Tales of Vesperia: Courting Hardships

Chapter 1: Together at Last

We bring you to the peaceful countryside outside the capital city Zaphias. And in this lush green scenery, lightly decorated with several trees with autumn colored leaves, we find the likes of Brave Vesperia and their friends relaxing peacefully in the soft grass as a gentle wind blew across the field. Today, it is the second anniversary for Yuri and Estelle's successful marriage at Zaphias Church. The two sit at each others side as they watch the clouds drifting above. As they rest each other's hand on the others, we see a small gold ring on their finger.

"I still can't believe it. Two years together and we haven't driven each other nuts yet." Yuri said, glancing at Estelle. The princess lightly giggled as she was watched by Rita from nearby.

"Yes. I find it a bit of a surprise myself." Estelle said. She then looked down by her legs, seeing the faithful Repede laying down to rest at her side. Since the day of their wedding, it appeared that Repede accepted Estelle and has let her pet him as much as Yuri.

"And I'm VERY happy that Repede's finally letting me pet him. Oh! I still can't believe how soft his fur is." Estelle added, rubbing the dog's head. Karol glanced at Rita.

"You think Yuri and Estelle seem...DIFFERENT to you?" Karol asked. Rita turned to the young boy and huffed.

"Of course they're "different" you little idiot. Its been two years since that wedding, hasn't it?" Rita said. Raven chuckled, eyeing Rita as he sat alongside Judith, leaning against a tree.

"And to think...you have not yet complained one bit about the whole ordeal. Ah. I can still remember our genius mage's face the instant she heard the news." Raven said. Rita growled, glaring angrily at Raven.

"What you say old man? Maybe a good BLAST to the head will fix that faulty memory of yours!" Rita shouted. Karol chuckled, surprised that Rita has not changed as much as Yuri and Estelle. But all his words got him was a swift blow to the head from Rita's fist.

"Shut up!" Rita exclaimed. Yuri and Estelle watched and lightly chuckled, glad to see their friends had not changed. Judith smiled, watching as Estelle rubbed her stomach. It seemed, surprisingly enough, that Estelle was now bearing a child since a few months after their first anniversary.

"How's little Yuri junior Estelle? Hope he's being a good little boy." Judith teased. The very word "Yuri junior" had Rita blushing from ear to ear and her face turning bright red.

"J-Judith! CUT THAT OUT! You know I'm still uneasy about all that!" Rita exclaimed. Judith smirked and stuck her tongue out as Rita turned away, completely flustered. Karol tried to say something to calm her down but wound up being elbowed in the face.

"Man. Why do I get the feeling Brave Vesperia's problems only STARTED after they got married? Sheesh. I mean...I AM glad for them. But...ugh. What a crazy situation we have now...allying ourselves with the knights. I mean...are we even a GUILD anymore?" Karol thought.

~ Tales of Vesperia ~

A while later that day, as the group returned to Zaphias, they were greeted at the gateway by the likes of LeBlanc and his men.

"Ah. Lady Estellise. How good to see you again. Did you and your...deh...husband enjoy the scenery?" LeBlanc asked, still appauled to Yuri being Estelle's husband. As Estelle nodded, Yuri walked over to LeBlanc and glared him straight in the eye.

"What's the matter LeBlanc? STILL can't get over the "one that got away" from ya? Too bad. And here I thought we all matured." Yuri said. LeBlanc groaned, looking away as Adecor and Boccos eyed Yuri.

"Now see here you. You MAY be the princess' fiance. But to us, you'll ALWAYS be that lowlife Yuri Lowell that we had to struggle with for too long. Make no mistake!" Adecor huffed. Boccos agreed, saying he'd personally lock Yuri away for all the trouble he caused in the past if not for Estelle.

"Ugh. Just give it a rest already. How idiots like YOU got into the knights...I'll NEVER know." Rita sighed, walking past and taking Estelle with her. Yuri smirked and waved to them before strolling off with the others. LeBlanc groaned, watching Yuri from over his shoulder.

"You best mind yourself boy. Remember. You're "royalty" now...lower quarter rookie." LeBlanc thought. The knights then strolled off, back to their daily routes. Farther into the city, Yuri and the others were greeted by another knight, Flynn Scifo.

"Hello Yuri...Estelle." Flynn said. Yuri smirked at Flynn, glad to hear him using her nickname since the wedding.

"Hello to you too Flynn. What brings you by?" Estelle asked. Flynn chuckled.

"Actually, I was just taking my break and figured I take a stroll through town...you know? Think back to my days with Yuri." Flynn said. He lightly blushed as he spotted Estelle's stomach.

"So...how has the uhh...uhhh..." Flynn stuttered, turning beat red. Yuri sighed.

"Come on Flynn. What's the matter? STILL can't handle seeing Estelle with a baby in there? Come on! Spit it out!" Yuri shouted. Suddenly, Estelle felt something that made her giggle, attracting everyone else's attention.

"Hmm? And what are YOU giggling at?" Raven asked. Estelle put her hands to her stomach.

"I felt it. I think the baby just kicked." Estelle said. Raven seem quite intrigued, asking if he could feel the little one. But just as he began reaching for her, Rita intervened and swatted away Raven's hand with a violent slap.

"There's no way I am ever letting your PERVERTED hands get ANYWHERE on Estelle! Ya got me?" Rita shouted. But unknown to Rita, Karol lightly put his hand to Estelle's stomach, feeling the baby kick. When Rita saw, she growled and struck Karol bluntly with a fist to the head.

"And that goes for YOU too squirt!" Rita exclaimed. Judith giggled, betting Rita wanted the honor all to herself. Afterwards, Rita lightly turned towards Estelle's stomach and gulped.

"Is...Is it all right if I...?" Rita asked. Estelle nodded, making Rita blush as she put her hand against it. She felt a light bump, causing her to gasp and laugh.

"Wow. Hard to imagine...there's a little baby in there...just waiting to see the world." Rita thought, smiling as her hand remained motionless. But suddenly, she felt the watching eyes of Raven and Karol nearby. She quickly snapped out of her delusion and struck them both.

"Wh-What are YOU TWO looking at? Huh?" Rita shouted. Estelle lightly giggled, having caught a glimpse of Rita's face earlier.

"Man. Is it me or is it getting to be BAD for us to be getting so close to the little genius?" Raven asked, glancing at Karol. Judith chuckled, betting it probably was. Flynn offered Estelle a chance to take a stroll through town with him, but Yuri said Estelle had enough time outside.

"Huh? I...did?" Estelle asked.

"At least...I think so. We don't want the little lady to end up too exhausted to make it back to the castle. Besides, I think you and the little one may need a bit of rest." Yuri said. Estelle glanced at her stomach and sighed, betting Yuri was right. She thanked Flynn for the offer before continuing on with the others. Flynn smiled as he observed Yuri and Estelle walking side by side.

"You're one great father Yuri. I actually envy you." Flynn thought.

~ Tales of Vesperia ~

Meanwhile, deep within the woods nearby the capital city, a shady gang of people were seen wearing dark purple cloaks, covering their faces. They saw the city from afar.

"There it is everyone...Zaphias, the capital. And just think...inside that city is the best prize we could ever hope to get...the unborn child of Lady Estellise and her husband. Heh heh. Think of the money we could get from holding her for ransom." the leader said. The others chuckled.

"So? What are we waiting for? Let's just go in there and grab the gal!" a large cloaked figure shouted. The leader sighed and shook his head.

"Did you forget that we'll stick out like a sore thumb walking through the city in DAYTIME? No my friend. We wait until the shadows rise and the sun descends." the leader said. Back at the castle, Estelle sat down in her room, accompanied by her friends nearby.

"There we go. Feeling any better?" Rita asked, helping Estelle sit down. Estelle sighed, giving a nod.

"I think Yuri might have been right when he said he didn't want you to exert yourself. Who knew carrying a little one could make a girl so exhausted." Judith said. Rita glared at Judith before turning back to Estelle.

"Don't mind her Estelle. What I think you're doing is amazing. So what if it exhausts you a bit more than usual? It'll all be worth it when the baby comes." Karol said. Estelle giggled, thanking Karol for those words. Yuri stood nearby as Raven joined him.

"So...you think you'll be ready for it? Ya know? The challenges of being a daddy?" Raven asked. Yuri quietly glanced at Raven and huffed.

"Of course I am. Estelle and I talked about it before things started and we're seeing this through to the end. But...some of the things I had to put up with so far were...a tad annoying." Yuri said, muttering towards the end so Estelle would not hear. Raven smirked.

"Heh. What was I thinking? You're going to be a great father. Heck, I wish I could be one myself. But alas, this handsome devil is still solo." Raven said. Yuri chuckled, saying Raven was more of a "sweaty old man" than a "handsome devil". Raven smirked, glaring off with a sense of disgust that Yuri still called him old.

"Sheesh kid. Just how OLD do you think a fellow like me is anyway?" Raven thought. They all spent the rest of the day together, deciding they would all stay by and help Estelle until her baby came. That night, everyone retired to bed as Rita was seen staying in the same room as Estelle. But Yuri could not sleep, seen walking around the castle halls with Repede that night.

"Well Repede, sooner or later, I'm going to be nuturing a brand new life. I wonder if I can really do it." Yuri sighed, remembering his trouble making days in the lower quarter. Repede glanced up at Yuri.

"I mean...I know Estelle and I promised to do our best. But...considering the life I've lived in the lower quarter and...what I've had to deal with during Estelle's little "period"...I don't know if I can." Yuri said. Repede whined a bit before giving a firm bark. Yuri stopped and looked down at his partner.

"Heh. I bet I sound like I'm complaining, huh? Yeah. Maybe I am. But still...who ever thought that someone like me...could turn out to be a father in his life." Yuri said. Repede barked again, making Yuri grin. He kneeled down and patted the dog's head.

"I know Repede. You'll be there alongside me. Yeah. I remember. Heh. Thanks pal." Yuri said. Just then, Repede heard something that made his ears stand straight up in the air. Yuri noticed as Repede turned towards a nearby window, snarling and growling.

"Hmm? Repede, what is it?" Yuri asked. Suddenly, the window was smashed clean through as one of the cloaked figures landed in front of Yuri and Repede. Yuri groaned.

"Hey! Who the heck are you? What's the big idea busting into the castle in the middle of the night?" Yuri shouted. Repede growled, barking angrily at the hooded man. It was the leader of the group from earlier, giving a huff.

"So YOU are Yuri Lowell...the once biggest annoyance to the Royal Knights...now married to Princess Estellise. How ironic is that?" he said. Yuri groaned, wishing he didn't leave his sword back in Estelle's bedroom.

"What if I am? That doesn't change the fact that some hooded psycho just came crashing in through a window! Now what do you want?" Yuri shouted. The hooded villain chuckled.

"What I WANT...is the princess. Or...to be exact, the unborn son of Princess Estellise." he said. Yuri gasped.

"No! Estelle!" Yuri thought.

TO BE CONTINUED...