Dimensions Collide: Destiny Bond
Chapter 3: Strangers to Friends
ered. He tried another route. ”Have you ever been appraised? ”
”Once, ” she muttered. ”By the chief. ”
Quarta desperately wanted to know who ”the chief ” was, but asking that wouldn get him any answers that would matter.
”Do you know what you were appraised as? ”
”A demon. ”
That explained the rumours. Someone she knew must have seen her and spread the word. Quarta didn know what her past was, but…
”Prota, do me a favour. ” He was about to ask her if she would be willing to go and get appraised, but that would probably yield the same result and cause an even greater mess. He could only think of one more thing to do.
”Can you hold my hand? ”
Her eyes went wide, then she shook her head with an energy he hadn seen before.
”Ah… I see, ” Quarta sighed. ”Oh, well. It was worth a shot. ”
Zero popped out of Quartas body.
”He wants to try to help. Actually, though… I do know what your condition is. ”
Prota stared at Zero. Quarta just sighed.
”Yeah, you only tell me that because… ”
Zero shrugged. ”[redacted] ”
The noise that came out of his mouth was similar to that of the censor on TV when someone swears. There was a long, continuous beep that both Quarta and Prota could hear, and his mouth was blurred to prevent lip reading.
Prota looked at Quarta, demanding answers.
”Sorry. Its a bit complicated. I promise Ill tell you when we get the time. ”
Prota looked at him, this time with an emotion Quarta couldn discern.
”…thank you… ” she whispered quietly.
”Thank you, ” she said, a little bit louder. She looked like she wanted to give him a hug, but was afraid to.
Johns heart was about to burst. ”Can I hug her? Please? ”
”Yeah, thanks a lot, ” he grumbled. He looked down at the child.
”Well, well deal with this, Prota, ” John smiled. ”I promise. Ok? ”
A few months passed by with the schedule being the same. Quarta ran the bar, making money to pay for food and drink, while Prota hid upstairs and generally just did nothing. A week after Quarta had found Prota, hed quickly realised that she was getting bored and went out and bought books for her. She was an intelligent child, and while she couldn go to school, she read anything Quarta brought, from fiction to books on how to train ones mana core. The only problem with the mana core books was that they both found out she didn have one.
”Thats unlucky, ” Quarta said. ”…How do you use magic, anyways? Can you use magic? ”
Prota shrugged, and it was pointless to ask Zero, who wouldn be able to say anything anyways.
”Well, back to the drawing board, ” Quarta sighed.
Each day, however, was the same. Wake up, go down to the bar, tend the bar, go back up, sleep, repeat.
Finally, one day broke the monotony.
”Why don you come down and help me out? ” Quarta said. ”Isn it getting boring up there? ”
”You could, I don know, wash dishes or something. ”
”Quarta, thats child labour, ” Zero pointed out. ”Thats illegal. ”
”No, Im just saying if shes bored, why doesn she come down? Besides, is child labour even a thing here? ”
To the surprise of both of them, she agreed quite easily, although she was curious as to what Quarta meant by ”child labour here ”. With that, she was downstairs, shorter than the bar, but putting dishes into the sink whenever Quarta handed her a plate, bowl or cup.
Unfortunately, things didn go as smoothly as Quarta had thought they would.
”Hey! Its the demon child! ”
There was a loud noise of scraping as everyone got up, weapons drawn in response to the cry. The mood had gone from friendly to dangerous in seconds.
The person whod called out Prota was a large, muscular man who was clearly deeply intoxicated, and not a regular. In fact, many of the regulars who sat near the bar had noticed Prota but had chosen not to say anything out of respect for Quarta. As far as everyone was concerned, Quarta was a regular bartender. The regulars knew better. He was someone not to be messed with, someone who appeared normal on the outside but was a monster on the inside. These regulars exchanged uneasy glances as a mob started to gather around the bar.
”Hey, that girl does sort of look like the one in the rumors… ”
”Nah, look how clean she is. Isn the girl in the rumors like a husk? ”
”Anyone would be looking fine after living a few months with the bartender… ”
”Kill her. ”
”Kill her. ”
”Kill her. ”
Prota was trembling as she hid behind Quarta, who had taken a defensive position. The regulars were either trying to discourage the crowd or were leaving. His eyes, normally lifeless, were now blazing with anger.
The muscular one whod gathered the mob lept over the counter, smashing glasses left and right, but felt himself grabbed and then facing the back wall, crashing into it with a loud thud. The mob quieted down as they all stared at Quarta. Hed somehow used his larger, heavier opponents momentum and used it against him, redirecting it in such a way that hed been… knocked out?
One of the adventurers stepped forwards.
”Sir bartender. I don know what you
e doing with her, but… that is a threat right there. You need to hand her over. ”
”Hand her over, my ass. Do you always prey on little kids? ” He didn wait for a response. ”Prota, run upstairs. ”
The girl wasted no time in getting to the door, but took one last glance at Quarta.
”Go! ” he exclaimed, waving her away. ”Stay up there until I come to get you. ” His tone of voice wasn to be argued with.
She went up, but not before Quarta saw the expression on her face.
It was fear. However, the fear wasn of the crowds. It was for John.
”Heh… with a face like that, how can I lose? ”
”Whoop their asses, John, ” Zero said in his mind, calling him by a long forgotten name for the first time in a long time.
”You betcha, ” Quarta said.
He faced the mob. It was roughly twenty to one.
”Whos first? ”
Prota sat, huddled, waiting for the noises to stop. She could hear loud crashes, grunts, cries of pain and anger, and worried.
For the second time in her life, she had found someone to care for her. Prota was a girl who craved love but never got it, and received hatred from the people she wanted to bond with. John had ignored everything everyone else had seen and taken her in anyways. And now, he was going to be taken away from her.
She didn cry. Shed been through too much pain to cry out of sadness. But her heart ached. Maybe she shouldve told Quarta everything; the monster that took her sister, how she had accidentally killed her parents, how the village had essentially outcasted her… it was too late, now. There was no way he would win against a crowd that size. If what he had said was true, he was just a manaless bartender, and there were at least three adventurers in that crowd. It wouldn even be close.
Still, all she could do was wait. She considered going down to help, but… she couldn bear the awful feeling of taking someones life, taking their soul and watching them fall lifelessly. Shed never done so out of anger, only by mistake, but… maybe?
Soon, the noises quieted down. She could hear thumping noises as someone came up the stairs. She looked wildly around for somewhere to hide, but it was too late, anyways. The door opened.
”Q- Quarta? ” Prota cried out uncharacteristically.
The familiar face was bruised and bloody, but grinning from ear to ear. A frown replaced the smile as he reacted to her words.
”What, did you think Id lose? What did you take me for, a weakling? ”
She just sat down, a huge weight lifted off her shoulders. She collapsed to her knees. Quarta rushed over, concerned that hed done something to harm her.
”Hey, hey, whaoh, are you ok? ”
”Thank… thank you… ” she sobbed. ”Thank you… ”
Quarta looked at her with confusion, but shook his head and smiled. a
e welcome. ”