edit: That caption thing was too long.. and I need to say something else: I won't be uploading anything that recently from now on, I'm quite busy! Maybe a week from now. :)

DEMONS WITH ARCHES = CHAPTER ONE: The world lacks sympathy

by Rieszeye.

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The inn was filled with impatient roudy people, especially today. There wasn't even a significant event that'd explain why customers couldn't even sleep for two minutes.

A man wearing a dusty vest and baggy pants, which people already classified as rags, slowly approached the innkeeper, who seemed to be half-dead. He didn't approach slowly for caution, it's because he couldn't exactly walk any faster. Bump any of the other customers and you're sure to leave the inn with a face covered in bruises. And that's just half of it.

"Hey," the man held the innkeeper by the shoulders and started shaking him vigorously. "How much for a night's stay?"

The innkeeper sat up. "You must be joking," he replied, panting as if he were caught in a fight against bulls.. "Do you really think you'd be able to get a good night's rest with beastmen invading the city?"

Alright.. make that beasts.

"Hell if I care." the man pushed his violet hair in a ponytail to the back of his shoulders. "I just need to rest, or are the beastmen going to prevent us from doing that as well..?"

"Well, go ahead, do whatever you want. You rotten thieves wouldn't be able to steal anything from me anyway. Those beastmen already took what was left of this dump. These days, you don't even know anything about hope anymore, huh..?" What was that? This isn't a bar, there's no need for complaints. The innkeeper was awfully calm.. at least, calmer than the rest.

"Rotten thief..?" He tried to see if his patience was still at a good level. It usually isn't. This was probably just an assumption based on the other low-lives stuck in this so-called 'dump' anyway. But this assumption was accurate for once. His patience level was surprisingly high enough, higher than if he were a happy-go-lucky sort of guy who chased butterflies and was called a rotten thief. In theory, maybe it's better to be insulted if you're worth the insult, and in this case.. he was a rotten thief being called a rotten thief. It didn't make a difference.

"You think you're different..? Why are you here, then?" The innkeeper suddenly gave him this look- the same look the beastmen gave everyone else. Then again, the man was a thief.. you'd think he'd have already gotten that look at least eighty times in his entire life.

"I don't know, the damn boat stopped here, what choice do I have..? The pilot said I'd be stuck here for the night anyway, I didn't expect this inn to have such high demand." he commented sarcastically.

"What's your name..? Or are thieves fully aware of the dangers of talking to strangers..?"

"Shut up," the man retorted. "I was never given that lesson by anyone else. I know the dangers by experience.. but I don't consider any of you goons here as any major threat. I'm Hawkeye of Navarre. I'll be happy to leave this place in the morning, thank you very much. Just talking to you, I don't even want to set my already-scarred eyes on this place, so actually, I'll be leaving.. now. Sleep can wait."

"Hawkeye, huh..? How's about I call you Hawk, then?" The innkeeper asked. It didn't matter what he was called, it's not like they'll be meeting again any time soon after this. The man was already halfway to the door when sudden whims and cries of weak citizens were heard outside. "Hear that? You won't be leaving any time soon. Well, unless you're some hero with super strength and agility. But you're just a rotten thief."

He had a point there, but this wasn't the time. "I'm not a hero." Hawk said, subtly. "Unless you'd classify an exile thief who's being targeted by everyone in Navarre a hero. If not, I'd say I'm just seeking for a comfortable place to die peacefully, but I'd say this is a horrible place fate chose for me."

The door shut behind him as the other customers lost their past thoughts and were suddenly whispering about what was happening just outside the inn. Was he a goner if he went outside? The remains of Castle City Jad were taken over by large beastmen who obviously had nothing to do in their spare time but read superhero comics about getting a hold of power. Because this was always the way to get more power, like they weren't already frightening enough. To Hawk, life and death didn't matter anymore.

"Hey, you! You think you're all mighty coming up to me like that, huh?"

And neither did emotions.

"I wasn't planning to." There really wasn't anything to say. Would death threats and seven year-old arrogance really benefit him here? Not entirely.

"This one's a tough guy, huh?" The beastman roared louder, as he fully exposed his fur-covered body and large muscles. Of course you couldn't tell, though, but it had a rough shape. His teeth were another story- think of vampires and werewolves.. combined. Except this beastman was undeniably more werewolf.

So Hawk's suddenly a tough guy after denying the will to fight? Isn't that supposed to be the response threats and arrogance would gain..? What's with this city?

The beastman approached Hawk with a sinister smile – which also isn't very unfamiliar with his past experiences. With no weapon but his claws, the large werewolf had that glow in his eyes, and it wasn't the friendly kind. This beastman had the will to kill even the smallest ant. A thief is supposed to come prepared, right? Daggers. Hawk had two sharp daggers dangling from the inside of his 'rags', and they had golden vines on the sides with a small orb on the top right. It was the special edition, fit perfectly to fight off Navarre ninjas who were after to kill you for treason.. and now its new focus: to apparently kill beastmen.

But he couldn't expose them until needed. As smart and strategic as Hawk is, he'd know that he'd need to be a stupid moron to just suddenly take out his daggers and kill one beastmen; because after one beastmen dies, fifty more come and he's as good as dead, too. It'd be easier to die without a fight.

"I-I'm sorry.." Hawk fell to the ground. "I-I..I'm not challenging you or anything! Please! Please spare my life.. I'll give you anything!"

The inn's windows were dusted and half of them were broken, but that didn't mean you couldn't see through it. The innkeeper and the suddenly-calmed customers were silently peeking out of the tiny cracks in the glass, since you couldn't see through the actual glass itself. The innkeeper snickered. "That Hawkeye."

The beastman wasn't amused- but he sure was fooled. "I get that all the time, but guess what, life isn't that easy."

What is this? "Please spare me.. oh-beasty-ness.." The ever-so-dramatic thief started pleading, which made the Beastman raise an eyebrow.

"Pathetic." The innkeeper whispered to himself all the way from the inn. "Was that a joke or what..?"

Hawk was still bowing down to the beastman, hoping he wouldn't have to cause such a ruckus. Maybe bowing down wasn't the best way to show respect.. truthfully, he never had to. Is this part of a thief's job description or something?

"Heh." The beastman laughed. The thief was fully aware that that meant he wouldn't be leaving any time soon. Patience was always the wrong way to go, and this time that's final. Before he could move his arms, the beastman suddenly swung his claws into Hawk's back, leaving five deep scratches that probably wouldn't disappear for a long time.

With a grunt, Hawk withdrew and clutched his back, walking one or two steps away from the beastman who was still occupied by his laughter. Was that already considered a victory, then?

People back at the inn were speechless. Were they really expecting something better from him? The thief got what he deserved, they presumed.

"I'm not that kind of guy," The beastman's laughter subsided. Message received. He's a cold-hearted jerk. It's not surprising, though. Thieves never really encountered any kind people, which is exactly why that job's difficult. Think of dealing with security and people who live to kill you everyday.

Still feeling the pain of those blade-sharp claws, Hawk realized that a weapon is only as good as its wielder. With a slight tug of his top, he quickly took out both his daggers with one hand and flung his hand in the air, throwing the daggers towards the hairy werewolf, who of course dodged both daggers and felt content with his speed.. for now. In the blink of an eye, the thief swiftly appeared behind him, with nothing but a flash of his image left where he was half a second ago. In another swift movement, he caught the still-flying daggers with both hands and positioned one on the beastman's neck.

"I'm not that kind of guy, either. You see? We both make really good actors!" Hawk cheered. The Beastman started to quake and sweat. What was with this sudden new personality? Earlier this thief was begging for mercy and now he's treating a werewolf two times bigger than him as a friend.

"Y-you're armed, huh?" This beasty-ness over here was definitely stuttering and hoped a few words could spare his life. "No matter. I can always call on other beastmen!"

So much for being armed.

Before he knew it, dozens of Beastmen came out of hiding, exposing their different colored claws and frightening gazes. Hawk was convinced that the citizens would come out thanking him afterwards for taking the beastmen away.

"HAWK!" The innkeeper once again showed his face through the window cracks. "YOU'RE A GONER! Run away or something, you can't fight them off on your own."

That's one thing they both agreed on.

"But you won't help me anyway," Hawk called out. "so what choice do I have?" His daggers once again emerged from his vest and eyed a couple of beastmen who seemed to be ready to attack in any second. Any sense of movement, and he's screwed. This time, for real.

But he was ready to die anyway, there wasn't really anything left for him to yearn for or accomplish, so what's the point of life? Hawk's topaz-colored eyes finally met the beastman's claws.. better yet, make that 'beastmen's claws'. He was surely dead, right?

Right after the hard swings and blows of the dozen beastmen surrounding the hopeless thief, a silver polished lance landed on the faces of each beastmen in one swing, almost too quickly. He could've sworn the claws were already on his face. With the beastmen now situated on the ground, bleeding and unable to move an inch, Hawk finally decided it was now safe to stand up and examine the surroundings. Clearly he wasn't able to steal such a lance in his time in Jad.. no, he was never able to steal such a lance. It was one of a kind, even better than his steel daggers. Was this a blessing? If it was, he'd love to have legendary weapons rain from the sky and bring down your current enemies.

"You okay there, runt?" chimed a voice. What's with the name-calling in this city, it's pretty much filled with non-imaginative beings here. Much like the beastmen.

Hawk stared. It definitely wasn't a blessing, since the lance had an owner. A young lady, probably from a rich family, emerged from the shadows with her silky long blonde hair hanging from her shoulders. Now that was a blessing. She dusted off some mud from what seemed to be a dress made of leaves and grass. Now that was imaginative. Before Hawk could ask anything, better yet say anything, the beautiful young lady turned around and bent over to pick up her lance.. a view Hawk very much was pleased with.

"What you have there is quite beautiful." Hawk slyly commented. With a slight twitch, the girl pointed her lance at his face.

"Perverted dog, know your place. Is that the proper respect you'd give to any princess..?"

"Very much so. By the way, you can call me Hawk instead of that other name.." he replied, pushing his muscles to stand up. So this girl was a princess, huh? "And I was talking about your weapon, oh sweet princess. And your name is..?"

He really needed to learn how to address royalty better.. and beastmen while he was at it.

"Right. I know you were talking about something else. And I thought I'd be more known in this filthy place. Ever heard of the amazoness princess of Rolante? That'd be me. My name's Riesz. You're welcome for my 'beautiful' weapon saving your sorry a-"

The princess was suddenly stopped by an elusive Hawk kneeling down before her.

"Riesz, it's an honour to be blest with such a pretty face. Are you a blessing sent from above..?"

"I sure hope not," was her reply. Her lance softly made contact with Hawk's chin, pushing it upwards so his eyes would meet hers. Frankly, Hawk didn't even try to resist. "If you overdo it, who knows what I'll do? One thing's for sure, I will definitely hurt you."

"That's perfectly fine," Hawk smiled. "Do your worst. I'll even welcome it."

Riesz tried her best to hide her forceful blush, because she could've sworn that comment was made to be dirty. She then remembered that what she said beforehand wasn't so clean either, but that's not even what she meant.. after all, she had just met this man a few minutes ago. And seeing as though he was about to be dead meat if she didn't interfere, she'd hoped this man would at least show her some gratitude.

"I'm leaving." She had no other business to attend to, especially not here, and especially not with him.

"So soon..? If you'd like, I can buy you a couple of drinks or something. I see a pub right over there, and I'm sure you took care of those beastmen pretty well. I'd love for you to accompany me there. What do you say, Riesz..?"

"That's 'Princess' to you.. and..hm, tempting." she replied, making Hawk wonder if that was sarcasm. "As you should know, a well-taught princess such as myself am well-aware of the consequences of drinking, especially with harmful men like you."

Sarcasm it is.

Since when were princesses taught about drinking..? Surely even the topic never reached the castle or wherever she lived in. It seems they're more held back than most people, due to the fact that their parents are well respected by other people and their children are probably more pressured. Still, that's no excuse.

"What brings you here, anyway? Surely a lovely princess such as yourself wouldn't think of this place as a great vacation destination." Hawk broke the silence. The moon had just showed itself. Strange. The beastmen really were gone. "I don't suppose you plan to invade this little dump.. I assume that's what royalty does these days for power."

"Are you stupid?" Riesz roared. "The beastmen just invaded this city, don't think we'd stoop to such a low level and copy their actions.. but I guess you're right. Other royalty members keep talking about power and more power, it makes me sick. Do you know why I'm here? Rolante was invaded by Navarrian ninjas and kidnapped my brother, Prince Elliott. Those stupid thieves just don't know when to stop."

Hawk frowned. Rolante was named 'The Castle That Never Fell' until it, well.. fell. To Hawk's knowledge, the Navarrian ninjas were possessed. Otherwise, they would never stoop to such a low level either. He'd know. He's from Navarre himself.

"They spreaded sleep polen all over the castle and killed my father, right after kidnapping my brother. At this point I have nothing! M-my mother's gone too.. I will definitely kill the one who did this..!" The tired amazoness collapsed on the ground, dirtying her dress even more. It was understandable that she'd escape.. but to where?

"Listen, Riesz. Don't think of the Navarrians in such a bad way," Hawk begain. He was defending his home, the home that it used to be, that is. "Listen, this is pretty much how it all happened. This sinister woman, Isabella, has been with the Navarre Thieves' Guild leader, Flamekhan, for quite a long time that she's gained our trust. One day, though, she manipulated Flamekhan into this whole idea of invading Rolante for more power, to get a hold of the Sword of Mana, and for darkness to rule the world.. My best friend, Eagle, was also possessed and I ended up having to murder him with my own two hands, and Isabella put a cursed necklace on his sister, Jessica, and if I tried to kill Isabella, she'd die as well.. so I fought my way out of that corrupted place and brought myself here.. so if you do manage to find that woman, I'd ask that you please spare her life.. just until I find a way to save Jessica.."

That was weird.. since when was Hawk that type of person? He sure gave everyone the wrong impression, though. Riesz was tied on what to say. Firstly, this man is also from Navarre, but he's in exile. Who knows what this man's capable of. But above all that, he did seem to care, and it shows that he doesn't plan to harm anyone... yet.

The princess slowly lowered her lance and paused for a while, thinking. What else could she do? What would simple pity accomplish, anyway? "Sword of Mana, huh? I've heard that everywhere these days.. it seems that Mana tree's been weak. I really don't know much about it, though.." she said as she slowly stood up. It was definitely hard to keep this conversation going.

Hawk had no background knowledge on Mana, but from what he's experienced, it's obvious people are after the fact that it's weak and helpless.. and vulnerable. Who knows what great power the sword has enclosed inside its blade.. and what people can achieve with it. Besides, with the Mana growing weaker everyday, just think how easy it'd be to steal all that power. Maybe he'd get more information on it later. Right now was the current task at hand, though. He was leaving a pretty girl here so late at night!

"My apologies, your highness. I've kept you here so late. I know, let's journey to the pub, I'm sure there are a lot of people there you could ask about your brother. If you'd like, I'll help you gather some information." he softly said as he offered his arm; which Riesz delightfully accepted and held on to. "Alright, but you better not influence me to do anything bad. I will kill you. Can't we just stop by at the inn to rest..?"

"I've been warned." Hawk smirked. "And, no. I'd stay out of the inn if I were you."

By the way, what ever happened to the innkeeper and those other customers.. did the ruckus subside?

The trip to the pub was quite awkward, seing as though no one seemed to make a sound throughout the oh-so-boring trek.

As they entered the pub, though, they didn't expect the unfriendly faces they'd get to see. At least they weren't beastmen. What ever happened to them as well..?

"You sure escaped an escape." Called one man, sitting at the very back of the table, just finishing his drink of some sort.

Clueless, Riesz tried to avoid conveying with any of the men. "H-Hawk, was it..? Can we just.. you know.. leave? I'm kind of scared.."

Just what he was expecting. "Don't worry, princess, as long as I'm here by your side, no evil shall make its way over to you."

Lame. So lame.

"HEY!" Hawk stepped forth. "This young lady's brother was recently abducted by.." He raised an eyebrow and turned to Riesz, who seemed to start whispering things to him. "..by two armed men from Navarre. If anyone has seen her brother or the two men, please step forth. Anyone with background information on this incident or the incident of the invasion of Rolante, also step forth. Did I mention this beautiful lady here is a princess! You better not be hiding anything significant."

Two men slowly stepped forward, offering their weapons and armor for no reason whatsoever. Were they really frightened by Hawk's announcement.. or could these be the two men the princess mentioned..? They do seem well armed.

"P-please.. take our w-weapons and arm—armor.. Princess Riesz..!" They bowed down. Without hesitation or second thinking, Hawk gladly swept the offered weapons and examined them. What is this? The weapons were old and rusted, and the armor was worn out. So much for the offer. These couldn't have been the men capable of kidnapping a prince. These people couldn't even be from Navarre with hopeless weapons like these. Are they for real? No wonder they became stranded out here.

Riesz tried her best to sound grateful. "They're very.. nice, thank y-"

"These things suck. Did you get them from the local dumpsite or something?" Hawk, on the other hand, couldn't care less about their feelings. No one cared for his, anyway.

The two men suddenly changed personalities. "Do you think we don't know that? This is the best we could get from the dump they called the weapon and armor shop. We just want to be spared from what this woman could possibly do to us when she finds out we don't have any information on anything you blabbered about."

"I agree, this place has horrible weapons!" Hawk and Riesz quickly turned around to figure out where the extra voice had come from. Surely enough, another man with thick flowing orange hair, went inside the pub. It seemed as though he had just come from pumelling something.. were the beastmen back? This guy must be a knight or something. At least, he was portraying one well.

"I visited the weapon shop and guess what they said? They said the beastmen took all their items! I hate it when they use the beastmen as an excuse for everything! 'Oh, we can't let you stay at this inn because it's so hard to get any rest with beastmen around!'", the man ranted. "He offered me some things that the beastmen didn't get, but they were all garbage! No wonder they didn't get them, they weren't worth it!"

"I just can't wait to leave this place in the morning." Hawk laughed. The knight seemed confused.

"Oh, so you don't live here..? Why didn't you say so? You shouldn't leave in the morning, you should leave right now while the beastmen disappeared from here. I took out one just a few minutes ago, but I have no idea what happened to the rest." he started to scratch is head for a while. "Oh, I'm Duran- a knight from Forcena. If you'd like, I'll help you escape. Where are you people going to?"

Riesz brushed her hair with her fingers. "An amazoness told me that if I seeked help in looking for my brother that I travel to Wendel to ask the-"

"Priest of Light for guidance.." Hawk finished her sentence. The three eyed each other. That was too much of a coincidence, huh? What now? Next thing you know, that knight's also going there..

"Alright! Since we three are heading there, why don't we escape together?" the knight offered cheerfully.

Whooptie-doo.

"Ah, that's fine." Hawk dismissed. "As much as I'd like to, I really have to go first. I'm the kind of guy to travel on my own, sorry."

At this point, who knows what those other two would do when they meet Isabella.. it'd be better if he travelled alone. They might even be too much of a nuisance.

"H-Hawk.. wh-why not? I thought you said-" Riesz suddenly paused. There's nothing worse than inviting a thief from the place that invaded your kingdom to join you on your journey. That'd be a bad idea. But still, Hawk's charisma had already landed on Riesz and she just can't let her dream man wander off without her.

As she was planning for her next set of words to convince the thief to stay with her, she was interrupted by his swift movement. By the time she knew it, he was already behind her, softly grabbing her shoulders and turning her around to face him.

"I'll come back to find you later, Riesz," he whispered, gently kissing her cheek. The amazoness could no longer hide her face from becoming cherry-red; not because she was embarrassed, well, that was half of it, but she enjoyed it. A lot.

After seeing the princess blush, Hawk smiled and walked out the door. "Yo, Duran, do you mind escorting this beautiful princess to her destination? Just let me leave first, though. I don't know how I'd be able to continue my journey if I get distracted by her beauty."

As much as it was an excuse, it wasn't completely untrue.. for either of them.

Hawk walked out from the pub, hearing the last few words from Riesz. "B-be careful, Hawk.. I'll be waiting."

The thief smiled again, and headed outside the city, which was no longer being guarded by the ferocious beastmen. That was a horrible encounter, but meeting Riesz was definitely a remedy.

As he headed outside, he was quickly greeted by the beautiful forest- and the not so beautiful rabites.

"You're kidding me.. Who would've known the stupid city leads to a forest.." Hawk muttered under his breath, taking out his daggers once again, slicing through dozens of rabites in every area; and the occasional Myconids. Apparently they weren't mushrooms.

As he finally escaped the forest, which wasn't such a long walk, he blindly ended up in a small little village just when the sun rose up to the sky, exchanging shifts with the moon. He was also greeted by a small little sign saying: Welcome to Lakeshore Village Astoria!

He was relieved he had arrived somewhere to rest since he had completely forgotten that he disregarded the inn back at Jad. Damn beastmen just ruined everything. The fact that this village was more calm and warm reminded Hawk how tired he really was as he entered the inn. No roudy people, no annoying innkeepers and most especially, no beastmen. He could finally rest!

Although it would've been quite nice to stay there for quite a while, he couldn't possible forget the current task at hand- which was to eliminate Isabella, avenge Eagle and save Jessica from the necklace. That's one heck of a mission lying on his shoulders, and he won't be able to live normally the way he did in the Thieves' Guild for a long time, that's for sure. The idea already seemed impossible.

"You can sleep whenever you want." the innkeeper destroyed his train of thought.

"Th-thank you," Hawk tried his very best to be respectful for once. He couldn't forget this was a peaceful village, and he hadn't been to one in such a long time. He noticed he was still holding out his daggers and hoped not to cause any discomfort for the innkeeper- or anyone. "I don't suppose you have any good weapons here? I really need to replace these things." he said, showing his rusted daggers.

"They're still in good shape." The innkeeper formally smiled. "A little rust won't ruin its performance, but if you really want to buy new ones, I'm sure you can visit the weapon shop right outside in the south-east corner. While your at it, there's an armor shop right beside it."

Good. That's what he was about to ask, anyway. The thief nodded his thanks and headed outside. Maybe sleep can wait just a little while.

He journeyed outside towards the south-eastern little shack by the lake. The lake had a radiant glow today, even when it was early in the morning. It was as if the moon was still shining down on it. It really was beautiful. Caught staring at the lake, Hawk was approached by a tall man, his gaze still situated on the lake as well. "You missed it."

Hawk looked at him in confusion. "Missed what..?"

"The light."

So this little village was possessed too. Great.

"What kind of light is this, a spirit or something?" Hawk at least tried to humor the man.

"That's what we believe!" The man's eyes glowed. So humor didn't work. Were they sure it wasn't, oh maybe, the MOON? "A strange mysterious light bathes Astoria every night, and we think it's a sign of hope, that Mana isn't that weak yet. It's as if the Goddess is telling us not to lose hope yet! Ever since then, this village has been a lot more cheerful and full of life, expecting the light to come every night to give all of us a glimpse of hope ."

That was pathetic.. hoping on something that you're not even sure about. What will they do when they found out it isn't what they thought it would be? They're probably unaware of the circumstances. This village might turn into Jad when what they hope for turned out to be wrong. Hawk totally wasn't one of those people who have full of hope and attempt to stay happy all their lives.. because at some point, everyone would have to admit that life is just one big cycle of hopelessness. It all comes back to problems at every turn.

"Maybe we'll get to see it tonight!" The man said his last words as he ran off on his own. Hawk continued to the weapon shop, hoping to avoid any more contact with these weird people.

"Oi, a new customer, eh? You new around here, bud?" Oh great. Another overly-happy shopkeeper.

"Got any good weapons for me? Daggers, preferably. I need to replace mine as soon as I can." Hawk announced, showing off his daggers once again.

"Oh, I can easily improve the rust in five minutes!" he cheered.

Seriously? He figured it wouldn't even be possible to take out the rust in ten years!

It took him quite a while, but after nabbing the daggers and forcing Hawk to let him do his job, he finally finished it- with great results.

"I don't think I've ever seen my daggers looking so shiny- even when I first got them." Hawk complimented with a fake smile. It didn't look one hundred percent beautiful, but it'll do.

"Yes, yes, I get that a lot. I'll have you know I gather the finest materials for miracle-like results! Oh, and that'll be five hundred lucre!" As soon as the man turned around, he noticed there wasn't anyone to talk to anymore. "H-HEY! C-come back here..!" he shouted, only to be replied with the whoosh of the air. Even THAT seemed to ridicule the shopkeeper for keeping his guard down. That's what overjoyed people get. Disappointment.

Well, Hawk WAS a thief, after all. You can't blame him for that.

Hawk was now talking to another shopkeeper, this time, a shopkeeper at the armor shop.

"I'm sorry, my good man, but any new shipment has been delayed. I have nothing as of now." he said.

Well, disappointment visits everyone, whether you deserve it or not. "Oh, great." Hawk sulked. Well, what's the point, now?

He went outside again and thought of many other places he could probably visit- maybe to ask around how to get to Wendel or something. Hawk usually wasn't the one to ask for advice, especially not to the Priest of Light, but this one was mandatory. Great, more royalty.

"Excuse me, miss." Geez. It was so hard to act respectful for more than five minutes. He had to be kind more than five times today! "Do you happen to know how I could get to Wendel..?"

The woman thought for a while. "There's a cave just outside this village, Cave of Waterfalls, was it? That'll supposedly lead you to Wendel. I think it's blocked off, though."

Supposedly? Blocked off? Why did that make him uneasy? Well, it's worth a shot anyway, maybe he could slice up whatever's blocking it. "Thanks.."

Now what was he going to do? If there wasn't anything else he could do as of this moment, he should probably just journey back to the inn. It'd suck if he payed for a night stay and never slept. Then again, it's not even night time yet, but he didn't get any sleep for almost two days. He'd probably end up waking up at night anyway. He was surely hoping nothing bad happens and ruins his sleep, again.

And that was when he made his way back to the inn and slept peacefully, or at least tried to. It was by mere bad luck that Hawk's sleep was once again interrupted by.. a light..?

He squinted his eyes, hoping it was just another dream. "J-Jessica.. stop it.."

His fantasy-dream could no longer continue as he jumped off the mattress and plastered his hands on the window panes. Apparently it wasn't just the moon, unless the moon suddenly turned smaller and flied in different directions. The thief was still half-asleep but continued to walk around the city anyway. There was no way this could get any weirder.

"Th-there! That's what I talked to you about!" greeted the man he had talked to before by the lake.

How could these people still be awake? The idea of waiting for a light EVERY night was too much. If they were really sure it was going to come, there's no need to watch for it.. because EVERYONE seemed to be up waiting for it.

As tired as he was, Hawk managed to lift his muscles up and find out where this stupid light came from, hoping to end this and finally get a good night sleep. That's at least what he wanted right now. Oh, and to figure out what it was, of course.

There was another round of slicing rabites and Myconids, but they seemed to be fast asleep, except for the ones who also saw the light. Forget being half asleep, Hawk could've killed these things if he was fully asleep since they didn't pose much of a threat either. It was when he finally ended up at the end of the path. There was nowhere else to go. Dang it, he missed it. Did he miss it or is it just that easy to miss..? Hawk then realized that the light had finally faded and lost its energy as he saw a minature faint spark near the flowers. The flowers were so vibrant and colorful it was easy to miss that light, which turned out to be a- minuscule.. person.. with wings?

Hawk continued to walk and examined the body shape.. Was this a butterfly? It seemed too much like a human to be a butterfly. He could see.. blonde hair.. and sapphire eyes.. this couldn't be a butterfly.

"So you're the light that keeps flying over Astoria, hm?" Hawk smiled. This little ..thing.. was actually quite cute. He wasn't mad about his sleep anymore, he just wanted to find out what this is.

"I-I've—cho..sen ...yo-you.." answered back the faint light. It wasn't scary that a butterfly was able to talk, was it..?

"Hang in there!" Hawk tried to hold the tiny person in his hands, hoping to figure out the meaning of the words she had just said. "You little fly, you better be clearer than that." He just woke up, you'd expect him to have such a cranky behavior.

"T-the Mana Tree is weak," she seemed to get more energy. That's just great; another Mana Tree story. "I am- a fairy from.. the tree- I was sent by the Goddess in search for my Mana hero- who will help me to save the Sword, and the world." she added, faintly.

Hawk stood up, the fairy still in his left palm. "No, no, no. Not another word." he said, not being the least bit interested. "You made a horrible choice. I'm not your stupid hero, alright? I just want to get my life to the way it was. If I go on your damn quest, I will never be able to finish mine."

"The G-Goddess.. can grant your wish.." the fairy spoke. "If you help save the Sword of Mana, I'll help you get what you need.."

Easier said than done.

"Please!" that small fly was now pleading. "The fate of the world now lies in your hands. Your choice will determine everyone's future, even yours."

How was that possible? If he didn't accept the offer, she'd just fly off to find someone else, right? She could've chosen someone more loyal and was happy to save the world, then he would've been able to actually SAVE it, unlike Hawk here. He was just an exile thief.. but, was it really possible to finish his mission in the first place? More importantly, would he really be able to do it alone? This was an offer, by the Goddess herself. He had just accepted to dying, what's another few days to live?

"Fine," he grumbled. This was the worst thing he's ever done, but what does he have left to begin with?

"Thank you, kind child." the fairy never sounded so grateful, it's as if she's gained all her energy back.

"I-I'm running out of energy, so I'll be unable to fly soon.." she said, hugging Hawk's thumb. She flew out of his palm and.. seemed to land on his head, then disappearing.

Hawkeye of Navarre, can I stay in your head for a while..?

"AAACCCCCCCCCK!" Hawk jumped in surprise. This little fly was now reading his thoughts.. no, she was IN his thoughts! How'd she even know his name..?

What was that..?

It seemed like the fairy heard some kind of noise, but Hawk didn't seem to hear it, and he was even the one outside. You have to hurry back! I don't know what that was, but it sure sounded like it happened all the way back in Astoria!

Oh great, his sleep would be interrupted.. AGAIN. What choice did he have? The two, or rather, two and half, wandered back through the forest- it was morning now, and the rabites were fully awake.

That's when they ended up back in Astoria.

Hawk gasped at the sight in front of him. He had never expected such a crisis would occur while he was gone. Astoria- that beautiful village he had seen earlier.. was now torn to shreds. All the houses were damaged and had thousands of small cracks along with the smoke coming from each window. What had happened here..?

Reading his thoughts, the fairy replied. "The beastmen.. they invaded Astoria as well."

Damn it! The beastmen already beat them here, too? What else did they want?

"Hawkeye, we have to go."

Go..? Go where?

"To where you planned on going."

That's right. The cave- he should probably check out that cave that leads to Wendel.

As they headed out again, this time towards the cave, they were once again greeted by an unfamiliar face. A woman, with lush magenta hair, was waiting by the cave entrance. Her attire was another story.. she seemed to be wearing.. swim wear? Well, that's what it looked like. She was wearing something like a swimsuit, a red one, that was followed by long boots. This young girl seemed to be lost, but couldn't be mistaken. Judging from the crown and her tall staff- this wasn't your regular lost girl.

"Hello, there, beautiful. How may I assist you?" Hawk winked at her, who seemed to be blushing just at the sight of him. Today was his lucky day. Two girls in one day! Oh, but he couldn't forget about Riesz, of course, but he's a ladies-man! That's what they do.

"Is this really the time?" Yes, Fairy, this is the time. It always is.

"So why, may I ask, a beautiful girl such as yourself be in such a dangerous place..?" Hawk pulled back his daggers. This girl couldn't be an enemy, right?

"I'm Angela, princess of Altena." the girl introduced herself without the need to ask. So this was another princess.. Hawk really was lucky today, almost too lucky. "Long story short; my mother, the Queen of Reason, attempted to kill me for power.. to unseal a Mana Stone or something. That damn scarlet wizard.. Koren! Listen, Altena's been really chilly these days, and all my mom wants is some power to heat it up, but my mom she suddenly wanted to kill me! What, am I a sacrifice or something? This is so stupid..! All because I'm an embarrassment to her.. I-I can't learn magic, so what, now I deserve to die?"

And then she ranted and ranted, only boring the two.

"So you want to learn magic, then..?"

"Who ..said that? Was it you?" the young lady seemed confused.

Damn Fairy spoke out of turn! Of course it wasn't him, did she really assume he'd have such a girly voice?

"You might as well show yourself." Hawk rolled his eyes. The fairy, with her last bit of energy, gave the two a dramatic introduction, which also bored them.. even more.

The princess, though, seemed very interested, like she thought it'd add to her new doll collecting or something similar.

"I am a Fairy sent by the Goddess to look for the three legendary heroes to save the withering Mana Tree and protect the Sword..!" she finally exposed herself.

Wait, did she say THREE heroes? Why wasn't he informed of this?

"If you come with us to Wendel, I'm sure you'll get the answer and the help you'll need." the fairy offered.

WAIT A MINUTE, stupid fairy. Why is she suddenly offering this girl to come? Yes, she might be pretty for Hawk, but he surely wouldn't want her to ruin his mission.. but that's another thing. This isn't his mission anymore, is it.. but still! The fairy never asked for his consent!

"ALRIGHT!" the girl shouted in glee. "I'LL DO IT! AND BEAT THAT BASTARD KOREN WITH MY MAGIC! I came here in search for Wendel, but the ship I went on landed in Jad.. apparently it'd been invaded by those giant wolf things as well. I had no choice but to come here.. but this cave was sealed off. BUT THAT DOESN'T MATTER! I'LL PUMELL ANYTHING THAT COMES IN MY WAY!"

Easy there, you didn't learn anything magic yet, alright..?

Despite the new and possibly tiring mission, meeting two beautiful princesses was quite a good experience. And that was until a familiar face showed up.

"HEY, HAWK! Did you miss me..?" another girl asked, running vigorously, almost out of breath.

"RIESZ..?"

Today was a good day indeed. Too good.

...

First chapter done... this one was long, at least for me it was. Don't expect all chapters to be this long, alright? This was actually posted later since I'm new, and FF won't let me post anything for two days. D: Mean people.

PLEAAAAAAAASE REVIEW! :)

:3

By the way, did I tell ever tell you I feel like Bigieu today? :D

Hawk: Oh hi, little kitty! Want some kitty trea- HOLY SH**.. EVIL KITTY!
Rieszeye: nyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. :3 *transforms back*

Hawk: O_...I WILL GET YOU BAAAA~CK! Until then, please review~ :)