|The Hanoma Mission
Author: The Journal of MagiiMar No.906 PM
A band of young adventurers receive a mission from their king: to investigate a violent anti-magical rebellion in the once peaceful city of Hanoma, where they will encounter an ancient enemy in a battle that will decide the future of the nation of Chien.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 22 - Words: 33,610 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 06-02-12 - Published: 10-08-10 - id: 2854018
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The sun had already set by the time we made it out of Nadine's house. Fashionably late, Soran had called it. Tardy's more like it. I blame Zaira; it was way too difficult to get her into her dress. And after all that time I'd spent on it too! At least Naomi took the "grin and bear it" attitude- metaphorically, of course. Naomi never grins.
But that all happened nearly a week ago. It was... hard for me. Soran said I had to write a log though. So here I am, sipping coffee in the early pre-dawn hours while everyone else is asleep. I'm not awake specially to make this log. I just figured that, since I was awake, now would be a good time to write it.
I'm on the kitchen floor, in case you're interested.
So, back to the event. We were all dressed so nicely, if I do say so myself (which, of course, I do). I had on my long green dress, and I had curled my hair into a wavy mass (my hair was way too long to actually hold curls).
Right as I was finishing a few last minute details, Soran walked into the bathroom.
"Don't you knock?" I asked, checking my earrings.
"Don't you lock?" he retorted, but he held up his hand to stop me from responding. "I need you to wear something."
I blinked. "What?"
He pulled out his sword.
"You... want me to wear Samara?" I made a face.
"Of course. How else will I smuggle it in?"
"Can't someone else wear it?" I complained.
"No, because I only have one second-in-command."
I rolled my eyes. Not that card again. "Fine."
He smiled. "Good!" He morphed his sword into a gold comb with little Haja flowers on the spine. He twisted up the hair on the left side of my hair, and secured the comb in place.
I examined myself. "You know, now I have to rethink my accessories." I said, half teasing.
He laughed apologetically. "Sorry 'bout that." He turned and left.
"Dumb boy," I muttered with a smile.
The first thing we did upon entering the ball was begin dancing. I knew we were trying to expose ourselves, but that didn't affect the nerves. By the way, I mean it didn't prevent them. I mean, it had been years since we last dealt with Angela! I knew how much we improved, but what about her?
I tried my absolute hardest not to appear nervous anyhow. It was working quite well- until Jarken invited me to dance. At first I thought I was a joke, but then I realized he asked me to dance. I saw Nadine smile at me out of corner of my eye.
As he pulled me close, I became painfully aware of just how low the front of my dress was. While he spun me around and led me through a dance that was a weird cross between a waltz, traditional Indian, and the Tango, I prayed to Anzo that my cleavage would stay minimal.
When we had begun our next go of this, I decided to ask "Why did you want to dance anyway?"
Because of his mask- a complex metal weave that reminded me of old gears buried in sand- I couldn't read his expression. He simply shrugged his shoulder as he stepped back and spun me out. "I was bored?"
"It's incorrect to answer a question with a question." I said, circling around him.
He grabbed my elbow, spun me to face him, and then dipped me. "Why? You do it all the time."
"Do I?" I stepped back quickly, and this time he circled me. "You know, you're a pretty decent dancer."
"I've been doing this since I was a kid. However-" he stepped behind me, grabbed my left shoulder with his right hand and hooked me around the waist with his left. "I can't imagine you've been dancing this since you were five."
"Am I that bad?" I made an "oh jeez" face.
"No, actually. You're... pretty good."
He stepped back as the song ended. He bowed. "It was a... pleasure to dance with you." Jarken straightened and walked to where Naomi sat surrounded by men. I almost went to Soran again, until I caught sight of Nadine. She waved her hand in a "come hither" sort of way.
"Yes?" I asked as I approached. My face was still flushed from all the dancing I had just done.
She had a mischievous look about her. She reminded me of the time- you know what, I'm not gunna talk about it. Just think of mothers or sisters who are about to tease their female kin.
"Well now, Mina dear," she drawled, "what was that I saw just now?"
"Two friends dancing while having a chat?" I made a mental note that Jarken was right- I do answer questions with questions.
"Looked a little more... intense than that." She grinned.
"It's just that type of dance," I said. "No big deal."
"Really now? An' why'd he do such a sultry dance with you if y'all are 'just friends'?" She put her hands on her hips.
I shrugged. "It's probably the only dance he knows. And he probably picked me because I'm the only girl here he even remotely knows who would willingly dance with him."
Before Nadine could reply, I heard Soran call for me. "Sorry, I gotta go." I turned and went to Soran. "What'cha need Captain?"
He had a puzzled look. "I wanna know what I just-"
Before he could finish what I knew he would say, a random Squirrel chick came up to us and invited us to meet her friends. They asked me a few questions, but for the most part I was ignored.
I didn't really care; I would rather eat than bother with female fans anyway. Good thing Soran was with me.
In the meantime I wished I could go talk with Naomi, Jarken and Nadine, who I could see almost perfectly on the other end of the ballroom.
I knew that as soon as Soran said those words, the real party would start.
He launched into a rather long speech about what we'd been doing since we arrived. All the while, I sat and watched on-lookers. I watched their expressions change from surprise to suspicions to fear and disbelief. I heard the whispers, the snide remarks that only nobility can make. I felt the pressure, both toward and from Soran. It was all quite clear to me.
The whole ballroom became a mass of chaos in a matter of minutes. At the same moment I pulled my collapsible staff from beneath my skirt, my hair fell, and I knew Soran had his sword.
I raced across the room to Nadine, dodging nobles left and right. By the time I reached her, the Shadow Beasts had surrounded Nadine.
"Like hell!" I cried. I engulfed my staff in my Light and smacked the beasts. They dissipated.
I stood in front of Nadine, my staff still aglow, in a defensive stance. "You alright?" I asked over my shoulder.
"I can't imagine it easy to fight in that," Nadine said. I could hear the lightness in her voice, with only a slight hint of fear.
"Hmph. I've got shorts on."
Nadine chuckled. "I bet the noble women wish they did. Still-" Nadine bent and, with her knife that she had ready, slit my skirt down my right side. "There! That should help, Mina dear."
I stared at my formerly wonderful silk dress. "I don't know whether to thank you or kill you."
She made a thinking face. "Hmmm... thank me now, and kill me later seems reasonable."
I grumbled. "Alright, but you can't run when I come for you."
She took an offensive stance. "I promise."
"Good." I grinned and shifted my stance. The glow of my staff intensified.
"Be careful now, Mina dear. Best not overdue it early." Nadine warned.
"It's fine- it isn't that much!" I swung me staff over my head and brought it down in a diagonal slash across three particularly grotesque Shadow Beasts. "You know, I really hate these things."
"I must agree," Nadine said. She was holding the beast off somewhat, but her knife wasn't very useful against Shadow Beasts. Not even with my Light encasing it.
About then I noticed Soran in a deadlock with Angela. That one moment, only a split second, and I had failed.
Something flew past the back of my head. I felt something hot sear my neck, and a burning smell hit my nose. I put my hand to my hair- or at least, where it should have been. All that was left were a few curly, crisp strands on the back of my neck. The rest of my hair stopped in a burnt mass at the base of my skull.
Well, that isn't entirely accurate. It was probably a bit longer than that, and it was only like that on the left half of my head. Somehow nearly all the right side was still as long as ever, save for the occasional strand.
"Mina!" I heard Nadine cry. I turned, but it was too late. Nadine crashed against me, an arrow protruding from a bleeding wound in her chest.
We collapsed to the ground.
"Nadine!" I gasped, horrified. I looked at the tear she'd made in my skirt. If I could just rip off a piece...!
"Mina," she sputtered.
I was shredding my skirt. By now there was practically nothing covering my right leg. "Just hold on, okay? I can stop-"
"Mina!" she screamed, and then gasped with pain. She coughed up blood. "Listen... to me."
I stared at her, scared silent.
"I saved you... for a reason." she whispered. "I want... I need to you to do... what I never could." Tears rolled down her cheeks. "I need you... to love him. Love that boy you adore so much." She stiffened, the pain overcoming her. "Love him like no one else will."
Numbness began to take me. "What...?"
"Make him... love you too, 'kay darlin'? Don't... don't lose him..." Her eyelids fluttered.
"Nadine? Nadine!" I can't imagine how horrified I must have looked.
I nodded vigorously, as if that could somehow bring her back. "Yes! I will! I swear, he will love me!"
She smiled. "Good... bye, Mina-chi..." Her eyes closed and her body went slack.
"Nadine!" I shook her. "No... no!" I covered my mouth to stifle my ungodly sounds.
It felt like the world has stopped. I stared at her, and then her knife. I slipped it from her fingers. With it in my hand, I couldn't help but feel all the power... all the life Nadine had.
Something felt... different. I felt different. Something in me had changed. I knew, then, that old Mina was gone. Never again could I ever be a child. Not then, not ever.
I clenched the handle in my fist. "I... I'll see you later, Nadine." I stood.
I grabbed what part of my hair hadn't be burned in my left hand. I raised the small blade.
"Good bye, Mina-child." I pulled the knife through my locks.
Angela cackled from somewhere in the center of the ballroom. Through a break in the beasts I could see Soran crumpled in his own blood on the floor.
No- not again! I let out a screech so primal and enraged even the Shadow Beasts seemed surprised. I bolted toward the boy who held Soran's blood on his knife. Without another thought I plunged Nadine's knife deep in the boy's back.
Angela and I must have looked one in the same right then as she ordered our capture. She held the boy in her arms; her face held an expression of pure rage.
"Take them to the dungeons!" I only half-heard her say as I slashed away at the Shadow Beasts. The godless monsters closed in around us.
I would never have tried to kill if not for that night.