Amberground was a country solely light by a single, man-made sun. It was here that many stories and tales were spun. Sorrowful stories that give hope to light, and other stories speaking of a deceitful light that forcefully steals away all that's precious. It is in this story that will speak of meaning and hope – a single letter lost in the sandy dunes.
Chapter 1: This Time - Our Moment in Time
He watched as a large flame engulfed the remainder of his home. Horrified, he ran towards the ruin calling out for him mother and father. "Mama! Papa! Where are you!?" He cried out in panic. Emerald eyes scanned from room to room with no sign of luck. "Mama, I'm scared!" he screamed as he cried. His silver hair tainted in suite, and his eyes stung from the ash and bitter tears. He continued to pursue after his missing parent, calling out to them as he ran through the burning corridors.
Eventually he came to the final room – his parents' room. "Mama, what happened to you…?" He asked with a faint smile, "I was calling you over and over and you never came. Papa didn't come either, so I grew scared. Mama, what-"He stopped in his tracks. There laid his mother, drenched in blood. Lifeless eyes stared at him, and the young child screamed. He moved his gazed and saw his father as well with his body much in a similar condition.
"It's amazing, isn't it?" a voice said in a much too sweet of a tone. The boy looked up from the bloodied corpses and saw a child around his age, draped in the blood of the two bodies. Amber eyes stared back with a mocking gaze; terrified, he backed away. The blood-covered child sneered, "Scared of me, are you? Don't worry, I won't kill you," He came closer to the trembling boy, and sent him tumbling to the ground. His emerald gaze filled with fear as he stood just inches away from him. "I'll do you the favor of sparing your life," The child grinned, and a scream resounded.
He awoke screaming. Another nightmare had plagued him yet again, and it seemed as if he won't be sleeping that night either. "Ah, damn," he muttered in a slurred tone, "Another stupid dream…?"
"What was your dream about this time?" He turned his gaze to a boy in rags. He was slightly older than him, but his childish antics were that of a four-year old – such factors that purged his hatred deeper.
"Stay out of my room, Kurodou!" He bellowed, tossing his pillow at the black haired male. He dodged it with a smirk and landed on the white haired male with a pout.
"Come on Masomi! Tell me; tell me~" Masomi proceeded with punching the elder off of him, only to miss again, "Miss again! Honestly, you've never hit me before. What makes you think you'll hit me now?" This angered him further, and he jumped onto the agile teen, only to land on the cold floor, "What did I tell you?"
"Damn you, you moron!" he answered as he started chasing after the male.
Kurodou ran off with a smirk; Masomi knew the boy wanted his attention like so, but he couldn't control his actions anyways. The child annoyed him so, and he also resembled the child in the fire – he'll direct that hate onto him until he could find the real killer. The killer from the fire that took his life away – the fire that took away precious memories; he hoped to find him someday.
"Wah, Masomi's being a meanie," the agile child cried out with a laugh, "Catch me if you can~" His taunts and teases were his strong points; the silver haired child knew that as well. He was also aware of how evasive the boy was. No one can catch him in a fell swoop, for he would move to the side in a speedy manner. His strength was no joke either; he couldn't land hard hits, but he is exceptionally good at striking weak points rendering his attacker immobile. He knew because Kurodou did that to him several times before.
"Forget it, moron," He simply stated before leaving the male to his tricks. Kurodou turned around and pouted, muttering something about him being a chicken. Masomi turned to him, enraged once more. "One day I'll see to it that you're dead, bastard," he stated in a menacing voice, however the black haired teen merely snickered.
"When the day comes and you finally catch me, slow poke," he sneered.
"Shut up, moron," Masomi snapped, and Kurodou snickered again.
Five years ago there was a large fire that destroyed an isolated home of three, killing two of its inhabitants. The sole survivor was an Albisian child of age ten by the name of Masomi Haruhi. The child was then taken to an orphanage near the city of Kyrie and just ways away from the bridge to Yuusari – Bifrost. It was there that he met Kurodou, a deceptive and cunning young boy who loved to get him and others into trouble. Since then, the two were together since, creating this sort of lenient love-hate relationship.
It was also around this time that Masomi started to work towards becoming a Letter Bee. Employed by the government, Letter Bees are given the important task of delivering letters from place to place despite the danger of large monsters known as gaichuu. Such a job pays well, and really all Masomi wanted to do was get as far away from a certain annoyance as soon as possible. Two birds with one stone, I guess, he thought.
The first half included taking a written test to see how much they knew in the line of work. That fraction was a difficult enough as it is, but he pulled through and passed, much to his surprise. The second half was to be taken in Yuusari Central, located in Yuusari which was across Bifrost. Least to say he was overwhelmed with happiness, not only because he had a chance to become a Bee, but also because he finally received his ticket away from Kurodou.
"I wanna go, too!" the boy complained when he announced his success, "Quick, make me your dingo so I can go too!"
"No way am I going to, idiot!" Masomi retorted, "You may be strong and all, but I can't trust you with anything, let alone keeping me alive! Besides, I already have a dingo. Aðalbrandur, remember?" A small hawk cried out, and Kurodou pouted.
"How's a bird gonna help you deliver letters?" he asked, "I can't keep my eyes on him, so how would a gaichuu?"
"Messenger bird, you moron," he said, giving a hard whack to the older male's head, "If the situation's tough, I'll just send him for backup or as my replacement. Whatever gets the job done,"
"Meanie," he replied, and Masomi stuck his tongue.
Two days before the exam, he will be picked up by a passing Letter Bee and be brought to Central along with one other. He wasn't told his name, but the boy was told that he will also be taking the second half of the Letter Bee exam. Now that day has come, and of course his morning had to be ruin by the ever so annoying teen.
"Take good care of yourself, and don't mind us. We'll be right here," his caretaker said with a sad smile, "Promise me that you'll go there and come back a Letter Bee,"
"It's a guarantee," Masomi said with a laughed, "Thanks for looking after me all these years. Now you promise me to keep that human devil away from me," He pointed towards Kurodou, who pouted when he realized what the silver-haired boy meant.
"Meanie," he murmured as the distant sounds of a passing carriage grew louder and louder.
"It looks like your ride is here," the caretaker pointed out as a carriage appeared in their line of sight. Closer and closer it came until it stopped in front of the rugged path to the orphanage. A Bee clung to the reins, and Masomi sensed displeasure in being near him. You have got to be kidding me was what he thought as he approached the carriage.
"Are you Masomi Haruhi?" he asked in a serious tone, displeasing him further.
"A-ah," he answered, looking away, "Who are you?"
"Moc Sullivan," he replied, "Get in. You're wasting time as it is," The silver haired teen felt insulted, but made no moves to start an argument.
"Since when was I put with a stingy kid," he muttered as he climbed in the carriage. His dingo flew overhead, and Masomi gave the command to follow the carriage. He looked inside and was surprised to be greeted by a small cloaked figure. Unsure of whether this was the other candidate he took his seat across from the figure.
"O-oi, are you taking the exam as well?" he hesitantly asked, and the figure looked up to reveal bright blue eyes.
"Yeah, you too?" he merely nodded in response, and the figure sighed, "What a relief. I was afraid I'd be the only one. My name is Yukio Tsukiko, mister,"
"What 'mister'?" Masomi asked, embarrassed, "My name is Masomi Haruhi, so no need to call me 'mister' or whatever. Where's your dingo?"
"Over here," he answered, lifting his cloak to reveal a fox like animal. It was a rather intimidating animal, with a serious look to its amber eyes that was fixated on the older male, "His name is FoxFire. He's been with me for a long time now. What about you?"
"Uh, flying over this carriage as we speak," Masomi said pointing up towards the roof, "He's a hawk, and he's been with me for about three years now. His name is Aðalbrandur,"
"That's a strange name," Yukio pointed out, "I've never heard anything like that,"
"I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't," he simply stated, "So what's a kid like you doing here? I'm in for the money, but what about you? Why do you want to become a Bee?"
"Well, I'm poor as I am, so you can say I needed money as well, but," he held on to his cloak tightly, as if trying to suppress something, "I wished to-no I wanted to deliver the meaning held in these letters. They hold precious memories and feelings, and I want to make sure the person who receives them understands that meaning as well,"
"I see. That's a rather noble purpose," the older male said in amazement, "I'll wish you luck on your exam, then,"
"I'll do the same, Masomi-kun," Yukio replied with a cheerful smile.
Entrance into Yuusari was simple and easy, and the three arrived there without much trouble. As they looked up, they noticed how much lighter the sky became, and Masomi wonders what life must be like there in Central. Yukio pondered on the same topic, but neither drove themselves to asking the one person on the carriage about life there – Masomi thought he was too stingy to give even a tiny detail.
"What do you think the second half would be about?" Yukio asked him, "Are we going to deliver letters so they can see how fast we deliver them?"
"Maybe, I don't know; no one's given a full description as to what's on the test," Masomi answered with a sigh before looking out the window, "Moc, do you think you can tell us a bit about the exam? So we know what to expect?"
"Find out for yourself," came the sole Bee's reply, and Masomi grew annoyed.
"Why did they have to give a stingy kid for an escort," he muttered as he pulled back inside.
"It's probably better that way, then," Yukio replied, "Maybe they don't want us to know until we're there,"
"Damn," he slumped back in his seat, "The first half was hard enough as it is. A lot of the things there were never mentioned to me before, like the 'shindanjuu' and all that stuff. I'm surprised I managed to pass,"
"That must mean they see potential in you," the younger male stated, "I was surprised as well, but to tell the truth that was one of the easier questions for me,"
"Really?!" Masomi said, astonished.
"Yeah, it was. I actually have a makeshift shindanjuu made from my mother's spirit amber and an old gun I found sometime before,"
"That was on the exam too – the spirit amber, I mean," Masomi pointed out, "I know a bit about them, but not a lot,"
"I don't think very many people know a lot about them either," Yukio said with a laugh, "They're very strange things, and I know it's an important material in making a shindanjuu. Because it's so valuable, many people spend days and days trying to find one in hopes of selling them for a crossing permit,"
"Is it that hard to get a passing permit?" he asked, earning a nod from the other, "Well that makes us lucky then. If we never passed the exam, I doubt we would even see Bifrost,"
"I've seen it a few times in person," Yukio stated, "I've never crossed into Yuusari though. This is my first time,"
"That would be the case for everyone," Masomi said, and there came a sudden jolt as the carriage came to a stop. The two looked out and gasped at the sight they saw; just before their eyed laid the ever so famous Bee Hive. The building resembled much of a cathedral, and here and there they saw Letter Bees of all sorts alongside their Dingos. All in all, it was breathtaking.
"Well, you two?" Their attention diverted towards the stern Bee, "Meet with the Director, then head to the address given at the appointed time. That's all I'll tell you," He left them there, and the silver haired teen became agitated.
"Some help you are," he muttered as he stepped down from the carriage, followed by Yukio and his dingo. He held up his arm and from the sky his own dingo descended, "So the directions are to meet with the Director, then head to the address given at a certain time. Rather vague, isn't it?"
"Somewhat," the younger male agreed, "But it's enough to go off of. We just ask the people inside that we are supposed to meet with this Director, and he'll give us the address when we see him,"
"Touché," Masomi agreed as the two made their way into the Bee Hive.
"What the hell," he groaned, making his way through the raspberry-colored mud. At the moment he is trying to deliver a letter for his exam. What Moc had told him beforehand wasn't completely try; he hadn't needed to meet with the Director. The Sub-Master gave them the address instead, and she was also the one who explained the details in the exam.
The task was to deliver a letter to Raspberry Hill, and there was only one route there. It was rather obvious that the route crossed through gaichuu territory as well, but of course that was to be expected. At least they provided some shindanjuus, he thought as he took another step in the thick mud, It would be wise to carry a ranged weapon in a place like this too.
He looked up to see Aðalbrandur soaring right above him. Knowing the bird well, he trusted that the dingo wouldn't leave his side in the face of danger and purged onward. As of now he is in gaichuu territory, and at risk of losing his life. I wonder how Yukio's doing, he pondered. But his train of thoughts was interrupted by a low rumble. Looking up once more, the bird began cirling around a certain area.
"Here?!" He immediately jumped back and slid across the slick mud as a long insect-like creature emerged from where he once stood. Reaching towards the sky was a gaichuu – a Glen Keith.
"Damn it, that thing's huge!" He breathed, stunned by its sheer size. Without hesitation he moved to evasive maneuvers; placing his fingers to his lips Masomi started whistling. Hearing the call, the hawk dove down as the boy started running. The gaichuu reared up and shot straight at him. Taking a leap at faith, Masomi jumped and grabbed Aðalbrandur's talons. With surprising strength the somewhat small bird hauled its master out of harm's way.
Releasing his grip he landed a good distance away from the gaichuu and took out his shindanjuu. He aimed it at the torso of the mighty creature and pulled the trigger. A soft click resounded, and nothing happened which surprised the male. Once more the Glen Keith reared up, however this time it shot its limbs directly at him. Being an agile boy though, Masomi evaded the attack with a small scratch. Knowing his chances of winning were slim he took cover behind a large rock.
"What the hell," he muttered as he slumped down into the soft mud, his dingo landing by him, "There's no way I can beat that thing, and this," he held up his shindanjuu, "How the hell do you use it? Is it a voice command or something?"
"You mean you don't know?" A familiar voice asked, surprising the boy further. He swiftly turned his head to the direction of the voice, and looked up to see Yukio's curious face, "You came to take the exam without knowing how to shoot a shindan?"
"Well it's not like I spent half of my life fighting these things!" Masomi countered, "I can't afford a gun, much less spirit amber. There's no possible way for me to learn how to shoot one of these," As he said this, he gazed at the pale silver amber embedded in the gun, "If I'd know, I'd hold off until I was able to afford one, but even that may never happen,"
"I see," the younger boy said, "Then why don't I show you how they work?"
"You know how to use this?!" he questioned, startling the other by his sudden outburst, "Since when?!"
"Since my last caretaker died and left me this gun," he answered, "Now watch me, and we'll try to pull a strategy as to how to defeat it," With that, he pulled out his shindanjuu – a worn out gun wrapped with a silver charm. In the centerpiece of the charm was a polished blue stone; after closer observation he realized it was a spirit amber. Yukio positioned his gun above the rock and took his aim at the Glen Keith.
All of a sudden a light began emitting from the stone, and Masomi watched in awe as the young boy smiled. "Shindan loaded," he whispered before pulling the trigger, "Resound, AOIHI!" A blue ray of light shot from the gun and it curved one way and then another before hitting the hard shell of the enormous gaichuu. Stunned by the attack, it began to sway from side to side before diving into the ground again.
"Ah, it got away," Yukio said, disappointed. Foxfire nudged at his master, and the boy gave a sincere nod, "He says it should be safe to go to Raspberry Hill now, but we need to move now if we are to avoid the gaichuu,"
"And leave that thing rampaging when we come back, no way in hell," the silver haired male bellowed, "Until we get rid of that thing, it'll get back at us when we come back. Besides, there's no set date anyways, right?"
"Ah, r-right," the boy stuttered.
"Then let's shoot that thing down pronto!" He launched a fist in the air, and Yukio couldn't help but smile at his friend's determination.
A day had pass since they saw the Glen Keith, and the two had come up with a plan. Masomi whistled silently, and Aðalbrandur took flight and began scanning the area. Though it may not look like it, his dingo was incredibly sensitive to the changes on the surface as well as in the air. He was able to detect the slightest movement even though he was so high up in the air. For a few moments he flew without luck, but then began to circle over a spot in the path.
"Now!" With that single command Yukio launched a shindan into the ground, and the Glen Keith shot up once more. In an instant, Yukio sent his dingo to divert its attention. Masomi stood on the sideline, waiting for an opening to try and strike it from above. As foxfire dove from side to side, the young boy charged in and took an aim at the gaichuu. Once more the stone began to shine.
"AOIHI!" Another burst of blue light shot from the shindanjuu and struck it on its side. For a moment it was stunned, and Masomi took this opportunity to call his dingo back down. Once again he took hold of his dingo's legs, and soared above the stunned insect. Once more he pointed his shindanjuu at the gaichuu and pulled the trigger, yet nothing came out. Damn it! He silently cursed.
"It's still not firing," Yukio said with worry. The gaichuu regained its focus, and it began charging at Yukio. Foxfire barked at him, and realizing where he is now the boy quickly jumped out of the way. However, it did not stop him from dropping his gun upon short impact with the monster. As it reared up once more, Yukio went after his shindanjuu.
After his failed attempt, the silver haired teen landed near the same rock he took cover behind. He turned to see Yukio reaching after his weapon, and saw the gaichuu preparing to ram into him again. God damn it, get out of the way! He silently commanded. Of course it went unheard, and just as he grabbed the shindanjuu, the Glen Keith charged.
"Damn it Yukio!" Masomi came between the two, pointing his gun at the head of the coming threat. It's true I haven't known him for very long, and it's true that I made a vow not to befriend anyone anymore, but just this once… The amber began emitting a strong white light, and a heartbeat echoed through his mind. Just this once, let me save him. Let me protect him not as some random person…but as his friend!
He pulled the trigger, and a white flash shot straight at the head of the Gaichuu. It froze just as it was about to make impact, and left Yukio and Masomi somewhat puzzled. A low groan sounded from the mechanical monster, and it began to glow. All of a sudden it burst in a white flash, somewhat blinding the two. When they opened their eyes, all that remained was a large pile of scrap metal resembling different parts of the gaichuu.
"Did I…kill it?" Masomi whispered in disbelief. He had never expected to have shot a shindan that moment; he just wanted to protect his new friend from a fate that took away so many others before.
Yukio crashed into the older, embracing him in a tight hug. "You did it, you did it!" he said with a cheerful smile, "Not only did you manage to shoot a shindan, but you defeated the gaichuu too!"
"I-it's not that big of a deal," Masomi replied with a faint blush, "I'm not even sure how I did it. All I thought about trying to protect you, and then I shot it…"
"That was a fragment of your heart," Yukio explained with a smile, "Your shindan was made from a feeling to protect; that must be what's in your heart. The need to protect others from danger – that's what makes you Masomi-kun,"
"You make no sense, Yukio," he said with a sigh, "But I think I get it. A shindan is a fragment of your heart, and judging from what I learned, the only way to defeat a gaichuu is to shoot a piece of that heart into the gaichuu, right,"
"Right!" Yukio replied with a smile. That smile, however, was quickly replaced with a look of concern. "Are the letters safe?!" He asked, starting to panick.
"Huh? Yeah, mine's right here," He pulled out his letter from his bag, and showed it to Yukio. It was slightly wrinkled from the bag, but otherwise unharmed. Yukio rummaged through his bag and pulled out a letter in similar condition.
"Thank god," the young male said, sighing in relief, "I'm not sure what I would've done if they were damaged in any way,"
"Well, now all we have to do is deliver them to their destination, right?" Masomi said, holding out his hand.
"Right," Yukio replied, taking old of it and giving it a small shake, "Say, Masomi, if we become Letter Bees together, then let's work together!"
"We will, I'll make sure of that!"
"Uwahhh~ I can't believe it," Masomi said with outstretched arms, "I can't believe it at all! I can't believe I beated Yukio in delivery time! That never happened before! I can't wait to see the look on his face~"
It had been a year since the two had passed their Bee Exam. Since then the two young Bees Yukio Tsukiko and Masomi Haruhi worked side by side. They often held tiny competitions like this to try and improve delivery time and the like, but it's quite obvious who is the faster one. So today had been a breakthrough for the young teen, now sixteen.
He entered the Hee Hive with his head held high; the Bees within the area were confused by the gesture, however. Here and the whispering began. All of which somewhat concerned the silver haired teen.
Upon entering the Director's office, however, he began to realize something bad has happened. Something that concerned a certain candidate for Head Bee—Yukio Tsukiko.
"Ah, Masomi," the man, Largo Lloyd, greeted, "I was expecting you. Have you completed your deliveries for today?"
"Yeah," he muttered, "Did something happen? Everyone's starting to talk behind my back. Where's Yukio?"
Upon hearing his name Lloyd sighed. "I'm not sure how to explain it to you, or to him. However, It is important that one of you knew the truth. I hope you understand, Masomi Haruhi," he rose from his seat and approached the young Bee, who was as confused as ever, "I'm afraid to say that Yukio will not be returning to the Bee Hive,"
"What? Why?!" Masomi asked. His concern continued to grow; was his friend okay?
"Although I do not wish to say it, it's important for you to know," he turned to Masomi, all traces of emotion gone, "It appeared that he had lost his heart while trying to protect a traveller from a gaichuu. As of now, they saw no signs of recovery and said that he will not be able to live for much longer. In other words, the one known as Yukio Tsukiko is dead,"
The moment those words were said, a light went out in his heart. "Y-you're kidding...right?" He whispered.
This will be continued. You should know considering how this chapter ended…and the fact that I used chapter in the story. The story is planned to have four chapters, but that may not be the case. We'll see.
I had this idea for a while now. Just the week before I finished the anime, and since then I had this in my head for a while. Now here it is; my first Tegami Bachi story! The original characters will appear next chapter, but I'll have to warn you that I can't guarantee the characters are completely in character. Who knows?