Azure Sins (Sin Ver.)
An image of a city landscape reflected in a young woman's cyan eyes, as she glanced at the large city around her. Cement homes stand strong together, with small shops on each side of a single wide road leading through the district. Daily thousands of citizens walk the stone streets of their hometown Freya, the first of six major capital cities across the nation. Massive, walled civilizations ruled by the wealthiest nobles in each region, politically and socially. Their combined wealth brought a common order and law through the nation. They have since solidified their position by supporting a well-known organization known as The Temple. Despite fewer cathedrals outside of capital cities, their place in society has remained ever-growing throughout the ages, representing peace, faith, and hope. Over time, The Temple organization became a powerful and influential social and political power in most places under the protection and control of nobles. One cathedral held the young woman's attention, looking at its massive size and elegant stained glass design even from the distance she was standing from it. She soon broke her trance-like stare and returned to the clipboard in her hand.
At a storefront, the woman stood with pen and parchment in hand, her eyes moving across the paper as she wrote. The young woman Aisellia Noel Rae, was a noble's daughter who bore long silver hair, bound in place by an elegant headband. Aisellia's blue eyes raced across the pamphlet, making a mental list of its content. It is generally accepted that she is one of the most aesthetically pleasing nobles. Her face has gentle facial features, a soft figure, and crystal blue eyes that could easily charm a person. The workers moved equipment around her taking glances at her attractive features while she remained occupied with her list. Her social class could easily be seen in indifference from those surrounding her. This is even though she had dressed simply in a short skirt, and a collared shirt accessorized with a bow. This attire still looked elegant compared to the common folk's clothing. Workers hurried in and out of the store, moving various things ranging from crates of supplies to large bags of food and necessities.
"Almost done loading up for tomorrow Aisellia!" The blue eyes woman lifted her eyes from her writing and turned to face the speaking worker standing beside her.
"Hm? Oh, thank you, Laura. Everything went smoothly since we have you to get these guys moving quickly."
"Anything to help!" The woman exclaimed. Laura's smile grew larger as she watched Aisellia finish marking things off her list. Her smile toned down to just a smirk as her eyes scanned Aisellia from top to bottom. Noticing the woman's gaze, Aisellia raised an eyebrow, tilting her head slightly, looking curiously at the woman.
"Just thinkin, you've come a long way in the last few years. Just how many businesses do you operate for your family now?"
"Only just a couple haha! They're just small stores. But I guess it was all worth it if my parents are trusting me to represent our family name on this expedition with the Temple."
"Exactly! Only the Temple could convince nobles to come together and put together supplies and stuff to go outside the city...fooor?"
The fact that Laura forgot or maybe didn't know what the expedition was for made Aisellia giggle, which was not a surprise to her. She was a construction worker in the middle district, but after their first meeting many years ago, she took an interest in Aisellia. As one of the few families funding the venture organized by The Temple to aid civilizations outside their walled city, Laura was neither of a noble family nor one of the few people funding it.
"To help with good faith and relief effort. I guess some people really high up in the temple received a request from a small village no one knew existed near the mountains to the south. I heard there were problems there before which left that village in dire need of food and medicine."
Aisellia responded, filling in the blanks of her overall knowledge of the expedition.
"Oooh, I get it. Maybe they plan to help them and probably expand with the village or something. Most people who live in the capital never went outside the walls since it's dangerous out there..."
As they glanced to one side, soldiers in steel armor passed them moving down the line of carts, their eyes drifting to one side as their smiles faded to the thought of unknown danger. Once they passed out of earshot, the two women nervously looked at each other.
"Hey, Aisellia...you'll be careful out there, right? You've always believed me since we were little girls."
"Growing up inside a capital...I've never seen or heard of one like everyone else, but...We met when we were little, you came here then and you've told me stories of what you've experienced..."
There was a somber look on both of their faces, their heads lowering with their eyes. A few seconds of silence passed before Aisellia began to speak once more, prompting both of their eyes to meet once again.
"I don't believe what they say. They don't believe just because they haven't experienced coming across something like that. I trust what you learned from living through it instead of just what others hide from being seen or heard yet. I trust you more than anyone here in the capital. Ever since we were little girls you're the only one I could really trust."
Aisellia smiled, her words surprising Laura, stunning her for a few seconds before it brought a tear and a large smile to her friend's face.
"Thanks, I just wanted to warn you to be careful. I know you're going to have guards, noble reps, and a priest with you, but...just try to make sure you take care of yourself first and foremost out there."
Laura thanked her, taking a step closer to Aisellia out of excitement to hear her friend's words. She took Aisellia's hands into her own in joy. Leading the two to once again exchange smiles between each other.
"Of course, the temple was against it but one of the supporting nobles hired a group of knights for extra protection so we should be decently alright. It'll only make it more stressful if I go out into the world expecting everything that could go wrong to happen. Don't worry Laura, I promise to be back. We should only be gone for a couple of weeks if everything goes smoothly."
"Makes sense, you're a Noble's daughter and just about the only person coming from a rich family that's done some real work in their lives. Who else's daughter learns to run one of their parent's smaller businesses and completely turns them around in the middle quarter. I'm even still surprised rich people are putting their money into something other than their own pockets."
She said, bringing a finger to her lips as she attempted to think of any examples in which her words were false but failed to do so. Suddenly her eyes widened, her gaze returning to look at Aisellia with haste.
"I don't mean that with your parents of course hehe!" Laura said as she laughed nervously which only made her friend giggle.
"It's alright Laura. I just might also be one of the few nobles in this city that can see the overindulgence of wealth and status. Doing very little for those outside of the High District."
She said, turning the other way to look up at the city's skies and further into the city.
The Next Morning...
Five horse-drawn carts could be seen exiting the city through its guarded/heavily gated entrance. Armed soldiers walked along each side of the carts in formation. Inside the rear cart, however, a group of people sat at the back of the cart. The Priest, sitting up front alongside the driver. One of those people was Aisellia, who sat looking over her writing while the others conversed among themselves. Suddenly a voice broke her concentration, and by the way, her face turned sour at the sound, it was a familiar voice but one she seemed to be annoyed by.
"Well, Aisellia! I heard your family might be helping but to think they'd send you out with the rest of us"
Aisellia raised her head, seeing a young noble male with blonde hair and blue eyes speaking to her. His all-white clothes were notably flashy, wearing a fur poncho with jewelry around his neck and fingers. She remained silent for a moment, glaring at the male, letting a few seconds of silence pass before she spoke.
"...I can bet you convinced your family to join in so you could follow me didn't you?"
Shock overwhelmed the blonde-haired male, or so he pretended to feign to be drawn back by the statement. Quickly bouncing back with his rebuttal.
"....Of course not! Why would someone do such a cur-like thing! I'm offended you would even think that!"
Looking at Dan, Aisellia knew he failed to notice out of the six nobles in the cart, half of them were women and with all of them being nobles they somewhat knew each other by family name at least. All the women were already glaring at him as well, all being familiar with his obsessive ways and attempts to "swoon" women. Aisellia was stalked by him the longest since they were teens, their families often working together on business.
(He totally did that...)
All three women said simultaneously in the depths of their individual minds, sending a detestable glare in Dan's direction. The other males seeing it, one chuckled to himself and the other stuck gazing ahead upfront past the driver and the Priest in white seemingly ignoring their conversation. The other woman continued speaking with the noble male, chuckling at all of their simultaneous glares as Aisellia shifted her body away from his direction, sitting her notebook into a small bag resting on the seat near her.
Aisellia Rae: (Out of the families he had to be one, unfortunately. Dan Aifried, His family is one of the main Noble families who hold status and political power in the capital and are undoubtedly the wealthiest. They're considered the royal family of the capital as its leading family. One of the girls, along with the guy she's talking to are part of those high-ranking families. Cana Sigfried and Ian Maliago, The red-haired woman with matching eyes is Cana. Her family runs the capital's largest distillery and has plenty of high-class taverns in the high district. Ian's family is about as condescending as nobles can get, but their money goes towards too many things that only they can keep track of. The short girl with long deep blue hair and matching eyes is Sheilia Ciest, another Noble daughter whose family is one of the wealthiest. Most of the High-Class social events have their name on them somewhere to a degree. The guy who's been looking out the front and I...our parents happened to acquire a business wealth enough to become Nobles. They rose from the middle class but as far as this expedition is concerned we supplied our resources and those three who are practically royalty funded everything else. In a way, it made our families a lot of money. We're pretty much here to account for everything and help while the royals are pretty much just the faces of it all.)
The man wearing white cloth attire sitting beside the driver looked over his shoulder, smiling at the young man looking in between himself and the driver, soon turning to see the rest of the group. While the man of cloth's gaze graced over the young nobles individually, passing by Aisellia who continued sitting silently in her own thoughts.
(Everything was assembled and put together among the families by the Temple, Father Leon is the coordinator and supervisor to all of us and the whole expedition.)
Time passed as they traveled. The road was long, moving from a stone road to dirt road paths en route to their destination. The nobles continued how they had been, Aisellia mostly spending her time jotting down her thoughts and reading over them. Unfortunately, she was occasionally interrupted by Dan and his not-so-secret advances. After a long trip, the expedition group found themselves halfway to their destination. As the sun began to set, the group pulled onto the side of the path and sat up camp. The guards and Priest stood to watch by the carts while the noble children and other merchants who rode in other carts sat at separate bonfires. On a flat stone, Aisellia sat around the fire engaging in conversation with one of the other noble girls.
"So Ian" One of the noble girls Cana began, speaking to the male she held a conversation with on the cart, her short friend sitting by her side together sharing a log to sit on.
"Do you believe in the spooky rumors of the free marches?"
"There are plenty of rumors about the free marches."
He responded jokingly shrugging his shoulders attempting to quickly evade Cana's question, earning a playful smile from the two girls. Their conversation gained Aisellia's attention, her eyes shifting from the fire over to the conversing trio curiously.
Sheilia Ciest: "You know which one, the stories of dangerous monstrosities that roam the around killing anyone and anything without prejudice."
Dan Aifred: "Come now Ian, we're all aware of the stories."
Ian Maliago: "Of course. They're just that, Stories. It would be closer to the truth in my opinion to believe misfortune and powerful bad spirits. Demons are just a story to keep kids indoors at night I'm sure."
Cana Sigfried: "Oh?"
Sheilia Ciest: "Ian's family is part of The Temple higher-ups, so he would probably know more of the truth than what we could guess." The girls sat back in their seats, their excited smiles fading into pouting.
"We'll all find out the truth eventually, after all that's the reason each one of us weaseled our way here. Am I right?"
Dan openly stated and questioned the nobles present. His statement took everyone by surprise, evident by their expressions with Dan standing near the bonfire, everyone's eyes reacting as if they all had a secret that was just revealed.
"Otherwise what are the real chances such an important relief effort needing to be done, and Families of our status...send us instead of long-time servants or older trusted ambassadors?"
Looking at Dan, being the center of attention, managed to cause a moment of guilty silence from the group. Until Ian began chuckling.
Ian Maliago: "I admit Aifred, you're smarter than I thought."
Dan Aifred: "Ha! Finally, someone sees my brilliance! I had my own desires, but in the drafting process for this expedition, I stumbled upon a list and saw all of your names which was odd but I decided to help you guys out and make sure it was us chosen."
Sheilia Ciest: "I see, plus it would be a lot more boring and difficult if it was just a bunch of over baring workers out here with you."
Dan Aifred: "Indeed, everything is better in the company of beautiful women! However the only one I didn't even have to talk to the temple or my parents to approve. The only name I didn't have to push for is Miss Rae over here."
He said looking at Aisellia, winking his eye in an attempt to flirt which turned her face into an expression of pure disgust.
Cana Sigfried: "Makes sense. Our families are in the high political order, Dan being pretty much royalty in the capital while Aisellia's family came from the middle class and moved up. Unlike us, she's done actual work for her family for years."
Aisellia Rae: "I've just worked and organized the stores for a while. But I'm an only child so honestly, everything just came after."
"So you're a boss?" Cana questioned Aisellia curiously.
"Almost, I'm I've grown on the term boss bitch."
Aisellia said confidently smirking and shifting her sitting position. Cana met her smirk smile.
Cana Sigfried: "Ooo, Boss Bitch? I like it! I might have to use that, nobody in the Noble and Royal districts ever comes close to making cool things to say."
Aisellia Rae: "I appreciate your subtlety *giggles* but yeah, I learned it from a friend from the Middle District a while ago. It just caught on for workers who didn't exactly like me"
Sheilia Ciest: "Thinking about it, not many lower district families particularly like nobles enough to converse like that to learn cool new words."
Ian Maliago: "But even the common rich still do that, Unless you're not counting the tons of ass-kissing ones."
Aisellia Rae: "Hmm? I guess it would make sense, I have no problem with them seeing how business usually takes me to the middle district so I'm normally talking to one person or another. Plus I have a friend who stays in the middle so I'm usually updated at some point."
She said, placing a finger to her lips as she thought about her friend Laura.
The Next Day: Inside the cart...
Dan Aifried: "Ho-ho one day Aisellia Rae, one day I hope to make you reconsider my proposal."
Ian Maliago: "Ok I'm curious, a proposal of what?"
Dan smirked confidently as Aisellia's face turned sour.
Aisellia Rae: "It's exactly as it sounds sadly..."
Cana Sigfried: "...Is it bad that it's that obvious the only reason this infamous perv wants to marry you?"
Aisellia Rae: "It's bad all around really...He's followed me around trying to peep and creep on me since we were teens."
Sheilia Ciest: "I hear he's always at brothels or in strange areas picking up drunk girls. They say he only takes advantage of the vulnerable drunk girls."
Dan Aifried: "Don't start false rumors about me!"
Aisellia Rae: "Oh? Have you heard of the word going around about Dan?"
Dan Aifried: "Hey!"
Sheilia Ciest: "Yay we're starting a rumor!"
Knowing they were joking, Dan gave up trying to fight their teasing and sat with his head hung low. The girls, however, and even the silent noble male joined in for the group laughter, unable to hide the humor he found in the joke. Ian chuckled, but looked uneasy, mentally commenting to himself while the other laughed.
Ian Maliago: (I think it'll be better if they didn't know that's what he's really always up to, without the brothels. He's always aggressively flirting with gullible or vulnerable girls. Waving his money and status to get what he wants from them.)
Dan Aifried: "I'm sorry no one's around to hear this lie. Only half a day until we arrive."
Priest: "Speaking of which, in a little while we'll be entering another nation so the climate will be changing, so we'll be stopping shortly ahead so that you all may change clothes for the weather."
Dan Aifried: "Change?!"
Ian Maliago: "Don't tell me you didn't bring anything to adjust to the heat?"
Dan Aifried: "..."
Aisellia Rae: "Wow, I think I might actually feel bad for him if he doesn't get the heatstroke he probably deserves."
Dan raised his head hearing the words that brought a smile to his face yet as he looked at Aisellia she had a devilish large grin, the thought of it bringing her a deep dark joy if he did suffer from a heat stroke.
"The Sandora area is a southern region of high heat waves, it even has a massive desert that spans across the bottom border of the country. It's different from our northern people in Fio which has spring seasons half of the year. So you just might actually die from a heat stroke."
Aisellia had explained to the group the natural climate of their destination. Dan frowned and lowered his head again as the rest of them awkwardly laughed, caught off guard by her grin. All of them realized that she held a deep dislike of Dan.