Soda and Weed.
Summary: "So, what do we do old chum? In the middle of the battle, light one up and pass it around?" A novelization of Nostalgia, making good use of the term 'Artistic License.'
Disclaimer: I WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR THAT, DON'T EVEN ACT LIKE YOU CAN.
Q: Why is it called 'Soda and Weed?'
A: I'm glad you asked. This work could be called Nostalgia: A companion collection. But they just had to use the terms 'heal bottle' and 'heal leaf' instead of regular old potion and herb. For the life of me, I cannot understand. Potion and Herb are not copyrighted. They never will be. They sound so much more professional that heal bottle and heal leaf, and they are easier to type. But, Heal bottles are described as sweet (like soda), and heal leaves are described as bitter. I am no druggie, but I am pretty sure weed is bitter.
So, I'm using Soda and Weed.
Besides, it sounds cooler than Potion and Herb. And it stands out. And while there is little to no recreational use of weed, it conjures up an image of the main cast sitting around getting stoned while drinking soda.
And let's face it. That's awesome.
The Tower of Babble was cold, if you could believe that. Maybe it was just because Fiona was frightened and trembling with fear, maybe because the large chamber was in fact rather chilly. She could not think enough to sort it out on her own right now. She was not thinking about much, really, just aimless questions. Who was she, really, this man in armor seemed to know, but no matter how many times she asked, he just laughed and told her to just do as he told her, and she would never be hurt.
She generally went for the path of least resistance, because she did like remaining unhurt.
But then this whole 'Tower of Babble' thing had happened and she was seriously reconsidering. She got bad vibes, she could not understand it. As she walked up the stairs, two black-clad figures behind her, and two ahead, and a man in armor just beyond them, she was seriously considering jumping into the center of the room, and plummeting downward until she hit the floor. It would probably kill her. It might just break her legs and made her really, really miserable.
And they would probably just drag her back up the stairs and make her do what they wanted anyway, if she remained alive. So, even if she looked over the edge and it looked mighty tempting, she did as she was told and kept walking up the spiral staircase to the door at the end. But she knew the man in armor was planning something horrible.
His name was Carmine, for anyone who was curious. He had red hair, blue eyes that were a little green, and he did not always wear armor. Most of the time he just wore a casual suit, he only wore armor of occasions where he was certain he was in some sort of mortal danger. Fiona looked around the room. She did not see any signs that they were in physical danger.
Perhaps he just used it for ceremonial purposes?
She hardly knew him. All she did know, with any certainty, was that he was holding her hostage. She had been under his wing and in his iron fist for as long as she could remember, but the two had hardly spoken to each other. He seemed to need something from her. She did not really know what, yet.
The room had no more doors aside from the one they entered. Two cabal agents walked forward to cover the back to corners of the room, and the two behind her forced to enter fully, and they escorted her forward behind Carmine.
The party leader walked boldly into the center of the room, where a pedestal stood. She looked at the pedestal and wondered, is this what I am for? On the pedestal was a fragment of something, it looked to be made of pure, but slightly dull, gold. Whatever it was a fragment of was probably circular in shape, judging from the curved edge and border around the fragment. It seemed to have some sort of other worldly power, because it floated and rotated in midair just above the pedestal.
"So this is the piece to the gate we seek."
Carmine reached out for it, but he had spoken too soon. The fragment glowed for a second and stopped turning. There was a bright like, a small crack like a tiny thunderbolt, or a whip, and Carmine staggered back, swearing loudly. Little sparks danced up the metal on his arm to his chest, but stopped quickly enough. Fiona could smell burnt skin and fabric, and Carmine took a moment to compose himself. He tore off his gauntlet glove and the lower armor on his arm, rolling up his sleeve.
There were tiny little burns here and there, and holes burnt in his sleeve, but no major damage, not that Fiona could see.
"Damn!" he swore, "Bring the girl."
The two black-clad figures that had remained as her escort were slow to move.
"Bring her, you fools!" Carmine said, "Now."
They staggered into action, stiffly moving forward. They scared away by the magic, and yet compelled forward by the authority in his voice. They pushed her forward, too, and eventually, she began to walk on her own, just as scared and awestruck as they were, and so her joins were stone and her bones were honey. She felt about to collapse, and she was terrified as he clamped his burned hand down her wrist and held it to the rotating segment of stone.
"What is it?"
"There is no need for you to know."
But, she felt like she did know already, she just could not remember for the life of her. What was it? Something told her it was bad, after all, it had hurt Carmine. What if it rejected her, too? What if it burned her hand off completely?
"No!" she said, pulling back on his arm so hard she feared her shoulder would be torn apart, "No!"
With a firm grip on her wrist and another strong tug forward, he brought her towards the pedestal so that her fingers brushed the golden-hued stone. It did not reject her. It did not spurn or shock her. It was neither burning hot nor bitter cold to her touch. It seemed to be the exact same temperature as her fingers. Very, very ordinary. It was unyielding, as stone should be. It stopped turning when her fingers touched the raised hieroglyphs, and some unknown, powerful magic lifted it from the ground. Fiona was certain she should know what it was. Its power seemed so warm and familiar.
She seemed to be close to some answers now. Who was she? She pondered for a split second? Her identity was like fine white cloud for a moment, but when she touched the stone, something came back to her, or at least, something started to come back to her. It turned her way, briefly, but just before she could make eye contact with her past life, a man's voice shouted, "Hold it!"
Carmine's hand relaxed on her wrist, and as he turned, he pulled her hand away from the stone. There was a flourish of black cloth as one of his inferiors tore off his black robe and revealed himself. Fiona took much longer comprehending the situation than Carmine did.
And then the man moved. Carmine stammered, as if his line had been interrupted as the man tackled her and separated her from the stone, and the answers about her past. He kept the two of them upright, and skidded to a halt just in front of the door. Fiona did not say anything. She was unsure of what to think.
"You won't get away!"
The man took out a pistol and fired it. Fiona was exited and terrified for a split second, because she had never seen a man killed with a gun before.
But he did not hit Carmine.
He missed. By a mile.
Instead of hitting the man in armor's completely visible head, this man—this 'Gilbert Brown'—hit a stone eye on the other side of the room. Fiona was completely baffled for a moment, because he started to turn to leave after that. Fiona was a bit confused and bewildered, but she knew—she knew that turning her back on an opponent was completely silly, and she knew very well that a revolver that side had about six bullets in it. There were five men. She was against killing, but—
She heard stone grating against stone, and two great doors started to close in front of them. It was very slow, slow enough for the men in black and their leader to escape and follow them, easily.
But Carmine was a horribly logical man.
He threw a sword.
Not even his sword, Fiona observed as Mister Brown pulled it out of the wall. Carmine had an impressive broadsword, that if thrown properly (and Carmine had demonstrated that he could throw it properly) was capable of taking a man's head off at twenty paces. He had thrown a very plain sword. And, not surprisingly, he missed, too. Unfortunately, he was not able to de-activate the trap that Mister Brown had sprung.
"Damn. [1.]" He hissed, "I missed."
He started to step forward and he drew his own sword, as if to fight them, but Mister Brown would not let him have that chance. He grabbed Fiona's hand and guided her down the spiral staircase with a quick, "Come on!"
She heard the scraping stone come to a halt and heard what sounded like metal buckling and cracking. She turned around briefly to see that Carmine had stopped the closing doors with his own sword, and was stepping back so his underlings could run through first. She let go of Mister Brown's hand to gather up her long dress and run after him, her bare feet lightly tapping against the cold stone floor.
"Thank you so—" the dark-haired girl started to say "Oh! Look—"
Two more members of the black-clad soldiers stood in front of them, both with machine guns. Before they could turn fully and fire a round, Mister Brown hooked an arm around her waist and jumped off of the edge of the stairway. The two plummeted down, leaving their pursuers and Carmine far behind, but now Fiona wondered—just a little, as was expected—if falling, crashing and probably dying against the floor was really worth it. She closed her eyes and screamed in fear.
When they were stopped abruptly, it was not because of the floor, but a grappling hook, which Mister Brown had taken from a bag at his belt and had attached to the railing of the spiral staircase, and they swung easily back onto the stairs, and resumed running downwards. That was quite impressive! He must be paid to do these things, because no mere hobbyist would dare take such risks! She stopped for a moment to look back and see how far behind Carmine had been left, but for a man in armor, he was very quick!
She continued to follow him, because the alternative was returning to Carmine, who never spoke a word to her and never gave her any answered. Maybe, just maybe, this man would.
"Why—" she panted as she ran, "Did you help me?"
He did not answer. He just looked back, saw that she was lagging behind, and tugged her along to keep her in step with him.
She tightened her grip on her skirt and followed her rescuer to a small red airship. It was not state of the art, but it had been... At one point. It was a zeppelin, the kind perfected in Germany many years ago. It was already running and ready to sail away, with a single rope tethering it. There was a ladder reaching up to the side, which he urged Fiona up first.
"Hurry up and get on."
Her skirt snagged on her foot, and she nearly fell, but she heard Carmine and Mister Brown exchanging words and blows behind her, and she steadied her resolve, climbing up the ladder. It was difficult getting over the railing in her heavy skirt, but otherwise, she tumbled onto the deck without a hitch, and she was up again, as quickly as she could be. She felt the ship lurch suddenly, which knocked her off her feet again. Curious, she went over to the railing and saw as she looked down that the ship was flying off at a dizzying height.
With Gilbert Brown holding tightly to the rope that had kept the ship in place. Her stomach turned for a moment, because she knew full well what happened when someone fell from such a dizzying height.
"Open fire!" she heard Carmine shout faintly, "Don't let them get away!"
Her stomach turned again. She hated all this excitement!
Gilbert set the rope swinging, making him slide back and forth and slam against the ships side with one painful metallic bang! After another, but it made him a difficult target to hit. Any bullet that managed to reach him was easily deflected with the flat of his borrowed sword.
Unsure of why, (she knew full well she could not reach him and he could not reach her) she leaned down as far as she could and called out to him, "Take my hand."
He looked up at her for a moment, and was distracted, so his arm fell, the sword useless for just a second as he considered climbing up the rope to reach her. But she had called out too early, though the Cabal soldiers could not properly hit him, they could hit something and just before the ship was safely out of range, they did hit something. One moment, he was there, about to drop the sword so he could climb up, they next he was gone, a charred half of rope the only proof he had ever been there.
"Mister Brown!" she called out as he vanished into the mountains and mists below, "Mister Brown!"
But he was gone. Probably, by now, he was a broken pile on the earth. What a valiant rescue attempt, only to end so tragically. What would she do? She looked back towards the tower of Babble and saw that Carmine was boarding his own airship, preparing to pursue her. What could she do? What could she do?
She backed away from the railing, and the ship was hit by a strong gust of wing, knocking her away from the tower and into the higher clouds, lost to the world. She waited on the deck, as if Carmine's ship would suddenly appear of the grey-white around her, but he never did. She emerged into the light again, and she seemed to be miles away from where she had started drifting.
And so Fiona drifted.
It was breathtaking at first, leaning over the railing and watching the land sweep by, the birds fly along beside her, and drift with the wind. Then she hit turbulence and was nearly knocked out, and the illusion of beauty was gone and Fiona realized just how much danger she was truly in.
She had been out here for hours, and she could feel the tingle of sunburn on her face and arms. She needed to get out of the sun and find a way to at least attempt to steer the giant airship. But when she tried to get into the bridge to steer the airship, and found out that it was locked. There was no spare key anywhere. She was stuck out side to weather the elements, sleep under the stars and cower when monsters attacked the ship.
And so Fiona drifted.
... And drifted...
[1.] Artistic license. I changed some things (like Carmine stopping the doors with his sword… Which I actually think is some form of broadsword-flamberge-axe lovechild) and the script is not going to be word for word. I write better dialogue than those people!
I am sooooooo glad there is finally an FFN section for Nostalgia! I have an excuse to write this now!