First Steps

Shinku

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"Gaahhh!" A young Shinku flung backwards, arching towards the ground that met his body with a slam. The boy rolled himself, facing the dirt beneath him. He touched the ground, struggling to push himself upward as his whole body aches from the impact that he suffered earlier.

"I'll tell you this over and over again son. Patience is a gem you should never ever lose no matter what, especially in battle." His father stood calmly from a distance, preaching at the boy, emphasizing his point at the last few words of his sentence. Shinku, still struggling from pain, takes his time to stand upright. With the help of a wooden sword though, young Shinku was finally barely able to regain his stance. He then wiped himself off of some dirt that clung on his clothes as he slowly twirl himself to face his father.

"But father, we're at a time of peace. Do we really have to train this much?" The boy complained as he bend his body backwards in an attempt to fix up some joints that might have been dislocated. "I bet no one would actually dare to cause trouble among us."

Like a flash of lightning, Shinku's father suddenly appeared right in front of him as if the great distance that was between them simply vanished in a zap. The man held a real sword, with it's cold blade touching the boy's throat. The man's eyes bore into his soul, cold and threatening, taunting the fear inside him to come out. Indeed, the boy simply stood frozen for the first time, his eyes widened in fear and unable to make out anything out of his current situation. Blood started to drip from his skin that met the sword's blade, yet the boy can't even lift a finger to wipe it off.

As quickly as he appeared, Shinku's father retreated, sheathing his sword back to its scabbard. "I sure hope you're right son. I sure hope you're right." The man turned, showing his back to the boy, who remained frozen like a stone. "We better grab something to eat first then resume our training later."

"A..as you wish father." The boy suddenly snapped out of his paralyzed state quickly bowing down as a gesture of respect. He held his throat, feeling the damp blood that has slowly dripped out of his skin. Hoping it will quickly heal, the boy simply ran to catch up to his father, trying to brush off the fear that frost him solid just a moment ago.

Snapping back to reality, Shinku woke up with a blinding light, making it impossible for the young man to determine where he is at. His back felt the embrace of a soft cottony foam, a sensation he has never felt before. The clothes he is currently wearing has also given him a different sensation from the usual rag like clothes he used to wear. He blinked his eyes, trying to adjust to the hurting light that kept him from seeing. Gradually, his vision adjusted to the lighting around him but in spite of finally being able to see, everything in the room that he is in, confuses him. The room's interior is carefully modeled in an elegant and streamline design, nothing that Shinku has ever seen in his whole life.

"Ah! Finally yer' awake kid! Ye' sure are a heavy sleeper!" The voice made the young man quickly swerve his head to the right, where the old man was seated, holding what looked like a magnifying glass in his right hand. His elbow rested on a metallic table, with a couple of antiques scattered on its surface. The young man looked around further, amazed at the unique, intricate design that the room holds. It's as if he has suddenly been pulled to a different world altogether.

"If yer' hungry, there's food over that table, if ye' feel like nappin' a bit more just do so kid. We're not in a hurry anyway." Birke went on inspecting his antiques one after another, wiping them with a small duster from time to time.

Shinku tried to pull himself up but strength seem to fail him this time. His body felt lifeless for the first time, as if his soul barely clings to its mortal vessel. "How long was I asleep?" Still hazy, the young man can't think anything better than to worry about the length of his sleep. He held his head, feeling a moderate pain that occasionally strikes him.

"Meh, must have been at least three days." The words of Birke came out in a dull, informative manner but packs enough shock for the boy to pull his soul back to his body. The young man quickly bolted up in a sitting position, surprised of how long he has drifted into slumber.

"Hahaha. Well don't be surprised. Ye' had a pretty terrible fall back there." The old man exclaimed, balancing himself into responding at his guest and examining his goods at the same time.

"Well then, where am I?" Shinku turned to finally put his feet on the ground. The coldness of the concrete floor however, surprised him, pulling his feet back up.

"Well yer' in the City of Hope kid. I did promise ye' to show where I got that ring from." At this point, Shinku was able to place his feet on the ground, getting used to the cold sensation of the floor beneath him. He stared at his hand seeing the treasure that once belonged to his people.

"City of Hope. Hmmmm.. Oh you mean the floating island that always glimmer up the skies of Opealon." Shinku pondered for a while for he has not learned of the island's name before but he did hear of the title City of Hope from some of the townsmen. "So you got the ring from here?"

"Nay! But from here, we can get ye' to the place yer' looking for but, we need some more time." The old man quickly responded finally standing up from his seat. "Well I'd love to show ye' around but I need you to remember these rules."

The old man has fully captured Shinku at this time, the moment he mentioned about rules. His eyes kept focused on the old man as Birke slowly approach him towards his bed.

"First off, magic is strictly prohibited here so ya' better control yerself from using 'em funny tricks ye have. Secondly, don't ye' stray away from me, not for a single moment. You'd be under my responsibility while 'yer here." The old man paused, crossing his hands as he stand just in front of the young man. "And well, ye' certainly don't look like a George, so can I at least get yer' real name."

"Shinku. You may call me Shinku. And thanks for this favor." Without hesitation, the boy finally revealed his real name, hopeful that the old man would not do anything to betray him.

"Well then. Err...George I kinda' liked the ring of that better. Let's keep that real name of yours a secret." Birke smiled, suddenly pulling the young man up from the bed that held him most of his early times at the island. "Well shall we tour you around then."

Shinku can only let himself give in to the old man's force standing up and walking wherever the old man steps into. He was given some new clothes to wear along with a closed shoe. Shinku was given some time to change into his new wardrobe, before they got out of a small shack and outside into the realm of the City of Hope.
 

Shinku

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Shinku was met with the extravagant view of a massive, aesthetic city. The place is not short of towering buildings and skyscrapers, each uniquely designed in a streamlined architecture which are far superior than the wooden structures back at Kirden Wharf. The stroll was indeed a tour for the boy who appears to be unfamiliar with several of the things that meet his view. From the windmills, to the trains, solar panels and couple of other technologically advanced facilities, Shinku can only be struck with awe as he walk after Birke. Surrounded by state-of-the-art facilities that are all new to the boy's sight, he can't help but to fall in love with the city even after seeing it for such a short time. The air itself teems with the ambrosial scent of elegance, yet with the suffocating ambiance of captious nobility as the young man's astonished expression was met by smug, scathing looks of the denizens that pass along their way.

"She's magnificent ain't she!" Birke exclaimed, seeing Shinku's awestruck face as the boy's eyes wander around the city. "And I forgot to tell 'ya. These people have something against the low class so ye' might want to act a bit more sophisticated in here." The old man continued through a whisper, close to the young man's ear.

Realizing how awkward he acted, Shinku bowed his head, yet with his eyes still rolling to appreciate the wonders that surround him. From time to time, they would stumble upon enforcers, each partnered with a couple of drones. Almost everywhere, the enforcers would all meet Birke with a welcoming smile. Having heard of the old man's words, Shinku finally noticed how most of the people in the city act with grace. The city is bustling, yet serene unlike the noisy, crowded ambiance of Kirden Wharf. From their stance, footsteps, greetings, to their slightest mannerisms, everyone appear to act so in a very delicate manner.

"So this is where you live." Shinku remarked, still baffled at the somewhat contrasting features of the place. His amazement is mixed with dismay, realizing that the straightforward chaos of Kirden Wharf is somehow better than the subtle discrimination in the City of Hope. He hasn't interacted with any denizen yet, but the initial look of disdain on their faces is enough for Shinku to feel that this city is welcoming only to the wealthy yet repugnant of the rest.

"I live everywhere kid. Hahaha." Birke responded with an vexatious laughter, making the young man feel even more uncomfortable. With a slight feeling of embarrassment, the young man decided to simply follow the old man, careful not to make any humiliating act as before.

"Well come on ye better try some of the stuff in here." The old man suddenly made a turn towards a relatively small building compared to the other structures around. The old man stepped in, as the sliding glass that appears to serve as the entrance to the building, moved on their own to make way for Birke.

"Hey, did you not tell me that magic is forbidden in here?" Shinku quickly followed after the old man and whispered on his ear.

"Well that ain't magic kid. I'll explain that to ya' but not today. Just copy whatever I do and ye'll be fine." The old man whispered back, making his way to a leather chair, notable of its ergonomic design. The young man followed, taking a seat on a similarly designed chair, placed across where the old man was seated, having a round glass table between them.

"Good day gentlemen! Thank you for coming to Deinara's Pizza and Pasta. Here's our menu, don't hesitate to call for me when you both are ready to order." It wasn't that long when a tall lady approached their table, handling them a hardbound booklet, containing about three pages of vinyl coated papers. Imitating the old man, Shinku received the menu book and opened it in the same orderly manner as Birke did.

"Actually, can ye' serve us an 11 inch meat lovers pizza, two meat balls spaghetti and a pitcher of ale!" Before the lady can leave, Birke cut her off, immediately informing the lady of their order. Shinku on the other hand, simply raised the menu book, covering his face from the lady's sight.

"An 11 inch meat lovers pizza, two meat balls spaghetti and a pitcher of ale. Is there anything else you would like to add sir?" The lady responded in a polite manner and faced Shinku.

"That would be all. Thank you!" Birke caught the lady's attention yet again, making a bowing gesture which the lady responded with the same bow.

"We'll have your orders prepared then sir. I'll leave the menu at your care just in case you decide to order some more." With a final smiling gesture, the lady turned and left towards the counter.

With the lady leaving the table, Shinku finally put the menu book down on the table, noticing the old man across him starting to chuckle. He simply stared as Birke put his hand on a pitcher filled with crystalline water and poured it on a glass that was already placed on the table upon their arrival. Birke quickly chugged the water down till the glass was empty, with the young man imitating his action.

"Ye' sure are funny kid. But good job so far." Shinku decided to put down the glass after consuming about half of the water it contained. The old man has started to get into the young man's nerves, but considering that this old man would bring him to his first clue of the marauders, Shinku decided to just let it go.

"So when do we leave. And well...about my...things." Realizing that he hasn't seen his sword since he first woke up along with some of his belongings, he decided to ask his companion. He made pauses, careful as not to mention anything that would capture any undesirable attention around them.

"Just be patient kid, we'll get there. And eh about yer' stuff, they're all in good hands and I assure ye' that ye'll thank me later fer that." The old man responded as he nonchalantly turn the pages of the menu book in front of him, browsing through the few pages in spite of having no intention of taking more orders.

"Well, our travel wouldn't be a light one as ye think it would be so we need to make some preparations for that." Noticing the young man's eyes that is still fixated on him, Birke decided to face the kid in a less humorous look.

"I see." Shinku decided to take in the rest of the water on his glass, and looked outside the transparent wall of the building. In spite of his dismay about the city's deplorable culture, he can't still help but be amazed of the elegant structures that are contained in it. From afar, he can see a massive bridge that seem to connect to what seemed like an islet. Never in his dreams has he thought of seeing a place such as this one.
 

Shinku

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"Uhmmm Father, why aren't any of us allowed to go far from the town?" The night was young, as the young Shinku walk through the streets of their old town just beside his father. The town is illuminated by lanterns, that are hanging outside each house and some on poles. The road is made up of old paved cobblestones, some unevenly placed yet most in a rhythmic alternate pattern. Various noises from different conversations, of merchants announcing their goods and even clanging of metals populate the street that is still somewhat busy in spite of the current time of the day.

"Well, it's just far too dangerous for us to wander away from our village. Maybe just on the nearby part of the forest but you see, out there are perils that you wouldn't want to encounter." The boy's father responded, with his eyes still fixated on the path before them. He often bows as a greeting to some people that they meet along the way, with the boy following suit.

"So are there monsters out there?" The boy inquired yet again, looking up at his father in a curious look.

"Yes son. Far too many than you can imagine." His father now decided to face his son as they continue walking through the town's streets, emphasizing on the phrase 'Far too many' .

"Oi kid! We day dreamin' again?" Shinku snapped out of reality with the sound of the old man, snapping his fingers just in front of the young man's face. The young man stared back at the table to see a pie like object, topped with a variety of meat chunks, along with other stuff having a red sauce base, placed on an elevated round steel plate that is supported by what looked like a small steel rack. On a large plate placed just below the pie is some sort of a noodle dish, topped with a red sauce and ground meat molded into balls. Just beside it is another pitcher filled with a translucent dark brown liquid filled up to the pitcher's brim.

As much as the young man try to hide his delight, his eyes that are fixed at the table shows how much he craves to try the dishes in front of him. The delicacies are indeed unfamiliar to him but the scent of each menu makes his palate hunger to quickly come in contact with each of them.

"Amazed again are we? Then ye' better start diggin!" The old man started by filling his glass with ale, then carefully got a slice of the pie, using what looked like a small steel flat shovel having a wooden grip.

Shinku, still mindful of the people around him had to follow exactly how the old man in front of him consume his food up to the slightest detail. The young man simply imitated Birke from the way he drinks his ale, to how the gets the each meal from the plate to how each of the utensils are used.

The old man, realizing what Shinku is doing, can only chuckle in amusement.

"You act very differently here than back at Kirden Wharf." Shinku noted after emptying his plate that he previously filled with a slice of the pizza and some strands of the spaghetti.

"Well that's part of the trade kid. Ye' gotta know yer market an' blend with 'em." Birke responded, after sipping some more ale. "Now, there are still plenty of 'em food there. Just dig in kid. And doncha' worry. Tis' all on me." The old man continued, after noticing that Shinku is simply staring in spite of his plate being empty.

Not being a heavy eater, the boy nonetheless got more food from the serving plates, trying to chug in food as much as he can. The young man's palate did approve of all the meals that are served to them however, not being used to taking in so much carbs per meal, the young man can barely catch up to his companion's appetite. He tried to drink some more of the ale but after suddenly feeling dizzy, he decided to slow down a bit.

"Ye don't drink that much kid?" Birke remarked after chugging in a glass of ale. "There's enough for the two of us ye' know." Not showing even the slightest indication of drunkenness,
the old man went on filling his glass with another round of ale. The young man in front of him can only watch in amazement as Birke miraculously consume more food and ale, than he could ever imagine one could in a single meal.

Not to be impolite with the old man's generosity, Shinku forced himself to gradually take in some more of the food, available at their table. From time, to time, he would open random discussions, while pretending to munch on to something. It did took them quite a bit but eventually, the serving plates got empty of their food and the pitcher of the ale. Shinku leaned his body backwards, trying to ease the heaviness of his stomach that he seemed to have filled more than it could.

Birke on the other hand, continued to act normally as if nothing happened. "Did ye like 'em food kid?" Birke spoke up, followed by a chuckle as he notice how wasted the young man looked like. "We can have another round if ye' like." The man laughed, loud enough to capture the attention of the other guests around them.

"No I'm good! Well, they all taste good especially that round thing, but I don't think I can take in some more." Shinku quickly responded, shocked of the old man's desire to have some more of the meals they were served.

"Oh that's what ye' call a pizza. And the other one's spaghetti. I'll make ye' try some more food later. In the meantime, let's sit here for a while. We have to let 'em foods digest first before we continue with our tour." The old man smiled, still met with amusement as he watch the current discomfort of his young companion.

After a while, the old man waved at one of the staff, particularly the one that approached them earlier.

"Anything I can help you with gentlemen?" The young lady greeted with a bow, while holding a pitcher of water on her right hand, supported by her left hand at its base.

"We would like to ask for our bill please." Birke responded with a polite smile, as he reach out from the pocket of his shirt to pull out what looked like a thin, transparent visor.

"Of course. The lady called upon another staff to hand over the pitcher she was holding, then similarly reached for the pocket on her uniform to pull out what looked like magnetic cards. She placed one on the table showing what looked like encrypted codes.

Wearing the visor, the old man pressed some buttons on its right side then fixed his stare on the card which the young lady placed before him. A green light then flashed on the sides of the card followed by a clicking sound. It was then that the staff picked the card up and placed it back on her pocket.

"Thank you sir and hope you come visit us again." The lady again greeted with as smile with the old man following suit. Having completed the courtesies, the young lady walked back to the counter where she was before Birke called upon her.

"Uhmmm, what was all that?" Shinku asked in confusion, unable to make out what just transpired between the old man and the young lady.

"Oh I just paid our bill. And yep, without the use of any coins. I'll explain that to ye' later, let's just say that here, ye' don't need 'em coins to pay for everything. Ye' simply need this." Birke responded, emphasizing on the small visor that he just wore. The young man on the other hand, can only scratch his head in confusion.
 

Shinku

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"Ye see 'em huge towers with 'em blade rings thingy! They call 'em windmills..." After a sumptuous meal, the two continued their tour at the massive technological city. Shinku listened intently as the old man explain various stuff around them, while they pass along some notable structures in the city. The blazing midday sun shone relentlessly on the city, as the sunlit buildings glimmer with the reflection of its light. The noise of the rush hour now start to serenade the mass, with various sound from moving transports, pedestrian warnings, to billboard advertisements and a couple of other city rush sounds.

"Ah this one. Ye' might want to see the city from up there!" The duo stopped in front of what looked like a giant wheel with several closed booths hanging on its outer ring. "She's what ye call a Ferris wheel kid, or rather, they call her the 'Eye of Hope'" Birke explained, lining himself up with a couple of people that extend a few yards from the base of the huge structure.

"Well, I sure hope yer not afraid of heights. Though well if yer stupid enough to ride a floating rock without plans of getting down safely, ye won't have any problem with this one." Birke laugh loudly as the young man follow him on the line. It took quite a while before the two can finally have their turn. Doing the same thing back at the restaurant, the old man made his visor scan a card like object posted on a frame that is located just by the entrance of the gondola that stopped at the structure's base. The frame was became lit with a green light as a steel bar goes upward to allow entry for the old man.

"Hop on kid! I already paid fer the two of us!" A bit nervous, the young man slowly walked after Birke, getting inside one of the structure's closed gondolas. The structure moved in a clockwise direction, gradually ascending the two towards the top. Silence suddenly veiled the duo with the young man still nervous about the ride and the old man chuckling secretly at his companion.

"So what are yer' plans kid?" With their gondola suspended halfway towards the top, the old man started to throw questions to break the silence.

"Well that would depend on what issue we are talking about." Gradually, Shinku started to relax the longer the ride becomes. His eyes are fixated outside a small window beside him, with the view of the city from above. It wasn't the first time he was able to view the ground from a much elevated place, but the city's overall structure are a lot different from the trees that he usually see beyond a cliff at the edge of their old town.

"I mean i assume yer' lookin' fer yer family right? Well, I believe that's why ye want to know where that ring came from. Now, how do ye plan on doing that?" The old man went on, lighting up a steel pipe that he pulled out from his pants' pocket.

From the gondola's window, the young man suddenly moved his eyes towards the ring on his left hand. "I'm afraid I no longer have any family to look for." He went on staring on his hand, letting silence take its place inside the gondola once again.

"Now what do ye' mean for that? What do ye' need the origin of that ring for?" The old man stared intently, puffing some smoke from his pipe.

"They're all dead. Every single one of them. I saw all their bodies." The young man now veered his eyes away from the ring and back towards the city's view with their gondola now a few feet higher than where it was when the old man started to throw his questions. Shinku decided to pause for while, taking a breather to prevent his emotions from taking over.

"Ok and..." Knowing that the kid has more to say, he impatiently urged the boy to continue his speech. The sudden tension made the old man sip more from his pipe, as he eagerly wait for his companion's response.

"Right in front of their corpses, I swore not to rest until I bring justice to their souls." As much as Shinku tries to manage himself, his clench fist shows the anger that has built up inside of him.

"I'd say that's hell of a resolve there kid. But as much as I hate to spill it out to ye, the way ye are right now, yer just tryna' make yerself killed." The old man responded in a surprising sternness for the first time since the two has met.

"I know, and thanks to you I realized I have so much more to learn. But my resolve remains the same. When I get stronger, I'll hunt them down and make them pay with their own blood." Shinku's voice remained low but noticeably sharper than before. His eyes may not show any hint of the emotion he has, but his soul burns with hatred so strong, that the old man can clearly feel his intent.

Birke took a sigh, as if having himself lost in a bet. "Well I guess there's no stoppin' ya. But ye haven't answered my other question yet. What does that have to do with yer ring."

The young man bowed, removing the ring from his finger. "Here." The boy extended his hand to show the ring close to the old man's view, turning it in away that the old man can see the underside of it's band. "That crest right there. That's our tribe's symbol, engraved on every weapon and artifact that our blacksmiths forge. That night, when I saw my mother killed right in front of my eyes, I saw that crest etched on her killer's spear. It was all clear, I don't know how, but maybe the spirits made me see so I would know how to start."

The old man got the ring from the boy's hand, inspecting the underside of the ring much closer. "So ye' are saying those who killed yer' family have yer' stuff with them?"

"None of us go far away from our town. It was an unspoken rule since I was a kid. Whatever we have, whatever we make, it stays among ourselves. If one of them is out here, it can only be those murderers' doing." Shinku responded retreating his arm as the old man continue to observe the ring. "I'll trace wherever that ring came from. With that, I'll definitely find them." Shinku spoke with a stern voice, as his eyes get back on the sight outside. The gondola where the Shinku and Birke are, has now reached the top of the Ferris wheel. The people on the ground now all seemed like ants from where the young man is. And once again, the gondola was filled with silence.
 

Shinku

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"By the way I saw ye' got lots of 'em tattoos in ye'. Do they stand for sumtin'?" As he puff out some more smoke from his pipe, the old man broke the long silence with another inquiry. The young man's eyes were still fixed outside the gondola, in a bird's eye view of the City of Hope. The rigid ambiance from their previous conversation has gradually loosened up as the gondola start its descent.

"Hey! What do you mean you saw my tattoos!" The young man suddenly blushed, realizing what his companion's inquiry implicates. His head quickly turned to face the old man in front of him who started to laugh at the young man's reaction.

"Hahaha of course I'd have to change yer outfit kid. Can't bring ye' here with 'em ragged clothes of yours. And besides, yer' really a mess back then." Birke continue to chuckle as he tease the young man, who can only bow his head in shame.

"Oh yes about that, how are you able to bring me here by the way? Aren't seafarers allowed up here?" Shinku suddenly raised his head again to face his companion, baffled of the fact that he was able to reach a floating island from the surface without any constraint. Being a surface dweller for a long time, and wandering between makeshift towns across the vast ocean, he has learned a lot of rules that Opealon has. Many that he has not learned when he was still at their old town. One rule is that seafarers are prohibited to enter on any territory that belongs to the skylanders and by territory, that includes all of the currently floating islands.

"First off, I aint' no seafarer kid. Secondly, rules can be bent if ye' know what I mean." The old man grinned, leaving a more confused Shinku. "And before I continue, I believe I threw the first question for this round."

"Oh well, about my tattoos, nothing much of importance. There's a crest that shows what family I belong to, there's the symbol of my birth spirit, and some other cultural stuff." The young man responded nonchalantly merely to satisfy the old man's curiosity.

"Interesting. How about 'em warrior symbols, I heard some tribes imprint tattoos based on how many they have killed." The old man moved his body closer to the kid, emphasizing his interest on the subject.

"I don't know why ye are interested but since we don't really go too far from town, maybe the closest we have are the hunters' marks. But well, I was too young back then so I don't really have any of that." 'And did I actually said 'ye'?' The young man responded after a short pause, perhaps thinking of what his companion is actually thinking behind the questions he has just thrown, followed by a sudden realization that he somewhat started to speak like the old man.

"Ye' sure have a rich culture kid. Too bad ye' have to be wiped out but oh well, there's still ye'. And I usually try to learn those stuff so I can communicate better. Well, that's part of what I said before. We have to know our market and then blend in. Part of the trade kid." The old man continued smoking his pipe as he leaned back on his seat, resting his body once again. "Well in yer' case, perhaps just part of this old man's habit. And habit's are hard to break." Birke's statement once again ended in a jolly laughter, leaving the young man in front of him, suddenly uncomfortable.

"Well if you say so." The young man simply shrugged, staring back outside the window with a different view of the city, with their gondola now on the other side of the Ferris wheel. The city and the objects in it, gradually started to grow back to their normal size, as the two descend very slowly.

"And ye' really hate talking don't ye'" The old man chuckled, puffing his last round of smoke and tapping his pipe on a small tray, just beside Birke.

"Not really. I'm just not used to talking that much." Another nonchalant response, making the old man start to feel awkward at each pauses.

"Well, can't blame ye' kid. But yer' an excellent listener, I commend ye' for that." The old man remarked, as he put his pipe back on his pocket. "Well aren't ye' going to ask anything about myself?" Birked smiled, in an attempt to continue the conversation.

"I'm afraid ye'd only say it's a trade secret but oh well. What do ye' mean by rules can be bent a while ago." Shinku faced his companion once again, eager to receive an actual response.

"Hahaha, I can't believe how naive ye' still are. But well, it has lots of implications on it for instance, if yer' still pointing out how we got here from the surface, well, I'd say I have plenty of connections." Shinku has gradually come accustomed to the old man's habit of chuckling and grinning after most of the latter's speech making him somewhat respond with a forced smile. "Although, we can only speak of those things in private." The last speech came out in a more serious yet light tone, with the old man leaning closer to the boy.

"Yeah. Of course. Well, what does it take for me to learn those stuff?" Shinku whispered, in a more eager tone as before.

"Hahaha now we're talkin'. I sure hit some spot there. Well, experience kid, lot's of 'em and well, a veteran like myself to guide ye'." The man suddenly burst into laughter, then abruptly switching to a less humorous tone.

"Well can you teach me?" The boy asked right away, showing his eagerness to learn. The old man did succeed in catching the boy's attention in an interest for the shady part of what he has constantly been referring to as, 'secret of the trade'.

"Hmmmm...sure I can teach ye' some as long as I'm around. But know that once I bring ye' to err...the origin of that ring...we'd have to part ways." The old man touched his chin, uncertain of his current response.

"I do understand. And I'd be grateful for anything I can learn from you." Shinku spoke in his usual polite tone, as he take a bow towards the merchant.

"Hahaha! We'll see what we can do. It's still a long day anyway. Perhaps we can still talk about 'em trade secrets along the way." The old man smiled, amused of the young man's gesture.

The gondola they are in, has almost reached the base of the Ferris wheel, indicating the end of their ride. It was a few moments later when their gondola finally stopped, with the sliding door opening to give way for the duo's exit. Birke stepped down first, with the boy following after, going around to reach the exit at the other end of the structure from where they came in.

"And our tour continues!" Birke stretched his hands upward, then turned his hips to loosen up his muscles from sitting for quite a long time.

Shinku looked around the city, eager of seeing what their next destination would be. He walked forward, following the old man who started to march after a series of stretching exercises.
 

Shinku

Vengeful Assassin of Shadows
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Erde Nona
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The sky is now ablaze with the purplish flame of sunset as the duo's tour around the city is about to come into its end. The young man has started to open up a bit to the old man after a couple of adventures and conversations here and there.

"Ye' ready for tomorrow kid?" Birke asked, as they sit in front of a small shop, consuming some ice cream.

"Hmmm, you mean our departure?" Shinku responded with another inquiry as he enjoy the current snack that has been introduced to him for the first time. He wasn't really into the topic as he indulge himself with the cold cream's sweet and savory flavor.

"Hahaha. Well unless you'd want to stay here instead." The old man laugh noticing how Shinku is enjoying his food.

"Oh of course not. Well...I kind of like it here but well..." The young man almost spilled his food upon the old man's sudden remark but then was able to quickly compose himself up, saving the savory snack he is munching on.

"Nah. I'm just teasing ya'. May be someday we can see each other again and enjoy another vacation in his place." The old man smiled as he watch upon the tangerine ball of light that has set halfway beyond the horizon.

The young man on the other hand suddenly got silent, lost in the same view. It might have been due to the painful past, or the dilemma of whether it is still necessary to walk on the path he is currently threading. The chaos that crumbled his town into ruins still flash before his mind from time to time. He deserved a good life, but the weight of the oath that he brought upon himself can't be lifted unless he fulfill it with his own hands. Had he not been in this city, he wouldn't have thought that there could be another life for him other than the path of vengeance but he can't simply abandon the justice that he meant to bring for his people.

"Well, I would really like to show ye how this city is during the night but well, we have lot's to do tomorrow so we better get going." Noticing the boy's sudden look of despair, Birke decided to make them start travelling home. He quickly stood up, walking ahead, confident that the young man would quickly follow anyway. In his heart, he started to take a liking of his companion but the old man knew that this young man needs to find the path of his own.

Lamp posts has started to kindle their bulbs, illuminating the city that is slowly fading into the afternoon's shadows. Perhaps due to fatigue, the old man chose to remain silent along the way, no matter how much he wants to lighten up the boy's mood. He can feel how his companion is currently struck by pain and despair due to the fact that the young man is now alone with all of his family and friends being murdered.

"Ye may want to stay up if ye' like but I'd wake ye' up before the sun rises tomorrow." The two finally arrived that the old man's shack, with the old man yawning out of tiredness. "Well, me old bones need to take their rest. I guess our tour got me energy drained more than our fight." The old man chuckled trying to make the young man at least smile a bit which he somewhat succeeded. The young man's silence however, proved that bringing back the joy he had earlier isn't that easy.

"Well you can have that bed again. I would like to help ye' more but me body says I had to retire for the night." The old man's voice now came from quite a distance, as Shinku sit on the bed that the old man offered him.

"I'm all good! Thanks for today!" Shinku shouted to make sure the old man hears his response. The silence however, made the young man decide not to bother the old man further. With the lights suddenly turning off, the young man decided to remove the closed shoes he wore, then lay on the soft bet he is currently in. As he close his eyes, tears start to show on the side of his head. It would have been a fun day yet, knowing that it only lasted for a while made the young man regretted that he had to experience them. It would have been better if he had not learned to laugh, and make fun but nevertheless, it did lighten his burden for at least a while.

[Shinku Exits]
 
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