Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil, See No Evil
Chapter 4: Stupid Curses Aren't Stopping the Most Extravagant Sphere Hunters in All of Spira!
Flying never really got old. Not for her anyways.
There was just something that breathed up here, this high in the air. Something almost living that couldn't be found anywhere else.
A lot of people have dreams about flying, and Leblanc wasn't much different. The inhuman feeling of the wind whipping past, the sun's warmth beaming off of clouds onto your face from below as you floated over them, and of course, the landscape so much more vast and huge as you saw it from above, just appealed to her.
As a little girl, like many, she even had dreams about it.
The little things, like waving down to tiny ant-sized people, seeing the rivers and lakes as just bluish blotches and veins cutting through the green land, and looking above even snow-capped mountains like they were mere giant rocks, were all things she dreamed as a child. Because even then she craved adventure, wanting it more than anything in the world.
Why else would she purposefully pick a profession that requires one to dive deep into underwater caves, scale rocky cliff faces, and battle all sorts of fiends and forgotten guardian beasts for a sweet prize at the end? Well, of course, besides her love for Nooj, which actually brought the job to her attention of course, but she loved her never boring occupation much as she loved Nooj. Well, almost.
The adventure certainly was appreciated whenever she went on her missions nonetheless. The idea of being in places that hadn't seen a human being in ages excited her. She never could help but wonder if the old ruins and domes spent all those years of waiting just for her to enter them, to discover their secrets, and find their beautiful spheres that were hidden within. The thought thrilled her, and she was more than happy to do continuous 'favors' for Nooj in fetching the spheres he required. Almost like icing on a already delicious cake.
She got that same feeling of bliss when she was dreaming about flying, or better yet, standing on the Celsius deck and overlooking the entire world, actually flying. Like ancient ruins, no one could say they had been up there in years, well except the Gullwings who lived up in the clouds. But, Leblanc still relished in the idea that no one but herself and a few others had breathed this high altitude air in a long, long, time.
Like it had just been waiting for her.
Leblanc sighed, content, and closed her eyes as she stood, at none other than the very front end of the deck on the Gullwing's Celsius. This would be the fourth time she boarded the Celsius, only the third time having been invited, and only the second time she had managed to wiggle herself some free time to idly stand on deck.
The first time was like a dream, and this time still held a feeling of unrealistic happiness, but it was more like reality now that she was experiencing it again.
Clouds split apart against the Celsius's hull and the watery mist that they were formed from dully brushed by Leblanc as she reopened her eyes to the bright blue sky stretching far ahead of her.
The contentment she had earlier painted on her face slowly faded, her eyes hooding, and the slight attractive curl of her lips straightening out, as she sighed again. She held her elbows against her body and shifted her weight, her eyes still drifting over the cut out patterns that were fields between the many roads of Spira.
She knew it wasn't going to be a sensation that would last for her, since it wasn't hers, so she tried not to get too attached to the idea of flying. But, it would've been nice to have it forever.
"Boss?" Logos drew closer before the Celsius hit a bit of turbulence and he jerked forward, his hand reaching out for something to hold onto, which her shoulder offered.
He quickly brought his hand back and went to straighten his coat, coughing slightly, before giving a lopsided smirk, "The, er, Gullwings said you were out here. I thought you'd want to know we are nearing Bevelle."
The trip hardly even took a fraction of the time it would've taken them to walk the distance. And they get to skip all the fiends. Yet, Leblanc nodded curtly and refused the idea of thanking them for the assistance.
They were rivals by all rights after all! It was just like an amateur to forget that. If Yuna was expecting some nice 'thank you's' then she would be surprised. Leblanc looked over the view that the Gullwings were privileged to see every day and gradually glanced out of the corner of her eye at Logos, who couldn't see any of it.
Last time they were heading to Bevelle too, and Logos stood only a few paces behind her taking in all the same sights as she over their world, with probably just as much amazement. It was too bad he couldn't enjoy it again, with the curse blinding him.
Leblanc crossed her arms tightly and set her eyes on the landscape below the white sun-soaked clouds, and off in the distance, a colored and fortified city, Bevelle.
Those Chasers, if they thought that the Leblanc Syndicate would just take the curse sitting down, would also be surprised! Those pompous, self-important, arrogant, and pretentious snobs had another thing coming if they deluded themselves that it would be the last time they ever saw the splendid recovery of the Syndicate.
Even without her voice, and her gunner without his sight, and her warrior without the ability to hear, she knew that between her and the boys, that anything could get done when she set her mind to it. If they had a, slight, disadvantage, then so be it. It only made them that more determined. Since, as Leblanc knew, they all disliked being in this condition and would do anything to get their senses back.
Hard thuds announced Ormi joining them on deck, and Leblanc's eyes watched Bevelle get closer and closer, as the Celsius slowly lowered itself to a landing.
The Gullwings ended up dropping them off directly on the High Bridge, as they had done before, and Leblanc pulled out the sheet of paper with directions and leads that Mikeel had given them. Leblanc was only stopped momentarily when she looked over her shoulder to check if Logos knew to follow her and Ormi and saw the Gullwings also helping to lead the gunner around.
Leblanc cocked her hip and craned her neck forward, hands on her hips, and gestured- Why are you still here?
"We are here to help," Yuna insisted.
"Yeah," Rikku put on hand on her tilted hip and brought her other hand up in level with her shoulder, literally 'pointing' out, "The Chasers seemed pretty tough."
"Even you have to admit that you can use our help." Paine's mellow voice was slightly softer and she jerked her head forward with the slightest hint of smile on her pale face, "Leblanc."
Leblanc crossed her arms. There was no point in arguing, since she didn't have her voice to do it, but they should know that this didn't change a thing. Just like with Vegnagun, if they got in her way from getting a sphere for Nooj, then they would have to fight her for it. She could only hope they knew that.
She briskly turned on her heel as her answer for them and set forward across the bridge and into the city of Bevelle.
Mikeel should be given a lesson when it comes to writing down directions because they were poor at best. Leblanc squinted at it and turned it this way and that, only to discover Mikeel must've had something backwards and the directions were useless.
At one point, they got so turned around that Logos got annoyed and demanded to know why Ormi was jerking him every few seconds to the complete opposite direction. Leblanc only ignored it while Ormi answered in confusion, of course ear splittingly loud, and dumbly asked what it was the gunner had said, the latter hissing as pain attacked his head and he reached for aspirin.
Leblanc tried to make out what 'past a blue building and two green doors down the alleyway' meant exactly on a street full of bluish buildings, when she fully determined that Mikeel must've never been to Bevelle in his life. Or at least given proper directions for the city.
Rikku found a green door and then stopped at the next one over, looking over her shoulder at Paine, and pointing, "Does this look green to you?"
"Looks more like grey," Paine tapped her foot and firmly crossed her arms. Both her and Logos had more than enough of wandering around lost. Leblanc stared at it before crushing the paper in her fist and stomping past it and into the alleyway.
If they didn't find their way soon, then she was going to absolutely kill Mikeel for the wild goose chase he had sent them on.
After a little under an hour of aimlessly searching, Ormi blared out across the street, " 'EY! BOSS! YOUSE SAID THAT IT WAS ON THE UPPER SIDE OF BEVELLE, RIGHT?"
Leblanc looked over at him and nodded. The warrior lifted his hand and her eyes followed to where his chubby finger pointed. A set of white cleanly swept stairs seemingly lead up to an upper tier of the city, and would be a logical place to search for the Chasers. Of course, that only brought them a bit closer to their desired destination. Leblanc motioned for everyone to follow her and started to climb the steps, accepting it was better than nothing.
Logos was hoisted up the stairs bit by bit until finally they could set out into the overly extravagant neighborhoods of the Bevellian high class.
Bevelle was already a beautiful city to begin with, and in the upper class district, even more so. Paint was vibrant and without flaw, stone laid perfectly down in complicated mural like patterns whenever two streets intersected, and the buildings were built tall. Yevon marked banners hung down from every eave of the structured they passed, and occasionally, the small gardens in front of the homes held miniature fountains portraying Yunalesca pouring water from a vase. Flowers of every color was carefully and painstakingly set into the black earth between weaving stone walkways and in reddish, round, pots. The entire street they walked down flourished in signs of richness and luxurious plushness.
Even Leblanc, with her flair for dramatic design and of course, the flashy, was impressed and slightly distracted by the unique homes.
The mix-matched group trailed up and down the exquisite homes, receiving half-curious stares from families enjoying outside lunches on the fine day at white picnic tables with matching chairs and under the shade of a perfectly pruned and trimmed tree. The group, besides Logos, saw the stares and managed smiles and halfhearted waves before turning back into impatience at the badly written instructions that seemingly got them nowhere.
Leblanc pulled out the scrap of paper (earlier deemed worthless) and silently scanned over the information that was scrawled over the surface. If the address was at least somewhat right, then she could use it to navigate from where she stood.
She turned to look at the black iron number plates against each of the front gates in front of the homes. To her surprise, supposedly they were close.
The group, the Gullwing trio right behind Leblanc while Ormi guided Logos cautiously at the back, wove their way down the streets, Leblanc's eyes skipping from one plate to the other, before finally she planted her feet right in front of the matching plate to the note in her hand.
The Chaser's address was right, at the least, and despite herself, her mouth opened just a bit at the sight of where the group had made their headquarters.
The building was wide as it was tall with a round porch jutting out from it's front. Neatly laid colored stones lined the pathway up to the three green painted stairs that connected to the porch, and ultimately the dark red double doors in center of the house face as the main entrance. Windows were clean and red curtains were drawn to block out any wandering eyes. The building itself was a typical color for most Bevellian structures, but had the grand gold linings and framing that rivaled the Temple. Spiral designs decorated the domed roof and led the way up to the highest point of the curve in the dome, where a golden sun jutted up above, and glistening from the true sun's rays.
Like all the buildings they had passed so far, from the eave below the dome, hung a Yevon banner. What was different of course, was the other banner that held relatively no meaning unless you saw and knew what that marking was. And orange circle inside a white one, placed on a black background. They emblem of the Chasers.
Leblanc looked back down at the paper for good measure and read the last line- Building with a gold sun.
Leblanc shook herself. Of course it was showy. They were showy people, and with that fact, there was no reason to be jealous or shameful. Anyways, no one in their right mind would call her own home shabby, even in comparison. So, Leblanc waved her hand over her shoulder and took the first steps towards the Chaser's headquarters.
Knock knock knock!
They paused a moment before the two groups exchanged looks, excluding Logos of course, before Rikku shrugged lightly and her girlish voice drew out-
"Maybe…They're not home?" She shook her head, her tone doubtful. "Or we're not being loud enough?"
Leblanc stared up at the windows, but neither light nor activity of any sort could get past the heavy draperies even if it was going on behind them. She set her mouth and narrowed her eyes again on the double doors.
Her purple encased knuckles rapped on the double doors a third time, faster and with more fury behind her pounds, before she received much of the same. She stomped her foot and her mind coiled around her anger boiling in her skull.
Paine tilted her hips and offered, "Should I kick it down?"
"HELLO!" Ormi bellowed in his attempt to scream through the walls. Logos hissed at yet another unexpected attack on his ears and plugged the side of his head, shooting a nasty look as best as he could in Ormi's direction.
Leblanc took another step back, staring through the walls, before she grabbed the lion knocker in her hand and slammed it into the copper plate beneath it with all her might.
There was a distinct click and the grand double doors were finally opened to reveal Reo spreading his arms wide as he held the knobs in his fists, a sick smile on his lips and with his eyes closed, "We've been expecting you-" He opened his eyes and instantly narrowed them, seeing who his visitors really were, "Or perhaps not…"
Leblanc narrowed her eyes harder at him and tapped her foot against the wood of the porch, lip jutting out. Reo scanned over the faces and his smile grew bigger.
"I'm surprised to see you alive." He leaned his thin frame into the side of the half opened door and chuckled, "Though I guess you're suffering from that fancy curse now, ain't ya?"
As soon as it was said, Dardel's voice trailed behind Reo, asking, "Why haven't you let them in yet?"
When his face appeared, he seemed only somewhat surprised to see them before he darkly smiled and wiggled a hand at them, "Come on in, then. But this visit will have to be short. We don't have much time to deal with inconveniences today."
Leblanc's frown sunk and after pausing for a moment, she stepped past the gap between the two Chaser men, sparing a glance behind her to her two boys, before being coaxed to step further in by Dardel. When the Gullwings, the last to enter, were ushered in and the heavy doors shut behind them, Dardel noticed Leblanc surveying her surroundings and swept his hand through the air to ask-
"What do you think?"
Leblanc had already finished looking around the finely furnished and crisp smelling room, not finding the useless frivolous things that usually decorated her home, like trappings and wall hangings, and directed her eyes over at Dardel with a forced bored expression. It actually wasn't a bad place to look at, just very practical and spotless, but Leblanc didn't like them and they weren't going to earn a compliment.
Logos sniffed and asked, much to Leblanc's amusement, "Have you ever walked into a place and had the instant urge to burn it down?"
Dardel leaned back and again lost his cool smile, "My, my, I will blame the fact that you're currently cursed as the excuse for why your being blatantly rude."
"Or," Logos proposed sarcastically and with as much sharpness as Dardel had met him with, "It might be from the fact that we had a run-in with a group of high-strung sphere hunters that stole the spheres we had just only recently acquired and left us to die, or suffer some dark fate of a mysterious curse!"
Dardel raised his shoulders and took a step towards the gunner, Ormi in turn stiffening and balling up his fists beside his companion. The leader of the Chasers lowered his voice to a harsh spitting whisper and leaned into Logos's unseeing face, "If I were you, I'd watch what I say if you hoped for any chance of getting answers from the Chasers!"
"No doubt-" Logos began slowly and with a dangerous narrowing in his already thin and intimidating eyes, "That whether or not you wanted to give up the answers by choice, and even considering our current-hrm-conditions, you'd be required to tell us everything we 'ask' of you."
"Oh ho~," Dardel leaned his head back and seemingly sized Logos up, remembering slicing through his clothes back in the ruin with a grin, "Is that a threat I hear?"
"I assure you, a promise." Logos bared his teeth and his arms stiffened at his sides.
Dardel seized up the front of Logos's coat and pulled the already tall man as high as he could, the other gripping the forearms he felt for with one hand and pulling up a fist on the other side.
"Stop it!" Yuna's soft voice pierced the air and before either of the men knew it, she was at their sides. Seemingly of course, only she had seen Leblanc slip her sharp metal fan out from behind her and Ormi widen out his arms to smash the Chaser's leader.
"Why can't you just tell them about the curse?" Yuna furrowed her delicate brows and her whole body was tensed with the heroic determination that was common of her character.
Dardel smirked, his hand still gripping the front of Logos's coat before the gunner smacked it away with a flat gloved hand in disgust. Dardel glanced at his stinging hand then replaced his predatory eyes on the Former High Summoner's face, "Because-" He showed his narrow teeth through the triangle his mouth made, "What do I owe these men and woman? Nothing, that's what. I have no need to help them, and they don't have the privilege of asking for it."
"Meanies!" Rikku shot out and stuck her tongue childishly out to the leader and Reo while she was at it.
"The way of the world," Dardel turned to Leblanc from the Al Bhed and added, "And I suggest you leave now. As I've said before, we don't have time for any inconveniences like putting you and your 'goons' in place!"
Leblanc rose up and challenged him with a fierce glare. How dare you!
"Dar-del," A sultry voice pulled all the hostile attention up to the stairs. Arlayla sauntered down the steps and somewhat moaned, "Are the new buyers still not here yet?"
Halfway down, Arlayla finally observed the groups standing in the front room, an unfriendly aura around them all. In reaction to them, she simply smiled and tilted her fine silk dress-clad hips, "Well, well, well, if it isn't the Gullwings and the Leblanc Syndicate. I take it your here to demand about the undoing of the curse?"
Being that she was possibly Leblanc's most hated of this already annoying group, Leblanc simply glared, but what they were there for was obvious enough despite the lack of answer.
"Now why are you Gullwings here?" Arlayla seemed just a tad nervous, "The curse should only affect those that pry the spheres from the stand and take it from the treasure room."
Yuna pulled her shoulders up and set her mouth to a tight line, "Tell them how to undo the curse."
"Ha!" Arlayla suddenly laughed and the sound cut through the still air like a razor. She grinned wide, her beautiful exotic eyes sparkling with pleasure, before she lowered her voice to an amused chuckle, "Impossible."
"Why not?" Rikku took a step beside her cousin and bobbed her head at the trio of the Syndicate, "They may not be all that nice of people but they don't deserve to have their senses taken away."
Leblanc gave the Al Bhed a look before intensifying it and diverting it to Arlayla's direction, who once again spoke.
"Can you find out nothing by yourselves?" She rose her voice a pitch, "If you did any research at all on the Monkey Spheres, you'd of known that losing your senses is only a mild part of the curse- just the beginning! Consider yourselves lucky that you had three to take the spheres instead of one foolish hunter that would lose three of his senses at once." Arlayla continued to amble down the steps, lifting her slightly over-long silk hem in her slender hand as she made her way to stand in front of Leblanc, a wicked grin on her painted lips.
"It could be much, much worse you know," She tilted her small chin and pursed her lovely plump lips, "You could've lost your senses and your lives down in that crumbling ruin."
Leblanc lifted her chin haughtily up in the air and centered her gaze on the tan face. Her lips curled, mockingly, before she slapped her steel fan against her hip bone, producing a loud clang that sliced through the air as Arlayla's earlier laugh had done.
The Chaser woman lifted a dark colored brow and opened her mouth in a small 'o', "Ooh, you think your strong enough to survive just about anything, don't you?"
She had survived Vegnagun hadn't she?
Leblanc continued to smile before it gradually lowered as Arlayla stared at her seriously.
For a moment, light seemingly left her eyes and the woman stated with darkness hidden under her voice, "The curse is far more deadly than you think."
A/N: This seems to be heating up, no? One wonders what will happen next, but it will only continue from this point with your lovely reviews!