Claptrap tried his best to hide his yawn behind his hand. Although this ‘talk show’ was definitely entertaining, and was very well received by the populace… it was just a really boring job. He shouldn’t have taken on the job of host himself. There were so many other details of his business that required his attention, and he was stuck here, listening to the male spear attendant waxing poetic on the grace of the Ghosthound…
But the job wasn’t without its perks.
“And now, without further ado, let’s interview one of our top 8! Ciel Thai!” Claptrap announced, smiling warmly. Not that he hadn’t had any interactions with Ciel, since she had fulfilled the role of business liaison to the rest of the Steel Feather Style, but it had been incidental, and honestly both of them had been very busy with the work they were doing in their respective roles. This would give them the chance to finally sit and talk. Claptrap’s stomach gurgled its glee.
Admittedly, the male spear attendant would be there, which wasn’t ideal. And Aethon Thai, her father, often popped in at random times like these, just to amuse himself. And there were thousands of people watching and talking excitedly amongst themselves, really pleased to have the chance to see and hear one of the hot young talents, who was also a beautiful woman, talk about herself and her training.
Admittedly, much less than ideal. But it was all he had, and Claptrap was going to enjoy the situation, even if it killed him.
“Thank you for having me.” Ciel said, flashing a smile. “I’ve really been watching this program with interest. Claptrap, how did you manage to end up working as a clerk for so many years, when you had ideas like this stored away?”
Claptrap felt a twinge of guilt in his stomach. All of this, everything, was a product of the Ghosthound. He could take credit for nothing. He was just the face of the business. But he had been doing this for almost a week now, and covered up his nerves very well. “Haha, that shop wasn’t busy very often, and you know what they say about idle hands… but no one here wants to hear about me, right, Deardun?”
The crowd cheered, and again, that guilt twinged uncomfortably. They didn’t have to cheer THAT loud.
“Ciel, you are the daughter of the Vice-Leader of the Steel Feather Style. The Steel Feather Style has been a staple of the Northern Region since the 4 founding Styles-”
“Technically, there were 5 families that founded the Northern Region,” The male spear attendant interrupted Claptrap. But Claptrap just ignored him. After all, with the state of the Northern Region being what it was, and Drak’s presence in the tournament…
“-and they boast the highest number of victories in the Northern Regional tournament of any Style in history.” Claptrap leaned forward, creating an intimate feel between himself and Ciel. Her long hair was braided and fell over her shoulder, emphasizing her long neck and smooth skin. She was the model of the perfect daughter, not one you would believe being one of the strongest young spear users. “...Will you add another victory this year?”
“Well I don’t know about that, all of the final 8 contestants have their own powerful backgrounds. It will definitely be hard. But I’m going to try my best.” Ciel clenched her fist, her whole body vibrating with controlled power.
It was a beautiful thing.
Claptrap was shocked back to himself after a few seconds of staring by Ciel’s laugh.
“Hahaha, please, Claptrap, don’t look at me like that. Is it so strange that I can both be a woman and a fighter?” Her tone was teasing, but there was something lurking beneath the surface.
“Ah, no,” Claptrap scrambled to answer, a strange desperation in his chest. “It’s just… you are very lovely, Ciel. I was thinking of the old days, when you-”
But it seemed that Ciel wasn’t going to let him bring the topics back to the planned interview. “Again, I must ask, is it not possible for a spear user to be lovely? Your friend, Randidly Ghosthound, has his own appeal. There are many women who are eyeing him as a potential husband.”
Claptrap’s mouth worked soundlessly for several seconds, trying to comprehend what was happening. Unfortunately, this gave the male spear attendant the moment he needed in order to stick his foot in his mouth.
“You are single and unpromised, correct, Ciel? Your combined genetics would probably create another lovely baby, regardless of gender.” The male spear attendant said, earnestly, as if he was trying to help Ciel.
Ciel’s eyebrow twitched, and Claptrap could detect some strange mutters among the audience. Things were off the rails, but in the past week, he had learned to be a professional in all sorts of dumb situations-
Aethon Thai appeared on stage, along with a chair, crushing the wooden chair that he usually used while he came to the stage to splinters. The chair he brought with him was a thick monstrosity of metal, smelted to look like spreading wings behind him. Each of his small laughs was heavy and filled with power, causing the stage to vibrate dangerously.
“Marrying off my daughter? I think not. This Randidly is 1000 years too early-”
“I’m just saying!” The male spear attendant interjected, stopping Aethon, making Claptrap’s blood run cold. “It makes sense.”
“Does it…?” Claptrap muttered, slightly dazed, his mind jumping from conclusion to conclusion. But then he shook his head. Even his insecurities couldn’t connect those dots.
“There is a history in the Northern Region,” Aethon began while the male spear attendant began to hotly contest his every word. Claptrap leaned back, unsure of how to intervene.
“You know what? It does.”
To everyone’s surprise, Ciel spoke. All three heads twisted and looked at her, confused. She sat primly, her hands folded on the table in front of them. Probably the person who was the most shocked was Aethon, whose jaw just dangled, swinging slowly back and forth.
Ciel shrugged in a very charming manner. “What can I say? There is so much talk about my femininity and his strength these past few days, how could I not be convinced. Let it be known, that should I, Ciel, lose to Randidly Ghosthound in the next match, I will give up the spear and become a bride!”
The crowd erupted. The male spear attendant and Aethon Thai immediately launched into loud tirades. But for Claptrap, that all faded away, and he looked at Ciel. After her statement, she leaned back in her chair and just smiled, some strange emotion playing across her face and body. It was almost as if the crazy madness that had seized the surrounding people was originally all emotions that had been housed in Ciel’s body, but she had somehow unleashed them on the surrounding people, leaving her finally at peace.
Claptrap didn’t think that this was as simple as it seemed. After all, Ciel was the prime disciple of the Steel Feather Style, which was one of the big 4 Styles that had controlled Deardun and therefore most of the Northern Region for hundreds of years. Her marriage would happen as a political thing, cementing the legacy and legitimacy of the Style for years to come!
Meanwhile, although the Ghosthound had proven that he had a bright future, and was extremely skilled, he was from a small Style. And of all the small Styles in the world, the Spear Phantom Style was the one in the Northern Region still viewed most uneasily. The exact details were unknown, but it couldn’t be denied that they were heavily involved with the Devourer, and the related disappearances.
For these two individuals to marry… it was impossible. Their backgrounds were too different. The kind of forces behind them were completely on different levels. Again, that familiar sinking feeling came back to Claptrap.
And if the Ghosthound is too far below your league, how could I… even with money and fame, how could I…
The rest of the interview passed in a blur, and everyone left unhappy. Ciel wouldn’t shift from her position, and her father didn’t seem willing to press the issue too much in front of the crowd. As Claptrap shuffled away, listless, and with quite a lot of work to do, he felt a hand grab his arm.
He turned, expecting to find the male spear attendant, pestering him about some other programing idea the weirdo had, but when Claptrap looked, it was Ciel, gripping his arm lightly, her face serious, her eyes sad. At this distance, he could smell her perfume, soft and sweet. His heartbeat thundered in his ears, and he felt his face blush.
“I’m sorry,” Ciel began. “I didn’t mean to hijack your program, it’s just-”
“Do you,” Claptrap interrupted, stammering slightly. “W-want to talk about this over drinks?”