I apologize for the corn.
Chapter 2 A Date!
Throngs of people flow back and forth through the outdoor shopping district. The open doors of stores are thrown open to the customers meandering about the mall situated in downtown Ellinia. Slivers of sunshine filter down into the open court, which is beautified with cleanly swept tile floors and columns of youthful trees lining the center of the walkway.
Grim navigates his way through the hordes of people chattering noisily and carrying shopping bags. He presses a cell phone to his ear. Ah, Ill be there very soon. Yeah. Bye. He hangs up, closes his phone, and replaces it in his pocket. He glances at a digital clock hanging over the wall of a large clothing store, which reveals the date to be a Saturday.
For several seconds, Grim continues striding straight ahead purposefully. Then he stops for a moment. He watches the shoppers around him attentively. He places a hand in his pocket, feeling the smooth fabric of his mana gauntlet, hidden away from view.
This is just an ordinary rendezvous; as long as I dont stray too far away from the shopping district, I shouldnt have anything to worry about. All the same, it shouldnt hurt to stay vigi
Grim turns in place, and finds Ophelia, his classmate, waving at him from the top of a short flight of steps leading into a bookstore. Pulled away from his thoughts, Grim smiles and returns the wave, jogging slightly to meet Ophelia at the top of the steps.
Im sorry about being late, Grim says as he meets Ophelia, did I keep you waiting long?
No, silly, Ophelia replies sweetly, her long orange hair flowing gently in the soft daylight breeze, I knew youd be late anyway, Grimey. Youre always late.
I suppose youre right, Grim returns, inclined to laugh at his tardiness. He stares for a long second deeply into her bright blue eyes, the color of the tropical ocean, or the bright blue sky above it.
So! Grimey, Ophelia announces, what are we doing today?
Grim puts on a grin. Ah, it was my payday yesterday, so since I needed to do some shopping today, I thought we could make a day of it.
Eh Ophelia mews.
Hushed customers converse in dulled tones inside the bookstore. Outside, the echoing chatter of shoppers wafts into the store. Ophelia maneuvers herself through several shelves of books, peering curiously past each one. She finally discovers Grim glaring a shelf of books behind one row.
History section again, Grimey? Ophelia asks, as she joins Grim behind the shelf.
Yes, Grim answers affirmatively, since were going over the Fourth Mana War in history next week, I need to purchase a textbook for it.
You still havent bought it? Ophelia inquires huffily. You sure are slow about getting these sort of things done, arent you, Grimey?
Grim gives her a faint smile. I assure you I dont intend to procrastinate.
But you know, Grimey, Ophelia continues, taking girls out to buy books for yourself isnt fun. Are you sure were gonna do something more fun after this?
Grim blushes profusely at the comment. He turns away, attempting, and failing, to be highly engrossed in his textbook. Ah, well, I-I suppose I mean, did you have something in mind?
I want to ride a ferris wheel.
HAH?! Grim exclaims. The closest one isnt for He pauses suddenly, casually glancing at a particular page in the book. His eyes immediately fall upon a certain picture on the page, and Grim freezes completely at the sight of it.
His breathing becomes ragged, and his hands begin shaking. Ophelia, however, does not take notice. Come on, Grimey! Ive always wanted to ride a ferris wheel. Its myhm? Whats wrong, Grimey?
Nothing, Grim heaves, managing to pull a straight face together. He calms himself down by shutting the book in his hands. Grim lowers the book, and shoots Ophelia a wry smile. This should be enough. Lets get going. If Im going to take you to the ferris wheel, we wont have much time to get there before they open for the night, and then the fees going to be double for the same ride.
Hehe, I didnt know you were so cheap, Grimey.
Grim and Ophelia join the queue waiting in line at the cash register. A girl with long brown hair and quietly pronounced features is running the register. She receives each customer with a pleasant Welcome to Boundaries Bookstore!
However, as Grim and Ophelia wait in line, a gang of men stomp into the store, yelling raucously and calling attention upon themselves. Grim turns his head with disdain to watch the men trash the store. His hand tightens upon the spine of his textbook. Ophelia instinctively draws closer to Grim.
One of the men, the apparent leader, saunters his way up to the front desk, pushing Grim out of the way. He heads directly for the girl running the cash register.
Welcome to Bound
The gang leader pulls out a gun, and points it directly in the girls face. Hey baby, gimme all ya got.
I-Im sorry? the girl asks fearfully.
The members of the gang now gather themselves around the cash register, closing in on all the nervous customers waiting in queue. The leader reaches forward, grabbing the clerk directly in the chest. He points his gun straight in her face. I said gimme all the mesos ya got, sweet cakes.
Stop it! Grim hollers. He rushes forward, but one of the gang members immediately throws him aside with ease. Grim goes flying off his feet, crashing into a shelf of books nearby with a crash.
Grimey! Ophelia cries, running forward. However, the same thug whod hit Grim grabs Ophelia from behind, restraining her with a malicious look in his eyes.
Get your hands off her! Grim yells, immediately equipping his mana glove. Magic Claw! A blast of mana escapes from Grims hand and explodes around the thug in the shape of a pair of claws. Blood spews out of the man, as he is thrown to the floor in a bloody mess.
The leader finally takes notice of Grim, turning to face him with a dangerous sneer on his face. Look what we have here, a troublemaker, eh?
Grim raises his hand again, a murderous glint in his black eyes. You sorry excuses for human beings Blue mana seeps from his hand, electrifying sparks popping in the atmosphere around it.
Before Grim can cast another spell, however, a hand grabs his own, and forces it down. Grim looks over, and a young woman with long red hair steps past him. Thats enough, she hisses, and points a pistol at the leader. Hey, jackass, how about leaving this store before I blow a hole through your forehead?
The leader continues sneering, cradling his own gun. But the red-haired woman clicks the pistol threateningly. The leaders face falls, and with great reluctance, he steps away, motioning for the rest of his gang to follow him out.
The red-haired girl lowers her gun with a weary sigh. Those bastards. Theyre such cowards in daylight. She looks over at Grim, who seems awestruck at her appearance. Are you all right? Those jackasses occasionally give us trouble, but its not enough that we cant handle it.
I suppose, Grim mutters. He pulls his mana glove off, and places it back in his pocket.
The girl watches Grim go through the motion carefully. Are you a licensed mage?
Of course, Grim replies in his usual condescending demeanor. He flashes the girl a smile. If I were you, Id be more worried about myself pulling out a gun in the middle of a public facility.
The girl smirks. I really dont care. Youre not going to report me to the police, are you?
Of course not, Grim sneers, you saved me. I do not like owing favors, but I cant deny that you helped me out back there. I dont believe Ive ever seen you working at this store. What is your name again?
Halibel, the girl answers, holding out a hand for Grim to shake. They clasp hands briefly. Halibel Alumina. I work here part-time, since Im away often. But since I know the owner personally, Im allowed to work here whenever Im in town.
I see, Grim replies. Im Grim L. Wright.
Ophelia rejoins Grim at his side, grabbing him worryingly. Youre not hurt, are you, Grimey?
Grim glances at his own arms, which are bruised slightly from his fall. Ah, just a couple cuts and bruises here and there. Nothing to worry about, I can handle them myself.
Ah! Halibel suddenly gasps. Thats right, were you here to buy anything?
Grim picks his textbook up from the floor. Just this, he retorts.
Halibel nods, walking over to the cash register, where the clerk is still hunched over, sobbing profusely. Halibel pats the girl on the shoulder, comforting her gently.
Ill handle your transaction, Grim, Halibel announces.
Grim strides to the front desk with Ophelia. He glances at the traumatized clerk. Hey! Youre
You know Sally? Halibel asks, looking over at the clerk as well. She places Grims textbook in a plastic bag.
Sort of, Grim replies, Ive seen her at school. Shes one grade below me.
Sally pauses briefly between her sobs to look up at Grim and Ophelia. She hiccups slightly. Th-thank you for trying to help me back then, she chokes.
Grim appears taken aback at Sallys appreciation. He nods awkwardly, taking the plastic bag from Halibels outstretched hand. Y-Yeah, no problem. I only did what I felt I had to do.
Ophelia grins cheerfully. Thats our Grimey!
Behind the distant skyscrapers of downtown Ellinia, the sun sets to close the day. Hues of orange and pink disappear into the horizon, even as the steady tide of navy blue bleeds into the twilight sky.
Two figures walk side by side back towards the vicinity of the Ellinia Academy. One, tall and proud, with dark black hair, and the other, a bit shorter, but much more cheerfully attractive with her long orange hair.
Ophelia tilts her head towards Grims shoulder wearily. Im tired, Grimey.
Yeah, Grim agrees. Who wouldnt be, after eating all that cotton candy for dinner and then riding the ferris wheel three times.
Well you still had money left from your payday! Ophelia argues.
Yet you didnt have to force me to spend it all Grim sighs.
The two walk together in silence for several moments, as the silhouette of the academy, growing darker by the minute in the evening sky, approaches them. At last, Ophelia opens her mouth to speak again.
Why did you help that girl back in the bookstore?
Grim stares at the floor for some time. I dont know.
You dont know why?
Grim shakes his head. I suppose I wanted to help her.
Let me tell you why, then, Ophelia smiles, looking into Grims eyes as she speaks, its because youre Grim L. Wright! You stand up for justice like no one else I know. Youre the one person I know who will never accept the status quo. You couldnt stand those guys causing trouble, so you tried to stop them!
It seems you know me better than myself sometimes, Grim replies in a stoic tone. Privately to himself, however, he smiles broadly to the darkness surrounding them.
As the dormitory wing of the Ellinia Academy comes closer, Grim stops in his tracks. Sorry, Ophelia, but Im going to have to leave you here.
Hm? Ophelia asks, perplexed. But were not at the student dormitories yet! This is the teachers dormitories.
Yeah, I have some business with one of the teachers, Grim replies, I wanted to ask them a question about the homework. You head back to your dorm, Ophelia. Ill see you tomorrow.
Are you sure? Ophelia inquires lightly. Well, see you later, Grimey.
Yeah, later, Grim retorts, waving as Ophelia walks by herself back to the dormitory.
He turns and faces the building closest to him. Grim saunters up to the door and enters the dim hallway inside. He approaches the first door to his left, and knocks once.
Immediately, a wizened old man opens the door, and beckons Grim to enter. Grim slips into the room inside, which is considerably larger and more elaborate than Grims own student dormitory.
Headmaster Theus, Grim greets the old man inside.
Grim, the old man wheezes with an air of familiarity. Youre a little late this week, but I suppose I didnt need to question whether or not youd show up at all after all these years.
Any news, Headmaster? Grim asks in a low tone.
As always, Grim, there is no news on this Saint Oasis that you frequently ask me to inquire after, Headmaster Theus answers in a grave tone. Not since the day I found you unconscious and struck with amnesia four years ago have I heard any news regarding Saint Oasis. Pardon me for asking, but are you sure you want to continue seeking this figure that has eluded the authorities for over four years?
Of course, Grim replies. After a pause, Saint Oasis was responsible for killing my family. It was you who told me that.
While there was never any factual evidence confirming that, Headmaster Theus says, it is certain that there cannot have been any other culprit.
Grim turns away. He looks down at the plastic bag he is still clutching in his right hand, from the days shopping at the bookstore. Someday Ill find Saint Oasis and kill him! A long silence follows afterwards.
Changing the subject, Theus interrupts suddenly, I have noticed you appear to be quite intimate with that girl Ophelia.
Ah, Grim smiles sheepishly. He turns to the headmaster. I suppose you might say that.
I think it is good you are developing some positive relationships, Theus continues. Are you in love with her?
Grims smile disappears. Well, my relationship with Ophelia is a little more complicated than that.
I love her, but she does not quite return my feelings, Grim elaborates, turning to stare out the window, but as long as I can have her by my side, I feel positive enough that everything shall be all right.
Theus steps over to Grim, and places a firm hand on his shoulder, looking at himself and Grim through their reflections in the glass window. I know that given your past it has been difficult for you to form lasting relationships with other people, but having charged myself with your care, I encourage you to form as many positive relationships as you can. Your murderous intentions regarding Saint Oasis are dangerous. You are still young. Do not become too preoccupied with your liberal views of revenge and justice.
Grims grip on the plastic bag tightens. He strides over to the door of the dormitory room. Well, thank you anyway for the update, Headmaster Theus, Grim says pleasantly. He opens the door, stepping out into the cold corridor outside. Have a good night. I ought to study for the upcoming history test.
The door closes behind Grim, leaving him out in the empty corridor. The dim lights engulf him in their bleakness. He holds a hand up to his face, sighing heavily in the process.
The test regarding the Third Mana War will be tomorrow, okay, class? the professor announces in front of the assembled classroom the next day. Please make sure to take it seriously, and show up. I will not offer the test again if you are absent. Otherwise, I will fail you. As always, if you fail, I will force you to take remedial classes after school. GOT IT?!
Grim stares lazily out the window of the second story classroom, as the rest of the class professes their having heard the professors words. Grim glances over at Ophelia, who is sitting next to him.
His conversation with the headmaster returns to Grims mind. He shifts uncomfortably in his seat. He glances longingly at Ophelias beautiful face. I love her, but
A knock abruptly sounds at the door. The professor stares at the door for a moment. Ah yes, I nearly forgot. It seems that we have some new students today.
Grim looks up at this bit of news. The door slides open, and a pair of students enter the room. Grims eyes immediately widen upon the sight of them. Surprised gasps and whispers rapidly erupt throughout the room.
The first student has shining orange hair. His warm eyes are of a grassy green. Yet despite the unknown features, his face is remarkably familiar. However, the second student
Halibel! Grim exclaims.
Next: Nostalgia 3 Where Justice Resides