NieR is Copyright Cavia and Square Enix, 2010. All original characters are property of the author. This is a work for entertainment and no profit will be made. A fiction by Sentionaut.

Everything began and ended with a single sound, barely a whisper, a hint of steel dancing through motes in a ray of sunlight. Dreams and desires all changed in that moment of time, to be forgotten from one beat of the heart to the next. There had been something very special, a warmth that lingered in the fingertips only to become the memory of a memory.

Beneath the Sleeping Moon - For Want of a Sword

Kainé hefted the blade, testing the weight and balance, giving it an experimental swing. The deadly length of steel glittered in the afternoon sun, casting bright reflections along the merchant stalls nearby. Satisfied with the quality, the itinerant swordswoman tossed a small leather pouch onto the wooden counter next to the blacksmith. It landed with a heavy clunk, the bottom pooling out from the amount of coin within. "It's what we agreed on, and then some. Count it if you want, but I'm not sticking around this damn place longer than I have to," the pale woman groused.

The blacksmith boggled when he checked the coin purse, doing a quick calculation in his head, and checking it against a ledger beneath the counter. He flashed Kainé a grin, "Your business is always appreciated, Miss. If there is any problem with that sword, please don't hesitate to return, and I'll take care of it." Before he could get another word in edgewise, his customer slid the blade back into its sheathe with a sharp click of metal on metal that was loud enough to interrupt any further pleasantries.

Turning away in clear dismissal, Kainé strode off, incidentally giving the man a near unimpeded view of her toned posterior. Her presence in Seafront, or any of the local habitations, tended to turn heads, and pull in wandering eyes. Not that she thrived on the attention, but she had her reasons for dressing the way she did, though her choice in garments was less risque than it once had been.

If it had been up to her, she would have steered well clear of the coastal town, but she'd lost one of her favorite blades two days ago. Not that she wasn't capable of managing with one sword. It didn't take much to carve up the smaller shades that had been cropping up around her camp, though she felt unbalanced with only one blade strapped to her hip. Her patience had lasted most of one day, before the feeling drove her here to the closest decent market.

Seafront was a cozy little town by all accounts, but unlike the pastoral village where Yonah lived, this place was lively in comparison. Certain times of the month, the streets and alleys were peppered with sailors, fishermen and merchants from across the sea. Too many people, and too many potential irritants for her taste. She tended to keep visits to a minimum, if at all. In fact, she didn't even recall the last time she'd been out this way. There simply wasn't usually reason to head south past Emil's manor.

Emil, the name struck a sour chord in her mind. She'd all but given up the boy for lost, after his valiant sacrifice enabled her to defeat the Shadowlord. Two months, and word began to spread. None of it had reached her firsthand, though people talked readily enough. Rumors of a grinning skull rolling along the dunes near Facade were too eerily descriptive to be readily dismissed. But, the desert wasn't a particularly endearing place in the best of times. Like the remains of her hometown, Kainé had little desire to stir up unwelcome memories.

Besides, it was a long way on foot, as the shorter route by ferry boat had been denied her once she'd returned from the Shadowlord's castle. Apparently, the sudden disappearance of Popola and Devola had caused quite a stir in the village. With the twin bitches gone, the townsfolk had seen fit to push Kainé away once more. The goodwill she'd engendered had long since dried up, and that extended to the local ferryman. Yonah's return meant little in the grand scheme of daily life, which had moved on in the intervening five years that the girl had been captive.

All of it did little to change Kainé's opinion of the villagers. She only bothered to keep her camp close enough to the place so she could check in on the ill teenager. Anything more was too much trouble to bother with. That included chasing rumors, which was no better than chasing ghosts, and she had little stomach for either. On the other hand, if there were sufficient proof...

She let the thought wander and lose itself in the twists and turns of her melancholy. The streets drifted by in a haze as her sandal clad feet carried her back out into the narrow pass that barred casual entry into the town. As with her garb, she'd taken to donning more practical footwear, the thin leather straps adorning her feet had been a gift from Yonah not too long ago. There was some intrinsic sentimental value that she couldn't quite place, when she'd received the sandals.

The younger woman hadn't offered up an explanation, aside from a heartfelt thanks to Kainé for making the effort to gather the necessary herbs to craft a painkilling medicine that Yonah requested from time to time. Even the stubborn swordswoman had to admit, to herself, that the sandals were far more comfortable than her heels had been. Besides, minor aches and pains, things like blisters, didn't heal as quickly as they once did. In freeing the girl from her imprisonment, much had been lost that she valued. The exchange for freedom had been a high price for everyone concerned. It was a price paid in blood and spirit both.

Life was hard, she knew that well enough. Dying was easy. It happened too frequently to think otherwise. An escape from the daily toil and trial of simply drawing breath. One that she flirted with perhaps too often, though it wasn't so cut and dry. Life was also complex, people more so. She'd saved the princess, and what was her reward? Weariness. But also, a faint sense of hope, and the beginnings of acceptance. For now, she mused, that would have to be enough.

Kainé felt her lips turn up into a nasty smirk as the first of the shades appeared in the glade ahead as she left the confines of the pass. Their chittering speech was rendered gibberish to her ears, another loss, but not one so great that she gave it much thought. There was a virgin blade to bathe after all, and talking was meaningless. The shades certainly didn't care to mince words, as they attacked the moment enough of their bodies had solidified. Naked steel flashed as she drew her unspoiled blade in one hand, and the heavy saw-toothed sword in the other. Grinning despite her earlier dour mood, she sprinted forth, rushing to deliver final death to the souls that sought to do battle.