The normally tranquil forest was disturbed by a cacophony of grumbling and moaning. Other then this, the forest was silent, suggesting that all of the usual occupants had decided to seek new accommodation as far away from the noise as physically possible. Unfortunately, we cannot do the same. Damn the narrative gods. Then again, they are already damned, having been subjected to fangirls writing badly written drivel without the aid of a spell-checker or even the general structure of the English language. However we digress and as such have missed an integral moment in this narrative. Or a mildly amusing one.
"Ow!" someone exclaimed, flicking his hair out of his eyes with a shake of his head and glaring at the offending tree branch. While his attention is otherwise occupied, let us take this opportunity to examine him. A slender, short individual, his physical structure was rather at odds with the long trench coat and the wickedly sharp claws that he held loosely in each hand. A less kind observer might comment that this particular combination is a mixture of street flasher and homicidal maniac - we shall not comment on the accuracy of this statement. His dark brown hair looked as if he either styled it using copious amounts of hair gel or a live electric circuit. The jury is out as to which method is more likely, although it is believed that the electric circuit theory is gaining much credibility. In fact, his least noticeable feature is the wary brown eyes that constantly scan the local area, although for what he's searching for is unknown. It cannot be any dangerous animals, as he looks as if he had been involved in a few fights up until this point, suggesting that either he's looking for a fight or simply cannot avoid them.
"Y'know Yuri, if you would only cut your hair for once, it wouldn't keep falling into your eyes," a sardonic female voice commented. She stepped out from behind him and glared at him. Around her, four other companions spilled out of the forest. Not literally, that would be impossible. Instead they elbowed, shoved and generally beat up the person in front of them until they got out of the way. It's an effective method, albeit painful.
The female that was currently berating our hero was clad in an outfit that would not have looked out of place in a brothel. A rather kinky one at that, a fact only emphasised by the pistol that was clearly visible. We shall not comment on individuals that find this sort of thing interesting, as this narrative must remain in the PG-13 band. In contrast to her risqué outfit, her blonde hair was tied back demurely in a pony tail and her face looked as if it was innocence personified. Until she grinned, a wicked grin that lighted an unholy light in her eyes, and completely destroyed the illusion. She was well aware of this fact, and had spent many years cultivating this smile, being heartily sick of being asked for proof of age in bars. She's grinning at the moment, a disquieting image for the subject of her grin. We shall speak of him later.
Our next subject for observation appears to be the stereotypical street kid; mischievous hazel eyes that are currently rolling in exasperation at our hero's antics, short spiky hair and a strange collection of clothing that looks suspiciously like it was found in various alleyways, possibly being worn by someone at the time. In his left hand, a slingshot was being held loosely while he pushed his cap to a suitably rakish angle with his right. At the moment, he's currently sticking his tongue out at another member of this motley party, an elderly gentleman.
The elderly gentleman looks as if he should really be in a nursing home, or an asylum, however sanity in this group is dubious at best and maybe by their standards, he's painfully sane. Anyway, he's wearing an adept's coat, leading to the question of what on earth is he wearing underneath it. This question will hopefully remain unanswered. He's clutching a stick (although he prefers the term staff) that looks to be at least as weather-beaten as he is, and quite possibly as old as he is as well. He's currently eyeing off the street kid, so we'll move on before we witness a homicide in action. After all, he could always blame it on dementia later on.
A blond pretty-boy is shifting uncomfortably under the wicked grin of the female berating the hero. His too handsome appearance is almost wrecked by the sword that swings at his belt, but is repaired by the 17th Century clothing that he's wearing and the tuneless humming he does on occasion. He brushes his hair out of his eyes for the fiftieth time, leading to the question of why doesn't he tie it back or cut it off. However, it appears that his original hairdresser died a few centuries ago, and he hasn't been able to find a new one, and as he is a vampire, he can't cut it himself using a mirror - for obvious reasons.
The final member of the team is the required useless-female who's only purpose is to be rescued by the hero. Although in her favour, she did rescue the hero once too. Like the other female, she has blonde hair, which is tied back elaborately, a near impossible feat in the wilderness. Others suspect divine intervention, but all she does in the morning is cast a spell on it. Advent usually works wonders, as for the rest of the day, her hair is too scared to dare fall out. Her short blue dress is an obvious attempt to get the hero to fall in love with her (a successful ploy) and her white tights are entirely devoid of ladders, rather astonishing really when you consider how easily tights tear and rip. Possibly they're scared of Advent as well.
"Just out of curiosity," Halley began, having finally positioned his cap correctly. He was secretly proud of himself, as this task generally required a protractor, sextant, countless sycophants and a great deal of time. "Why do we walk everywhere? I mean there are aircraft and cars and stuff, so why the walking?"
"Would you trust Yuri to drive?" Zhuzhen asked dryly. The others nodded in understanding. Yuri had not demonstrated any particular skill at operating simple machinery, instead relying on the 'hit it enough and it'll work' method. Engineers, mechanics, property owners, all groaned whenever Yuri was in the vicinity. Insurance companies had started putting 'Damage due to Mr Yuri Hyuga's inability to operate basic machinery' down on their policies. The party just shook their heads in disbelief when Yuri bashed in a door rather then using the door handle. Apparently the door handle was beyond his capabilities.
"Hey!" Yuri protested, looking affronted.. "I'm a perfectly safe driver." This did not impress anyone. He had said that he was perfectly safe numerous times. Unfortunately, then he would go berserk in battle and cast Revelation on their party. Not a fun thing at the best of times.
"I thought you didn't have your licence," Alice pointed out, thus pointing out the futility of this argument. If the love-interest disagrees, surely that's a sign to give up. Unfortunately Yuri is not that astute.
"Okay, I could be a perfectly safe driver if given the opportunity," Yuri conceded. Everyone rolled their eyes at this. For an outside observer, this would have looked comical.
"Or a utterly horrendous one," Margarete replied sweetly. Alice looked torn between defending Yuri and chastising Margarete. She chose to remain silent for the time being. Halley had propped himself on a tree and was currently checking his slingshot while Keith was cleaning traces of blood off his sword. This was much safer then interfering, as it is rare that either a sword or slingshot will kill you for breathing at the wrong time.
"This coming from the person who crashed a light aircraft?" Yuri pointed out snidely. Margarete's jaw dropped at such a low blow. Alice winced. This was not going to be pretty.
"It was about to be scrapped! It wasn't my fault!" Margarete protested. Keith looked up, interested at this little tidbit of information, then looked down at his sword again when he realised that there would be no further information.
"Um, why exactly did we stop for? How long until we get to Roger Bacon's house?" Alice interjected, looking somewhat desperate. Yuri looked down at his feet and scuffed his shoes in an exaggerated show of embarrassment.
"Ah, that's the thing. I, um, well," Yuri began. Everyone groaned at this. They all knew what was going to be said next.
"We're lost," Halley finished heavily. "Well, that's the last time we trust you with the navigation. From now on, it's Margarete." Margarete looked thrilled at the prospect. About time someone realised that a spy would have the ability to read a map correctly.
"Oh come on, I'm a good navigator!" Yuri complained, studiously ignoring the faces of everyone else in the party. This was a difficult task, so Yuri resumed to stare contritely at his feet. And they were fascinating shoes to be sure.
"Sure. That's why we're lost. At least Margarete can ask for directions, unlike you," Halley replied. Yuri's head shot up at this, affronted look on his face. Catching a glimpse of Halley's expression, Yuri looked down at his feet again. Halley had an unfortunate tendency of making some seriously weird stuff happen around him when he got upset or angry.
"And most of the male species," Margarete whispered under her breath. She shared a wry look with Alice, who secretly agreed. It was about time the males in the group were subjected to the same abuse they were. Or at least a small portion. Alice had no intention of hitting on Yuri in the crude method that he did the first time they met.
"Now that wasn't fair," Halley commented. Margarete shrugged. What could a sixteen-year-old boy do to her? She was a faster draw then him, and a better marksperson (Margarete refused to use the term marksman in protest of it being sexist).
"True though," Keith replied, seemingly oblivious to the betrayed stares from Yuri and Halley. Halley wondered absently whether Keith was homosexual. After all, he never had a problem with Meiyan doing that stuff to him, looked like a woman in certain lights (courtesy of the hair) and was now betraying the brotherhood.
"Could everyone shut up for a moment?" Zhuzhen interjected. Most of the party shut up immediately, eyeing the staff warily.
"Actually, no, I'm physically incapable of such an action," Yuri replied and was smacked around the back of the head with Zhuzhen's staff for his efforts, thus explaining the strange dents and chips in the staff.
"So we're completely lost," Zhuzhen began. Everyone resisted the urge to roll their eyes. If Zhuzhen was only realising now that they were lost, what on earth did he think they had been talking about for the last ten minutes?
"Thanks to Yuri," Margarete interjected. She smiled sweetly at the glare that Alice shot her. Alice frowned in concentration, then decided that casting Advent was a little extreme. Maybe later.
"Shut up Margarete," Yuri sniped back. Alice smiled and mouthed 'Shot down!' to Margarete. Margarete played suggestively with her gun holster. Alice gulped audibly and closed her mouth with a snap.
"And have absolutely no idea where we're going. How you can lose a gigantic alien spacecraft I'll never know," Zhuzhen continued, glaring at Yuri and Margarete, who stared back unrepentingly. Margarete continued to play with her gun holster while Yuri pulled out his claws. The two eyed each other off. Zhuzhen sighed and cast a fireball between them, capturing their attention immediately. Zhuzhen grinned. He loved doing that.
"We'll go this way then." Zhuzhen pointed to the right and glared at everyone in the team, daring them to contradict him. No-one seemed game, possibly not willing to receive permanent brain damage from his staff. Yuri started moving toward the right first, followed closely by Alice. Zhuzhen ran after Alice while Margarete, Keith and Halley exchanged wry glances.
"Do you reckon he knows where we're going?" Halley asked. He looked slightly nervous, probably at the prospect of depending on a pensioner. Who could blame him really? Have you any idea how many pensioners manage to lose the entrance of a supermarket and have to be directed to it? Forget about buying milk, these guys have problems finding huge glass doors.
"Nope," Margarete replied. Halley sighed. Keith looked up, bemused. Team dynamics were such fun. He planned one day to write a book about these adventures. Or sell the rights to someone. Hey, just because you're a vampire doesn't mean that you don't want to have lots of money. We do live in a capitalist society after all.
"That's good. I didn't want to be the only one." Halley looked relieved. At least he wasn't the only suspicious one. He had always thought that Zhuzhen was suffering from senility.
"Why is that a good thing?" Keith asked. "If we're anywhere near as lost as I think we are, we might not even find Scotland at this rate."
"Don't say things like that!" Margarete chided. "Don't tempt fate!" Meanwhile, Fate was beyond temptation, as she was currently occupied in a game of Monopoly with her sisters Destiny and Chance. So far Chance was winning, but Destiny and Fate were sure that she would eventually lose. However, none of our intrepid party knows this, so lets not tell them, okay?
During our little digression, Halley, Keith and Margarete have given in to inevitability and are now trailing behind Alice, Yuri and Zhuzhen. Later on, they will be extremely grateful for their lagging behind.
Authors Note: Now that was incredibly silly, was it not? Then again, it will get worse. Much worse. Wait until you meet the evil guy/s. I actually do like the characters of Shadow Hearts, it's just….they're so easy to parody! Beware Nights Mistress the Humour Fanfic Writer! (Crowd cowers and begs for NM the Serious Fanfic Writer or even NM the Short Fanfic Writer. Nights Mistress looks at them disdainfully and waves a dismissive hand. Sycophantic followers run them down with tanks. What? So I read history. But this time it's Revenge of the University Students! Take that, repressive Chinese regime of the 80's! -mental note to self, stop reading history books. Tends to disturb people-)
Did you know that my spell checker keeps changing Zhuzhen to Susan? Mildly amusing I must say.