This is my first story, and critiques are very welcome. I want to grow as a writer and do better. :)
I was inspired to write this after having a dream one night which consisted of a mashup of Miraculous Ladybug and Cinderella Phenomenon (a fantastic visual novel on steam, highly suggest playing it). Of course, I own neither aforementioned series. Please enjoy my dream child!
She eyed the rush of people from her seat in the corner of the tavern, listening to the quick, panicked whispers. She caught a few words here and there, and saw the injured girl. Yet another family torn apart. All because of the law of the land. A stupid one at that. What was so wrong about being a magic user? It used to be viewed as a blessing. Now, it was only a curse. She downed the rest of what was supposed to be soothing tea and slammed the cup down angrily.
Pushing her chair backwards, she grabbed her black cloak and threw it on, buttoning it with a little more force than was necessary. She could tell the button was hanging on loosely, but she'd fix it later. With a glance to the old man assisting the poor girl to the rooms upstairs, she marched to the back door and left without a word, ignoring all the eyes on her back.
Memories flashed through her mind, but she quickly pushed them away. Her skin itched and her hands shook. She needed to get away from the tavern. She needed to let out her frustration.
As soon as she reached the first set of trees, she took off into a sprint, hair flowing behind her. Faster. Faster! She pushed energy into her legs and feet, the trees rushing past in a blur. A pleasant tingle shot through her body, like it always did when she used magic. What was so wrong about magic? It could do such wonderful things! But, it could also do such horrible things...
Abruptly, she came to a halt by a river, her chest heaving from her sprint. She couldn't think like that. No amount of self pity was going to bring them back. Who knew if they were even still alive? She knelt down, cupping her hands into the icy waters and splashed her face. The cold bite on her skin calmed her slightly, and she reached for another handful to do it again.
"It's been some time since the last one was brought in, hmm?"
She paused, looking down at her reflection, then sighed. The remaining water fell from her hands as she turned to face the old man behind her. He came closer until he knelt down in front of her, patting her face dry with a cloth, then grabbing her hands. In moments, warmth returned, her red skin faded away to a more healthy color.
"Marinette, you're getting better at controlling it. No repairs need to be made to the Marchen this time," the old man chuckled, giving her hands a gentle pat.
Marinette just stared down at their hands. "Master Fu, the Marchen is growing more and more full as the weeks go by. The number of incidents are becoming more frequent. And I…," she hesitated, "You say I'm getting better at controlling my magic, but I can feel myself getting angrier. I hate just sitting around! I need to do something! It's not fair!"
Master Fu watched as the woman's body trembled and the telltale signs of tears appeared in the corners of her eyes. He knew it was hard on her to see the victims brought to the Marchen. He brought one of his hands up to her chin, pushing her head gently upwards until she was looking directly at him.
"My dear, the time to act is nearly here. The pieces are almost in place, and soon, your fight will begin. Be patient my little ladybug," Master Fu gave her a small reassuring smile.
The woman frowned slightly at the old man's cryptic words, but soon relaxed. "You keep calling me a ladybug, but I don't feel very lucky," she said as she stood up, grabbing Master Fu's arm to help him up as well. He just shook his head, the small smile never leaving his lips.
The walk back to the tavern took longer than she thought. Marinette didn't realize just how far she had ran. She stole a glance at the old man beside her, walking with the aid of a cane, and shook her head.
This old man had taken her in, like many others at the Marchen. The old tavern had become her home a little over a year ago. It was strongly enchanted to keep potential dangers outside, and it's magical patrons hidden inside. Only those in possession of magic could find it, others would just see an empty hut. Most people only stayed a few weeks before setting off to hide somewhere else. Others, like herself, who decided to stay permanently, earned their keep by helping out and running errands.
Finally, they exited the forest and the tavern was in view. She could she a woman standing in the open doorway, arms crossed, and tail swishing slowly from side to side. Her auburn curls were loosely tied up into a ponytail, and the closer they walked, Marinette could see the exhaustion in her hazel eyes.
"Master Fu, the girl has been cleaned and bandaged. Shes just resting now," the woman then turned her attention to Marinette, "Mari, I need you to help me and Nino clean up with bar. It's getting late, and I think everyone just wants to head to bed."
"Thank you for your help Alya, it's much appreciated," Master Fu said, walking past Alya into the tavern, the two women following behind him. He stopped by the edge of the stairs, looking over his shoulder with a smile as the two woman walked towards the bar, "Tomorrow, the weather will be nice. Why don't you go for a walk around the village Marinette? I have a package that should be arriving as well. Could you be a dear and pick it up for me?"
Alya and Marinette exchanged glances, before she looked back at Master Fu and nodded her head. The old man's smile grew and he turn back around, disappearing up the stairs.
"I swear, I wonder about him… I mean, he's a great man and I'm thankful for all he does, but he has got some SERIOUS mystery around him," Alya said, grabbing a rag and dipping it into a bucket of soapy water. Marinette nodded in agreement, taking off her cloak and throwing it over a chair. The button fell off, dropping onto the floor and rolling away to some unknown corner of the tavern. She sighed, she'd fix it in the morning.
"Hey dude, you okay? You kinda just took off earlier in a hurry after the girl was brought in. Master Fu told everyone that the Marchen was closing for the day, then poofed out of existence."
Marinette turned to the man behind the bar. He had dark skin, with short black hair and brown eyes. He was relatively new to the Marchen. He had bumped into Alya while she was running errands in town two weeks ago and he saw through her glamour. She immediately brought him back to the tavern to speak with Master Fu. He had said that he was originally from a village further south, and had just been passing through. Although he could not use magic, he could sense other magical beings and see through glamours. A rarity to be sure. For some reason, he had decided to stay, and Marinette had a feeling it had something to do with her foxy friend.
"It's a long story Nino, one I'm not sure Mari wants to get into tonight," Alya replied before tossing Marinette a rag. Marinette gave her a thankful look before beginning to wipe down the tables. Nino stood still for a moment, glancing between Alya and Marinette, then resumed drying the drinking glasses and placing them back onto the shelf.
"Marinette, run! Get out of here!"
"Maman! Papa! No!"
"Marinette run, hide! We'll come back for you!"
Marinette startled awake. Sweat covered her body, making the sheets cling to her skin uncomfortably. Her head was throbbing and and her heart was racing. Their screams still rang in her ears. She gripped the bed, trying to come back to reality.
There was no way she was going to be able to fall back asleep. Untangling herself from the mess of sheets, Marinette sat up and looked out the window. The sun was just beginning to raise and the ground was covered in a thin layer of frost. Winter was just around the corner. This would be the second winter without them….
Sighing, she got out of bed and turned towards her dresser, stripping off her dirty cloths as she walked. As wonderful as a bath sounded, she didn't want to spend an hour preparing it. Closing her eyes, she grabbed what moisture there was from the air, forcing it together into a very thin layer of water, then pulled it along her skin. The cooling sensation started from her head and worked its way to her toes, taking all the sweat and dirt with it.
When she opened her eyes and looked at her reflection in the mirror, she saw a pale woman staring back at her. Pale, but clean. Once she ate, her skin would return to a healthier shade. Probably.
She threw on some clean undergarments, followed by tight black pants and knee high black boots. Then she pulled a red tunic over her head, making a few adjustments, such as adding a black belt around her waist. She had made this tunic herself and was quite proud of it. It was made of stretchy material that looked rather slimming. It went down to her knees with two slits up to her hips on either side. The long sleeves clung to her arms like a second skin and the collar dipped slightly below her collarbone in a wide u-shape.
Lastly, she ran her fingers through her hair and put it up into a messy bun, her bangs falling out to frame her face. With one last glance at the mirror, deciding she looked presentable, she exited her room and quietly made her way down the hall to the stairs.
The smell of breakfast cooking hit her nose as soon as she reached the bottom of the stairs. Master Fu stood above the stove, stirring a giant pot of what she assumed was porridge.
"Ah, good morning! It's a bit early isn't it? What are you doing up ladybug?"
Marinette grabbed a glass off the shelf and filled it with water, then took a seat on one of the bar stools. "You're up too."
"Ah, but its normal for me to be up and about this early. You my dear tend to sleep in. Is everything alright?"
She paused for a moment, the glass barely touching her lips, before she took a sip and set it down. "I've just got a lot on my mind it seems, Master Fu," she sighed.
The old man took a taste of the porridge, nodding to himself, before pouring some into a bowl and grabbing an apple. He set both in front of Marinette, along with a spoon. "Eat, you'll need energy if you're to walk around the village today."
Marinette glowered at the old man, "Who said I was going to go?" He just gave her a small smile and poured some porridge for himself. Shaking her head, she picked up the spoon and took a bite. She wasn't sure exactly how he got ahold of such things like spices, but he did. And his food was always amazing. In no time, the bowl was empty and she was nibbling away at the apple.
Master Fu excused himself for a moment, then came back with a piece of paper and a bag of coins. He handed them to Marinette, that small smile appeared on his lips again. She thought back to what Alya had said last night. She wondered about the old man sometimes too. Its like he just knew things. Even with magic, there was no way to see into the future. Was there…..?
"We're running a little low on a few supplies; there's the list and the coins for purchase. Oh, and take this too. I noticed your cloak was looking a little….rough," Master Fu said, tossing a new black cloak at her. It was slightly heavier and no doubt warmer than the one she had before.
"I could have easily fixed the other one," Marinette grumbled, "But thank you Master Fu."
"Ah, you needed a new one anyways. That old one is ready to be cut into rags my dear. Besides, it's getting colder out. We may not get snow, but that wind will surely freeze you. Leave your dishes, I will clean them up."
Marinette put the cloak on, tying it tightly in the front. Her assumption was right, it was warmer than her old one. Slipping the list into the coin bag and tying it to her belt, she made for the front door, grabbing another empty bag that was laying on the floor.
"Might I suggest taking a walking stick? Never know when you might need it ladybug…," Master Fu chuckled.
Marinette shot him a look of exasperation before reaching into the corner and grabbing a long, sturdy walking stick. With a salute, she exited the Marchen without another word.
The old man chuckled again. Things were about to get more interesting, and the pieces were coming together. In fact, he already had another room set up for the arrival. He only hoped that Marinette didn't hurt their new guest too much.
She brought the cloak closer to her, thankful for the way it kept the cold air out. She had already crossed the large field and was now entering the forest that surround her wooden home. Despite the chill, the sky was clear and the sun was beginning to filter through the trees. That old man was up to something. She just wasn't sure what though. However, she couldn't find it within herself to tell him no when he handed her the cloak.
She loved the forest. It reminded her of her old home. It had laid at the edge of her village, right next to the trees, and the smells of fresh bread gathered customers every morning. Whenever she found herself lost, she would just follow the faint smell back home. She used to stay up late with her maman making icing and decorating cookies for the next day. Maman would let her sneak a couple up to her bedroom, a little secret between them she had said, though Marinette was sure her father knew. She hadn't had a cookie since the day they were taken…
Distracted by her thoughts, she failed to notice she had wandered off the pathways and stumbled upon a small campsite. Thankfully, it seemed no one was around, but she cursed her lack of attention under her breathe. There was movement inside one of the tents and Marinette cursed again, there WAS someone around. Quickly she hid behind a thick tree.
She heard another set of feet stomping towards the camp, not bothering to avoid stepping on branches. "Oi! Took you long enough, I'm starving!"
"Well then how about you catch the fish next time, eh?"
Marinette flinched. How was she supposed to sneak away without drawing attention to herself? It wasn't like her to be so distracted and she cursed her luck. She wasn't sure why Master Fu gave her the nickname of ladybug. A twig snapped, and she looked up. "Well what do we have here? What are you doing out in the middle of the woods by yourself? And so early in the morning too!"
Marinette gasped and tried to make a run for it when the newcomer jumped in her way, trying to grab her. She backed away and whipped around, the coins on her belt rattled. The other two men were making their way towards her, a glint in their eyes she didn't like. Her luck was just getting worse and worse.
"Well aren't you a cutie. And look at that boys, she's got a nice bag o' coins with her too! This must be our lucky day!" The men all laughed.
She glanced around her, taking in her surroundings, thinking. She had to fight, there was no other way, but 3 on 1 was not very favorable. And the men looked tough. She closed her eyes and took a deep breathe. Master Fu told her to never use magic to harm others, but in last case resort, defend yourself at all costs.
Marinette got into a fighting stance, eyes still closed, and began to focus energy throughout her body to give her extra strength. The men continued to laugh and draw closer.
"I don't think m'lady appreciates you all ganging up on her."
Marinette froze in place, eyes flying open in search of the new voice. Another man dropped down from the tree she had originally been hiding behind. He was dressed in all black, from head to toe. His hair, what little peaked out from under the hood of his cloak, was the color of gold, moving ever so slightly in the breeze. He wore a black mask over his eyes... Eyes that were two shades of green. His scleras were a light green, his iris' a slightly darker shade. And his pupils were slit, much like a feline's. Whoever this man was, he was definitely not a normal.
The thugs quickly unsheathed their swords, a slight tremble in their legs. "He's not human!"
The masked man placed a gloved hand on his chest, his other landing on a blade at his hip. A smirk blooming on his face, "Now that's not very nice."
Marinette didn't wait to see what would happen next. Like a spring being released, she swung at the man behind her, hitting him square in the head with a sickening crunch. He fell to the ground, dead. The two men in front began to turn around until the sound of metal on metal brought their attention back to the masked man. He had engaged one of the them into a battle with his blade. She swung her walking stick at the third.
He staggered backwards with a grunt, but blocked with his sword. They began trading blows, one after the other, neither person taking an advantage. Marinette didn't know how the masked man was fairing, but she could feel her exhaustion from lack of sleep catching up to her. She had to end this, now. Gathering energy into her hand, she sent a blast of wind at her attacker, sending him back into a tree.
Marinette stumbled slightly, using her walking stick to keep herself from falling over. When she looked back at the man she had been fighting, the masked man was hovering over him, blade in hand. She glanced around the area, seeing the last of the trio laying still on the ground, red blossoming across his chest. She snapped her attention back to the black figure.
He stood up and turned around to fully face her, his blade dripping crimson. He took a step towards her and Marinette got into a defensive stance, glaring into his strange eyes. He paused, glancing down at his blade before tossing it down and putting his hands up.
"I mean you no harm."
"Who are you?" What are you? The man grinned, and Marinette could see a set of fangs among his brilliantly white teeth. He swept down into a deep bow, one hand resting on his chest, his eyes, which twinkled in great amusement, never leaving her's.
"The name is Chat Noir, princess."
Authors Note: When imagining and writing about Chat Noir, I picture Wesley from Princess Bride, in his black outfit. Lol