To Balamb Garden

"Why would you be doing that?" Roxanne demanded, stepping back. "I don't care where you're going either way, but the next town is on my route. Whether you're willing to travel with me is another matter."

Remeck blinked. Shouldn't she just accept the offer if she wanted it? Why make a big deal out of whether he wanted to take her there or not?

"I'm perfectly fine with escorting you-"

"Whether you're willing to travel with me-" she repeated, staring into his eyes. "is another matter entirely. What is in Balamb Garden that is worth your time?"

"I have to report to my superiors?" Remeck repeated, unsure of what he was supposed to say. "Why is that of importance to you?"

"I am travelling to the heart of Baron." Roxanne said. "Whether you come with me to the next town is trivial. But come of your own will and, please, don't play with sharp things if you don't know how to use them properly." stepping aside, she grabbed her discarded katana and sheathed it, then pulled the strap attached to the sheath over one of her shoulders. 

"I'm sure I could have handled fighting an Ochu."

She added before striding away.

"Wait a second!" Remeck ran after her. "What did you mean by that?"

Roxanne turned around, but continued walking. Backwards. "Exactly what I said. I'm sure I could have handled the Ochu no problem. But sorry about your hand. I didn't think you'd actually try to get me out of there."

"Hold on, stop. That's freaking me out." Remeck held up his hands.

Roxanne stopped walking backwards. "What?"

"You were actually trying to fight an Ochu on your own. With a katana."

"Yeah, I was."

"Yet you're actually trying to tell me to travel with you if I want."

Roxanne shrugged. "I only said that if you plan on travelling with me, do it of your own free will."

"Am I travelling with you or not?"

"I said that it's up to you." Roxanne snapped. "I don't care if you come with me or not. Your call."

"You're somewhat insane." Remeck remarked. "But I suppose that there's no reason not to accompany you if it's on my way to Balamb Garden."

"Insane is a matter of opinion." she replied. "But I won't stop you."

Remeck shook his head. It seemed as if she actually wanted him to come with her, but wasn't sure how to ask.

"So, what's your name?" Remeck Kumath asked her for the hundredth time as they sat in a bar at the next town.

Along the way, Roxy had remained almost silent, answering every question but the one about her name in a sharp tone, with short, precise answers. It was interesting to see how this young man had a million questions for her.

She could pick him out right away. Military, for sure, with the-man-protects-all-things and always-be-a-gentleman type values, so she assumed. When she asked, he said he'd trained for the army since he was ten. Youngest cadets age that she could think of, in any case.

"Come on, I told you my name without asking-"

"So it's only right that I return the favor." Roxanne finished as a barmaid brought them their food. "I'll tell you my name if I choose. What are you planning to do after Balamb Gardens? Whatever destroyed our coasts won't sit still forever."

"Why do you care?" Remeck asked as he began to eat.

"Are you really stupid enough to think that a problem like this will fix itself?" Roxanne took a sip of her drink. "Some people should least expect the worst and show the oppposite. Isn't that was people like your superiors are for?"

"What is this to you, a fairy tale?"

"Maybe." Roxy smirked.

"You know, since I don't know better, I'll go on a limb and decide that you wanted a travelling companion but don't know how to ask." Remeck put down his food and waited for a reaction.

The cup Roxanne had be holding slipped from her hand, spilling all over the table.

As Remeck waved a barmaid down and tried sopping up the liquid with napkins, he wondered: had he guessed right?

Roxanne tried to busy herself with cleaning up the mess, but Remeck's question had caught her completely off guard. Since when did it matter what she wanted? All she needed to do was find her father at the heart of Baron. That was what she had promised to do.

Perhaps he could be of some use, if he liked to read people so much.

"I don't travel like normal people do." she said as they cleaned up.

"So? I'm part of the mitilia."

"Alright, then be prepared to reach Balamb Garden in the next fifteen hours."

"What, you want to go now?" Remeck asked.

"I never got us a place to stay, and you would have found one if you could, right?"

"Well, yes, but that doesn't mean we can't-"

"I think those people you were with wanted you away from that town as fast as possible." she added. "So why not just go along with what they're thinking? I'll even let you give me a tour of Balamb Garden. I've never been there before. Maybe I can even get my father to tour you through the heart of Baron."

"Your father? Why is he in the heart of Baron? What does that even mean?"

Roxy shrugged. "I don't know. That's what I'm trying to find out."

"Erm. . . .if you're fine with, we can leave."

She nodded. Hopefully, Remeck Kumath would be useful after all.

"So what is your name, anyway?" Remeck asked after they left.

Though she didn't look back, he heard her quiet reply. "Roxanne Gammond."

"The heart of Baron." the Headmaster said as if he couldnt' believe it.

"That's where she said she was going." Remeck said. "Listen, I've told this to three others now, sir. But what is so important about it?"

"It's a living ghost, Kumath." the Headmaster said. "If you want anything to do with it, you'll have to stop right now. No one's sure what it really is, but this girl is nuts if she thinks she can find it."

"She said. . ." Remeck paused. "She also said that her father as at the heart of Baron, sir. As if it were a place and not an. . . it."

The Headmaster turned to him in surprise. "I know that was a place, but no one knows what it is now. If this. . . Rochelle, was it?. . .thinks that her father is there, she's completely mad. Bonkers. Listen to me, Kumath, because this is completely covert. I want you to follow her and find out what this thing is. In the name of the mitilia. Do you understand these orders?"

Remeck shivered. He had a feeling that if he let himself become a pawn, things would be bad. But if the heart of Baron was that important. . . .

"I understand what you are telling me, sir."

"Good man." the Headmaster said. "You'll be commended for this if it works, Kumath. Highly commended. Let's keep this between the two of us."

"Whatever makes you happy, sir." Remeck replied.

The End

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