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Chapter 75 - Conflict
Spoiler: Author's Note showBoah, this is definitely the longest chapter I've ever written. Never wrote that much in English and I put all my effort in it. I am sorry for the length but there are a lot of things happening, happening in a row, so there could not be a break. I hope you can understand everything I wrote and nothing is too confusing ^^". It's very Lione-Anlen centered, I am also sorry for this. xD
Here it goes.
Spoiler: Part 01: Discipline showAnlen took an old and dirty cloth from the upper area of an old bookshelf, picked some spider webs of it and properly hid her top section under it so that the meal she was about to ingest, would not defile her clothes. A plethora of rings made of different materials, from gold to pewter ware, chinked at her fingers while the pirate fixed the dusty cloth that once had shone in pure white, at her flounced collar. Seven rings decorated her long fingers just for the purpose of presenting her captured goods. Actually, these were just a small amount of her secret treasure that was somewhere hidden in the world. Only she knew where it was stashed as well as she was the only one who could tell how much coins, rings, chalices or gold chains it counted. It was a secret of which even the Millenium Earl did not know. Why should he anyway? Even a father did not know everything about his daughter's little mysteries.
"Finally some discipline on this rotten ship", Anlen announced to the audience which was intrinsically not there but replaced by silence, emphasized by the monotone flicker of the candles in their black candelabra. A person of good breeding had not thought of a dirty cloth around one's neck as an act of discipline if he had seen the female pirate's table manners. It was more...a manner of necessity. The way the girl hold the knife in her hand was not different from the handling with a dagger or a saber. Anlen almost massacred the piece of chewy meat on her slightly broken plate. Of course, a gleaming bottle of rum always joined her meal. Anlen finally managed to brutally spear a piece of frazzled meat on her fork, which could remind someone of an impalement, when a sudden bluster caused the fork to get out of her hand and drop onto the floor. The Noah eyed the silverware and the puny chunk of meat with disfavour. The corner of her mouth quirked when she observed her laboriously elaborated work, in her opinion at least. Anlen sighed cumbersomely before she stood up and slowly approached the door to the deck. On the way outside, she carelessly kicked some bottles and books which bared the way, away. She really should clean her cabin one day, Anlen decided, but this was minor. The door banged open and the crew immediately stopped in their actions when they saw the captain's angry face.
"Death and devil! I should keelhauling every single ordinary seaman of you dimwits. Do you know what discipline is?!", Anlen complained. "I-"
"Shut up, you stupid Akuma. Don't you notice that I ream you out right now?!"
But some men did not back down and tried to steady their captain's unknown anger with, in Anlen's point of view, feeble-minded hand signals. The girl could not stand this anymore and roared at them what caused the crew to shrink back.
"W-we've reached our destination, c-captain Anlen", a brave southerner who crumpled his red bandana up, stutteringly answered. Anlen's facial expression lost its fearsome aspect and turned into the kind face, Lione also knew. Akuma and humans breathed again. None would be sent over the plank into the shark-infested waters with a knife in the back, most propably the one the captain had used as cutlery today. The female Noah clapped the southerner with the red headgear on the shoulder. "Nice work", the girl said smilingly before she rammed the gun barrel of her silvery pistol into his stomach and pulled the trigger. With shocked eyes displaying this unforeseeable intention, the sailor collapsed on the ground, revealing the captain's waywardness to his comrades. Cold eyes stared at the tanned human whose blood spread and covered a little part of the wet deck with a dark red puddle in which the dumbfounded eyes of the crew were reflected.
"My meat...wasn't done", Anlen said, "Think about it before you serve it to me next time. Unfortunately, it's too late now, ship's cook."
Spoiler: Part 02: Mood swing showThe girl turned her back to the crew that was rigid with fear. But a quiet objection from one of the sailors caused her to turn around again. Her braided pigtails that swung by the sudden movement gave the Noah a molifiied touch. However, this was deceitful. Her caprice was as variable as the vast ocean, her mood as uncharted as many places on earth.
"Never trust a pirate" was the first lesson an anxious mother taught her child like Anlen were taught at the place where she had used to grow up. Even among sailors, it should be a common, well-known principle. But it seemed that the members of the crew Anlen had hired, forgot about it many a time. The fact that she herself had hammered blind trust in the captain into her inferiors in order to avoid a mutiny, was easily forgotten by Anlen as well. Contradicting herself but she did not care, not to mention that the girl most probably did not notice this fact by her own anyway. In short, trust or don't trust the captain depended on her mood which was as safe as jump into the ocean somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
"What's your problem?", Anlen finally asked while staring at the world-weary sailor in front of her. Now that his captain looked at him with shrewd eyes, he was not sure if he was still able to stand his ground. Not until a comrade poked into his back, he answered.
"T-this wasn't the ship's cook", he stammered. "I-it's me."
"Oh, I am terribly sorry for this mistake", Anlen responded and at the way, the excessive deference resonated in her voice, the ship's cook should have better noticed the disaster he just had fallen in. A bullet met his heart and caused it to burst. He slipped to the ground like a wet bag, immediately died of the damage he had received. His comrades made way for Anlen when she impassively passed them. They apparently felt guilty for turning their mate promiscuous in...apparently.
"I hope you will be able to find a better place to stay than this ship, ship's cook", Anlen whispered before she entered her cabin again. "Let the wind be with you and the heaven extend you cover."
Spoiler: Part 03: A mirror's point of view showShe slowly closed the door behind her. Why did her room look like a narrow, doomed cage just now? The Noah walked towards her chair and collapsed into it. Accompanied by the constricting dim light of the candles and the inhumane clutter that surrounded her (she really should clean up!), her look crossed the lifeless being of the knife and the chunk of meat.
She bent down and reached for it but it felt like weights of guilt were pressing on her shoulders. It was a pain just to grasp the cold knife and lift it. With discontent struck, the girl champed at the chewy bit. Her fist enclosed the knife like the throat of a person she wished to choke to death until she threw it against an antiquated globe where it got stuck with the peak bored into the precious, artfully painted wood. Anlen tried to smile when she saw herself in the huge mirror close to her but it did not want to succeed. Instead, she observed an Anlen with reproving look. It displeased her profoundly but a mirror had the ability to show the truth and truth cannot be denied, just hidden. So, the Noah turned around to face herself.
"It was just for his own sake, believe me", Anlen said to her mirror image, "If I had not killed him this way, without any pain, he had suffered from the crew's cruelness. Akuma really can be barbarous. He was human after all. A torture or quick and easy?"
Her reflection clothed the face in recrimination and drummed her fingers on the armrest of the chair that was draped in red.
"You know", it finally responded serenely, "Two men died because you could not keep your temper! If you had not killed the sailor, the-"
"That's not true", Anlen screamed at herself, burying the nails into her own skin which then began to rot and reveal some bleak bones. Staring at some sinews twining around the bones and skin renewing, the girl calmed down and softly touched the healed spot. Benison and curse at the same time. Her look wandered back to the mirror when her image began to raise its voice from anew.
"It can't be helped but the Earl doesn't trust you, ya know. You regret your decisions, that's a bad habit for a Noah and a pirate. Moreover, you have a mind on your own. Something the Earl is loath to."
"Shut up", Anlen shouted, took her red coat from the back of the chair and threw it over the mirror in order to smother the annoying mirror image entirely and put it to silence.
"As if a mirror could tell me something I don't know yet."
When Anlen led her steps to the door, her hands reached out for a bottle of rum that stood on the swaying table. Actually, everything was swaying on this ship, every single furniture, but not in such a mass that a brave sailor could be bothered by this fact. The little flames of the burning candles clearly showed the direction, the ship was swaying towards. As if an invisible ghost commited nuisance with them, like the ship's kobold who was feared among sailors. Nonetheless, when this kind of kobold appeared all of sudden in the mist of the morning or in the dim light of the moon that shone through the cloudily night sky, the crew knew that they had to check the ship to avoid trouble and damage. Even though pirates are no people you should trust easily, they are good story-tellers and some of those creepy stories obtained popularity among the sailors. Some of them were true, some not, but a pirate did not care about the established truth as long as he could have fun and was able to drink some liquor.
Anlen downed the drink with one gulp, put it away and marched through the door into the upcoming rain just for the purpose of entering another familiar door whose wings gaped when the Noah approached it.
Spoiler: Part 04: Pandora's Box showAnlen entered a dark room, just a single spot was illuminated. The light emphazised the figure of a slightly lumpy person with strange headpiece - apparently, the Earl of Millenium. He was just crocheting, when his elves-like ears were shrugging and
apprehended the sound of approaching steps which belonged to the Noah he had ordered. He turned around and Anlen could eye the broadened smile on his face.
"Long time no see, Anlen, pirate and Noah of the sea", he welcomed her friendly. Anlen just responded with a simple hand signal, took out the records and handed them over to the Earl. He thankfully accepted and eyeballed them before he gave them back to the surprised Anlen.
"Is anything wrong?", she asked with asperity in her voice, "They are perfect."
"That's why I give them back to you. You will need them, I guess."
"I-I am afraid I don't understand, Earl. Why did I come in the first place?"
When the Earl stood up in a clumsy way, the wooden chair he had just sat on, creaked and Anlen observed it flipping back into its going-in position with interest. She looked up when he came back with some more records he delivered up. Anlen took them in both hands and felt the heaviness of the paper.
"What's this?", she asked, no clue of what she was holding in her hands until she thumbed through the loose papers. Her eyes widened when several photos of exorcists came unstuck and fell to the dark floor...among them, a familiar face.
"It can't be...", she whispered and her hands trembled when the female Noah lifted the photo of the North American Branch leader. His image was reflected in her green eyes, his friendly, easygoing smile recalled in her memories. The night in the bar was portrayed like a broken video in her mind's eye. His sad face, the rum, their talk, his silky yet tousled blond hair. Although Anlen could just remember single pieces, they were enough to recognize the person on the photo.
The Earl popped up behind her like a shadow but his cold, creepy voice was just mutter in Anlen's ears.
A little box which was thrown ungently on the pile of papers, brought the pirate back to reality. She touched the box with surprise and felt something disgusting sleeping in it: Innocence.
Spoiler: Part 05: Lyra + Eny = mess showA few days later:
"WHAT THE F**K!!", Eny screamed and her voice echoed through the filled hallways of the HQ. Lione just sighed, covered his ears with the fluffy white pillow, he already stroke up a friendship with since it was of precious use during the last days. A happy Lyra with pink hair (what caused Lione to dart a look at the woman) rushed through the endless corridors, followed by a screaming and extremely angry Eny. When dark wads of smoke suddenly popped up behind the corner, the leader's jaw dropped and he felt like puking here and now. He did not dare to think about the mess, the two of them just caused.
"Haha, Noisy Munchkin, don't swear", Lyra yelled through the whole hallway in order to get over the distance that receded with every annoying sentence Lyra delivered Eny whose head seemed to burst under the pressure of fury and anger. However, Lyra apparently had no idea of Eny's massive accrual of irascibility, since she just turned on her heel to announce Lione that the secret hideout of his rum was found. Lione almost fainted while the hunt continued. Hearing tables, chairs, important equipment and even Finders flooring, Lione decided to escape from the mess called North American HQ, even if it was just for one night.
Spoiler: Part 06: Photos showThe moonlight caressed the wooden edges of the box that rested on Anlen's legs. The girl herself leaned against the mainmast of her ship and stared at Pandora's box for a while before she turned her attention to the photos of the Exorcists, the Earl had handed her over.
"This guy looks really a little bit too crabby", Anlen said when she took a photo of Zeran and eyed it, "I knew that being an Exorcist is not easy but...some people have a face as long as a fiddle whereas some of them seem to be hopped up on drugs. The world is strange. Haha."
But her laughter stopped when the photo of Lione crossed her eye-sight. Anlen touched it softly and wonders if the face she saw on the picture would look as happy as it was there when he learnt of the truth. Killed by a cannonball that had the power to destroy whole Boston once the Innocence instilled its potency in it, was no glorious future for the Exorcists. The Earl knew that Anlen was gifted with the skill of manipulation, something she had learnt in her hometown over the years. It was easy to extract the Innocence's power and vivify that of something or someone else, as if one poured a drink down someone's throat.
Unfortunately, the Innocence was very fragile in this sort of mode. The girl had just one shot, one single shot to smash the city to pieces. Of course, the Innocence would be destroyed as well. Unsurprisingly, the Earl had wanted to see the records Anlen had produced during her sojourn. Measurements, wind direction, undulations...everything that could influence the cannonball's
flight path was controlled, recorded and calculated. Anlen sighed when the thoughts swarmed through her mind. Working under pressure was something she was definitely loath to.
The female Noah rolled the wooden box in her hands and the disgusting feeling flew through her whole body anew. She would be glad when this feeling vanished but on the other hand, she hoped that there would be another way for it to disappear. If she destroyed it by the power of her hands, the Earl would find out and only the devil knew to what he was able then. Just the very thought of it sent chills down her spine.
Spoiler: Part 07: Dreadlocks? showDeeply in thoughts, Anlen did not notice a young sailor approaching her. He was drenched in sweat, nonetheless a smile decorated his tanned face that was nestled in long black, felted hair, bonded to some pigtails.
Anlen shrinked back when she heard a voice from the right hand side and dropped Pandora's box. A thud proclaimed its end of fall and the ungently landing on the floor which was bespattered with foam in patches. Confusion mixed with amazement was reflected in her green eyes when she stared at the man close to her.
"There are worms on your head", the captain said and pointed with a finger at his hair. The sailor looked puzzled at his superior, cogs were spinning in his mind until he figured out of what she was talking. A desperate smile occured on his face.
"M-my captain, these are no worms, it's my hair. Dreadlocks."
"Sure that these are no worms?", Anlen asked emphatic.
"Y-yeah, I'm sure, Captain Anlen", he said, getting more uncertain about the captain's seriousness, "But that's not why I'm here. I have good news."
"Good news? The Earl has scurvy!?", Anlen replied exultant. The young, black-haired sailor was at the edge of craziness. He would have loved to knock some sense into the girl's head. But even if she behaved in a manner where one could doubt her sanity, every member of the crew knew that her temper was far more dangerous than the sea. So, the tanned man tried to stay calm.
"No. We reached Boston, Captain", he responded easefully yet did not win praise nor reaping a friendly face but a startled scream that echoed through his ears.
Spoiler: Part 08: Boston showAnlen banged up, headed towards the prow and fished an old brazen telescope out of her coat although this was unnecessary because the shore could clearly be seen. Boston extended in its whole pomp and circumstance, to Anlen's disfavour.
"But I did not finish thinking", she muttered, still looking through the telescope, "Time, I need more time! Why do you appear so early at the horizon, damned Boston?!"
The sailor who acquainted Anlen, popped up behind her, Pandora's box in his hands. He handed the box over to his captain who took it with disapproval. Anlen stared at the black pirate flag at the top of the mainmast. As if it felt Anlen's incertitude, it began to blow weaker and weaker in the wind. They had to slow down, the port came closer and closer and with it the last hours of Boston. Suddenly, an idea crossed her line of thought and hope flared up in her eyes, captivating her whole body.
"Any orders, Captain Anlen? Shall we prepare the cannon?"
"No, don't prepare the cannon yet", Anlen responded quickly, "I'll go ashore first. Saving the rum from its perdition. And when I am ashore, dive under, understood!?"
"Aye, aye, Captain", the sailor saluted and passed from view. The girl turned her back to the badgered crew and eyed Boston from afar, rotating the little box absent-minded in her hands. The wind revealed a sanguine face, spirited by the well-meaning soul of having saved a little bit more time.
"I have to find him, no matter what", Anlen thought.
Spoiler: Part 09: Just to see him again showAnlen jumped onto the port's ground, looked back, nodded thus motioned to her crew to dive under. She had convinced her crew of looking for some remaining rum in the city before they would smash it to pieces and with it the precious liquor. But her true intention was something else.
It was still night, shortly before midnight, when the girl left the port in the direction of Boston's center. Except of some seagulls and drunken transients, the port was empty. The city looked still the same: Vacant alleys, stray cats, entwined street lamps that threw a spot of light onto the cobble stone, light that was turned on here and there and shone through the windows, framed by black facades and scattered, drunken people who lingered in front of the well-filled bars and taverns.
A little bit more atmosphere, some musical instruments, more alcohol and trouncing people and Anlen had thought of this as a
congenial place. Anlen sighed when she recalled memories. Somewhere in the middle of the sea, there existed such a place and she acknowledged it as her hometown although it was not her original one. Her road led to a familiar bar but she was wary about entering it or not. A blond shock of hair Anlen guessed to recognize, finally decided and she entered the bar. Cigarette smoke blew in her face and the body of a drunken guy landed directly in front of her and bared the way. However, the pirate did not care and while stepping over the abdomen, she just "borrowed" the man's wallet. As usual, the Noah's look wandered through the room, eyeballing everything in an unbelievable speed and so she crouched just in time before a flying bottle had been able to hit her head. Anlen slowly began to have fun but the blond man in her sight extenuated it. Nonetheless, she could not just spin on her heel and let the person she seemed to miss badly, die so easily. All the more because she was unsure about her feelings towards him and the uncertain truth.
Anlen staggered to the bar and took seat close to Lione who turned around in suprise when he saw her. He never believed that he would see her again, the bottle of rum should have been the only keepsake of the short meeting. But the fate seemed to resigned itself to Lione's heart's desire.
Spoiler: Part 10: Discovery show"Long time no see", Anlen said tersely, looking at her glass of liquor she just had ordered. Lione stared at her in a puzzled way. The girl next to him did not even face him although she was talking to him. Shortly after the pirate emptied her glass, she took the one of Lione and drunk it off at a gulp. Her manners were in the dumps, Lione thought desperate.
"Ehm", Lione said as try of starting a discussion, "I never thought to see you again. I am glad that the opposite came true. What are you doing here in Boston, ehm-"
"Lione Parcoeur. So, what are you doing here, Anlen", he responded smilingly, putting a special accentuation on the last word.
"Great", Anlen thought with disfavour and the documents of the exorcists that also had listed the name of every single person who had joined the Order, popped up in her mind, "I am surrounded by misfortune. He's really this damned North American Branch Leader."
She turned around with dash and the rum in her second glass she had ordered, almost slopped over. Her countenance was serious, nearly a way too serious and Lione had to cushion a laughter. But the words that came out of her mouth were not worth a laugh or a smile and Lione understood that the girl was in earnest.
"It's dangerous to stay in this city! Get out of it as soon as possible!", the Noah said determinedly but Lione was just suprised by those words, admittedly in a confused way. The leader stared at her for a while before he slightly laughed in a way that signified his incomprehension.
"I-I am afraid I don't understand you, Anlen. Why should I leave Boston?", Lione asked.
Anlen drummed her fingers nervously on the bar's polished wooden surface. She was not aware of his doubt about trustworthiness, so she had not thought about any additional reason beforehand. Anlen bit her lips and turned her head away from Lione who kept looking at her. He should not see her thinking about a reason only now. The female pirate eyed some drunken men passing their seat and remaining alcohol swaying in the green-coloured bottles. This gave her an idea and Anlen turned around again, finally a halfway rational explanation in mind.
"A storm is coming in. A storm surge is very likely when you consider Boston's position. Believe me, I am captain of a pirate ship that already sailed the seven seas and it would be bad if I had no idea of navigation or the weather, aye", Anlen justified her previous statement. But to the girl's displeasure, Lione just waved her substantiation away with a gesture of his hand like an annoying fly and commented it with the argumentation of Boston's safety. Anlen's patience slowly began to snap. Why couldn't he just leave this place without hesitation, inconsistence and request? The girl hated uninfluenceable persons but on the other hand they sometimes could be interesting when they struggled a little.
She took her glass and poured the remaining liquor into Lione's face. He stared at the girl dumbfounded, his hair dripping wet and adhering to the forehead. While Anlen ordered another bottle of rum, Lione responded angrily with a reproachful but at the same time incomprehensible look in his eyes: "What was that for?!"
The girl took the bottle, drank some gulps and crossed her legs before her look finally found that of Lione. She fidgeted with her hand in front of his face and indicated that it had been his own fault for acting so stupid.
"It's unhealthy to object against the captain of a pirate ship. It's the first step towards mutiny", she said, "Remember this, understood?!"
The leader just nodded slowly, absorbed in thought as his custom then was. He was a ruminative human, never mind that some people were apparently fond of teasing him for this habit. Anlen kept staring at him with a slightly worried face. He seemed to think about something important which Anlen surely would not enjoy. Lione leaned forward, bracing himself with his elbows that lay on the bar's surface. His head fell wearily on his hands and a tired smile decorated his pale face. The Noah had to bend down a little to be able to catch sight of Lione's face which were almost buried in his palms.
"You know", he said, "I can't leave Boston because I'm responsible for my family. It's indeed a huge family, so it's not easy sometimes. But I am doing my job with pleasure and it's a great feeling when you achieve something that seemed to be impossible from the very first beginning. I, no...we can't leave this city, for the sake of the people who live here. Even if we are...ordered to do so."
He desperately laughed in his sleeve. "Moreover, it's quite impossible for me to get out Boston at this moment, in my current state." Lione pointed at the wheelchair to which Anlen had not paid attention till now.
"My legs are paralyzed for the time being, caused by an accident. I don't know when I will be able to walk again", Lione explained, "Bound to a wheelchair, how embarrassing."
"The noise I heard back that time", Anlen thought, "It was really a battle. The exorcists were attacked but not just by Akuma. Noah!"
"I am sorry", the girl finally spoke out and placed her hand on one of his legs. Suddenly, a disgusting and burning feeling went through her whole body and it was onerous to keep a straight face. It was like an acquittance when she let go of him.
"It's not dead! His Innocence is still defending itself, that's the proof of its stay. It's just...frozen and hinders his legs from moving!"
Spoiler: Part 11: Desire show"Is something wrong?", Lione asked politely.
"No", Anlen answered immediately, "Everything is fine."
"But your hand is trembling."
The blond man embedded the girl's hand in his what caused Anlen's face to blush a little. His hands were skinny and cold as ice, most probably because of the stress that prevailed at the Order and because he had been bedridden for a long time. The female pirate felt an extraordinary desire raising up in her body. Fortunately, a brilliant idea popped up in her mind, an idea that could meet her demands, moreover it could be of help for the paralyzed man. Nonetheless, the outcome was concealed to her. The effect and acting of the Innocence was uncertain. It was just a possibility but Anlen decided to grab the chance.
Her face slowly approached his, her hands broke away from his embraced affectionateness and touched his chilly cheeks, giving off heat. Lione seemed to know what Anlen's intention was but he did not struggle. Either because he was too drunk or because he simply did not want to. So, he granted.
"If there's just one chance to give him back his pride and a way to defend himself, I would grap it. He's an exorcist but also a human. So do I", Anlen thought before she kissed him on the lips.
The kiss were not as surprising as the strange event that took place almost simultaneous. A stabbing pain went through Lione's head and legs before he saw something unforeseen in his mind's eye. Something Anlen had not considered.
Spoiler: Part 12: The way of a sin called piracy show+flashback+
"Anlen, my daughter, always remember: Pirates are bad, sneaky and abominable creatures. They are not worth living."
A hapless twist played with the fate of the girl whose mother once had warned against. She became a feared pirate, a "creature" how her mother had called them, not having the right to be considered as human. "Muck of sea" was a popular expression in the city where Anlen had used to grow up. However, sooner or later, the way of a pirate would end where all ways expired: the gibbet.
"Is she the captain?"
"Yeah, a dirty pirat, the worst of all."
"I totally agree. But I have heard that she was acquitted of a charge."
"I wonder why there's a hanging matter then?"
The mutter of the obtrusive audience clashed in Anlen's ears. Obsessed with seeing culprits stepping up their last way to death, the infantry scrambled to the scaffold. But their way was bared by soldiers who lined up, marked and defined the cobbled way the pirate had to walk along. The jingle of chains accompanied the girl on her path. They were her companions but at the same time they resembled the burden of sin and heresy that cut into her wrists. Anlen's red coat and light green hair blew in the upcoming wind and her emblazonments rose a song of death. Her last minutes were broken. The wooden floorboards creaked under every single step that led further to perdition and halter. The crew observed its captain with sorrow. Every single sailor of her brave crew was doomed to witness the hanging, a hanging that should have been valid them if Anlen had not vouched for her crew's crimes all alone.
And so, they stared heavy-hearted at the girl who stood on the wooden scaffolding, the gibbet's beam above her head, the halter calmly in front of her eyes. It had been night when soldiers of the East India Trading Company had charged the pirate's ship, overwhelmed the shocked and confused sailors and conducted the crew and its captain under escort. Someone had betrayed them, unfortunately it was already too late to figure out the truth. Anlen was fed up with recalling the event that would cost her life which she just had begun to live and enjoy to the fullest. She bit her lips when she felt the rough rope being put around her throat, frapped tightly so that it was guaranteed that the halter choked her to death unless the girl's neck broke beforehand. Latter was rather at the will of Anlen. Quick and easy was the motto the audience was definitely loath to. They gasped for a suffering pirate whose legs trashed around while he was agonizing.
The announcer coughed slightly so that he was able to command attention from the town's people. He unrolled a scroll of parchment on which the insignia of the sovereign could clearly be seen. Apparently, it was a hanging order.
"Captain Anlen, declining the offered part of piracy under the state's watch and vouching for your crew's activities, you are convicted for the following crimes", the man in ceremonial clothes announced, "Bloody crime, treachery, thievery, receiving of stolen goods, heresy, ..."
"Why doesn't he just say "piracy" ", Anlen whispered irritated while the man continued to list her malefactions.
"...and disavowment", the announcer ended and let the scroll snap in.
While the audience excitedly discussed about the things heard, someone behind Anlen began to fish a black cloth out of his pocket, then covered Anlen's eyes with it and tied it up together at the back of her head, so that she was unable to see anything. No people, no gibbet, no light - just darkness and the mutter and noise of voices echoing in her ears, were attending. "Any last words?" was the question that dominated over the upcoming promiscuity of steps, voices and the disgusting breathing of the person behind her. Suddenly, everything was quiet. Even the halter stopped scrunching in its frowningly matter. Anlen nodded slowly and a smile appeared on her face when she opened the mouth to communicate her very last words. Her voice might have sounded shaky but nonetheless, she stood her ground and never felt as confident as now.
"I may die but you, my brave followers, should cling to your freedom. Keep on dreaming your dreams and hope for them to come true one day. My dream ends here but I will hand it over to you", Anlen said and tears began to drop down her cheek but the smile remained, "You're born as pirates, so do what a pirate is bound to do: Sacking, stealing, slaughtering.
Piracy is your life. Live and die for it! Honour the codex or be lost with all hands, aye?!"
Tears, inexorable like the rough sea, were rolling down the crew's cheeks, they nodded and saluted a last time for Anlen, responding her order with an "Aye, aye, captain.". Silence occured, then a dapper wave of a hand and Anlen lost the ground under her feet. Every second the halter was tightening more and more around her throat, brought her closer to death. The sudden hitch and the absolute evolvement of the halter's deadly power pierced through the girl's body like needles of pain.
She was not dead yet, no neck broken though the most agonizing pain was facing the death, feeling one's own body losing all its strength until the fight for struggling for breath was over. Every single breath of air was precious but would not last for long. The sight became blurred and coldness conquered the body. It was over. The clockwork stopped operating.
"You are not dead, not yet."
+flashback | end+
Spoiler: Part 13: Absinth showLione slided down his chair and landed unconsciously on the cold and dirty floor of the bar. Anlen who had no idea of what Lione just had experienced, stared at him. Her look was a mix of embarrassment and sense of guilt.
"I had not thought of his Innocence giving such a testy reply. Maybe I overdid things...shit."
But suddenly, Lione's right leg jerked for a short moment. Nonetheless, it was enough to give record of his Innocence's activities and the returned movement of his legs. The pirate looked at it for a while until a big smile decorated her whole face from ear to ear. She really had managed to provoke his Innocence in a matter that it had to activate itself and unfreeze his user's legs.
"I am so damned good", Anlen blew her own trumpet, turning around to order another bottle of the most high percentage drink the landlord had. "Mister, two bottles of your best liquor for my friend and me. Hurry."
The landlord watched incredulously at the powerless person at the bar's feet and raised an eyebrow. But without reluctance, he served the girl two bottles of rum. After all, he got his money one way or another. Yet, Anlen eyed the drink suspiciously, snapping one of her fingers against the bottle's glassy surface before she straightened herself and fished a green-coloured liquor out of her red coat. The bottle was small but the crystal-like glass that reflected the dim lights of the room, let it appear valuable and the smell that escaped once the girl had opened the phial, was acrid so that the plump man behind the counter screwed up his nose.
"Some drops of my favourite admixture absinth and I will be on cloud nine", Anlen said and dripped a little bit of the addictive alcohol into the rum, "There are advantages if you can't die, haha."
The bitter taste of the drink sidled slowly downwards her throat like a warm, thick mass. Some vices stayed vices, before and after the gibbet and no one had been able to dissuade it out of the girl. Besides, schooling a pirate was almost impossible. The one who tried it, would risk to lose his head. The church clock nearby the puplic bar signified that midnight had broken and the people in the bar welcomed the new day with an additional drinking orgy and opened a new round of their foul poker play.
But the Noah stared at Lione who lay on the cold floor and decided to lend her coat to the exorcist, thus throwing it over his body in order to function as blanket for the night. Catching a cold was the last thing, he was able to afford, Anlen thought before her head fell onto the bar's polished surface, overthrowing the bottle of rum and let the remaining temptation in it gushing out and scattering over the bar and the ligneous floor. Her sight became blurred and a veil of mist conquered her mind, dousing her senses in a lake of tiredness and lightsome sounds. Anlen immediately fell alseep. Absinth was the only drink that was able to set her in a state of unconsciousness, the only admixture that made her really drunk.
Spoiler: Part 14: Just a dream? showLione tried to open his eyes but the bright daylight forced him to let them closed. He felt dull, powerless and a disgusting hammering proceeded in his head. He wondered where this feeling came from, so the man looked around to search for any evidence but he just found some or rather many empty bottles, spread over the bar and its floor, here and there some puddles of alcohol that reflected the morning sun in a venomously manner. It looked in shambles, Lione thought and pitied the landlord.
Suddenly, he startled up as if awakening with a start from a horrible nightmare.
"Oh my god", Lione bursted out shocked, "I...I didn't drink THAT much, did I?"
"No, you didn't", the landlord replied, appearing behind the counter all of sudden what caused Lione to shrink back, "Your girl drank all this out. You just had one bottle if indeed. A little boozehound, this girl...huh? If she didn't wake up, I would assume that she's dead."
"She's sleeping?", Lione asked, surprised at this strange behaviour, Anlen displayed in his opinion. "I thought she was able to hold her drink. However, it was a bottle overmuch this time, huh?"
When he sat up and stared at her sleepy and peaceful face, Lione recalled what he had seen before he had fallen unconscious. It was no dream, Lione was sure about this fact but on the other hand, the outcome of the event he had descried, was too absurd to be real. The blond man approached her, badly hoping that the girl did not overdo it and was really dead when he felt a heavy cloth dropping down his shoulders. His look wandered downwards and lay eyes on several weapons of all kinds that spread over the floor, resplendently in the raising sun. He was about to touch a silvered gun that immediately leaped into his eye because of the amazingly beauty owing its richly ornamented barrel when a terribly hard kick met his stomach and sent him flying away some meters, causing him to ungently land in a bunch of chairs that stood every which way. Lione rubbed his head but a sinister shadow chafed in front of him. It was Anlen who brandished the gun, every time the danger of pulling the trigger by mistake.
"Don't dare touching this gun or I will keelhauling you, you vermin onshore", Anlen snapped, not realising whom she was talking to until Lione tried to make a sound as pacifier. She rubbed her eyes. Apparently, she had been still half asleep when she had blamed Lione for touching her precious gun.
"Oh, Lione...it's you. What are you doing down there? Did I...hit you?"
The leader just nodded determined.
"Lo siento mucho (I'm terribly sorry), Lione. Everything alright?", she said apologizing and grasped his hand to help him up. Lione dusted himself down before he betook himself to the bar. He did not notice it by himself so he shrinked back and wondered why Anlen was screaming for joy, ran towards him and hugged him. Suprised by her reaction and sudden tenderness, Lione was unsure what to do.
"I am so happy. Your legs...you can finally walk again", Anlen said with elation in her voice.
Spoiler: Part 15: "I'm so happy I could die." showIt took minutes before Lione realized what was going on and got infected by the girl's joy and happiness. A long missed feeling soared within his body, calling attention through the unfurling smile on his face. A feeling of strength and assurance conquered his once by depression lined heart and opened the gateway for new prospects. The past days had been dominated by perdition that menaced the headquarter, obviously caused by all the misfortune and inferiority they had shown against the Noah and their army of Akuma. A single night was able to turn the events to a good or a bad account. Lione experienced both. Even though the bad account had dominated until now, all that counted was the present time and this definitely displayed the good site of life for the moment. Now, it was just up to him and his new gained strength to convince the council of annuling their decision.
However, no matter how badly Lione delighted his regained movement, he could not stop thinking about the cause that made it possible for him to walk again.
"How is this possible? Even Ying had problems to figure-", Lione thought but was interrupted by Anlen who offered him a drink in order to celebrate the grateful event.
"Cheers, Lione!", she said, finishing the bottle with cupidity yet enjoyment.
"You're really a strange girl, Anlen. It's early in the morning, yet you are able to drink a whole bottle of this stuff. As pirate, you can really take some liberties, huh? My guys are killing me with their look when I'm just thinking of alcohol. Maybe I should become a pirate, haha."
This random comment caused the pirate to lift her head and it looked as if she would listen to a far away voice which whispered a secret in her ear. An unknown glitter appeared within her green eyes and for an outsider, it might have looked as if the girl achieved enlightenment.
"Lione, you're a genius. That's it!"
"What?", he asked, completely unsure of Anlen's intention. Lione knew scarcely in what trouble he slipped into.Taking some orts of a former guest's dish close to him, he precariously stared at Anlen. But her face was covered with her light green hair so that seeing the smile that hid behind it, was impossible. She licked the spittle of deep conviction from her lips and wondered why she had not thought of such an exploit in the very first beginning.
Spoiler: Part 16: Gone! showUsually, just a few people were rushing through the dusty hallways of the HQ that early in the morning but the past days had not been normal days as usual, so lots of Finders, remaining Exorcists and a few people of the medical staff ran, walked or rushed through the maze of the once hidden Order. The decision of the closing of the North American Branch spread like a wild fire and everyone was in uproar. Madeline tried to stay calm but the trial was still embedded in her bones and the voices of the council resonated within her body with every step she took. The woman held a tablet with warm clear soup in her hands, on the way to deliver this meal to the leader. Madeline entered Lione's room but without knocking at the door because she did not want to wake him up if he was still asleep. However, when she drew the curtain, an earpiercing clang made noise, echoed through the hallways and into the deepest corners of the headquarter. Tabby, Eny and Rinvak came rushing in Lione's room and immediately looked at the reeky soup on the floor and the thunderstruck Madeline.
"What happened, Madeline?" Tabby asked and jumped over the puddle of chicken bouillon with extra pieces of carrots, "Everything alri-!?"
Tabby stopped right within her sentence when she saw the empty bed in front of her. The bed where Lione was supposed to be in.
"The wheelchair is also gone", Eny said, pointing at an empty corner of the room. Worry mirrored in their eyes. Where did Lione disappear to? He knew the corridors and secret passages like the back of his hand since he had clearly studied their new hideout and the surrounding area in the first nights they had spend here. Moreover, it was a necessity for a leader to know the place that had to function properly under his guidance day after day. After the four had informed Ying and Lyra about Lione's disappearance, they decided to part in groups of two to search for him in whole Boston.
"Let's find "Mr. hit-and-run" and bring him back to this colourless house of hilarious gestalts", Lyra said in order to cheer the depressed and worried group a little bit up, "I am sure we can find him."
Spoiler: Part 17: Close yet far away show"Thank you for accompanying me", Anlen said solemny, grinning at the blond guy close to her.
"I am glad to be able to take a look at your ship, Anlen", Lione responded, "Moreover, I don't want you to make leeway into the next bar."
Anlen laughed, nudging his side. Although the sun still shone brightly, rain clouds approached, covering the sky in a dark grey. Here and there were rays of light that broke through the cloud ceiling. Rapid steps echoed through the side streets of Boston. Scarcely heard, they already disappeared in the shadows of the brick buildings. The steps were close but the glittering horizon in front of Lione and Anlen with the steep cobble-stone pavement, on which they were walking, directly pointing at it, let his friends fading in Lione's back of mind. Just steps separated the Exorcists from their leader but it was as if a magical barrier bared the way to the desperately searched person who had no idea of his comrades' doing. He just kept on walking towards the hidden truth whose revelation lay in the proximity of time, yet still overshadowed by a happy but mischievous smile of a person nobody should ever trust.
"The port is right over there", Anlen said, pointing straighforward with an empty bottle of rum she had picked up as souvenir. Lione's look followed the line the bottle descriped and his ear caught the sound of refreshing waves. Anlen lifted her hands and put them close to her ears in order to hear the soothing sound of coming home in a better way. The pirate closed her eyes and the upcoming wind blew some strands into her face, giving her the appearance of a girl whose wish for peace and a welcoming home had come true. Lione stared at her, amazed by the beauty that could so easily crumble away. His trance lasted until the girl grasped his hand and led him to the empty port.
Spoiler: Part 18: Chance? show"Madeline!", Lyra screamed in order to call attention to herself.
The woman rushed towards the direction Lyra's voice had come from and entered a bar she thought of recognizing. Undulating her way through chairs, tables and bottles -some empty, some still filled with liquor-, the woman met Lyra at the bar who analyzed the wheelchair Lione had forgotten. Both nodded, thus signifying that it was definitely that of the leader. Lyra sat up and her searching look wandered through the whole room until she spotted the plump landlord.
"Hey, do you have seen a blond guy, just about as tall as me with a kinda drowsy and pitiful face?", Lyra asked, "He used this wheelchair here."
The landlord nodded but no word came over his lips. When Madeline slowly approached the man, he fell forward, his head hit the bar's surface and blood dripped out of the corner of his mouth. He was dead. A little silvery dagger stuck in his back and a little skull with a grimace like the one of the devil decorated the handle. Lyra pulled the weapon out of the man's body, staring at it for a little while before she broke the silence. "Where are ehm, the depressive "I am still strong-minded" girl and the Kitty?"
"The girls headed towards the port because they wanted to search the neighbourhood there", Madeline replied and closed her hands for a prayer.
Spoiler: Part 19: Warning showThe clouds could not bear the warning any longer, ripped open and revealed one raindrop after another. First slowly, then quickening but Lione had no eye for the caution and just kept following Anlen, his hand still embedded in hers. However, after a little while just walking along the shore, he wondered where Anlen's ship was until she stopped all of sudden, causing Lione to bump into her.
"Where's your ship, Anlen?", he finally asked friendly and his look searched the whole port, even the horizon but he could find nothing, just the movement of irascible waves. Anlen let go of Lione's hand and he felt the coldness of the rain conquering it until it was as soaked as the rest of his body.
The pirate raised her voice but she did not turn around. Nonetheless, the man was able to understand every single word, although the rain dropped on the stony ground like the beat of a drum, leaving a tapping in his head behind.
"There's something I forgot to tell you, Lione", Anlen said monotonously. Unsuspecting, Lione kept looking at her back, a slight smile was still on his face. "You will be a part of my crew from now on."
Lione's look turned puzzled and as if he did not understand properly, he asked anew. "C-crew? What do you mean, Anlen? And where's your ship?"
Anlen's hair, a braiding of cobweb-like engulfed raindrops, was blowing in the wind when she turned around full of vim and vigor, her finger pointing downwards, a mischievous smile decorating her wet face. Almost simultaneous, a ship emerged from the depth of the dark and dangerous sea, churning it up. The leader's eyes widened and he shrinked back when the barque appeared with roaring and wash of waves on the water surface. The blond man was too suprised to say something, too shocked by the nightmarish appearance of a pirate ship, seemingly swallowed and disgorded by the sea it sailed.
"Indeed, that's jaw-dropping, aye?", the pirate said with pleasure and content, "Be proud to be able to sail with such a gorgeous ship."
The girl slowly approached him but Lione did not move back. Either because he was too suprised or he thought he slipped into a nightmare. For a good dream, the scenario was definitely too abnormal and sinister.
"There's a second thing I need to tell you", Anlen continued, "It's about your reawaken Innocence."
By now, Lione knew that he was captured in a nightmare. It could not be that the person he mooned over the whole time, knew about the Innocence, unless...
Spoiler: Part 20: Nightmares come true as well showThe tapping in his head was unbearable and his heart was enclosed by a cold wave of salt water, yet Lione tried to hold up his sanity.
"Do you wanna know why your Innocence is working again, why you can move your once paralyzed legs?"
"Please, it can't be...Don't let it be...", Lione thought in desperation and his hope stifled under the pressure of foreshadowing.
But Anlen just ignored Lione's inner cry for help and kept going.
"Your Innocence froze your leg's movement, I guess you already knew of this. But when I kissed you, my power provoked it in a manner that it just had to wake up and defend itself. After all, I could have had the intention of destroying it, haha. And this leads me to my third point. I really forget a lot when I'm drinking. I'm sorry."
"No, no. no...!"
Every word that came out of the girl's mouth was like needles, piercing through the body in order to reach their destination: the human heart with its emotions, memories and happiness.
"I begged you to get out of this city, getting out of Boston. I said that danger approached but you didn't listen to me and now, it's here. You have to know that pirates are no gladly viewed guests. They just bring misfortune to all places where they mooring, even if it's their original hometown. Nobody likes them. Pirates are just gladly seen at one place: the gibbet, struggling to the death. So you see, the danger I warned against, just emerged from the sea and it will bring misfortune to Boston and its inhabitants."
Lione felt the barrel of a gun pushing against his stomach and Anlen was close in such a way that he could clearly see her skin getting darker and crosses appearing on her forehead. The nightmare was completed. He fell in love with a Noah.
Spoiler: Part 21: Gotcha! show"You have to know...", the Noah said, "I have no other choice but kidnap you then, if you don't want to get out of here voluntary. I don't want you to die and I can't act against the Earl's will. I really like you, Lione, and I don't want this feeling to vanish under the dust of hailing down cannonballs."
Lione jumped backwards with all the remaining strength in his legs. Even though his Innocence untied his legs from the burden of irremovability, they were still weak. He would not be able to stand a whole fight with them, especially not against a Noah.
"Oh", Anlen raised an eyebrow, "I am saving your life and you are ungrateful? That's not very nice, ya know?"
"You want to bombard Boston? Why? Just because there's a half-destroyed and doomed Exorcists' Order?", Lione asked and a blaze of indeterminableness was mirrored in his eyes. Yet, he did not know how to behave towards Anlen. He liked her a lot but she was a Noah, a foe. On the other hand, the girl seemed to be different from her family members. Affection could not be bring on a person who occupied hatred against humanity or lacked of feelings much less faith in humans. Lione's current mind was an expanse of ruins and it even beat the headaches he had during the chaotic time in the Order the past days.
"Oh, you're a smart man. Unfortunately the power of your belauded Innocence will destroy you", Anlen said and fished Pandora's box out of her coat. Eyeballing Lione's startled look and the own one wandering between the box and the man, Anlen sighed.
"I see, so you have not realized yet that the box Uriel left behind, was a fake one? My god, we have a lot to do before you can become a real pirate, dear. I guess, I'll have to teach you to notice the difference between the original item and a pinchbeck at first sight. I'm really disappointed, Lione. I don't wanna know what got fobbed on you and your Order already."
The girl wanted to step forward but something hindered her leg to move. She looked down and saw a shadow that climbed it up. Lione had all effort to hold the blockade, sweat dripped of his forehead and he felt morbid. However, to his disfavour, Anlen was rather amazed than dismayed. Her eyes shone in a strange brilanncy when she eyed the trap she just slipped into.
"Interesting, really. Unfortunately that won't help against me", the Noah said with pleasure and her leg switched. Immediately, Lione captured Anlen's arms, covering it with the shadow. Anlen forcefully lifted her left arm and approached it with her right hand, Pandora's box had already disappeared into her coat's sleeve. Seemingly, Lione had to struggle more than Anlen. Why did his Innocence have to refuse at a time like this? Apparently, he needed to cure longer than he thought. The fight with Jacques really had stretched him to the limit, even surpassed it.
"This might be a little bit disgusting now", the pirate announced, grasped her arm with the right hand and ripped the forearm out of her elbow. A sound like a heart-piercing cry echoed through the cloudy, grey morning accompanied by monotonously rain. The girl fished a forearm, almost just the bone with few flaps of skin and sinews assembled, out of her sleeve and threw it carelessly away. Then, she took advantage of Lione's state of shock and the loosened grip of his shadow trap, rushed towards him, floored the man and kept him quiet or rather in a state of irremovability by ramming her knee into his stomach and pointing the silvery gun at his face, straight between his eyes.
"I don't want to hurt you but I also would have been bored if you just gave in without struggling. In this way, the game is much more amusing", the Noah said and stared into the leader's eyes that were as golden as her most precious treasures.
Spoiler: Part 22: Her true nature showLione gasped, his look clamping onto Anlen's left part where her forearm was just about to reconstruct. A skeleton-like hand grasped his shoulder just before it turned into a normal fleshy one again.
"One of my several abilities", Anlen said, letting the trigger of her weapon snapping in, "A shadow of one's former self, I'm a...let me say...half undead. Well, maybe it has more to do with me being a Noah. I dunno but it's quite useful. The limbs I can tear off are limited of course. I can't just tear off my head for example, haha."
Lione did not felt like laughing with a gun, whose trigger was in a dangerous position, pointing at him. On the other hand, Anlen's laugh was not as cold as the one of other Noahs (*Magier sneezed*). It still had a warm, even if it was fearsome from time to time, aspect that resonated. "A wild, untamed and undisciplined appearance but a kind, happy and beautiful nature", this was the definition Lione had determined for Anlen. But soon, he would learn of hidden aspects that were buried more deeper in a squelched soul that was doomed to be barred from freedom. Finally, Lione raised his voice.
"Y-you are different from other Noahs, Anlen. Your heart is stubborn and doesn't submit to the Earl's will. Even at the point of death, you can smile. I admit you for this. But Exorcists are at enmity with the Earl, the Akuma and even the Noahs. We can't-"
"Shut up!", Anlen screamed, pushing the gun against the leader's forehead, thus putting him to silence, "Don't say things like this. Don't speak of "enmity", Lione. If you do so, you just act the same as the Earl and my siblings."
The rain became heavier and both, Lione and Anlen, were soaked to the skin, whereas the ghostly ship just creaked untouched, the raddled sails weakly blowing in the wind.
"There's nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. I spend this whole night with you, had fun, even though I knew you were an Exorcist", Anlen said and Lione was unsure whether the water that just dropped down her cheek, was a tear or a raindrop. "How can I hate someone, I've never met before?"
She slightly cocked her head what caused the whole serious athmosphere to sweep. "Maybe the marines are an exception. They're bad from the very first beginning."
The pirate laughed anew and Lione felt the heaviness that beared him down, loosing. Anlen finally stood up, laughed in her sleeve and saved the trigger of her gun from being pulled by mistake. "I am not just a bad Noah, I am also a bad pirate, huh? Haha, no wonder that the Earl has no faith in me."
The girl reached out to Lione, who first hesitated, then grasped the wet hand in front of him but he was still unsure about its stableness when recalling the disgusting scene he had just seen. However, this was a fault.
Anlen pulled him closer, lifted her right arm and let the hilt of the gun dashing downwards, thus hitting the back of his head. The blond man immediately fell unconscious.
"Lesson One: Never trust a pirate. Failed!", Anlen replied, "Remember: A pirate is a master in lying and cheating. You've sealed your stay at my ship on your own, Lione. Congrats."
Spoiler: Author's Note show
I don't think Anlen will bomb Boston. I assume that something happens to the Innocence...maybe it got lost during the little fight? xD Hihi, who knows ^___^. But Lione is captured though.
Last edited by Schwindelmagier; July 16, 2007 at 03:37 PM.
omg, such a great chapter! yay for forbidden love ^^
it's great that lione is now able to walk so it would be easier to write a fight scene involving him now. the interactions among the characters were great. poor, poor anlen though it is really sweet of her to go into boston just to save her special person.
overall, amazing chapter and definitely worth the wait.
Thanks a lot ^^. I am glad you like it. I have to admit that I like it, too. Writing about Anlen is so much fun. I am sure she will be "quite angry" (<- Beware! Irony!) when she realizes that Pandora's Box (the Innocence) is gone ^_____^". I guess it kinda slipped out of her sleeve by mistake unless someone wants to destroy Boston or find another way to avoid this dilemma.
Poor Lione, he will have a hard time on her ship.
yay great chapter magier ^___^
now whos next? are djmewmew and roselafay back already?
me stupid ^^ I'm next and forgot it XD
I'll start writing this evening it's gonna be all lil bit of everything because I don't want to advance the story too far ^^
Last edited by Raijatsu; July 17, 2007 at 12:27 PM.
lol, rai! your comment made me laugh XD
are you going to be writing about all the fun jacques is having? i'm hoping that someone would write about that...