The Grand Revolution Of War!
Nelsie woke up, feeling sore as usual. Then again, sleeping on old paper and rags will do that to someone, especially if they are sleeping in an alleyway. As she got up, letting out a groan and rubbing her eyes, she looked up at the sky. As usual, the sky was a slight dim greyish blue color. Luckily, there wasn't a cloud in sight. Normally, in the city she lives in, clouds in the sky means it's gonna rain.
Now that she was up, she did some morning stretches and made her way deeper into the alleyway, knocking on a knocked over trash bin as she went.
"Henry. It's time to get up," Nelsie called out as she passed.
A groan escaped the trash bin and a boy with shaggy black hair and crystal blue eyes came out. He was wearing a light grey shirt and dark grey shorts. His outfit, compared to Nelsie's, was vastly different. She wore a pearly white one piece dress, though the dress was dirty. Despite that, it still kept most of its luster. Her light brown hair was well-kept and shone even with the sun's light barely reaching into the dark alleyway the two call home. While the boy is cute, he isn't as cute as the girl in front of him, who could be described as a little angel. Nelsie is also, in fact, eighteen, though she is quite small in stature. This fact doesn't actually bother her much as it would most people as she knows she can use her small size to her advantage, helping beg for food and for getting into small spaces.
Now that she has successfully woke Henry up, it was time for Nelsie to go out and try and bring back supplies to the community she lives in. Before she could climb the ladder that was the end of the alleyway, Henry called out to her.
"Nelsie, don't go out yet. Merkel wants to see you," Henry informed Nelse, his voice still sleepy.
Nelsie perked up at that. Merkel is one of the leaders of the "Homeless Gang", a name the elders reluctantly agreed on after the children of the so-called "gang" begged them long enough. Nelsie, as well as most of the adults, like to call it H.G for short. It's less embarrassing and easier to say. In addition to being one of the leaders, and the oldest and most respected leader, Merkel was also the elder leader who took Nelsie in when she had no where to go and help get a teacher to teach Nelsie how to survive out here.
Yet, that was three years ago. Ever since then, he has said nothing to her. Hearing that he now wanted to see her was both exciting and nerve wracking.
"Thanks for the message, Henry," Nelsie said in a somewhat teasing voice as she ran over and patted Henry's shaggy head.
The kid let out a groan of protest and lazaly bat at her hand but was too tired to properly defend himself from her assault. He was soon defeated, lying on the ground with a slight blush on his cheeks. Seeing this, Nelse smiled a triumphant smile before making her way back deeper into the alleyway and turned left, going past the ladder.
After a couple of more turns and walking past some more kids and adults, all wearing dirty clothes, she stopped in the middle of a large clearing. The clearing was full of people, some of them kids, others teens like Nelsie, and the last one, which were the majority, was adults. Makeshift market stands were set up around the clearing as well as boxes and carts full of food and supplies. To the far west was a archery course and a large tunnel leading deep underground to another community, the tunnel heavily guarded. There were other tunnels as well, these ones made in the brick walls, and a small stream of water ran through the middle of the clearing, ending in two sewage tunnels.
Seeing this, Nelsie stretched once more and got ready to make her way over to where she thinks Merkel might be when a hand grabbed her shoulder from behind.
"Mistress Nelsie, I assume you are here to meet Merkel?" A familiar voice asked her from behind, a little flat from having failed to scare her.
Nelsie turned around to look at the person who grabbed her. She was tall but not taller than an adult, which showed in her youthful face, short curved blue hair, and sharp features. She was dressed in black and purple and on her back were two swords which had their blades end in a hook shape, with both the weapons and her facial features showing she is of Zhenshi* decent.
"Hello, Maleen. How did you sleep?" Nelsie asked the lady, letting out a yawn. Despite going to sleep early, she still felt tired. Upon seeing this, Maleen let out a small smile.
"I slept well, Mistress Nelsie. Though, are you sure you slept well?"
As one might expect, Nelsie isn't from this community, nor is she a normal citizen. Nelsie's full name is Nelsie Van Shu Maker, and she is the last survivor of the Shu Maker bloodline. Her house, an old and great house, recently fell when Nelsie was twelve. The only person to have stuck to Nelsie is her personal guard, Maleen Sho, a assassin or ninja of Zhenshi descent.
Maleen's heritage often gets her looked at since the Senshi* reside somewhere remote, never coming out unless need be, and people of Zhenshi decent have stopped popping up years and years ago. This exoticness and her already beautiful looks makes her stand out in more ways than one. Nelsie has often overheard her being confessed to many times, all of which she turned down.
"I slept well enough," Nelsie replied back, earning herself a hat pat from Maleen.
"If your mother was still around, she would scold you for yawning," Maleen pointed out, leaning down.
Nelsie shrugged in response before shaking Maleen's hand off.
"So, are you going to scold me in her place?" Nelsie asked, tilting her head.
Maleen shook her head before gently pinching Nelsie's cheeks, who whined in response.
"No. While I am in charge of your well being, I am not a noble and, frankly, I never understood you nobles and your manners."
With their little conversation done, the two started walking to the right of the clearing, or at least to their right, and turned left at the entrance of a large tunnel guarded by three tough-looking adults, two of them wielding halberds and the one without a helmet and dressed in dark grey armor with a longsword sheathed on his waist. He was a well-built man with short black hair and a handsome yet rough face.
"Well well well! Our little princess is finally meeting the great elder again," The man said jokingly before leaning down to get close to Nelsie, "Are ya afraid?"
Maleen slightly slapped him on the face.
"Oh come on, Diggle. Don't start now. It's too early," She scolded, causing Diggle to shrug.
"It's never too early," He stated, making two finger guns.
"I'll wake you up in the middle of the night when your off duty and we'll see what you say then," Maleen said, raising an eyebrow. It took Diggle and Nelse a couple of seconds before they realized she wasn't joking Diggle despite the teasing smile on her face, which caused Diggle to let out a nervous chuckle.
"Save me, your highness," Diggle whispered to Nelsie, who shook her head in response.
"You're on your own," Nelsie whispered back, an amused glint in her eyes.
"Welp, good luck inside. I would like to know what Merkel wants to talk to you about but that isn't my business," Diggle said, deciding they should stop fooling around.
He moved to the side to allow Nelsie and Maleen easy access into the tunnel. With a wave goodbye, Nelsie made her way into the tunnel, Maleen waiting outside. Normally, Nelsie would be begging Maleen to follow her and, normally, Maleen would follow her. This time, Maleen decided to give the two some privacy and Nelsie was too excited to notice that Maleen hadn't followed her.
"You're not going after her?" Diggle asked back outside. He was a bit surprised at this.
Maleen shook her head before answering.
"I may have trust issues, as you call them, but even I trust Merkel enough. I also have a feeling that, whatever they are going to talk about, it should be done in private."
The inside of the tunnel can only be described as a cave. It lead down to the sewers but didn't enter the sewers, just stayed next to it. Nelsie could tell because she could hear the sound of water dripping even though there was no water in the tunnel she was in. Well, there was some since the tunnel was moist and humid.
It wasn't until Nelsie stopped at a crossway, one path leading to the left and the other leading to the right with two torches on the wall in front of her, did she stop to ask Maleen a question.
"Hey, do you remember which path leads to Merkel?" Nelsie asked. She waited for a response and, when she didn't get one, turned to look at Maleen only to see that she wasn't here with her.
Nelsie instantly felt afraid. She looked around and was about to call her name when she heard footsteps behind her. She spun around, alarmed, but let out a sigh of relief upon seeing an old man with a long white beard draped in purple robes. In his left hand was a light brown cane and his left eye had a scar over it, though both eyes were grey and faded, showing that Merkel was blind. Still, even if he is blind, or close to being blind, his eyes seemed to focus on her.
"Ah. I was right about when you would get here," Merkel said, his voice sounding not as old and shaky as one would think his voice would sound.
"Follow me. Deeper in we must go," Merkel informed Nelsie, turning around and walking down the right path. Nelsie, after a bit of hesitation, followed after him, having to speed walk to catch up. Merkel was spry for his age.
After admittingly struggling to keep up with the old man, Merkel and Nelsie came to a stop in a small room with bones and fur pelts scattered around. In the middle of the room was a large fireplace that was built into a hole with four logs around it. Merkel took a seat on one of them and Nelsie took a seat across from him.
"Did you know, Nelsie, that the year of the Peacock is coming?" Merkel asked once Nelsie got settled.
"The year of the peacock? Is that referring to the Zhenshi Zodiac?" Nelsie asked, recalling what she learned about the Zhenshi Zodiac when she was still a noble.
"Hmm," Merkel said, nodding. Nelsie took that as a yes.
"But aren't there only twelve animals? I don't think the peacock is one of them."
"Ah, yes," Merkel said, getting up and walking over to the wall in the middle of the room and removed a fur pelt out of the way. Behind the fur pelt was twelve animals, "There are only twelve. The Ox, Dragon, Tiger, Rat, Dog, Monkey, Snake, Horse, Pig, Goat, and Rooster. There is also the hidden thirteenth, who was tricked by the Rat, which is the Cat."
Merkel pointed to a black animal that resembled a cat up above, away from the others.
"But soon, a new animal will rise. The Peacock."
Merkel covered the painting with his robe. When he lowered his arm again, the painting changed into one of a big black peacock.
"The Zhenshi believe in yin and yang. Black and white. Harmony. The Peacock here represents white. Do you know what white represents in the Zhenshi culture, especially worn?"
Nelsie racked her brain for answers but none came.
"No, I don't," Nelsie admitted with a sigh, "Sorry."
Merkel shook his head, disappointed.
"How many times do I have to tell you? Do not be sorry for something like that."
Merkel hit the wall with his cane, causing Nelsie to jump.
"Now back to the explanation. White represents elegance. It is a noble color. However, it also largely represents death. The Peacock is one with white feathers and, as such, this Peacock will bring death. It needs help. It needs black."
Merkel pointed at Nelsie with his cane.
"You are that black," He declared.
"....I'm confused. What are you talking about?" Nelsie asked, feeling like she should be writing all this down.
Merkel sat down again, letting out a sigh. Nelsie was about to say sorry again when Merkel stopped her by holding up his hand.
"What did I say about saying sorry, Nelsie?" Merkel asked.
Merkel slammed his cane down on the ground, cutting Nelsie off.
"Don't say sorry for such petty things! Ugh. I see you still have much to learn," Merkel sighed, shaking his head disappointingly.
Nelsie had to refrained herself from saying sorry yet again upon seeing his expression.
"What I mean is quite simple. The world as it is now is corrupt. It needs saving, and many people want to save it. However, only the worse can save it. The Peacock means to save this world, but they will fail. You don't need to remember this, or any of what I said, Nelsie."
Nelsie was once again cut off by Merkel standing up.
"You just need to remember two things. The world needs to be saved and only the worse can save it, and that the year of the Peacock is coming," Merkel told Nelsie, walking over to the fur pelt he moved earlier to put it back in place.
"Now, you are free to go," Merkel finished, dismissing Nelsie.
Nelsie got up to leave but stopped. Normally, her meetings with Merkel went like this. Yet, today she just couldn't take it. She wanted to not only understand what he was saying more, but spend more time with him.
"C-can I see you again?" She asked, cursing herself for stuttering.
"You may see me whenever you want to Nelsie. You just have to go without me calling you, which you have failed to do these past three years."
"Up!" Merkel said, turning around and pointing his cane at Nelsie.
"What did I say?"
"Not to say sorry for petty things."
Merkel let out a smile.
"Good girl. Tell Maleen I said high for me, will you?"
With that, Merkel turned around and started organizing some loose bones. realizing that he had no more to say, Nelsie turned around and started to make her way out of the tunnel. Before she did, she turned and glanced one more time at the black peacock. She doesn't need to be told to know that the world, or really the City they live in, Gudha City, is corrupt. Her father taught her all about their King and the guards. Yet, upon seeing the peacock, she couldn't help but wonder that, if she did ever see such a thing, why she wouldn't want to help them.
Nelsie stretched a couple of times before she walked out of the alleyway she sleeps in. She was officially in the outside world. Normally, she would climb up the ladder and go down a couple of blocks away but, today the guard stationed at the top of the ladder told her that the route was off limits.
The street was as busy as usual. Carriages moved by, people and kids ran about. Every now and then, a soldier would pass by, some of them wearing their dark and rough-looking armor while others wore the more traditional sharp light blue, white, and red outfits with the bare minimal of armor. Those ones carried rifles with them and the new breed of swords known as Straight Sabers*. The other soldiers didn't carry rifles with them, instead carrying a heavy and large cutlass.
During the morning, this side of the city was always busy. Luckily, in this part of the city, there weren't any guards. This was due to a couple of reasons. One is that the soldiers are obviously more dangerous than guards and, by law, have the right to kill them if they piss them off. The soldiers, since they are soldiers and all, are located on the outskirts of the City, and the guards are more useful guarding and patrolling the inner parts of the City, away from the soldiers.
Granted, the soldiers aren't killers that will kill guards for no reason. Its just that most of the soldiers have family that live in the outskirts of the City and, because of this, they can get extremely annoyed if a guard makes their life hard.
Now, the lack of guards and surplus of soldiers wasn't a bad thing for Nelsie and the other people of the H.G who were doing their runs. While it is harder to steal from most because of the soldiers and the large amount of people, it becomes easier to find money people drop on the ground and, unlike the guards, the soldiers won't actively try to chase people from the H.G down upon seeing them steal, and kill them or beat them up when they catch them.
Despite the many opportunities around, Nelsie had a certain different spot in mind. While she may be small, smart, and cute, she isn't as street smart as the others, nor is she as strong, fast, or durable. She also knows that she isn't as tough as the others. If it weren't for her personal guard, Nelsie wouldn't have survived as long as she has, especially considering the fact that she wasn't in the H.G when she was made homeless. She only found them a little over three years ago.
She weaved her way through the crowd of people in a rush yet trying to look like they aren't, moving towards the market or their jobs or whatever it is they are going to, which was harder than it seems since she is heading towards the marketplace. Trying her best to not bump into anyone, something caught her eye. Standing in an alleyway by a couple of barrels and stacks of hay was four strangely dressed people. Their outfits were fancy and sharp, being primarily black in color, though there were red-orange, gold, and white patterns and highlights to it. The outfit looked almost exactly like the one the rifle soldiers wear, only sharper and without the excess armor.
In all honesty, they looked like they were members of the marching band. The only reason why Nelsie thinks they are soldiers is the muskets they were carrying, and the long black sheaths on their waist. Another thing to note was that they were all young females, though how young they actually were is up to question because of how tall they were. After watching them for a bit, trying to see what they were doing, Nelsie moved on. By the looks of it, they were just hanging around, probably waiting for a place to sit at the bar they were hanging around.
When Nelsie arrived at her destination, a place right next to the church and the exit of the marketplace, she hid herself in the shadows of an alleyway and waited, watching the people walk past. A few armored soldiers, a number of people, and some regular guards went past until she spotted what she wanted. A church official walked on by, dressed in different clothes as to not get recognized, but Nelsie saw through his facade. Next to him was a royal messenger, also in disguised. It didn't take a genius to realize they were talking in secret, which meant they couldn't be up to any good. They talked and the messenger, after looking around sneakily, paying Nelsie no mind even if he saw her, handed the church official a letter, which he hid in his clothes. Afterwards, the two talked some more until they bowed and parted ways.
Once they were out of sight, Nelsie made her way back through the crowd, arriving at a large stone brick building which resembles the walls and towers that surround the city. She walked right up to the entrance which was guarded by four armored soldiers, who waved at Nelsie as she went past and, after waving back, she knocked on the door. After a bit of waiting, a hatch on the large wooden door opened up and a pair of eyes peeked through. Upon seeing Nelsie, the hatch closed and the door creaked as it opened, albeit slowly. Once it was opened enough, Nelsie slipped on through. Behind her, the doors started closing.
"Well if it ain't the noble herself. Have you got the information?"
Nelsie turned to face the voice. It belonged to a brown haired man with a small beard. He has green eyes and was dressed in blue, grey, and white armor, with the back of his armor having a small royal blue cape, though the cape not reaching past his back, and a orange stripe was on his left shoulder pad, showing that he is a Captain. On his back is a big stone-colored greatsword and hanging from his belt was a black pistol, the flintlock kind and not the compressed pistol.
"I sure do, Captain Jay," Nelsie confirmed, doing a little salute.
"You don't have to do that nor call me Captain. Besides, you outrank me anyway," Jay told Nelsie.
Jay was someone who met Nelsie when she was first on the streets. Instead of ignoring her or leaving her alone after Maleen had threatened her, he kept on pursuing her. Eventually, after two years, they came up with an agreement. She will work as a spy for him and he will pay her money. Nelsie liked Jay. Not only was he smart and cheerful, wearing a smile a lot of the time, he was a great Captain. He even claimed to have fought with Nelsie's father back when there was still a war going on, though he wasn't a Captain back then.
"Not in the public eyes anyway. I'm a dead noble," Nelsie reminded Jay with a small yet sad smile. Jay rubbed her head, getting Nelsie out of her thoughts.
"Don't be such a downer. You'll always still be a noble to me and my soldiers. Now come on and sit down. I can't wait to get rid of the spy that has been bothering the King for so long."
Nelsie left the barracks and stretched again. She stretches a lot, if one couldn't tell. On her belt was a large coin purse full of money, earned from a duty well done. Since Nelsie not only and the information that the church was indeed intercepting the King's messages, but the name of the spy as well, she got a lot of money from Jay. Needless to say, Nelsie couldn't wait to get back to the others and give them the money, or more of she can't wait for the approval she'll receive. One thing's for sure, and that is that she and Maleen will eat more than normal tonight.
As Nelsie made her way back towards the alleyway where she sleeps, knowing where it was at heart, her thoughts went to Merkel. After making sure that there were no carriages coming, she made her way across the street. It was relatively empty now so Nelsie was still lost in her thoughts, this time thinking about how happy Merkel and everyone else would be to get this much money. So, she wasn't paying attention when she bumped right into someone.
Nelsie stumbled back and looked up at the person they walked into only to see the top of a...hat with a red feather on top? She looked down more and realized the person she bumped into was short, not shorter than her but definitely on the small side. She was wearing a black, gold, and red outfit that clearly belonged resembled the weirdly dressed soldiers from before, though her hat suggested otherwise. Her skin was smooth and close to being pale Behind her were about twenty soldiers, all in formation. It was only after a closer look that Nelsie realized that not only were the soldiers carrying weapons, all of them were carrying musical instruments that a band would carry. Before she could think more about it, the person she bumped into spoke.
"Youch. That one hurt."
It was a gruff-sounding accent, but Nelsie recognized it. She suddenly knew who she was. How could she forget? The black uniforms should have given it away. This was Baaluzikai, the famous royal band leader and the one person Nelsie knows for sure is more famous than the King!
'I screwed up big time!' Nelsie thought before she quickly bowed.
"S-sorry, I wasn't paying attention," Nelsie apologized, cursing herself for her trembling voice.
Baaluzikai is quite the recognizable figure. With her small height of four point seven, sharp outfit, light tan skin, and her beautiful features, her looks alone would make her stand out. Her left eye was pink and her right eye green, and her mouth was full of sharp teeth. Then, there are her eyes, and not the two different colors. Her iris was shaped like a diamond, with two black lines running through them.
Baaluzikai looked Nelsie over, a small smile on her face before it changed to a closed-eyed polite one.
"It's alright. Bye now!" She told Nelsie, turning around to continue her march. However, it was at this moment that Nelsie felt a strange sensation within her. She could only describe it as a buzzing and warm feeling in her chest.
Before Nelsie could figure out what it was, Baaluzikai spun around within the blink of an eye, her face inches away from Nelsie's. Nelsie let out a yelp and fell down. Unconcerned about Nelsie falling, Baaluzikai studied her again before she smiled, this time showing her sharp teeth. If there is one thing that everyone can agree on about Baaluzikai's species, it's that Baaluzikai isn't human. With the sun overhead, Baaluzikai's face looked downright terrifying to her.
"Ah! Sorry 'bout that. Now that I am getting a better look at ya, yer cute. You would do well in our band and, if ya decide to join, you'll be welcomed with open arms...but you might want to wait two weeks before ya do," Baaluzikai added, standing upright again.
"But I must say, I honestly didn't see ya there. Normally I aren't so blind. Guess my head was in the gutter, ehh?"
'Did she just say aren't?' Nelsie thought before quickly shaking her head, reprimanding herself for thinking such a thing in this situation.
"No?" Baaluzikai asked, tilting her head.
"Oh no! I was t-thinking off s-something else," Nelsie quickly explained. Even though she is aware that Baaluzikai is friendly and kind, she can't help but tremble before her.
Baaluzikai's smile widened suddenly and she leaned down again, running her left hand through Nelsie's hair.
"Yer not only a cutie, but a rarity, ya know? Brown and black hair."
Nelsie felt her blood turn to ice and she knew her skin just went pale. She met Baaluzikai's eyes. They shone with the glint of a predator.
Upon seeing Nelsie's skin pale, Baaluzikai let out a tiny giggle and stopped messing with Nalsie's hair, which was dyed brown in order to hide the black parts in it.
"I must say, do watch where yer goin', young Van Shu Maker. The world ya live in now is quite dangerous, but don't ask me for help."
'She knows.' Nelsie thought, trying her best to not break out shaking. Aside from only a few, no one knows that she is the last survivor of the Van Shu Maker bloodline, not even Merkel.
Baaluzikai stood up and sharply turned to her left, pivoting on her left foot in a standard band-like way, and raised her right hand, which had a long black baton in it with a red flag at the top. She pointed the baton sharply forward before resting it by her side. With that signal, the band started marching again, Baaluzikai leading them. Nelsie continued laying on the street for a long time, frozen out of fear. The sound of someone landing behind broke her out of her thoughts and she turned around to see Maleen.
Maleen quickly picked Nelsie up and sprinted down the city, making her way back to the alleyway. Further ahead, Baaluzikai stopped marching.
"Tis strange. I didn't sense 'er until she bumped into me. And that weird feeling too...Well, if she was an assassin, I would have sensed her killing intent no matter how hard she hid it."
Baaluzikai was silent for a couple of seconds before shaking her head, dismissing the weird encounter. She knew Nelsie Van Shu Maker, as well as her family. She has, after all, visited them many times. It was a shame what happened to them, but that's just life under the rule of the King. Besides, there is no reason to think that the little girl would be an assassin. Still, the fact that someone managed to bump into her in the middle of an almost barren street without even sensing the tiniest bit of their presence...
"Tealath, remind me to train my senses when we reach our camp," Baaluzikai told the band member behind her before continuing the march.
'I shouldn't worry about it. I won't see 'er again until two weeks have passed anyway. She'll either be on the streets doing whatever she does to survive or joining my band. I'll worry about her later.'
Little did the two know that this meeting and day marked the time that everything would change...
....and that feeling was much more than a feeling.
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