The Trails of Moonlight II

Chapter II Epilogue: Kia Side

It was a cool Saturday night at the B & Bee. The rest of the party's eating Ashton's food and generally just being noisy.

Too noisy.

I take a step outside, onto the quieter Cosica road. It's better to be quiet. After everything that's happened in Mattoi, I can't believe how chipper they are.

I take a seat on a nearby bench a good distance away from the inn. I look around, see if anyone's around. No one. Good.

I reach into my pockets for my phone. Bringing up my contacts list, I decide to call "her". Please pick up.

Ring, ring. And then, she picks up. That was fast.

"My, oh my! If it isn't little Kia!", an energetic woman's voice says on the other line.

"Hi sis.", I answer briefly.

"How've you been all this time? I haven't a peep from you since your Dainydune assignment! How's my favorite cutie doing?", she asks with a sly and happy voice.

"Eh, I've been busy. Look, can I… dump myself on you again?"

"Hehe. That again, huh?"

-———————————————————————————————-

I told her everything that had happened since then. While I thought Dainydune was a mess, Mattoi was even more so.

We found a girl being sold for auction. She was a lot younger than I am, and that's something given how young I am too. I told her about Marconii, and how he had illegally imprisoned Katalina Ford in his private cell. But most of all… I told her about how it ended. Art had gone berserk with his powers. It took both Locheman and Viseid to subjugate him, and even then… we caused a stir back in the auction house.

For all intents and purposes, the sting was successful. But I told my sis I messed it up.

I couldn't care less about Marconii. He wasn't my mission. I told her… that I was scared that the kid might've been like me. And maybe Art too. There's too many of "me" back there in Mattoi. And I felt like shit, knowing I couldn't know anything about any of it.

But most of all, it wasn't my job. That was what I wanted to tell myself.

-———————————————————————————————-

"I think this is the most troubled I've seen you so far."

"Nope. This still doesn't beat my SBPD induction ceremony, heh.", I said with a little chuckle.

"Haha, guess so! Buut anyway. I think you're missing something from your story."

"What is it?". I'm wondering what I had missed that she somehow knows.

"I know you have lots of friends around you right now. Why didn't you put them into the picture?"

That's right… I didn't mention them. But right now, they're irrelevant in the big picture, right? After the job is done, so is our time anyway.

"Uhm…". I'm at a loss for words. I couldn't just say 'I don't care' as an excuse. I think I'm being myopic about the others.

"Kia. You've got this bad habit of pretending like you're strong enough to carry all of this on your own. I mean, I know you called me to tell me but… right now, I'm tied up, and can't physically be with you. But you've gotta learn how to rely on others too. Plus, I think the folks you've got around are a fun bunch! Why not try to make friends with them? Even the old guys back in SBPD are buddies, aren't they?"

It's not that I can't rely on them. They're all sorts of reliable but I guess… I'm just not grown up enough? No no, I can't… tell her that. Or maybe…

"Sorry, sis. I guess I've got some growing up to do."

"We all do. But don't rush it, and take it at your own pace, yeah?"

I decide to talk to her for a few more minutes. Knowing she's there for me puts me at ease, even if she's an ocean away right now. After a while, I hear Ashton call me in. I think I left my soup running cold. Ugh, cold soup sucks. Guess I'd better wrap this up.

"…so 'till next time, sis."

"Yup, yup! And hey, Kia? Just remember you'll always be family to me, even if you aren't an Illburns by name."

I know, sis… but just the difference in our names makes all the difference. I somehow wish you knew what that meant.

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Glossary - Corserian Government (Section I)

Section I – People

<u>Croix Family</u>
The Croix Family is a dynastic political family that has a considerable number of males in the Corserian government. Reception to them ranges from lukewarm to somewhat negative as of recent, as their over-acceptance of Alerian "colonization" has been frowned upon by the populace, mostly to Western Corseria.

The big names of the Croix family are as follows:

Oswald Croix – the former Prime Minister of Corseria. After two terms reaching from 420-428AR, he died the succeeding year, on the February of 429AR. While his rule saw great advancement and acceptance of the Alerian people, this did not come without its own resistance. In his vye for cultural and technological advancement, many citizens lost and had to shift livelihood because of his movements. This spawned numerous rallies and protests, including a small-scale uprising in 426AR near Polla.

Thomas Croix – the current mayor of Mattoi city, and son to Oswald Croix. Not much is known about him, except that his own city is wracked with corruption.

Vincent Croix – an ambassador that handles current relations between Aleria, Corseria, and New Iesland. He is the son of Thomas Croix. Due to the shaky nature of Alerian relations with both these countries, he works hard to maintain peaceful ties with these three nations. Vincent is known to be religiously follow his grandfather's policies, and pushes other officials to assert these rules.

<u>Imperial Family</u>
Despite Corseria being a Parliament, there exists the Royal Family that is comprised mostly of just the Emperor and his children. 300 years prior to the present time, the nation was under the rule of the Imperial family. However, with the ever-growing times and the eventual shift of New Iesland from an autocracy to democracy, Corseria followed suit – which turned out for the better. This led to the Imperial family becoming figureheads with minimal power, and the rise of the Parliament.

<u>Head of State</u>
The current head of state and prime minister is Jerid Bardiche, a staunch supporter of Oswald Croix. Because of this, he is often accused of being his puppet from beyond the grave.

 

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Art - Denial and Truth
When the heart refuses to understand, truth is obscured

Art stormed out of the inn, bags in tow, angry and confused.

There's no way I did any of that. Why would I? he thought.

He had never been one to care about relationships, yet this incident had troubled him deeply.

Why? What's wrong with me?

The very thought that he would put those those under his charge into grave danger was unthinkable. He walked towards the train station, bumping into several people that he failed to notice due to his introspection. The bystanders scoffed at him.

"What a rude kid. Thinks he owns the street?" some mocked. "That guy will end up in arrested the way he's going!"

While Art didn't hear any of it, his thoughts were interrupted by whispers – unintelligible concerted whispering that seemed to be coming from nowhere yet echoed as though it were in a cave.

Who…who is it? He rapidly shook his head, trying to clear his head. It was no use, the voices, while not loud, were persistent and disorienting. What is this? Why is this happening?

"I'm sick of playing babysitter…" a faint voice echoed.

That voice sounds familiar… Art thought. I can't make out who it is. Where?

"If he gets in trouble, the whole team's in trouble anyway…" That's a girls voice. It's familiar, but I can't quite place it.

"No, you're not going anywhere…" Alex…that's her voice. Isn't she back at the inn?

Art's mind could not take it. He began to stagger, barely able to stand due to disorientation. He struggled to stay up, maneuvered himself into a nearby alley, and collapsing onto some trash cans. The voices became stronger as he struggled to maintain consciousness.

…who am I?

His thoughts faded, and lost consciousness.


"Arthur doesn't deserve this, he's only a child!"

Mom…? Art could see only darkness.

"What we're doing is important, it changes everything once this completes. You have to understand."

Who is that? He felt a sharp pain, then nothingness.


Arthur roused from his stupor. He got up from the mess his spill created and dusted himself off.

Where am I? How do I get here? he thought, scanning his surroundings. I have no memory of this place.

He picked up his Arcus, which had a faint but visible red glow despite being covered with cloth. He holstered the weapon behind his back. His confusion had taken a different shape – Arthur had no idea what had been doing there.

After a few moments, only one thought came to his mind: Secure the package. The thought kept repeating itself over and over, like a hypnotic suggestion. It drowned out the faint voices.

He dashed out of the alley, and ran off towards the Mariabelle Ruins.

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Chapter I Epilogue: Ashton Side

"…and so that's how Dainydune went, Mac."

It was a cold, clear night at Cosica's B & Bee Tavern. Ashton had just finished reporting to Halophate after his arrival back in Cosica, and went out for a night in B & Bee, while the rest had accommodations in a fancier hotel lodging.

He was partaking of a sizzling meat dinner, with his friend Makarov, sitting on the table's opposite side.

Makarov had dark green hair, and was never seen without a lazy look on his face, and a cigar on hand. Ashton had come to consider him a friend after finding common ground with being regular patrons of B & Bee. Ashton had come to affectionately call him "Mac".

"So yer tellin' me that you've been playing babysitter with a bunch'a juniors from Yurran and Artestech? You've got your work cut out for you.", Makarov stated, puffing a big one from his cigarette as he did.

Ashton started scratching the back of his head, him trying to dismiss his friend's words. "Haha, I wouldn't say I've been babysitting them. They've taken care of their own ass really well even without my help. I actually feel a little superfluous."

"Superfluous? You got a bad habit selling yourself short. You were their strongman, especially when the girlie and the shortstock couldn't exactly muscle a bunch'a cargo with 'em. You also covered their flank from those attacks you talked about."

Makarov then closed in to Ashton, leaning on the table. "Speakin' of 'flank'… how were THEIR flanks, if ya catch my drift?"

"Whose?"

"All of 'em."

Ashton then started pinching his forehead in exasperation, as he gave a sigh. "I couldn't possibly see any of them that way, man! If you wanna inspect them, do it yourself!"

Makarov then tilted his head, as if in bewilderment. "Ya know Ash? Ya gotta appreciate the perks in yer job. If yer to look at an ass all day, you might as well enjoy it. That's yer problem, you got no idea how to appreciate…"

"I'm not that kind of person, Mac.", Ashton interrupted.

"…I was about to say 'yer job's secondary benefits'. Take some joy in yer work, even if you do need to play detective fer a bit these next weeks."

The bulky man stared at Mac, with wide eyes open, and with inquisitive thoughts on the tip of his mind. "I don't know how to start…"

Puff, puff. Mac stuck his cigarette butt into a nearby ashtray. He then lit a second stick, after quickly grabbing it from his chest pocket. With a light breath, he faced Ashton. "Make friends with 'em - it's the least you can do. They all sound like cool lads to me. Them group is also packing that library hottie, aren't they? She's got that 'Foomi' vibe going for her. If you can't find joy in that, then I'd take yer post over anytime."

The young Halophate then clenched his teeth lightly, his face colored a subtle red. "Can you not compare her to Foomi? It's embarrassing when you put them side-by-side like that. But I get it though. If I'm gonna spend a lot of time with the group, might as well get to know them."

Ashton drank from the glass of juice beside him, gulping it down and finishing with a refreshing sigh. "Yeaah, but seriously, don't do that Foomi thing again.", he says with his face even redder than before.

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Aid's Journal 01: Dainydune

"* * **, 430 A.R.

Rainy day as we head back to Cosica. I must admit; these past few days have been a real roller coaster of a ride.

Corseria has been an interesting journey so far, and so has been being a temporary member of Halophate. Heh… never thought my research would bring me to join Halophate. At any case, its not like Corseria is far different from Aleria. Great food. Vast wildlife. Aberrants all around. People who are interesting… yet.. mysterious at the same time.

I'm still wondering what's happening behind that R&D Center. Ms. Lucille Alexander, aka "Diesel," seems too brilliant to not know what's going on in her company. Then again… she looks like the shy, studious type that can't even hurt a fly. Its not like the police was any help, either; both DPD and SBPD were too mum about things. I'd rather not go through the pain of being taken to the police station again. I felt like people were staring at me after the ordeal. Not to mention that I'm a foreigner, as well. Its a good thing that officer trusted us, though. I'd rather not point a gun at an enforcer of the law. Still… its odd how they're covering up information, despite our mission as Halophate representatives. And what that "Kapour family" guy said was unsettling. Whatever he's after, and whatever he wants to gain, he's dead serious to even consider murder, large scale theft, and what I believe no sane person would do; playing around with Relics and Aberrants.

Something stinks. And its not the contents of the test tube Alex just got back from Burdock.

I know our team isn't exactly the most well-organized party around. We just a ragtag bunch of misfits around here. A technomanic fellow Artestech engineer from here in Corseria, and a couple of native Yurran students, as well; one a rather reckless young mage with a penchant for explosive artes, the other a supporter with a noblesse disposition and an odd fascination with experimentation of all sorts. The person we met here in Halophate seemed the one most capable, yet he seems the most excited person when it comes to helping out. And then, there's me; a clueless geek of a foreigner millions of miles from home. Nonetheless, I've seen what they can do. And in the few days I've spent with them, I already feel like I belong as much as I did back in Allonce amongst my peers. Even better, maybe. I know that I'm in good company as I continue my research.

Speaking of "company"… I wonder where that woman might be? Sure, Commander Goelle DID advise her to leave us to our own devices, but.. it couldn't hurt to just stay around, would it?

Maybe have a few bottles of beer down the bar while having a friendly chat-


…oh right. I'm neither in Camlann nor Allonce. 21 years old is the legal drinking age here in Corseria(counts for both light drinks like beer and wine AND spirits, apparently), and they're a bit adamant on their drinking laws. 
Ugh. Damn age restrictions. Well, laws are laws. Wouldn't want another police officer pointing her barrel down our way."

  -Aiden Jet G. Carminite

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