The Port Town Of Zephyrus, Alkyrian Empire
“Wow! This place is amazing!” Kylie gushed, “So full of life!”
“But of course!” replied the Captain, “After all, this is the biggest trade center in the world! Goods arrive here from around the world, in exchange for our own Alkyrian wares. This city is demilitarized, you know!”
“Then should we really be here?” asked Amy, “We are Imperial soldiers, after all.”
Kylie leapt on Amy's back, much to her surprise. “No duh, silly!” she giggled.
“Officially we are dignitaries from the Alkyrian Empire. That'll get us a boat to Boreas, which is currently controlled by the New Republic of Vasalo.” Avery explained. “The current peace treaty calls for no military presence at all in trade centers like this.”
Giacomo nodded in understanding. Amy, however, was a bit preoccupied. “Are you planning on getting off me anytime soon? You know, you're not as light as you think you are...” she snapped.
“You're one to talk, tubby!” Kylie giggled as she let go, giving Amy a friendly shove.
Amy's face blushed a deep crimson. “HEY! Take that back!” she yelled.
“So, Captain?” Giacomo quickly spoke up, changing the subject, “What do you know about the history of this city?”
"Well, now that you mention it..." he began, a word of warning to the two girls in his voice.
The three friends followed obediently as the Captain began his dissertation. Amy absolutely hated lectures. Sure enough, it wasn't long before her eyes, and mind, began to wander. She looked up at the setting sun in all of its splendor. To think, it was only that morning when they had set out from the imperial capital, Alkyr. The empire's infrastructure had vastly improved in the past year, thanks mostly to a renewed effort from the Council of Lords and the new Commandant, Luna Tahtoinen. Under her direction, new programs were put into action to improve roads, reinforce bridges, and improve foreign relations. The first ever female Commandant since the death of the last emperor had earned the respect of the people.
Amy quickened her pace, for she was beginning to fall behind. She picked out Giacomo's scruffy black hair and began picking her way through the bustling crowd. As she caught up to her friends, she could see Giacomo listening intently to the Captain's history lesson, while Kylie's eyes were wandering, no doubt in an effort to keep her awake.
Unbeknownst to her, another pair of eyes had just become aware of their presence.
At that moment, their party arrived in the central square of the city, where they were met by the sound of running water. “A fountain?” Amy gasped in awe.
“Quite a magnificent one.” added the Captain, his eyes twinkling with joy. “You see...”
Her eyes wandered once again, this time to the sculpture in the center of the fountain. Before she knew it, she was lost in the wonder of the spectacle before her. Resting on a circular base was a tier shaped like a three-pointed star with a circular center. At each end of the star sat a large orb. Centered on this base was the statue of a young maiden, on her knees. She held a modest staff clenched in her fists. A look of pleading adorned her face, and her eyes were staring upward toward the sky. Amy suddenly felt really sad. What had happened to this girl? Why was she so sad? Amy looked away for a second. As she looked back at the stone maiden, she was struck by the passion in the maiden's eyes. She was left wondering once again, lost in thought. She was about to turn away when she noticed a new detail; a snake-like creature was beginning to coil itself around the maiden's leg. She changed her point of view and noticed that the snake was coming out of the base the maiden was kneeling on. She shuddered, beginning to feel slightly nauseous. More questions raced through her head as she sat down on the edge of the fountain to think.
“Damn it!” she moaned, “Now I've got a headache!”
“You'll have more than a headache if you get lost here!”
“AAH!” yelped Amy as she leapt to her feet. Giacomo and Kylie stood in front of her, Giacomo with arms crossed, a teasing smile on his face, Kylie pouting, tapping her foot in impatience.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Kylie scolded.
“Captain Avery went to get a room at the inn.” Giacomo told Amy, “Then he's gonna arrange for a ship tomorrow to Boreas.”
“So come on, already! Let's GO!” Kylie pouted. She turned and began to run off toward the inn.
“Here you are,zoning out again...” Giacomo scolded lightly, “When will you ever learn to pay attention?”
“Wha-...Hey! Not you too...” Amy pleaded.
“Don't worry!” Giacomo laughed. “I'm used to it by now!” A knowing smile lit up his face; a rare occurrence. “It's beautiful, isn't it?” he spoke softly, “And yet so sad...” He stared off into space for a second. “Although it's not like you to express this much interest over art,” he added, a faint hint of sarcasm hidden in his voice. Amy blushed slightly. “Come on, let's go,” she replied, thought of a slightly different kind now racing through her head. Giacomo nodded slightly, and the two set out together in the direction Kylie had run off in.
It took a keen pair of eyes obscured under a black fedora to follow the party's movements from a nearby rooftop. As Giacomo and Amy disappeared into the crowd, the owner of the black fedora turned to the man next to him and spoke softly, inaudibly. He nodded and stood up, his black flat cap and trenchcoat sticking out against the red and orange backdrop that was the setting sun. Just as soon as he had shown himself he disappeared again. A few minutes later, a black fedora and black flat cap began flowing through the thinning deluge of civilians off into the distance.