I don't own Azure Dreams or anything else in this fic, except for the storyline.

Author's note: AdeptsR2Cool pointed out that I didn't even use Bet last chapter… Oops! I just ask for forgiveness…

Koh rode his Nyuel slowly down into Haruka when, "Hey Koh!" a voice called out.

Koh wearily turned around. "Oh, hi Bet."

"Koh! I have to show you something," Bet exclaimed. He held out an egg. "I followed those Pulunpas, the ones at the waterhole, and found a veritable den of eggs! I used a truth glass, and found a…" He grinned here, "…Mandara, Koh! I found a Mandara!"

Koh wasn't sharing Bet's enthusiasm, however. "Bet you do know what this means, correct?"

Bet stopped grinning. "Umm… What?"

"With eggs outside the Monster Tower, there's no need to go there now. Do you realize what will happen to Monsbaiya? Without people coming to the Tower, there will be no need to go to Monsbaiya. It will become a ghost town, Bet. With its main attraction deemed obsolete, Monsbaiya will slowly rot, no longer a fresh frontier town, but more a town slowly collapsing on itself. First, the treasure hunters, those least loyal, will leave. Because of this, businesses will close, and shopkeepers will be forced to leave. This will cause a loss in everything, leaving everybody left as penniless good-for-nothings. Children will grow up and leave, dreaming of a better life, along with other people. A few will stay, hoping the glory days of Monsbaiya will return, but it will never be… never be that way again." Koh hung his head sadly.

"Ouch," said Bet. "You're a lot of trouble," he said to the egg.

"Well, just don't tell anyone where you got it," Koh said.

"Can do," Bet said.

Koh reined his Nyuel around and finally descended into Haruka.

The first thing he noticed was it was significantly cooler here. The breeze was just enough to pick up the cool air over the river and blow it into this side of Haruka. Koh looked around, amazed. The town was huge, with businesses and homes stacked on top of each other. Colorful banners and signs proclaimed wares to be sold, while even more vivid awnings protected the merchants beneath. Food was in abundance, but so were more odd marketplace items. Koh saw everything from paintings to perfumes, monster eggs to monster handbooks. The eggs however looked quite fake, and Koh was reasonably assured that nobody had learned of eggs outside the tower. Upon coming to a plaza, he saw some scantily clad women dancing. It was rather good dancing, but Vivian's dancing was much better. He saw a few men watching, but nothing more. Koh quickly hurried on, the plaza was just a little too hot. He bumped into somebody.

"Hey! Watch were you're… KOH!" Cherryl practically squealed.

"Hi… Cherryl," Koh said.

Cherryl apparently had just been browsing for some goods at a small dusty stand.

"Hey, girl, either buy it, or get outta here, got it?" a rather roguish and scruffy man snapped.

"Hey, I'm still looking!" Cherryl snapped back.

"Oh yeah… Listen here lil' missie, I don't think you quite understand. I don't want customers wasting my valuable time!"

Cherryl whipped around. "Koh, could you beat this guy up for me?" she asked, her voice dripping sweetness.

Koh gulped as the man stood up. He was like a giant. "Uhh… Cherryl… maybe we should find an inn… yeah, an inn," Koh grabbed Cherryl's hand and began to pull her through the crowd.

Cherryl yelled behind her, "You better be waiting you big oaf! Koh will get you!" Koh winced and pulled her faster.

After a while Cherry spoke up, except in a more sultry voice, "You're holding my hand, Koh."

Koh let go, "Later Cherryl." He looked behind, to see the same man stampeding through the crowd.

Koh took off again.

"Koh, wait for me-e-e-e!" Cherryl yelled.

--------

"Mister Koh would certainly like this," Selfi held up a glittering necklace. It seemed to have every kind of jewel possible in it.

"How much for this?" Selfi asked.

The shopkeeper's eyes bugged out. "That thing is 250 million Golds. Can you afford that?"

"Yes," Selfi affirmed.

"Koh definitely wouldn't like that," Fur said.

"Just because you can't afford it," Selfi retorted.

"I'm just tellin' ya," Fur said.

"Mister Koh will appreciate my generosity," Selfi said.

"I highly doubt that. He won't be seen wearing that, ever," Fur picked up a small, wooden bracelet. "How much?"

"28 Golds," the shopkeeper said.

"I'll take it," Selfi grabbed it out of her hand.

"Hey! It's mine!" Fur grabbed it back.

"Let go!" Selfi said.

"Leggo!" Fur yelled.

With a snap, the bracelet broke.

"Oops," they both said.

"Out," the shopkeeper said, and both obeyed.

--------

Vivian stared up at the stage longingly. "She doing it all wrong," she muttered.

"Nobody cares," Nico took a swig of the ale the bartender had given her.

"Yeah, but it's a disgrace to dancers to dance… to try to dance like," Vivian corrected herself.

"Yeah, yeah, now be quiet. I'm just glad that Selfi followed Fur instead of me… stupid hussy," Nico tipped her glass up, draining it.

Vivian was practically squirming. "I could outdo her! I'm just itching to get up there and dance!"

"Don't do it; spare me the embarrassment," Nico muttered.

"Nico I'm gonna ask the barkeep," Vivian turned. "Hey, barkeep!"

The man turned, from flirting with another girl. "What can I getcha, good-lookin'?"

"Cut the chit-chat," Vivian said. "Can I get a chance to dance on that stage?"

"No can do," the bartender said. "Only qualified dancers get on the stage."

"Haven't you ever heard of me? Vivian of Monsbaiya?" Vivian asked.

"Nope," The bartender turned to serve a customer.

"See, that's where showing off gets ya," Nico said. She slammed her glass down. "Hey barkeep!"

Vivian stared at that girl. She was only staying up by a miraculous sense of balance, and loads of luck. She was practically tripping gracefully, nothing more. Vivian was appalled by such lack of skill. She wanted to knock that pretender off and stomp on her ungrateful body and dance.

"Vivian?"

"Hey! Vivian!"

Vivian turned around.

"Vivian, you were gettin' sorta scary over there, I think you need some air," Nico said.

"I need to dance!" Vivian said. "Barkeep! I want to dance, and you had better let me, if you respect your future life whatsoever!"

The bartender snickered.

"Fine then!" Vivian turned. She heard Nico yell, but ignored it. She walked up to the stage. She grabbed one of the dancer's fancy sashes and pulled. She went down in an ungainly sprawl. Vivian leapt nimbly up onto the stage. By now, everybody's eyes were on Vivian, as it was meant to be. That is except Nico, who was holding her head in her hands. Vivian curtsied and went right into the routine. It reminded her of the days in the bar in Monsbaiya, when Koh seemed to be no more than a kid, just another man after her heart. She laughed as she danced, her feet flowing from step to step. This brought back sweet memories, such treasured memories. She finally stopped. There was much applause, except from the bartender.

"I paid good money to hire her! Now she's injured! Get out! OUT!" the bartender roared, purple in the face.

"I should've stuck with Selfi," Nico moaned.

-------

"Here we are!" Mia said, spreading her arms wide.

"Mia… this… is a library," Patty said.

"Your point being?" Mia asked.

"I am looking for FOOD, you know, the stuff my dad cooks with…" Patti trailed off miserably.

"Well… libraries are much, much better," Mia said.

"You said you knew the way around in this town!" Patty exclaimed.

"I am reasonably sure that they should have a map in there," Mia said.

Patty reluctantly followed Mia.

The first thing Patti noticed was the smell. It smelled… old. Like dust, or must, it was just stifling. Mia breathed deeply. Patty gagged. The room had bookshelves stacked from wall to wall, spiraling up to the roof. People were absolutely quiet as they browsed. Patty found something interesting. They had some criminals posted here.

WANTED

500 Gold

Truman the "Troll Master"

Crime of "Robbing tamers of their familiars"

WANTED

5,000 Gold

Barbaric Bertha

Crime of "Killing unarmed civilians on the Haruka Highway"

WANTED

10,000 Gold

DEAD or ALIVE

AdeptsR2Cool & Carledo

Crime of "Not updating their fanfictions!"

Patty winced as she read those posters. Whoever those people were, they didn't sound very nice. She turned to see Mia truding along the hall towards her. Her face was in a frown.

"No map?" Patty asked.

"Nope," Mia said dejectedly. Then she grinned broadly. "But I've been dying to read this book, and it just came out, and so I checked it out."

"I don't care, I kind of need to find some food," Patty said.

"Hey, Patty, why would you be buying food?" Mia asked.

"My dad needs it," Patty said.

"Yeah well… the food would spoil if you brought it back with you," Mia said.

"Nonesense," Patty said. "My dad does it all the time, straight to Haruka and straight back."

Mia nodded her head. "Patty, Koh didn't leave just to come to Haruka…"

Patty's eyes widened, "You mean, he's going past Haruka? Most people don't do that… They get whatever they need here. There's no reason to."
Mia explained. "Koh wasn't just going on an errand. He wants to get away from everything. That's why he didn't want anyone else coming. So far, we've proved to be more of a hindrance than a help, and Koh is just putting up with us out of politeness. He doesn't want to hurt our feelings. Patty, this isn't just a quick jaunt to the next town, I think Koh is trying to prove something to himself."

"Wow… Mia, I didn't know," Patty said.

"Of course. I think Nico may have figured it out, but that's it. Everyone just thinks that this is Koh's boyish sense of adventure again."

"Excuse me," a sharp feminine voice snapped.

"Oh, hello, miss librarian," Mia said.

"You two should leave now," the librarian said.

"What do you mean?" Mia asked.

"You two loudmouths are disturbing the other people in here," the librarian said.

"I well… I… we are sorry," Patty stammered.

"We truly apologize," Mia said.

"I said, 'leave'," the librarian snapped.

"I'm leaving," Mia said, strolling out the door.

Patty followed.

When they got outside, Patty exclaimed, "Free!"

Mia glared at Patty.

-------

"This place is too dirty for me," Ghosh said.

"Everything seems to dirty for you," Fon muttered.

"Don't you people know how to treat the Prince of Monsbaiya!" Ghosh exclaimed.

A girl looked over sideways at him. "Umm… no." Walking away, she muttered, "Creep."

Ghosh stared agape at her. "Such insolence," he sniffed.

Fon had to quell the urge to laugh. He decided it would be best to follow Ghosh, mainly because people tried to get as far away from Ghosh, which made walking easier. Fon continued walking behind Ghosh. Ghosh stopped at tried to strike up conversation with a rather pretty looking girl. She just shrugged him off. She back off a little and then noticed Fon. She walked over to him.

"Hmm… you look familiar," she said, tapping her chin in thought.

"Oh well… I'm not from here," Fon said.

"Oh where are you from?" the girl asked.

"He's from Monsbaiya, like me," Ghosh interrupted.

"Monsbaiya…? Oh! Are you Fon?!" the girl asked.

"Ah… Yes I am," Fon said.

"See, he's Fon the nobody, wouldn't you prefer to talk to me," Ghosh interrupted again.

"No! Bug off, freak! So you are the Fon?" she asked.

"I guess," Fon said looking nervously at the frustrated Ghosh.

"Oh wow! I am a big fan of your plays! They are hilarious! I want to marry you!" she exclaimed.

"What?" Fon said, completely baffled.

People began to look at Fon. He heard them muttering things.

Men began to cheer, and women were swooning. A mob was forming, and for Fon.

"Excuse me!" Ghosh exclaimed, but nobody heard him, they were too busy fawning over Fon.

"Can I have your autograph?!" A girl exclaimed.

"Teach me how to write such brilliant scripts!" A man yelled.

"I wanna be your partner!" Another man exclaimed.

"I want to be your best friend!" Some children exclaimed from the crowd.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa… calm down…" Fon looked around, unused to the fame. Sure, in Monsbaiya his theater was moderately popular, and sometimes even a sell-out, but the citizens never flocked him, not like this. Fon's gaze shifted over to the fuming Ghosh. His eyes widened as he realized Ghosh was drawing his sword. As quick as a Picket, he took off into the crowded streets. He heard screams behind him and he tried to go faster.

Fon didn't turn around, but he heard Ghosh Rode coming behind him sword in hand, and didn't want to get caught in that tempest of fury…

-------

Koh was still a little uneasy about the whole shopkeeper thing, so he kept a brisk pace. Cherryl was huffing and puffing behind him, but he wouldn't relent.

"Koh, my side hurts," She moaned. "I think we lost him. Even if he did follow us, you could win."

"With what?" Koh asked.

Cherryl took a deep breath, and continued, "Koh, you have some of the most vicious familiars and you have one of the most powerful swords ever. How could you lose?"

Koh countered with, "How would I win?"

"What?" Cherry asked, plainly baffled.

"Any of those options would kill him. I don't want to do that. It's better to avoid fights than start them. Remember that there is almost always a solution to a problem other than violence."

Cherryl rolled her eyes.

That was the moment when Nico decided to run into Cherry. With a shriek, Cherry fell, with Nico on top. Vivian wasn't too far behind. Koh could only watch as the three tumbled into a massive jumble. People stared openly at the spectacle. Nico struggled to get up, but with Vivian on top, it wasn't helping. Finally, Vivan rolled off. Then, Fur and Self came around the corner. Both were arguing quite viciously and didn't notice that Vivian had rolled into their path, until it was too late. They tumbled down on Vivian. And then, to top it off, Fon bolted around the corner. His eyes widened and he made a specacular leap. He only succeeded in landing on Nico. Ghosh wasn't too far behind, but his fall was more devastating due to the chain mail he insisted on wearing.

Koh could only stare at the scene and try to keep his dignity. If they couldn't survive Haruka, what would they do in towns beyond. Koh had another thought. What would happen when they got lodgings for the night?

It was at that moment that Bet stumbled into Koh and knocked him into the pile too.

~~~

School… The ultimate writer's block. I'm not going to say the next one will come faster, unless the teachers lighten up on homework, but I'm trying.