Episode 8: the Sisters Reunited
27th of Matrinalis, 4:98 East
"Mimi, will you read me a story?" Milly asked, poking her head inside her older sister's bedroom. She was three years old now, curious about the world, and her first true memories were beginning to form. Milly saw Maya staring out her window, bonnet tossed aside. Her ears were shown blatantly, the first time Milly could see them and understand that they were different than her own. She rubbed her ears. Yes, they were small and round. "Mimi, why do your ears look weird?"
"Milly!" Maya exclaimed. She scrambled for her bonnet. Her sister was quiet for a long time. Maya was still too young to understand why she was different, only that she was and that she was hated for it. "Milly, you must learn to knock. It's rude to barge in on people." She stood. "Did you need something?"
"Will you read to me?" She asked.
"No, Milly. I can't. I'm sorry."
17th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian
"It seems weird that Laura would hold a party just to celebrate my birthday," Christophe said as he dug through Emily's jewelry box. He was not ashamed to admit that they shared earrings. Once, a drunken man had insulted him in this way and Christophe began the largest bar fight in the pub's history; albeit accidentally and in a relatively new pub.
"It's called a name day in the north, Christophe." Emily said as she braided her hair. She looked in her mirror as she tried on each of her hats. "But she's doing it because she loves you!" The pirate queen teased as she threw a rejected hat onto her bed.
The quartermaster laughed shyly. "Come off it." He grabbed a feathered hat taken from a rival captain's corpse before it reached the nearby gimbaled candle.
"Well, maybe Jeremie has her convinced you're royalty or something."
"And why would he have her think that?"
Emily batted her eyelashes. "Because you're the king of my heart!" She mocked him openly and mercilessly.
"Stop it." Christophe said firmly as she cackled. The door opened, revealing Ulrich behind it. The quartermaster smiled at his captain before leaving with a few golden earrings.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize you had company." Ulrich said as he closed the door behind Christophe. "I just wanted to catch you before the party started." He approached her cautiously. Emily noted that he looked tired, as if he hadn't slept. She put her admiral hat down and walked closer to him.
"Well, that was good planning. I'll probably be drunk when the party starts," she joked with ease. He smiled, and though it didn't seem forced, he was obviously uncomfortable. "Are you okay, Ulrich?"
He started to pace. "I can't stop thinking about you." He said, causing his face to turn pink in embarrassment. She was blushing too. She grabbed her braid and started stroking it. Then she dropped it, only to start unbraiding it as she began nervously stroking her hair once more. Ulrich was obviously conflicted, and she knew from his statement that she was part of it, but that had never ended well for her.
Emily thought back to the last man who couldn't stop thinking about her. He'd been a dwarf, and though exiled, he'd done well for himself. He sold high quality dwarven crafts, direct from... where was is? Orcasimiehr? No, she thought with a deep frown, that wasn't a real place. Omashu? No, that was in Zhounghuo. It started with an 'o'!
She realized that she was ignoring him now. But when she tuned back in, it seemed she'd only missed more pacing. She watched him for a while, her head turning to follow him. Suddenly he spoke, never breaking his stride. "I know this sounds weird, but I actually have been considering your request that I join your crew."
Emily couldn't speak for a while. "Oh! That's..." She paused. "Good. Have you decided yet?"
"No. But only because..." It was his turn again to be silent. Gods, she hated long silences! She'd never liked them. "Emily..." He took a few steps closer and took one of her hands. She blushed. "That's not why I'm here."
Her face was burning. Could he tell? His face looked pink too. She shifted her fingers, tangling them with his. "I see." She said as calmly as she could. Her voice wavered between the words. Why was she so nervous, she asked herself as she stood to meet his eyes on his level.
He laughed. "I've never done anything like this before." Ulrich took a step closer. They were so close now. Emily could feel her training kicking in. Not yet, she told herself. There was nervous laughter. "Can I kiss you?" He asked.
It was endearing in an awkward way. "Yes you can," she said, pulling him closer. They kissed for a long time, and it felt good. It had been a long time since Emily had kissed someone and it had felt good. She wondered now if she ever had. The kiss broke too soon, but Ulrich was smiling. They kissed again, more passionately. Emily wrapped her arms around him. After the second kiss broke, he wasn't smiling anymore. "What's wrong?" She asked.
"I'm sorry. There's no way I can do this and not be the asshole." Ulrich said. The conflict was back, and so was that feeling in her. It was that feeling of unimportance. That feeling of dread when a favored client went back home to his family. Knowing that what he was doing was better for him, but wanting more and being unable to voice it. She took a pained step backwards, letting her hands fall back to her side.
"It's Yumi, isn't it?" She asked. He seemed startled that she knew. "No, I understand. There's history, she's the one, you need her..."
"No, it isn't... like that." Ulrich said. "Please, don't think that you're... Don't think you aren't important to me, or that you're my second choice because it isn't like that."
"You don't have to explain anything to me, Ulrich. I understand." She said, walking away from him. She ran her fingers through her dark hair. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him move towards her before retracting the motion, so she stopped.
He sighed. "No, you deserve better than me just leaving." The Mercenary sat down on the trunk at the end of her bed. "When Yumi and I... decided not to be a couple, it ended on a tense note. And not a definite one. I feel like I'm moving on and if Dhaune were still alive then I don't think I'd be so fucking conflicted."
"But she's dead and now..." Emily began.
"Now she's dead and I need to... I need to see." He said. "I need to know that if we start this it isn't because I want you to replace her, or because she is unavailable." Emily wasn't expecting that, and Ulrich obviously knew it. "You deserve someone who will give their undivided attention to you. I want a chance... to see."
Emily didn't seem happy. He couldn't blame her, because there were a lot of circumstances stacked against her. "Just promise me that if you and Yumi end up together... you'll still consider joining my crew. I still need you."
He smiled at her. "Anything for you, captain." The smile vanished. He was still sitting on her bed, his hands limply between his knees. The Mercenary seemed so sad, like his loyalties were torn. He likely hadn't spoken to anyone about this. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. Someone was going to leave this arrangement broken hearted. And quietly, her heart full of shame, she for the first time hoped it wasn't her.
During the party Ulrich stood patiently by the wall, waiting for Yumi to enter the ballroom. He shot Aelita and Odd encouraging smiles in the meantime, and the Scout responded with two thumbs up.
He looked at the Colonist when she finally entered with her brother. She wore a flowery yukata, while Hiroki wore a white burial kimono. Yumi glared at her younger brother and guided him away from the entranceway with a subtle harshness that was uncharacteristic. She spotted Ulrich, who smiled at her before pointing at her brother. She pulled Hiroki as she walked over to the mercenary. "He's wearing a burial kimono because he thinks that it's funny since we're technically dead." Yumi sighed. She focused on her brother. "And he's wrong!" She shouted at him.
"In his defense, it's a little funny." Ulrich shrugged. She frowned at him.
Her frown grew from disapproving to concerned. "You look troubled." Hiroki saw that his sister's attention was entirely focused on Ulrich now and decided to make his getaway, disappearing into the guests when Ulrich started talking.
"I am. About a lot of things." He sighed. "I... haven't slept since Laura and I walked through the Eluvian. I feel like I'm being powered by... something otherworldly." The Mercenary sighed. "Last night I saw that girl from the ball, Amelia, spying on Aelita and Jeremie. I think she might be working with the woman who attacked Laura and Aelita in the tavern."
"But we don't know who that woman is!" Yumi exclaimed. "And none of the guards reported anything unusual last night... Laura would have told us!"
"Don't you think I know that?!" He snapped, startling her. "But she didn't seem real. I attacked her, managed to cut her, even. But--"
"You attacked a fourteen-year-old girl?!" Yumi shouted. The nearby guests all stared at them, judging looks from drunken eyes. "Let's go someplace a bit more private, shall we?" The Colonist suggested firmly.
They walked together in silence until they reached a small sitting room. Yumi sat down on the ottoman, and dust floated up. No one had used this room in a long time. Ulrich looked at the collection of scrolls on the shelves. "Whatever Amelia did, she was able to get in and out without attracting attention. She acted like I wasn't supposed to be able to see her, too..." He said.
"Maybe... a cursed relic like the Masque?" She suggested. She looked to her pale, clawed hands. "Maybe that granted her teleportation and invisibility?"
"She wasn't wearing one that I could see." Ulrich pulled a book of the shelf. It was titled 'Maria the Bloodied, Last Queen of Elvhenan'. A real Elvhen Queen, yes, but this was very clearly a propaganda piece. Her armor was impractical for front line fighting as the copious amount of blood on her suggested. In one hand, she held a sword that, honestly, should have been held with two hands, and in the other was a cracked mirror. Her mouth had been sewn shut. "Maybe it was magic."
"Maybe, but if what you're telling me is true, then you shouldn't have been able to see her. She would have been forcing her avatar into the physical world, invisible to all but mages." There was a long period of silence as the Mercenary considered telling her of the glass stuck in his skin. She stood and moved closer to him.
They exchanged a few words. Meaningless things to fill the void. Subtle hints. Suddenly, Ulrich asked to kiss her. It was a quick awkward request to which she agreed. The kiss, too, was short and awkward. He pulled away before she could. "Dammit!" He cursed as he started to storm out of the room.
"What?" Yumi asked the air. She turned and chased after him. "Ulrich, wait! What's wrong?"
"There's nothing..." He started. "I don't..." There were no words. No amount of apologies that made his inadequate words any less crushing. "It's been so long and I think... I think I'm moving on... over you. And there's nothing... right about that, everything is weird, and... I'm really sorry." Yet he found it hard to break himself from her eyes.
Yumi looked like she was about to get angry when her face changed to shock. "Come on. Someone just said the name Maya." This was enough to snap Ulrich out of his self-pitying state.
Aelita stood near Emily, who explained to her what Ulrich had said. Then the captain waited, as if searching the Outcast for advice. Normally Aelita would talk about how she just wanted her friends to be happy, but if Ulrich and Emily started dating, then Yumi would be sad. The opposite was also true. So she stood there silently, a permanent and awkward grimace on her face. Emily frowned deeply before drinking more wine.
"I'm sorry," Aelita muttered, unable to meet her friend's eyes. She glanced around and then excused herself to join up with Odd. The Scout swished his wine in his goblet around sadly. "Not having fun?" She asked.
"I worry what will happen if I drink. Will I lose control again?" He asked. Looking wistfully at the wine, he sighed and put it down. "Where's lover boy?"
"Laura needed him to search the room for assassins. He promised he'd be back soon." Aelita said. The two spotted Ulrich across the room. They smiled at him. "Worried about the wolf?"
"I've beaten it into a bloody pulp every night in my dreams. I wake up too tired to move." He whined. "And I still feel it controlling me!"
"Have you spoken to Patrick? Isn't he coming into the city?" She asked as her boyfriend joined them.
"No. I want control of the wolf. I've controlled it before and I know I can do it again." He said with a smile. "It won't be easy but I'm up for anything!"
Jeremie entered the conversation at this point. "I think that admitting you have complex emotions, not just primal, might be the first step. The wolf only lets you express joy and anger, correct? But there's fear and sadness, too." He smiled, as if to make his suggestion seem less invasive, "and since Patrick seems to have a way of bringing out your emotions, it isn't such a bad idea to speak with him again."
The Scout blinked. "How did you...?"
"I know everything," Jeremie joked as Laura and William joined them.
"It's annoying, isn't it?" Laura said with a smile. The group laughed. "Has anyone seen Ulrich and Yumi?"
"They went into some old library. Who knows?" William shrugged. All four Heroes looked at Jeremie. He blushed.
"It's about their relationship." He said. "They're angry." This quieted the group, leaving them tense, still and silent. Odd, to break it, offered a joke, and it went over rather well. They all laughed.
"Maya!" A voice shouted suddenly from across the room.
Aelita's face twisted in confusion. She looked around before spotting a young human girl with strawberry-colored hair standing next to Tamiya. Aelita's eyes widened. "Milly?" She asked.
The world grew sharper, like every corner was a knife. Her chest grew tight and her breaths grew closer. Her thoughts didn't quite piece together cohesively.
"Maya, I've been lokinog for you for yares!" Milly said.
"What?" She asked, quietly.
"Oh, don't worry!" Milly said. "The Eluvian sowehd me what you went through! I uanndrestd!"
"I don't..." She shook her head.
Jeremie put his hand on her shoulder and she stared at it. "Laura, William, get Odd out of here." He ordered. They obliged, and when they passed through her field of vision, they looked like strange blobs. "Alitea, are you oaky? Do you need to sit dwon? Sluhod I hvae Mlily ecrosetd out of the blroalom?"
She grew more distressed with each word. "I can't..."
Milly caught her arm. Her touch felt like sludge caked on her arm. "I konw you uesd to be a savle! I konw aoubt the pian and sfufrineg you wnet tuorghh!"
She yanked her arm away. "Stay back! Don't touch me!"
"Maya peasle! Hlep me hlep you! I need you, Maya!"
I need you, Maya. I need you, Maya. I need you, Maya.
The words didn't make sense. She went over them. Over and over, a hundred times in a second. No. No no no! This couldn't be happening, she thought as her braids rested on her chest, as she shrank down.
Milly was clearer now, young with dirt on her feet. Hair wet from Auntie Carra's pond. She wasn't supposed to go there, not since Roderick died. 'I need you, Maya.'
She was even younger now. Boys had been bullying her so she threw stones at them. A good shot for only being five. 'I need you, Maya.'
Younger again. Just learning to speak now. Nightmares and loneliness creep in near midnight. She can't sleep alone. 'I need you, Maya.'
Jeremie's voice breaks silence. "Alitea, you look vrey plae. Do you need to sit dwon?" She stared at him. Unable to speak, she ran. "Aelita!" He shouted after her.
Ulrich spotted Milly as Aelita ran. Yumi watched him run towards her, and she saw Emily run towards him. Milly went to chase after Aelita but was cut off by the two. Ulrich took three steps forward before he was close enough to lift her up by her collar. His face warped like it had during the night. "You shouldn't be here, Amelia." He said sternly.
Her tunic ripped, and she fell to the floor. Jeremie stuck his arm out to keep Ulrich from chasing her as she scurried behind Tamiya for protection. The Wise Man motioned for Yumi to chase Aelita.
Emily reached into her shirt and revealed the two daggers she had stored there. She moved around Jeremie, much to his chagrin. "Hello, naughty children."
"Emily, don't hurt them. They're just kids!" Jeremie ordered.
"Oh, but I came dressed to kill!" Emily joked as she looked from the Wise Man back to the two young girls.
Tamiya took a few steps back, Milly still cowering behind her. "When I count to three, you throw open a portal," Tamiya whispered.
"I don't know how to do that!" Milly panicked.
Tamiya concentrated and took more steps back. "One..." She lifted Milly onto her back. "Two..." She shapeshifted into a saber toothed cheetah, a predator native to the South. "Three!" She growled with her last elven breath. Milly threw forward one of her hands, creating a circular mirror that reflected nothing. Tamiya jumped through it, and the mirror disappeared.
"Dammit!" Ulrich shouted. He tried to run, but Jeremie caught his finery. The Mercenary flashed his mirror shard face at him, but the Wise Man stood firm, his eyes glowing blue. "Emily, go!" He shouted.
The pirate queen dashed for the hallway, but just as she passed Jeremie, he caught her clothes. Emily tried to fight him, but like Ulrich, eventually gave up. She looked at her potential love interest and asked, "Do you like dark humor?"
"Only in the form of knock-knock jokes."
Tamiya took her mortal form again, breathing heavily. She fell to her knees, and Milly stood, checking to see if the elven girl was alright. Tamiya looked over her shoulders. "I don't think we were followed, but I think the vampire is ahead of us."
"I don't get it. Why would Maya run from me?" Milly wondered.
The elf frowned deeply. "Maybe, for one thing, you keep calling her Maya!"
"But that's her name, what else would--"
"AELITA!" Tamiya shouted. "Literally everyone calls her that except for you! And let's not forget that the lives of changelings are almost always shit!"
Now Milly frowned. "I didn't contribute to that! Not intentionally! I'm younger than her!"
"You are literally a walking reminder of every shitty thing your hometown ever did to her! You were the youngest, the baby, the favored child! You got all the love while she was regarded a murderer--a baby, with no whim other than necessity, had killed the true Maya in their eyes!" It sounded personal.
"Tamiya... You sound offended."
The anger in her eyes was fading. "We all have our challenges." She said as she wiped her eye. Milly realized that Tamiya, too, had been a changeling... But, she thought with a pout, that didn't explain why she needed to see her sister. "We should hurry. Edna says that Aelita isn't mentally stable."
"Are you calling my sister crazy?" Milly demanded.
"She's not really your sister!" Tamiya pointed out, "And I'm only repeating what I've heard."
Tathas was finding it hard to stand up and she didn't really know how she felt anymore. It was like fear, anger and sadness existed as a strange miasma, and she was never truly in it but only around it. What's worse, she couldn't really remember who she was.
Maya fell to her knees, ripping the tights she wore under her finery. Her skin was left unscathed, however. She pulled herself up only to fall again before reaching the next flight of stairs. Her legs felt like noodles attached to a heavy piece of fruit for feet. What had happened to her shoes?
Aelita finally managed to reach the top of the tower, surprising the guards. They considered telling her to leave, but Empress Laura had told them never to bother her. Especially not, they figured, when she looked like she was ready to either burst out into a fit of anger or tears.
She fell again, sobbing into hands that felt too rough, two volcanic rocks hiding bones too brittle to withstand it.
Why was Milly here, she wondered? Why had meeting her baby sister--if she'd been speaking, that word would have caught in her throat--bringing out such a destructive reaction, when Tyron had caused only fear? And then it dawned on her.
No one had ever made Aelita feel so isolated as Milly. Tyron and Eleanor hated her, and truth be told she'd hated them too, but Milly loved her. However, she was all too aware that they were completely different. A thousand probing questions, hundreds of hours spent being interrogated, diagrammed and analyzed. Maya knew Milly loved her in her heart of hearts, but more often than not, she felt like she was viewed like fodder for a story instead of family.
"Aelita!" Yumi called out. Was that the name she was using? She couldn't remember. The Colonist grabbed the Outcast's shoulders, and she looked over her. She then hugged the elven girl, cold skin but motherly love. Aelita was confused at first but eventually hugged Yumi, too. "Are you okay?"
"I don't know... I don't even feel real right now, I don't have the capacity to know what 'okay' is." She said, breaking the hug to rub the goosebumps from her arms.
"You can't keep running away. You're scaring us. We're worried." Yumi said.
"Running is all I've ever known." Aelita murmured. This made the vampire groan deeply.
They both turned when Milly and Tamiya entered the room. "Ma-Aelita!" Milly called out. "Please, don't run away again!"
"Milly, you shouldn't be here!" Tathas said firmly. Was that her name? She couldn't even remember what Yumi had called her not two minutes earlier.
"No! I'm not leaving!" She protested. "I've spent too long trying to find you to give up now! Not when I've seen you!"
"I... I can't deal with you right now, Amelia."
"You don't have to deal, you just have to listen." Milly took five steps forward. It was too close; Maya took three steps back. She was pressed against the wall, her breathing still uneasy. "I'm sorry for what you went through. I didn't know you'd been captured by slavers, or I would have tried to find you sooner."
"Why? To drag me back to Falcon's Bridge, so I could rot in the Oubliette?"
"No!" Milly said, shaking her head and hands. "To set you free! So we could be together!"
"I freed myself! I don't need your help!"
"I know! That's why I want to be with you!" Amelia took another step forward. Aelita's hand slid against the wall towards the opening. Her fingers were twitching.
"Stay back!" She shouted.
The young girl seemed sad but obliged. "Why can't you see that I just want to be with you?" She asked.
"It doesn't matter." Yumi stepped in, taking Aelita's hand and rubbing the fingers until they stopped twitching.
Tamiya pushed Milly aside. "Aelita, I lied when I gave you your staff. I stole it from Edna, but she thinks you broke your word. She's coming for it, and you."
"What? Why?" The Colonist asked.
"The punishment for breaking a promise under vir sulevanan is typically exile from the clan, but since Aelita has been exiled already..." Tamiya explained. Yumi groaned again, loudly and obviously annoyed.
"As if we needed a new enemy. Now we have two back-from-the-dead Elvhen women after us." Yumi held her face in her hand. She heard Milly yelp, and then saw Aelita transform into a swarm of butterflies before flying through the small window. Milly ran for the larger one near her and put her years of travel to good use scaling the walls. The vampire ran to the window to try to stop Milly, but she screeched when sunlight touched her face. "Dammit!" Yumi yelled at her friend, "Aelita! Get off the roof!"
"Why don't you try to make me!"
"How old are you?!" The Colonist screamed.
Out of everything she was aware of, she knew exactly where the roof ended. And she knew that Milly would follow her, and if she was lucky, a few deft moves and her sister would back off, hopefully forever. But as she looked down, memories flooded back. She was filled with longing, and with terror.
"Ma... Aelita, please. Listen to me." Milly begged. She turned. The young human girl had been too afraid to risk coming close, so she was a meter and a half away. Too close for comfort, but an acceptable distance, she supposed. Aelita held her arms and rubbed them, less for warmth than comfort. "I know what you've been through. Or, at least, I know where you've been. I... I know that our parents... my parents treated you terribly. But please, tell me what I did wrong so I never do it again. So we can start over."
"Milly..." She said. "It... it isn't that simple."
"Please!" Milly was weakening. She could have sworn a crack appeared in the world. She looked at the tear in the Veil in the distance, swirling ominously and raising the dead all over the country. Maybe it was a trick of her mind. "Please. I love you."
Tears welled up in her eyes. "Sometimes... sometimes love isn't enough, Amelia."
Her younger sister seemed shocked by the words, as if she had never considered that Maya would reject her in such a way. The running and the hiding she had expected after peering through the Eluvian, but this? Milly started to cry. "No! Please! Just tell me..." It was pointless but she had to know. "Tell me what I did wrong."
"There was nothing you could have done." She said, her voice low and whispy. She closed her eyes. "Because nothing that happened was your fault. But I see you and I can't help but think of my misery... And I want to forget it. Creator, do I want to forget." She sank slowly to her knees. "I don't know how to feel when I see you. Sad, happy, angry? Maybe this is... regret that I feel?"
"Regret?" Milly asked.
"Lowell and Eleanor focused their abuses on me... I had no way of knowing that it wouldn't shift to you. I worried you would be in my place, battered, beaten and broken. That night... I considered turning around, going home and saving you from them too. But I left without you." She, too, now cried. "I'm such a coward! I can't do anything but run! Where would we be if I had taken you with me? Why didn't I go back?!"
And for a long time, Aelita cried. It was like everything about her life flooded to the surface, and something prompted Milly to look beyond the physical world. Connecting to Aelita were thick chains that went up and disappeared into the sky. All except for one, which connected to Milly's heart.
When the Mari'linen touched the chain connected to her, nothing changed. She mentally touched another chain, however, and it pushed against her. She physically stumbled back, falling down onto her back. She struggled to sit up. When she looked again, a demon hovered before Aelita, beckoning her closer. The Outcast took a step closer. "No!" Milly shouted, grabbing the chain connected to her and pulling as hard as she could. It affected the physical world; Aelita was yanked backwards and the chain shattered.
Milly crawled over to her, and she hugged her. She was still crying, but she was slowly starting to calm down. "Let's say you and I go back to the party?" She said, making her voice as gentle as she could. She nodded, and the two sisters started to climb back down. Milly looked at where the demon had hovered. It was gone.
Ulrich seemed shocked when Aelita and Milly returned together. Aelita was still a little shaken but obviously in a better place. Jeremie finally released the two overly violent teens in his hands, and Emily fixed her outfit before smiling at Aelita. "Why is she smiling at us? Didn't she want to kill us?" Tamiya whispered.
"Kill you?" Aelita exclaimed. "No, that isn't her style."
Jeremie hugged the Outcast, and she buried her head into his neck. "Are you alright?" He asked.
"A little shaken. I'll be fine." She said. She thought back to what Tamiya said, and by the look on Jeremie's face, he'd heard her worries. "Where's Laura?" She asked, removing Samahlin from her neck. Jeremie pointed her out, and Aelita walked up to her.
"How is it that every party we have or attend turns into a total disaster?" Laura joked. Aelita smirked, which seemed to be enough for the Fair. She asked for Laura to hold out her hand and the Fair nearly dropped it when she saw what it was. "Minerva's mercy! Don't give this to me!"
"Edna is coming after me to get it. That won't end well. I don't know why she wants it but she can't get her hands on it." Aelita said firmly. Laura hesitated, but nodded.
"Well, we should get back to the party. Let's hope these pirates aren't too weirded out to dance, hmm?" The Empress smirked.
"Apologize to Jeremie for me, will you? I want to sing something for Milly." She twiddled her fingers as she said, "It was her favorite song when she was little."
"It isn't the one about farm animals, is it?" Hatred and annoyance seemed obvious from her tone.
"What? No." Aelita rolled her eyes and, somewhat awkwardly, walked over to where the band was playing. She spoke to them quietly, and they began to play as quietly as they could as to not overpower her voice.
She seemed nervous. It had been her first time performing in front others in years. She closed her eyes, focusing on why she was doing it. She opened her mouth and started to sing.
"I hear your voice on the wind.
And I hear you call out my name.
Listen my child you say to me.
I am the voice of your history.
Be not afraid, come follow me.
Answer my call and I'll set you
Normally, William would have offered to dance with Laura, as it was their inside joke that they share all of their first dances with each other. But he was, quite literally, sitting on Odd to make sure he didn't accidentally attack Milly. Jeremie had found a chair to sit in almost as soon as Laura told him Aelita wanted to sing before they danced. He was clearly pleased with that development. Emily nudged Christophe forward before Ulrich asked her out onto the dance floor.
Christophe nervously asked Laura for the first dance, to which she obliged. Hiroki, having spotted Milly, considered asking her to dance, as did Tamiya, but Milly ignored both of them when she realized it was her favorite song. Yumi rubbed her little brother's head. "Next time, champ."
"I am the voice in the wind and the pouring rain.
I am the voice of your hunger and pain.
I am the voice that always is calling you.
I am the voice, I will remain!”
Jeremie was enjoying the song. It was so easy to forget how much Aelita loved music, and yet, suddenly, Vigilance grew more active, and he listened closer.
"I am voice in the fields when the summer's gone.
The dance of the leaves when the autumn winds blow.
Never do I sleep throughout all the cold winter long.
I am the force that in springtime will grow!"
There was a musical break, and Jeremie wondered why Vigilance wanted him to hear those lyrics. They seemed exactly like the kind of poetry one typically found in old elven songs, but this wasn't one. It was a song Maya sang to Milly when they were children; had Aelita created it, or was it prophecy?
"I am the voice of the past that will always be
Filled with my sorrow and blood in my fields
I am the voice of the future, bring me your peace.
Bring me your peace, and my wounds, they will heal!
"I am the voice of the wind and the pouring rain.
I am the voice of your hunger and pain.
I am the voice that always is calling you.
I am the voice!
"I am the voice of the past that will always be.
I am the voice of your hunger and pain.
I am the voice of the future.
I am the voice!"
The music took over for a while, getting louder until it eventually stopped rather dramatically. Aelita moved out of the way so the band could resume, and Milly hugged her. "I missed you." The Mari'linen whispered.
"I missed you, too."
19th of Eluviesta
Odd pushed open the door to the magistrate outpost. He looked around. It was dirty, but plain-clothes magistrates were working on cleaning it. There was a black haired man sitting behind a marble desk. He was reading a book, though he seemed almost disinterested in its contents. "Uh... can I ask you a question?"
"Dunno. Can you?" He asked. He looked up from his book, but only slightly.
"Has Patrick Belpois arrived yet?" The Scout asked, rubbing his arm.
"Dunno. You'd have to ask the person in charge of registration."
"Where can I find the person in charge of registration?"
Odd groaned loudly. "Is there anything you do know?" He complained as the door opened behind him.
The man half-heartedly motioned to a woman with blonde hair who had opened the door. "I know that's her." Odd looked at the woman, who was about his age, and she waved for him to follow her.
"Sorry about Jean. He's new and not quite so helpful. Knows the battles but not the wars, you know?" She laughed, opened a door and then propped it so it would stay that way. She and Odd both sat in large, comfortable chairs. "Now, what brings you to me?"
"I just wanted to know if Patrick Belpois has arrived. I wanted his help."
"Let me check my books." The woman pulled out a large book bound in leather and turned to a page marked by a velvet ribbon. "No, not yet. Sorry." She closed it and smiled. "Why did you need his help specifically?"
"Well, he's helped me out before with things that are too... delicate for most people." Odd said.
"No need to be coy." She said, standing. She closed the door and then sat back down. "Maybe I can help you."
"I'd prefer to wait for Patrick..." Odd started. The woman frowned. She seemed honestly upset. "I suppose it couldn't hurt to speak a little. Just so you could relay a proper message to him when he gets here."
"No, I suppose not." She pulled out a quill and a piece of parchment with many, tiny notes on it, but room for many more. This was likely as close to the action as she usually got, he assumed. "What do you want me to tell him?"
"Just that... I need his help with a personal matter that grows more urgent. Aelita's sister is apparently back? I haven't met her, actually--don't write that part down!" She didn't. "Then just tell him it's from Odd, and to meet me by... I don't know. The tree on the corner of Charger's Passage and Barrow Close."
"...Barrow Close and... done!"
He stood with a smile. "Thanks for doing this..." He paused.
She stuck out her hand for him to shake it. "Eva."