Original Stories Fan Fiction ❯ VIRUS ❯ Beautiful Things ( Chapter 9 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
By: Melissa Norvell
Chapter 9: Beautiful Things
Everyone walked carefully along the unpredictable paths of Drumrart Flatts. They knew at any time, that they could take a wrong step and fall straight through the ground and into the night. The group relied solely on Seishira's keen magic ability to lead them out of the treacherous land. However, that didn't mean that they didn't think about it.
"We're almost to the end of Drumrart," Seishira's voice cut through the silent air relieving their worries.
"Thank goodness. I'm sick of watching where I walk," Pazusu sighed in relief. The whole concept of a place that was rumored as a drop off to the gates of hell made him leery.
"Yeah, I don't like knowing that I could fall through the ground to who knows where at any time," Pippin felt as if she had literally been walking on eggshells the entire time. To have that worry off of her mind was definitely a good thing.
Straggling behind the three were Rosario and Bunmei, who walked in complete silence. The school girl's green glance was upon the ground and she held one hand with the other. The assassin's face turned to the right, away from her as he walked beside of her with his hands in his pockets.
"They sure are quiet," Pazusu glanced over his shoulder at them.
"They're probably mad at each other. Well, Bunmei is anyway. He's got some temper, huh?" The tanned girl joked with a smile and wave of her hand.
"If you're going to talk about me, do it where I can't hear you," Bunmei's deep voice cut into the brother and sister conversation.
"Erk!" Pippin flinched. She didn't think that the man could hear her, but his hearing was better than she thought.
"What's the next place that we have to go?" Rosario looked up. The question was more pointed at Seishira than anyone else, since she seemed to know the most about Versailles.
"There's a village on the other side of Drumrart called Majestica. That will be our next stop. We can rest there if you'd like," Seishira informed the group ahead of them.
"I'd rather not. Asking me to rest there is like shoving me off of a cliff without a bunji chord or a parachute," Bunmei sighed in irritation. Majestica was definitely the last place that he wanted to stop.
"Is there something wrong with Majestica?" Pippin was confused by his nature towards the place.
"They hate people like me."
"No offense, but everyone around here hates people like you," Pazusu wasn't trying to be sarcastic, but it was the truth of the matter.
He received the familiar irritated sigh in response. "I didn't mean it like that, you idiot. Apparently, you didn't hear what happened to the last guy who tried to tell everyone the truth about Queen Ambaralla."
"I'm afraid to ask."
"Then perhaps you shouldn't say anything about her," Seishira noted.
"If they don't like my opinion, then they can try and kill me," Bunmei frankly didn't give a fuck about anyone's opinion and just because they liked Queen Ambaralla, didn't mean that he was going to keep his mouth shut.
"Considering what they did to Sin, you might want to reconsider that," the sorceress' tone was serious when she spoke of that subject.
"Sin? Who's that?" Pippin wanted to know more about this Sin person and what exactly he got into trouble for. The girl guessed that it had something to do with him not liking Queen Ambaralla but she wanted to know the details.
"Sin was a man who resided in Majestica. He spoke against the people of the town, who adored the queen so much that they raised a monument in a rose garden, dedicated to her greatness. He told them that the queen had been manipulating them and that they should open their eyes to what the truth was. He was tortured as a result and made into a spectacle by the people. He was very strong, but up against the masses, his strength meant nothing."
"They can't surely be that strong," Bunmei replied. They were just townspeople, after all. The only advantage they would even have against Sin would be sheer number.
"Majestica is a village of ninja."
"N-Ninja?" Pazusu was a little shaken by the fact that there was an entire village of ninja. He was definitely going to keep his mouth shut regarding anything about that queen. Fighting a couple of ninja on the subject wouldn't have been so hard but a whole village was another matter.
"Well, that is different," the assassin almost seemed happy that the village was full of one-sided ninja. To him, the thrill of the kill was the complexity of the situation. The harder it was to make a kill, the better off he was.
"How did I know that you'd like that idea?" Pazusu sighed. What Bunmei thought was fun, he thought was pure hell.
"I don't like it," Pippin agreed with her brother.
"I could care less about your opinion," the assassin replied.
"How rude," Pippin whined.
"We made it out," Seishira announced as they stood on hard, stable land again. It seemed to be a hill that overlooked a city bathed in white lights. It almost was as though the city itself was glowing, and in the middle of the city was a giant white light that was brighter than all of the others. It was massive and many people in the group of misfits stared in wonder as they tried to think of what it could possibly be.
The group continued to walk towards the illuminated place. Rosario looked on at the small village in wonder. Her eyes sparkled at the sight of light, and a good amount of it at that.
"Oh wow, it's a lot smaller then the City of Flickering Lights," the girl was in awe of the beautiful city. Even though it was small, to her - it was absolutely beautiful and actually provided enough light to be livable.
As the group walked into the city, the center of Majestica held the famous statue of Queen Ambaralla and the beautiful rose garden with a round pool of water around the bottom of the statue with floating blood red roses.
Seishira turned to the group. "Well, what do you say we take a rest here?"
"Hell yeah!" Pazusu loved the idea. He wanted to see the sights and take a load off of his tired feet.
"Uh huh!" His sister agreed.
"I'd rather not," Bunmei's opinion stayed the same.
"Looks like you're outvoted," Rosario smiled teasing him.
"Hey! I don't see you voting!" The irritated man yelled.
"I'd like to rest too."
"It's not that bad," Pazusu explained. "You act like you can't sit still for five minutes."
"I have a high metabolism." It wasn't an excuse. The assassin really did have such a condition and resting to him seemed useless. Whenever he took on a mission alone, he was always the one to not rest very long, even when he was injured. Resting made him more irritable.
"At least you're full of energy," Pippin was happily.
"No joke!" Her brother agreed. "I wished I could fight like you. You didn't even break a sweat when you fought Freya." It was amazing that the swordsman could encounter anyone like Bunmei. In many ways, he didn't seem human. He fought against Freya as if she were nothing and to him and that was amazing.
"She was tough," the assassin admitted. It wasn't as flawless as the swordsman would have liked to believe. "I haven't fought anyone like that in a while."
"I hope that she doesn't come back," Pippin didn't know if she wanted to watch her die or go through the trouble in facing off with her again. The girl felt a little unnerved knowing that they had just fought someone who was sick and dying.
"You know that she will, Pippin," Seishira saw it was inevitable that they meet with the bounty hunters again, especially if Bunmei was still traveling with them. "She'll keep coming back until either she or Bunmei is dead."
Rosario glanced down. She didn't want to see either one of them die. She hoped that there would be some sort of alternative way to end their dispute. Bunmei just sighed as if they were an annoyance and after that, everything was silent until they made their way to the rose garden in the center of town.
The statue of Ambaralla held a rose as she cast her gaze towards the heavens. The Queen was a very frail and beautiful woman, who was dressed in many layers of extravagant kimonos with intricately engraved designs. She had large, round eyes and long, slowing hair with the slightest of waves. Part of her abundance of hair was pulled into two loops on her head, which were held by a beautiful, intricate rose hair pin with chopsticks on either side of it. The brightest light in the entire city was in that very spot. It illuminated the statue and made it seem angelic.
"Is that what the bitch looks like?" Bunmei's black brow twitched and an unamused look crossed his face. He crossed his arms over his chest and didn't seem too impressed with the beautiful statue.
"I think she's pretty," Pippin admired the beautiful work of art.
"Stupid," the assassin grumbled.
"Hey!" The short-haired girl seemed offended at his remark.
"What a beautiful rose garden," Rosario gazed across the seemingly endless sea of vibrant red roses. The girl slowly walked through them and sat in the middle of the flowers as she inhaled their light scent. 'They smell just like the ones I was lying in when I met him.' A flash of the angel that was pinned to the cross ran through her mind. "So beautiful…" She cooed as she closed her eyes and smiled.
Her peaceful, nostalgic moment was interrupted by the assassin's reminder of what the journey really meant. "We're not supposed to be admiring the scenery."
"Lighten up a little," the purple-haired swordsman patted Bunmei's shoulder and earned a cold glare from the man. "We can at least enjoy ourselves if we are going to be on a long journey. Part of the fun of traveling is seeing the sights, right?"
Pippin sat next to Rosario in the roses. She could feel the petals touch her skin as well as the prickle of a few thorns but she didn't seem to mind it much. "So pretty."
"Keh, idiots," Bunmei snorted as he turned his back away from them.
Pazusu sighed a little. He seriously didn't understand why Bunmei was so uptight about things. Personally, the assassin, in his opinion, could loosen up and learn to enjoy life instead of thinking so much about the mission. He wanted to get out and see Japan, but he wanted to enjoy what was in Versailles while he could.
After all, who knew what would happen once he got away from the place he had so long called home.
"They're just being girls. I think it's kind of cute," the swordsman didn't see any harm in what Rosario and Pippin were doing. It was nice to see both of them look so peaceful and happy.
"You're an idiot too."
"Hey! That was uncalled for!" Pazusu whirled around with an annoyed look on his face. Sometimes, Bunmei was a real jerk, and a complete killjoy to anything happy that even went on.
The assassin walked through the roses and sat on the edge of the raised pool of water with his legs and arms crossed, eyes closed and a frown plastered on his face. Rosario watched him for a few moments before she looked back up to the statue.
"So, that's what Queen Ambaralla looks like?"
"It's rumored that she looks like that, yes," Seishira replied.
"What do you mean?" Pippin glanced to the magic user in question. What did she mean by that? Has no one truly seen the queen to even know what she looked like?
"No one knows for sure."
"Because she won't come down from that damned castle," the assassin reminded everyone of the cowardice actions of the queen. Perhaps someone would know what her true face looked like if she had actually ever come down from her sanctuary and confronted the people of the town.
"Do you really think that she's mean?" Rosario knew what Bunmei's opinion on the subject was, but she wanted another opinion on the matter. Pippin had been there since birth, so her opinion would be a good one to go from.
"I didn't used to but now…I'm not sure." To be truthful, the younger girl didn't know what to think of Ambaralla. Bunmei seemed like he was right on some things and she didn't want to seem like she was brainwashed like the people of Majestica. She was torn on what to do. The both of them glanced across the rose garden to see Pazusu and Seishira at the foot of the statue. They both seemed to be in deep thought as they gazed upon the massive monument.
"Heh, well she's asked me to do a few things for her but I've never even known what she looked like. I always got my orders from the Rose Prince or the Green Rose," the swordsman commented. It was the first time he'd ever even had an idea of what the queen could possibly look like. She seemed a lot younger then he would have imagined, nearly in her teens or possibly early twenties.
"Yes, they act as messengers for Queen Ambaralla or rather, they had," Seishira informed him of the current state of the Green Rose and Rose Prince.
"What do you mean?" The swordsman seemed a little confused.
"They are reluctant to listen to her since the sage's exile."
"Man, that sage must have had some power," Pazusu was impressed by the hold that the sage's presence seemed to have on the people of Oscillo - more preferably the royal court.
"Yes…He did. Not in magic but in words alone. He had always believed that the mind was a greater thing to acquire than just having strength," Seishira noted.
"He sounded like he was ahead of his time."
Across from them, Bunmei listened to their conversation for a while but was distracted as Pippin placed a crown of roses on the pink-haired girl's head and commented about how she looked like a princess. Rosario argued that she wasn't possibly that beautiful. The two got into a playful argument over the subject.
From behind a bush nearby, Shin had been keeping a close eye on the group, just as Freya had instructed him to. He observed them silently, tracking their movements and waiting for them to advance so that he would follow them to the next location. 'There they are. I'm going to keep a close eye on them for Madam Freya.'
Hearing the rustle of the bush, Bunmei glanced over as the ninja quickly ducked into the greenery but not before he was sighted. The movement of the leaves in that one, specific area was enough to let the assassin know that someone had been watching them.
"Hmm…" He said as he stared down the rosebush.
"Do you see something, Bunmei?" Pippin looked to the man.
"Do they have inns here?" The spiky-haired man asked carefully.
"Yes, there are a few here," Seishira wondered why he was questioning her about inns. He had stated prior that he didn't want to rest anywhere.
"We should rest. If we'll be here for a while, that that would be the best choice." That and he wanted to avoid whoever was following him. It might be Freya up to her old tricks again and if that was the case, then they should not be out in the open.
"What's with the change of mood?" Pippin wondered aloud. "Earlier you didn't want to rest and now you do."
"I'm a little low on energy," Bunmei made the excuse.
"Me too," Pazusu agreed, "fighting those bounty hunters sure does take a lot out of you."
"You can't tell when there's night and day here. It's dark all of the time," Rosario commented on the unchanging time of day. She wasn't sure when everyone went to sleep and when they stayed awake. In a place that was eternally dark, what was considered night and day?
"I've always just went to sleep whenever I wanted," Pippin told her. Since it was dark all of the time, night and day were blurred, so it made no difference when they slept.
"A lot of people do that," Pazusu stated. "I think everyone just has their own agenda."
"Well, let's go," Seishira instructed as Rosario and Pippin replied with an 'okay' in unison. Everyone left the rose garden and ventured towards the direction of the next available inn.
As they walked around, they noticed that the houses were similar to those in the City of Flickering Lights. Many of the citizens of Majestica also had a traditional style of dress and walked around in kimonos and hakamas. The whole town had Japanese inspired clothes and the only other notable difference between Majestica and the City of Flickering Lights was the fact that Majestica had a notable rose theme. There wasn't a place that anyone could go without seeing roses of some color.
"Reminds you of feudal Japan, huh?" Rosario watched a young woman walk down a sidewalk on the other side of the street.
"All accept those houses," Bunmei noted.
"Feudal Japan? What's that?" Pippin had never heard of that place before. The only places she's heard Rosario talk about were Osaka and Japan, but never feudal Japan.
"It's the way our country used to be hundreds of years ago. The clothes that these people are wearing remind us of the old style of the way people in Japan dressed," Bunmei explained the best that he could what feudal Japan was compared to the people of Majestica.
"Well, we still dress that way but usually only for festivals. It's considered traditional Japanese dress," Rosario further explained.
"I'd rather not think of Japan with statues of her in it," Bunmei huffed. Nothing ruined the image of his home country more than plastering Ambaralla's face on it.
"I bet you wouldn't want to go back then, huh?" Pippin teased.
"Shut the hell up, twerp!"
"He's so mean to me!" The girl playfully whined.
"You idiots think this town is so glorious, huh?" The assassin pointed to a barren area of land riddled with hanging posts and nooses. There was also a huge platform that had many hanging posts, so multiple people could be executed all at once. "It has the biggest execution ground that I've ever seen. You could fit three firing battalions in there."
"Holy hell that's huge!" Pazusu's expression lit up with shock as he saw the extensive field. "You couldn't hide that if you wanted to."
"They don't seem to mind it much, do they?" Seishira noted. It was nearly beside of the town square and they even seemed to let their children play over there. The thought disturbed the magic user. "It's almost as if they execute people on a daily basis."
She glanced to two children, who were laughing as they swung a shackle, suspended from a wooden frame back and forth as if it were a toy. Bunmei watched the children for a few moments, but his eyes widened as a flashback cut through his mind in more than vivid quality.
A man and a woman were harshly shoved down, their faces nearly dug into the harsh, barren land below them. Then someone pointed to them and the mature male voice leaked through a horrible command- torture them. Gunshots were fired and blood flew through the air with all of the brilliance of an abstract painting.
'That's right…These kind of places used to really upset me when I was a child.' The assassin thought to himself for a moment as he tried to cast the startling images from his mind. 'From her story, Seishira seems right about this Sin guy. In a way, I near that pain.'
His thoughts were cut short as he was distracted by Pazusu, who waved his hand in front of his face, checking to see if he was back into reality yet.
"What the hell do you want, Pazusu?"
"I've been calling your name for five minutes and you didn't answer. I just wanted to tell you that we're going to stay at that hotel," the swordsman pointed across the street to a large, white hotel with several pillars. "Do you want to come in?"
"Hey, Pazusu," Bunmei's voice didn't have its usual cold tone. His expression had changed. It was only in subtle ways, as if the he had trouble expressing himself properly. His eyes were softer, as if he had let more of what he truly felt leak through and his eyebrows didn't seem so stern.
"Yeah?" Pazusu asked carefully. He didn't really know what to expect from this man half of the time but this was a new situation for him. Was it him, or did Bunmei seem genuinely sad about something?
"Don't you feel strange being in a place with such a huge execution ground?" His voice was subdued as he glanced over the field of death.
"Just a little, really. Why? Does it freak you out?"
"It's not that. I just don't like places like this. It makes me uneasy."
"Well, that's understandable, since everyone wants your head. You're lucky to have lived this long. The fact that those kids are even playing over there is morbid," Pazusu watched a couple of boys throw bones at each other. He had figured that Bunmei was a little weary of a place like this. The swordsman could see why he didn't want to rest here.
"I guess…" Bunmei's response was hollow, as if he had been thinking about something else instead.
"I wanted to ask you something," the question had just popped up in Pazusu's head. He had actually wanted to ask it for a while, but never got the chance to talk to the assassin in private.
"How long have you been here, anyway? Did you grow up here, like I did?"
"I don't know."
Pazusu seemed a little surprised that he didn't know. Then, his mind came to a single conclusion. "You don't have any memories either, do you?"
"I only have one, and it's not worth remembering," the assassin answered his question. It was true. He didn't have any memories. In truth, he was in Rosario's position but he didn't like talking about that part of himself. Over the course of time, he had found that making new memories was probably better than those had had before, especially if they were all as hurtful as that single memory. "It's like a puzzle piece that only contains a person's face. There are unanswered questions and you always wonder where it fits in, and what the person's body looked like."
"So, it's a person?" Pazusu asked, a little confused by the analogy.
"It's a situation, but I don't know why it happened or how it came to even be that way," Bunmei was a little troubled when he spoke about it. It was one of the things that tormented him. Two people had gotten tortured, but why? Why had this event happened?
"I think you're kind of lucky to have at least one memory-" He was cut off before he could finish his sentence.
"Why?" Bunmei didn't think the same about that- at all.
"Because you remember something. I don't even have that to go on," Pazusu didn't know what the memory was, or why it bothered him but he thought that Bunmei would be happy having at least one memory that he could rely on. He didn't have any and thus, had no answer of any kind to who he used to be and what his previous life was.
"Why the hell would you want to remember anything if all there is, is the pain? I'd rather not remember anything and make new memories than remember the suffering and the regret," Bunmei replied in a very passionate tone. Pazusu didn't even know what his memory was, so telling him that he should be thankful for having a memory at all seemed very wrong of him to do. He didn't know what it was like to only remember one thing, and then having that one thing haunt you for the remainder of your life.
There was no good from it.
There wasn't even any benefit from it.
"You have a point," the swordsman backed off of the subject for a moment. He didn't want Bunmei to gripe at him and he had learned that the memory was a painful one, agonizing enough to make the assassin very defensive about it.
He decided to drop the subject all together and retreat back to the hotel. Trying to question the assassin further would only be caustic for the both of them. Bunmei followed him silently to their room.
Neither of them spoke for a while.
After what seemed like a good ten minutes, Pazusu brought up a different question, hoping that the assassin wasn't as defensive this time around.
"Hey, Bunmei, do you know if Bunmei is your real name?"
The spiky-haired man stared at him for a while, as if he were trying to decipher the meaning of that question. "Why does it matter?"
"Huh?" Pazusu was thrown for a loop on his answer.
"It's who I am now. To live with any other name would be like wiping myself clean and starting over again from nothing. Everything I've lived my life down here for has been under this name and even if it isn't my real name, it's who I am now," Bunmei had a very interesting way of looking at something like that. Pazusu hadn't even thought of it in such a way before. He stated that he hadn't thought of it quite in that way before as the two of them walked up to the door of their room.
When the two of them walked into the room, everyone was strewn about and dressed in the warm, blue kimonos that were provided for them by room service. They were sitting around a kotatsu, minus Rosario, who was lying on the floor on her stomach.
The two males walked into the room and Bunmei shut the door behind him.
"Those look comfortable," the swordsman commented, on what Bunmei said about his name still lingered in his mind. It was a very profound thing of the assassin to say and something about it just shook Pazusu's nerves.
"It feels weird. They aren't like the clothes that I'm used to wearing," Pippin had never worn such strange garments in her life.
"I find them comfortable," Seishira replied from her seat at the kotatsu.
"It feels so nice to rest," Rosario said from her spot on the ground.
"Since we're resting, I'm going to take a shower," Bunmei walked off towards the bathroom, or rather, to attempt to find it. He just figured that he'd look in all of the doors to make sure.
"Have fun!" Pippin called out.
At the front desk of the inn, two figures- a male, dressed in what appeared to be the same type of Victorian dress as Bunmei and a notably taller female, dressed in ninja clothing walked up as the desk clerk turned to them.
"May I help you?"
"Yes, we'd like a room please," the male directed his purple sights to the clerk. He was a handsome man, with long, mid-back black hair, which was pulled back in a ponytail. His female comrade hand long hair as well, hers was pulled into two loops on either side of her head and held together with a bow. Both of them looked very Asian, with slender eyes and dark hair- his was a jet black and hers a dark purple, nearly black.
"Of course," the clerk handed him a key and instructed him on his room number. In exchange for the key, he handed her a good amount of money. The two walked down the hall as the desk clerk told them to enjoy their stay.
"How long are we staying here?" The woman asked in a deep, mature voice, as her pale blue eyes shifted to her companion.
"I have it paid for two days," the man informed, his voice seemed void of any emotion.
"That's hardly enough time," the purple-haired ninja didn't seem too happy with that answer.
"Perhaps not, but I've got to find a way to make them see without opening their eyes too wide," the dark-haired man spoke. "Last time was a mistake but this time, I am determined to accomplish my goal, even if I die this time."
…To Be Continued…