Chapter 18:

The City of Light

The Symphonia of Erde (DISCONTINUED) (ARCHIVED)

Prouiratt, a harbour city known for its chandeliers, scented candles, and glassworks galore. A city of nobles, for even its poorest inhabitants (if one were to turn a blind eye on the homeless beggars) had a house or a shop. A city of fine drinking, for no city boasted greater gathering of local and foreign imported wines grown from the most named vineyards of Europia.Bookmark here

A City of Light, for the great glassworks and candles of the artisans there littered the streets in the form of streetlamps, illuminating the city at night which is said to rival even the grace of the full moon.Bookmark here

Such were the prideful reputation of the harbour city of Prouiratt, and as to now, our wandering band of "adventurers" had made their way through the gates of that city. Gazing from the window of the magically moving horseless stagecoach was none other than the Maiden of the Mist; Anna. Her eyes glowed on the sight of the city, having never seen such grand settlement that surpassed her rather dull imagination of the world outside.Bookmark here

"There's so many people! And the buildings- so big...." Anna was rendered speechless. It was a truly a far cry from both her village home and her misty home. Bookmark here

The rest of the crew, save for Ryleigh whose driving the horseless stagecoach outside, looked at Anna in amusement from the dining table. Her childish act of faceplanting herself to the window was too innocent and precious for their heart to take.Bookmark here

"Yep, those buildings truly are pretty, if you don't take account all the dirty money it takes to fund those things plus all the poor folks worked to death to build it-"Bookmark here

And of course, Jakob had to ruin the girl's innocent immersion. Because of that, he received a "light" bonk by Claude.Bookmark here

"Wait, people die to build all this?" Anna asked innocently.Bookmark here

"Well, not all of it," Marie replied. "But most of it- I mean, a handful of it cuz there's stuff like corruption and all and- pah! Screw it! You'll learn more once you're older."Bookmark here

"But I'm 18..."Bookmark here

*BUMP!*Bookmark here

"Woah!" the five of them were caught off guard for a moment as their stagecoach suddenly stopped. Claude went out to check on Ryleigh and apparently, the knight halted their ride abruptly after almost running over a careless individual.Bookmark here

"Watch where yer 'eadin lad! There's coaches everywhere on the bloody road!" Ryleigh called out to the grey-haired youth in front.Bookmark here

"Heh, 'guarda' dove vai..." the man whispered to himself before turning to Ryleigh and gave him a bow, "I apologize for the inconvenience signore. I am blind as you can see-" he pointed to his cloudy and greyish eyes.Bookmark here

"Huh, well, be careful when ye strollin' round the city lad," Ryleigh replied as he drove the stagecoach past the blind man, "may Erde protect yer from speedin 'orses and coaches 'ere."Bookmark here

"Appreciate the blessing signore!" the man waved as the horseless stagecoach rode on, not realizing that another carriage, this time pulled by a group of horses, was heading towards him at full speed. The driver was caught off guard after realizing the man's presence in front at the very last minute. He tried to pull and halt his horses but it was too late-Bookmark here

*FWOOSH!*Bookmark here

"Wait wha-"Bookmark here

The grey-haired man phased through the stagecoach like an intangible shadow, disappearing from the driver's sight before re-appearing right behind his ride. Bamboozled, the driver simply pointed at him speechless. Bookmark here

"Appreciate the blessing..." the blind man paid no heed whatsoever and went on with his journey.Bookmark here

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After parking their horseless stagecoach somewhere in the city square of Prouiratt, the party of six (they still hadn't come up with a name for their group) parted ways to deal with their own affairs in the city.Bookmark here

Jakob, Marie and Isaac moved together exploring the City of Light in search of their bounty hunted target. Their purpose was made clear to the rest of the crew days prior to their arrival, which was gladly approved by Ryleigh who coincidentally, also planned to visit the city in search of a famed "duelist". The knight also argued that it was a good opportunity to restock their moving household, thus Claude had no choice but to comply to their trip.Bookmark here

That said though, the Behemoth doctor thought it was a good opportunity to update Anna's wardrobe which for now consisted no more but two-three ragged looking dresses. She did end up wearing one of Claude's smaller robes back during his younger days as a medical student, but it's bigger size made it as if a child was wearing her father's robe. Bookmark here

Still, it was the best choice she had as Marie and Isaac's were too small for her, Ryleigh's clothing was too big and "armour-y", and Jakob actually had some that fit perfectly well-Bookmark here

-a bit too well to be honest.Bookmark here

"Why in Erde does Jakob 'ave a dress exactly 'is size!?"Bookmark here

"And why the hell are you folks snooping around my closet for!?" Jakob exclaimed. Claude and Ryleigh turned their attention to him while Anna simply smiled and waved from the hunter's bed.Bookmark here

"Apologies Jakob. We're trying to find some good clothing for Anna here," Claude explained. "We plan on taking her outside to do some grocery for our supplies, and perhaps supply her wardrobe too while we're at it."Bookmark here

"The least you could do is ask. Sheesh-" Jakob approached his closet and pulled out a blue gown with white long undersleeve- "This should fit Anna perfectly. Neat and polite but not too attractive like the realms of nobility."Bookmark here

Jakob passed the gown to Claude before pulling out another piece of clothing- a brown cowl, to the doctor as well. "Might as well add this too since we're going for a commoner look."Bookmark here

"Ye sure 'ad a keen eye for fashion lad," Ryleigh remarked. "Still, you didn't explain why you 'ad women's garment in ya closet."Bookmark here

"Disguises, clues, proof of killing, trophies, gifts, hobbies..." Jakob whispered the last part quietly.Bookmark here

"What?"Bookmark here

"N- Nevermind! Point is, there are plenty of reasons why I have a lot of dresses in the first place. All of it are- uhh... work related stuff!"Bookmark here

Before Ryleigh could question the hunter further, Anna had already finished changing her clothes behind the folding screen inside the room. Just like the bounty hunter proclaimed, the gown and cowl fit perfectly on her- as if she's a long member of urban society instead of someone who grew up in a cursed woods.Bookmark here

"I love it!" a huge smile beamed from her face. Bookmark here

"See! What'd I tell ya?" Jakob turned to the two men.Bookmark here

"Well, thanks for helping us out Jakob. It's about time we all get going now," Claude replied.Bookmark here

With that, both sets of trio parted ways as Claude, Ryleigh and Anna went straight to the shopping district, while the other three went to wherever they believe they should be going. Bookmark here

Like a child in a sweet shop or a deer entering a village, the Maiden of the Mist's reaction to her surrounding upon setting foot outside were simply filled with excitement, confusion, bafflement, and a hundred one emotions more or less similar to the ones stated before. Bookmark here

There were so many people; dressed in weird and colourful clothing! There were so many buildings; small, tall, black, white, in all sorts of shapes and sizes! So many shops and stalls here and there; of food and candy, of rugs and sheets, of potteries and utensils both wood and clay, of dresses and headwear and legwear and horsewear- and even blades were sold on the stalls of the streets! Though all of them were merely dagger and knives- machetes at best for the law of Prouiratt forbids the sell and ownership of blades with blade length longer than a forearm without a permit.Bookmark here

"Sorry sir, you're going have to come with me," a city guard spoke as two of his coworkers escorted Ryleigh away from his friends.Bookmark here

"I'm telling ya! I 'av the right and permit for me sword!" Ryleigh retaliated, attracting quite the attention from folks around him but still comply to being escorted away. "I'M SIR RYLEIGH REX DAMMIT! FORMER KNIGHT OF THE PROUD KINGDOM OF SWETZIA!!!-"Bookmark here

Anna and Claude watched as their friend slowly disappeared from the horizon, never to be seen again in this chapter.Bookmark here

"I already told that idiot to leave his sword at home, or at least bring his pauldron that had his knight emblem on it," Claude remarked before continuing his walk once more.Bookmark here

"About that though, what happened to his job? Did he quit being a knight?" Anna asked in curiosity.Bookmark here

"He retired early. That's all."Bookmark here

"Okay, but for what?"Bookmark here

"That would be a question for another day-" Claude stopped suddenly. Looking up, his sight was greeted by a wooden sign boring a chervil painting on it. "We have arrived."Bookmark here

The two entered the building, which turned out to be a herb and spice store. Their goal of their visit was simple; to restock the Behemoth's doctor dispensary for his mobile clinic.Bookmark here

"Bonjour! Welcome to Fleur's herb and spices! How can I help you?" a hazel haired lady greeted the duo from behind the counter.Bookmark here

"Did you bring the list, Anna?"Bookmark here

Anna pulled out a folded piece of paper from her gown's pocket- a list of medicinal herbs, spices and seeds needed to be restocked for the Behemoth's dispensary. She handed the paper to the counter lady who simply smiled upon reading the list in hand.Bookmark here

"Ginger, chamomile, garlic, lavender... you both sure have a lot of orders for me. You might just run me shop out of business!" the counter lady joked. "De toute façon, I have all the stuff you've listed down here, except for this three."Bookmark here

The lady turned the paper facing towards the duo and pointed at the last three items written on the bottom of the paper. Those three items turned out to be 'Eldr shroom', 'Skull flower' and 'Yggdroot'. Bookmark here

"En fait, I doubt you'd find any of these three anywhere in the city. My apologies for having to become a harbinger of bad news."Bookmark here

"It's alright. Thank you for telling us ahead," Claude replied. "Where can we find the three items though if it's not here?" Bookmark here

"That, mon ami, is out of my realm of knowledge. I am merely a humble shopkeeper who sells the product of her shop. My supplier though, he might know a forest or two where you could pluck them off yourself..."Bookmark here

The shopkeeper left the scene for a while to collect the items listed by the Behemoth from the store's inventory. Less than 5 minutes later, she returned to the counter with sacks, jars, and small wooden boxes in hand, all having the contents of the various herbs the doctor wish to purchase.Bookmark here

"That'll be 75 coins! Gold or silver," she announced with a smile. The price of their purchase caught Anna and Claude by surprise.Bookmark here

"50, take it or leave it." Claude placed a leather pouch containing the money onto the counter.Bookmark here

"Hoho, nice try big guy but here in Prouiratt, established shops like mine won't haggle our price. Unlike those stalls and street vendors outside, we shopkeepers get the final say."Bookmark here

"Fine. 55 but you get to keep the pouch as well-" Claude tossed in another five coins from his purse into the leather pouch- "I brought it at 30. You should be able to sell it for 20."Bookmark here

"Hmm, tempting offer... And the leather of this too is surprisingly high for a mere coin pouch..."Bookmark here

Claude tossed in another two coins into the pouch.Bookmark here

"Alright! Transaction accepted!" the shop lady snatched the coin pouch and immediately started packaging the goods. Bookmark here

With their payment complete, Anna and Claude left the building satisfied and happy, hands filled with bags of grocery.Bookmark here

"Pleasure doing business with you two! Revenez nous voir la prochaine fois !" the lady waved goodbye as Anna happily waved back.Bookmark here

"So, where are we going next, Claude?" Bookmark here

"Next, we're going to upgrade your wardrobe."Bookmark here

"Upgrade my..?"Bookmark here

"It means we're going to get you some new clothes. You're no longer inside the woods, Anna. We can't have you walking around with those ragged dress of yours all the time."Bookmark here

Hearing this, Anna grew excited. Not only will this be her first time shopping for clothes (or shopping in general) but these clothes will be dedicated and worn by her. Though, this begs the question-Bookmark here

"Can't I just wear Jakob's?"Bookmark here

"Most of his dresses are too formal, though he does have one or two casual ones like the one your wearing right now. However, I want to treat you with something special."Bookmark here

"Something special?"Bookmark here

"Oh, you'll see..."Bookmark here

The two finally arrived at their destination after a few good minutes of walking. It was a tailor shop, but not just any tailor shop though. This one specializes in sewing scholarly robes meant for doctors, priests, and well- scholars. Bookmark here

"You have been a great help to me ever since you became my apprentice, Anna. Thus, it is time you have your own honoured robe." Bookmark here

Claude's statement sent the already excited Anna even more excited. She immediately dashed into the store much to the Behemoth's surprise.Bookmark here

"Wait- Anna!-"Bookmark here

The two wooden doors of the tailor shop building were pushed open at full force, and immediately, the girl was greeted by the prestigious sight of a dark oak room, fancy candles, and row after row of uncut clothes. Wooden mannequins filled every corner in an orderly manner, wearing this shop's finest weave.Bookmark here

The smell of cotton and silk, the sound of cutting scissors and spinning looms- this tailor shop definitely gave out a prestigious atmosphere to all the five senses. And just for a moment, the sounds paused as the tailors and customers turned their attention to the scarlet-haired girl standing there at the entrance.Bookmark here

"Welcome to Edwin and Co. Tailor for Scholars! How can we help you, dear ma'am?" the counter attendant greeted.Bookmark here

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It's nightfall at Prouiratt and just as the tales of merchant and travelers spoke, the City of Light did not cease its majestic brightness as lanterns and glassworks elevated the city to rival the moonlight's illumination at night. A city that never sleeps, as told by visitors from outside, for there were plenty of bars and pubs and inns that cater patrons even beyond the midnight clock. Bookmark here

But bright and alive as it may, the city still provides enough comfort for early birds who wish to seek the solace of sleep early into the night. Plenty of hotels, inns, and even homestays for travelers wishing to rest, as such what occurred to a particular blind fencer who found no thrill or purpose to stay up late tonight.Bookmark here

"Big day awaits us tomorrow, eh Ombra? " Fiore spoke, though no one was there in his room at La Verger inn aside from himself. The blind fencer unbuckled his gambeson, tossed it away to the side and jumped right onto the bed, stretching his body around like a lazy cat.Bookmark here

"Man, today is truly a tiring day. For a city this big it's surprising how little blacksmith they have- swordsmith's that is, and even then most of them are just those overpriced scopate prestigiose that produce ceremonial swords instead of functional ones," Fiore ranted, again, alone in his room. "Still, we managed to find a good one by sundown. That alone is good enough, right Ombra? "Bookmark here

His statement was met with silence, but for some reason Fiore accepted it as a reply.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, somewhere in the corridor right outside the fencer's room, a dead-bird-hatted figure approached the door of Fiore's room ever so quietly. No sound was made from his footsteps despite the casual style of walking from the figure.Bookmark here

Stopping right in front of room 3B, Jakob reached his hand to one of his holstered revolver on his hip. His target was right behind the door he's currently facing, and all he needed was to call him out and shoot him right at his face.Bookmark here

"He's in there, right Marie?" Jakob whispered softly under his breath.Bookmark here

"Yep. Could see him lazing around the bed from here," Marie replied, currently hiding inside a closet of their target's room right beside his bed.Bookmark here

"Man, this whisper potion is awesome! We should've used it back at the Misty Woods!" Isaac's voice intervened out of nowhere. The Storm Revenant was currently hanging around on the inn's rooftop.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I agree. But back then we didn't have enough ingredients to brew one and it just so happen there's a sale on this place's Alchemist store-" Marie conversed through the long-distance whisper spell the trio had put themselves into but was quickly hushed by Jakob.Bookmark here

"Stop chatting you two! We only had one shot tonight and if this fails, we can kiss our 3000 gold goodbye!" Jakob pulled out his gun, loaded and cocked, ready to shoot anything at moment's notice. Bookmark here

"I'm gonna knock this door now, Marie. If he grabs a weapon or tried to do anything funny tell me immediately."Bookmark here

"Yeah yeah, I got you covered man. Now go for it!"Bookmark here

Just as he stated, Jakob knocked the door in front of him several times, earning the attention of Fiore just as he hoped. From inside the closet, Marie witnessed the fencer getting up, looking confused and all, and headed straight for the front door.Bookmark here

"He didn't pick up any weapons Jakob. Hell, he's still shirtless right now and uhh, not gonna lie, his body is making me act up." Bookmark here

"Heh, shirtless or not doesn't matter. I'm gonna put a bullet right between his eyes anyway-" The hunter pointed his gun at the door in front of him. Sooner or later, the door will open and when it does- all of this will be over...Bookmark here

Three seconds has passed...Bookmark here

Five seconds...Bookmark here

Seven seconds...Bookmark here

20 seconds...Bookmark here

"Why the hell is this guy not opening the door yet? What's going on in there Marie?"Bookmark here

"You think I know? I could only see his bedroom from here. He's currently out of my vision."Bookmark here

"Crap! Did he jump out a window or anything?"Bookmark here

"Nah, I see no one jumping off anything from here," Isaac reported.Bookmark here

There and then, Jakob felt a strange sensation brushing through his skin. It was not that of wind, or anything physical really. It was a feeling more akin to instinct rather than the sense of touch. A feeling he always had whenever some form of danger was close- Bookmark here

-VERY VERY close.Bookmark here

"You son of a-" Jakob turned around and before he could react, the hunter was kicked right at his lower chest with great force. Bookmark here

"Shit!-"Bookmark here

*CRASH!*Bookmark here

Jakob crashed through the room's door, destroying its wooden frame to splintering pieces. The hunter quickly recovered from the kick and there and then, his sight was greeted by a literal shadow of a man.Bookmark here

It was a three-dimensional jet-black shadow figure with glowing ivory white eyes. His shape resembled the blind fencer; Fiore Dei Nero.Bookmark here

"What the fu-"Bookmark here

"Nice kick there Ombra!" a voice called out from behind the hunter.Bookmark here

Jakob turned around and was greeted by the real Fiore, currently wielding a Messer blade in his left hand.Bookmark here

"I take it you're another assassin sent by Baroness Cortana huh. No matter. I'll just treat you the same way I treat the rest-"Bookmark here

*BANG!*Bookmark here

Jakob fired his gun mid sentence, but the bullet was caught by a shadowy hand that emerged from the floor between the two.Bookmark here

"Thanks Ombra, but I could've parried that myself. Still, your actions just now justifies on what I will do next!"Bookmark here

Fiore took an en garde stance as a cheerful smile formed on his face.Bookmark here

"We duel with honour assassin! Your pistol against mine!"Bookmark here

Hearing this, Jakob simply got up with a smile. Just like the fencer in front, the hunter took a classic gunslinger stance- one that was used for an old fashioned face off.Bookmark here

"I don't do much duel because of my job's nature. But that doesn't mean I'm a pushover either."Bookmark here

"BRING IT ON!"Bookmark here

Fiore charged at Jakob with his blade in front while the gunslinger drew out both his revolver ready to blast holes onto his target. Bookmark here

Before neither blade nor bullet made contact, a title card suddenly slid below the scene with the words imprinted on it stating-Bookmark here

《 To Be Continued...|/|
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