Disclaimer: The characters in this fic, such as Johnny, Shania, etc. don't belong to me; they are property of Nautilus and Aruze, so don't sue! ;.;
Dedications: God, my friends, my readers, my RP buddies, Aruze for gracing this magnificent RPG with yet another installment, X-SEED for localizing this game, and finally, all the fans that are still devoted to this series after so long.
Shadow Hearts III: 20 Tomahawk Slashes
(20 Truths About Shania)
Theme #1 – Scorn
Being afraid of scary dreams isn't the only thing she receives ridicule for.
On the surface, most of the adults treat her with respect. Insulting the daughter of their esteemed chief would go against their tribe's ideology on kinship and brotherhood. Children, however, lack that particular level of foresight.
Dissent is passed around in whispers. Shania is too young and innocent to understand why she gets funny looks sometimes. Especially after she and her mother return to the village from visiting a nearby urban city.
Still, she tries her best to set aside the unease in hopes of making friends.
Theme #2 – Mother
Every time she meticulously braids her hair, she is reminded of the mornings she used to share with her mother.
They would be standing in front of the mirror, staring at their reflections as her mother shows her how to wind the short strands together. Shania would try her best to mimic the action, but she doesn't do it quite right the first few times.
Her mother just smiles patiently at her attempt, and loosens the blonde tresses to give her another demonstration.
What Shania remembers most vividly about those instances, are the special talks they have as they bond.
Theme #3 – Tomahawks
In the time Shania takes to load a second arrow and carefully aim again, the wild boar has recovered enough from her strike to safely waddle into the thicket.
She stalks back to the village, and enters her teepee with frustration clear on her face. Just as she flings the bow down onto the floor mat, Wild Mist sends her a questioning gaze. After her brief vent, he takes out his twin tomahawks for her to hold.
They are too heavy for her to properly wield, but Shania can feel immense power in them.
She wants this type of weapon.
Theme #4 – Father
Shania receives combat training at night, after her priestess duties for the day have been completed.
The chief is obviously holding back, fending off her blows with minimal effort. Instead of feeling frustrated, she sharpens her senses, and tries harder to look for an opening.
When they return to their teepee, she is panting with effort, while Wild Mist appears largely unfazed. With the session still fresh in their minds, he instructs her about areas to improve on.
Maybe she isn't meant to become a great warrior like her father, but that won't stop her from striving toward his strength.
Theme #5 – Zonda
Once Shania has completed her priestess training, the wedding planning starts.
At eighteen, she is old enough to marry, and she doesn't outright oppose the arrangement set in place by their parents. Zonda seems nice enough, from the scarce interaction they've shared. Their union would strengthen ties between their villages, which is the primary reason.
But as Shania sits beside her mother to help with measurements, she wonders if she will love her future husband the way her parents love each other so deeply.
She tightly purses her lips together upon realizing that isn't something she should be pondering over.
Theme #6 – Massacre
Her training is almost complete. Once she makes her first pact, she will be one step closer to fulfilling her duty as a Garvoy priestess.
The day before the ceremony is when red light hails death down upon the village.
"Mother! Father!" She cries out with raw desperation in her voice.
"Natan, you have your orders. Go!"
Even as she struggles from being dragged away against her will, she keeps her eyes on her parents. They are standing close together, her father protectively guarding her mother behind him in anticipation of more hideous beasts appearing.
Shania never sees them again.
Theme #7 – Thunderbird
The freedom that she feels is false, but her desire to attain it remains true.
The thunder spirit soars through the skies, blind to the surrounding beauty, stubbornly denying the faint spark of joy dwelling beneath the surface. She is bound by her duty to avenge her fallen tribe.
It isn't until after Lady's defeat that Shania finally realizes the truth.
She holds the key to unlock herself from the cage. She has always had it.
Outside of the crumbling Gate, a liberating breeze curls around her bare shoulders. If she flies now, it will be for pleasure, not purpose.
Theme #8 – Hunter
A satisfying hiss penetrates the air as the sharp blade sinks into yielding flesh.
Movement ceases; the Garvoy warrior pulls her weapon out of the fallen monster, and calmly straightens up. The window has long since closed, leaving nothing useful in its wake.
Behind her, she can hear gunshot noises as her companion finishes off the smaller creatures.
No definitive answers this time, but they won't give up so easily.
"Let's move on."
The rhythmic click of her heels pause briefly when frigid blue clashes with dying red. Her expression hardens, and she turns to leave without a second glance.
Theme #9 – Stares
People are staring again, and Shania is fully aware of it. By now, she has practically perfected her ability to ignore all those burning gazes.
The sight of bare skin can turn men into little boys, she muses with dry irony. Even Johnny let his eyes stray to her chest when they first met. Fortunately, Natan doesn't fit into that category. Meanwhile, women apparently find her state of dress to be scandalous, without comprehending the reason behind it.
But she isn't easy, like they seem to think. If any such insinuations are even hinted, her hands drift toward her tomahawks.
Theme #10 – Tatan'ka
The earth spirit is quite aggressive, but she finds great use in the power granted. It just takes a considerable amount of energy and concentration for her to keep its influence tamed. Only in battle can the spiritualist let loose some of the pent-up tension.
She can't very well rely on instincts each and every time, after all. Especially when Tatan'ka tries to address her reservations toward a certain blond detective.
Just take the male and mount him. Stake claim to your mate!
That isn't how human courtship works, she replies dryly inside her mind. And he isn't my mate.
Theme #11 – La Sirene
The tranquility is almost enough to placate the fatigued warrior. Even as she collapses right after the fight, the ocean spirit quickly heals her wounds, allowing her to recover. The soothing glow, cool as damp mist, washes over her form.
"Huh?!" Johnny gasps out loud and immediately moves toward her, obviously intending to give her a hand.
Once her muscles feel fluid again, Shania shakes off the weariness and assures him, "It's all right. I can stand by myself."
Just as she considers mentally expressing gratitude, she feels a gentle probe into her concealed emotions, and hears a whimsical sigh.
Theme #12 – Ticking
Unlike the majority of her traveling companions, the Garvoy princess is unable to relax during their stay in Al Capone's summer house.
Restlessly, she wanders through the surrounding wilderness outside. Sometimes, Natan accompanies her, but she has slowly started to pull away from him. Knowing what evil resides within her now, she can't risk infecting anyone else.
She is living on borrowed time, and each moment is too precious to waste.
If she goes crazy before she realizes her goal… then all of her efforts would be for naught.
That detestable woman. Everything links back to her, even years later.
Theme #13 – Ricardo
She doesn't need to search for confirmation. His bruises, like Natan's, aren't visible. They are well-hidden underneath all of those layers, so no one else can know about his suffering.
Ricardo is vocal and passionate, but apart from mentions of getting revenge for his deceased lover, he mostly keeps to himself.
Shania waits until there is some noise in the too-quiet agency before she quips, "You didn't need to put yourself in danger like that."
The mariachi tilts his head toward her, and their eyes meet in silence.
"De nada, señorita."
They continue waiting for Johnny to awaken.
Theme #14 – Tirawa
Power. She has sought great strength since the beginning of the most important hunt in her life. The hunt for justice.
The sun spirit floods into her body, practically overwhelming the priestess with its great intensity. She detects the other spirits stirring, and acknowledges the way their presences dim down.
In each fight thereafter, whenever Shania draws on its power, she carries the long swords with confidence. She even receives awed stares from her traveling companions. And yet, that gnawing sense of restlessness still remains.
It isn't enough. There is still something missing…
Her father's words echo within her ears.
Theme #15 – Lady
Their first encounter is in Garvoy Valley, where the wretched woman mercilessly slaughters the villagers, blood red eyes void of remorse.
Shania curses her own weakness, feeling so utterly useless that she can't save anyone.
Her hatred and frustration grow higher every time Lady escapes, unscathed, always leaving some form of her deadly influence behind. Life isn't fair, but doesn't need to be so cruel.
Finally, in the beast's lair of the Gate, there is no hesitation in each swing of her weapon. The spirits give Shania great strength… even as the blond youth beside her lends his unwavering support.
Theme #16 – Natan
Saying good-bye to Natan seems too final, in spite of the distance that will soon separate them.
She wants to thank him for his loyalty, for his protection, for everything that he has done simply to please her, over the past three years. She owes him far more than she could ever repay, and yet, he would never ask that of her.
Natan was always so adept at reading her. She hopes he still is, now.
"We will meet again, Princess."
Shania nods, and smiles faintly because she knows he won't.
She blinks; the wind has already swept him away.
Theme #17 – Blank Slate
She has nothing.
She is an orphan without friends or a home, and her ability to fuse with spirits sets her apart from the norm. Her special powers are accepted by most in her culture, but not the blood that runs through her veins.
After spending her first night in New York City, Shania quietly strolls down the stairs, feeling as though she is traipsing through a dream. Garland Detective Agency isn't her home, and the inhabitants aren't her relatives.
But when she sits down to have breakfast with Johnny and Lenny, she feels their warmth, and smiles at them.
Theme #18 – Love
She remembers the shock she had felt, the very first time Johnny confessed his love for her.
He must be feeling a similar kind of shock right now, seconds after she tells him the same three little words. They had slipped free from her lips so naturally, without a second thought.
Silence falls between them. Their cheeks stay pressed together as they keep holding each other.
Shania starts slightly upon registering wetness on her skin. She tries to pull back to look at Johnny, but he doesn't let her leave.
"I've waited a long time… to hear you say that."
Theme #19 – Awaker
Her body is so accustomed to Johnny's touch that her senses quickly become aware of foreign contact. It takes some time for her to realize that the skin pressed against her is blue… accompanied by too-long blond hair.
He stares deeply into her eyes and grounds out a single heated word.
Shania lifts both hands to shove him away, even as she starts struggling against his domineering hold.
Her consciousness is suddenly shocked awake when her shoulder gets firmly shaken.
With heavy breaths, Shania turns and stares hard at her confused lover.
Just a bad dream… nothing more.
Theme #20 – Johnny
She looks at Johnny, and quickly realizes that words aren't sufficient in describing what he means to her.
He has been her companion, her friend, her partner, her man, her lover, and now, he is her husband. He is far from perfect – and so is she – but she can't imagine anyone else that could make her feel so cherished and protected.
To this day, Shania still doesn't understand why he had chosen her, when there are many other women around that might suit him better.
She has the rest of their lives together to ensure he doesn't regret his decision.
Author's Note: And 2013 is kicked off with a fic centered on Shania! XD After having beaten the game last night for the second time, Shania is decidedly still my favorite character, with Johnny as a very close second. Like Johnny, she gets attacked by the fandom, albeit for being supposedly one-dimensional. o.o Shania is a very complex character with plenty of subtle nuances and hidden depths. If those fans don't know how to look past the surface, then they seriously need to sharpen their analytical skills. u.u Just because she's different from Alice and Karin doesn't make her an inferior heroine.
My dear readers, sorry for the belated greetings, and have an awesome Happy New Year! Let's make this year even better than the previous! :D I really hope you enjoyed this read, and please leave a review to tell me your thoughts!
With love for my fans,