ball blocked his vision somewhat, but the site of the Goblin King coming right for him, fist tightly locked onto him was enough signal for the Bard to dive out the way. He quickly got up and plucked his cords at the King, but it barely even shook the creature, which in return swung out chain and ball for Artemist's head.
Artemist quickly ducked, and again tried to use a guitar spell on the large Goblin, but again, it did not succeed. The Goblin King got in close for another punch. Artemist barely jumped over the fist and rolled away. As he stood up, he prepared his guitar again, not for the Goblin King, but for the container. His guitar rifted a sound, shaking the glass, but not breaking it. By the time he prepared for another, the Goblin King was again on the attack, swinging the Morgenstern out. Artemist dodged by diving behind another side of the container, and again playing another song towards it. The glass shook even more, still did not break. The Goblin King again swung at Artemist, who just barely spun to another side of the container, letting Goblin King's fist ram right into the glass while Artemist again played a song to break the container.
The cat and mouse game continued, with Artemist constantly luring and dodging Goblin King all the while trying to break the glass. But Goblin King eventually got one step ahead thanks to Artemist's exhaustion. Artemist had once ducked under the Goblin Kings fist, and got around to the other side of the container. But as he prepped his guitar, the spiked ball that Goblin King had launched before his punch slammed into Artemist's chest. The armor saved the Bard from being impaled, but the sheer forced bruised him horribly, and sent him flying into the air, and crashing down hard into the stone floor.
Artemist couldn't howl in pain, he couldn't even drag in a pained breath for an entire three seconds, and the air that finally did shoot back into his lungs was the most painful thing. He slowly rolled onto his chest, and tried to push himself up. He looked towards the container, still standing. Inside, she pounded against the wall yelling something to him. Get up, get away, leave me, he couldn't tell. He didn't care either way; he wasn't leaving, not without her.
He slowly stood to his feet. He could feel the urge to vomit well up, but he ignored the feeling. His guitar holding wrist felt sprained from the landing, if not fractured, but it was still strong enough to lock its grip. His right hand, used to play the cords, twitched in anticipation. The Goblin King snickered as it twirled its chain in the air, like a child wondering how it could smash up the unwanted toy even further.
Both Artemist and Goblin King moved at the same time, Goblin King swung out the spiked ball straight, while Artemist slid to his right. He then strung a cord towards the Goblin King, one strong enough to push it back. The Goblin King sneered, and balled its fist as it began moving towards Artemist. But Artemist jumped several feet forward, playing another harsh note, driving the Goblin King back even further, and before it could even recover and try again, Artemist played another note, driving it back near the container.
Goblin King snarled as it withdrew its Morgenstern and again swung it out wide for the Bard. But Artemist was prepared this time; he jumped forward to get away from the ball, and then ducked under the chain. As he rises back up, he played a hard note and pushed the Goblin King into the container. Artemist again ducked the chain and played a not into Goblin King, while the chain began wrapping around him. Two more times Artemist ducked and played, until the ball neared him again, to which he jumped back, and began pushing the spiked ball with his guitar, further locking Goblin King in.
The giant Goblin struggled against its own weapon, to no avail. It then pleadingly looked at Artemist, grumbling a pathetic beg for forgiveness, not wanting to feel what it knew was coming. Artemist's only reply was locking into a stance, guitar prepped, and hand high in the air. When the ball came around again, Artemist struck his guitar one last time, sending the giant metal orb right into its master with so much force it cracked to container. With one brutal cry of pain, the monster fell limp against the container and its own chain.
Artemist hadn't realized how labored his breathing was until after the battle. But he ignored the tired feeling, and the pain. He still had a task to complete. He dragged his worn feet to the other side of the container, wanting a clear shot. As he prepared to play again, his vision suddenly blurred. He tried to shake it off, but it only made things worse. He could no longer see clearly. As Artemist suddenly felt too heavy to stand, and collapsed to the floor, he cursed at himself mentally. He was so close, so close to saving her...
All she could do was watch him fall. She knew he was going to the moment he finished off Goblin King, so exhausted he couldn't even remind himself to cast a healing spell on his own body. Even so, she banged against the wall, one more time, an attempt to wake him up. She knew it wouldn't work, but she hated just standing there and watching him passed out in pain.
The sudden rapping against the container forced her to turn around. There stood Hybird, smiling mischievously and waving, as if he just stopped by to say "hi". He then stepped back and unclipped his holster. As he raised his gun with his right hand, aiming directly for her...
He didn't know where he was. Everything was slowly spinning to a halt. By the time he finally got his bearings, Artemist realized he was in a hard, but warm bed. The room he was in was plain, not much was there, and it in fact looked like a prison cell rather than a hospital or Inn room. His injuries were bandaged up, and his angel top was replaced with a plain white T-shirt. The Bard realized the room was an Elias healing dorm. A place where injured or those who had a lapse of sanity were taken to for healing. The question of how he got there rattled his mind, but the headache he had rattled much harder.
He heard knocking. He slowly lifted his body up and turned towards the sound. Behind a glass wall, stood Hybird, who tried to mouth off a few words. Artemist shook his head, he couldn't hear him, and pointed to a small square door that was used for guards to speak and give prisoners things. Hybird reached for the square, but reached back, a better thought crossing his mind.
With one big breath, Hybird steamed up the glass, and written with his finger: "You're an Idiot." Artemist could only smile at this comment, as he was usually the one calling Hybird the fool. Hybird then wrote under that, "3 days, zZz" and under that, "too long, shouldn't keep her waiting, buddy."
Artemist blinked blankly at the last line. Hybird pointed to the room connected to Artemist's. To the Bard's surprise, she sat on a bed similar to his, and her wrists were loosely chained to the ground, she had enough free movement to stand at the glass wall that connected the rooms.
Hybird again shook his head, knowing there'd be no way to grab his friend's attention now. He turned and walked past the guard assigned to watch the girl. As he walked up the steps, he looked back at the two, his smile faded, but not gone. He knew, even after all this, she wasn't free, and he didn't truly rescue her from captivity.
... But at least now they could hear each other's voices.
Author's Notes: Hope you guys enjoyed this short story. Surprisingly enough, I did most of the writing in about a day's time (though I played out this story in my head for quite some time now.) Honestly, this may not be the last time you see my Bard and GS here, I'm contemplating whether or not I should try and make a full LaTale fan-fiction.
Will be tough if I do decide to, what with having to get back onto my Original Fiction project Sonic Fangs soon as well as a new story. But hey, it'd be fun.