A Priceless Treasure
by Yua

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Dedicated to the fans of Breath of Fire 2, and everyone who's ever wondered about Yua.
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     Slamming her hand down upon the hard oak table, Patty stood up from her seat, and stared vehemently into the eyes of the man across the table. His bulging muscles, wound up in a tight knot in his shoulders, failed to intimidate Patty, as did his almost horse-like appearance. She could feel her hazel eyes burning into his mind. She liked that.
     "I told you," she began, in her smooth yet authoritative voice. "I'm good for the money, and I'll come through on my side of the bargain. You won, fair and square." Ugh, she thought. Those were the two words that very rarely made their way into her vocabulary.
     "Or so you keep trying to tell me. I recall, though, you sayin' that to Fraitz, and you still haven't paid him back!" He grumbled over the table, and squinted his beady eyes at her. Patty tapped her perfectly polished, lengthy red nails against the table, ignoring the dull roar of the bar-patrons surrounding them.
     "Is that so?" She raised an eyebrow.
     "'Tis." The gruff farmer leaned up against the table, and adjusted the loose belt gripping his emerald tunic.
     "Well then.." Patty smiled, running her free hand through her masses of deep, sapphire-blue hair, clasped into a loose ponytail. With that same hand, she ran a finger over her flushed lips, and gently licked her fingertip. "Can't we make some sort of an...arrangement?" She grinned mischievously, leaning further over the table. She could feel him smoldering under her vice of deception.
     "P-perhaps." He choked.
     "In that case," Patty pulled her black cloak tighter to her slender body. The slight extra bulge on her back gave her the appearance that she was concealing something, but the man seemed to pay no notice of it. "I'd like to put on something a little more... sensual. You wait here, I'll come back for you when I'm ready." The mass of muscle simply nodded furtively, while Patty moved lithely upstairs, past the tables full of rowdy patrons, and the nodding heads of the drunks at the bar. This one was a little too easy.

     The sharp wind tossed Patty's hair back like a thousand whips as she threw open the little window of one of the upstairs rooms of the pub. She shed her black cloak quickly, revealing a skimpy, red leather bodysuit, thigh-high red leather boots, and a pair of not-so-inconspicuous membranous bat wings of a light violet shade. She looked down upon the city of Coursair, under the shimmering silver light of the full moon. It felt good to relieve the tension in her wings as she batted them playfully, and measured the angle of the roof in her head.
     In a movement too quick to be perceptible by the average eye, Patty swept down across the roof, sliding off of the tiles like water over a river-stone, landing safely on the ground outside of the inn. She'd succeeded in escaping the wrath of the rather bulky man demanding payment inside the pub. That was the very last time that Patty ever bet on stupid looking oaf with a name that consisted of two repeating syllables. Her eyes darted across the landscape of Coursair, past the speckled blocks of houses dotting the area, towards the huge coliseum in the north end of town that had made it so famous.
     Only, the more she looked at the coliseum, it had began to stretch and twist into something different as her vision faded in and out of focus, sounds and feelings warping inside of her mind.
     Now, resting it's sleek body at the northern edge of town, was a massive dragon, the color of the purest of pearls. "If I sleep here," a little girl's voice echoed. "I'll have dreams of Mom..." Patty instantly knew it was her own voice, as a child... but where did it come from?!
     As reality came back into focus, and the dim lights of Coursair were once again aglow dimly against the cobblestone, Patty set the memory aside. It was useless to try to remember her past! She'd tried everything, but nothing seemed to spark enough of a memory to trigger a complete recovery. The only thing she'd found out that she was adept at in life was thievery. Well, two really, if you counted general knowledge of the occult as a skill, but she was more interested in supernatural profits, really. But none of those skills seemed to bring back any sort of recollection of her childhood.
     Like many of the other children in her situation, Patty had been taken in by the Church of St. Eva. She never understood why, but she left the shelter of the Church of St. Eva at a very young age to become a drifter, and from then on rejected organized religion in it's entirety. Patty supposed she'd been a drifter for about five years, and if the sisters had been correct in their age estimate of her, she was probably about seventeen now. But why was she thinking about all of this?! She was ageless, homeless, and unloved. She was the face of every abandoned child that had cried out from the shadows, and she would rise above it, and extract her revenge.
     Patty stretched her wings out (which were, of course, useless as far as flight went), and took in the damp city air of Coursair while she plotted her next move. There was always that traveling circus tent she could stalk down and stake out tourists, swindling them for every penny they owned with her act as medium with "connections to the spirit world". Or, she could pick-pocket at the bazaar that was going on over by Windia, but the security in Windia was unusually tight nowadays. Besides, pickpocketing could get rather boring after a while. Patty strolled down the cobblestone to the coliseum, leaning up against pillar of stone while she pondered intently. She needed to leave soon, before Horse Brains became conscious of the idea that Patty had no intention of making his every dream come true. Of course, it helped to know where she were going before she started to go there.
     "Wonderful, now where--" She stopped herself. In the deep recesses of her mind, she could remember vaguely a conversation that had drifted into her keen ears back in the pub. She'd heard someone mention the Odyssey, a traveling black market that was setting up on the outskirts of the Tag Woods tomorrow night. And there, to her devious delight, would be one of the world's rarest occult items for sale...

     Opening her eyes groggily, Patty awoke to behold the golden sunset, like a cooling orb of molten iron. The bed of leaves beneath her offered little comfort, but it was the closest thing she could find to a bed in her frantic struggle to get somewhere safe before dawn. She realized, ironically, that she was nocturnal not by instinct, but by necessity. She crawled out from underneath the stone ledge above her, and rubbed her tired eyes. It was all worth it, though, for what she was about to get her hands on.
     The Magic Hood, a mystical item that granted it's wearer the ability to communicate with strange and mysterious creatures and peoples, or so it was rumored, was a priceless item that any wealthy collector would kill to get his hands on. Granted, it was no piece of Dragon Armor, but it was a good find to a treasure hunter like Patty. It was worth sleeping on a thousand pine needles in the dead of the night, and even worth a night of dashing through the Tag Woods with a vague sense of being followed by an unnamed vigilante of love who looked rather like a horse.
     It was the lingering light of the sun that drew back yet another memory to Patty's mind, a new memory. She could vaguely make out the edges of a stained-glass window in a church that she'd never seen before, even in all the houses of St. Eva she'd resided in. Instead of pain, that light brought tears of rapture. She could feel the warm voices of her loved ones covering her in a blanket of childhood bliss. And in her mind's eye, she could see a child's hand reach out and take hers--a hand that radiated more power than she'd ever felt before. She saw his smiling face--his hair, the same mysterious hue as her own. And she heard him whisper, "Wait for me Yua... wait for me, and we'll play your favorite game..." No! Patty shook her head, flinging fresh, salty tears off her cheeks as she scowled. That couldn't have been her childhood! Her name wasn't Yua, and she was never so joyous. She was Patty, the bitter thief who traveled the night skies by the wings of a creature of darkness. She pushed the memories aside into the little space she'd thrown all the other pieces of the puzzle--the puzzle she'd never been able to put together.
     Patty leaped to the top of the stone ledge, and crouched down, covering her eyes from last punishing rays of light from the sun. From her position, she could see the torch-lit caravans of the Odyssey marching to the edge of the Tag Woods, which was where she was currently sitting. Caressing the fading warmth of the stone beneath her, Patty leaped off of the ledge in a quick bound, and pulled her black cloak around her wings as she darted off into the Tag Woods at an incredible speed, hoping she'd left those vague memories behind her forever.

     The black market "Odyssey" was infamous over all of the land for being a labyrinth of financial chaos. You never really knew if you were going to be cheated or not, or if you were even going home with something that wasn't a complete pile of worthless junk. That's why Patty's job was so perfect for the Odyssey. If you never paid for anything, it didn't matter much if you got a good deal or not!
     Patty gazed over the myriad of make-shift booths, tents and caravans, their colors undulating in the flickering torch-lights. There was a constant, dull murmur, traced by the faint sound of crystal chimes ringing variably. Patty knew the sounds all too well. They were the sounds of money.
     With a hearty grin on her face, Patty moved like a shadow through the wave of unsavory "businessmen". She'd taken into consideration that she probably wasn't the only person after the Magic Hood, and certainly not the only treasure hunter out to steal it. She did know, however, that she was the best treasure hunter after the Magic Hood. She was going to get it no matter what--at all costs!
     Her keen intuition of all things costly brought her to a black tent, lit by roaring torches, and marked with a single runescript. Patty mentally brought up a copy of a tome of runes that she'd swiped from a temple not to long ago. Sure enough, it was the rune that symbolized 'Hood'.
     "Yes!" Patty hissed gleefully. "It's mine at last, mine at last!!" She jumped up and down like a child, and began to steal her way into the tent, when a large, muscular hand caught her wrist in a motion vastly more agile than her own.
     "Not so fast, beautiful." Came the gruff voice of her captor--the gruff, familiar, horse-like voice.
     "For the love of..." Patty rolled her eyes.
     "Thought you could get away, eh? And I'm sure you thought you could steal the Magic Hood, as well? Eh, thief? Or should I say, heh... bat thief.." The man's other hand reached out, and snagged Patty's cloak in a movement like a viper's strike.
     "Damnit!" Patty cursed under her breath in a venomous hiss.
     "'Yer not gettin' away this time. Master=Trout will have that hood, and nothing you can do is going to stop him." At that moment Patty perceived a stout, fish-like man with golden scales waddle into the black tent, his greedy hands grasping a sack of gold. He was dressed rather aristocratically, but something about him sparked a memory in Patty that made her entire body jerk. Continually, in brief, painful flashes, Patty could plainly see the young boy who had held her hand in her previous vision, calling her. This boy, who's face was so determined and kind, was calling out to her. Calling her by her real name.. Yua. It was then that her destiny became obvious.
     "Let me go, horsebreath! Let me go!" she howled.
     "Not on 'yer pretty 'lil life." He grunted, and pulled her closer to him. She knew that the two of them had already become lost in the miasma of the Odyssey's shady patrons. There was no help for her now, unless...
     "Fireball!" Patty cried, and pulled as hard she could away from the horseman's grasp. As she'd planned, he let go of her and took a defensive stance, while Patty escaped his grasp, and darted into the tent while the horseman was still awaiting the blast of a fireball that was never to come.

     "What d'ya mean you sold it already?!" Patty screamed at the shriveled old man behind the glass display of various hoods. "You could have sold him any one of these fake magic hoods and you sold him the real one?!"
     "L-l-like I said, Miss Batty.."
     "It's PATTY!" She roared across the display.
     "R-r-right. Like I said, he said he could tell! And he picked it out of the whole bunch, and paid me a sum I couldn't refuse! He had a strange power about him, a weird aura.."
     "Can it! I don't wanna hear about what kind of aura he had, I want that Magic Hood!" She growled. "Wait... It was.. Master Trout, right?"
     "Y-y-yes, Miss Ba-"
     "Patty." She snapped. "That wouldn't be the Master Trout, of HomeTown--would it?" she thought to herself, out loud. It was then that Patty felt the strange wave of comfort at the memory of the young boy, and knew she was going to find that hood if her life depended on it.. in fact, she was almost certain that it did. "Thanks anyway." She smiled, and began to exit the tent, but as she did she ran into a hard, bulging figure behind the entrance.
     "Didn't think you'd get away that easily, did you?" Mocked the voice behind the tent.
     "You rank about a ten on the Dumb Scale, pal. Don't you get it? I'm too quick, and too clever for you. So get lost!" Patty smirked.
     "My name, Miss Patty, is Rainen.. and with this new power that God has given me, I will show you how quick and clever I truly am!" Rainen roared, and stepped inside of the tent. His massive body began to glow a faint red color. In a horrifying instant, his body morphed into that of a hideous monster. His skin became scaled and oozing, and his body took the form of hideous lizard-like creature. Patty backed away, but his hand flew out like an elastic band and smashed into her face sending her flying across the tent. As she landed, she looked for the old man, but he was gone. He'd probably done the wise thing, and crawled underneath the tent and slipped out.
     "Not... bad..." She choked, and wiped the blood from her lips.
     "Hmph. Pathetic woman! You will soon appreciate my strength!" Patty cringed and closed her eyes, knowing that her short life as a thief was about to come to an immediate halt, when she heard a loud thumping noise, and a gurgling moan. She quickly hid behind the display case, and peaked through it, hoping she wouldn't be seen.
     She saw a beautiful, equestrian creature standing before the puddle of ooze that was Rainen. Rainen's body was paled by the newcomer, who had obviously smashed the creature to death with his sheer might. Unlike the bulging, tense-mass of muscle that Rainen was before he'd become a monster, this man's figure was beautiful, and rare.
     "That was him..." said the man to himself, in a calm voice. "The man--no, creature that has been fixing the Coliseum battles lately. What's the world coming to, now? It feels like... I'm on the verge of a strange destiny. Nah, I'm just being weird again." The man chuckled at himself, and left the strange puddle in the tent. But Patty knew exactly what he meant about the verge of destiny, and she somehow knew she was on it as well.

     The light of the afternoon sun sprinkled down from the clouds and played happily over Patty's head as she crossed the bridge on her way to HomeTown. Her journey wasn't just about finding the Magic Hood anymore, it was about finding herself.
     The soft wind teased her hair mischievously, and her cape billowed behind her in it's wake, but her wings were revealed. She no longer had to hide herself from the world. She would be nothing but a living blur in their memories.
     Perhaps it was this event in her life that caused her to set some of her bitterness aside, and perhaps it was destiny that led her forward now. To Patty, her life was melting into an endless dream, that propelled her into the future intently.
     She supposed this strange interlude in her life was probably brief, and her bitter feelings towards the world would probably return, but she decided she'd set that aside for now, and travel by day for once in her life. The sun was warm, and the grass beneath her feet was soft and springy, and for once in her life she didn't take that for granted.
     Patty had learned two very important things from this experience that she would never forget. First of all, never bet on ax wielding oafs whose names bare only two repeating syllables. Secondly, memories, like Magic Hoods, are priceless. And with that in mind, Patty resolved herself to set out into the world, and reclaim a couple of priceless items of her own.