Sacred Planet Xai
‘The Thief Yamato’
“This is Lenaf,” Natasha announced as the cart came to a halt. Everyone got out to stretch their leg muscles. It was only two hours ago we passed the ‘You are now leaving the country of Picas’ and the ‘Welcome to the country of Circulos’ signs.
I looked over to the large port city half a mile away. That mile was an area of flat, white rocky surface with yellow poppies and wild grass growing in large patches. The sea was beyond that, glittering like a sapphire in the afternoon sun. Lenaf was surrounded by a large wooden wall and a harbor. The city must have been huge on the inside. To our back was the West, and the Madnug forest that habited much of Picas. Ahead was East and Lenaf. The wagon was pointing South.
I turned to Natasha. “Won’t you be coming in?”
She shook her head sadly. “We have to make it to Sallad in Corazos, before we run out of money. Time is against us.”
“Humph, no good free-loader cost us at least a day of travel,” the old man said as he fed the ox straight from his hand.
“Is this true?” I asked.
Natasha looked away sheepishly. “We didn’t have any money, but you had to be repaid.”
Julie nodded. “Tis’ only fair.”
...Just what I need. A guilt trip. ...No pun intended.
The McCoy family was already on the wagon and ready to go. “Here, take this,” I threw up the leather pouch to Natasha. It had practically all of my wages from helping out Enu’s army.
I walked away from them before they could reply.
Who knew parties were so boring?
I was leaning against a wall, trying to become invisible, without alerting anyone to my powers. Unfortunately, there were way too many people around.
Ohlo was enjoying himself. He was making small talk with the servants, debating with the men, flirting with the women, and making obscene gestures to the guards who had captured the thief once many years ago. It was all quite entertaining to watch. He was cut out for this kind of thing.
The Ball Room would have been beautiful without the decorations. Chandeliers and portraits hung from the marble ceiling and walls. Golden pillars supported the massive ceiling that had been painted to depict stories of the gods and goddesses. Velvet chairs had been set out for those who wished not to dance to the king’s own symphony. Tables of food and servants with wine were scattered about, making an air of elegance.
Off in the front of the room, two large thrones sat, and in them, were the King and Queen of Diamond. The king was perhaps thirty, with brown hair, blue eyes, and a stately mustachios. The queen was younger, with green eyes and curly red hair, not a bad sight to look at. They were each in their finest costumes, the queen as a peacock, and the king as an eagle. No masks here, just the clothing decoyed with authentic feathers. Even so, you got the idea.
They were chatting with those who had joined them, laughing, smiling, having a grand ol’ time. To the queen’s side, there was another, smaller, empty throne.
That’s right. Only one child, but was it a girl or a--
I turned to my right, where another boy was leaning. He had a light blue robe (yes, a robe this time) held with a gold chain belt. He had a cat’s collar on, and a head band that made him look like he had cat ears. His real ears were covered by long chestnut hair, and I could see his blue eyes that made him look even more like a kitten.
“Yes, actually, I am,” I turned back to watch the women ogle over Ohlo.
He nodded. “Same here. I hate it when my parents throw these stupid things.”
“Your parents?” That makes him...
“Yeah. I’ve never even met most of these people here. Who are your parents?” He straightened up, making me realize how much taller I was.
“I... I don’t see them,” I stuttered.
“Ah. My name’s Tamahashi. You?”
Oh crap... Should I bow or something? Crapcrapcrapcrapcra--
“Yamashi? Sounds familiar… Like the thief Yamato?” Tamahashi stepped closer.
I stepped back. “Strange coincidence, huh?”
Another step forward. “You look a little like him, too. Just like the wanted posters, if your hair was tied back.”
Another step back. “Small world, I guess.”
We played this game until I was out of the Ball Room and onto the balcony, right on the ledge with no place to go. I just hoped Ohlo would get out in time, even if I didn’t.
“So, um... How ‘bout those polo team’s?” Ok, I was a little desperate. I had always been bad at confrontations; that was Ohlo’s expertise, getting in and out of social situations. My luck lay more with infiltration, and not interacting with anyone.
Tamahashi sighed and leaned against the rail beside me. “You can drop the act, Yamato. I won’t tell anyone.”
“How do I know?” Darn straight I was still nervous, even if he did look sincere.
“I envy you.”
“Of course. You get to go wherever you want and do whatever you please,” Tamahashi leaned over the railing to look over the courtyard. “I’m stuck in these palace walls every day.”
Suddenly anger overcame my fear. “Oh, fun. One of those ‘Oh, how I wish I was wild and free like you, the lowly peasant! I hate having money and people doing my every command! Damn the deity who made me handsome and rich!’ princes… Like that ever really happens! You have so much money and power,” I looked to where his attention lay, since he didn’t even turn to face me in my rant.
“No, my father, the king, does. All I have is people who train me every day to fill his shoes. Math, science, literature, history, languages.... you name it.”
“You’re lucky to get an education. Not everyone does, you know.”
“Actually, I’ll have to disagree. My father passed a law that all humans mu--”
“Humans. Juuuuust humans,” I narrowed my eyes slightly.
“....I know how you feel,” the prince’s face saddened.
I was about to ask him how he could possibly know how Mages and other races were sometimes treated, when the wind started to blow. It blew his hair away from his real ears, and I saw them for the first time. They were slightly pointed, and identical to my own.
The Prince of Diamentes was a Mage.
Lenaf is a wealthy port city. Merchants, travelers, tourists,
cargo ships, navy sailors, and even some nobles can be found on the northern
streets. Fine restaurants and inns, romantic beaches, and even the Nokay Theater grace Lenaf. The
business district is in
If you want to find an assassin, mercenary, sailors for hire, pirates, criminals, outlaws, heck, any dirt bag, this is the place to go.
I stopped in front of the ‘Empty Gut Inn’, sniffing the faint smell of fresh meat. Two persons stepped out through the great wooden door, talking softly to themselves. One was a gypsy woman; the other was a human pirate.
“Did you see that girl!?! She’s only a wee thing, and yet she took me down faster than a fish at a corpse,” the pirate shook his bearded head in dismay.
The woman rolled her eyes laden in kohl and said, “Yes, I saw. I also saw when you lost my new jade earrings to her in the bet you could beat her.”
“Ahr, about that, I promise I’ll pay ya back Primise, once the Cap’n gives me my share of the booty,” he grinned sheepishly.
I stepped through the door, immediately recognizing the stench of beer, pork, beef, fried potatoes, rice wine, sushi, fried rice, egg rolls, and fish. And that’s a lot a smells to recognize. The tavern was a magnet for scum bags.
Its source of light was from the large windows on two sides of the building, since it was located at the corner of the Izpep and Aloc streets. The floors and furniture were all wooden, while the walls were made of stones. It had a large bar, two tenders for it, some waitresses serving meat, and off into an adjacent room were the pool tables, billiards, and other games for the restless traveler.
There weren’t many people sitting around. In fact, they were all crowded around a table, cheering.
“C’mon, lass! You got ‘im now!”
“Don’t listen to that pirate, boy! Yer a man!”
“Arr! And a tough one at that!”
“And don’t forget it, boy! I gots 7 Colies ridin’ on this!”
“C’mon, girlie! Kick his butt!”
Even a few of the cooks had come out to watch the fight.
“3 Colies says she takes him down, just like the last few!”
“You’re on! No one can have that much strength left!”
I stepped over into the ring of spectators, to watch these two duke it out. I really wasn’t too surprised when I saw who was sitting there.
It was Siya, arm wrestling with a brown-haired traveler in a long green coat who looked like he’d taken down a few in his day.
“Well, well, well. Still up to your old tricks?” I folded my arms, and fixed a glare on the back of that pink and brown head.
“Errr--Sorry, I’ll-grrnnn-take you on next time,” Siya grunted, as her opponent’s fist moved steadily towards the wooden table. Beads of sweat were visible, even from here.
I frowned. “After all those weeks of tormenting me, you can’t even recognize my voice?” Some people...
My sentence was lost in the cheering--and booing--of the crowd as Siya smashed her advisories fist into the table, sending up wooden splinters, and leaving a dent in it.
Siya threw up her arms and cheered with the others. “YEAH! Whoot! Ok, buddy, pay up!”
The man looked surprised he lost, but quickly regained his composure. “Fine,” he grumbled, “a deal is a deal.” He reached into a leather satchel on his belt, and pulled out a blue book covered in dust with a silver clasp. “Just remember… there isn’t anything inside of it, so--”
Siya waved her hand in dismissal. “Yeah, yeah. I know.”
He hesitated before handing over the leather book, not really sure about the agreement, whatever it may be. With one final sigh, he put it into Siya’s all too anxious hands. With a squeal of joy, she hugged it tightly to her chest, not even knowing that the spectators had left to pay their bets and return to their half-eaten meals.
The green-eyed man shook his head one final time, before pulling his coat’s zipper and walking out the door.
I decided it was high time for me to figure out what the heck had just happened. I know Siya is strong, even for a female Mage, but beating that guy and a pirate was almost unthinkable. Even when she had slain Aros, it was just dumb luck. At least that’s what I got from the story she told me.
I sat down across from her in the opposite chair, not saying a word.
She didn’t even look up from the pages. “Sorry, but that was my last fight. If you wanna arm wrestle, I’m sure there’s a pirate or a bounty hunter at the bar.”
My lips creased into a slight pout. How could she be so oblivious!? “I’m not interested in fighting.”
Slowly, but surely, the book moved away from Siya’s face. The look was priceless. Wide eyes, mouth set off to one side, and the blankest stare ever. “Yama?”
I waved. “Hi.”
Well, if you kids thought that was weird, prepare to freak out. In a single bound with a speed I haven’t seen since she tried to steal my desert as Enu’s castle, Siya moved. Up out of the chair, onto and over the table, and BAM! Straight into my lap, engulfing me in a huge bear-hug, one that I had little choice but to return.
“PHWEE! I can’t believe it! Gyah! When I left, I thought I’d never see you guys again,” she backed her head off of my shoulder and did one of those ‘happy-closed-eyes-big-smile’ things.
“Um, I wasn’t expecting such a, er, welcome,” I stammered. Man, I get all stutterish when people shower huge acts of emotion on me. Why can’t my friends be cold and heartless!?!
No no no… Not friends; former allies, I reminded myself.
Siya grinned, obviously amused by my loss of words. “Ach, what brings you to Lenaf?”
“I felt like coming,” I replied, glad my speech had returned. “So now let me ask you a question.”
“Since when did you become so strong you could pummel pirates into the ground--er, table?”
“Eheheh,” Siya cast a nervous glance. “Ever since I won a card game against an enchanter.”
I remembered I was still holding her, and released my grip. “I’m just guessing you cheated on that, too?”
“Hmmph,” Siya dropped her hands from my shoulders and onto her hips. “I did not! I won fairly.”
“Uh huh. And how did this help you get strong?”
She finally got off my lap to return to her own seat. “Waitress! A Samurai’s Round, if you will.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. Well, we had to bet something--”
“...So I threw in my Passport from Enu--”
“--YOU DID WHAT!?!”
“Relax! I couldn’t be beaten! My clairvoyance told me I’d get four queens! So anyway, he bet this spell scroll for strength. The funny thing was, it had the insignia of Tri on--”
“--Tri? The deity of Magic?”
“Congratulations, you went to third grade. So I kicked this guy’s butt at cards, and he tells me about the book that supposedly goes along with this card. The back of it is really weird; it’s written in some ancient Wizard script so it’s really easy to spot—“
“Wizard script? You mean Sei’Bar?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. So anyway, he has no clue whatever happened to the book. The card was just something he found floating in the river. Frankly, enchanters have no use for strength spells so the bastard really wasn’t betting anything important. But, what the enchanter does know, is that the missing book is an old relic, supposedly one of the original Tempest Wings--”
“Written by Genna!?”
“Keep your voice down! Yes, the deity of Travelers and History. So he tells me it’s the East Wing, and Genna made it so spell cards would be created every time Tri completed an act of merit--”
“I dunno! Saving a baby from a rampaging chariot or something! But once you posses the book, something freaky happens with the spell cards. You recite the spell, it disappears right after--”
“But how can you use it again?”
“That’s the beauty of it. It’s in you. No memorizing chants required! You focus the spell and it just comes! No more reciting--”
“That’s what I said. I figured there was no way in Hell I’d ever find the book, so I kept traveling. Then I got here this morning, and that guy I just fought had the book in his bare-freaking hands!! I seriously have good luck--”
“There is no such thing.”
“Says you. Anyway, the guy apparently liked to arm-wrestle, so I snuck into the bathroom and cast the strength spell on myself. After I beat a few pirates, he agreed to fight me! Which is where you came in--”
“After you recited the strength spell…”
“Yup. It takes a lot out of me, so I have to eat a shit-load of food to keep up my energy. But before we even wrestled, he made me swear if I did win, I would not give it to a Wizard, no matter how kind they might seem to be--”
“That’s rather odd.”
“Isn’t it though? So, I used strength and--”
“Conned all those poor people.”
“For Heaven’s sake, WILL YOU STOP CUTTING ME OFF!?!”
“Miss? Your food is ready.”
“Huh?” We looked up to see a few waitresses carrying five trays of full course meals.
“All right!” Siya clapped her hands together. “This is a Samurai special. Back when they still existed on this continent, they’d come in and order like this, to keep up their own energy.”
The waitresses gave a small bow each, and backed away. I mentally hoped Siya could pay for all this as she broke apart two chopsticks and began to dig in.
No one can pack away food like that girl.
She finished off the five crab & cucumber salads in thirty seconds flat, moved on to drain each and every soup bowl, and she chowed at the meals. Down went the Soba Noodle, the teriyaki chicken was next, followed by shrimp tempura, then fried rice with egg rolls, and finally came the Omon Yaki. The multiple rice bowls went down in the blink of an eye. I’m pretty sure she paused to drink some jasmine tea once in a while, but as for breaths of air, I’m not so sure.
I, along with other members of the inn, watched in fascination at the amounts of food flying. I had to be careful, or she might have bitten off my finger. Before we continue, I’m going to pause and just make sure I have all ten.... One... Two... Three... Four...
“Ahh!” Siya set the rice bowl down with a thud. “That was good! ...Aren’t you going to have any, Yamato?”
I almost fell out of my chair.
“Ha! Poor guy! You must be hungry if you can’t even sit up straight! Let’s get some sushi over here!”
I groaned as a horrified waitress went off to get the order. “That spell must take it out of you...”
“Yeah, I think I’m gonna ease off on it for a while,” Siya said as she nodded a thanks to those who came to take away her empty plates and bowls.
For once, I didn’t want the conversation to end. It just didn’t seem right for Siya not to be talking. “Doesn’t your hair get in the way when you eat so fast?”
“Hm?” Siya flicked at a long strand of pink and brown. “I hadn’t noticed. But I can fix that!” She pulled a pair of black sticks from under her seat. They each had a large, clear, glass purple bead at the top, and minty green tassels hanging from them.
I raised an eyebrow as she wrapped her long hair up into them. “That’s... trendy.”
“Don’t give me any grief,” she stuck out her tongue. “I won them from an ex-bounty hunter before you came.”
“Right,” I replied as the sushi came. There were different kinds, from tuna and salmon, to sesame and cucumber roll. I was grateful for Siya’s kindness as the first piece hit my mouth, and I remembered how hungry I had been.
“Oh yeah,” the orange-eyed girl spoke up, “I also got some pretty earrings, a medicine pouch, a neat cape, and a storage portal from another bounty hunter. I put my other stuff in the portal. These people really aren’t too good at sensing magic, I suppose.”
“Their fault, not yours,” I said between bites.
Siya paused before putting a bit of rice and raw shrimp off of her little wooden chopsticks and into her mouth.
I stopped too, not thinking there was danger, it just being rather odd. “What is it?”
She smiled politely.
“You’re a good boy, Yamato.”
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