Outwards! The Lotus Kingdom's Finest Exodus!
Her mother chastised, "I see that you're up, Evelynn, but you're nearly an hour late!"
Evelynn blinked and rose to her feet, stretching, "Eh? How'd that happen?"
"The bells! They haven't rung today."
Evelynn then noticed she was sporting her oversized T-shirt and a pair of underwear, so she shooed her mother from her room so that she could get dressed, "That's odd, but give me just a moment to get ready, would you?"
Her mother exited the room and Evelynn quickly swapped into more appropriate clothing for leaving the house. She pulled on a pair of khaki pants along with a blue sleeveless shirt. She wrapped a cyan scarf about her neck before pulling on arm warmers which alternated between the deep blue of her shirt and the cyan color of her scarf. She plopped her naked feet along as she tromped out of her room and addressed her mother, "So why haven't the bells rung?"
"We're not sure, dear. A messenger from the castle should arrive in the square shortly to elaborate on the situation. Your father is swamped with work, due to his delay this morning, so I would ask you to go to the square in his stead and bring us back news of what has happened."
Evelynn nodded, "As you wish, mother." She hugged her mother and headed down the spiral staircase to the first floor of her mansion. By the front door, she slipped her feet into her silver traveling boots and made her way outside. It was a relatively nice day, though a sense of dread hung heavy in the air. She knew exactly why, too. Those bells were rumored to keep evil, dark spirits at bay. An old tale spoke of a doom which would descend upon the Lotus Kingdom if the bells were not rung on any given morning.
She arrived in the square shortly, surprised at the large group of people already assembled there. Out of the corner of his eye, she spotted one boy who seemed incredibly bored of being there already. She recognized him from somewhere, but couldn't quite place his face. She hadn't the time to address him before the arrival of the messenger atop a black Chocobo.
The man atop the Chocobo commanded the attention of the entire crowd assembled there in the square with the sounding of a bugle. Silence proceeded his decree, "Hear ye, hear ye. As ordered by the King's high court, each able bodied citizen must report to the castle courtyard in order to witness a new royal decree that must be implemented immediately."
Evelynn cocked her head to the side and patted her own body, curious as to if she would be considered "able bodied." The boy she had noticed previously approached her and laughed, "I think you'd be included, too, if you would want to go."
She looked into his face and nodded, "Oh, thank you. I'm not quite used to that particular term."
"Uh huh..." the boy continued before waving to her, "Well, see ya there." He rushed off towards the northern end of town. Evelynn, having forgotten about her parents in light of this peculiar boy whom she knew she recognized from somewhere, rushed off after him, following close behind. Several others from the city followed suit while others headed towards the western edge, where the train was situated.
Evelynn only caught a small bit of the boy's discussion with the Chocobo stable manager, "Chuck." The boy seemed to purchase a slightly overweight yellow Chocobo before rushing off atop the beast, heading for the castle. Evelynn procured enough coin from her purse to rent one of the birds and took off after the boy. The ride from the outlying town of Goldruby towards the towering Lotus Castle was a relatively short one, with the boy arriving just a few seconds before Evelynn herself.
The boy's chocobo seemed quite exhausted from the ride while Evelynn's Chocobo was still in a chipper mood upon arrival. The guards stopped the both of them, proclaiming, "No Chocobos within the Courtyard... We'll have to take them to the stables."
The boy seemed quite upset by this, but acquiesced with little argument. Evelynn, not wanting to fall behind, handed over the reigns to one of the guards. She thought she caught a small hint of a toothy grin from the man to whom she handed the reigns, but dismissed it as her overactive imagination. This small delay, however, caused Evelynn to lose the boy in the rather confusing courtyard. She sighed and searched for a place to sit while she awaited the decree. She ended up dropping down onto a bench beside a girl dressed in rather raggedy clothes.
The girl smiled and addressed Evelynn, much to her dismay, "Hello! Are you here for the decree as well?"
Evelynn nodded and scooted away from the girl, afraid of catching her filthy.
The girl giggled and adjusted the mask on her face, "No need to be afraid, I'm not sick with anything. My name is Stylix, what's yours?"
Evelynn felt slightly comforted by this, but was far too shy to say a word.
Stylix nudged Evelynn, causing her entire body to shiver with disgust, "Come on, we're just two girls having a little chat!"
Evelynn's face turned bright red. She pushed herself up from the bench and rushed off into the crowd to hide from those who would attempt to converse with her. She did not look back towards Stylix as she pushed through the crowd. Before she could find another spot to sit, the chaos was put to rest when the ground guardsmen began to play the Kingdom's Anthem.
Lord Commander Hark Glory stepped out onto a balcony far above the courtyard and grinned wickedly. From his lips spilled, "As some of you are aware of, the Mythril bells were not rung. This has not happened before in all of Lotus Kingdom's history. What this has done is pure chaos to our economy. Right now, our royal economists have analyzed the situation and estimated that we have lost thousands of gil worth of production. That is why we have decided to implement conscription, in order to cope up with the loss. As per decree of the king, we have here signed in paper with the royal seal and his Majesty's approval. Everyone in the square right now is now an honorary member of the Militia Brigade. This grants every member certain rights and privileges. Details will be provided inside the Barracks. Lastly, welcome to the Royal Army. That is all." He turned and marched back into the castle without another word.
Shortly after this, the entire courtyard erupted in something which bordered on the scale of a riot. Evelynn found herself caught up in the middle of the group, unable to wiggle free. A friendly voice called out to her, "Madame!" A rough hand grabbed at her wrist and yanked her from the chaos, pulling her along towards the side entrance to the castle, where their briefing would begin. As soon as they both were clear of the crowd, Evelynn formally thanked the stranger who had saved her. She looked up into his face and noticed that his eyes were green just the same as hers. He smiled and patted her hard on one shoulder, "No problem." He then held open the door for Evelynn to enter before him. She inquired as to the boy's name, to which he simply replied, "Viktor Saréna."
Once they were inside the barracks, Viktor found a spot alone against the wall while Evelynn took the first seat she could find near the back. To her surprise, the boy from earlier entered shortly after her and took the seat immediately beside her. He placed his hand over the seat to his right, the only empty seat directly adjacent to either him or her, and erected a bed of ice spikes atop it, dissuading anyone from sitting there. He sighed and slouched in the chair. His head fell to the side and he smiled at Evelynn, "Hey, you."
Evelynn raised an eyebrow, "Why...?" Her words remained caught in her throat. A cold sweat began to form on her brow.
The boy shrugged his shoulders, "I don't like people much, but you seem nice." With a smirk, he continued, "I also recognize you from the library in Goldruby. You studied there just as much as I did."
Her heart beat faster, her breath accelerated. She began to wheeze.
The boy's eyes widened as he snapped his finger in front of her face, "Whoa, whoa, calm down!" When she continued in the same vein for another several moments, the boy placed his hand upon her bare shoulder.
She felt a cool energy course through her body and slowly felt a sense of calm overtake her. Her face turned red and she looked down, "Sorry..."
The boy rolled his eyes and returned to his awful posture from previously, "Geez, I'm not that handsome." He flicked a lock of his blonde hair and grinned when she looked.
She giggled slightly and tucked her auburn hair back behind her ear, "I'm Evelynn Rydell, by the way."
"Oh boy," the boy replied, "Rydell? Those rich snobs?"
"I am not a snob!" She took great offense to the implication.
"Sorry, sorry. I'm Artemis Aurum. Nice to finally meet and talk with you, study buddy."
A gentle smile unwillingly crossed Evelynn's face, "Likewise."
Their moment was abruptly interrupted by a greasy man taking position up at the front of the room. Artemis' eyes widened, "That guy served me tea!"
The man cleared his throat and addressed the room, "Greetings, my new charges. I am Lieutenant Steward, and I am, as of this moment, your commander. I'm sure you are all itching to get right down to business, so I won't hold you any longer than necessary. To my left, if you'll look, is the Mission Board, where we have pinned up several different missions for you all to choose from as your first charge under my command. I implore you to choose carefully, as bad choices could prove disastrous for your personal well-being." Steward let his hands fall gently atop his hips as he finished, "And be sure to stop off at the Master Mason's room on your way out, as he has a fine selection of gear to aid you new recruits."
The moment he finished, the room erupted in a frenzy. People ran towards the mission board in a bid to grab the most desirable missions first. Evelynn noticed Artemis remaining stoic in his chair, so she kept her composure as well. Several other new charges remained behind. Stylix sat just a few rows ahead of Evelynn and was looking around the room. When she caught Evelynn, she smiled and waved. Evelynn laughed uneasily and waved back to the peculiar, dirty girl. Viktor also remained behind, though he sat atop the bar, at which Evelynn figured they served tea on normal days.
Much to Evelynn's surprise, the greasy Steward approached her shortly after giving the decree and handed her a piece of paper titled "Wanted: Chocovores." He explained, "I plucked this mission from the board in order to avoid any unnecessary loss of young life..." He glanced to the seat beside Artemis and grinned, "I think you two should be able to handle this. Give it a look and let me know what you think." He then righted himself and addressed Artemis, "I trust you enjoyed your tea, good sir?"
Artemis shrugged his shoulders, "I've had better, but it was certainly tasty."
Steward nodded happily and then rushed off to talk to several other people. He seemed to have several copies of the paper in his hand... Artemis leaned over and read the paper as Evelynn did:
Threat Level: Moderate
Chocovores are creatures which feed on Chocobos, usually while they are still alive. In a biological sense, Chocovores tend to be Goblins, though they often masquerade as humes in high standing with commoners in order to gain their trust and thus steal Chocobos without getting caught.
There have been several reported sightings of Chocovore Goblins in the past few hours along with many people reporting that their Chocobos had gone missing with nary a single Guard having any idea where they could have gone to.
Current thoughts by experts in the field of Goblins and their habits have estimated that no fewer than twenty Chocovore Goblins have made their home in nearby sections of the Lotus Forest and have been taking shifts as they impersonate the Castle's gate guardsmen.
There are three Chocobos within the Castle's stables which are available for use as bait to lure the Chocovores out of hiding and subsequently discover their lair, if you choose to use them.
Artemis snatched the paper from Evelynn's hands and gritted his teeth. He nodded and whispered, "I'll save you, Howard."
He rose from his seat and rushed off towards the Armory. Evelynn quickly reacted, grabbing his cloak to hold him back. He fell flat to his back, slamming his head on the ground. She dragged him across the floor over to Steward, where she swallowed hard and said, "Y-yes. We'll... take the mission."
Steward grinned widely and exclaimed, "Great, great!" He then addressed the room, "Everyone on the Chocovore Mission should rendezvous with these two," he pointed to Evelynn and Artemis, "out in the courtyard near the South Gates in ten minutes!" He turned back to the two and lowered his voice, "Private Chambers will meet you there and get everything set and ready. Please don't rush into anything, and good luck!"
Evelynn helped Artemis to his feet and the two headed towards the Armory at a slightly slower pace, due to Artemis still being woozy from hitting his head. Evelynn approached the counter and asked about the wares which the man had available. The man behind the counter replied gruffly, "We've got Calcic Blades an' Wooden Rods along wif light leather armors."
Evelynn grabbed a blade and armor while Artemis opted for a rod and armor. Once the two of them were dressed in their new duds, they headed out, Evelynn following behind her new friend. They shortly arrived at the designated location and Artemis immediately threw a fit, "No one is here yet!? We have to get moving. Those goblins won't wait for us before they start eating Howard..."
Almost as though they heard him, six others filed out of the barracks and headed towards the South Gate. When they arrived, Private Chambers addressed the group, "Is this everyone?"
Artemis quipped, "It's everyone we're waiting for."
Chambers sighed, "Cool. I'll need your names..."
Artemis replied, "Artemis Aurum."
Evelynn said, "Evelynn Rydell."
Stylix then shot, "Stylix Phyre."
Viktor was next, "Viktor Saréna."
A large, hulking man standing behind the others replied, "Lexaeus Legio."
The quiet girl at the back let slip, "Breanna Shain."
The rather handsome man up front confidently quipped, "Hisoka Lucifer."
The peculiar boy with yellowish eyes then finished, "Dion Ester."
Chambers jotted down the names and sighed heavily, "And I need a name for the group of you all together..."
Everyone looked around, unable to come up with a good idea. Evelynn shrugged her shoulders. Artemis shook his head at the lack of creativity surrounding him. He lifted his chin and announced, "We'll be the Valiant Fighting Division."
Edited by Rumbleroar, 22 June 2010 - 03:17 PM.