It was my second vacation from credits I earned at Ackerfall Institute. My handler gave me half a week's worth of off-days to spend my (actual!) normalization into Ackerfall.
I, Cierra Arvess, from the end of this vacation hereforth, am a regular member of the Institute!
At the time, I'd no idea how to spend these free days. So I chose something I would be closer to home. At that time, I decided to go back to Brindtsong and visit one of the cities I've yet to explore – Cordelias.
I've read that Cordelias is a harbor town with their own economy growing from their enormous supply of fish and seafood. I haven't eaten such delicacies in a while, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to spoil myself a little.
March 17, 430AR || 10:00am
I had just arrived in the city of Cordelias at the bottom west of Brindstong.
The beautiful, gleaming sea. It was the first thing I saw as I disembarked from the airship. I couldn't understand why the sea was so dazzling from here. Ackerfall's main branch is only a few miles away from the shoreline, but nothing there could give me such a sight. Perhaps it was simply the work of an artisan god that created such a picturesque sight.
Going into the city proper, it was just as I had expected – the smell of fresh fish combined with the sea breeze just filled the air. It took some getting used to, but I managed to appreciate it as well.
So then I went to my first order of business.
…It wasn't lodging, though. As soon as I could, I searched for a town directory and looked for the nearest seafood restoraunt I could afford. Nothing fancy for me, but I didn't want to be stingy about it as well.
It was perfect. I was right on time for lunch as I found this restaurant called "Acceptable Lobsters". The pricing was less than acceptable, but I wasn't about to back down from such meager reasoning.
I had entered and the atmosphere was nothing short of exquisite. It had been a while since I treated myself to fine dining. The only shortcoming was I was going at it alone…
As soon as I had ordered my meal however, a man had sat down at the other side of my table. He had hair of gold, styled in a punk-like spiky hair fashion. He wore a long white coat over what seemed to be a Yurran Academy uniform. It was blue, so I could tell he was a senior. Aside from those features… I couldn't remember much of his face. It was like whenever I try to recall, all I get is mosaic.
What I do remember are our conversations.
He struck up a conversation with me. "Hey there! I couldn't take my eye off you when you sat down. You're quite the sight even in a town as beautiful as this."
I… I was surprised. Is somebody hitting on me?, I thought. I merely stuttered formalities on introduction.
"Cierra, was it? Call me… ….."
I couldn't remember his name either. I kept getting memory blocks about it as well. But I remember him by something he used to describe himself. "Big Kahuna".
I stammered just from answering his questions about me. He asked about why I was here, where I'm from since I'm definitely not a local, and among other things.
"You're quite an interesting woman yourself. Would you care to spend the daylight with me while I show you around town?"
Interesting? Me? I couldn't fathom someone thought of me like that.
But to that, I agreed. He didn't seem like a bad person. Kahuna was actually quite fun to talk to, all things considered. If ever he did try something, I would've been ready to respond with force.
The first place he took me to was a music shop. Kahuna kept on making me listen to DREAMERS LDs every 5 minutes. Their music was honestly quite interesting. I didn't realize they had such wide range of genres aside from their "pop" styled songs. I asked him why these tracks were not played over radio more often.
"These tracks are not something I hear often from the DREAMERS. Why is that?"
"Unlike some other singers, they actually like to branch out from time to time. That's not what the public really likes to hear from them though, so they just kinda direct-to-LD these ones."
"That's sad. I think they're brilliant in these different tracks."
"Well, that's the thing. The public expects you to act and think a certain way, and they're gonna get complacent about it so they just kinda diss you for making unusual things. But you know, that's the charm of their hidden tracks. It's still them, but it's something only YOU know. It's almost like a secret between lovers~"
I just stared at him in bewilderment. Secret between lovers? I refused to pry further, in fear he'll confuse me even more with his elaboration.
I found it particularly strange that Kahuna kept leafing through fashion magazines he could find around where we went sightseeing. Was he trying to find a new hip fashion trend, or was he simply oogling at the attractive cover women?
Kahuna had taken me through a tour through the busy town square and other notable historical locations by now. He even showed me a ruined old shrine dedicated to a guardian deity named "Leviathan". I'd heard of this guardian deity but I did not think she made an apparition at this day and age.
We made a stop at a bookstore.
This was another great opportunity in the waiting. As soon as he settled on his corner of the store, I had rushed to the occult section.
Books about the 2000 Year Collapse. A documentation on the nature of Humanity with Angels and Demons. There was even a compendium of legendary Fae that are said to still live today! I dug myself in that corner of the store trying to find a good book to buy with my budget.
"What're you reading? Are these ghost stories or something? The covers give me the creeps."
What? Did he just catch me reading these books?, I thought to myself. It was a shameful moment for me to reveal such an interest to a stranger.
"N-no, I was just… buying these for my…"
Kahuna had ignored my protests. He took one of the compendiums I set aside and started sifting through its selections. "Haha, now this looks mighty sweet. A book about Sudanite gods? Oh, oh, lemme see if I can spot the Medjed here."
He seemed to be having a good time as he went through its pages. Could he have shared a similar interest to mine? A kindred soul perhaps?
I quizzed him on a few occultic questions. He got them almost all wrong, but he did look like he tried. Maybe he just tried to not embarrass me?
Our final stop was at the harbor. It was quite unfortunate, but the sun wasn't quite going down yet. The faint smell of fish had disappeared from here, and I could only take in the relaxing sea air.
We sat down at the wall of the harbor, simply looking out into the horizon.
"So, enjoy yourself today?"
I don't know. I wasn't sure if I enjoyed it or not, but it was an interesting time for certain. I had learned more about the town I was going to spend my vacation in. I have him to thank for making this sightseeing session not too lonely.
"Thank you for showing me around.", I told him simply.
Kahuna chucked lightly. "I don't suppose I get a kiss or anything after this, right?"
So he's actually one of 'those' people. He didn't seem to mean it however, so I simply played along.
"No… though I do appreciate your effort in taking me on a date-"
Kahuna interrupted me and made a 'three' gesture at me. "Nope, hold it right there. Three things, Cierra."
I just awkwardly stared at him. I was curious about what he was going to say, so I stayed quiet.
"First. This was just sightseeing, right? There's no way this was a date, even if I did expect a kiss at the end!
Second. Don't ever date men like me. I can't introduce myself worth shit without making a pass at you every 10 seconds. I'm a sleazy guy who's gonna get anyone's pants if they were THAT easy."
Kahuna handed me a red bag full of magazines. It seemed to be the collection of mags he'd been collecting since the start of the date.
"Third. This is for you."
I looked at him menacingly. I was uncertain what his intent was at the time, so I questioned him straight out.
"Why? Do you think I should use these to dress up for better men? I'm not looking for—"
"Tut, tut. This isn't for the other guys, Cierra. This is for you.
Your step lacked finesse. Your clothes are old and obviously came from a thrift store. You're terrible at making attempts to look cute in casual. You opened the closet and got whatever it is inside there, didn't you?"
Urk, he was right. I inquisitively looked at him as he continued, as I felt he had not made his point yet.
"This isn't so people will stare at your tits. Cierra, you need more trust in yourself. More confidence. It felt like you were surprised a guy even came and complimented you. Confidence starts in the way you dress. Pick out something that you think says something about you."
I simply looked at him straight. I didn't know what to say at the time, but merely to think about what he just said.
Kahuna had gotten up and left after handing me the bag. As he left, all I remembered him saying was, "If there's anything I see better than cute chicks, it's potentially prettier ones."
Maybe I should take a peek, I thought to myself as I began reading through the first mag, by a designer named Camilla Earheart…