Title: Rain (Under Cover of Darkness)
Day/Theme: April 13, 2011 "especially when it rains"
Series: crossover- Tales of Legendia x Suikoden III
Character/Pairing: Sasarai, Fenimore, Shirley
Author's comment: In this crossover, the Ferines are an ethnic minority living in Harmonia. Includes a drawing.
Under cover of rain and cold and night, the inquisitors lost track of their prey.
"Come on, Shirley," Fenimore urged somewhat harshly, "You can't slow down now!"
If the road had been better paved it might have been slick, but as the way was only intermittently smoothed with stones, the thick, churned mud provided traction enough for Shirley to keep her footing. Both girls' clothes were completely soaked through, puffy sleeves plastered to their skin, blond tresses stuck to their cheeks, heavy with the weight of added water.
"How much further, Fenimore? It feels like we've gone a long ways already..." She didn't want to admit to being tired just yet, but she wasn't exactly cut out for this kind of exercise. These were difficult conditions for running. Fears for the ones she had left behind in the village also tugged at her mind. It was Senel's remaining to hold off the inquisitors that bothered her the most. She believed in Senel, but she had grown up on tales of the inquisitors' torturous methods. He might not be a real member of their minority group by blood and she didn't think he was fully involved in their religion, but what were the odds that the inquisitors would make any distinction? Anyone who stood up to them was a potential target.
"I...I don't know," Fenimore admitted awkwardly, "It...it just doesn't feel like we've gone far enough yet."
Shirley slowed gradually to a halt, leaning over with her hands on her knees. "It's...it's completely useless then, isn't it? I don't know where we should go, you don't know where we should go- there's nowhere safe for us! The best we can hope for is to find some shelter in a cave or a copse where we'll just end up hiding out until someone finds us. ...It's hopeless!"
Fenimore retraced the steps back to her friend's side. "Shirley. You-" she summoned up every ounce of authority and annoyance in her to try and spur her friend on despite her flagging confidence, "You can't give up here! What would Senel say? What would Maurits say? All of our people are counting on you! If you just stop now and let yourself be captured, what happens to all the people who are looking to you as the Merines for spiritual guidance? It would be like Chief Priest Hikusaak throwing himself to his enemies! There's no way a girl like you can't manage to be at least as strong as that, is there?!"
It was a jarring speech, but actually, Shirley did find it inspiring. "Fenimore," she started to respond, "I-"
"Hello out there?" called a youthful male voice. The two girls froze, holding their breath. Perhaps whoever had nearly stumbled across them would take the silence to mean he was mistaken and there was no one there.
"Someone? Anyone?" he called again. The yellow light of a lantern flickered onto them, distorted by the rain and the shapes of trees and branches.
"Ah!" The searcher emerged. He looked as young as he had sounded. "What are you girls during out here getting drenched?" he asked, voice more curious than concerned, "Are you in need of any assistance?"
Shirley, more open to interacting with those who hailed from outside their insular community, spoke up before Fenimore had a chance to turn the youth down or warn him away. "We-we're not from the area and I'm afraid we've gotten a bit lost. Is there any chance that we could maybe go back with you to wherever you're staying for the night, or at least to wait out the rain?"
"Why, yes- I'd be glad to shelter you. You can get dried up and warmed up there...I can probably find you a change of clothes too." He set down the lantern and pulled off his nondescript brown cloak, stepping up to wrap it around Shirley. Underneath it he wore the elaborate blue and white robes of a bishop.
Shirley and Fenimore fought not to exchange more than a brief glance of discomfort. "Y-you're a bishop?" Shirley asked, although she doubted there could be any other reason for his attire.
"That's right. I'm Sasarai of Crystal Valley."
The situation had not improved any. What were the odds that their would-be rescuer would, innocently or not, lead them right back to their would-be captors?