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GPoFF – 3

Lowtown, just the same says it all. The place where the poor and sick of Rabanstre went. Those who couldn’t afford to live above ground. It was the same back in Archades, and nearly any big city I suspected. Those who couldn’t ‘afford’ to dwell with the rest of us were sloughed off and forgotten either below the city itself, or back in the old parts that so many of us wished we could forget.

This Lowtown was much more different that I had expected. My first thoughts as we descended those stairs was how unique it was. I thought I would see nothing but rows and rows of crowded, unhappy, sickly, half-crazed people. But instead the place was quite clean for the most part, well lit in some. There were shops and homes and lots of chatter. It was still wildly unfair to me that such people through no fault of their own, would be relegated to live in places like this… I silently hoped each of them would someday be able to move on. Although, I have since learned that it’s not always such a bad thing to be forgotten..

“This way.” came that calm, suave voice in almost a sing-song type of way. As if he were amused by my surprise. Ignoring the bit of warmth that had come to my face, I drew a sharp breath and followed this sky pirate further into Lowtown, not quite sure what to expect, nor what we were looking for. Yes he said there was another exit somewhere, but just where, precisely?

“So… Balthier, was it? Where are we going?”

“To a door.” he replied just as calmly. From my position two steps behind him, I could see a glimmer of a smile still toying on the corner of his mouth.

“Obviously.” I shot back. “But where?” By now of course the permanent residents of Lowtown were starting to take notice of the tall, nicely dressed man with the short slicked back hair and the just as tall red hair following in tow. I couldn’t help but notice the little children suddenly running off in all directions. Of course it wasn’t all Hume’s down here. Many of the creatures I saw earlier were also down here too..

‘Scuse me, miss?” A voice behind me cause me to turn. A young boy, maybe.. ten or so years old with scruffy brown hair, shorts, and a small satchel over his shoulder stood there, studying me every bit as much as I was him.

“Can I help you, young fellow?” I asked, stooping to meet his gaze a little better.

“Yes’m.. My name is Kytes, I do a lot of errands for someone called Magelo. You don’t look as if you belong down here. Can I show you anywhere? Its best not to hang around here too much if you can avoid it.. Unless you’ve got some.. erm.. business in the upper city? Sometimes you can find things here they don’t like up there. Just got to know where to find it.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. This boy was so young, so up-beat and yet so serious.

“Well, thank you. Kytes, was it? But right now all I need is to get into Rabanastre itself. How long has security been so.. tight at the gates? I don’t remember it ever being like that.”

For a week straight now, miss. And probably for another week too.. I guess that ‘Consul’ is causing a big stir. And you know the Empire wants things to come off all picture perfect and such. We’ve all been having a weird time of it. You’re sure I can’t lead you around? I’m between errands at the moment.”

I smiled again and gave the youths hair a gentle ruffle.

“Thank you Kytes, but as it is I only have a few gil to my name. I’m afraid until I can find some work, I haven’t much to spare. And I couldn’t ask you to cart me around without something in return. But when I DO get my footing. I’ll definitely come looking for you. Deal?”

Kytes smiled and nodded. “Just ask around for Kytes. I’ll be around. You’re sure now?”

“Oh yes,” I nodded and stood back up; smoothing a piece of my red hair behind an ear. “thank you though. You’re sweet. Besides, I uh, came here with someone, he was showing me arou–”

Looking over my shoulder  I realized that Balthier was gone.. A sudden cold washed through my blood then, and I had to fight the panic from nearly choking me. With a forced smile on my face, I looked back to the boy called Kytes, who was now staring at me oddly.

“Well, he’s around here somewhere. But.. if I need you, I’ll just ask around, thank you.”  With a nod, Kytes took off and I watched him with a growing doubt in the back of my head. Perhaps I shouldn’t have written him off so fast.. Maybe there was still time to call him back. How could I have been so foolish as to follow a man like the sky pirate down here?

Drawing a deep breath, I stifled my fears and turned, heading along the same route I thought Balthier was going along before I was distracted. Each step I took however, was more terrifying than the last. I hated being somewhere I wasn’t familiar. Especially by myself. What if I couldn’t get out of here? I had never been claustrophobic before, but I was starting to feel it now..

To hell with it.. I’m going to have to find that boy. So help me if I ever see Balthier agai–

A scream was muffled in my throat as a hand clamped over my mouth, the same time as an arm slid around my waist and pulled me back into the shadows.

I was about to start kicking and biting when the grip suddenly released and I was wiped around to see Balthier, arms crossed lightly over his chest and that debonaire smile on his countenance.

“YOU.” I hissed angrily. “Why did you leave me! I was wandering around scared out of my mind!”

“Sorry, pet.” he mused. “but when you’re someone like me, you don’t stay still in the open for very long. Not even down here. Now.” Pointing to my left. “There is the door that will take us up to Rabanastre, but I’m going to bet there are soldiers stationed there too. It’s going to be some tricky business getting past them. Are you up for it?”

While I hadn’t intended it, a small smile crept back onto my face and I nodded.

“Of course..  Lead the way.”

With a slight nod, Balthier approached that small slender metal door, fiddled with the handle for a moment, and pulled it open while motioning for me to come closer. Which I did. My eyes peered out into the streets of Rabanastre for the first time in almost two decades and I couldn’t help but smile wide.

Balthiers arms slid around my waist again, ripping my attention from the bustling city before us to his smooth, mischievous face. That same half smirk still affixed on his mouth.

“Ready?” He asked, and once more I nodded. From the periphery of my vision,  I could see the shiny metalic glint of armor. Whatever he had planned, I didn’t care as long as it worked.

Two seconds later, his mouth was on mine in, what I would’ve considered to be a rather heated, rather passionate kiss. It definitely made me a tad weak at the knees. That kiss was soon followed by another, and another, and soon his face was buried into my neck as we hobbled out of the gate way and into the city itself.

I giggled. And then heard:

”Ey you two there! ‘Nough with that! Take it t’ your bedroom an not the city streets!” jumping a little, I couldn’t help but giggle. My face no doubt red as a tomato.

“I’m so sorry. We.” squirming a bit as Balthiers tongue wiggled against the inside of my neck, his face obscured by my hair.  “We got a bit excited about the impending visit from the Consul..”

“Understandable.” the soldier stated, the tone in his voice drastically different. “But if it’s all th’ same t’ you, take it elsewhere. Can’t ‘ave all the likes of you clogging the streets like that.”

Giving a nod, I turned with Balthiers lips still assaulting my neck and started down a random street. Only when we were safely out of view did Balthier pick his head up and take a quick look about.

“Well now,” he mused. “Where to now?”

“Anywhere with you..” I answered before I realized it. Smirking softly, the sky pirate turned and beckoned me down another side street. And whether or not I wanted to, I followed.. Silently hoping for more kisses like the first..

– – – – – – – –

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