The Monsters Chapter 1
By Serena Elisa
Ozzies Fort - 600 A.D.
Auree was an old maid.
Well, it was true she was a maid, but she was not really old yet. But while she didnt feel old...she didnt feel young either. Sometimes it seemed to her that she had never lived.
There had been happy times, when she was a little girl. Her mother had been a teacher, they used to live in a comfortable house full of books. But her father had ruined everything. Auree and her mother had had to leave the house and then the town, toward a future that had been revealed to be bleaker than their worst expectations. Her mother had ended up as a tailors aid in a small village, the delicate work had made her eyesight degenerate quickly. She had turned into a bitter, precociously aged woman who hardly spoke to anyone except Auree. She lived shunning other people and forced her daughter to do the same, since, in her own mind, everybody was laughing at them.
Auree had always been a shy and secretive girl. From the isolation imposed by her mother, she learned to deny and hide her own emotions so effectively that sometimes she thought she could feel herself fading into nothingness.
She had grown up without friends, her only joy being some books she had managed to save from the old house. Like her mother, she wasnt good at manual works; she was intelligent and capable of deep thought, but clumsy when it came to her hands. Her attempts to help her mother tailoring and embroidering failed miserably. Shopkeepers didnt wanted her as assistant because she didnt speak-up with being spoken to first (and it was a challenge to get her to answer with something longer than a syllable), looked self-conscious and couldnt smile, in the words of potential employers.
That was untrue, of course. She liked smiling and laughing as much as everyone else. And she did both things when she was alone, reading or remembering something funny she had heard earlier. But she didnt show her emotion anymore than she would show her body. On the other hand, her mother didnt like to see her too much vivacious - so there was no real cause for celebrating anyway.
In other words, Auree had always lived in her own private universe, with an abstract, always unfulfilled need for love.
It was not that she was waiting for a man. From her mothers disastrous experience she had learnt very early not to trust men. Men were selfish and inept creatures who used to ruin womens lives. They were always trying to steal their wives money and they could abandon their children without remorse. She hadnt any romantic dream. But often, in the middle of long cold nights, she thought about...many things.
At twenty-eight, she had allowed a boy to kiss her. It had been a quick, rather chaste kiss. She had appreciated it, but she hadnt felt any desire to go any further. She simply didnt like the boy very much; curiosity had been what had driven her to kiss him, nothing more. She had felt no excitement, no real pleasure...no emotions.
At the end of that same year, her mother had died suddenly, leaving Auree with virtually no chance to survive on her own. And, to add calamity to catastrophe, soon after that the Mystics had come and enslaved everybody.
And thus came the great surprise of her life. Discovering that it wasnt so bad. Yes, slavery wasnt so bad. The work was not very hard, she had two assure meals a day and a bed and no monster tortured her...A peaceful life.
Now, for example...She worked in the kitchen and there would be a great feast that night. But at three in the afternoon she had very little to do. She could take a walk in the courtyard, just acting like a busy servant going on errands for someone else -and actually enjoying the fresh air and the pale winter sun.
The only thing she really missed was solitude. A place all for herself...
A small commotion around Auree interrupted her brooding. She turned and saw one of the Mystic Captains crossing the courtyard, surrounded by his bodyguards. She quietly stepped out of his way, suddenly uncomfortable and nervous.
Auree knew that most of the slaves thought of him as a funny, eccentric person. Many -especially men- secretly winked and snickered among themselves at him, and then ran away not daring to take the risk of drawing his attention. He would never stand such behaviour from men. Women, on the other hand, giggled openly.
Auree never did any of this. She stood still, in the uttermost confusion, until he had gone by.
What are they laughing at? She thought, shivering.
There wasnt anything funny about him. The sight of that one always left her trembling.
Slash was arrogant and violent. Ozzie was a fat green fool.
But Flea was scary.
He was not naturally cruel. On the contrary, he was quite kind-hearted for one of his race.
Of course, he despised humans as every good Mystic did; humans were an inferior race, unpleasant and stupid. But, aside of that, he didnt like to see them slaughtered or tortured without a good reason. He couldnt stand the sight of their blood. Ozzies babble about ruling the world and getting rid of all humans usually made him yawn. Yes, humans were annoying, they always had chased the Mystics like animals - and yes, it was necessary, sometimes, to teach them a lesson...But, why bother with a wholesale slaughter? Flea had never been enthusiastic about those wars. He didnt understand why they had taken so many prisoners and felt sure that all those unnecessary slaves would cause troubles sooner or later.
There was an amazing number of humans at the castle. And doing what? You couldnt cross the courtyard without running into load of them, and often (especially during sunny pleasant afternoons) they were simply walking around lazily, chattering among themselves, not even pretending to work.
Well...there was, in fact, an issue about humans that made him angry each time he tried to reason about it...He looked around, at the people crowding the banquet hall. They were shouting, laughing, eating with their bare hands and talking with their mouth full...
The average Mystic was so ugly and rough.
The average human was the same, but he didnt know: he had seen young and pretty slaves of both sexes (of course, General Ozzie had no use for old people) and had reached the conclusion that Nature had favoured the useless race.
He was trying not to pay attention to the ranting at his right, but when the Hench at his left belched at the top of his lungs, he jumped up from his chair.
Disgusting...youre all disgusting! he yelled, with his usually gentle contralto voice.
The Hench, namely one Gorgl, smiled toothlessly.
Whats up with you, sir? Cant you enjoy the party? he said, with drunken cheerfulness.
Im afraid its all my fault, a grinning Slash said, I was giving our friend here a detailed account of the punishment I chose for some rebellious slaves this morning...Seems I forgot how squeamish our dear Flea is.
Flea glared at him, and Slash nodded back, a mocking smirk on his cerulean face.
I dont blame you. Im sorry, Slash said with false contriteness, You were trying to eat and then I came with all this talk about human warm entrails, maimed limbs and gallons of red blood sloshing on the ground...
Yuk! Gorgl gurgled stolidly.
Your blood is red Slash, Flea remarked coldly, Like mine
True, true, the Swordsman admitted reluctantly, But---
Gorgl seemed shocked.
Really, sir? Your...your blood is...
...What does that mean? Slash snarled quickly, turning on the astounded Hench, We are not related to them in any way...No more than we are to any other red-blooded animal.
Flea was removing some invisible hairs from his left sleeve. He always adjusted his clothes when distressed. Slowly, he calmed himself down enough to speak in cool measured tones.
You must be very unlucky, Slash, he said, after a long pause, Every slave you choose for your personal service turns out to be a rebel, a thief or a potential assassin...Now, I wonder, why is that?
How unfortunate, Slash agreed with narrowed eyes, And then I have to execute them all. You can never trust a human. It must be something related with their absurd pink skin...
Flea knew very well that last insult was directed at him, who could be easily mistaken for a human - a female human, by the way...Usually he got angry at Slash remarks and the two would spend hours bickering.
But not this time. It had been a bad day and Flea was in a melancholy mood. He sighed, suddenly feeling very tired and unhappy.
He was about to turn his back on the arrogant Swordsman and leave the hall without another word, when he took sight of a servant passing by with a tray full of small glasses. That was fine liquor, not the low-priced, nauseating stuff for the likes of Gorgl and Slash!
Hey! he called, trying to be heard above the noise, Excuse me! Girl? Here! Over here!
At last the girl turned, saw Flea...and let the contents of the tray splatter all over Slashs legs.
Gorgl exploded, laughing so hard he nearly fell from the bench -and he was immediately imitated by other Henches at the near tables. Soon nearly the entire room was roaring with raucous laughter, though only one or two actually knew what they were laughing about. Flea too allowed himself a good laugh before noticing the deathly pale face of the little servant. There was nothing really noticeable about the womans appearance -she had ordinary straight brown hair, an average figure, rough, drab clothes; but the pure, absolute terror he saw in her hazel eyes pierced his heart like an arrow.
Slash was telling her she was a dead woman, in a low, pleasant voice, and, knowing him very well, Flea understood they werent just empty words. Somehow, he couldnt stand for that to happen.
Come on, Slash, he scoffed Is this your strength? Your courage? Menacing helpless women? She just tripped...probably over your huge feet.
She...uh...she... Slash snarled at him inarticulately, enraged.
Yeah, shes really an ominous, scary creature, right? She attacked you with her corrosive liquids, eh? I suggest you go out a little more...and look for real enemies.
Slash realized most of people in the room were looking at him, amused by his undignified outburst.
Meanwhile, the servant, having gotten the impression from Flea that he was gesturing for her to go away until she could do that unnoticed, retreated carefully, walking backward amidst the crowd.
Ill forgive you this time, Slash roared to empty air, believing she were still behind him, But never show your face to me again, or I will kill you!
He stood and kicked the abandoned tray away and left.
Quietly sniggering, Flea remained besides the cackling Hench. He looked around for the girl, but couldnt see her anywhere. It was too bad really, he would have liked to thank her for that amusing little interlude.
That night, however, Auree couldnt sleep at all. Not now that Flea had noticed her existence -and had winked at her.
Chrono Trigger Fanfic