So Far Untitled - Chapter 8: The Visitors
Lady Sarcastia paced impatiently.
Donnabel rushed into the receving room, and keened in her place next to Harona. Several Gate Keepers were present, also kneeling. On the far wall, a strange blue field twitched and crackled. It was one of the gates Lady Sarcastia was personally guarding, and from the glow, it appeared to be activated.
"Donnabel, you are late."
"Sorry m'lady," Donnabel said to the floor, "I was ... I was attending to my duties."
"Don't fret, Doannbel. Sad Fairy will be released soon enough. Now, since you are late, I will be foreced to repeat what Harona, Dementia, Scarabina, Purginia, and Skaren have already heard. I don't like repeating myself--"
"-- and DON'T interrupt!" Lady Sarcastia paused, and looked at a large pocketwatch that hung from her dress. "It appears our visitors are delayed. Recent events have forced a change in our plans. As you know, we have been shifting disctricts that we control. As the human population grows, so does the number of visitors. And with increased visitors comes increased travelers that we must control. The Soot Man is a good example of what we do not want loose. Because of Winnidread and Harona's recent encounters, we have decided it would be best if we bolstered our ranks."
Lady Sarcatsia looked at her pocket watch again, and then at Marideath, who was sitting behind a table on the opposite end of the room. "Marideath has sensed a change in forces that could only be accomplished by something that had bending capability, and the dragon kind have now officially assured us that no more of their kind are present in this area. That means someone else has the capability of bending, and we have decided to bring in an expert."
Almost as if that was the cue the gate was wating for, it crackled and sparked. The deep blue turned brighter shades, and rays of white light shot from cracks in the air in front of the gate. Squiggles of light, like stray threads, began to dance and sway, increasing in number until they started to take shape as three forms.
Lady Sarcatia stood in front of the appearing forms, and shouted in full ceremonial voice, "Welcome, Lord Coalpitch and Harajuku!" As suddenly as they appeared, the gate turned a midnight blue, and went dormant. Standing in front of Lady Sarcastia were three human forms.
The first was a thin man who was easily over six feet tall, and wearing spectacles. His Victorian-era garb suggested he was older than Lady Sarcatsia, but did not look older than a pale man in his early 30s. He was carrying a large, brown suitcase. Next to him was an Asian girl in a black bustle dress with layers of petticoats. Her long, thick, tightly-braided hair hung down to the back of her knees, and the only thing she carried was what looked like a parasol. Behind her, was a shorter Asain girl wearing blue overalls, carrying several bags on a yoke.
"Thank you for that welcome," the man said. His voice was loud, and deep, and felt like folds of thick velvet as it drifted past everyone's ears. "Lady Sarcastia. We have never met, but Lady Vapora spoke highly of you."
Donnabel stole a glance at Harona instinctively upon hearing Lady Vapora's name. But if Harona was upset at hearing her former Lady's name, she did not flinch.
"Lord Coalpitch, you kind words are accepted and cherished. And... Harajuku. I trust your travels have also been pleasant."
"Yes," she said with almost minimal effort. She was scanning the room, and looked at Harona kneeled on the floor, and noticed her tremble. She then turned to Lady Sarcastia. "Behind me is Shikyo Kuriketto, my assistant." Shikyo bowed as best she could under the strain of the weight of her yoke. She shook slightly, which seemed to displease Harajuku, who tapped the yoke with her parasol.
Harajuku, named from the older fields where they first appeared, never had individual names that were mentioned outside of Harajuku. All were addressed Harajuku by the Gate Keepers, during rare moments such as these when they crossed paths. Harajuku were an elite force of dragon-trained women who were barely understood, and often confused for dragons themselves, since dragons now almost always assumed human form for the last 150 years. Most stayed on their mysterious island that most mundanes knew as Japan, and rarely traveled outside Tokyo proper. While they spent most of their lives hidden around Meiji Jingu Shrine, in recent years, they have become more pronounced, and spawned thousands of human copycats so they could hide in plain view. It was very much the type of draconic thing the ironic Harajuku would do; create their own cover. They were training in dragon-style martial arts, including bending, as well as Akido, Kung Fu, Judo, and their own style of Ninjitsu, simply called Ah Lin.
Lady Sarcastia bowed, and her guests bowed in return.
"I see your new eyes are working well," Lord Coalpitch said, turning slightly in Marideath's direction.
Lady Sarcastia hinted a smile and closer her eyes. "She is very gifted, yet raw. It will take time for her to reach... Jason's level."
"And how is our elder wyrm?"
"He is well, yet troubled. But more on that later. My assistants shall help you to your quarters. Harajuku? You go with Donnabel and ... I am afraid I didn't expect Sh... Shikyo?"
Harajuku nodded. "She stays with me. At all times during my stay."
"Oh, well... then I will arrange for a cot, then. Donnabel?"
Donnabel raised, and locked eyes with Harajuku, and instantly averted them as if burned by the sun. She had forgotten that one cannot look directly at a Harajuku. "Yes, m'lday? I mean, yes. Yes, I will escort--"
"No." Harajuku said softly, but it was as if she thumped the very air in the room itself. "I will take the mute."
A look of pained displeasure quickly crossed Lady Sarcastia's face before vanishing deep in the folds of her diplomacy. She paused long enough to make her assertion, but relented with. "Yes. I will have Harona help you... Then... ah, Donnabel will assist Lord Coalpitch to his quarters."
Lord Colapitch tipped his head in agreement.
"Dementia and Scarabina, you will set up my chambers for our welcome meal. Purginia and Skaren, come with me and Marideath, as we prepare our adgenda for the following meeting. I will see all of you in one hour and six minutes in my chamber."
Lady Sarctasia went over to Marideath's table, and led her out of the room with Purginia and Skaren in tow. Dementia and Scarabina went down another hallway, and Donnabel tried to assist Lord Coalpitch with his suitcase, but was declined. She led him out of the room, leaving Harajuku, Shikyo, and Harona alone in the room. Harona was still kneeling, facing the floor.
"Harona," said Harajuku, pointing to Harona's slightly trembling head.
Y-yes... my... master. mouthed Harona.
"It has been a long time."
Harona was fighting back tears. It has been. After a long paused, she signed, I am enquiring to your... solitiude. Harona never forgot her years of training under Harajuku. She knew that nothing must be addressed in the form of a question to her master.
Harajuku did not change expressin, but stood back into a straight position, and stared out into space. "My mourning of my master was exactly 50 years. As required."
Your... purpose is... clouded.
"Your instincts have never dulled. My purpose is not clouded, however, but always layered and camoflaged. A layer I grant you is that in my solitude, I have realized that my master..." Harajuku paused. A sign of emotion such as a pause, when not said in warning, was a rare sight. "... would require me to carry on my former training."
You wish to teach me, signed Harona whose heart started to feel warm with opportunity.
"I wish to train you. I will also require your tracking skills. After my master passed into the realms beyond our contact, I was asked a final task to arrange for the concealment of his daughter. I regret that the secrecy involve meant I ceased contact with you, but it was not only neccessary that I go into solitude, but that in case the foul murderers captured me, that I would also not know of her whereabouts."
Tears started to pour down Harona's face, and drip onto the floor. Oh my master... she mouthed.
"When I returned, I sought out her path, and it led me here. I have it on word of flight that she was under the care of her uncle in this area very recently. I will teach her all that her father taught me. It is my destiny and a tribute to his legacy."
Harona started to hiccup, unsuccessfully stifling choking sobs.
"Your behavior is undisciplined!" Harajuku said with sudden fury. Shikyo reflexively cringed. "Why do you cry? Eh? Did you think I abandonded you because you are so important that it matters?"
No... Harona mouthed, sucking in sobs and moaning in grief. She fell to the floor, and rolled on her side.
"This is pathetic. I heard you had trained under different masters! Did they train you to whimper like a dog?"
Fu Lin's daughter... signed Harona, who was now shaking so hard with sadness, she could abrely be understood.
"Get up! GET UP!"
Harona rose to her feet, and wiped her wet face with her sleeve.
"You are like a child! No better than where I left. Did that little girl scare you so bad that the thought of you having to take care of her again caused you to sob like a spoiled child who didn't get a new bonnet for sunday?"
Harona just shook her head. No... she mouthed.
"Then why do you sob before me? Such sobbing is only for mourning. I mourned for 50 years because someone murdered my master, and I am out for vengeance. I have a blood oath to protect his family, and find who killed Master Fu Lin and his wife. I spent 50 years in totaly darkness to focus my thoughts and prepare for my war. Tell me, who do you mourn for?"
There was a long silence, scattered only with the soft sniffles of Harona.
"No." Harajuku said.
"It can't be."
Harona screwed up her face, and collapsed to the ground, her sobs turning into a siren that opened the wounds of her memories.
"Harona, Donnabel, Sad Fairy?" Lady Sarcatsia had once asked. "I have broguht you here to... inform you of some very disturbing events."
The trio had just come back from a visit to New York City. They had been sent for several months to guard a package during a transition near some of the gates on Ellis Island. When their duty was over, they decided to take "the long way home" by going north to Salem, where they were going to be "lost" for a weekend before returning. Salem was a great retreat for Gate Keepers; the whole area was so desperate to purge itself of guilt from the Salem Witch trials of 1620, that pretty much anything went. Lady Damantha, the leader of the district, was pretty loose and easy-going. But upon arrival, Genegrieve, looking white and shaken, asked the trio to report at once to Lady Sarcastia.
"Please kneel," Lady Sarcastia said. The trio knew this was serious. Harona thought that their "detour" was to be the subject, since Harona was barely allowed to be alone, much less be part of anything ingonito, even with her friends.
But it wasn't.
"When was the last time you saw Misabel?"
"About five months ago," said Donnabel. "She seemed troubled over something."
"I know," Lady Sarcastia said with a shallow voice. "I placed her with humans, for... reasons that were unclear to her."
"She was half human," said Sad Fairy. "You said she needed to see humans more often."
"I am aware of what I said, and that is not exactly what I said, but that does not matter now. She's... gone."
Donnabel felt the pit of her stomach drop. "W-where did she go?"
"You are sure you haven't seen or heard from her in the last five months?"
The trio shook their heads. This sounded serious. Lady Sarcatsia and Misabel had never seen eye to eye, but it seemed that Misabel respected her enough to do her bidding.
"Did she run?" asked Sad Fairy.
"Where did she go?" asked Donnabel, who started to think about her possible haunts.
"Be quiet!" shouited Lady Sarcatsia. She rarely lost her temper, but it was apparent she was very unstable.
Is she okay? asked Harona.
"Be quiet and listen." Lady Sarcastia took a deep breath. "She's gone. We don't know where. She's decided to find her demon heritage, left the Gate Keepers, and killed a bunch of humans in her wake."
All of the trio kneeled on the floor had the same thought, "That doesn't sound so bad... almost like a normal day's work sometimes... who did she kill, some government leader?"
"She killed children."
"Oh," said Donnabel in realization.
"No.. no no, it gets worse. She didn't just kill human children. They die every day. She had gotten involved with... and I don't know how... but ... a fire thing--."
"Yes," said Donnabel. "Fu Lin's daughter."
"I KNOW WHO SHE IS, CHATTERBOX!!!" shouted Lady Sarcatsia. "NOW... if your usual quips of trivia are done, I would like to inform all of you, unless Donnabel has something more to add..."
Donnabel shook her head.
"... she murdered Fu Lin's daughter."
Donnabel and Sad Fairy gasped in shock. They both then looked at Harona.
That memory cut through time and shattered on the floor between Harona and Harajuku. Harona was sniveling and sobbing, crying in a croaking manner, as she did on the floor of Lady Sarcatsia's private chambers only a year ago. She looked at the stone cold look on Harajuku's face, and she regained some composure.
Harajuku was silent, but the bridge of her nose was starting to show a line of white. "W-who killed her?"
The Half Breed. A half demon, half human. We don't know how. We found her dead next to a human, an Eye Walker, who was almost dead himself. Harona was still trembling. Master... I am... so sorry. I didn't even think... you had gone and..., her hands slapped into each other as she spoke, ... I didn't even know if I'd ever see you again, and ... oh, I don't know what to say.
"Regain your senses," Harajuku commanded softly. "Who was her charge?"
I was told her uncle... or grandfather... I don't know who he was, really, but he --
"How was lady Sarcastia involved?"
She... was the charge of the Half Breed
Harajuku furrowed her brow. "This makes things... very complicated."
All text copyright 2005 Grig Larson, all rights reserved. No reprinting without permission