Written by phoebesmiles

A/N: This is a chain-up story with my good friend RaeyaK's 'Insecure'. Hope you enjoy reading!

I DO NOT OWN MAPLE STORY! NEXON DOES!

Chapter 1: Ariel

Rewritten on the 29th of January

I hide behind one of the pillars, trying to catch my breath. I open my rucksack clumsily, to find only a Power Elixir and a Mana Elixir left. I'm screwed.

A blue Harp flies past me, and I literally feel like I'm going to die. I fling a steely at it, and the big, bluish bird falls to the ground, before disappearing into the shadows.

"Gawk!" I hear a shrill sound, and I know it's another Blood Harp coming at me. I swallow what's left of my Power Elixir, and ignore the slightly bitter aftertaste. I wipe my lips to my torn t-shirt sleeve, leaving nothing but a purple stain and a little blood on it.

The Blood Harp flies around the pillar, like it's taunting me. I throw a couple of steelies at it, but it manages to dodge. I look around, searching for something, anything, I could use, but the whole battle ground just seems blurry. Gripping on my very last potion, hoping for a miracle, I run towards the Blood Harp and stab it with my last steely. It shrieks before turning to dust. After that, everything goes black.

"Woah. You okay?" I open my eyes slightly, letting them readjust to the bright lights. I take a deep breath, and all I smell is the strong scent of turpentine. The guild. I glance around, and I'm in the medical room, with a tall blond dude with broad shoulders.

"D-Did I pass?" I stammer, trying to sit up.

"Hey. Better not, muppet." Luke, the only male member of the guild, tells me. I glare into his big blue eyes, trying not to hit him.

"Did. I. Pass?" I ask again, my voice stiffening. Luke smirks a little, and I rest my head back onto my pillow, grinning.

I'm in.

[-]

I walk down the long staircase, to the conference room. I push open the heavy wooden doors, and I see that the room is already full.

The conference room is big. Like, big big. It's made fully out of wood, so it feels toasty and warm inside. In the center of the room is a long marble table, with dozens of women seated on matching marble stools.

"Hey! It's her!"

"OMG, did you hear? She passed the entrance exam!"

"Lemme see, oooh, she's cute!"

I hear so many voices that my mind reels. Ariel claps her hands, loudly, and the whole room comes to silence.

"Welcome, Shirley." She smiles, and I instantly feel better.

Ariel, the legendary guild master. No one knows what her real name is, but she's the only female who's ever defeated the statue Ariel single-handedly, so she renamed herself in the guild's glory. She has long, blond hair, which curls gently where it meets her shoulders. Her skin is pale, and her cheeks rosy.

I take a seat at the end of the table, being careful not to put weight on my left leg.

"You okay, pet?" I hear a random guild member sitting next to me ask, her voice full of concern.

"Yeah. I'm fine." I force a smile. The truth is, I've been feeling all sore ever since the guild entrance test yesterday. It was total agony. Not to mention, the horrible cut along my left leg, which probably won't heal all that soon.

"Shirley, age 13. Welcome to the guild." Ariel says, during my official ceremony. Apparently only the best of the best get into this guild. "You're the youngest in here, so I wish you luck." She smiles, before handing me a pair of earrings. "Keep this close to you, yeah?" I nod, rolling it in my palm. Half earrings, dropped by Iruvata, one of the strongest non-boss monsters in existence.

"Thank you, so much." I say as I put the earrings on. My ears feel strangely heavy, cause I'm not used to wearing earrings around a lot. I feel older, somewhat more mature.

[-]

"This is your room. I hope it's to your liking." Hannah, the House advisor, tells me in the dorm. I thank her and turn the old fashioned door knob. The room is literally huge. I have my own bed, my own desk, a small shower with an included jacuzzi, cabinets, and a beautiful view of Leafre. Living on the outskirts of Leafre, in the guild Ariel, I think I might just die. I slip into the shower, and turn the hot water on. I run my hand down my left leg, and it still stings, quite a bit. I've asked one of the Bishops here if she could do anything, but she says it may take some time for it to heal, even with holy magic.

I close my eyes, and try to let the past 72 hours seep in. Suddenly, the water goes ice cold, and I shriek and run out of the shower. "Crap!"

Suddenly, I hear an announcement, right in the bathroom. I glance around and notice a little speaker in the corner. Creepy.

"Sorry, everyone! Hot water won't be working for a while. Layla caught a cold." I hear Hannah say, like she announces things like that every day. Layla...Why does her name sound so familiar? Oh, right. She was the one who asked me if I was okay last night. Layla the Fire/Poison Arch Mage. Who apparently heats the water. I towel dry myself with my fluffy towel and rummage my bag for my hair dryer. No conditioner for today, I guess.

I dress quickly, and leave my room. The foyer is full, as everyone is gathered at the message boards. "What's going on?" I ask to no one in particular.

"Everyone is looking for jobs today, cause Ariel will be promoting certain members to the higher class next week." A petite lady tells me, her medium length hair sashaying behind her. "I'm Naomi, by the way." She says, before walking away in the different direction.

Higher class? I make my way to the message boards, half empty now, and look for a job of my own. Pieces of paper stuck to an old message board with thumb tacks, some which are yellowing and torn at the edges. I spot one, the words "Hermits Wanted. Orbis Park. Reward: 5,000,000 mesos" inscribed on it. I look around, in case anyone else is interested in it, and tear it off from the message boards. 5 million mesos, enough to pay 5 months of rent for my room. Just what I need.

[-]

The creaky floorboards, the old cabinets, some with lost doors, the drape-less windows, the eerie dark corridors, the old but shiny plaques on the wall, the crystal doorknobs, the exquisite bar for Higher Class members (not that I can go, since I'm underage), the people, some weird, some fascinating, but all great mages. I walk down the hallway, with my rucksack filled to the brim with potions and throwing stars, ready to head off to Orbis.

"Shirley, going out on a mission?" I hear Naomi say to me as I enter the foyer. I nod, and she hands me a pink toned piece of paper.

"W-what's this?" I ask, gripping the paper in my hand tightly.

"Everyone has to fill in this before going out on missions. In case. . . ." She starts, in her high-pitched voice.

"I die?" The thought of it makes me shudder.

"In case you need your room cleaned, or your pets fed." Naomi finishes, and I exhale a long breath I didn't even know I was holding in.

"O-Okay. I'll fill it up for you." I force a smile, and grab a pen from my pocket.

Shirley, Age 13,Room 54

Destination: Orbis Park, Ossyria

Would you like the cleaners to clean your room while you're away? YES

Do you have any pets you'd like to be fed? NO

Expected Return: Not sure. Soon?

I hand the pink note back to her, and she nods before filing it into one of the cabinets behind her labeled "S". She wishes me good luck, and I thank her. I'm off.

[-]

I board the big blue bird, and get ready for flight. I take a seat on the very top, and the view is exquisite. I take out the piece of paper from yesterday out of my rucksack. Orbis Park….I haven't been there in years.

"Hello." I hear someone call out to me.

"Hye." I mumble back to him. He takes a seat next to me, and I feel my heart starting to pound. When did cute boys start to sit next to girls like me? He has dark hair, green eyes, and a mouth that looks so big you could shove a few tennis balls inside. He's cute, though. He gives me a weird look, and I blush.

"S-Sorry. I didn't mean to stare." I apologize quickly.

"No prob. I'm Griffin." He sticks a hand out at me, and I shake it. Griffin.

"Which guild are you from?" I ask him.

He chuckles a little and says "Scarlion."

The bird takes off, but I don't even notice. "I'm from Ariel. Nice to meet you." We talk, about monsters we've killed, funny stories about the guild, (Well, I didn't contribute that much, since it's just my second day.), and along the way I found out he was a Hermit, just like me.

Minutes past, and I feel Griffin's hand curl around mine. I feel hot, but I don't move my hand away. I like the feeling of it, actually. Time passes, quicker than I expected, and I get off the bird at Orbis Station. "Bye, Shirley. Nice to meet you." He says, saluting me off.

"We'll meet again, right?" I ask, my voice small. He nods, and leaves for Ludibrium Castle. A slight breeze comes, and ruffles my curly hair. And I'm all alone.

I walk along the shiny pathways, staring at my reflection as I go. The breeze is back, and I pull my coat tighter against my body. The air here is different from Leafre, where I spent most of my childhood. It's much more, lighter. I feel like I'm inhaling clouds, almost. I stop by a nearby weapon and armor store, cause I love browsing, picking out things I do and don't like. Window shopping, almost. It's a hobby of mine. I look at a couple of new Pireta hats, which came in just this morning according the shop owners, who appear to be fairies. They look awfully comfy, and I would love to buy a new hat to add to my collection. I glance into my wallet, and all I have is 30 thousand mesos. Damn.

The walk to Orbis Park from the station took me about 15 minutes. Or maybe it's because I got lost along the way. Either way, I grip the job recruit paper in my hand, looking around for the person who sent this. There isn't a name, so I guess I'll just have to look. I walk past a row of exotic looking plants, and pass a hair salon.

"Hey, you!" I hear a coarse voice shout from behind me.

I turn around, and an old lady dressed in a purple dress, her silver hair tied up into a bun, stares back at me.

"Uh…Hye, are you the one-" I start.

"Yes yes yes. You're a Hermit, am I right?" She cuts me off rudely. I nod, and before I get a chance to reply she walks off in a different direction.

"Hey!" I scream and run after her. For an old lady, she walks fast. "Wait up!" She's leading me. I don't know where to, but she surely wants to get there as soon as possible. She stops for a moment, and I notice that her feet aren't even touching the ground. She's l-levitating? Maybe she's a mage, too. Than what would she want with me?

"Tch. Kids these days walk at an incredibly slow pace." She complains, gesturing that I follow her into what seems to be a small floating house. I have to bend over slightly, cause the house seems to be designed for dwarfs.

"Sit." She says, pointing at an awfully small, pink chair. I sit down and kick my rucksack under the coffee table. I feel like Alice in the Rabbit's house when she ate that Upelkuchen.

"Tea?" She asks, opening the single window. I nod, and my head hits the ceiling. Ow!

Looking around, although the ceiling is low, the interior seems quite spacious. Amazingly, the pink house is filled with a small bed, a little kitchen, a table and three chairs. She pours me tea into a tiny teacup, and immediately I can smell the scent of lavender.

"So, how old are you?" she asks me.

"13. I'm turning 14 in a couple a months, though." I tell her, in between sips of tea. This is hella good tea, if you asked me.

She looks at me for a long moment, and says, "I want you to get something for me. It's an Angelic Betrayal dagger." She says. Angelic Betrayal, I've heard of it before. It only can be obtained in the depths of Aqua Road, the Zipangu parlor, and in Elin Forest.

"Now, in the market, these daggers only cost about 400 thousand. But, seeing that you're so young, I'm willing to pay you 3 million." She says, pouring more tea.

"Wait, in the job recruit paper you said that the reward was 5 milion." I say, reaching for the paper in my pocket.

"Pfft. Didn't think you would remember. Fine, 5 million mesos it is." She smiles grimly, and sips her tea. Mysterious old lady wants me to find a dagger? Challenge accepted.

[-]

I glance at my watch, and it's 5 p.m. I've spent more than an hour climbing down Orbis Tower. I hold my breath, and enter Aqua Road. I've been here a few times, when I was a kid, with my mom. I'm pretty good at swimming, so I glide through the water. The water is surprisingly warm, so I swim through easily. A blue Poopa swims past me and I fling a steely at it. It disappears, leaving behind an air bubble. I swallow it, take a deep breath. I was never really intending to hold my breath for the whole job. I swim through the water, taking care to dodge the Jr Seals and Poison Poopa. I only got 3 thousand steelies on hand with me, so I don't want to waste any of it.

By the time I get to the Red Coral Forest, where all of the Freezers are, my air bubble was long gone. Shit, I don't have time to go back to search for any. I put on my Maple Skanda, which I've been keeping with me ever since I was 6, and it fits on my hand like a glove. Action time.

I throw steelies at the Freezers, one after another, so fast that it's all a blur. They die quickly, leaving nothing but seal meat behind. Why won't any of these drop the dagger? A Poison Poopa hits me from behind, and after that everything goes black….just like the entrance exam.

[-]

"Are you okay?" I hear a soft voice calling me.

"Luke?" I call out, opening my eyes slightly.

"Nah. It's me."

Griffin.

"W-Where am I?" I ask him. I look up, and all I see are coral shells dangling from the ceiling.

"The Aquarium. You passed out due to lack of oxygen." He tells me, his face awfully close to mine.

"I thought you were in Ludibrium." I say bluntly. What am I doing, with a boy I barely know?

"I passed by. The fact that a bunch of Freezers were surrounding you kinda got my attention." He jokes, his face inches away from mine. "I had to give you mouth to mouth for you to wake up."

"What?" I sit up, in a panic. My face flushes, and I start feeling hot all over again.

"I'm joking. Don't worry." Griffin says, his hand curling around mine again. "You're safe with me."

"What?" I ask, confused.

Griffin just smiles and kisses me. His lips are soft and taste of sea water. My eyes shut close, as if I'm in a trance. I feel Griffin's hand creep around my waist, and I instantly swoon.

"Want some fried shrimp?" He asks me, dangling it over my head.

"I'm not a dog, okay." I laugh, and snatch it from him. I love seafood…..And I guess I like him, too. Mysterious, funny, handsome, cute. He's treating me to a seafood and hamburger dinner.

"So, where did you get this?" I ask, waving a hamburger in his face.

"Misky, the Grocer." He whispers, before taking a bite of it.

"Hey! That's mine." I laugh, pulling it away. I'm happy, just here. Eating and laughing with a boy I barely know, but I love this feeling, all the same. I feel wanted, loved.

I glance at my watch, and it's 5 AM. God, where am I? I glance to my side, and see Griffin sleeping soundly, looking as adorable as ever. My God, we slept on the same bed. I glance downwards, and sigh in relief. We're both fully clothed. Last night was a complete blur. All I remember was having dinner, and….I can't recall anything. I put on my red leather jacket which dried overnight, and grab my rucksack. I take a long look at Griffin, his dark hair spiking out in every direction, and leave.

I walk around Aquarium, stopping at the Department store to buy some Air Bubbles, before heading back to the Red Coral Forest. Where I passed out, supposedly. My hair is all tangled and messy, but I couldn't care less. No one (sane) is going to see me in my winkled gray mini-skirt, red leather jacket and pink peep-toe sandals. I have a job to complete.

[===]

Info: Ariel is one of the only female-only guilds in the Maple World, and on the Honorable Rock, is 2nd. (Right behind Scarlion) It is led by legendary guild master Ariel, although not much is known about her past before defeating the statue, Ariel. The only male member in the guild is Luke, Ariel's brother, who also works as the maintenance worker. There are approximately 50 members in the guild, and about 10 teams within that. People who read Fairy Tail or something similar would get what I'm talking about. :D BTW, Sorry it's so short! I thought it'll be better if I make chapters shorter so I can update more often. I'll try maybe once a week.

Review if you liked it! I'd love to hear any suggestions, cause I'm a newbie writer. :D