to go back.
Clara docked the Primrose at one of the Valuan harbors, and watched with amusement as Belle, Nara and Lilly jumped off the airship and started running towards the palace, clearly excited about the party being held there. She made sure that the pink ship was secure before starting towards the palace herself, more slowly than her crew.
As she walked, she noticed a small, different-looking area off to the side of the road. When she looked at it more closely, she realized that it was made up of several buildings from lower city. She shuddered inwardly, then continued on to the party.
*seven minutes later*
Clara was about three hundred feet from the palace when she saw the doors open, and a figure step out into the streets. The moon was shrouded by clouds and only a few street lamps were on, so she couldn't see the person very well. It turned and walked onto a different street from hers, but Clara could see that the figure moved quickly, despite dragging its feet. Almost as if the person was in a hurry, but didn't want to be going there. After watching the intersection for another minute or two, the blue rogue shrugged and walked into the palace.
During the party, Clara found that she was having trouble focusing on anything that people said to her. She tried to ignore it, but found herself unable to. Deciding that she needed some fresh air, she walked to the nearest balcony, the northeast one. It was empty, so she walked out onto it, sitting on one of the benches.
A few minutes later, her headache and dizziness began to recede, and her thoughts turned inwards.
--I didn't see Gilder at the party at all tonight. Ah, well. He probably has his reasons.--
The captain of the Primrose turned her gaze skywards, and saw several of the dark clouds shifting to reveal the yellow moon, turned red along the edges because it was sunset, though that couldn't really be seen from the Valuan continent.
--Sunset... that reminds me of that time, so many years ago...--
I was eight years old, and I lived in upper Valua. I hated the place, the way that everyone was so greedy and self-centered. Even my mom. I felt like my father and I were the only kind souls in the whole damn city.
My mother was a bitch who went to plays and spent our money everywhere. My father worked as an admiral in the armada, and his fleet patrolled the skies near the city to monitor which ships came and left. Even though he did that, he was a kind-hearted soul, wishing that warfare, poverty and greed didn't exist.
One day, when he came home, he told me that he had found a ship of people trying to escape lower city. One of the other ships in his fleet had fired at the ship, killing everyone on the bridge instantly. His ship had been nearby, so he and his vice captain had boarded the smaller one. A boy had been on the deck, and my father had been forced to knock him unconscious in order to bring him to safety.
I learned that the boy was being taken care of by a doctor, and that he would become one of our servants when he was fully recovered. Being a servant to a noble family was much better than living in lower city.
I was permitted into the doctor's office two days later. The boy had brown hair and eyes, and was rather handsome, even though he couldn't have been more than a year older than me. Walking over to the bed, I asked him, "What's your name?"
His response wasn't what I had expected. He looked at me in surprise, then his expression changed to one of disgust and he said, "Why would a noble bitch like you care?"
I snapped at him angrily. "Not everyone in upper Valua is cruel! If we were, then my father wouldn't have saved you from that burning ship!"
Now he looked confused. "Burning ship?"
"You don't remember?" I was astonished. How could he have forgotten that?
"...My name's Gilder."
"I'm Clara. I hope that we can be friends."
"Clara?" The blue rogue turned to see Urala standing in the doorway. "Why are you out here instead of at the party?"
"I needed some fresh air." Pausing for a moment, she continued, "Have you seen Gilder tonight? I can't find him anywhere!"
The shy cook looked amused. "He was here earlier, but he left a while ago. Perhaps he knew that you were coming."
Clara laughed, and Urala went back inside. Clara turned her gaze to the moon one more time, then headed back inside.