The Street of Factors
Kyaro town was as beautiful as ever, even with the pouring rain trickling over windowsills and forming puddles of cool, crystalline liquid upon the cobblestone roads. Even the dark clouds of this particular rainy day failed to hinder the activities of the local children, taking part in the rollick of the norm for their age and engaging in their routine chases. The drops fell in no particular rhythm into the small body of water that ran through the town; under bridges and burbling with excess liquid.
Rowd, Captain of the Highland Unicorn Brigade, pressed his forehead against the segmented glass of the window that separated him from the elements outside. Weary, deep set eyes watched as the melancholy rain trickled down the steam-stained portal and rolled off onto the sill where it pooled in an ever-changing manner. A single hand was placed against the pane as he supported himself; those few errant strands of tawny hair played with his vision of the outside world. The thin sigh that escaped the Captain of the Youth Brigade's lips was cause for his broad shoulders to rise and fall with the weighted breath, as he turned to look within the room he was seated.
There she was, sitting at the small table in the middle of the room; the perfect young woman. For a moment, Rowd's doleful expression gave hint of a strained smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. But it was not long before that shadow of a smile was swept away by further thoughts. The Captain turned his pensive blues outside again. Even in the gloom, it was a beauty his sister was never able to see, and he had come to respect that beauty.
" Brother...?" that soft voice interrupted Rowd's train of thought, pulling his mind out of the gray clouds as he turned to rest his vision on his flaxen-haired sister. The girl turned her head to face in the general direction in which her brother was perched upon a chair by the window, soft cerulean lenses transfixed in the position of sightlessness, forever remained unblinking.
" ... Yes?" the Captain replied, slinking his medium frame from the chair and pulling it to the other side of the table, where he took a seat. His ungloved hands fell into a loose cupping on the sleek wooden table between himself and his dearest sister - the only remains of his family.
" You seem troubled," the girl noted, her head tilted itself lightly to the side as she retained her visionless stare upon her brother. Her voice welled with concern as she, too, placed her hands atop the table before reaching one silken hand over the gap between them and placing it upon her sibling's own. " ... is something wrong?"
Without hesitation, Rowd's own hands cupped the smaller ones of his blind sister, eyes locked on the slender formation of her young digits; the likes of which melted into the elegant arches of her wrists and lead up those tenuous arms. She was so beautiful, and yet she could not see any beauty. He shook his head gently as he cleared his throat in a vain attempt to accentuate the contentment he didn't feel.
"No, nothing is wrong," the Captain's tiers formed a feigned smile through which his solemn words were filtered, running his thumb over the back of his sister's hand as he continued to analyze it. A moral dilemma was presented to him in these last few days ... Things that he would never dream of doing in situations where the need wasn't dictated. But... but ...
"All right," the fairer of the two said, firmly gripping her brother's hand as he was to hers. She was young and sightless, yes; but she had an insight to the feelings of her sibling that perhaps he didn't even know of. The hand free from the Captain's grasp rose slowly to rest on the side of his face, a tender stroke and a smile came over the young girl's features. A change in the subject was imminent, now.
" ... The weather is dreary today, " the girl began, turning her head off to face the window where the sound of the rain lapping the windowpane was louder than the sound of her own breath against the still air of their home. A few seconds of silence interjected as her attention was slowly placed back upon her brother.
The sounds of laughter permeated the walls of the establishment as children ran by the window; their feet striking the wet cobblestone and disturbing the puddles as they continued in their games of tag. The girl tilted her head lightly as she took in these sounds, her blue-cloaked shoulders heaved gently with a longing sigh.
The Captain closed his heavy eyes as he rested his head in the feathery palm of his sister's hand. He knew of her desire to be with the others; to frolic amongst the drops of rain, and see the world for what it was, other than from what it sounded and felt like. There was a sudden stiffening of Rowd's form, as he leaned his back against the wooden chair and took both of his sister's hands within his own, resting them on the table between them.
" Don't worry. As soon as I get enough money, I am going to bring you to the finest doctor in all of Toran, and we are going to fix your eyes... I promise... " the elder brother whispered as he slowly rose from his chair, abandoning the hands of his sister as he pushed it in, and walked around the other side of the table. One hand reached down to take up his sister's hand in his own as she rose form her seat.
Though, as she arose to stand, the flaxen-haired blind girl released her grip of her brother's hand to throw her arms about him, burying her head in the soft texture of his shirt. Though elated, the mentioning of this to the young girl sent her body into a jolt of silent tears, to which the Captain's arms were placed about the girl's smaller form and pulled into an embrace. Rowd allowed his chin to rest lightly atop the fragrant mass of sunkissed filaments. Silently, his own conscience waged a war far more brutal than anything he had ever before taken part of, and as his sister found comfort in the arms of her brother, his own emotions threatened to break the barrier that divided the sexes. He wanted to break down then and there, and instead a silent drop of saline liquid was shed and dismissed for the cause.
The sun had disappeared long ago now, yet the sound of the heaven's weeping continued to lap incessantly at the glass and the road outside. The girl; fast asleep in the room they shared, comforted by the hopes of one day gaining the vision she never had. The man, however ... busily at work in the rooms below.
Seven candles lit the table at which the Captain sat, book after book piled atop one another as he searched, in hope of an easier remedy. For hours Rowd's deep eyes perused the pages of medical documentation after medical documentation. Weary hands propped his head up in despair, grasping the short streaks of tawny hair as his elbows threatened to leave indentations on the surface of the wood. His head throbbed incessantly, the pounding of his heartbeat resounded in his ears as his eyes fought to remain open.
The words were no longer words; masses of foreign markings jumbled together to create the illusion of markings he would understand. No matter how hard the Captain tried, his efforts in searching for another answer to his problem were in vain. A thick sigh rumbled throughout the man's chest as he shoved the book aside, his hands running over the length of his face until it was cupped within the two of them. He allowed his fatigued eyes to rest a moment more, when he reached for the last book. Something else caught his attention.
Under the mass of papers and research scrawled across the table that was serving as his working desk was an envelope, sealed with the waxen emblem of the Highland nobility, itself. One hand fell from supporting his tired head and reached out, taking the envelope in hand and opening it. The seal was already broken - he had already read it. But perhaps ... just perhaps ... this time was the time he would need to respond to it.
Rowd leaned back in his chair, his aching back supported by the hard, wooden seat; elbows rested laxly on the tabletop as he skimmed over the letter. Brows furrowed deeply in response to the message ... and the signature at the bottom. Signed by the Prince, Luca Blight, himself.
The Captain folded the letter up neatly, replacing it into its envelope and placed it in lightly upon the tabletop before him. He remained seated for a good while as he perused the idea presented to him, and the promise he made to his sister. His decision was made, and he rose from his seat, taking up his coat from the back of his chair in the process.
The tawny-haired man stepped towards the door, then paused as his vision slipped back towards the table. He backtracked a short distance, retrieving the envelope and placing it within the inside breast pocket of his overcoat, then shortly after leaning over to blow out all but one of those candles. This done, the Captain strode for the door once more, and slipped out into the night. The night in which he would sell his soul to keep a promise.
It had been a week since the Youth Brigade left Kyaro town to train in the Tenzan pass. The next morning was the designated return time of the young soldiers, back to their familles and to their homes. Or, at least that is what was said to be true, anyway. The Captain stood in silence, staring at the flickering flame of the candle in his tent. A cold breeze filtered the tent, threatening to quell the flame that danced upon the heightened stick. All was silent. It was time, and Rowd exited his tent.
"IT'S AN AMBUSH! AN ATTACK BY THE CITY-STATES!" a hoarse voice pierced the din of silence as confusion erupted within the Tenzan pass. The arrows flew, piercing the air with the sharp whistles of their shafts cutting the atmosphere with little resistance. Members of the Highland Royal Unicorn Youth Brigade scrambled from their tents unawares of the happenings around them, until one by one their friends and allies were struck down by the flurry of lethal projectiles.
Rowd stood back amongst the shadows of the trees, furious blazes engulfing the camps as the young men scrambled in search of a way out of the heat of the ambush. Those stormy eyes reflected the light of the blaze with an impassive hue, flickering deep within his very person. His arms, locked tightly over his chest as he watched each of those young soldiers fall under the impact of the tainted arrows flying in from within the dense foliage. This was wrong. Very wrong.
Two young soldiers emerged from within one of the tents baring faces of surprise, one with long champagne hued hair, the other with a short sable brown. Weapons at their sides, the young men stopped in the middle of the camp, shielding themselves from the burning cinders that burnt their eyes, carried by the hot wind of war... upon it lingered the scent of death.
" Genkaku's Boy! Joui!" Rowd shouted, having quickly emerged from within his leafy hiding place to confront the two boys. Cleverly, the Captain put on a facade of breathlessness, sword unsheathed and held at his side stained with the blood of an unknown victim. He stopped a few feet from the boys. His face; a mask of astonishment, and anger.
"Captain Rowd! What's going on?" the taller of the two asked, long champagne filaments whipped by the incendiary wind that ravaged the treetops surrounding the pass. One hand was clamped tightly around the long, thin rod of his staff-like weapon; ready for use at any time.
" It is a surprise attack by the City-state!" the Captain wheezed, leaning against his weapon for support. A fine actor he could be, when the chips were down. " They've broken the peace agreement, those scum..."
The two boys looked at one another as their Captain spoke, their expressions thus quickly shifted from confusion to incredulous surprise. The blonde took a half step forward, but before he was allowed to respond to the statement the Captain made, Rowd continued.
" It looks like we're surrounded, " he began again, shifting his glance in all directions as though expecting to be ambushed at every corner -- paranoia seeping into his expression as he drew the tip of his blade from within the ground and stood tall once again. After a moment, Rowd continued with his speech, nodding off to the path in the east. " Listen to me - Take the mountain path to the east and save yourselves. I will keep them back, now HURRY!"
Without further hesitation, the boys disappeared beyond the tents aflame to the east, and Rowd's shoulders relaxed as they vanished into the distance. With a heavy thud, his blade fell from his gloved hand into the dirt, an upraise of dust slowly settling again soon after. There was an intermezzo of silence for a good few minutes, as the Captain of a brigade he more or less slaughtered himself looked down to his palms, and knew that he had forfeited his chances of ever removing the stains from his hands.
All for hopes that a promotion was at hand. All for hopes of advancement within the ranks of the Highland military, and all in hopes of keeping a promise to the one thing left to love in his life;
La passione commuove la storia
La sabbia del tempo scorre.
I bambini giocano sulle colline.
Un giorno il dolore finir.
(Although passions move history,
The sands of time flow slowly
Children play on a hill,
At last, those sad memories can be forgotten. )
~La Passione Commuove la Storia, Genso Suikoden Development Team.
Author's Notes: My first completed fic! It's sort of rushed towards the end, that's what happens when you grow bored of things, I guess. The title was taken from the name of an arranged Suikoden song... really lovely. I wrote to this song on a rainy day. ^^; Why a fic about Rowd, you ask? Simple! Because I was tired of seeing him portayed as either the world's biggest scumbag, or the world's biggest moron! I've done extensive research on his character, and based upon my findings, this is what came to me. If you'd like to see where I got my information, please visit http://www.geocities.com/lucorea/genso/! In fact, if you really feel ambitious, you can actually find his sister in Kyaro town at the beginning of the game. She's in the house nearest to the right side of the town, but not advancing a screen further; the house on the hill.