Yeah I was told this was a silly thing to write, but I felt like it anyway. Going to be a quasi serious take on the idea so don't expect all funny all the time. But well this was just my want to write a strange fantasy setting story. I don't know how long it will be, or what characters I'll bring in or how long they'll stay around. But hope you enjoy.
Chapter – 1
Walking up on his back, staring up at a cloudless blue sky, Shinji blinked his eyes rapidly. Death was strange, was the first thing he thought of when he took everything in. A gentle breeze rolled over him causing him to shiver at the sudden shift in climate. One moment he was clawing at the hatch to his entry plug in blind panic, then he saw someone…someone familiar, and then here. Whatever happened to that floating zebra stripped angel, well he had to hope Asuka or Rei killed it to avenge him.
Sitting up, the tired boy found he was still in his plug suit despite his believed death. "The afterlife is not what I expected it to be," he commented. Out before him stretched a long expanse of green fields leading to an impressively large forest. In the far distance he could see what looked like a deer, and a trio of shapes that might have been people. "Am I really dead?" he wondered as he felt a pain in his leg.
Dead or not, he was breathing air, his legs felt cramped, and he had a very strong desire to both eat and take a leak. Getting to his feet, he popped his back, and gave the whole area a good look. No sign of civilization, just green hills behind him leading to a mountain range, and the forest before him. "Glad Kensuke made me learn a few of those survivalist tricks," he muttered patting his rumbling stomach.
With more chances of food and water in the forest, he turned back to his first destination. The troupe before him, roughly four of five miles ahead if he was any judge of distance, might be able to tell him more about area set Shinji's plan. Taking his first step towards the shapes, Shinji promptly tripped and fell flat on his face. "Pain…maybe I'm not dead after all," he grumbled and rubbed at his throbbing face.
Rolling over, the perplexed lad found the source of his fumble. "What is this?" he picked up the obstruction. "Unit-01?" was the first thing he thought of. It wasn't the Evangelion, that was for sure, but it was a staff that was a head taller than he was, purple with stripes of green intermixed. The shaft was smooth, but the top had an odd parallel to Unit-01's head, had it been crushed from top to bottom to obscure the eyes and mouth.
"Wish this stupid pain would…." he whined as he got back to his feet, staff in hand. A moment later warmth spread out of his hand and the pain subsided. "That was…" it was a coincidence, had to be. But more on track he had to move. The sun was high in the sky, so if time moved like it did back in Tokyo-3 it wouldn't be light for ever. Using his new found staff as a walking stick, the boy set out behind the shambling figures before him.
Walking on the plains wasn't to bad, but as time wore on, and the forest and the people still far off, Shinji started wishing for shoes. The plugsuit didn't offer much in the way of defense for the random rocks and twigs he stomped on. Though the pain in his feet kept his mind off other more pressing matters like hunger and dehydration, and the more important fear of what his failure against the angel had wrought. "Asuka wouldn't have failed to that…she had to have succeeded," but if he wasn't dead he had to get back.
Hours passed, his estimate about the distance to the forest had been far off, but he was closing in on the figures ahead of him. Would they speak Japanese, not likely, but perhaps he could pantomime what he needed. The closer he got to them, the better he was able to make out the composition of the group. Several times when he saw them stop he, for reasons he didn't know, dropped to the ground to hide. Funny, he wanted to ask them for help and he was hiding from them. But something about the person in the middle made Shinji worried.
With the sun nearing the horizon, sounds of night insects starting to be heard, Shinji was finally able to get close enough to make out just why he was worried about that middle character. It was a woman and she had her arms bound behind her back by heavy ropes and was being dragged by a leash around her neck. Her captors, both lanky men, could be slightly overheard due to the flat expanse and moisture in the air. What amazed Shinji the most was he could understand them yet he knew they weren't speaking in his native tongue.
"When we get to the tree line, the fun can begin," the lead man laughed as he gave the rope he was holding a big tug. "You sure nobody is following us Migosh?" the leader gave the expanse a quick glance.
Fixing the straps of the bags he was carrying, the sickly man refereed to Migosh nodded quickly. "Nobody is coming boss, I've been keeping a close eye out. And I can't believe we actually tricked the Wandering Warrior with that sleep spice! She's dumber than I expected," he chuckled but then stumbled over an unseen hazard. "Think she'll take long to break? We haven't had a sale in ages," he straightened up and hurried to catch up to the man.
"Hunger will make fools of everybody, so don't think she's stupid," the leader increased his pace. "And after getting a look at her, I don't think I'll want to sell this one, but she would make a fine price. Any of the Vance sisters would make a killing," the man put his hand on the handle of a sword, long and elegant far from what his meager clothing would have lead anybody to believe.
Now crawling along the ground, Shinji stalled his movement. His hope that the trio would have helped him was dashed. They were slavers and they were going to do something very nasty to that woman! He had to get help…but where…how? He didn't know where he was, it wasn't like he could call the police. But he couldn't just leave her…but what could he do! With no real plan, only the strong desire to try and think of something, Shinji continued to crawl behind the men and the doomed woman. Thankfully the descending of twilight helped mask his odd coloring all the more.
Keeping himself well out of site behind random bushes, hills, and rocks, Shinji continued to listen to the men boasting. The leader claimed he was going to go first, second, and third, and if the woman was still able then Migosh could have a turn. Apparently the woman was a warrior of some noble family who they managed to capture by poisoning her food while she was distracted. Shinji was never more frightened in his life, and it wasn't even his life on the line this time.
Less than a good stones throw away from the trio, Shinji could finally make out their appearance as they neared the tree line. The men were gangly and dirty, clad in more like rags stitched together than clothing, but the woman. Well Shinji had to swallow hard upon seeing such an odd yet alluring sight. The woman was wearing what appeared to be just the front piece of a suit of armor and leather straps, her hear was a dirty blond done up in twin tails braided and ending in metal hoops just past her waist. The gag in her mouth covered most of her face, but what Shinji could make out in the dark was truly a vision.
"Well get a fire going Migosh, we'll need to get some food in us if were going to start on her tonight," the leader ordered as they entered the forest. Turning to his captive, the man cruelly grabbed her face and pinched it hard. "Going to be a long night for you darling, but you'll learn to like it eventually," he then slammed his fist into her face sending her to the ground. Rolling her onto her back, he took the rope around her neck and tied it to her feet. "So you don't get any ideas of escape as we eat," he gave her butt a firm swat.
Normally and fearful, something in Shinji snapped at the audacious treatment of the woman. They were armed with what looked like just the one sword, but they were grown men and he was just a boy. Listening to them joking about their plans for raping the poor woman, Shinji didn't care through. He would help her or…or what if he was dead already it wasn't like he could die again right?
Creeping around the impromptu campsite, Shinji stealthily moved towards the two men. He wasn't going to attack them, no he'd only be beaten down, he'd not risk hitting them with the odd purple staff, it was so light he feared it'd break. Shinji's goal was the sword propped up against a tree. The smell of cooking meat, whatever animal it was Shinji didn't care it smelled delectable, filled his nose and caused him to drool a little. "Later…if there is a later," he pressed himself fully against the large tree the sword was next too.
Plan…plan…didn't he need to have one of those by now? Get sword then what? Well freeing the woman likely was the best idea. Cut her free and then they could run for it. Sounded good to him, and she was far enough from the men, hogtied and in the dark, that he might have a chance at it. Setting the staff down, Shinji peeked out from around the tree.
"Think we should feed her too?" Migosh flinched his head at the bucking woman. "Don't move too much or you'll hurt yourself. And don't think you can kill yourself, Boss knows how to tie rope to well for that," he snickered as he bite into whatever animal he had on his stick.
Holding his meat in the fire longer, the leader belted out a mighty laugh, "She'll eat what we feed her later." And back to the food their attention went.
Grabbing the hilt of the sword, Shinji was amazed at how heavy the blade was! He could lift it fine, but it wasn't something he could wield if he needed to. Dragging the finely made armament as quietly as he could, the boy flinched every time it hit a rock or made a sound, assured he'd been heard and soon attacked. But the men were to busy eating and planning their conquest.
"Phase one…" Shinji felt a swell of triumph in his heart. So much to think about, but not now…now he had something to do. Hugging the blade to his chest, thankful the plugsuit didn't tear, the teen deftly made his way back towards the bound woman. More sounds around them than he was used to, his senses felt heightened due to his fear. Animals and birds in the forest sounded right on top of him. His body was sweating terribly even though he was hardly doing anything, and his body pulsed with anxiety.
Crawling behind the woman, thankful for her being on her side to mask him, he tried to alert her as softly as possible. "Miss, I'm going to cut you free. Do you understand me?" he was again amazed at knowing he was speaking something that wasn't Japanese but he understood it. The woman's head bobbed once and she flexed her fingers, good enough sign as any that she heard and understood him. Starting with the legs, Shinji was able to use the mighty sword blade to cut through the heavy binds.
"Legs now hands," he moved the blade up and started working the thick rope in pieces when he heard something he really wished he hadn't.
"What the fuck do we have here? Little whelp trying to make off with our bitch?" the leader was standing up by the fire. Punching his right fist into his left, "Think we'll have another slave to sell or maybe just have fun killin the runt." He turned to his underling and nodded.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! Shinji's body was paralyzed as he saw the men advancing. What could he do…they were going to kill him, he'd failed! The girl was doomed too at this rate…he always failed! Why couldn't he succeed! Why…why…WHY! Hearing the girl's muffled grunts, snapped Shinji out of his funk. He could still free her! Forcing himself to stop panicking he quickly beset the ropes with the sword and as the duo rushed at him, kicking him square in the chest, the sword dropping from his hands…he had succeeded.
Arms and hands free, the librated woman rolled over the blade and reclaimed it. Leaping up to her feet, she tugged the gag out of her mouth. "Tables have turned now haven't they, little men," Leina did not appear happy in the slightest. The men took a few steps back to reassess the situation. "Not so strong without your dirty tricks and poisons are you?" she took a step forward and took a swing at the men.
The leader had been smart enough to jump back, but Migosh took the flat of Leina's blade to the side of the face. The man spiraled wildly from the force and crumpled into the ground. "Bitch, I've bested far better than you, and you!" the leader pointed at Shinji, "I'm going to gut you from dick to chin!" Pulling out a long dagger he circled around Leina.
"Big talk for a man that had to slip a potion into my bread," Leina swung out at the man. The swipe again went for the head using the flat of the blade, but the leader ducked under it and slashed at Leina's left arm. Forgetting she didn't have her shield, the warrior went to defend with her arm only to get a savage slice down her forearm. Grunting, "This isn't over yet," her left arm now dangled limply at her side.
Licking the blood off the blade, the Leader smiled wide, "You've never killed before have you oh might Wandering Warrior. Why not put the sword down and stop playing then? I'll make it easy for you…I've a drug that will make you love it. I might even try and save you from bleeding out." He took an advancing step and swung at Leina's thigh. One less arm won't lower the price to much, some men like that. Defining characteristics if nothing else," the slaver taunted.
With a bold foolishness, Shinji was taking his being ignored to his advantage. Diving at the man's leg, Shinji's shoulder hit the man behind the knee sending the two into a pile on the ground. "Get him now!" he pleaded for the woman. If the slaver was right and the woman hadn't killed before, Shinji felt he had to help.
Following Shinji's advice, Leina slammed the butt of her sword into the man's forehead and smashed him against the ground. "I don't need to kill to win," she grunted and staggered backwards. Falling down to her knees, she dropped her blade and sighed. "T-thank you, if you hadn't come I might have…" she turned her sweat and blood stained face to Shinji.
Crawling out from under the unconscious man, Shinji had to pull hard to free himself from the man's girth. "I-I couldn't just…couldn't leave you to that miss," he was embarrassed to look at the woman. Her outfit was borderline obscene with the amount of flesh showing. "D-did they take the rest of your armor miss?" he couldn't help but sneak a peek. While he didn't have the libido of Touji or Kensuke, Shinji wasn't totally devoid of attraction to the fairer sex.
"I still thank you, far more would have simply left me to my fate. You are a brave one. My name is Laine Vance, some call me the Wandering Warrior," she marveled the boy with a stunning smile. "As for my armor, all they took is my shield, and I was stupid to forget that," she clutched her bleeding arm tightly. "C-could you tie them up while I try and…stop this?" she wobbled a bit as she tried to get to her feet but failed.
Even in the dark, illuminated by just the fire, Shinji could tell she was getting pale. Rushing to her side as she nearly fell backward, Shinji caught the woman. Compared to the sword, Shinji found Leina to be remarkably light. "Do-don't do that miss. I…I need you to tell me about this place. I'm new here?" he didn't know what else to say. Laying the woman down, she was panting but still conscious, Shinji felt his worry starting to grow again.
Looking about madly for something he could use to impede the flow of blood, all he saw was the men's dirty rag clothing. Knowing that'd only infect the poor woman, he just grabbed the wound as her hand slipped away. "Please Leina-san you have to hold on…this isn't that…that bad a cut?" he lied. He could see bone, he saw muscle, and his hands were already slick with blood.
"To think my…my quest ends here," Leina gazed up at the canopy of leaves. "You are a cute one, at least I have company as I go," she smiled again and patted Shinji with her good arm. "T-take my sword…give it to my sis-sisters," she forced out.
NO! NO! He didn't go through all that just to get her killed. Gripping her arm tighter, "No! You have to live miss. D-don't give up yet!" he pleaded with the pale woman. Wishing with all his might to stop the flow of blood, for some miracle to happen…he felt warmth again spreading out of his hands. When the heat dissipated, he pulled his hands back and saw to his utter disbelief the wound had closed as if it never existed. "What the hell is happening here?" he boggled in wonder.
Eyes opening wide, Leina shot up and knocked heads with Shinji. Nursing the goose egg lump on her brow with one hand, she grabbed one of Shinji's wrists with the other. "You're a healer? I thought only the holy sisters could heal without staffs or spells," Leina said ecstatically. Drawing Shinji into a sudden and mighty bear hug she swung the boy around like a toy. "That is twice you saved me!" she continued to waggle the teen about for some time as the healing energy worked its magic.
Poking at the fiery embers with the stick the boy, Shinji, used Laina gazed at the lad over the blaze. Two hours after her liberation he had yet to say anything else. While she was still in shock from the near ramifications her incarceration would have entailed, she felt like she should say something to her savior. Not only did he free her from slavery, but he performed something men weren't known to be capable of.
As a young child, even before Elina was born, she had been cured of an illness by one of the holy sisters. Her father, as way of repaying the debt of honor, studied the sisterhood from the limited Vance family library. She wouldn't lie and say much if it made sense to her then, or even now, but what little she remember made this young man's action very perplexing. His staff, such an odd looking weapon it was, had not played any part nor had he channeled using a focus. Even the higher level acolytes needed to channel. Even now, two hours hence, she could feel that power flowing through her body, warm, rejuvenating, and maybe it was just lingering from her freedom but she was feeling randy.
Banishing such impure thoughts from her head, she picked at the food the boy had prepared. "This is far better than anything I could have made. Since I started my wandering all I've managed has been burnt or random berries," she smiled weakly at the trembling boy across the fire. She could she he was trying to mask it, but something troubled him and she couldn't fault that. Patting the patch of tree stump next to her, "Would you like to sit by me? You look cold."
Shaking his head quickly, Shinji's face paled a moment before relaxing back into a troubled staring. "N-no thank you Vance-san. I'm just a little overwhelmed right now. I-I don't know where I am, how I got here, or…or if…is this the afterlife?" he managed to weakly ask. Sitting cross legged on the dirt, his hands were wringing the course fabric of the bandit's pilfered bag. Not much had been in it, aside from the various noxious reagents they used that Leina smashed. A cloak, some additional meat, and a few meager coins were all that was salvaged.
"Vance…you use my family name? For one that saved me twice," her content stomach nearly made her say three times. "You will use my first name, no need for formalities between traveling companions," she nibbled on the remainder of her rabbit. "And this is the great forest on the outskirt of the Vance estate and most defiantly not the hereafter. To think a week of travelling and I'm only this far from where I started," she didn't feel so high and might as she did after her victory over Melona. "So tell me about yourself young Shinji?" she hoped to see that fear leave him.
It was uncertain if Leina's words calmed or worsened Shinji's nerves. "So if I'm alive…I need to get back," he flexed and relaxed his left hand repeatedly. His own food half eaten, Shinji saw the empty stick in Leina's hand and held it out to her. "I-I'm not hungry and it'd be a shame for it to go to waste," he nodded as she took it. "As for m-myself I don't know what I can say really. My Eva was engulfed by some odd black abyss while I was fighting it. I thought I was going to die…and then I woke up here. Saw those men and you, followed, and…" he pointed at the two men tied to the tree gagged and unconscious.
The young man a warrior, Leina didn't believe it. He was far to reserved to be a fighter, he would have attacked the slavers otherwise and not free her. Moving from her stump over to the boy, she noticed he shifted away slightly, as she sat by him. "Thank you for the food," she gazed into his eyes. Claudette had told her during her training that one could gage an opponent's eyes to see how much death they had seen. Looking into the deep blue eyes, illuminated by firelight, Leina gasped at the vision. "You have witnessed much hardship haven't you?" His eyes were so haunted.
Blushing softly, Shinji gently batted Leina's hands away from his face. "N-not really. I just piloted my Eva is all. Asuka and Ayanami did more than I did," his tone was hesitant, he was a bad liar. Drawing his legs up against his chest, his odd clothing captured the fire light in odd ways. "Y-you said you've been traveling a week? Why? And with your skill how did they," he swallowed hard unable to continue.
He would have to ask that wouldn't he, but Leina had to accept her own faults before she could try and help others. "I left my home to travel as I didn't want what my father wants for me. He wishes to make me queen, while I rather be the warrior my mother was. Her armor has saved me at least once already," Leina felt her breastplate with a hint of reverence. Her mother's armor had deflected that monsters acid. "Do you NOT know of the Vance family?" she had to ask, they were on the Vance barony. How Shinji could not know did add credence to his odd story.
"I h-haven't heard of them sorry," Shinji flinched as if fearing a blow. "Everything…everything looks so different, everything IS different. This isn't Tokyo-3…this isn't a joke from Misato is it," he looked around frantically. "Stars look different, Tokyo-3 doesn't have a forest like this…nothing makes sense," he cradled his head between his hands and moaned, "What happened to me."
Unexpected, most unexpected Leina watched the theatrics before her. He was convincing to say nothing else. His garb was alien, his healing unheard of, and his features did not look like any of her father's populace. For now she'd believe him, she owed him that much of debt already. "Worry not, I'll take you to the church. They'll know what to do, as I don't have the head for magic," she admitted reluctantly. She had been trained in the sword after her mind proved incapable of any sort of magic. And the law of the land was all practitioners of holy magic, which his power felt like, had to be taken to the church. "Surely the power of angel's in you can be used to…" the boy turned to her with wide eyed horror.
"Angels? Did you say angels? Are…are they attacking you too?" Shinji fumbled over his legs to grab his staff. "T-That's what I was fighting before I woke up here. It-it was a floating ball with black and white stripes, is…is it around here?" he got to his feet and shuffled about gazing up at the sky.
Grabbing his hand, the material of his clothing felt odd both slick and firm at the same time, Leina yanked him back down. "Those are no such angel as I have heard of, Shinji. The angels I speak of are winged women that officiate the battles of the Queen's Blade," her free hand clenched tightly. She would win it, she would win the Queen's Blade and prove she wasn't just a sheltered princess to be turned into a simpering Queen.
Relaxing considerably, Shinji quite to his companion's surprise leaned against her in clear exhaustion. "S-sorry about that Leina-san. I always thought it odd we called those things Angels anyway," he yawned loudly. Rubbing at his eye, the fire crackled and popped as he stuck it with his staff. The material did not burn as wood should have, and showed no sign of any effect. "What is this Queen's Blade? W-why did those men get the jump on you again? You're so, " he yawned again, "strong."
Strange, normally she didn't care for men to be so close, but at the moment she didn't mind it. Maybe it was due to his age, or him saving her, or maybe she was just tired too. She felt very awake, that surge of healing was eating away at every ache and pain she had yet doing odd things to other parts of her. Nestling the boy up against her side, hoping to keep him calm, she would tell him a little story. Wouldn't take long for him to fall asleep by the looks of it. Then she could think about him and her situation. While she hadn't ruled out he was playing her, at the moment she would play along.
"It is a tournament that the Angel's use to determine who will rule the continent. While I don't want to rule, I want to prove myself as more than just my father's daughter," she confessed. "My sisters don't agree with my decision and are trying to bring me back, my elder Claudette accidentally knocked me off a cliff into a river not a day ago," she didn't fault Claudette for it. She had seen her half-sister try and save her after the humiliating defeat, Risty would be so disappointed.
Feeling more heat welling up within her, Leina started to worry that the spell the boy used to heal her had some ulterior motive. She had only vaguely felt like this before, and it was damned Elina odd sisterly advances that caused it. Her nursemaid had said how to alleviate it and that was NOT something she wanted this odd man to see. Shaking the desire out of her mind, harder this time, "As for those monsters over there, well…" she patted her stomach sheepishly.
"I do not know how to prepare my own food so I've been foraging for what I can find as I walk," she had started her quest woefully under prepared. No sleeping gear, fresh clothing, or any amenity was going to play heavily on her speed. "I ran afoul them early this morning, they were selling breads by a small town. I bought some, but didn't know they followed me. Sometime after that, likely while I bathed in the stream," she whispered the last to herself. "They poisoned my rations with a sleep poultice. I woke after eating to find myself unarmed and bound. If it hadn't been for you…" she stopped upon hearing him snoring.
Laying Shinji down upon the ground, Leina covered him with one of the cloaks. It was hard to think one so innocent looking could have such pain and anguish in his eyes, but she had seen it. How much suffering had this boy seen in his life? It was ones such as he that made her travel. They had to have their story known as the aristocracy didn't care to find out normally. Such a system was flawed. But that was for another night to worry about, tonight she'd watch over her strange new traveling companion.
She'd see to it that he got to somebody that could help him, she owed him no less for his actions. If he proved to be dubious then she'd cut him down, but deep down she doubted she had much to worry about. Fixing his hair, she watched him fidget and mumble unintelligibly in his sleep. Just what was he, picking up the dropped staff she was amazed at how light such a large object was. The staff had nearly no weight at all, but she couldn't bend it with all her might.
"Just watch me Risty, I'll become just as strong as you…I'll show you my conviction," she set the staff back down at Shinji's side. Risty had opened her eyes to her naiveté, not that she had made any gains in changing that. But Leina had to find Risty to thank her for everything. The battle at the Vance castle, encouraging her, and the encounter with Claudette…all of those things led her to this clearing and fire. Finally to force herself to resist the siren call that damned surge the lad put in her, Leina laid next to him, climbed under the cloak, and joined him in a fitful and dream plagued sleep.
Watching his crudely laid trap, hand ready to release it and snare something for supper, Shinji was still trying to come to terms with things. He hadn't woken up in the hospital like he had hoped he would have when he finally drifted off to sleep. No, he woke up under a cloak next to the very attractive form of the woman he saved. If he had to guess, he'd have put her near Maya's age or younger. She was well trained in the art of swordplay, likely courtly issues, but the girl was lacking in some common sense.
"Why don't we just eat the rabbit we found?" said blond bombshell asked pointing at the half decayed carcass. Close to Shinji's side, her buckler glinted in the fading light of day. For the most part she had set the pace through the forest since daylight first woke them. It had been an odd morning, Leina apparently liked to hold things in her sleep and Shinji was the only option. After some uncomfortable packing, they had found a battered but usable pot among the slavers gear that had gone unnoticed during the night, they headed off.
While she didn't tease him like Misato did, Leina had about as much cooking knowledge as his guardian. Whispering but keeping his eyes on the small snare, "You'd get sick if you ate something that rotten. I don't even know if other animals will eat it, but it beats trying berry's or mushrooms." He didn't want to risk being poisoned, but a little of Kensuke's woodland survival training was coming back to mind. It would be better too if Leina wasn't so damn close to him, he hardly knew her damn it!
Her stomach rumbled at the sound of possible food, "Why don't we just eat those mushroom's I found? You took them in that bag, so you must have some reason. And if we DID get sick, couldn't you just heal us?" Leina shuffled about, easing the young lad's tension a degree, and opened his pack. For some reason she suddenly sounded a little apprehensive, "Or maybe it's best we don't over use that healing trick of yours."
Oh Shinji defiantly wanted to agree to not using that, hell he didn't even know if he could use it again. All Shinji knew was after he had healed Leina's massive wound, he had a very long and pronounced state of arousal that his suit didn't help with. "Sssh," he thought he heard motion in one of the bushes ahead. Lower than before, hardly above a whimper, "I'm going to see if they're poisonous later. If they're good I'll make us something good for supper. If not we…" he let go once a fox moved in close to investigate the corpse.
The vine snare snapped taught and launched the large fox into the air. Snarling and hissing, the beast was snapping at the air trying to free itself. As the vine stopped its bouncing, so did the fox's random action. It saw the two humans moving out from behind their cover and growled low and bared its teeth menacingly at them.
Flashing Shinji a thumb's up, Leina's smile was damn near hypnotic. "Good job, Shinji, but now what do we do?" she approached it with sword drawn. Staying a fair distance away, she back peddled when it snapped at her. "Never seen a live one this close before, it's cute," she held her buckler up before her face and neared it again. The fox bit at her and knocked its nose against the twisted circle shield.
Step one was done, but Shinji was hesitant to mention step two. Shinji had overheard a few sheltered girls at his school before, daughters of wealthy businessmen profiting off of Nerv. They sounded a lot like Leina, who didn't know where a lot of what she used or wanted came from. "You say you left your home how long ago, L-Leina-san?" he was still uncomfortable using her first name. But judging from her features, blonde hair, and blue eyes, Shinji would have guessed her nationality as German or British if they were actually on Earth and not Gainos.
"What is that supposed to mean?" the girl hotly contested as she sauntered back over towards Shinji. Her metal greaves tore heavily into the earthen loam of the forest bed, but made no sound. "I left home about a week ago, but this is my f-first foray into the forest without guides," she suddenly didn't have the confident tone she had before.
Holding out the pilfered long dagger from the slaver left tied to the tree, Shinji couldn't look her in the eyes. "Now we k-kill it. I'll skin it and get the meat off it if you…" he was ever the brave and manly persona he wanted to be. "And I only asked because…well you seem a little out of place here, just as I do your w-world," he did NOT want to offend this woman. She was his only hope of getting to some type of civilization. Whoever these church people were, maybe they could tell him more. Hell maybe they could send him home if he was truly alive!
Her arm dangled limply at her side, dagger still firmly in hand, but she gasped loudly. "Kill it! You want ME to kill it? I can't do that! I've never killed anything before!" she pointed the dagger at the waggling fox. "Look I'll hold it for you, and YOU can do it. You said you were ok with cutting it…this is no different right?" she tried to make it sound simple.
Had he not spent a full day on slowly blistering feet, his stomach rumbled and ached from lack of food, and the small pestering desire to look cool before the vision Shinji would have protested more. But he did not so he reclaimed the chipped dagger from the 'warrior' and sighed. "If I do this will you…get some water from that stream we passed? Use the pot," he had all the air of a condemned man. "And don't drink any until I can sterilize it ok? We're both thirsty, but…well…maybe I can make us a water skin from this," he had no idea how but they did it in the movies.
Grimacing slightly, Leina nodded and approached the fox. Taking off one of the stay straps of leather, her breastplate fell forward showing a lot more flesh than the boy was ready for, Leina shoved it in the fox's snapping mouth. "Be quick, h-he doesn't seem to like this much," the understatement of the day. Her muscles bulged showing she was not just a pretty face but in fact quite strong, she held her ground as Shinji did the deed and sliced the animal's throat. Gagging she yanked back her strap and ran to the bushes, after a few dry heaves, "That was…I never realized that all the meat was…we'll take turns from now on."
"Just go get the water alright…and thanks," Shinji was happy she didn't see him at the moment. Last thing he needed was her to try and console him like she did last night. Crying over an animal he killed to survive, how weak was he? Blood dripped off his knife, over his hands, and out of the silent creature. Leina meant well, he accepted he'd likely have been killed or hurt now if not for her. It was only a full day, but those slavers might have gotten him had they not found her first. "Well the hard part is over now right?" he approached the fox, swallowed hard, and got to work.
Doing what he thought was right, he butchered the fox's coat as he cut randomly at it trying to get the fur off. "So much for making water skins…I'd be better off using my…" his eyes went wide as the idea hit him. His suit was waterproof, so if he cut off the sleeves he could use THAT to hold water! Putting the idea away for later, he started cutting what he thought was edible pieces of meat from his prey. Sweating and straining it proved a lot harder than he ever suspected, wild meat wasn't as easy to cut as packaged.
Laying the strips of meat on the better cut pieces of fur, he looked at his bloody hands and felt sick. It wasn't just the fact he murdered an animal, it was everything still weighing so hard on him. Just what the hell was happening to him now? Despite Leina's statement to the contrary, he still thought he was dead. Odd type of death that left him hungry, but what else could it be? He'd never see his friends again? Never be teased by Misato? The odd nature of his acquaintance with Asuka and Ayanami would never be resolved?
"No, I won't let it get to me again…maybe this is all a dream and I'm in a coma," he nodded. Getting all panicky wasn't going to help him, nor would it fill his belly and sooth his feet. Oh damn did his feet hurt, but he couldn't check them! Plugsuit didn't allow for underwear, and he had no other clothing. The one time he had to use the restroom he forced Leina to go ahead, claiming to ask her to scout, for at least five minutes. He suspected she knew what he was up to. Hearing the woman approaching again, he fell to his butt and let the soothing relief wash over. She wasn't leaving him behind yet, "You didn't drink it did you?"
She eeped like a child who was caught sneaking sweets, "Only a little, but I kept most of it." Spying the raw carcass hanging on the vine, Leina quite femininely turned away. "Thank you for tending to that. You looked as comfortable as I to the task yet I forced it on you," she handed Shinji the pot without looking at him. "Is there anything else I can do?" she offered limply.
Breaking off some long branches, Shinji did in fact have another task for her that he had no idea how to perform. "Make us a fire and hang this over it," he tapped his foot foolishly against the pot. Pain wafted dumbly up his leg reminding him he was going to need more padding or he'd never feel relief. Then he noticed Leina's boots looked even more uncomfortable, "H-how are your feet?" He couldn't help but ask as she limped a little towards a bundle of sticks she had gathered.
"You would ask that wouldn't you," Leina playfully stuck her tongue out. "They ache like the four fiends of hell are chewing on them. Normally I'm good for a few days of walking, but these woods," she trailed off as she tried to think of a way to hang the pot. "How are yours, that odd armor of yours protect them from the rocks better than my boots?" she used a little ingenuity and hung the pot using three large sticks.
Skewering the meat strips on the sticks as best he could, Shinji made three for himself and seven for Leina. If she ate less he'd eat the remainder, but she had to have been hungrier carrying about all that heavy armor. She was his guardian now, he sure as hell didn't know how to wield a sword and the staff was just as foreign to Shinji as the pink and blue moons in the sky.
Sitting down next to Leina as she finally sparked a fire, Shinji propped the skewers next to the blaze. "This is good enough time as any to try this healing stuff again. I…I don't know if I can do it again, but its best if I try," he grabbed his aching left foot and concentrated. At first nothing, but he was trying to be cautious about it. Trying just a little bit harder he felt a very weak warmth spreading out through his foot and then the pain went away. "Much better," he signed pleasantly after he tended to his other foot.
Watching the pot and food with rapt attention, Leina's stomach again raged out demanding sustenance. "What of the hides to carry water? I feel quite the fool for not brining anything like that…but my journey didn't start out as I had planned," she reached for a skewer only to have Shinji pull her arm back. "Oh, can you use it at will?" she pointed at Shinji's waggling feet.
"They're not done yet, and yeah I can. D-do you want me to help you with yours?" he wasn't sure if it was something he should offer. Shinji didn't know the call or will of the warrior when it came to pain and aid. "If you don't…we can maybe use some of the fox fur if when it dries to pad our feet. And I got a better idea for the water," he nodded proudly at that. Just one arm would hold more water than whatever hide he tried to get from the fox.
Reluctant at first, Leina looked at her feet and at Shinji a few times. "J-just don't use as much as you did yesterday alright? They're just blisters," she pulled off her boots. Long, toned, and magnificent legs graced her young healers eyes, not that she was accustom to knowing such things about herself. His hands gripped her foot gently, tickling her. With a laugh, "Are you taking this seriously or are you trying to play some sort of game with me? Don't think me some bar whore you can seduce easy. So what is this great idea of yours?"
His face burnt deep crimson at the insinuation, and at seeing the fact that Leina didn't wear much more than just her aptly named breastplate. She had what looked like cotton panty on, she had flashed him as she took off the boots, and that was all. This was indeed a strange world or a dream world. Attractive women didn't just walk around with metal strapped to their front and nothing else!
"I didn't mean to imply that I was…I was just trying to not hurt you more…sorry," he apologized as he hung his head in embarrassment. Closing his eyes, Shinji did as he had with himself. He pictured the foot, devoid of the purplish marks and red inflammations, saw it stronger, more resilient, and the heat wafted again. Only unlike himself, Leina let out a few strange murmurs that he did his best not to think about. They sounded like…well…sounded like the noises he occasionally heard from Misato's room. Very pleasing, but also very personal sounds…he suspected he knew the cause but never would say.
Her own complexion matching Shinji's, Leina shoved her recovered feet back in her boots and took a skewer. Shinji's warnings be damned, she took a mighty bite into it, followed by eating the whole thing. In the end she ate eight of them to Shinji's two. "I never knew wild game could taste so good. And I'm sorry about saying you wanted to…it was rude of me. But a woman, even one such as me, cannot be to careful," she said vaguely an helped herself to some of the cleaned water.
Whatever she meant by 'one such as me' Shinji couldn't fathom and didn't try to. "You're safe to be that way, no offense," his accommodating nature was in full swing. If he pissed her off to the point of leaving him, he'd never know where a city was. "As for the water, I was thinking I'd cut off an arm of my suit and fill it. It's waterproof so it should hold it perfectly," he confessed.
Depressurizing his suit, Shinji pulled his arm into the deflated plastic and flopped the empty sleeve towards Leina. "You'd best use your sword…I think this material is very thick and dagger might not cut it," he insured the collar didn't fall by holding it up with the inner hand. Ayanami's first plugsuit didn't have sleeves, so he wasn't worried about it not depressurizing…at least he prayed it did.
Wrapping the sleeve around her blade, "Are you sure?" Leina asked dubiously. When he nodded and looked away she pulled the sleeve tight against her blade. It cut off like butter and fell away from Shinji's chest. "Truly a remarkable material this is. I've never seen anything like it," she rubbed it against her cheek. "Smooth and cool yet the pads of the hand are firmer than gloves," she gushed like a child.
Sliding his left hand out through the hole, Shinji couldn't help but chuckle at the innocence the proud 'warrior' was. She wasn't what he had ever pictured a proud swords woman, but then again he never expected to meet one. "Oh please still work," he begged when he pressurized, and thankfully it worked. He'd worry about the fox fur later, Leina had insisted they bathe the next morning so he'd do it while she was away. Watching Leina put her arm into the suit, her gauntlet and buckler dropped to the ground, he winced at how small it appeared on her.
"It feels even better on the inside!" she boggled unaware that her comments were striking an odd and unused part of each of their brains. Moments later she sat down and drank a bit more water, "Wish we had wine…" she had no idea how dangerous things would have been if they did. They passed the second evening with more idle chatter, mostly Leina telling Shinji about her sisters and the Queen's Blade tournament. Both however had a much milder case of the itch from the day before.
Nigel was not having the best of weeks, but at least he had to be thankful to be alive. Damn bastard just had to get in the way of his best sale of his life. Had he been able to sell that Vance woman, even if a hostage back to her family, he'd never have to worry about money again. If he ever got his hands on that scrawny fuck in the weird armor he'd take great pleasure ending the punks life.
Setting down two mugs of ale, Migosh tossed the remaining stolen money to his boss. "We got enough more for two more rounds each," he knocked back a good portion of his first bitter drink. "Think that bitch and kid is having at each other?" he let out a belch that would burn nose hairs. "Still think we should have headed into the woods after them, could have killed 'em in his sleep and got her back. With one arm she couldn't stop us," he wiped the foam off his lips.
Picking up the slim pickings of a beer, Nigel plugged his nose and downed it all in one gulp, though a large portion just stained his shirt. "Don't know how she survived a cut like that with cutting off the damn arm. I saw it cut some of them veiny bits, like killed Trenton. Maybe she was dead and the runt went off to fuck or sell the corpse," he would have done one of the other. A hole is a hole and the body stays warm after death a good long time, he should know.
Trying to catch up to his boss, the drastically stupider Migosh poured his ale down his throat and nearly chocked on it. "Ai, bet the snot nosed little fuck is off crying over the corpse or something. Nobody escapes you and your knife. She just got lucky wiff that lil bugger taking out your legs," he grabbed a hunk of bread from the table behind them while the other patrons weren't watching.
A damn border town was nothing but an inn, few hobbled cottages, and empty farmer's stalls. Nigel would have passed on to of the established bandit trading camps, but it took them far longer to get free than expected. They hardly to into the inn by midnight and that was traveling opposite the way the lil runt and his corpse went. They'd kill one of the dumb bar harlots after pretending to pay for a go, nice in quick and be off after a quick nap.
"But to think we almost got to have a go with the mysterious 'Wandering Warrior' from all them missing posters," Migosh handed half the stolen loot to his boss. "She had tits the size of me head she did…wish I got to touch um before she got away," he slobbered over his food.
"Did I hear you say you saw the Leina?" a caped and masked female voice asked from behind Migosh. Drawing back the finely embroidered cloth her young, possibly sixteen year old, face had a savage grin. "Worth a lot to me if you'd tell me more," she leaned over the table and let her cloak open wider. She had lithe form was garbed in bits and pieces of cloth of a white tiger pattern.
His eyebrow going high, Nigel got an idea and quickly kicked Migosh's shin to keep the idiot quiet. This girl had the look of money about her, likely the person putting up all those wanted posters. Play his cards right he could get a lot of money…and maybe get that relief he missed from the dusty blond with this lighter one. "Yeah we saw her," nodded his head west, "She was headed into the forest. We could take you in the morning if ya like. But it'll cost you a night upstairs." He leaned back and pointed up with his upturned palm.
Her face light up like a thousand candles burning brightly as her lips quivered in an eerie smile. "Oh I think that is easily acceptable, shall we go up now then? You can tell me all about how you met her," she was already picking the half drunk Migosh off the bench. The flash of a heavy metal claw flashed momentarily against the fire from the inn's hearth.
Getting up and leading the way, Nigel felt his waist for the small dagger he had 'borrowed' from the farmer and used to end his life. Some kids were just to gullible, well this time it was going to cost the girl. Nobody looked that good amid the peasants that wasn't royalty, and this bitch had the stink of money and wealth. "Never one to leave a lady waiting, but you do know we ain't aiming to just sleep right?" maybe he'd not be so brash with the knife if she knew her place.
"Boss I don't…I'm going to…" Migosh sleepily mumbled before falling to the ground.
"Stupid git can't handle his booze but he tries," Nigel shrugged. It wasn't the first time Migosh passed out after trying to keep up. More time with the crumpet for him then, all the better. Opening one of the small bedrooms, most were empty due to the secluded town and the time. "After you darling?" he helped himself to a firm grip of her presently taught rump.
Walking right to the bed, the girl threw back her hood completely showing off a queerly shaped cat-eared tiara. "So why did that man say he wanted to touch Leina's breasts before she 'got away'?" the woman held out her hand incased in a savagely clawed gauntlet. "I'd like to know all about the encounter…Leina is a dangerous woman. All the more done to…defang her the better," the words came out strange an alien to the quirky girl.
Maybe this one wasn't after the woman to bring back after all. Nigel shut and locked the door and pushed the dagger down deeper into his corded pants. "You one of those rival family's want the Vance princess dead?" royalty had its enemies just like he did. With the booze starting to take a good affect on his mind, the room started to swirl just a smidge. "Why don't you take that off darlin' we can talk after I'm done," that impish little girl face was looking better every moment.
Spreading her legs eagle, the woman kept her hands before the prize. "Oh please tell me first. It gets me excited to hear about her," she freed one hand from its guard duty to unclasp her cloak and let it fall. Her elaborate garb was quite the cat themed of white and black stripes save for the shoulder adornments of heavy fur. "Did you touch her? Did you hurt her?" the last came out dangerously.
His pants felt dangerously tight now, that minx was a fine woman, far better than the well abused whores he was used to. "We caught her early yesterday. Was going to sell her or keep her for my pet if she could be broke. Some bastard got in the way, wearing some odd bluish armor or some shit. But I cut that bitch's arm deep down to the bone. Either she cut it off and burnt it, or the fucking thief drug her corpse off to eat it or fuck it," he staggered towards the woman with arms open.
"NO! Oneesama could NOT lose to a piece of FILTH like you!" Elena launched herself off the bed and tackled the man to the ground. It was easy to do thanks to surprise and inebriation. His partner had died on the common room thanks to a poisoned needle in his neck, fool didn't even know it. Holding the man's head down, claws to his throat, "You said west right, the great forest?"
Nodding and gurgling out, "Y-yeah towards the mountains and dessert. D-don't kill me." His pleas fell on deaf ears as Leina's younger sister effortlessly slashed his throat out. Choking on his own blood, the man's vision faded and went blank as his body collapsed into a fit of spasms.
Drying her claws on the dead man's shirt, Elena got to her feet and fixed her cloak. "Oneesama can't be dead, and I will find her and bring her home. Like it or not," she nodded to her own logic. Her sister needed to be back and home, safely with her. And if some pain had to regretfully be doled out, Elena would do it all for the betterment of Leina and the Vance family.
Yeah this is going to be darker with bits of funny and some more naughty parts. I just felt like making a fantasy bit and this story gives a wealth of different styles, ages, and characters to chose from. Yeah I could have picked an easier one like Familiar of Zero, but that isn't dark enough. I want fighting, blood, death, and well…something with a little more sex appeal.
Hope you liked this chap. It was more a defining bit with giving off the characters and setting the mood. I'll keep it going as best I can and when I can.