AN: It will be best to download first ALL of Aria soundtracts from all 3 seasons before starting this. It will consume about 2 hours of hardwork with fast internet but it will be worth it. But if you don't want to, then the soundtracks you will need for this chapter will be: "Rayorou", "Hoshi Made Tsudzuku Omoi", "Ajisai no Shoukei" ,"Nyuuduogumo no shita de", "Toori Ame ga Yandara", "Gyakuakogi Queen"…you will see when you will need those soundtracts as you read the story.
This Story will focus more on the manga because, theres A LOT of chapters in the manga that was not shown in the anime. If we will include the chapters that introduced each characters, that's about 18 chapters all in all. That's A LOT for a manga that has only 60 chapters. And so I was pushed to make this
S T O R Y _ S T A R T
It was past the stroke of midnight for the terraformed planet formerly called "Mars" but was renamed as "Aqua" after it was flooded with ground water that no one has expected to reach such level, covering about 90% of the planets surface. Though unusual, life must exist everywhere and soon, men started to lay foundation in its blue depths and slowly but precise and accurate, they had rebuilt a city of canals and rivers now called as "Neo Venezia". Named right after the former city of the same honourific title located on Earth but was soon swallowed by the ocean floor for not even the most advance of technologies an ever stop changes.
With only the dim light from the street lamps and the faint glow of the stars in the black carpet of the night. Cats from all corners of dry land was seen gathering in for an assembly held by their king. In appearance, he can be seen as a 7 foot tall golem of fur that stoods in the prominence of a war bear shrouded in a neat and fancy red coat meant only for the royal families. Yet despite his fearsome structure, he has the face of a black house cat with fluid golden eyes. Legends refer to him as "Caith Sith"
Under his protection, any uninvited guest who will try to ender their meeting place will only find themselves going in circles until they decided to quit and go home will they receive a guide who will lead them out. So far, among those victims, only one person was allowed to take a short glimpse of the beauty of their temple that stoods in the ornament of beauty and aureate grace that not even your dreams will find it hard to imitate.
Then with a single wave of the hand of their king, A flabby white cat with cerulean eyes came to the front of the throne. Just like many others, he is one of the cats that are abnormal in size and appearance but they have an IQ parallel to homo sapiens. The first humans to colonize the planet assumed that they are cats who evolved genetically after being exposed to a new environment. Or so they thought. They are not cats nor any mammals that Humans has ever seen for they had long been in this planet before them. They are truly the original citizens of Mars, the ones who are called as "Martians" who are living peacefully with invading humanity who brought life back to their planet that dried up long ago.
He was a very famous Icon among the gondolier corporations. Known as the president of "Aria Company". The smallest company with only 3 as the maximum number of employees. Despite the undineable difference with the othe competing companies whose funds and population are a hundredfold greater, Aria was never looked down upon for it has produced legacy after legacy of unparalled masters all thanks to this little white creature. Seen most of the time as a freeloading sloth who only likes to play and eat, it was only the greatest among all the gondoliers in the history of Aqua, who had ever saw his other side. A side of genuine wisdom and divinity. It was also on that fateful day that Aria company was born.
Yet, no matter how hard Grandma tried to look, his past still lingers in the achromatic world of mysteries.
The adventures with all 4 generations of fabled existences was reflected in those eyes that carries the illumination of the sea. Aria Company, the treasure chest of infinite mystery. It was a fountain of stories written in hieroglyphics that only the angels can decipher. A diamond of all colors, each one has a beauty of its own. A beauty that he had humbly guided through the rest of its dazzling shine.
And tonight, the fifth generation who shall ignite a new splendor was revealed. And this diamond shall be polished in a very special way.
A I _ C I R E R O N E
Every minute, I tossed and turned on my seat as if I will die if I sat still. Enclosed in a box of steel together with many other people who will visit the water planet which was once covered only in iron oxides and dry air. With nothing else to see but sleeping faces, my supposed to be only 3 hours of travel felt like long days. Very, very Looooong days of torture amd hardship.
But when the speaker turned on and came the female of voice of a robotic tone that said "We are now entering the ionosphere of Aqua, please fasten your seat belts and remain calm as we turn on the hologram."
My excitement shoot up like a beast that was denied of the light of the sunlight for an even longer time. This was the day that I had longed for. In no time the windowless iron package on which I was wrapped on dissipitated into thin air as the hologram was activated which allowed us to marvel at the sight of a beauty that defiled reasons. Buildings and skyscrapers that floats on the water in numbers that ranges from thousands to ten thousand out standing infrastructures that blends in harmony with a carpet of green and blue like a mosaic made by billions of top-notch masters from all over the universe.
It had been 5 years since I first saw this sight. Truth be told, it was not something that made me excited during those times for the only thing that was on my mind back then was to know the reason why my sister likes this place so much. Inconvienient, primitive and boring. Those were my first impression of this place. Until when I met "her". The girl whos sideburns can get a world record for the most times it was mistaken to be a pigtail. Life changed for me ever since then. And for some reason, never again was I able to look at this place without feeling any surge of entuciasm. Wait for me Akari-chan, Today I will be an undine
The shuttle descended on San Marco Polo spaceport. If my memory does not fail me, this is also probably the only building in Neo Venecia's surface that is stained with the advance technology in Man Home. But those high-tech equipments only passed through my vision that is focused on the surprises that I will see outside, Right after my bag was inspected, I took no delay in giving my legs the authority to overrule my senses and with arms steched out like a falcon in flight, I soar into the warm embrace of the sunlight that welcomed me to this land for the sixth time with even greater anticipation that I could ever feel.
This is my Heaven on the Land of the Living
It was the cold splash on my feet that brough me back to reality. It was cold but not freezing liquid that drenched my feet. Looking down, I saw a vast expanse of water that flooded the whole pavement of San Marco Polo Square in a depth that submerged my shoes and small socks as well as the bottom part of my green gypsy knee skirt. My palm just found itself on my face in frustration as I remembered that today is Aqua Alta. An annual flooding where the tide rises than normal, because of this, gondolas are not allowed to travel for aside from the fact that bridges will be lower, you will also be unable to know if you are still on the canal or already on the streetside.
I was supposed to meet Akari in here and I was planning to spend the rest of the day with her guiding me once again throughout Neo Venezia just as we do everytime I return. Thanks to how I forgot to check Aquas calendar, my plans was ruined
Sighing at my own mistake, I find myself a cozy shade and rested my back on a stone fence, paying no heed to anything else for I refuse to take my attention away from the view of people who are merrily continuing their usual laidback style of living. Letting my short hair billow gently through the passing breeze, I stared into the infinite sky, and reminisce all that happened last 5 years.
My memories of that day was still clear as the daylight when I was denied of service from renowned "Snowhite" and was forced to wait outside in despair, hoping that I could at least see one reason not to demand a ticket back to Man Home so that my sister will not scold me for being such a spoiled child.. I waited on a black gondola in a gesture of sleep but I wasn't. I was wide awake and just like today, all I was focused on was on the sky. The grand blue that never ceases to watch over everyone. Then it happened, a single who introduced herself as "Misunashi Akari" showed me the silver lining that onced observed with great care shall swallow you whole into the true wonders of a life worth living.
How could I ever forget that day where I forced her to call me a "Friend" and give me a fee ride or else I will scream "Help". I remember it maybe waaaay too well for I also can never take my mind out of how I did the same threat to her friend from Himeya named "Äika". Now that I had grown up, I finally realized how embarrassing it was. No, it was mortifying. But I guess a kid is a kid
"Ai-chan, I presume?" came a voice that surprised me out of my day dreaming
"Y-yes!" I stammered before I could even turn towards the voice. And when I did, what I saw was the image of a paladin. It was a man standing atop the glimmering water. His white sailor suit uniform has a chest piece in between his collar which is a blue ribbon eched with auric threads and an oval amber at the center.
He leaned over closer to me but not close to the point of harassment. He was taller than me by a foot and a half making me feel so small. When I exchanged back his gaze, I managed to observe his face even further. He got a nice scalp of white hair that reaches up to his chin and gently billowing with the passing wind . His blue eyes twinkling wildly with unknown elements. As if he was full of experience from observance and I was one of his victims to be.
"My my" he giggled then placed his heavy hand on my head, messing my hair and treating me like I a child. "You sure have grown Ai chan"
I may be a child yes but im obviously releasing enough mature aura to earn the respect of a water fairy. "Don't treat me like a child!"
His grin grew even wider. "Sorry sorry. Its just that I missed you ya know."
Then it hit me, "Im sorry sir, but didn't met for the first time today?"
"Oh yeah, Im sorry for the lack of politeness" He placed a pale white beret to his head. Observing closely, I saw the logo of Aria Company on its side. What's a man doing with a piece of a uniform from an undine company? As far as I know, only females are allowed to be undines. Is he a clothing thief? Then he gave his hand to me before stating his business. "I am the President of Aria Company, and I am the one whom you were supposed to meet"
I was doubtful ofcourse but I guess if this is some kind of a trick, then I better play with it for maximum enjoyment. "Ai Cicerone, nice to meet you"
It was as if his whole body was smiling in delight when he turned and called me to follow him "Come, we don't have all day, ya know"
We splish and splashed through the overflowing flood with feets full of doubts if we are still standing on the road for the reflection of the sun light had made it impossible to see whats below. Then I followed him ascend into a higher hill side road where the waters cannot reach the pavements. In there most of the stalls are still operating but not isn't as lively for they are not expecting any costumers.
"umm…" After that I soon had enough of the ice cold environment that was surrounding us. Well, yeah he is not really emitting a cold aura but its just that I am not used to be accompanied by strangers. If I were to trust him, I better know him first. Especially where we are going "May I ask, are you really the president of Aria? Cause as far as I know, only females are allowed to be undines and Ive been with its sole employee for a long time and never once she mentioned about having a company president"
"You don't have to force yourself to understand, every misunderstandings will make itself clear very soon" he assured with a joyful tone. He isn't disrespectful, in fact, he is full of friendliness but my mother always warned me never to just trust strangers which made me more cautious with my guard. If ever I will need help, I could easily scream for help, right?
In a mere blink, the pavement that I was walking into was gone! All but rows of wooden stalls after stalls of crystalline chimes that resonates a lovely ballad as they dance with the wind that passes through them is all that can be seen. I twisted and turned , unable to believe what I am witnessing. It was as if time around me has stopped. Locked in the embrace of an alternate universe where the only accompaniment I could have is the eternal tinkling that resounds far and wide from the crystals that was suspended in the boards.
Even the sea, canals, people and infrastructures was all gone. No nothing, the whole world was leveled flat and everything is like a chessboard. A silent world of a dazzling rhapsody of white and soothing bangs.
"Theres no one…around…"
"More importantly" a voice continued its voice. He was still infront of me and when he turned his gaze into the nearby stall, what I saw was a dine in cafe of average size. which I find unusual for most of the stores in Neo Venezia are open view for that is exactly what it was known for- scenery .In its door hangs a rather odd symbol of the sideview silhouette of a Man-Home cat with even weirder runes etched below it. "say, wanna eat? My treat" he asked
Naturally for someone so young and so dazed, I am cautious but no protest over nice things being offered to me. And I went inside the store after he pushed open the door that sounded a thin copper bell like most doors back in Man-home "Welcome" came the warm greeting from a random person. "Come have a seat"
From the blinding light outside, it took me a few squinting of my eyes to have it adapted with the dim light of the café. Walking closer, What I saw first was a bar saloon where at the serving table was a obese man in a waiters uniform and his hair was tucked inside a bandana, grinning widely as he wipe a wine glass with a white cloth till it was sparkly clean. My quickly adapting eyes revealed that the place was almost empty, as spacious as an abandoned warehouse. No other waiters, no chefs, no visitors. Just a bunch of tables and chairs neatly arranged and the sole employee in the saloon where not a single wine bottle was placed on the shelf but they do have white milk bottles in it, though. It's a very creepy and depressing place to eat. I wont be surprised if the place will soon go out of business.
"Over Here!" the white haired man called out to me on the table on the far right. I responded it with a slow walk, observing more of the place. It barely has any luxury at all. It was dull but has no signs of any age beaten furnitures, not even a single hint of accumulating dust and cobwebs. I passed by a grandfathers clock that says its already 2:00. Stuffs like those are an absolute collectors item, where exactly am I? I don't know what is wrong with me but its just that I feel like im being hypnotized when I sat down. A very relaxing and soothing feeling overtook me.
"Whats your orders, sir, madam?" The waiter asked. He didn't gave us any table of menu whatsoever, he just asked us with a pleased presence
"Whats the use of asking when all you will give is Iced Milk?" he ground out, It was rude but the waiter just laughed at it which means that it was a blunt talk between close friends
"This is our special place after all"
"Special?" my intrigued question was said louder than I expected
"Yes, this place is special" The waiter supplied me the answer "A place where we spend the hot days without any interruption from humans"
"I know what your thinking Ai" president Aria declared "This café is indeed a very special place that only my kind can go to, unless I or the king himself invited them."
"Yes," the waiter came back with a tray where a couple of tall glasses filled with milk and ice which he gently placed on our table. Milks only has smell when it rots or was steaming but a sweet aroma of creamy sugar teased my nose just at once it was handed. "That's why you should leave once you are done with that"
"On normal days yes, but today is a special occasion" President Aria argued. The waiter didn't bother to reply and just left us there just at once. He didn't proceed back to his saloon, but just went to the table located at the far back where he settled and read a book which has the photo of 3 stars and a sun.
It may be gloomy but the place is cool and comfortable as it could ever be. Combined with the milk that the waiter gave us, it was like a complete getaway for maximum relaxation and finest breaktime. Halfway drinking, I looked up to the one who called himself as the president of Aria and right then I was unnerved by what I saw.
He sat with his leg above the other and his elbow placed on the table as he scrutinize me from head to toe with his head being supported by a chin that is placed above his palm. He was smiling widely with eyes sparkling with unrivalled interest. That smile send chills to my spine and clutched my heart with visceral icy fingers.
"W-w-what?" I could feel my face turning red from embarrassment. Automatically, my head droop down till it seemed almost like I am hiding under the table.
"Oh nothing" he giggled and fixed himself at once by straightening his feet into the right posture one should sit but still not letting go of his smile. "Say Ai chan"
"hmm?" I tilted my head to the left side
"Are you sure you want to be an undine?" he words was cleverly spoken with an expression of happiness
"Of course!" I answered. "Ever since I came to this planet, my dream to be an undine had already set root and now it is sprouting"
"But have you ever heard of how hard the test to be a prima is?" His smile drop a bit when that question was set free. He is concerned about me I am sure on it because he must be expecting that I am innocent about the path that I am trying to tread. "Rowing here in Neo Venezia is viewed as an art for the "Undines" symbolizes the allure refinement of Aqua and its peaceful serenity"
My voice lowered down, humbled by the revelation and I felt insecure all of a sudden. "I know" I answered flatly Rowing the gondola in Aqua is taken as seriously as how video games and sports records are worshipped back in Manhome. "But I wanted it so much to be a gondolier"
The whole Aqua, the whole Solar galaxy, even the whole Milky Way does not have to look just to hear his voice that lost its sense of joy. Though his polite tone was still there, his voice is now just something that is very uncomfortable to hear and somewhat trying to push me out and send my legs running back to my home planet "If you wanted to row the gondola, then you should have chosen Orange Planet for they have the greatest accommodations in Aqua, or even Himeya for their name has been as old and just as strong as Neo Venezia itself, Why Aria Company?"
"Because…" I fumbled through the words that are hiding in the depths of my mind, Its there im sure. Its just at the bottom of the abyss. The answer came before I could find it
"Grandma, Wind Talker, Snowhite and though it takes a full 6 straight years of unblemished records just to inherit the title of a retired Water Fairy, the newly Aquamarine who was promoted a couple of years ago had showed such great promises that if it weren't for the Siren's retirement, the prodigal "Orange Princess" will be put under intense pressure from her own friend," He paused for a while, letting me prepare and expect the answer that I am fearing the most. But even that small pause was not enough to defend myself from what came next "Are you expecting that if you became Aria's employee, you will also be written in Aqua's history and be one of the greatest falcons of the city of calm waters and treacherous canals?"
"No…" I breathed out, its not that, I only wanted to be with Aria company because…
"Among all the gondolier companies, Aria company had been the birthplace of mischievous lore's and secrets for never onced had it produced a failure. Outnumbered by 300 to one, yet never trampled down. Do you really think that you are worthy to be one of its legacy?"
All color was drained out of me as I fell into a complete silence. My knees started to shook with fear and mortification. He was never disrespectful in his statements none of this is his fault. Its just that I now realized how puny I am
"Or, could it be that you simply joined because of Akari?"
It hit me, The horror of my foolishness mowed down all my courage to move on and I broke into a cold sweat for he was right, I had grown with Akari and viewed her as someone I cannot live without. My heart repulsated through my veins as my dread kept on plunging me down into the painful resignation. I wanted to leave, what am I thinking? Someone who grew spoiled and pampered in the city of advance technology wanted to be an undine who spends all their life just to know the language of their craftsmanship? Im such a fool!
On the verge of tears, I voiced out all my remaining hope for salvation in the form of a mumble that exited in my quivering lips "I may be young and unskilled and may not be able to live up to your expectations…" I breathed it all out, letting the wind caress my face mildly brushing my hair with the drifting song of the unseen guidance. It shined through my heart, the answer that I had been looking for
"But…" I let it manifest on my throat, my dream weaved in the magic of the finest seam. "…if I will be too scared to know my ability, then how could I know what awaits me?"
I felt like a ballerina that danced in a razor edge. Locked between my desire of who I want to be and who I should be. Lithe and agile but not brittle, I danced through its glinting sharp blade like the transillient shadow of a string as I searched for the truth. Every second that passed in my quest to know myself was a labor of love, A labor that was paid well with words that just slipped out of my lips like it was not I who spoke of it.
I was too embarrassed and was too scared to look back and take responsibility of whatever it was that I said. But I did managed to slip a peek into him. What I saw was that the man was smilling once again and was looking at me with eyes full of knowing. He was not grinning nor leering, he was just smiling like a sinner who was reborn. Then he let out a short giggle, of pure honest joy "I still have my doubts, but I am rooting for you…"
"…And so does the rest of Aqua" said another voice behind my back. The waiter was gone, and what waited for me to look at was ten thousand eyes from small animals that shines like diamonds in my gaze. All this time they had been watching us talk without me realizing their watchful presence. Fearsome as their glowing eyes were as they melt through the darkness, I was not scared for some reason. Could it be that its because I could feel that they meant no harm to the one who intruded their place of relaxation?
"Aria was the true symbol of this planet, chosen by Caith Sith himself and I am its caretaker" he said further. The Aria beret that he wore on his head suddenly became somewhat nostalgic and started to remind me of something. My heart was not pounding hard, I am calm as he, could it be because of his ever-smiling tone? "I was scared at first that Aria company will not be passed on to your heart. But I guess I better not judge the book by its cover, huh?" he admitted, dropping down his head towards his glass of milk whose dew has started to moisten the table cloth
He was talking nonsense. Words that I cannot understand but I know of great importance. "umm…" I made noise to gain his attention "What exactly is happening?"
"Ai Cicerone…" he spoke my name once again. This time his tone became so sensually soft you could already feel the congested air of the café suddenly softening like a velvet kiss. "I have something else to do so I cannot take you to Akari but theres some people I want you to meet"
And with that, my legs just moved on their own and I just found myself already at the exit, introducing me into the white white world outside. At the last moment, I remembered my manners and pivoted my torse back with only the intention of saying "Thank you for treating me" but I failed to do so for when my turn was complete, the only thing waiting for me was a run down infrastructure. A mold infested building in the midst of collapsing under its own weight. All windows and door openings are covered by wooden planks nailed to its corner to prohibit civilians and danger to rise up
"Was it…"I was mesmerized to the core. It was like I wandered into a place where my definition of reality was shattered beyond any reason. The next breath that I took into my lungs was loud and clear for I am in shock which intensified as I remembered Akari's tale about the café that can be found only in the mirage,
We had been exchanging emails almost every week. Since I am just a child, it was her who takes responsibility of writing messages that will be interesting enough to ignite a good talk or better yet, a good argument. Of course, it is expected that one cannot host the same party with the same style without losing the favor of the people and It is exactly what happened to Akari. She used up all her interesting adventures and she started to tell me fairytales taken from childish imaginations. I took it with full pledge excitement for I believed that they are real. As I grow older, my common sense did so and I took those tales no different from bedtime stories.
I froze and broke into a cold sweat. "Akari-san…." I whispered to no one. There is no possibility that such a person like her would actually lie. What is wrong with me? I do not know how long I stared into that razed wall without actually seeing it. There was no proof of me going anywhere but relaxed and welcoming sensation that I felt still lingers with in me.
"Huh?, Ai chan is that you?" Someone called me from behind. Im being called quite a lot just this day. Is it just me or this is Aqua's way of doing all means necessary to show that I am accepted in Neo Venezia?
Turning, I saw a gondolier in the uniform of Himeya Company. Her short and boyish hair was in the shade of being dark blue and indigo, emits an aura of full authority that and caring that you cannot decide which is which until you look directly into her eyes in the color of the sun will you only realize what she is- a leader.
"Aika-chan?" Aika is the best friend of Akari and at the same time, the heir of Himeya Company itself. Though belonging in a rich and well known family, she still pursued her humble dream of becoming an undine than honing her skills in managing their business. But when she became a Prima, they opened up a new branch far but not very far from their main branch here and she was its manager, This promotion separated her from Akari. Though separated, not even time and space succeeded in breaking their willingness to grow together. "What are you doing here?"
"I should be the one asking that." She said, lifting her paperbag of grocery items her chest. I could trace an outline of some conned goods and milk in it.
"I was gonna pay Akari a visit." I answered flatly. I thought about saying to her that I am going to Aria Company because I am gonna be with Akari but I suppose this isn't the best of time
"Your in luck" she said, twisting to her side and then I noticed that I was actually standing at the side of a canal and beside Aika is a white gondola lined at all corners with red runes- the symbol for Himeya. It was tied carefully in a palina . "I was gonna drop by to Akari as well."
"Eh? Is it alright to ferry a gondola during an Aqua Alta?"
"Don't worry" she assured with a chest full of pride "Primas have intricate knowledge about the canal system. I know exactly which path to tread"
Somehow, that arrogance only makes it more dangerous. I don't wanna ride it especially when it is not supposed to.
I removed my shoes that was drenched from the flood before going in letting the cold breeze chill my feet. It was Akari herself who gave me my first gondola ride and like any beginners, she was not yet good enough to steer the boat without rocking. Then if my memories does no fail me, it was Aika who drove the rest of the trip. Truth be told, Aikas steering was smoother and has a much better maneuvering than Akari's but that was 5 years ago. I wonder whos the better one now.
My train of thought journeyed far and wide as I reminisced all that has happened to me and my connection to this planet. And to no avail, my mouth speak out faster than for me to realize that I shouldnt "Say Aika…"
This must be the stupidest question but its just that I cannot take the mans words out of my head. I needed answers. "Is the Aria Company really so special?"
Its seems that I caught her ear "Now that you say it, I guess you could say that it is really special"
My heart skipped a beat. Oh dear lord "H-h-how special?"
"How should I put this…" She stopped her rowing as she raised her hand to her mouth and her eyes dilated in deep thought. Then she began to explain a story of its history in the eyes of an admirer "It was already founded before I was born so I do not know much about Grandma but her skills and records are well among all the gondoliers. Alicia's graceful demeanor is unquestionable , in fact, it was a true shocker to me when instead of choosing someone here in Aqua to be her apprentice, she actually hired Akari from Man-Home. And when she became its manager…"
Her gaze dropped, when she sacrificed all her attention just to search for that word that would describe her friend in the best way possible "…Im not sure but I think you could say that Aria company is now the personification of Aqua's smile or something"
I gulped a scream that manifested in my throat. I never thought that pressure can be so…
I wanted to ask another question but I was shocked when she suddenly gasped out loud like a balloon of liquefied petroleum gas that met a candle flare. "ARGH! Kinshi kinshi!, Kinshi! Hazukashii serifu kinshi!"
The gondola rocked and shooked at the magnitude of 8 "Wah," I yelp, holding tight on the rail of the wood to keep myself on place and fend off the undine who was freaking out. Stirring the water from the outside in out of her unreasonable frenzy "Get a hold of yourself Aika-chan!"
It was a miracle that she actually halted for real. And reboot her senses just like that but the damage was done and as long as the row is on her hand, I will never feel safe again. "That reminds me," she looked at me, paying a perfect ignorance on my still frightened facial expression. "Whats with that question out of the blue anyway?"
I shrugged off what she just did like it was a harmless little joke. And think deep and twice about answering it head on. "I am…" I scrubbed the back of my head search for comfort. I know that by answering it like this, I will be in another awkward moment. "I am gonna be an undine for Aria company today."
"Hah?" her jaw dropped. An awkward moment it was indeed. "Do you know how hard the test is?"
"Yes" I answered flatly, last time I took pride in my answer, I was put under intense pressure. I already learned my lesson
"Do you know how to handle costumers well?"
"uhh…" That I cannot answer yet. Residents in Man-Home seldom goes out just to socialize for everything can already be done at home. So im not really the people person but…I cannot give up without a fight
"Forgive this sudden request" Aika stepped down and handed her oar to me with a deadlock gaze that send chills run up to my spine "But, can you show me how you row?"
"huh?" I was startled at this sudden request that I cannot even speak clearly "I-I-I don't think I ca-"
"Faint hearted words are not allowed." She scolded me
"ehhh?" I still refuses her offer to row despite her enthusiastic invitation
"Come on Ai-chan, why else would Akari choose you?" Her mellow tone shined through me, she was right. This is a test of who I am and my reason for being what I am
With the raging fires of cutthroat determination conflagrating on my eyes, I took the oar to my hand, feeling all of its weight into my arm. I could already hear the voice of the gondola and the oar whispering their trust and their doubts on my skills. Opening all my senses to the dissonant accordance of the elements that calls my name, I became one with the boat who became one with the water who was the master of the world. It was a magic that was weaved into this world, long been dancing with the old. Tales of integrity and serenity, all carved a wreate of tales that never will encounter a death. I listened to it all, carefully heading its call
Aika saw this rampaging strength and began to think if she did the right thing "On a second thought, I think its best if you leave it to me" she said but its too late for her.
Polished and poised, I spoke the trance before I gazed into the distance. My other self waving at me, I shall approach her with glee. It shall decide who I really am, with a fortitude of a brethren. I dipped the oar in the shinning water, its rivulating soul shall never waiver.
"Here goes nothing!"
I flew in the water like a falcon swimming in the air. Destined to rule in its lair, the water I laid bare. Soaring through its rampaging waves in a speed that leaves afterimages in the path that my shadows had marked. Singing to the symphony of the wind, the world transcended its self, eager to please the master who's need was greater than its own. Every stroke churned like the heart of God, distorting the images of the land into something as illusionary as the moon on the waters reflection. Feeling the air that I now command, resisting my demand. The wind turned into a gale that whipped my hair for it refuses to be under my veil. As if I will allow that.
"THIS SPEED IS NOT ALLOWED!" Aika screamed at the top of her lungs. Her vision was twisted in a grotesque way for the water and the air obscured her vision. She knows that she has just unleashed a monster and she knows even better that if this speed wont be stopped, she will not live long enough to say goodbye to her Al-kun. And so she began to pray accompanied by the visions of her marriage with the child-like gnome. She does not want to die here but she is ready to accept anything.
Faster than said, the last thing she heard was a "Gondola, Torimas…" from a very familiar dead pan voice before everything fell into a pandemonium.
"So, Aika-senpai, Ai-chan, what did we learned today?" The green haired girl whos height was only inches higher than mine. Her uniform from Orange Planet was soaked with water and dripping wet.
"Speeding is not allowed" I replied silently
"Not to allow a newbie without proper precaution first" Aika replied on the background.
"And what can we conclude from all this?" Alice Carolle asked further, tapping her feet on the gondola impatiently
"That I should not let my emotions get the better of me" I cant believe that my high-spirited self led me to such disgrace.
"That even curiosity has its limits, I guess…" Aika spoke, trying to pry an embarrassed smile to Alice but she narrowed her gaze causing the proud heir of Himeya to drop her head, guilty
With an exaggerated sigh and a frustrated facepalm, Alice rode back onto her gondola. "Do you two knows that you could have been arrested for such carelessness?"
Alice Carolle is the prodigy of Orange planet who was hired at the same age as I or even younger. Though small and frail, she is a genius who managed to maintain both her school studies and her training at a good pace. And this hard work paid her well with being written as the first gondolier to skipped a rank from being a Pair (newbie) straight into a Prima (full time worker). It may be nice to the ear to be called a "genuis" but she freely admitted that she lacks social skills that if it weren't for Akari and her senior named Athena, she would have failed her dreams
We must have looked pathetic with having a small girl lecturing us like a senior. Alice sighed again "Lets go, I better get a change of clothes before I get a cold"
"To where?" Aika asked
"The usual…" Alice answered, lifting the groceries from the Himeyan gondola into hers It was gods will that those stuffs was not affected by the water at all. The gondola is still on good condition and can still be used for paying costumers with no complains but im pretty sure I wont get away with this. Not being allowed to row again with the same trust is the least to expect. "…You are going to Aria Company are you not?"
And so we aboard the gondola, Aika was the one who handles the oar while Alice and I sat silently on the chair. This time drifting quietly and in peace.
"But you know what Ai-chan?" Aika said "That was some great rowing you did"
"R-R-Really?" I uttered.
"Yeah" Alice yipped in agreement, her soaked uniform was starting to dry up. "That was some "really" invulnerable speed, Akari's backwards rowing is the only thing that can outmaneuver it" (AN. Alice is fond of saying "Dekai" which means "really" or "big")
I threw all the weight of my back into the seat and folded both of my arms till my palm caught the back of my neck "Man Home has limited place to train in." I declared my disappointment on my home planet "All rivers and oceans are controlled, neat and orderly. The advance technology of Man Home ruined the balance and creativity of nature. The only places that people like me can train to are special rivers made for athletes which can only be navigated by going against the flow."
"So Im really sorry" I whimpered "I caused too much trouble because im not used with such submissive rivers"
"Ah," Aika cheerfully painted her face with a wide smile, swaying her hand and gesturing me to ignore it "Don't worry about it. Its all the same among beginners"
It's a thorn that was pulled out of my throat upon hearing that. I felt lighter inside like I was made of cotton brimming to overflowing with silken whispers. I was born in a place envied for its advancements yet I am always dying to return to a place of inconvenience.
"EMBARRASSING COMMENTS ARE NOT ALLOOOOWWWWWEEEEEDDDDD!"'
I sprung wide awake, thumping my heart so fast I felt like its gonna crash through my ribs.
Squinting my dozing eyes, I saw water. Endless sight of waves crashing gently on each other as the setting tangerine sun melt with them. Dying the whole field in an orange wind, shinning like a bitter sweet glint of an apricot glass forged in a yellow flame. I fell asleep?
"Geez, Akari, Your new hairstyle made you look mature but do you realize that you will only disappoint your costumers once they discover that you are not the Yamato Nadeshiko that they expect?" The crude voice alerted me to the fact that I am not alone.
Its already sundown and very soon the pure blank canvass will stretch itself in the sky together with the starlights and 3 Marsian satellites. Though still albietly weak, I turn to my side to see myself surrounded by planks and planks of wood. Im in an open coffin. Or was it?
"Actually, Athena sempai was also always being mistaken to be a solid steel but she is actually a complete Dojikko" With a vision that is still vague, I saw that the one talking is a little girl about the age of 14. She has a waist level of green hair and a firm dead-pan voice. A-Alice Carolle?
I lifted myself slowly, with arms that are trembling and eyes that are still heavy as my waist finally saw the view outside. I was sleeping in the hard surface of a gondola? "Oh, you awake?" came the voice from the same girl who yelled a caconophonic anthem that woke me up. I have no doubt. It was the Heir of Himeya company.
"Hey look Akari, your apprentice was up" She called for her..
I am inside a gondola. And looming above me and the gondolier is the Aria company. Like a towering monolith in its spellbounding splendor poured all over by the bath of the orange gale of the setting sun melting into the water to make room for the Marsian moons to claim its territorial realm of the night.
"Ah" Akari came rushing to the slope "Welcome Ai, to the Aria Company"
I jaw dropped upon seeing Akari's new hairstyle. Not only did her hair grew to waist level. Her sideburns too had reached a length so long she actually managed to loop it around her hair to form a ponytail with enough spare to do it 10 more times. I don't know whether to be disturbed that such sideburns can actually exist or be amused that she could actually row without tangling it upon herself.
Out of sheer confusion, I let myself slumped back into the gondola without speaking anything which made me look like I just loosed consciousness causing Akari to yelp "Hahi!" out of surprise.
I don't feel like asking any questions yet
This story will be abit long because I am focusing on the scenery and emotions to set up the mood, Thats my style. Please tell me if I am getting overly detailed, ok?
Q: 5 years?
-Ai chan looks like a 9 year old girl when we first saw her on the anime, It took Akari 2 years to be a Prima and when we last saw Ai, she was already looking like 14. Unless she suffered the same thing that happened with Al
Q: Ai "Cicerone"?
-Ai chan has no surname so I had to create my own. Cicerone is Italian for "guide" (according to google translate).
Q: Aria-sachou is off character! He was supposed to be a fat woobly dumbass!
-Ever seen how he acted in Aria the Origination ep 7? Its like Aria-sachou is an overseer of undines. Maa-sachou is also compatible as an overseer because we don't know if "she" is really just a kitten or something else inside. (The manga revealed that Maa-sachou is a girl)
Q: I think you exaggerated Ai's rowing
-You havent seen the manga. In the manga, Akari was so fast she leaves after images and the light coming from lamps actually distorts. Not to mention, the rowing skills of the gondoliers makes them look like magical girls with special wands.
Q: 6 years of unblemished records to be a Water Fairy?
-Just bear with me, ok? It will be epic, I assure you.
Q: This story seems familiar
-In a way yes because this is based on Chap #1 of "Aqua", renamed into "Aria" after Amano Kozune changed publication house