Chapter 1:

A Warm Welcome - Part 1

Gloudhaus


A scorching sun was shining over a girl’s head as she left the recently arrived ship at New Hope’s biggest port with the eyes of bystanders glued on her.

It was way too sunny for the tall girl with scarlet hair and a curvy body, so she was having to squirm her eyes under the sunglasses only to see something. More than sunny even, it was hot enough for her to be sure that she would be sweating buckets if it wasn’t for her ‘minimalist’ clothing and the huge hat.

She wore a black crop top with silver patterns and cut-off jeans shorts, articles that were common in local fashion, but those weren't what gathered attention. 

The eye-catching part was the fact that each uncovered part of her body had some kind of marking, be it a chain-like tattoo or some glyphs, all interconnected around her body. The only disjointed piece was the ouroboros tattooed on her right cheek.

Even more troublesome than that, she was openly carrying a gun, which was possibly the single rarest tool in the whole archipelago. In fact, for almost everyone else around her, holding a revolver was as illegal as it could be. If you considered the plain clothes too, she would probably be the only person in the whole of Cenfratia with such permission.

The symbol by her cheek and her foreigner air would explain why it could happen though.

“Now… Where are ya, li'l monster? I mean… Where’s my contact?” She corrected her accent while scanning the area around her for the one person that should be waiting for her. All she knew about this person was that she was a short female though, so looking around wasn’t solving much.

She didn't have much option other than searching still, and not seeing a single sign with her name around, the foreigner started to walk in hopes of someone approaching her. She made sure to ignore the bothersome feeling that having most eyes locked on her gave and charged through the pier with her big trolley bag in tow.

For her dismal, this port was very massive for any standards, and the number of figures moving around matched its size. Be it cargo or passenger ships, or even a few military ones, it held them all, and the facilities to service them too. There were also a few thousand bystanders throughout its whole extent, which was another problem.

Worse than that, the multitude of different people with different clothing and different objectives in life, were also of different races than the girl. 

Many looked like her but had varying animal traits, from tails and ears to straight-up wings and paws, but some were more animal than human. Others instead had stone-like skin or even weirder constitutions in their humanoid forms, and the last barely had a humanoid form to begin with.

It was unsettling, but that was how the Grand Archipelago was.

Their clothing options had some patterns though.

In summary, a huge variety of colorful tunics and skirts for the lower half and ornated short or baggy shirts for the upper part. Most of them kept the same style since it was common around, even if the colors varied.

Some men had their chests bare and some of the less human-looking beings weren’t using clothes, but even that somewhat matched the overall style.

"At least mah' clothes kinda blend..." She added to herself in a not-so-energetic tone and pushed on.

Finally, and in due time, the red-haired girl left the docking area and entered the area of the open market.

Busy men carrying cargo to the nearby warehouses, noise vendors, and haggling buyers, all of these were around in buckets. The goods sold around here were as varied as the figures buying them, but it was an even worse place for the armed redhead.

“By the Circle, I hate this place… There should be a police station around 'ere though, 'aight?”

She kept herself from cursing too much and resumed her walk, entering the flow of bodies moving around in search of her current target.

As she walked, the passerby would slightly change their path to open way and some would outright flee the moment they saw her figure, but that much didn’t bother her at all. The attention was much more bothersome than their reactions.

“It would be better if they picked a fight already...” She muttered under her breath without ever stopping, coming to a close when she reached what seemed to be both the end of the massive pier and something like a plaza for the city.

As unexpected as it was, reaching this one place made her smile though.

It wasn’t due to there being fewer eyes around or anything of the kind though. It was just because she could see a circle of figures around what seemed to be a fight. And a fight was the best situation she could ask for.

She put on a dangerous smile and rushed forward, cutting her way through the crowd and reaching the source of the problem. Assessing the situation wasn't that hard after that.

There was a human-looking man arguing with a taller winged one who had red skin. Some packages of colorful powder were on the ground and a piece of the tent that seemed to sell condiments was burned up, probably caused by the red man. 

Even better, they both seemed heated up, in more senses than one, and close to throwing punches at each other. The only thing keeping them calm was a third person who seemed to be trying to hold the situation.

This third one was a small blonde kid though.

This blondie had probably thirteen or fourteen years old, had her hair set between a multitude of adornments and her skin was well-tanned like many others around her, which was beyond the point.

At this same point though, she was wearing a weird combination of a small golden and white tank top with a longish white skirt. Both were ornated with some golden embroilments and decorations, and she also had a cape for some reason. Maybe she was a kid with some syndromes of her age, but that was, again, beyond the point.

“They seem to be heatin' up… Time fer mah’ entrance.” The armed girl muttered while losing focus on her accent and readying her weapon.

Just as she was saying so, the winged man pushed the kid away and charged at the human, only stopping when a loud bang drew all attention around them.

“Hey, big boy, what about pickin' a fight with someone worthier?” The foreign gunner said as she walked away from the crowd.

“You shouldn’t be playing with these toys, girl… I’m just giving this bastard here what is due and nothing more.” Answered the winged man as he eyed the revolver pointed at him.

“Don’ worry about me, mate. I know what I’m doin' 'ere.”

“If you knew, you would be pointing this thing to him too.”

“Oh? So ya wanna enlist the help of a frail gal to gang up a single human? Weaklings are such a sore sight...”

“Don’t provoke me, girl…”

As she was talking, the red-haired girl noticed her whole speech slipping and cleaned her throat.

“Aham! I’m not provokin' ya…" She said while looking for the right mannerism, failing squarely at such. "Y'need to have some respect fer someone to provoke 'em. I’m just tellin' how far below the demons fell around 'ere…”

“You little…!”

Smoke was leaving the man’s body and the person who he was fighting with before had already fled the scene, but that was the best case for the redhead. The little girl seemed to still be stunned on the ground a little far behind, so she should be safe too.

It all brought the girl's taunting to an eleven.

“What? Fuming? Is that all this fire skin can do? A cute li'l smoke and a lotta talkin', 'aight? Winged demons really are the lowest…”

“It’s ifrit, you bitch!”

And with what seemed to be the last straw, the tame fumes became ambers and the man grew some good centimeters before charging with inhuman speed at her. There was no fear in him even with a gun pointed in his direction, but that was only because the winged man knew that such a small weapon couldn't hurt him.

What the ifrit didn’t expect was seeing the revolver fall to the ground and the shining trolley go up while the foreigner smirked at him.

“Article three, demon.”

And even before he could reach his target, a rifle almost as big as its user was fired almost at point-blank range toward his head.