She sat by the edge of the pier, her legs hung over the open ocean, somewhat chilly wind blasting away at her rather revealing clothes. A pair of mesmerizing eyes stared emptily into the distant horizon, the expression surrounding them downcast and heavy. She took a sip slowly, the blaze trailing down her throat into her innards, warming her up slightly.
The extensive pier stretching behind her all the way back to the mile-away shore was largely empty, only a few fishermen sitting with their hats hung over their foreheads, waiting patiently for the fish to bite. Well behind her, a grand city arose from the ebony cliffs and spiked ridges, cast in breathtakingly white, marble stone.
Yet, none of the sights she could enjoy inspired her. She enjoyed sitting, cast out of the everyday world, blended in the dotted distance. From time to time, she’d think about jumping into the turbid waters beneath, about diving into the high-strung waves that beat the shore repeatedly, day and night, without pausing even for a second. She held back, in the end, however. She wasn’t much of a swimmer, after all.
Seya had spent months trailing along the coastal cities of the Holy Continent, seeking for anyone, a single soul, that would be willing to take her past the dreaded line over the ocean toward the Edge of the East. However, all she got for her asking were the looks of mockery and scorn, as though she’d suggested something obliviously moronic, something beyond comprehension.
Sighing, she shook her head and slowly heaved herself off the edge. A draped skirt fell over to beneath her knees, fluttering against the shape of her things as she spun on her heel, facing back toward the city. She reached and pulled a few strands of her hair back over her ear as she lifted her head up, looking forward. The step she was about to take came withdrawn as she froze. Standing there, merely a few feet in front of her, was a strange-looking boy.
He had a rather peculiar and unique dye of golden shrouding his short hair, his skin dark, occasional scar visible to the naked eye. A pair of gem-like twilight eyes stared at her in odd wonder, his thin lips parted in a slight shock. He was roughly her height, clad in a thin shirt and tattered pants, barefoot, seemingly somewhat underfed.
The two pairs of eyes locked with one another as silence befell them. Sounds of the crashing waves drowned all others out as faint rays of sun folded over them, painting a rather picturesque image.
“… what?” Seya frowned and asked in a somewhat annoyed tone, startling the boy awake.
“A-a-re you the one looking for the ship bound for the Edge of the East?” the boy asked, quickly recovering.
“Oh, right. My bad,” the boy smiled sheepishly, revealing two rows of rather well-maintained, white teeth. “My name’s Ayar Wulvinsenseer Orston and I'm a sailor. Specifically, I aim to finally chart the world beyond the Eastern Edge of Terror."
“… your name is Ayar what now—?” Seya mumbled unconsciously.
“Yeah, don’t. I don’t care.” she quickly interrupted. “How old are you kid? What business do you have thinkin' of sailing east?"
“—eh, uh… you… you don’t seem older than me…” the boy replied awkwardly.
“Exactly,” she nodded quickly. “That’s the reason I’m looking for experienced sailors, not wet brats as knowledgeable about the sailing as I am.”
"Not to worry – I have plenty of experience in sailing!" Ayar quickly exclaimed, thumping his chest. "You will be in safe hands!"
“… where’s your crew?” she asked.
“You don’t have one, do you?”
“Not per se…”
“And you wanna sail east without a crew?” she arched her brow slightly, grinning right after. “You’re fuckin’ with me, aren’t you?”
“No, of course not! Though I may not have a complete crew—“
“—khm, any crew, it doesn’t matter! I am more than enough!”
“Yeah, I really doubt that. Thanks for the offer kid, but I’m gonna say ‘no’.” Seya said, shrugging as she began walking forward. Before she crossed the boy, however, she felt a grip on her wrist as he held her back.
“At least give me a chance to prove myself.” Ayar said in a firm tone, his expression one of determination. Seya exclaimed softly for a moment before smiling.
"Alright. I'll give you a chance," she said, tearing her arm away from his grip. "But, buy me lunch first. I'm starving."
“Y-yes!!” the boy’s expression suddenly lit up as his lips curled out into a fantastic smile, quickly racing after Seya and catching up to her. “What would you like to eat?”
“Oong Fish.” Seya fired back immediately.
“…that’s… that’s, uh…”
“Nothing! Nothing! Let’s go for Oong Fish!” he exclaimed after short contemplation, causing Seya to nearly burst out into laughter. “Can… can I ask you something?”
“… why do you want to go to the Edge of the East?” he asked somewhat timidly.
“Ugh, as if I want to spend months on the open fucking ocean,” she groaned angrily, clenching her hands into fists. “Those fuckers just up and left, you know? I expected a fun getaway, and I got shelled into a job nobody fuckin’ wanted. Especially that smug-looking, ever-jerky jerkface and his fuckin’ ‘ooh you’re doing a good job, keep at it’ messages every once in a while. I’ll tear out his fucking throat and feed it to dogs when I get the opportunity…” Ayar froze in shock for a moment, his heart thumping loudly. Seya stopped and glanced back, bursting out into laughter upon witnessing the terrified expression on his face. “Relax, relax. Come on. Let’s eat.”
“… uh, yeah. So, uh, it won’t be just you?” he asked as they reached the pier’s beginning.
“I imagine not,” she replied. “Probably five-six others by the end of it. And, since you seem rather sincere, our goal ain’t exactly the Edge of the East.”
“It’s not?” Ayar asked, arching his brows.
“It’s the Dragon Isles.”
“… oh, it’s almost evening. I should really go and check up on my—“
“Nah, you promised me an eastward sail kid,” she pulled his arm quickly, preventing him from running away. “And you’re gonna deliver.”
“B-b-but—why, why in the name of the gods would anyone want to go to the Dragon Isles?! Are you a part of some suicidal cult?! There are easier ways to off yourself, you know! Like, like, right! Like setting yourself on fucking fire!!”
“But wouldn’t it be cooler if Dragons set us on fire?” she grinned, glancing at him. The boy shuddered in chill, trying desperately to break away from her grip to no avail.
“Why are you so strong?!” he asked, tears streaming down the corners of his eyes as the two began climbing steep embankment that led over to the entrance of the city.
“What do you know about the Dragon Isles?” she asked instead of replying.
"… nothing except no one who ventured there returned alive." he attempted to say it in a rather dark and macabre voice but failed as it came out mostly coarse and crackly, causing Seya to burst out into laughter once more.
“Man, you sure are a kid, aren’t ya?”
“I am almost eighteen, I’ll have you know!!”
“Oh? Older than me, then. Tsk, tsk, a prime example when age certainly means absolutely nothing.”
“No! It’s you who’s the weird one here, not me! Who casually drops that they want to go to the Dragon Isles as though they’re talking about visiting their relatives?! Nobody, that’s who!”
“Oh? So I’m ‘nobody’? Ouch, little twerp. That hurt.”
“… ah-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it—ah, you’re messing with me.” Ayar lowered his head, dispirited, when he saw Seya’s cracking expression.
“Pfft, ha ha ha ha, sorry, but man, you certainly do make it easy. Don’t worry too much about after-the-fact, just the part about getting us there.” she added as the two crossed marble archway that acted as the entrance to the cascading, terraced city blending black and white colors at will. “If nothing else, I can guarantee you’ll come back unharmed.”
“… yeah, right.” Ayar mumbled in tears. “As if anyone in the world can guarantee that. Especially some random girl my age!”
“Hey, hey, I’m not just ‘some random girl’. I’m a ‘beautiful random girl’!” she replied with a grin.
“… well, fair enough. I can’t really contest that.”
“—a-ah?” just as she herself was about to temporarily lose it, she felt a talisman in her void treasure tremble as she rapidly took it out, having realized it was Lino’s.
She dragged Ayar into a nearby, dark alley against his will before burning the talisman. The cyan splinters soon formed into a screen, depicting a familiar figure on the other end sporting a rather ugly expression.
“E-eh? Lino? Everything alright?” she asked quickly.
“… yeaaah, not really. Don't worry about it," he said, smiling faintly. "How go things on your end? Any luck tracking someone who can take us east?"
“Eeeh… I don’t know if you could call it luck, but I’ve found one twerp willing to sail eastward. Well, semi-willing. But I can be fairly persuasive if you give me some time.”
“… right. About that. How’s like, I don’t know, twelve to twenty-four hours sound?”
“Why? What’s wrong?” she asked quickly, frowning.
“Oh, I don’t know. How about the entire fuckin’ world showing up at our front doors before we had a chance to skedaddle?” he groaned in an annoyed tone, cursing something under his breath. “Anyway, if you could convince that twerp to prepare a ship and be ready to sail away at a moment’s notice, it would be really appreciated. From what I know, none of these fuckers currently staring at me like I’m dead meat are allowed to even cross over the ocean due to their pact with the Dragons. Fuckin’ Vy better be telling the truth or I’m going to lose my shit… well, lose it more than I’m losing it right now…”
“Alright, I’ll get him on board.” she nodded, her expression serious. “Hey… stay safe, alright?”
"Oh? Is that a worry I hear in your voice? Right, before I bolt, I've news for you."
“You’re getting a younger sister.”
"What do you me—Hannah is pregnant?!!" just as she was about to unleash a flurry of questions, the connection between the two ended, leaving her stretching out her arm toward the empty screen in frustration. "Tsk, fucker hasn't changed a bit. Drop a piece of fuckin' life-altering news on you and just vanish. Anyway, you heard the man." she glanced at the trembling Ayar. "We need that ship of yours quickly."
“W-was-was-was that… the… the—“
“Yeah, yeah, he’s the big, bad, terrible Empyrean,” she rolled her eyes, dragging him out of the city once more. “And if you don’t oblige, he’ll, I dunno, make you live out your most terrifying nightmares or some shit.”
“Ah… fuck me…” Ayar mumbled before passing out, right there, in the middle of the street, causing Seya to almost scream in abject frustration.
She quickly heaved him over her shoulders and carried him out of the city under the curious eyes of the many who chattered away nonsense into the wind. Consciously ignoring all the comments, she quickly began moving northward where the closest port was, hoping that’s where Ayar’s ship was. Tsk, I’m a fuckin’ moron… I complained about being bored, and look at me now. Aah, I need to find something nice for Hannah and sis… fuck, why am I calling her sis? She’s—eh, I don’t have enough energy for this shit…