CHAPTER 1: A BIKER AT A BORING PARTY
Story written in collaboration with Lady Oscar.
I look around: humans, kitsune, demons, nekos… the hall is filled with all kinds of people, all wearing elegant clothes.
"Damn it: I thought that Jarjayes were a family in decline."
"They were. After the “Kitsune Army” project won the public contract with the government, they have started to rise again."
Romantic takes a glass from the tray a waiter brings by. "White wine. Why do these parties never serve beer?"
My father drinks a sip and smirks. He lays his head towards me.
"Look at all these people: half of them are wolves. They are here to sniff the air and understand if this is the lair of a new predator that could menace their territory. The other half are hyenas: they are eager to feed on what will be left of the success or of the failing of the Jarjayes."
"And what about you, old man?"
"I am a wolf, of course. But a smart one: I know that it’s better to cooperate and aim for bigger prey than to waste energy fighting for the bones..."His voice is a whisper in my ear. "My… informers let me know that, despite having won this huge contract, the the Jarjayes still have a lack lack of financial support and strong industrial production. I will offer a collaboration with Romanticorp.inc that will give them both."
"So you will gain profit both as their creditor and as their supplier."
Romantic smooths his chinstrap goatee with a thumb.
"Haven’t I raised a smart girl?"
I stop another waiter and take a glass of wine from him.
I turn my face to the right, hearing some giggles. I see some people on a sofa: a blonde buxom demon girl with a pointy swigging tail and horns, a beautiful redhead girl, a muscled woman and a cat-boy with black fur and grey-blue gleaming eyes. They are surrounding a tall, elegant boy, hugging and covering him in caresses and kisses. The demon girl whispers something in his ears. I cannot hear it, but the fact that the boy blushes red as an apple and covers his face with his hands can give me a clue.
"Eheh… that cutie is not a hyena for sure," I drink all the wine in the cup in one gulp. "But you haven’t still explained why you asked me to come here."
His smirk melts into a morbid smile.
"Because I want to spend some quality time with my sweet daughter!"
He hugs me tight… and he jumps back.
"Ouch… what the hell…" he lowers his eyes on my wrist. "Listen, Lisbeth, I can tolerate the leather jacket, the jeans, the boots… even the “Live after death” t-shirt, bud did you really needed to wear studded collar, studded bracelets and a belt with the Snaggletooth buckle? You look like a metal porcupine!"
I put the empty glass on a table and cross my arms.
"Would you have preferred a “Fear of the dark”shirt, poser?"
"No, but I gifted you many elegant dresses: why don’t you wear them?"
I leave the empty glass on a nearby table.
"I sold them."
"I sold them online and used the money to offer meals to some soup kitchens in the suburbs," I smirk. "You should be glad, the nuns told me that they asked the homeless people to say a pray for you before eating."
The face of Romantic gets red but he cannot explode, he needs to fake a big smile to a couple of people walking closer to us. An old woman with a purple silk robe and a man with big white moustache. They answer the cheer of Romantic, granting me no attention. As they move away, the old man returns to me.
"Why the hell did you sell those clothes? They were gifts!"
"You knew they weren’t my style, so you should not be surprised."
"But you cannot wear your usual clothes at events like this! I was hoping to take you with me at more of them!"
"Why so? Why don’t you take Aria with you? We could spend quality time together elsewhere, like we have always done, unless… you need me here for another reason… and you need me to look 'pretty'."
He opens his mouth wide. The red of his rage disappears of from his face, but I feel it covering mine.
"You have lured me here hoping me to meet someone…"
"N-not at all… I just thought that this party would have been full of cute boys and girls, so maybe you could find someone interesting…"
"I don’t need your help, old man, and even if I needed it, I don’t want it!" I push a finger on his black gilet. "Stay out of my love life!"
He moves a step back, cleans his throat and adjusts his jacket.
"Lisbeth, I think it’s important for you to look around," His voice is steady and warm. "You haven’t been with someone since what happened with that girl…"
"Don’t you dare to say her name!" I bare my teeth. "You know nothing."
He sighs and grabs my hand, looking into my eyes.
"I am just worried about you, Dragon Rose… I want to help you."
It’s over… the old man has started his “I am worried about you” speech. He really believes in what he is doing and he will never stop. What can I do to get out from this situation?
Option 1: punching him in the face;
Option 2: kicking him in the groin;
Option 3: … the option 3 is entering the room right now. The black horns on her head reveal her as a demon girl. Her skin has a light purple tone, while her long hair is white as snow. She is wearing a long red dress, with a wide neckline on her huge chest. I know who she is and Roma knows her even better.
"Look who has arrived!" I grab his chin and force him to turn his head. He opens his eyes wide.
"The P-Purple Princess!"
"Go talk to her: didn’t you have a crush on her?"
"Yes… I mean, no… I mean…" he blushes more than I thought it was possible for a normal human being. "It was before I met Aria and I know she is in a relationship with one of the Jarjayes sisters… I bet she doesn’t even remember my name now."
"Oh, c'mon: don’t you know what people say?" I grab his jacket. "Old flames never die."
I look at the demon girl to take aim and launch Roma on her with a judo projection.
"Kyaaaayyyy!" Romantic flies across the room and falls on the girl, his face sinking between her boobs.
I smirk, my math never fails.
The Purple Princes raises an eyebrow and smiles.
"Roma?" She hugs my father, pulling his face even more on her breasts. "I missed you too, dear, but next time at least offer me a drink before trying to undress me…"
After that boob-landing, Romantic's brain will need at least half an hour to work properly again: exactly the time I need to make my exit.
I go downstairs and get out of the mansion, in the garden that surrounds it. I have left my Harley Davidson in the park area nearby, but, first…
I take a half-empty packet of Blackstone Cherry from the internal pocket of the leather jacket. I take a cigarette from it with the mouth and light the tip with my zippo. I take a deep breath and puff a cloud of smoke.
"Finally… 'No smoking area' my ass…"
I hear a noise at my right.
As I turn my head a girl is running out a secondary door. She is wearing a black hoodie, with a hood that covers her face and a pair of jeans. She is crying.
She runs through the garden and disappears beyond the hedge of a labyrinth.
She is far away now, but her cry… I can feel it inside my head.
I close my fists. It’s nothing of my business. I need to move away, take my Harley and ride back to my life.
I move a step away. Another.
"Fuck…" I turn my back, let the cigarette fall on the ground and stomp it, running towards the hedge labyrinth.
I follow the voice of the crying girl, but she moves fast and the hedges modify the sound in an echo that makes me hard to understand where she is.
Wrong turn. Fuck.
I go back and try another path. A three-ways crossroad: I take the right one, where the sound of the crying comes from with a cleaner tone.
Turn right. Right again. I leave two dead end paths behind me and turn left.
The centre of the garden opens before me. A huge oak surrounded by stone benches. The girl is lying one of them, her back to me and her body shaken by sobs.
I move some steps towards her. What the hell should I tell her? I came here to see if she was all right, but now I realize I have no idea of what to tell her. What if I scare her? What if she mistakes me for a thief or an aggressor? After all, my clothes and my side-shaved punk hair are not the kind of things you see in a noble house like this… what if…
I lower my sight: fuck! I have stepped on a goddamn branch!
The girl turns her head and stands up, opening her mouth wide. We look at each other in complete silence.
Her hood has fallen behind her back, so I can see her face now. She has short black hairs and black eyes, covered by thick glasses. She has a small, somehow childish face, with a little mouth and a short pointy nose.
She is beautiful. No other words can describe her.
The girl cleans her cheek from tears.
"Who are you?"
"Ehm… my name is Lisbeth Rose, I was one of the guests at the party. I saw you running away and thought to see if it was all right."
She bites her lips and crosses her arms.
"Lisbeth Rose… yes, I remember you in the list of guests. The daughter of Romantic Malaspina," she smiles. "You are really kind to worry for me, but I am alright. Really."
"Mind if I sit there with you? This place looks peaceful and I could really use some peace."
She bites her lips and looks the bench behind her. She sits on it.
"W-well, I suppose there should be nothing wrong with it."
I sit near to her. I take another cigarette out the package and turn on the tip.
"What’s your name, girl?"
"M-my name is Novel," She curls her lips. "Don’t you know that smoking kills?"
I puff some smoke and giggle.
"I have endured worse things than smoke, little girl. Believe me."
"Like what?" She moves her head closer to me. Her eyes move behind the glasses, studying every inch on me. "You don’t look like the heir of one of the richest families in Eroland."
"Cause I am not: I don’t like political and formal stuff, so I decided to follow my own path."
She opens her mouth.
"You must be so brave… I don’t like all those things too, but they keep chasing me."
"I know the feeling. Sometimes the name we bear is heavier than any chain, no matter if it’s Malaspina or… Jarjayes."
She gets rigid on her back, moving away like she has seen a venomous snake.
"How… how did you know?"
"You run too well in this labyrinth, like you had memorized the true path, so I supposed you were not a guest. Also, you remembered my name from the guests list and, from what I know, only the heads of servitude and hosts have access to it." I smirk, letting some cinder fall from the cigarette. "Last, you said formal stuff chases you, but you could not say it if you were a worker in the house, so I supposed you were one of the family."
"Wow… you really know how to use deductive logic."
"In my work, I need understand things working from details. Details like these..." I move my hand to her cheek, making my thumb follow a red bruise. "Who slapped you? Is that the reason why you were running away?"
She grabs my hand. Hers is soft and warm, with thin fingers. She blushes and move my hand down on her laps.
"It was my older sister. We had a fight and well… her slap wasn’t the most hurtful thing we exchanged."
"Why were you two fighting?"
"The usual; she wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do. She said it was for my good, but I didn’t feel like it." Her eyes, filling of tears, look into mine. I feel my heart losing a beat. "Do you think I made a mistake?"
"Do you think she loves you?"
"I… yes, I think so."
"Sometimes, people who love us think they know what is best for us and push us in that direction. But we are the only one who know the truth about ourself, so we need to defend our choices."
"But, what if she really knows what is best for me?"
"So, you will make a mistake, but that will be your mistake, not something someone else has chosen for you."
She lowers her face. I would pay any price to know what is going on under her cute messy hairs. She closes her fists.
"You know what? Fuck my big sis: I will do what I want!"
"That’s the spirit, girl!"
She stands up, raising her fist to the sky.
"I don’t want to waste my time in that party, I want to have fun! I want to have a booze!" She turns her head to me. "Ehm… do you know where I can have one?"
I giggle and puff a cloud of smoke.
"Sure. I know many good places."
She innocently taps her index fingers together.
"Could… could you take me there?"
I bite the cigarette harder.
"Girl, you don’t even know me: don’t trust me just for the name I have."
"I don’t do it for that. I do it cause I feel you are a good person and..." she blushes hard. Her cheeks and forehead are on fire. "…beautiful."
Our eyes meet. The light I see in them… I saw it already in the past. I loved it and I sunk in despair when I saw it disappear.
"Girl, it’s better if you stay away from me. I destroy everything I touch." I let my cigarette fall on the ground and stomp it. "It has been a pleasure to meet you. Stay safe."
I turn my back and move some steps away from her.
"Wait!" I turn my head: the girl has grabbed my shoulder. "Don’t you think it’s a little hypocritical to leave me now, after all you have told me?"
"You said that I should take my risks, right? That I should not let others choose for me… so, what I want now is to have that booze with you!"
She tightens her grip in my shoulder and bites her lip.
"Please… if I don’t go with you now, I know I will never be able to do it…"
I feel her trembling. She must be using all the strength she has to keep me. I move an arm behind her back.
"You don’t know me, I could hurt you."
"That will be my mistake, not something someone else has chosen for me."
"Using my own words against me… aren’t you a smart, little girl?"
"The smartest you will ever meet."
I smile. I take her hand in mine.
"Come with me, smart girl: my Harley It’s just out the labyrinth."
She giggles like a child.
"I have always dreamed to ride a bike… do you have a second helmet?"
"Maybe. Or maybe not."
The Harley Davidson leaves the parking area. I can’t see who it is that is leaving with Lisbeth, but I am sure that is a young girl. I follow them until a curve put them out the sight I can reach from the window.
"Kids grow up so fast these days…"
Footsteps behind me. I turn my head: a demon girl, dressed like a maid, has appeared in the corridor.
"Sir Romantic. My Mistress is ready to meet you. Please, follow me.
"Let’s meet this Lady Oscar."
· Hello, people of Erofight and welcome to a new saga!
· First of all, I want to thank you my dear Lady Oscar, who is working with me on this. Since Lisbeth and Novel are the character who made us closer, we really care about this saga;
· I want to thank also Kenny, Leila, Kuro, Trol and Fit Anna for having accepted to do a cameo in this story, a little remind of good old times here we met in a room of EF all evenings to chat together;
· A thank for a cameo also to the Purple Princess… she knows who she is 😉