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Hello everybody! We have tons of new awards for the new year that can be requested through our Awards System thanks to Antifa Lockhart! Some are limited-time awards so go claim them before they are gone forever...
and Lord of the Rings is awesome.I had to use a quote from it... I definitely like darker stories and I'm not afraid to kill people off so you are all warned ^_^ I think probably Cid is safe, though even that isn't certain.
Rikku hummed softly to herself, her blonde braids swinging and a faint smile playing across her face as she stepped lightly down the stairs. She was by no means at peace with all that had happened, but habit had kicked in and she was no longer weepy and was now able to maintain at least some semblance of her normal perky self. She could admit it, this largely had to do with the clothes, having scrounged around in the trunk, mixed and matched. She was now decked out in an outfit akin to what she’d normally wear. She didn’t feel so lost, she felt like herself again. Rikku was incredibly tempted to burn the dress, but it would have been a waste, something the Al Bhed didn’t do, they found a use for everything, and besides, it was the only thing she had left of Spira.
After the whole shining sword in the clothing trunk incident, Rikku had once again been left alone while Julia and Leon went off to discuss, but not after Leon had taken the intriguing blade away from her. Rikku was getting completely sick of it. She wanted answers, she deserved them, but instead they deliberately evaded her questions, leaving her in the dark. There was something different about those swords, it had to be more then coincidence that the strangers who had come to Besaid all had one. Rikku had certainly never seen anything like them on Spira. When Julia and Leon left the room, Rikku felt justified in following them and listening in. If they weren’t going to talk to her, she’d have to take action herself. Unfortunately, however old and dirty the walls, they still managed to muffle the sound quite well and Rikku was only able to catch the occasional word or two and nothing that was particularly illuminating. Furthermore since Leon and Julia knew exactly what they were talking about; their conversation was not intending to be helpful for someone listening in, so it was likely she would have found it confusing anyway. The one useful thing Rikku did hear was a new name, Sora, and the way Leon said it, it sounded important. Was the blade his? She also heard the pair mention Mikael again and at the mention Rikku had strained forward pressing her ear up against the door to have it open on her and she fell forward at their feet. She supposed she’d been a little too noisy.
And you call yourself a thief...
Actually she didn’t or rather it was only when necessary… or when it was a bad guy… or the situation was just too tempting… she always apologized afterwards… and returned the items… except that one time… fine twice! Her conscience was such a nag. Anyway, Rikku was skilled in the art of sneaking around and for her to blunder so badly, it made an embarrassing situation even more so. However, it also made her angry as she wouldn’t have had to sneak if they’d just tell her already. Climbing to her feet she crossed her arms and met Leon and Julia’s gazes with a baleful glare, cutting Leon off as he was about to speak.
“I am not a spy, I don’t even know who I’d be spying for, and I’m not a child. I deserve to know what is going on and I am getting sick of you running off every five minutes to go whisper about something that clearly does affect me! So can you please for once just explain!”
Rikku almost stamped her foot, but she managed to refrain seeing how childish that would be. It would totally negate what she said. Rikku knew she looked young, but shoopuff, she was twenty-one years old and had been completely independent since she was fifteen... well almost. Still she had helped defeat Sin and Vegnagun and dealt with a whole lot of nasty people in between.
All that just to find out it was all for nothing…
Point was, whatever it was, she could handle it, was handling it, and if they still didn’t trust her well then she could just get the farplane out of there because this was seriously getting irritating and Rikku told them so. Still, she couldn’t help but feel a twinge of fear at the thought. She wasn’t on Spira anymore. She had no where to go, but she tried to think positively anyway. After all, hadn’t she always loved exploring new places? Right.
Rikku kept up her defiant stance and after a moment of silence Julia sighed and Leon nodded curtly at her. Then Julia began to speak and it was not what Rikku wanted to hear, but there was the promise of more so she put up with it.
“Rikku, we don’t think that you are a spy, but we can’t discuss this now. I promise that you will learn everything you need to know, but now just isn’t the time. Can you please be patient just a little while longer?”
Rikku sighed; she knew that expression. I was the same look Yunie gave her whenever she was pleading with her to do something, or more often, not do it. Rikku never could resist the look and she found she couldn’t argue now either. Then Julia had proclaimed Rikku to be over tired and led her downstairs and practically shoved a cup of tea in her hands to take back to her room with her and once there she lay down and quickly fell asleep. If Rikku were the suspicious sort, she would have said that Julia had drugged her, but as it was she figured she was just tired from the whole ordeal.
The next day, Rikku was put on room arrest. It wasn’t explicitly stated, but when she tried to leave the room she was immediately sent back saying that she looked over tired. The second time she was given another cup of tea, Julia’s solution to everything, which Rikku promptly and quite wisely threw out the window when she got back to her room. After that she stayed in there. It wasn’t horrible, Rikku needed to think and after a while Rinoa and Locke came in to see her and to bring her food which she scarcely touched. She garnered from them that there was some sort of meeting going on, but all she could do was seethe. In order to distract herself, she spent the next few hours teaching the two children Al Bhed which they picked up rather quickly and by the time the faded gray sun had set, Julia came to see her and offered Rikku a reprieve from the monotony of the room.
“How would you like to go to the market tomorrow? You can see a little of the city and I am sure you need a few things. One of the neighbors, a nice girl named Cecily, baby-sits for the children and takes them out to the market. They’d love it if you would come. It’s better that you go out with someone then on your own and tomorrow I have other things to attend to.” Rikku didn’t even care that Julia was still being secretive; she just jumped at the chance just to get out and that was what she was doing now.
Reaching the second to last step, she hopped cheerfully to the ground, and walked through the living room and pushed open the door to the kitchen.
Leon was sitting at the table eating toast and Julia, as usual, was making tea. Rikku thought that the mere action of making it calmed her. Leon looked up at Rikku’s greeting and seeing her, he immediately began to choke on his toast. Julia turned also, her eyes widening as she caught sight of her, but she quickly turned and shoved a cup of tea into Leon’s hand which he promptly gulped down, a strange look appearing on his face though he stopped choking.
“Damn it! That’s scalding!”
Julia suppressed a smirk then fixed him with a no-nonsense look.
“I guess I should have just let you choke then.” Leon rolled his eyes and Julia turned back to Rikku who had watched the scene with puzzled amusement.
“Well Selphie never did wear the clothes quite that way, umm.”
Julia turned back around and continued with what she was doing, but Rikku was just able to catch what she had muttered under her breath. “Hope it won’t be a problem if you stand out…”
Rikku looked down at herself and shrugged. It was similar enough to what she wore back home and no one ever seemed to notice or care then. She’d put it down to cultural, er, worldly differences.
“Why don’t you take a seat? Leon and I have to be going, but Cecily will be along shortly and then hopefully the kids will come out of wherever it is their hiding. Oh and before I forget, here’s some money for the market. I’m sure you’ll need a few things.”
Before Rikku could make any sort of response, Julia waved off any protest.
“Consider it babysitting money because Rinoa and Locke are going with you.”
As Julia spoke, Leon stood up and headed towards the door, giving Rikku a stoic nod now that he had recovered. Julia flashed Rikku a brief smile before following him out the door.
“Help yourself to anything in the kitchen!”
Then they were gone. Rikku stood up again and began to potter around in search of breakfast when the door opened. Expecting it to be Julia and Leon, she turned.
“Did you forget somethi—” Rikku broke off as a girl walked through the door. She was perhaps two or three years older than Rikku, pretty with shoulder length chestnut curls and wide golden brown eyes, though her prettiness diminished as they narrowed into a look of displeasure. Rikku just smiled back.
“You must be Cecily?”
The girl’s gaze flickered towards the living room door and without answering she walked over and called for the kids.
“Rinoa, Locke! Ready to go? We’re leaving!”
When Cecily turned back around, the look of distaste was still plastered to her face.
“And you’re Rikku.” There was no question in the other girl’s voice and no warmth either. Rikku just nodded and Cecily continued. “I must say, I don’t see what the big fuss is about, can’t just be the clothes.”
The last bit Cecily muttered under her breathe and Rikku’s smile finally dropped and she shook her head slightly.
“I have no idea what you are---“
Cecily just rolled her eyes and waving her hand, she brushed the comment away.
“Whatever… Rinoa, Locke, now!” At her second call, the two children finally came running into the kitchen and by the way greeted Cecily; Rikku could tell that she was someone they were very fond of. Quickly though, the two children had latched themselves onto Rikku’s arms and pulled her on out the door.
Rikku looked curiously around the alley, eager to get a sense of her surroundings. This was the first time she had been outside in this world, her arrival didn’t count. While she had spent ample time looking out the window, it only afforded her a look at the wall of the house next door. The window to the house, instead of occasionally providing a glimpse of the neighbors was permanently closed with the gray curtains drawn. Rikku didn’t have much time to study the area though because the children and Cecily were eager to press on to the market, leaving no time to linger. Each time she paused, either Rinoa or Locke would grab her arm and pull her on into some new area.
The sun was just as weak as it had been all the times she had looked out the window, as far from the Bikanel sun as could be. Still, Rikku was happy enough just to be outside, absorbing her surroundings cheerfully as she walked along, though this too faded with each crumbling building she passed. Rikku was used to searching ruins, loved them, but those were ancient... these were just wrecks. Cocytus is dying… Rikku didn’t really know what Leon had meant before, but she got some inkling now… and Spira according to everyone she’d talked to was already gone. She’d find out why though; she had to.
Eventually, the kids grew tired of her lagging and ran a little ways ahead, their chatter fading away, leaving Cecily and Rikku alone in silence. Rikku however, wasn’t one to remain silent long, even when faced with Cecily’s occasional glower.
“Soooo… are you originally from Cocytus?” Rikku gave her a polite smile, but the question sounded better in her head. Was anyone originally from this place? Leon had never said. Though, it’s here isn’t it? Maybe that’s answer enough.
Cecily flicked a cold glance at her and shook her head.
“Oh…” For a moment, Rikku thought that would be all, which surprised her, because Cecily didn’t seem like a naturally reticent person. At least no more then she herself was, and after a moment, Rikku was proven right in this assessment as the girl continued.
“I’ve been here for seven years. We jumped through the portal before the world was consumed and wound up here. My parents died shortly after of their wounds the heartless inflicted and it was no small effort to make it through that door before it shut. I certainly wasn’t brought, sleeping like a baby, so if you expect to be coddled, don’t expect it from me.
Rikku narrowed her eyes stopping completely as she glared angrily at Cecily.
“Hey! That’s not fair, you know?”
Cecily just tossed her chestnut curls and crossed her arms meeting Rikku’s gaze steadily...
“No, you know what isn’t fair? That you missed it, while everyone else had to suffer and go through the pain of seeing their worlds die and let’s just say the circumstances were more then a little suspicious.”
Rikku scowled. Back to that again! It was like she was being forced to listen to a sphere on repeat, the same things over and over and over. Besides, what kind of person blamed someone because they didn’t witness their world’s destruction? These people were worse than Yevonites. Though she supposed if the circumstances weren’t so dire, then maybe she would have been flattered. Despite the things Rikku had helped accomplish, no one had ever taken her very seriously before. At least these people were doing that… kinda sorta. No, she decided, it’s still annoying.
“Believe me; if I got to choose which world to go to when mine died which incidentally, I only have you and the others as apparent proof… I would have chosen somewhere where the people were more… more friendly!”
Not the most vicious of statements, but true enough. Cecily narrowed her eyes in disdain.
“It is hard to believe that someone so stupid could be a spy.” Rikku resisted the urge to scream. All of the mistrust was extremely frustrating.
“If I really was a spy then do you really think the best thing to do would be to accuse me? Then I’d really know you were up to something. I have no idea what is going on, I don’t even know who you think I’m spying for, not really. So, you could at least have the decency to tell me who you think I am spying for!” Leon had told her “the people at Hollow Bastion,” but she had no idea who or where that was. It was just a meaningless name to her.
“Them.” Cecily pointed and Rikku followed it with her gaze for the first time noticing the tall tower rising above the other buildings of Cocytus. There was something about the white spire that was distinctly disturbing, though she couldn’t say what it was exactly. There were buildings not completely unlike it in Bevelle, but when she looked at this one; her mind conjured up images of bones and death. It had a…quality. “That’s how they come in. There’s a portal at the top that’s always open.”
Rikku turned back to look at her.
“They?” Rikku was fairly certain she knew what Cecily was talking about, but she figured she might as well see if everyone repeated the same thing to her or if Julia and Leon had been lying.
“The heartless.” She confirmed. “When the triumvirate appears, you know a world is doomed.” Cecily gave Rikku a bitter smile. “All but this one. Not yet anyway.”
“Ash, Axel, and Riku. ” Cecily shrugged. Once Rikku got her talking, she didn’t need much prompting to continue. “Generals, mages, assassins… It’s hard to say exactly what they do. I guess emissaries to Hollow Bastion is most appropriate. They can control the heartless.”
Anger bubbled up inside her at the other girl’s words. She’d known they were evil. She had seen how the one had so cruelly killed Tidus, but that they led them to Spira... were responsible for its destruction… Not just with Spira, but other worlds as well… It was unfathomable to her. It was so much worse then Sin, than Vegnagun. True they weren’t the ones who orchestrated it all, but it gave her something to focus on.
“Who are they though, where did they come from!”
Cecily sighed huffily, but pressed on.
“Ash is a mercenary and a traitor to his own world. Maybe his easiness to kill without remorse got their attention. He found another way to survive the destruction of the world and took it.” Cecily smiled viciously. “He has a place in the seventh district. Is that where you go to report?” She didn’t expect a response and Rikku wouldn’t deign to give her one. “Axel… can’t really say I know much about… except that isn't his real name. It relates somehow to the way he fights. I dunno why exactly.
“And then there is Riku… a whole lot of back story there, but I’m certainly not going to be the one to tell it.” Cecily took on a thoughtful expression. “I don’t know if he is the best of the lot or the worst, but I am inclined to go with worst. He’s certainly the most deadly anyway, and he knows things… A cold bastard, that one.” Cecily narrowed her eyes at Rikku, clearly back to the whole spy thing again. Rikku shrugged defensively.
“Look if I were a spy, why would Julia and Leon have taken me in the first place?” Cecily gave her a dark look.
“Well Riku didn’t give them much of a choice now did he? Though frankly, I still have no idea why they’d bother with you.”
“But if he is working for—“ Cecily cut her off.
“He obviously has something over Leon’s head. Besides, Leon always was a big softie, can’t turn anyone away.” Rikku gave Cecily an incredulous look. Were they thinking about the same Leon here? Noting the look, Cecily glowered.
“Don’t think you know them because you’ve spent a few days there. Leon was the one who found us and took us in after the heartless came to my world. When it comes down to it, both of them will do what they have to do, but Leon has always been more sympathetic. If it had been anyone else, you’d have been sent away or most likely killed. We aren’t very trusting here in Cocytus.” Rikku was left in no doubt as to what Cecily would have done if Riku had brought her here instead, but her scowl was mostly for the hypocritical nature of her remarks.
“And don’t assume that you know me!” Cecily was about to respond, but the loud sound of childish laughter rang through the air cutting her off and both girls turned to see the two kids racing down the streets.
“Rinoa! Locke! Don’t you dare turn that corner!” And with that, the conversation ceased as both women hurried to catch up to the two children and after a few minutes, they had all arrived at the market.
Rikku had spent quite a bit of time in the Al Bhed markets on Bikanel Island (those after Sin was defeated). The Al Bhed were extremely savvy with their business practices and with their use of machina. They had a monopoly when it came to hunting down and selling old treasures and machina. Anyone looking for a rare object would know to come to Bikanel, though really they had everything and all sorts of people showed up on market days. Still none of this prepared her for the market in Cocytus.
The feeling of homesickness that came with thoughts of the Al Bhed diminished as her gaze was drawn by all of the activity. There were a few different intelligent species on Spira aside from humans; the Guado, the Ronso, the Hypello, and Rikku that someone who didn't know of them, might take them for fiends, and that is exactly what first crossed her mind as she saw some of those who inhabited the market. On closer examination though, some of the scarier looking ones seemed to be involved in the normal market activities. Neither Cecily nor the kids seemed surprised either, so Rikku just shrugged and followed them into the crowds. At least it was something interesting to look at.
As they neared the center of the market, each woman with a hand on a child, Cecily turned to Rikku.
“I’m sure you want some time to look around and buy what you need. How about we meet back in two hours? I’ll children with me, so they don’t bother you while you look. Don’t worry, you should be fairly safe in the market, if you don’t behave too stupidly.”
Both children frowned up at Cecily. “But I wanna go with Rikku!” Locke pouted. Rinoa looked like she wanted to argue as well, but thought better of it. Rikku smiled down at them.
“I don’t mind them coming along.”
“NO!” Glancing at the children, the Cecily felt need for explanation for her near shout. “She’ll be busy and you guys hate shopping. I know you two just come to run around and besides, if you come with me, I bet we can get Anita to give you each a cookie.” Still slightly taken aback by Cecily’s emphatic response, Rikku managed an easy shrugs. They’d probably be better of anyway. She had every intention of buying some weapons to replace hers. Rikku didn’t want to be helpless in this place, but she supposed that wouldn’t be setting the best example.
“Its ok guys, I’ll see you shortly. Besides, it is going to be really reaaaaaally boring. Maybe if there is time, later you can show me your favorite place in the market! Back here then?” Seeing Cecily’s nod, Rikku decided that she might as well take off and giving Rinoa and Locke a little wave, she wandered into the crowds.
Though at first she had been struck by how different everything was and how diverse the people were, but very slowly, with each person she passed, she noticed that there was in fact a similarity between the people. Whatever the shape or color of their faces, they all bore the same defeated expression. Rikku shuddered slightly. It was kind of creepy as were some of the looks she got, because true to the comments that the others has made, she did stand out.
Deciding to ignore them all, Rikku turned her attention to her search for a good pair of daggers. Tapping on the shoulder of a burly over-sized hypello, she asked if he knew the best place to go, hoping that he understood common. After a moment of spastic coughing which Rikku feared was his language, he did indeed burst out with several recommendations of where she could go as well as an offer to buy a distinctly odd looking bug, which Rikku declined. Taking a step back, she bumped into a boy about her own age. He was of average height, his messy brown hair pushed off his forehead with a navy bandana. Giving him an absent-minded smile with an apology she ran off. Going to each merchant the man had mentioned, it wasn’t until she got to the last one that she found what she was looking for and after some half-hearted haggling, she was good to go.
As Rikku began to strap the knives into sheathes at her wrists she heard a familiar laugh. Feeling a chill run down her spine, she looked over to see the same blond man who had killed Tidus, not ten feet away. Instinctively, Rikku ducked down just as the man turned in her direction.
“A good one, Ash. I’ll give you five hundred for it.” Very quietly, Rikku peeked around the corner of the table to see the merchant speaking to the blond man. He held up a long blue rod in his hand, with red on the handle and a circle with a glyph on it at the end. Rikku’s eyes widened.
Yunie’s summoning wand. How did he get it?!
Rikku fumed. They were sitting there haggling over Yunie’s wand. Anger warred with caution and she was only able to manage from running over there, by tuning out their voices, sitting quietly in her hiding place, and humming the hymn to the fayth in her head. She knew it would be extremely stupid to go confront him now, though she could follow and see where he went. Realizing that the voices had died down, Rikku whipped her head back around the stall, finding to her great consternation that Ash was gone.
So much for following…
After casting a cautious glance at her surroundings, just in case he was hiding and waiting for her, she slowly got to her feet.
No sign of Ash, only a guy with a navy bandana who gave her a peculiar look before disappearing into the crowds. She supposed that ducking behind stalls was not normal behavior, though it could just be her wonderfully bright fashion sense. Still worried that she’d been spotted by the blond keyblade wielder, Rikku waited around for another minute before she approached the merchant who Ash had been dealing with.
The wand was already laid out on the table with the rest of the wares, up on a small pedestal. Rikku walked up to it and touched it gently and the glyph at the end lit up briefly. It was Yunie’s alright.
“Hands off the goods!” The merchant snapped at her. Had eyes on the back of his very shiny head, that one.
“Ease off gramps, just looking.”
For the moment anyway…
Rikku studied him with a faint smile on her face, trying to determine if he knew it was stolen. She was sure he did, so that made her feel less guilty about stealing it back. Not that Rikku ever felt particularly guilty about stealing. She certainly didn’t have a thousand gil and the merchant was charging even more than that. Besides she wouldn’t pay for it anyway given the circumstances.
“Do you know that you’re selling stolen goods?” Rikku lifted her chin up and stared intently at the merchant.
“What’s it to you?” Rikku frowned and lifted up the wand. The merchant caught her wrist and Rikku glared up at him.
“This was my cousin’s. It’s not yours to sell!”
“Was your cousin’s, you said so yourself. Now get out my way.” The merchant released her arm, shoving her back a little at the same time as he bustled by and began rearranging his wares again. After giving him an offended glare, Rikku immediately began scanning the market. It would be easy enough to lift the staff, but she wasn’t sure how swift justice came here, if any at all. Even though the staff had been stolen in the first place, Rikku knew if she was caught with it, she’d be the one branded a thief. Though from what she knew about this place so far… no one was going to care if one merchant got ripped off.
Thieves’ luck was clearly with her because after a moment of watching the market place, Rikku saw her chance in the large rickety old wagon full of junk. A wizened old man sat at the helm, directing an equally shrunken old creature that resembled a miniature samalander with hair. The pair of them plodded their way through the crowds and had just passed the merchant’s stall, when Rikku moved into action. Slipping past the cart, it was quick work to pull out the two hinges in the back of the wagon causing the back flap to open and all of the junk that had been piled so precariously, to tumble down, flooding the merchant’s stall with an assortment of rusty old knickknacks and a cloud of murky dust. Immediately the merchant began to put up a ruckus and man came down off the wagon. In a matter of seconds the pair were already arguing, Rikku felt a moment’s guilt not sure if the wagon-bearer could handle the merchant, but surprisingly, he demonstrated quite a lot of feistiness for such an old guy and was certainly holding his own. With the merchant thus occupied, all she had to do was stroll over, snatch up the staff and move on her way. Having no intention of lingering, Rikku hurried through the square towards where she was planning on meeting Cecily when a man stepped in front of her blocking her way.
Rikku found herself staring at the smirking face of the blond, Ash.
“That was fairly nice work.” Rikku knew immediately that he had seen her lift the staff… and since it wasn’t exactly an object that could be easily hidden on a person, especially on Rikku’s very short person, so she couldn’t exactly deny it. He had after all just sold the staff to that vendor. Though that wasn’t really what she was worried about, she was afraid that he’d recognize her. It was also more difficult than she’d imagined coming face to face with someone she’d seen kill her best friend. This wasn’t the time though to do anything about it, so she’d plead ignorance and hope he didn’t know her. As her eyes were her most damning feature, Rikku kept them cast downward, shaking her head.
“Don’t be. Most of the thieves around here do so with more subtlety. You though get full points for entertainment value.”
Rikku found she was rather offended by the remark. She could be subtle if she wanted to.
“Well sometimes the situation doesn’t warrant it!” Rikku risked a look at him.
“No arguments there, personally I think subtlety is all very boring… And don’t worry. I’m not going to take the wand away from you… as far as I can see, what’s lost is lost. I am curious though, as to why you’d choose that.”
Rikku inwardly flinched. If he’d heard the conversation with the merchant as well… then he certainly knew where she was from… Rikku prepared herself to fight if she needed to. It was hard enough not to smack the smile off of his face anyway. Instead she just shrugged, lifting the staff up.
“Just looked like it might be worth something.”
His voice sounded amused when he responded. “You have a good eye for value.”
Then after a moment he added more. “So do I…” Very quickly he reached out, tilting her chin up so she was looking him in the eyes. “You look familiar.” Ash let go of her chin and then unbelievably he winked at her. “Have I hit on you before?” Rikku recoiled inwardly. That was one of the worst lines she had ever heard in her entire life and coming from him it was all the more appalling.
“Don’t think so… if you used a line like that, I would have remembered…As much as it pained me to do so.” Ash laughed and shook his head slightly at her. Rikku had been serious though. She smiled sweetly at him, her hand clenched around Yuna’s summoning wand so tightly that her fist was white. “Now if you’ll excuse me…”
“Not so fast… I was thinking… you probably need a place to hang low…” Suddenly he stopped, lifting his head and turning to look in the direction of the tower.
“Well some other time then.” He gave her a jaunty grin and with no further explanation, hurried off through crowds. Rikku shook her head, feeling disturbed. She was sure he had recognized her. She didn’t know what his game was and she was sorry she hadn’t done something about him while she had the chance. Trying to ignore the feeling of dread that settled over her, Rikku moved back into the main market to find Cecily, sticking towards the edges so she could avoid most of the crowds.
Rikku hadn’t gotten very far, when two boys donned in blue bandanas appeared at her side, each taking an arm and herding her towards the closest alley.
“Hey, what’s the deal!”
Rikku found herself amidst a group of people, both boys and girls with ages ranging from twelve to their early twenties. As she looked around at the smudged faces, she noticed that blue bandana fashion trend was going strong with this group. Rikku looked at the two boys on either side of her since as of yet, no one had responded. It was actually kind of creepy the way they all just stared. She wondered what they were waiting for, but with two rather dirty teenagers digging their hands into her arm, Rikku decided that she at least wasn’t going to wait any longer. “Right well it was fantabulous to meet you all and I’ll just be on my way.” Her remark was met with a tightening of the grip the two boys had on her arms. Flicking her wrist, she smacked the guy on her right in the head with Yuna’s summoning wand, before leaning in and twisting her arm at the same time, surprising him just enough to let go. Following it up with a swift kick to the shin of the guy who had a hold on her other arm, Rikku then knocked him once in the stomach with the bottom of the staff and she was free.
Turning she saw that the exit out of the alley was now blocked and she recognized Cecily by the entrance. She was about to say something when a boy around her own age finally spoke. He had a thin face under a mop of curly brown hair, and dark brown eyes that were hard to read, his tone though was clearly mocking. There was something familiar about him.
“We don’t take kindly to unfamiliars poaching. Bad for business… not a promising start in a new world.”
Rikku sighed slightly. She must be losing her touch. Had the whole marketplace been watching her actions!
“I wasn’t poaching, I was taking back what’s rightfully mine… well kinda.” Rikku tried to think of how to explain it. “It’s an inheritance.” She clarified and she wasn’t going to explain anymore than that. She highly doubted that these people had asked permission to begin stealing around here and Rikku could tell they were thieves, she could recognize those of her own talents. Though she supposed it was clear enough by what he was saying. “No concern of yours…”
“Yeah well, there’s a code you see... let’s call it an honor between thieves...” Rikku could see a few of the younger ones snickering behind the boy’s back. “Steal in the market and it’s ours… respect for a more organized guild you could say…it’s only fair. And you never consort with the enemy.”
Rikku looked down as she tried to figure out if any of that made sense. “Riiiiight… well I haven’t been consorting with anyone.”
He shook his head. “You were just talking to Ash. He runs the black market in Cocytus and furthermore is one of them. That’s two out of three.”
Rikku scowled. “None of you listen! “ She turned to look back at Cecily. “I explained to you before. I don’t know what problem it is that you have with me, but—“ Rikku cut off as she felt someone try to lift the staff off of her. She took a step to the side, moving the staff so it slid along their hand before thrusting upward giving the hand a good smack. Yunie almost certainly wouldn’t approve of the use Rikku was making of her summoning wand. The boy who had tried to take it wasn’t exactly happy, but then no thief liked it when their trick was foiled. As he swung at her, Rikku ducked under his arm and slipped past him, pulling a dagger from his belt as she went.
“Look, here’s your take.” She threw the knife so it embedded itself in the ground a few feet in front of the curly-haired boy. He swung at her again when a furious keening noise erupted violently into the air. It wasn't one smooth tone, but jilting, creating an unpleasant cacophony that jarred her ears. Almost immediately, the faces of those around her took on the same look, one of complete and utter fear. Then when the sound stopped, chaos ensued as everyone scattered in different directions.
“What’s going on!” Rikku looked around frantically, searching for Cecily because she at least knew her. She saw her turning the corner towards the market, followed by the thief leader and Rikku took off running after them. The people in the market were already in a panic, stalls being knocked over, people being trampled, and the sounds of slamming doors as people moved for shelter. Suddenly it was all silenced as an inhuman scream cut through the air. Rikku looked up, her eyes widening as she saw several winged black shapes diving off the tower before catching a draft and heading in their direction. Cecily and the thief had also paused, watching the same sight.
“Where’s Rinoa and Locke!”
Cecily cast a glance at her, horror filling her expression.
“I left them with---“ Rikku didn’t wait to hear the rest, she could see them at the far end, huddling under an overturned cart. As she moved into the madness, more of those heartless appeared, a different variety then she’d seen. They were large and powerful, running about on four legs as they pounced on those who hadn’t managed to escape. Rikku ran for the two children, dodging the damaged stalls and trying to avoid both the frantic men and the monsters. She was almost to the cart when a gigantic heartless with serpentine limbs flipped the cart off of Rinoa and Locke, destroying their shelter. The pair tried to scurry away, but the beast reached out again, wrapping one of its tentacle limbs around Rinoa’s waist. Locke held onto his sister’s hands trying to pull her down, but the heartless knocked him aside with another tail-like arm. Rikku jumped forward, one of her daggers already in her hand as she slashed at one of its arms. It fell to the ground with a sickening thud leaving a slimy residue on her knife, but didn’t stop, just lifted Rinoa higher and began to move out of the market.
“Get Locke!” Rikku yelled back at Cecily before running after the creature, trying to think of a plan to make it stop. It wasn’t stealing hearts, but instead just knocked things aside as it continued on its rampage. Rikku looked around for something else to use and settled for tossing some old kitchenware at its head.
“Stop you stupid ugly son of shoopuff! Let her go!” Rikku didn’t think the creature would listen, but she couldn’t help but scream at it. In a final act of desperation, Rikku hurled Yuna’s summoning wand at it. “I said drop her!”
To her surprise, the creature did drop Rinoa and turning around it focused several beady eyes on her before charging.
With a final glance of regret at Yunie’s summoning wand, Rikku ran like hell back through the trampled market and under an open gate at the far end, with the heartless still giving chase. The area seemed to grow darker, but Rikku had no time to stop and consider this as other swarms of heartless decided to take pursuit. Turning a corner, she dodged through a second gate and entered into what she assumed was the seventh district. As she passed through an alley, the heartless burst forward with extra strength, charging for her when a hand shot out, catching her wrist in a vice-like grip and yanking her towards a glowing portal that wavered in the wall. As she was propelled towards it, she caught one foot and an arm against the side, which was thankfully still sturdy, and tried to pull back. Then the heartless charged and Rikku realized it was probably rather stupid of her to resist at all and abruptly she let herself be pulled in, the momentum causing both her and her kidnapper/rescuer to tumble to the ground.
Immediately rising to her knees, she brushed aside the blond braids that had fallen into her face and looked up into a pair of impossibly vivid blue eyes.
Although this is the longest chapter yet, it seemed like there was less effort put into it compared to the rest of the chapters. I don't know why it feels like that.Regardless, it is a good addition to an already amazing story. Class cliffhanger end to it too.