Disclaimers: All the characters in this fic is copyright of Addy, if there are any similarities between my characters and actual characters, it is purely coincidental. NPC characters that are found in the actual game and the game Ragnarok belong to the Creators of Ragnarok. This fic is not to be used for profit but for entertainment… But if you just want to give me money that'll be no problem. XD

Stained Glass

by Addy

Anything that involves paintings, sculptures, poems, and songs, you name it, I hate it. I didn't use to be this way. When did I begin viewing these works with such repulsion, while most people marveled and exalted? It all began when I graduated from the Midgard Academy. My parents arrived to pick me up and instantly began to talk about my future job.
My father wanted me to become a Knight.

"Think of how people would respect you! They'd be looking up to you as you pass by riding on your PecoPeco! And if you work hard enough, why the king himself might grant you a boon! You'd be famous!"

My mother wanted me to become a Blacksmith.

"Oh darling, why would you want to become a Knight? All that heavy armor, you'll only end up hurting your back! Now a Blacksmith, that's the way to go! People would come from all corners of Rune Midgard just to purchase your weapons!"

I went on the path of the sword for a few years, I didn't like it. Let's just say I'd rather have a PecoPeco as lunch than as a ride. I tried my luck as a Merchant, it wasn't something I enjoyed either. I ended up losing money instead of gaining it.

My parents argued with me that I should keep at it. Day in and day out. Until it dawned upon me that neither of them cared about what I wanted. At this revelation, the seeds of resistance bloomed inside me. I decided to go into an occupation, -that I realize now- which would provide me neither fame nor riches.

I became an Artist.

Looking back, I suppose I was too full of dreams and hopes. And I was young. Too young and too blinded with resentment for my parents. I should have followed their advice, I should have persevered to become either a Knight or a Blacksmith. At least then I wouldn't have been thrown out.

I wasn't always a starving Artist. Years ago, I had gathered a smattering of admirers. I had even been commissioned for a few paintings and sculptures. But my masterpiece was a Mural. A wealthy Morroccan Merchant, who had more money than she knew what to do with, came to me one day.

"I have a vacant house on the upper east section of Morroc. No one wants to rent it from me and I think it's because it looks so drab. Redecorating it would be a waste of zenny and time. I've seen some of your work and I like it. Do you think you could do something, like a painting perhaps? Just to brighten it up."

Eager to please, -and earn money- I accepted the job. My muse sang aria after aria, as my hands seemingly painted with a will of their own. I sometimes forgot to eat and sleep, and I stopped caring about the world around me. After a month, I signed my name at the lower left corner and stepped back from finished product.

Flowers of orange and yellow delicately bloomed at the borders. Desert Wolves, Anacondaqs, Hunter Flies, and Matyrs spiraled in savage frenzy towards the middle. At the very center of the wall was someone I had only heard of from hardened adventurers.

A man with russet skin stood proudly within the sphere of animals. He held in one hand a thin scepter, and in the other a blade. With almond shaped eyes, he surveyed the scenery before him. I had never laid eyes on the one they called Pharaoh, but I believed I had captured his essence well enough.

I sent word to the Merchant that I was done. I was excited and nervous, hoping that this would be my ticket to fame and fortune. The Merchant arrived and took one look at my work.

"It's not what I had in mind, but it'll do." She shrugged as she handed me the payment.

"You don't like it?" I gulped, taking the pouch of twenty thousand zennies from her.

"Well, to be honest, I was expecting something more Geffenese. You know, like your painting of 'The Fall of Althem' or something,"

"I didn't paint that."

"What?! You mean, you're not Genji?" she gasped. "I wasted twenty thousand zennies on a painting by some nobody!?"

I didn't know if I was insulted or pleased. In the end, I left the Merchant to rant, taking the money with me. I paid some Rouges to spray a bit of graffiti on it. I probably did Rune Midgard a great service in doing so.

Did I mention I had friends who were Artists? Like Genji (yes the same one the Merchant mistook me for), Strant, Ben, I had friends. I lost touch with them, ever since they shot up the ladder of popularity. Actually, I think they decided to just… forget about me. I mean, why would they want to have anything to do with me?

Poor me who couldn't paint the way the people wanted. Pathetic me who couldn't use the theme the way the public wanted. Pitiful me who couldn't chisel a sculpture the way the buyers wanted.

So here I am, wasting away in the Pronteran pub. Downing tankard after tankard of ale with what little money I have. I wasn't a complete bum, I make money from odd jobs. But I have given up on the occupation I chose for myself. My muse sings only dirges, my hands can no longer create, I haven't held a brush or a chisel in years.

I was brooding over the biggest mistake I had made when all of a sudden, a Priestess approached me.

"Are you by any chance the one who painted the mural of the Pharaoh?" she asked.

I stared up at her in surprise, no one (aside from the Merchant) knew of my self-proclaimed masterpiece.

"Come again?" I blinked, not quite believing my ears.

"Are you by any chance the one who painted the mural of the Pharaoh?" she repeated.

"Yeah, I made that trash. Do you want me to apologize for making your eyes bleed from looking at it?" I answered bitterly.

"No, it's not that at all. The Pope just sent word that the chapel in Morroc is going to be made so more people can attend mass. Like the original chapel, it's going to have stained glass windows."

I continued to stare at her, I didn't want to get my hopes up.

"So what do you want me to do about?" I muttered, downing my ale.

"Well, the original makers of the stained glass windows have long been summoned by Odin. So… I was thinking you could make one of them instead."

I accidentally spat out my drink at the priestess. "Are you kidding me!?" I gasped, "I'm nobody! Why don't you ask Genji or some other Artist? I'm sure there's enough talented Artists to go around. Heck, I'm not even a has-been, I'm just a never-was."

"But don't you see? This could be Odin's way of giving you another chance!"

"I don't believe in Deus ex Machina helping me out. The only thing Odin has done for me is to ruin my life."

"Don't speak of such blasphemous things!" she declared sternly, "And stop wallowing in self-pity! Are you, or are you not going to make the windows for the church?"

Minutes passed as the Priestess' pale pink eyes bore into mine. All of a sudden, my muse silenced her dirge and replaced it with an aria.

'But it has been so long…' I sighed to myself.

"If you worry of financial matters, I can assure you payment." The Priestess added.

"Alright, I accept. But don't come crying to me when the Pope tells you to tear the window down." I warned.

"Marvelous!" she clapped her hands in delight and warped us to Morroc.

The sweltering heat of the noon sun threatened to scorch me alive. I was too busy mulling about how uncomfortable I was that I failed to hear the Priestess' instructions.

"Are you listening to me?" she asked.

"Huh? Oh, sorry. What did you say?"

"I said to go to the chapel for the dimensions of the window. You'll also get to meet the other Artists we've commissioned. Isn't that exciting?"

"I still say you're making a big mistake with me."

Morroc hadn't changed much the past few years, the roads were still dusty, the air was still hot and the people still can't be trusted. The latter was further affirmed when a Thief made off with my wallet. Good thing I had spent all my money back at Prontera.

It seemed the Priestess had hired four other Artists, just my luck I knew all of them. A red haired woman was surrounded by wizards, her green eyes surveying the chapel in boredom.

"Genji…" I found myself uttering. She heard me, I'm certain she did. But as always, she chose to ignore me and continued to survey the chapel.

A platinum haired man had his eyes closed, but I remember them to be dark brown. As always he was strumming his ukulele, according to him it helped his creativity. Strant was a frustrated Bard, even though he denies this.

In one corner, a man with blue hair was busy talking to the wall. Oh, it seemed like he was conversing with the plaster, but I knew better. If his silver eyes stared straight ahead, it was a sure sign he was chatting with an Assassin. When Ben forgot about me, I felt a bit relieved, I could never tell when he was really alone.

The last Artist was scribbling some things down on her hands. I haven't met her, but I have heard of her: Kyned. She's one of the 'new' talents that have been discovered, and she's been producing works like mad these past few years.

I felt so out of place, and insignificant. I had half a mind to just leave and return to Prontera, only to realize I had no means of getting back.

'Looks like I'm stuck here…' I groaned.

"Everyone," The Priestess called, "I'd like you all to meet the last commissioned Artist. I'd like you all to meet-"

"Don't bother Tsuna," Genji shrugged, "we won't have the time. We have a deadline to meet."

"Yes, and the sooner we start, the sooner we finish!" Kyned chirped brightly.

Tsuna frowned unsurely, but shrugged. "Well, alright if you say so."

I was hating Art more than ever, but a job's a job. I just wanted to get this over with.

Over the next few months, the five of us worked on the stained glass, make that the two of us. The four grouped together to discuss ideas and offer suggestions, and I was left on my own. It's not like I was by myself intentionally, they just… didn't want me around. Why would they? After all, they were so much better then I was, why should my opinions matter? Okay, so I'm being bitter again, I can't help it.

We had to present our designs to Tsuna before we could actually make the glass. And Tsuna was both kind and honest, pointing out both the positive and negative. She even made us give comments on each other's work.

Needless to say I was pleased that my work received positive feedback from the four. Yes, it felt wonderful being praised and I did enjoy praising their works (hey, they deserved it in the first place). But… there was just something missing…

I voiced out my concern to the others, they assured me it was natural to feel this way.

"You'll feel complete once this is transferred onto the glass tomorrow." Strant told me.

"Don't tell me you're feeling conscious about your work!" Kyned arched a brow.

Genji and Ben said nothing, as always. They always did prefer to receive praise than give it. But even with the encouragement, I couldn't shake the feeling I was lacking something. It only took three words from Tsuna before I figured it out.

"There's no soul." She said, before bidding me a goodnight.

The eve before we were to transfer the patterns to glass, I scrapped my original design. With maddened vigor I drew another pattern, and the sensation I had with the Mural returned. Gone were the Valkyries, gone were the hues of azure, amber and crimson. Gone was the soul-less façade I created in order to satisfy others.

In its stead was a myriad of shapes and colors. No discernable pattern was forming, and yet I knew ultimately, something will take shape. Exhausted, I fell asleep, and for the first time in ages, with a smile on my face.

I had finished my true masterpiece.

When the chapel was finally finished, and the windows took their place, people from all over Rune Midgard arrived for the christening.

"Exquisite work Genji-sama!" I heard the Geffenese squeal. Genji's window had captured the majesty of the Rune Asgard and the fabled Rainbow Bridge. It also captured the adulation of even more people, and she deserved every single one.

"Ben-sama is a genius!" the aristocrats of Alberta cheered. Ben's window had managed to trap the ocean and its powerful roar within it. I wouldn't say it trapped people's attention, but the way it mesmerized them, it was difficult to think otherwise.

"You never fail to please, Strant-sama." A distinguished Izludian man grinned. Strant's window was at the very center of the chapel, and it fittingly displayed Odin. The god was seated on his throne, basking in the glory of his presence. Of course Strant was basking in glory as well, as to be expected.

"Sugoi desu, Kyned-sama!" a Payonese girl sighed. Kyned's window bloomed with the lush canopy of the forests, bathing those who viewed it with a tranquil silence. It also made sure Kyned was bathed in praises, it was only fitting that exemplary work received exemplary notice.

As for me? Well, let's just say my window and I were overshadowed. At least the people didn't declare me a heathen for producing such an atrocious and random thing.

The Pope held a mass, and in the middle of his grand prayer, I stepped out. Silently I made my way to my Mural. I hadn't dared to look at it these past few months. I hadn't want to be reminded of my pitiful attempts at fame and fortune. But I realized… it didn't matter anymore.

I arrived at the empty house, it was run-down and covered in graffiti. Apparently the Merchant never cared enough to sell it. I looked at my Mural. I had thought I would want to tear it down, to throw rocks at it until the wall crumbled.

Instead, I sat down and stared.

"Do I still hate paintings? Do I still hate sculptures? Do I still hate songs? Do I still hate poetry?" I mumbled, hugging my knees to my chest. "Do I still hate art?"

'You should know the answer to that.' My muse answered.

"You're right." I nodded as I got to my feet. "I don't hate art. I never hated art. I just didn't understand it these past few years."

I went back to the chapel and found that mass was over.

"Everyone has gone to celebrate." Tsuna explained when she saw me enter.

"Why didn't you go with them?"

"I've had a long day." She replied. "I was surprised with the design of your window. You didn't ask for my approval."

"Well, it had nothing lewd or inappropriate in it." I chuckled. The two of us stood beneath my window and stared up at the colored glass.

"Do you know why I chose the five of you to make the stained glass?" Tsuna asked.

I shook my head.

"Stained glass windows are beautiful on their own, but they become even more beautiful with light." She began. "When I looked at Genji's, Strant's, Ben's and Kyned's works, I could see a part of them in it. When I saw your Mural, I saw your soul in it in spite of the graffiti."

I blinked in surprise and stared at her the way I did back in Prontera.

"I like how you replaced the Valkyries with a kaleidoscope. It's not as authoritative, but then again, it's more like us humans. The way we always change with a twist or a turn." Tsuna continued.

"No." I simply said.

"No… what?" it was the Priestess' turn to blink.

"No, the kaleidoscope isn't more like us humans." I grinned. "It's more like our soul."

"Yes, you're right." Tsuna nodded as she began to walk towards her quarters. "It is more like our soul. Oh, could you tell the others that the payment will be made tomorrow?"

"Sure."

Fin.

Author's Notes

Me: This fic is dedicated to the Tsunas in my life. ^^ *huggles them* And for once, I don't care about getting R&R's (although that would be nice). As long as my Tsunas can read this and see my soul in it, I'll be fine.

Warse: Erm… I have a question… why didn't you give the narrator a name?

Me: Well, I wanted it to be something personal, but at the same time something another person can relate to. You could be the Tsuna here, or the narrator. It's really up to the reader who he/she is.