Disclaimer: I do not own Princess Maker in any shape or form.
Just a little thing that popped into my mind on seeing the intro's to the second and fourth instalment of the series describing the meeting between the protagonist and the daughter. Elements are drawn from all parts of the franchise that I know of so it may be a bit mixed and mashed.
PS: If you read may I trouble you to offer an opinion about the writing, presentation and other such things? Also on the subject of whether I succeeded in presenting a relationship as "caring father" and not "creepy uncle"...
The clamour of bells could be heard miles away and not surprising for every bell in the city was being rung. Bells are rung for a number of reasons, to mark the hour, to summon the faithful to worship or to warn of danger. The flames devouring the city and the army rampaging in its streets left little doubt as to why they were ringing this night.
The gates shuddered as something heavy hit them, the wood groaning in protest. A group of armoured men desperately tried to barricade the weakening obstacle, propping it with timber, erecting a wall from furniture and wagons. Monks ran here and there, bringing more that could be used to strengthen the barricade and helping the badly injured limp away.
The attacking host, by some called demons and by others ogres, (those from the east called them "Oni", meaning "them") had managed to take the city walls, at a steep price but the defenders finally had to surrender them and what had started as a measured withdrawal towards the secondary line of defence soon turned into a rout.
The soldiers in the monastery were mercenaries from the east came to take part in a border dispute but had instead found themselves fighting a horde of creatures from the underworld who, many claimed, had been sent by the divine himself to punish humanity for it's sins, Obara doubted that.
True the city being laid to waste was not a shining beacon of virtue but it was no more sinful than any other he had been to in his lifetime. As far as the mercenary was concerned the matter was more basic, "Oni" grew tired of clinging to the dead lands to the west and wished to expand into the lush farmlands and woods of the east and this city was simply the first in their path.
Such thought were purely hypothetical and mattered nothing, what mattered was survival. The gates shattered in a spray of splinters as long and sharp as daggers that sent men back, many lifting their arms in an instinctive effort to shield their face, and they poured into the breach.
Though humanoid there was no mistaking them for human. Most were too broad and muscular to be human, many more had horns, some had cloven feet and many had the heads of animals and thick fur. Even those who had none of the above could not be mistaken for human though here the difference was felt rather than seen.
They came at the men holding the barricade bellowing war cries, the mercenaries met them with their own cries and battle was joined. It was hot…
Obara realized the fact in a sudden realization, why was it so hot? The smell of summer grasses, herbs and flowers were heavy in the air. The man lifted a hand to his face and wiped away the sweat that had gathered there, the image was so real it had scared him. He looked around in a daze, rolling plains of tall grass liberally scattered with flowers before him and behind… behind was a stream, a lively little thing sliding over smooth rocks, seeming to threaten to disappear into the earth at any moment. It was so narrow that the man assumed he could jump over it with ease and before he knew it he was gathering strength into his legs, bracing for a jump that would take him over when something moved in the corner of his eye.
Turning sharply he saw a fairly normal sight, a young child collecting the wild flowers for a purpose only she knew. Obara paused at the sight but did not have long to stare as a voice from behind sounded, making him spin on the spot instinctively reaching for his sword.
'A pleasant scene is it not?'
The speaker was a young woman, dark haired, barefoot and in a simple gown. She looked at the mans guarded stance and a faint smile appeared on her lips.
'Do not worry, I mean you no ill. I mean the opposite to be exact for I am here to aid you; you have that confused look on your face again.'
'Again? I know you?'
Came the mans question accompanying a very confused expression on his face. The woman's smile deepened as she replied.
'You do, though you do not yet recognize me.'
She paused and looked past the man to the girl who had started fashioning a wreath from the flowers she had collected.
'I am here by the will of my master. He wishes something of you and I am to ensure that you do so.'
Obara looked at her long before slowly managing a question.
'Where am I?'
'Do you not know?'
The man turned away and looked at the landscape before turning back.
There was no transition of any kind, nothing to mark the change. One moment he was looking at a plain woman the next a corpse, maggots writhing under dry skin and empty eyes studying him, Obara knew her now.
'It is I.'
The man was surprised with how calm he was with the realization. He glanced down and wondered how he had not realized it earlier. The hand that had wiped away the sweat was encased in a gauntlet and had done nothing more than rub against the helmet covering his head. The rest of his body was covered in steel, mail and plate that bore signs of abuse, dents, ruptures and a liberal coating of blood. His? Others? He looked back to death and asked the question on his mind.
'So what now?'
'Normally I would take your hand and guide you across to what lies beyond.'
Death waved a hand at the field on the streams far bank. The man followed the gesture but before he could say anything death continued.
'But not today. I have been told to send you back.'
He found himself asking. Death turned and began walking as she replied.
'I do not know. I only do as told.'
Obara found himself walking along side death away from the stream and the smell of grass and herbs and flowers grew dimmer as did the view of the plain that began to slowly meld into one. With every step the mercenary saw the stream and the field as a dream, a distant memory while the battle and bloodshed became more vivid, shifting from faint memory to fact, death was right, he did have something to do.
And yet he stopped and looked back the way he had come. Death stopped and looked to him without question or impatience. Obara lifted a hand and pointed to the stream.
'What of her?'
'Is she staying?'
Silence met his inquiry and truth be told the man was himself surprised with the question. Death regarded him with its dead eyes before lifting a hand towards him; Obara did not pull back.
'You should be concerned with your own story right now.'
Dead fingers grazed his skin and the mercenary saw nothing more.
Pain. Pain was the only thing he was aware of at first and it took massive effort to open his eyes. He was lying face down, his helmet digging uncomfortably into his skin and every breath sending shards of pain across his body. Obara concentrated on breathing for a moment before pushing upwards. His arms protested at the effort but slowly he rose and took a break on his knees. Breathing heavily, trying to ignore the pain that came in flashes, threatening to send him back into unconsciousness.
Sounds assaulted him. Screams mostly, the tolling of bells, fire consuming buildings. He looked around. The man knelt amidst bodies, human and oni, not far from the shattered gate. Looking away he saw that the monastery was still held, many oni milled around the entrance to the cloister and temple, many of them limping away as the humans held defiant.
He should join the defence. The thought was clearer than even the pain and Obara forced himself to stand. Once steady he looked for a weapon, the halberd he had been using lay not far away, broken. He turned to check whether his sword was still at his side when he realized he had company.
A small group of oni seemed to be observing the battle and just now seemed to realize that the man was near them, still alive. They did not seem to be overly concerned as they began bickering among themselves about who would kill him. Obara had enough time to draw steel and take a stance when one of them charged him.
His sword was a small thing, made for foot duels with a single hand he managed to grasp it in a two handed grip and caught the oni's attack at the base of the sword with the flat of the blade. Not wanting to risk a contest of strength the mercenary shifted his weight and moved his wrist, sliding his weapon free of his enemies own weapon and brought the blade around, past the oni's defence. The creature opened its eyes wide as the tip of the blade cut through its neck. The oni staggered a few more steps before falling, by than Obara was already moving on to the next enemy.
He would give them no time to regroup and swerved from one to another, stabbing one through the stomach, slashing another across the thighs, another across the stomach, stabbed another in the groin till his arm ached, a new pain from all the attacks he delivered, his body shouted in protest as it was clear several blows were stopped only by armour and some had caused new wounds, blood trickling lazily from them, but the man fought on. Having decided he would likely die this day a grim determination settled on the mercenary to make the price of his life as heavy as possible.
Suddenly there was nothing. Obara stopped and blinked, as he was suddenly free of enemies. Many still surrounded him, a number clutching at wounds and several lay at his feet dead or dying but none moved at him, it soon became apparent why. A huge oni, easily towering over the mercenary strode up. He looked at the man, at those he wounded and, in a move that made the man take a step back, laughed aloud.
The merriness passed quickly and any sign of amusement vanished. The oni pulled free a heavy blade and saluted the man with it. Obara did not believe his opponent was doing so but realising he really was being saluted the man straightened his stance and returned the salute. Formalities done the two took a fighting stance but for a moment that seemed to drag on neither moved and than, almost simultaneously, they attacked.
There were no fancy moves, no legendary swordplay. It was all very basic and very deadly. The oni attempted to widen the gap between the two, putting himself out of reach of the humans blade and give himself more room to bring about stronger blows while Obara did his best to stay close delivering a series of jabs and cuts in an attempt to keep his enemy off balance. Every blow one would deliver was met with a deflection from which either fighter would attempt a quick attack. It was over in a minute.
Pulling his right hand back Obara stabbed towards the oni's stomach, he in turn brought his weapon close in a move that sweep the humans attack aside, too late he realized the move was a feint. The blade changed position and moved down, tearing through skin, muscle and bone, entering just above the knee and exiting the other end. Not able to support his weight the oni fell to his knees with a roar that was cut short when the mercenary pulled the sword free. He shifted his weight, grabbed hold with both hands and combined motion from his hips and wrists to deliver a blow with the middle of the blade.
For a second nothing happened and than, ever so slowly the oni's head slid off its shoulders, blood erupting from the wound even as the body followed its head to the ground.
Obara nearly followed his enemy's example as his legs refused to support his weight and he realized this was it; he would die now. A sense of peace took him as he fell to his knees, his grip on his sword the only thing stopping him from falling completely, and began to pray.
He did not die. A howl of fear swept through the enemies ranks and they began to flee, soon every oni in the city was running, trampling one another in their haste. Surprised and wary at first the defenders soon realized the rout was real and gave chase, killing many as they hunted them almost to the very wasteland the oni had come from.
They found Obara kneeling above the corpse of the oni still praying, near delirious from blood loss. Strong hands gripped his body as soldiers and monks moved, checking his body for wounds and trying, in vain, to take the sword from his grip. They nearly dropped him when one of the monks called out,
'Lucifon! It's Lucifon, their chief! Lucifon is dead!'
The call was taken up till it spread beyond the abbeys walls and soon everyone was telling increasingly fantastic stories of a mercenaries duel with the demons hosts lord. Obara himself would hear the first of it when he woke a day later.
The month that passed was a strange one for Obara. The moment he woke he was assaulted by questions and only the intervention of a sister (later he found out it was Sister Lee) saved him from the torrent of words as she chased away anybody who was not wounded. Later he managed to find out what the fuss was about from the sisters, brothers and the other wounded. Apparently his little duel coincided with the enemies collapse and as the last oni he had killed that day was someone important. The man had achieved some sort of hero status and now royalty wanted to see him as soon as he could walk, they waited a good week before Lee declared him fit for movement.
On shaking legs he dressed in borrowed clothes (it was no surprise to him that anything he had in camp had vanished with his squires while he was unconscious) and as it was hardly fitting for a member of the gentry to appear before royalty in a rough-woollen habit he got assistance to put on his battered armour and sword belt and was led/escorted to the castle.
Still weak he stood as best he could as several important people spoke about him and to him but it was only when the king spoke that Obara began to listen and he almost sat from surprise.
The free-lance expected a word of praise, maybe a coin or two but he got much more, an offer. The title of champion, an annual allowance of 500 gold for his staying in the kings service. The offer struck him mute. Even though it was not said in what coinage the allowance would be given (sovereigns, guinea, ryals and chervone were not worth the same despite all being gold coins) it was still a handsome sum. Despite this he hesitated, was it a good idea?
'I am honoured, your grace.'
'As you should be and as would we, were you to accept.'
The king, broad shouldered and straight-backed despite the complete lack of any colour bar white in his beard, regarded the free-lance for a moment in silence before continuing.
'If there are reasons stopping you from taking the post than you will not be forced, nor will you be denied a reward.'
A clap of his hands brought in several pages bearing a chest and something resting on a pillow. Kneeling before the royal couple the pages presented what they carried and both king and queen stood to take what was there. The king continued speaking.
'In the meantime you shall be rewarded. From the crown the sum of ten ryal.'
Obara took the chest from the king, his weakened body protesting at the weight. The next was the queen.
'And from every resident of this city we present this, bear it with pride.'
If anything the mercenaries' shock grew as the queen placed a wreath of grass and wild flowers on his head, the corona graminea. Heralding from antiquity the simple grass crown was a high honour bestowed upon a soldier whose actions saved an army.
Obara could only bow; mute from the scale of the honour before leaving the hall, not noticing the amount of faces glaring at him.
He was back at the monastery ostensibly because he had nowhere else to go but in truth because he wanted some privacy and the clergy were not prone to let anybody wanting to see him in so as not to upset the injured. The thought of having such an income was tempting but being champion meant that, in essence, he would be a glorified bodyguard, a blow to his honour. But could he count on anything better? He was nearing thirty and so far had achieved nothing but travelling from one war to another for nearly a decade now and had failed to put aside enough money to purchase his own holding, could he afford to be picky?
The heat was unbearable. Walls of fire rose all around him, sweat poured off of him like fat out of a roasted duck. The acrid smell of smoke was in his mouth along with another, stronger taste, a cloying copper like taste, blood. There was no time to cough, nor gag; he barely deflected the blade aimed at him, shifting his whole body backward to avoid the blow. Without thinking of the action he brought the blade around and caught his opponent across the neck with the tip of the blade. Hands shot up in a vain attempt to stop the blood flowing even as the dying fell to his knees before sliding to the floor.
Free of enemies Obara looked around, everything around him burned, how did this happen? He didn't know that but knew that he had to make his escape quickly before the smoke killed him. Decision made he began to move but checked himself; a shadow flickered at the corner of his vision. He turned sharply, sword in front of him but all he saw was a shape disappear around a corner.
His common sense screamed at him to leave it be but something urged him onward. At turning the corner he saw the shape disappear around another bend. He felt as if he was merely observing his progress through the flames, as if he had no more choice about where he went than the clothes he wore decided what he dressed in. How many times did he almost see what he was pursuing? The man did not know but he kept making the turns until there were no more turns to make.
A circular chamber with ten niches each was containing one of the guardian spirits. Obara turned round, looking upon each one separately and he felt their gaze hotter than the flames licking at his form. He stopped and looked harder behind one of them, it would seem he found the illusive runner.
He took a step forward and than; he woke up.
For a moment he lay in silence, simply staring at the vaulted ceiling. Realizing he was wide-awake and would not sleep any time soon the man pushed aside the blanket and stood up with a sigh, the rushes rustling underfoot. Treading lightly to avoid waking the others sleeping in the solar he made his way outside.
It was dawning. Over the abbeys walls he saw the sky take a pinkish hue but the night's chill was still strong. Taking a deep breath the man moved intent on walking till he felt tired or it was time to start the day, whatever came first. There were already monks going about their tasks and some of them nodded at him, nods that the mercenary returned. At the change of seasons his breath formed mist in the morning air and a frost still clung to the grass.
With no plan in mind Obara simply walked. Time passed and the sun peaked above the wall turning the abbey in a mix of black shadow and blinding light, somewhere the monks greeted the day with a hymn. The man paused, eyes closed, as he let the sun warm him while trying to recall the words being sung.
A metallic clang made his eyes snap open even as he turned on the spot, hand reaching instinctively for his sword only to hit air, he had not strapped it on. Tempted to walk away the man sighed and decided to investigate despite his common sense saying there was no reason to. Hand on dagger he went in the direction the sound had originated from, a small door leading away to a circular room where statues of the humanities ten guardians stood.
The source of the noise was clear; a candelabrum lay on the floor, one of the candles still burning though most lay in pools of quickly congealing wax. The man looked around with a scowl, though it soon faded. Though stone the artist responsible for the statues did stellar work, the combined weight of their gaze made Obara uncomfortable. With a weary sigh the man turned to leave when he noticed something that made him stop.
'Come out from there.'
'And if I don't? Milord.'
The words belonged to a small shape hiding behind the carved robes of one of the guardians and were delivered in a voice that was almost defiant, the "milord" added as if in afterthought. Obara frowned as he replied.
'I'll drag you out into the open.'
There was a moments silence before slowly a head slid out from behind the statue.
'You would? Why?'
An unruly mop of dark hair framing a pale face, large brown eyes looking straight at him without fear, only curiosity. Obara did not reply, not for a lack of words but because;
The smell of wild grass, herbs and flowers were thick in the air, somewhere a stream trickled, and someone was saying something, laughing.
He shook his head; he was back in the cold shrine, ten pairs of empty eyes looking down on him and one pair of very live, very curious eyes looking up to him. She had come out from her hiding place and now stood in front of him. Obara shook his head one more time.
'If you're hiding it means you are doing or had done something wrong.'
The girl continued to look at the man; though she seemed to be listening intently she did not answer. The freelance sighed and pointed behind him at the candelabrum and its lone, dying, candle.
'You knocked it over?'
The child looked at the piece of furniture than back to the man.
'I only touched it and it went "clang" down to the floor.'
Obara didn't know what it was, whether the look on the girls face combined with her serious tone or whether he was simply reacting to everything that had happened to him in so little time but he couldn't stop himself from laughing out loud. The child jumped and ran at the sound before staring at the man with eyes the size of saucers from behind a statue. The laughter faded but the smile was still in place as he spoke.
'Fair enough little one. Shall we clear it up?'
A moment's silence as the girl seemed to think about the matter before she nodded.
She ran by the mercenary and grabbed the candelabrum and with a grunt attempted to lift it, gasping in surprise when Obara grabbed it in one hand and lifted it, steadying the metal with his second. The girl observed him for a second before she turned away. As the freelance sat the candelabrum upright he was confronted with the remains of a candle, still burning.
He said as he took the candle from his hands, the moment it was clear she turned around, knelt and went to pull free another candle.
'Don't burn yourself.'
He said as he stabbed the candle on a spike.
Came the indignant reply just before she hissed, pulling her hand away sharply. The girl glared at the melted wax before attacking the candles again, within a short moment the candelabrum was back to something resembling its original state. With the girl calmed down Obara decided it was high time to find out who she was when another person decided to enter the room.
Ah, Obara! May I have a moment of your time?'
The girl jumped as if burnt and hid, though not behind a statue as the man expected but behind his legs, the monk's question faded at the end as his attention was drawn to the girl.
'What is it, brother Tobias?'
Tobias, an older man resembling a scarecrow in appearance, shook his head as he answered the nobles prompt.
'Nothing now. I see you have located our little escapist without knowing it.'
That said the brother turned to the girl who was doing her best to hide behind Obara's legs.
'Olive, I thought you promised not to leave the home without permission.'
Though not unkindly the monks voice left no illusion about the fact that he was reprimanding the girl, who looked properly ashamed about the fact.
'I know! But…'
She looked as if she wanted to say something but hesitated before lowering her head.
'Saying sorry is easy however being sorry is difficult. Will you behave now? You know we have a lot to do as it is without you running off every other hour.'
Olive nodded slowly, her eyes glued firmly to the floor. She was no longer hiding behind the mercenary's legs though when he attempted to move he found she had gripped his trousers in a surprisingly strong grip. There was no thought in the action and Obara was as surprised as anybody when he lifted his hand and patted the girl's head, she looked up at him with eyes and mouth wide open and Obara suddenly felt very stupid and removed his hand. In an attempt to cover up his discomfort he ended up saying,
'I'm sure she will, right?'
For a moment all she did was look at him before slowly nodding, released her grip of his leg and went to the monk and the three left the room into the courtyard where the sun was no looking in over the wall without any trouble, bathing it in a warm glow that foretold of the days heat to come. Brother Tobias stopped suddenly before raising his hand and calling out,
The called sister quickly appeared, a mixture of relief and anger on her face.
'Olive! I asked you so many times to not run off on your own!'
To her credit the girl did not attempt to hide but stood there, looking properly apologetic. Tobias spoke up.
'Now, now sister. She is sorry.'
'You're too soft on the children, brother.'
Tobias agreed with an unashamed grin. Sister Radania glared at him before sighing,
'Well I suppose somebody has to spoil them on occasion.'
Before turning to Olive,
'So, my young lady, are you going to be good now?'
'I shall hold you to that. Come, on, lets get back before your friends tear the house down.'
Obara stood to the side, observing and ready to leave at that point. Olive walked towards Radania and had reached out to the offered hand when she paused, turned and ran, sliding to a halt in front of a startled mercenary. She looked up at him before offering something resembling a curtsey.
That done she ran back to the waiting sister and they began walking away. Tobias sighed as he slid his hands into his sleeves; Obara shook his head as he spoke.
'A troublesome one is she?'
'Hardly, if truth were to be told.'
Tobias answered pausing to look skyward before continuing.
'She's good natured, bright but… strange.'
Obara found himself asking. Tobias turned to the man and gave him a long hard look before shrugging.
'She's different, quiet. She'll sit and look at nothing, for hours even. Sometimes she seems to hold conversations with herself… and of course her tendency to disappear. She just walks away out of the blue and is either unwilling or unable to say why.'
The monk sighed again as he shook his head. Obara frowned though he did not know why, the smell of wild grass, herbs and flowers lingered and he found himself annoyed at the fact.
'Most likely. As I said she's quiet and does not speak of her parents. We had no kin of any kind asking about her.'
Tobias scowled at that point,
'Of course even at the best of times there those who would abandon there kin and at times like these…'
He left the thought unfinished.
Stab, twist, withdraw, step to the left and place your weight on your left foot. Combine motion from your hips and wrists for the next attack, wide cut, hit with the tip of the blade. Stop, withdraw the hand, shift your weight and step back, lash out with blade at eye level to discourage pursuit and resume stance.
Obara was in his full gear, going through his sword drill in a move that annoyed doctors provoking their yaps about how his wounds might open. The drill was meant to keep his body from forgetting his life skills but he found he thoroughly enjoyed it.
Simple actions without anyone to bother him taking up his mind just enough so he didn't have to think about anything else and an honest pain in his muscles. He was in a quiet corner of the cloister amidst olive trees where no one bothered him, not since brother Tobias in the morning. Obara liked the quiet and the freedom from the thoughts and doubts that plagued. He would have liked to say that the royal offer was chief amongst his concerns but that would be a lie, he was also thinking of her.
The smell of wild grass and flowers was heavy in the air as he stood in a grey field. With a snarl the man slammed his armoured fist into a tree, he was back in the cloister, amidst olive trees, their aroma the only smell he could sense. Why did she haunt him? A small wisp of a girl, an orphan, a nobody and she plagued his thoughts. Lifting his visor the man spat in frustration, oh he knew what many would say; he could just picture their sneers and contempt. They would be wrong of course; it wasn't perversion that plagued him it was a sense of…
Here he paused, what was it of? He wasn't sure how to describe it, it felt like sadness, fear, regret and anger all at once. The thought of leaving the city to escape this feeling was a constant one. With a sigh he slid the blade into its scabbard and decided to rest. He made his way to the solar but stopped as he moved by a small door leading away into a dark corridor. It would lead him into the circular room with the ten guardians he ended up following it.
It was nice and cool inside the room; the only light was the patch of white showing the door he had taken and a stained glass window high above him leaving the room in a state of darkness. Letting his eyes adjust the mercenary looked from one statue to another. He found it fairly easy to guess which of the guardians the stone represented. First from the left came Saturn, followed by Uranus, Neptune, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Luna, Sol, Pluto and Jupiter. Whoever made the statues earned his pay; one might think that they would move if you looked away. Finding his patron Obara removed his helmet and knelt offering a short prayer. Rising to leave he stopped as he noticed something that had escaped his notice till now.
It was her.
The girl knelt in the corner with her back to him and seemed to be deeply engrossed in something; there would be nothing simpler than to walk away without any contact.
'What are you doing?'
She almost jumped out of her skin at the simple words and looked around with a panicked expression. Obara was also surprised and took a step back, hands raised in what he hoped was a calming gesture.
'I'm sorry! I didn't mean to startle you.'
The girl did not calm down; she cast a look from the armoured mercenary before looking around as if in search of an escape route. The man lifted his visor and tried again.
'It's me, from before. Remember? We cleaned up the candles together.'
The moment the steel plate was lifted the panic was gone replaced with recognition.
'Ah, it's you.'
A hint of a smile had appeared on her face but vanished as her eyes opened wide again, not in fear but a sudden realization.
'I mean, "It's you, milord".'
'You're not very good with the titles bit, are you?'
Her ears went red and her cheeks puffed up.
'I am so! I just forget some of the time.'
A moment passed before she remembered.
The man couldn't help but chuckle, which only made the girls cheeks puff up even more. Looking away he saw the area where the girl had been observing something but he himself saw nothing that warranted any attention.
'So what were you doing? It must have been something important if you were that startled by my hailing you.'
The cheeks returned to normal and the look of indignation disappeared replaced by a worried look. The girl looked away
Obara thought what any adult would think when faced with such an obvious lie and looked back to where she had been crouching in search of a clue as to what sort of mischief she had been doing. Failing to see anything obvious he took a step forward and very nearly jumped back, his balance shifting to his left leg as his hand went for his sword but he couldn't draw it.
The girl gripped his arm and pulled, if he applied more strength he would easily pull the blade free but he hesitated. In that moment strong wind filled the chapel, blowing out the candles and very nearly blew the girl off her feet had Obara not knelt and shielded her from the worst of it. As suddenly as it began the wind died and the sell-sword looked up.
'What was that?'
The girl did not answer, merely looked away though still gripping his sword hand.
'Olivia, was it? You saw what it was, tell me.'
She looked at him than with a gaze that was long and hard.
'You saw it?'
'I saw something. Do you know what it was?'
She shook her head in response. The man sighed before standing up.
'I'll ask one of the brothers, they might have an idea.'
He had attempted to walk away at that point but found that his hand was still in the girls grip, a grip that seemed only tighter than it had been. The freelance opened his mouth to ask her to let go when he heard a faint voice, so faint he couldn't make out the girls words.
'What did you say?'
'They won't believe you. They'll say you're being silly than that you're a liar before they laugh at you and… and…'
Her words started quietly but quickly rose in volume before breaking off suddenly, only her grip on his hand remained strong as her body began to shake. Obara stood for a moment not knowing what to do, where the girl charging him with a weapon it would be easy but this? Slowly the man brought his free hand around and laid it on the girls head before pulling her in for an awkward hug. At first she went rigid, as if to flee but soon loosened and repaid his hug with one of her own that was just as awkward.
'It's tough being different, isn't it?'
Her reply was muffled and unintelligible but he understood all the same and put some more strength into his hug and she repaid in kind. A moment passed before he looked down.
'You had better not be using my brigandine as a handkerchief.'
The pause that followed was all the confirmation he needed. Sighing the man put her at arms length and looked down at the wet stain on the cloth covering his armour. He issued another sigh before pulling free his handkerchief and kneeling in front of the girl.
'I know how to blow my nose!'
The girl said with a frown, the effect somewhat ruined by the snot dribbling from her nose.
'Of course you do, now blow.'
The sell-sword was willing to agree that the stale sweat soaked into his handkerchief was likely far from the most pleasant of smells but decided not to voice that agreement and instead said.
'Yes, yes. Now blow.'
She blew; it was a good one and lodged a fair amount of mucus into the piece of linen. The man looked at it and frowned.
'You can keep this.'
'Don't want it.'
Obara sighed and wondered whether to just discard of the handkerchief but looked up as the girl spoke.
'I don't really know what I see.'
She stopped here and looked at the man, he did not move nor say anything but kept his eyes on her.
'I see shadows, sometimes, moving where there shouldn't be any, sometimes I here something like a whisper. During the day it's fine but later…'
She paused again and the silence drew on till the freelance nodded.
Silence fell again. Beyond the chapel you could hear the sounds of a normal day going on. Obara stood and looked to the girl again.
'Right Olivia, lets get out into the sun.'
She nodded and obediently followed the man.
'What was that?'
She looked up at him, a serious expression on her face.
'They call me Olive, not Olivia.'
The man tilted his head as he thought back and realized that he had been mispronouncing her name. He frowned before shrugging.
'You know what girl; I think I'll keep calling you Olivia. It sounds nicer.'
She looked up at him before looking to the side.
She muttered once or twice before looking back to the man with a grin.
'I think it does too.'
The sun, or more specifically the way it seemed so blindingly bright after the chapel's interior interrupted further talk. Leaning on a barrier the man lifted his face to the sky, soaking up the warmth for a moment before turning back to his companion. She had mimicked him, though rather than leaning on the barrier she was sitting on it, legs swinging as she sat in the sunlight with an expression resembling a happy cats.
'You ran away again.'
Her eyes opened and she looked down but did not say anything.
'Is it that bad there?'
The silence was so long that the man began to doubt whether she would answer. When she did it was in a slow, serious voice.
'No. It's crowded and noisy but the nuns are nice and most of the time its alright but…'
She stopped at that and began swinging her legs again, eyes to the ground. Obara looked away. "But", probably the most important word in that sentence and definitely one putting the entire meaning on its head. In the distance he saw the shape of Brother Tobias walking towards him heralding the girls return to the orphanage.
'Olivia, do you want to live with me?'
He did not know why he said it and felt like slamming his head into the wall. What was wrong with this city? What sort of insanity gripped him since he entered it?
The girl's legs stopped swinging as she turned her head to him with wide eyes. She watched him in silence for a second before asking.
'Are you a pervert?'
He nearly fell of the barrier at that but managed to regain his balance before turning to her.
'Do you even know what a pervert is?'
Came the reply accompanied by a serious face.
'Sister Radania says that if we're out on our own a pervert might kidnap us.'
The mans initial shock and anger passed that time and he sighed a weary sigh.
'No, I am not a pervert.'
He paused feeling uncomfortable all of a sudden, rubbing his armoured neck he continued.
'I meant that I would adopt you. You would be my daughter, of sorts.'
She whispered the word, as she looked away from him and instead focusing on her feet. Slowly, without looking up, she asked.
'That would make you… my father?'
Though she did not seem to expect an answer he confirmed all the same. More moments passed in silence before she turned to him again and answered his question.
And so the die were cast.
PPS: I changed the second games "princess'" default name to a more (in my opinion) more feminine version... so sue me.