G of S – Part Five –

The Beauty and the Storm

Ocean blue eye flickered open as John tried to focus his eyes on the ceiling and for a second he felt nothing before a wave of exhaustion washed over him again. He wondered why he had even woken up if his body was still so exhausted. The answer came as he rolled on to his side stiffly and the pain rolled up from his knee and elbow. A strong cringe wrinkled his face and he moaned loudly as he closed his eyes again. The pain pulled at his conscious, but soon he fell back to sleep and forgot of it. When he awoke again it was in a jolt to get himself up, nothing in his mind except that he needed to get to the washroom, where when he stumbled in, he lost any of the nutrition he had left.

Mind you, his head in the toilet bowl didn't fell entirely unnatural but as he lay there with his cheek plastered against the seat and all his body throbbing with heat, he felt in some sort of small hell. Days past like this and where as Ronda tried to keep him hydrated and fed, he could never keep much down for long.

His condition bettered and past in about a week, in which he had spent the great deal of it all, living on the bathroom's cold floor. Many times he had awoken from sleep to find himself in a different washroom, a dirty and grimy one that seemed to have every sort of stain imaginable on the wood and floor. Background music and noise flooded into the stuffy place, but no matter how miserable and real it seemed he would always find himself back in Alba's bathroom when he actually awoke. Despite his situation it was always somehow a relief, to find the feeling of the air itself no longer weighing him down with the smell of booze and mold.

He felt very renewed when finally he could keep most of the food down, and he stopped having spouts of hot flashes. Without the world spinning every time he stood up he finally started paying attention to it again. Over the week, the cuts on his knee had healed drastically; Ronda proclaimed it some sort of medical breakthrough, but Alba knew well enough it was due to the residue they had found on the leaf and his leg. He had encountered it before, a long ways back. The absorption of it into the body sped up the healing process, but some people reacted negatively to it, including allergic reactions, fevers, sometimes nausea; even death for one of the races. However, Alba's theory was that John's slight fever was from it and the addition of other things was why his health problems had escalated so drastically. Including an infection the 'goo' had actually quarantined and he had treated during the week. Whatever the poison was, it was gone now, Chinemsei's quick treatment had done more good than harm and the minor wounds had been helped along with their healing by the sea-water itself. John was given a splint for his hand to not strain it, and did exercises with Ronda each night to strengthen it. As for his knee it was healing now more rapidly that his body had fought off infection. Alba had housed, fed, and clothed him and though he accepted grudgily, he harboured a large distaste for their generosity to him and concluded that when he was better off, he'd find some way to pay them back for their hospitality. Kind of him? No, he just didn't like to owe people anything. Time past by, as it so often does, and his recovery was well on its way, he had lost track of the days, however but made a small routine which included exploring and wandering around with Chinemsei. This way he learned much of Baleto, and Tohma in a general sense, taking note mentally of many things. Nem was always glad to have company and found her more frequent trips to Ronny and Alba quite pleasant. His shoulder was the first to heal, and then his knee became little more than a diminishing scab. His hand was the last to be deemed as healed because of Ronda's worry, so she forced him to be more cautious of it. Other than that… the only thing left was his mind and he started to doubt it would ever be back.

John formulated from Chinemsei's example and asked Alba if he knew anyone who needed extra help with handiwork. With the old medic's help John became hired-help, which did not feel anything beyond ordinary for him. He made money here and there, but word spread through the small town of the strapping young man who could handle his fair share of hard labour, and equally more money and goods came along. Chinemsei followed him and helped with small things here and there, still accepting small goods, but never money.

They walked along the shore one day after a few weeks of his being there. It was something they hadn't done in a while and somehow just seemed appropriate to not let the tradition die away before it had fully begun. At first it had just been her following him, that he shrugged off; she could do what she wanted, but then… he had started to get used to it, and he began to expect her to follow along. They chatted briefly, but much of the time it was just enjoyable enough to be in silent company.

"Hn…" He sounded out stubbornly, thinking something over for a second time, reluctant to say it, but he finally did, "Did I… ever thank you, kiddo?"

Her attention turned to him and she thought it over, "I don't think so." She grinned widely to him, "But I knew you always meant tah."

"Keh," He smirked in an amused manner, "Oh! You did, did you now?"

She gave a certain nod and trotted over to a large boulder before scrambling up on top of it. He followed her over at his own laid-back pace, "Ever since you stood up for me."

"Ah, I see." He came up and leaned against the roc, looking out to the hidden horizon. "Yeah well… thanks." He said in a distracted manner.

She perched herself next to him and gazed out, "What is it?" She asked in a rather knowing way."

"I don't like the pattern of those clouds…" he muttered out, eyes squinting as he examined them further.

"They won't bother us, though."

"How do you know?"

"Because they never come in, silly."

She told him there was nothing to worry about… but he had seen it somewhere before. Those odd stages of behaviour, but of what… and where? A strong feeling of oncoming trouble fell over him, and he muttered out, "C'mon, let's keep going."

"Aw…" she whined softly, "Can't we sit longer? I'm tired."

He glanced to the clouds with a suspicious eye and shook his head. "No… the winds are shifting, I need to speak with Alba." He looked over to her disappointed agreement, and slid down the boulder a bit, "Get on my back."

"Really?" She inquired joyously, he nodded and she stood up before wrapping her arms around his neck.

He walked at a quicker pace when they set off, his hands clasped in front of him as they held a spot for her legs to rest. He couldn't help but smile as he felt the warm sand on his bare feet and she held his sandals for him, while the ocean breeze blew back their long bangs. It felt like the release of shackles to be able again, able to not be so easily strained or handicapped. He could carry her without a problem and the exercises he continued with Ronda had rebuilt his arm's stamina. The hard labour he preformed allowed him to keep his firm and formed physique as well. Whatever he had done before his arrival on Tohma had shaped his body with muscle and kept him fit. It all felt very refreshing though; his new freedom, the opportunity and the friendship Tohma had come to offer him. Though he kept many of his stern and stubborn mannerisms he was slowly becoming more open-minded and questioned many things in more ways. He felt this most with Nem, why…? He could not clearly say, but her presence never felt wrong. He realized something though as he looked around the area… not sure why he recognized it.

' This was where I had first woken up that time when Chinemsei had found me lying on the beach. The sun had been in my eyes so I hadn't noticed it, but Nem insured me it was there. The island is odd, blue skies above and bright sun, but off where the water meets the horizon in a venomous haze, that encircled the island. An everlasting storm, which the villagers say has never come to shore. It clears every now and then, but never stays gone long. While we were resting from walking the soft sand shore, I noticed it, and it filled me with dread for the first time since I've gotten better. Only a fool would try to sail through such a thing. So… had I been a fool prior to the accident, was it that which made me lose my memory? I couldn't know for sure, but right now it was the clouds that bothered me. I would be confident of the villagers' words, if it weren't for Nem having said, they had seemed to get darker since then. Though, she still seems sure, they won't come in. It's odd how we ended up in this surprisingly beautiful place. As she gave a soft yawn I couldn't help but smile softly, it was a gift of some sort I had met her. Though I can't be sure, I think she taught me how to be content again. '

The way she looked at things, he found he could admire, despite her age. Even then when silence sounded too long, she warmly tightened her grip and began to hum softly, as if to save him from nothingness. It felt for a while like the air was empty of everything but her sweet sound and the soft crash of waves on the shore was a whisper to her main role. The birds and bugs fell silent so they could hear it as well, as if to hear the humming of a Bellore and hoping song would follow…

As he reflected silently while they continued, another barrage of images and old thoughts came to him. Images of some high-class tavern came to his conscious. He was sitting at a small table with another young female who seemed like she'd be better suited for a tavern which had a horseshoe hanging over its door. She was a light walnut skinned woman with golden blonde hair, a beauty in one didn't mind the fact she could kick any tough man's ass. This had merited her the odd nickname, though only certain people could address her with such without earning a black-eye. It came around since she was one of the races which very little were known of. The race varied a lot, but she was clearly it, and not afraid to show it. But, even through these memories which felt much like being part of a movie, John knew what she was. Her darker skin and violet eyes suggested, but what gave it away were her double forked ears which came to two distinguished points and the pairs horns that crowned the sides of her head just behind her ears and golden hair. Characteristics of the race were these forked ears, generally darker complexions, and vivid eyes. Their heavier bone mass made it common for them to have a variety of horns and/or spikes on different parts of their body, and made them abnormally strong compared to most other races.

"Hey… hey!" Came her firm voice which commanded his attention, "Are you even listening to me?"

He looked over to her more fully, "Yeah yeah, don't fuck first and ask questions later. What are you Beauty, my nanny?"

She scoffed with distaste, "I'm not telling you what to do, do whatever you want! So long as you don't want me to fix it." She leaned her elbow on the tabletop and brought her sharp fingernails around the rim of her glass, "I'ma just saying, that just because she's got a heavenly voice and way of wording things, don't mean she's a Bellore walking through filth."

"A Bellore?"

She shifted and leaned her chin in her palm, "Hell, you don't even know the story of the Bellore?"

He shrugged, "Should I care to?"

She shrugged back to replicate his indifference, "If you want to pray tell impress the witch then, yeah."

He furrowed his brow slightly and took a sip of his drink, "Then do tell, oh wise one." Came his sarcastic reply.

She scoffed again but took to reciting what she knew of it, "The Bellore stories are all based on young woman who were very beautiful, but woman with beautiful voices to match. No one had even heard them speak, but they hummed melodies that could never be so beautifully replicated because it was as if words were implied by the world about them."

"Pretty girls who hummed?" He said unenthusiastically.

She licked her canines, impatiently and scratched at the table, "They were believed to be earth-bound cherubs, damn it!"

He rose up a hand, "Okay, don't get upset, Beauty."

She snorted and looked away, "Well then don't bloody well interrupt me!" Her violet eyes watched him from their corners as he motioned for her to continue, "Having abandoned their cloud wings to wander. The important thing was that miracles were said to happen around them." She finished her drink and looked around the room, as if questioning the reason for its purpose.

"Like…?" He pushed.

"Hn? Oh… I don't know there are a few ridiculous stories. Like a woman wading through a wasteland, humming and wearing a flower in behind her ear. The next morning that kind of flower was sprouting in the forsaken place and the earth was fertile again. Another one was a grave keeper was walking through at night and he saw a woman walking through with eyes closed and humming what felt like a soliloquy. She past by an open grave and coffin. Her hand strayed and touched the grave-marker. The next morning the people who were going to shovel in the dirt found the an dazed and out of his coffin, and the marker no longer had the year of death engraved in it, as if it had been scratched out."

"How do you know all that?"

She seemed reluctant to say, but as she looked back to him a toothy smirk spread across her lips, "The father of my Clam didn't like the idea of these 'stories' dieing out, and I got an odd mind for detail."

He grinned back to her and finished off the drink, "You're right about the odd mind, but let's get the hell out of this stuffy place."

"'Bout damn time!"

"John… are you okay?" came Nem's gentle voice.

His foot hit down heavily as he came back to reality and turned his head to see her looking to him, "Yeah…" he nodded and glanced to the horizon again before looking ahead, "I'll be fine."

"Good!" She announced cheerfully and he smiled at her kindness, but now he had two things that bothered him, who that Madraga (Man-Dragon) 'Beauty' was and more immediately what was going to come from the irregular cloud patterns. Though he was no life ling seaman, he didn't trust them in combination with the wind. They weren't the same as they had been during the first week of his mysterious arrival.

When they arrived back at Alba's, he let Nem down and searched out Alabaster, finding him contemplating bills in his small study.

"Old man!"

Alba winced at the noise which broke his concentration, "Is it necessary that you find shouting to be your best means?" Arrogance rang in his sage voice; one that was not to be taken with disdain for he would never have had disdain for such a small thing.

"It is." John entered into the room and stood in front of Alba in a very imposing but firm manner, "Of all the people I want you to listen to me!" I've spoken to enough people to figure out you're all too ignorant, but a storm is coming. And not just some cockshit one."

Alba arched a brow and turned towards John with an interested air. There was an angered passion in his voice that intrigued the old man. "Is it of the seaward clouds that station the storm?"

"Yeah, I'm talking about the ones out to sea."

"Then there is no need to worry then, they-"

John's palm slammed down on the old oak desk, "There is need! The clouds are merging and moving. The air currents are going to concentrate them right over this part of the island, before they shift again, and I don't think this town is ready for that kind of storm!"

Alba settled his look of surprise and re-gathered himself with a still arched brow, "How do you know this?"

John furrowed his brow further, but a cold smirk caused by spite of himself pulled his lips slightly, "I don't know how, but I just do. Trust me… it's not going to be good."

Alba turned slightly in his chair and considered what John had said. "…How long do we have."

"A few days."