Heroes a la mode

NOTE: *Extremely minor 'Bravely Default' spoilers follow*

Edea had been fantasizing of this moment for what must have been months. “After this quest is all done,” she’d told Agnes excitedly. “You and me are going down to The Drunken Pig, and I’m going to make you try something more than a salad if it kills you!”

“By ourselves?” Agnes had intervened, her face betraying her nervousness. Edea had wondered at the time whether Agnes still mistrusted her, or was simply anxious at the thought of being away from Tiz.

Nevertheless, here they were, the saving of the world behind them, and massive platters of food before them. Edea had dug greedily into her first course, only stopping occasionally to peer over at Agnes, who was timidly pecking away at her meal of fish, while chatting with Edea about her life as a vestal, and her plans for the future. Edea simply nodded through mouthfuls of food, every so often swallowing so that she could interject with a question or comment. In this way, their conversation continued through the evening at an almost rhythmic pace. Even Agnes seemed much more eager than usual - the din of the pub, so often an annoyance to her silence-accustomed ears, seemed to fade away into the background as she recounted her tale. None of them payed much mind to the singer struggling to be heard over the noise, and neither noticed when the music stopped altogether.

“It isn’t fair…” Praline grumbled, letting her candy-pink microphone drop to the floor as she slunk off-stage, slumping dejectedly into a seat at the nearest empty table. The pub was alive with the roar of bawdy sailors and tittering merchants - none had cared even a single pg for her singing. And she’d even written a new verse of ‘Love in the Crossfire’ just for tonight!

“The usual, ma'am?” Praline didn’t even bother to look up at the waiter who had addressed her. Head buried firmly in her palms, she mumbled “Extra, please. Tonight I need to drown my sorrows…” The man bowed politely and walked off towards the kitchen at a brisk pace. They’d never said any more than that to each other, and yet Praline felt an odd sort of attachment to the man - he was the only person nowadays that seemed to ever recognize she existed.

It hadn’t always been like this. She’d been successful, once - famous even, after the Grand Marshall himself had employed her singing talents to raise the moral of his troops. All that had been taken away from her in one fell swoop when that mean, wicked Wind Vestal, Agnes Oblige, had shown up with her gang and utterly humiliated her in front of a crowd of two armies. Her biggest performance ever, ruined by some stupid little girl! Praline should have been grateful they left her alive, but even that stung in its own cruel way - she’d come to realize that they had only spared her because they didn’t see her as a threat. They probably thought she was just some stupid, harmless bimbo singer. And then they’d come back from some dumb quest or another, and suddenly everybody was hailing them as heroes, while she was left to rot in the corner of the pub. Ohhh, it just wasn’t fair!

“The forbidden song…” the words rang in her ears, as clear as she’d heard them first, weeks past. She’d been told not to sing it by the same mysterious man who had informed her of its existence… but that if she did sing it, that she’d get whatever she wanted. That too, was unfair. Why tell somebody they can have something, then tell them not to do it?

The sound of glass knocking against wood stirred the singer from her gloomy contemplation. Her ice cream had arrived - scoops of chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, mint, and pistachio, drizzled in hot chocolate and caramel, and topped off with light cream and a cherry. Despite her sorrows, Praline’s eyes widened, her face radiating joy at the sweet feast set out in front of her. “T-thank you!” She exclaimed. The waiter bowed before leaving, as always, but Praline swore she saw a hint of a smile grace his lips. She lifted her first spoonful to her lips and let the taste soak into her tongue, but the flavor soured in her mouth as she caught glimpse of the two girls sitting across the room, backs turned to her.

They were here? They couldn’t be here! Ohhh, she was just about to have a nice time for once, and now the 'heroes’ had come back to spoil everything! It was so entirely, tremendously, impossibly unfair!

…Or so she thought, until a delicious idea graced her mind..

Just as Edea and Agnes had never bothered to notice the singer’s abrupt silence, so too were they ignorant to her return to the stage. Their ears only faintly registered her song - a new one this time, dark and mournful, a chant in some foreign tongue or another. There were so many bodies crowded into the pub, it was difficult to notice anybody you weren’t looking for. Likewise, despite the throngs of people surrounding them, not a single one would notice as the two young women simply vanished from existence, leaving one half-eaten platter of fish and a stack of empty meat bowls.

It was cold, Edea thought. So dreadfully cold. Darkness engulfed her. She tried to move her body, but couldn’t. What had happened? She’d just been at the pub with Agnes, and then… was this what death felt like? She tried to wiggle her fingers, and this time, despite the numbing freeze, she recognized the texture on her digits. Her tongue darted out, and the sweet taste instantly confirmed her guess. Ice cream! But that didn’t make any sense… Why would she be covered in-

The frozen dessert in front of her abruptly gave way to a shiny metal spoon, flooding her vision with a dim light. Edea blinked a few times, squinting, gradually bringing her surroundings into focus. A massive girlish face beamed down at her, licking her glistening lips, vanilla trickling down the corner of her mouth.

“What a delightful surprise!~”

Story by Hrathe
Artwork by SednaStudio-LRC

High resolution (2481x3507)

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