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 Four Seasons

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PostSubject: Four Seasons   Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:14 pm

Four Seasons - by Redkinoko

Preface

It has been a year, hasn't it? One year since I started playing a game called Ragnarok Online. This shall probably be my last RO-related fiction piece and I find no better a topic than that which I need not write: My story.


My name is Ranaulf Emmerich Droughtsalve, Red for short. I'm a cleric-in-training and before I finally accept my priesthood vows tomorrow, I would like to leave an account of my last story as an acolyte. This is the story of the best four seasons of my life.

My four seasons.

People always come into your life for a reason, a season, and a lifetime.

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PostSubject: Re: Four Seasons   Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:16 pm

Season One: Summer - How things respond to heat.

It's funny how the high temperatures of summer affect us. The sizzle in the air makes us all feel. The warmth of the sun reminds us that we are alive. There is something magical about the toasty weather that never fails to amaze me.

"Baphomet walks into a bar and the bartender asks, Why the long face?"

I stared at Emilia and tried to fake a smile in acknowledgment. As usual, she pretended that she didn't know that it was all charade and went on.

"Then, a marina followed. So the bartender approaches it and says, Why so blue?"

A lot of things were on my mind that time. She knew this. And perhaps, this was her way of showing that she cared. Emilia was never the serious confidant. Heck, she's never serious at anything other than her hobby of collecting monster cards. Not even her Acolyte training.

"Afterwhich, the Baphomet then orders. He shouts in a really brash voice, I'm hungry. Give me a novice! Shaken, the bartender nervously pointed out a sign behind him. Sorry, boss. We don't serve minors!"

I scratched my head and looked at the ever-optimistic girl. Personally, I really didn't like the joke. But I saw the effort she put into delivering them and that, I guess, was enough for me. I smiled, sighed and went finally back to my melancholy.

"You know Red, you really should get a move on. What is it about that girl anyways? It's not like she's the fifth girl... whoops... me and my big mouth!"

Emilia covered her mouth and started running around the bench like a silly child. Her animated expressions caught a passerby's attention every now and then, which was quite enough to make me shrink in shame.

Just to stop her antic I finally replied, "Vina's the sixth, actually."

A warm summer gust blew in the middle of the Pronteran Park just outside of the West Capital. Emilia stopped running around and slowly went back to the bench.

She sat extra-close to me and stared at me the same way she did back when we were still kids. She always does her puppy-dog eyes when she wants something out of me. Somehow, she always gets what she wants this way.

"Tell me about it. I'm listening."

I sighed long and hard. It wasn't like she couldn't have guessed most of the things that I was going to tell. Perhaps she just wanted to hear my stupid story one more time. Or perhaps because telling my story is already therapy for my part. Whatever the reason was, I just recounted everything again.

I'm Red, the hopeless romantic incarnate. I really didn't have that much social skill to mix well with the opposite sex. Aside from my childhood friend Emilia, most of my friends are guys. I was the first one in my peer group to fall in love with a girl and ironically, I found myself as the last one who will get a girlfriend (if ever that is bound to happen). I really don't know what my problem is. I have been rejected so many times, and yet I still am clueless as to why it always happens. I slowly recalled how each girl found a way to turn my hopes down, all six of them.

I finally broke out of my shell and raised my voice for the very first time at Emilia.

"Am I that horrid a person to not be liked by any one of them!?"

Emilia's reaction was fear. And then just sheer disbelief. I was always the quiet type. Everything that I had to say seriously, I did so with great calmness and finesse. I guess I surprised her that time with my loud voice.

She didn't say a word. Instead, she ran towards the shaded area by the woods, where she stood unmoving for quite a while. And then she turned around, with her usual cheerful visage and teasingly asked me in return,

"Do you think I'm cute?"

I didn't know what to say. I swallowed my saliva and looked at her playing around by the trees. It has been quite a while since I looked at her. To me, she was still this snotty little kid who liked to play all day. As her childhood friend, I never did notice that she was just a year younger than me; that the young Emi that I knew had grown up along with me.

And grow up, she did.

Her short golden locks are no longer short. They have now become long and elegant, the way she wanted it when we were still kids. Even her face has changed. She has grown up to be far from the sniveling amnesiac that she was when we were young. If her childish behavior weren't there, I'd say that she has become quite the opposite girl that I grew up with. But I never did take the time to realize that she had changed before my eyes. That moment, I began to see a different Emilia.

Perhaps it was the sudden darkness coming from the woods and the shards of light that pierced through its leafy canopies. Or maybe it was the hot wind, I really didn't know.

But I saw what I saw.

I looked at her blue eyes, smiled, and pretended that nothing has changed.

"Yeah. I think you're cute."

She gracefully spun around her noticeably matured body in her tight acolyte outfit. She stopped and ran towards me. She closed up to my face and replied,

"See? You easily say I'm cute because we've known each other for so long now. It's harder to not fall in love with something that has already taken up a special corner in your heart. You should try to become friends with her first. That's the only way to go."

I was surprised. For the first time in her life, she didn't make fun of me or just laugh. In fact, she made a good point with what she said. Could it be that the child within her is giving way too? I could only stare blankly at the darkness of the forest yonder.

"Hey, Red, classes are starting soon. We ought to start walking back, or else Father Anthony will hit us with his stupid cane again!"

And with that, Emi started running the same way she had been doing for the last seventeen years.

Then, she stopped, turned around, looked at me with an angelic face that I have never seen in her before and yelled back,

"For what it's worth, I also think you're cute..."

I was out of words once more. Did she mean what she said?

"...for a freak of nature!"

Geez. She'll say anything to get my spirits up. Why do I even bother? But then again... nah. Perhaps it's just the heat of the summer that drives us all insane.

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PostSubject: Re: Four Seasons   Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:17 pm

Season Two : Fall - Changing colors.

Autumn blows winds that bid farewell to the lively spirit of summer. The trees and the flowers and the rest of the land begin to change, as though preparing for a long night's rest. Gently, she lays a carpet of leaves in preparation for the coming season of coldness.

As the days of summer drowned in the incoming season of falling leaves and lengthening nights, I found myself in a rather inspired mood, for I was now carrying with me the warm spirit of the summer solstice.

"It's harder to not fall in love with something that has already taken up a special corner in your heart."

I thought long and hard about those words. It was the first real advice that my best friend had given me, and coming from the likes of her, surely it was meant to be worth something. Maybe she was right. Maybe I have to take another chance with Vina. Maybe I have to take it slower.

The first day the leaves started falling, I finally mustered up the courage to confront Vina. She was still a sight to behold: Her Payonese-white complexion, her long dark hair, her rosy white cheeks, and sapphire eyes. How she moves, the way she speaks, everything she does with much composure becoming of a really matured girl. I could spend an entire day staring at her and not get tired of doing so.

"Hi Vina."

Vina was fixing up her lunch underneath one of the reddening trees near Father Anthony's lesson grounds when she noticed me. She smiled at me and waved back. It didn't feel like she was in anyway feeling negative towards me after I got dumped a good three months ago.

"What's up, Red? We haven't talked in quite a while."

"Has it been that long?" I asked. Well come to think of it, it has been quite a while. I took a seat beside her and casually smiled.

"Say Vina, have you heard about the Baphomet who went inside a bar?"

Her reaction was that of intrigue. I was glad to see this. So I went on with my borrowed little skit.

"So a Baphomet walks into the bar, and the bartender asks..."

Vina giggled after I had delivered the joke - a much better reaction than what I had given Emi for the same joke a few months before. I somehow felt guilty about it but this wasn't the time for that.

The joke turned into a conversation, the conversation turned into a good friendship. Everything felt much more casual than what I had done when I brashly courted her before. All this, of course, in front of Emilia, my bestfriend.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Each morning that I woke up in, ushered in a day better than before. Things were finally working out for the better of me. Vina and I were becoming really close and I had Emilia to thank for it.

And all good things, they say, have tradeoffs. I sometimes felt that I was spending way too much time with Vina. That I was starting to forget about Emilia and her childish antics; that I was enjoying myself while my best friend was left alone. All three of us would go out at times but suffice to say, three's a company. It took no time for me to lack the time for the two most special girl friends that I had.

I had mixed feelings about it. And so I let the issue slip for a while and pretended not to notice it. At least, that was the case until the Festival of the Moon God.

In case you're not from Prontera or just not familiar with local customs, the Festival of the Moon God is celebrated during the last moonless night of autumn to commemorate the legend of the Moon God who fell in love with a young Pronteran flower girl. It is said that the moon disappears because he comes down to visit the spirit of his beloved. During the festival, either you come with a friend of the opposite sex or you not come at all. It's a harsh tradition, I know. But I had always been fateful enough to have Emi by my side. This year, however, I was with two girls. And I didn't know which one to take.

This posed quite the dilemma for me. I've been going with Emi during the festival for so long now and I knew how much she enjoyed every bit of the fanfare. If I didn't invite her, I she'd go a'pouting and the gods only know the end of it. But then again, taking Vina to the festival would be a dream come true for me. This festival was my chance. Everything that I needed was there: The romantic music, the cool wind, the apple wine and the overall ambiance of romance.

Three days before the affair, I went to Emilia's house. After paying respects to her aunt and uncle, who looked at me as if I were a family member, I went straight up to her room. It had been more than six months since I last visited her inside her room. Since we saw each other almost everyday during our training, we often met each other in all sorts of places, almost never in her room.

I knocked three times.

I heard slow footsteps and then a low voice, "Who is it?"

"It's me, Emi. It's Red."

"Red?" she replied in an excited voice. Maybe we didn't see each other too often anymore. Was there a chance that she was really missing me? Silly little Emi.

Finally, the door opened. The sight of a room I had last seen a few months ago stunned me. Everything was so... so...

Different.

The cute dolls were placed on the higher racks on the walls. Everything was organized, as opposed to the entropic setup that I last saw before. The pink paint overalls were changed into various shades of purple. Books and various knickknacks have replaced where toys once stayed.

"What's with the stare, Red? Surprised to see the new look?"

"When did..." I couldn't finish my words. I was too busy marveling at the changes.

"One day last summer, I just woke up and decided that things just had to change around here," said Emi a boasty manner. Even her room was changing - first her attitude and now the room.

Was I the one being left behind?

I sat on her bed. Even the sheet cover colors have been changed to match the room motif. Thankfully, my birthday gift to her, a yoyo doll, was still on the bed. The sight of it comforted me, even if just a little. As much as I felt really odd telling her about my dilemma, it just had to be done.

"Emi, I came here to talk to you about something."

Emilia walked towards her open window. "Is this about the festival?"

Faster than an agitated thief bug, she really was.

"You know me all too well, Emi."

And that was the truth. Even if I didn't talk to her about it now, she's bound to bring it up at another time. I decided to take the initiative this time.

"Yeah, I've been thinking about that too. Remember the first time we went to the festival together? You didn't want me to be your partner because you thought I was just going to be scared at the fireworks and become a thorn in your back."

I chuckled. She was quite the brat back then. Emi wanted to go with me so badly that at the last moment, I just had to give in. Well, she really didn't cry and as a matter of fact, she enjoyed it. I was relieved and we ended up going to a lot more festivals after that.

"I really think that this is the opportune moment for you and Vina," Emilia continued. She sighed a bit but not so loud as to not let me notice it. But I did. I guess I too, know her only too well. She then stooped under her bed and pulled out an old blue box of some sort.

"What about you? Will you still be going to the festival?"

Emi smiled and gave out a shrug. "I don't see why I shouldn't."

"Whom will you go out with?"

Emi covered her mouth with one hand and did an evil-queen impersonation laugh as she placed the box on top of her bed. "Hohohoho, the question is, who won't?"

She opened the box and lo and behold, I saw countless letters. At first I didn't know what she meant. I browsed one of the letters. It was from a swordsman (the envelop had the Chivalry Insgnia) to Emilia Winterharp.

A love letter?! For Emi?! THE Emi?!

I searched the box. There were at least a good five different authors in there. My heart raced frantically. I really didn't know why. Where was I during all of this? Any why did I have no idea that my best friend was already the apple of a lot of eyes?

I tried to play the fool. "What are these?"

Emi sat beside me and smiled. "I got all those after you started going out with Vina. Maybe they thought I was feeling lonely and stuff. I really dunno."

"And your replies?" I curiously asked.

Emi had a puzzled look. "Replies?"

I returned the same puzzled look.

"Oh! You mean my answers to the stuff they ask?" cheerfully replied Emilia in a naive tone. She continued with a lowering voice. "I didn't say anything. I didn't think I would ever need to."

I felt the loneliness. A wall was clearly growing between us. Emi...

But as usual, She put on the usual smile and said, "Don't mind me, Red! You have to concentrate on what you have set out to do with Vina!"

Not wanting to stay in the mood of sadness I smiled back. On the way home, I thought about the box of letters that I saw earlier, her new room and how she had lowered her voice after my inquiry about the letters. But she's right. I have to put everything else behind me first.

On a really important note, she neither pouted nor reacted negatively. Her voluntary disinclination to not come with me was somewhat surprising. She has grown up to be the understanding woman that I have never come to expect of her. On the brighter side of things, I now had permission, if you can really call it that, to go out with Vina.

Vina of course didn't make much fuss about it and whole-heartedly agreed to come with me.

Then came the festival night. The food was great and the music was just as entertaining. Vina particularly liked the fireworks. I couldn't help but liken her reactions to Emilia.

Speaking of Emila, she turned up with a blonde archer who she courteously introduced to me by the name of Dante. Probably the guy whose letter got lucky enough for Emi to pick as a date. Or probably not. Perhaps he's courting her? Damn. I didn't even know what's going on in her life anymore.

I didn't see the two later that night. Maybe I was just too engrossed with my talk with Vina who, I must say, has grown quite fond of our long talks about life and its works. Quite philosophical, she was; Far-deviated from an Emi who kept everything real.

As the night grew deeper, the festive music died down and was replaced with a flowing nocturne of stringed quartets. A few good glasses of apple wine sweetened the occasion. And if I might recount it well, I think we both have had one glass too many that night. Or not.

Twelve o'clock.

I remember the dull ringing of the church bells to signal the midnight mark. Most people were already getting ready to call it a night. Others found themselves complacently bunked over some dining table sharing stories with their family and friends. Vina and I were seating on one of the side benches of the plaza.

"The stars. The stars are most beautiful tonight, aren't they?" I asked Vina.

"Brighter, yes. But don't you feel that something is missing?"

I was puzzled by her enigmatic reply.

"The stars may be glowing brighter tonight because of the moon's absence but also because the moon is gone, the stars have nothing else to woo but the empty heavens. They glow for nobody. Perhaps they glow even brighter because they are lonely. Because they want the moon back."

I saw in her sadness. I looked up the stars too. She was right and I saw the sad feel to the moonless night sky. I felt as though she needed me the most this time. I slowly placed my arm by her shoulders.

No resistance. She pushed herself closer.

"You know Vina, they need not glow for the moon. They are beautiful because I'm watching them with you. For me, they glow even brighter because you are here with me tonight."

She looked at me, teary eyed but happy. I smiled back. "Thank you, Red."

Vina leaned towards me. Suddenly the bench was hardly big enough for the both of us. I looked at her and saw her closed eyes and inviting lips as she went even closer. I pulled her even more with a gentle tug of my arm over her shoulders. The music in the air, the cold blowing wind, the starry night - picture perfect.

She was asking for it and I was only too human to not consent.

I felt her supple, wet-dry lips gently touch mine. The feeling was surreal. It was as though the warmth of our bodies concentrated on our lips for one brief moment and joined at the moment the my first kiss, sending shivers and prickly heat all over my body at the same time.

Is this love?

I felt a sudden relaxation of all my muscles in the body. All tension that had built up, seemingly lost in just a few seconds. I was at peace. And I hoped Vina was feeling only the same thing.

Finding a new sense of tranquility, my mind then started wandering off. I thought about my life. My training. All the girls that I have courted before. My suffering. Then Vina. Then Emilia.

Refusing to delve any further into my reverie, I opened my eyes, still in the trance of our kiss. I then saw something that which I wish I never had seen that night. Emilia was standing from across the street, with Dante. The reflection from the stars could not match the moon's stolen light. But it was sufficient enough to illuminate the tears in her eyes.

I pushed myself slowly away from Vina and rested her head on my shoulder. I tried to say something from far away. I opened my mouth but no words would come out. Perhaps it was already a blessing that Vina was too into the moment to see it.

Then I saw Emi run away, leaving me, Vina, even Dante. My heart shattered into a thousand pieces that night. Right after it felt the best sensation in my lifetime.

Dante looked at me with feral eyes then he ran after Vina across the crowded night streets of Prontera. Perhaps I wasn't myself that night. Or perhaps it was the only time that the real me was in control.

Either case, I chose not to follow.

I chose to stay with Vina as she quietly fell asleep by my side, not waking up till the first break of dawn.

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PostSubject: Re: Four Seasons   Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:18 pm

Third Season: Winter - The frozen heart.

Winter is the season of peace. A blanket of white blessing covers the sleeping land, while its inhabitants patiently await the passing of the season of silence.

The short warm nights were finally overtaken by long, cold nights of the final season of the year. Before long, the first signs of snowing fell upon the capital city. As for me, my time became so dedicated to Vina to a point that I hardly even talked to Emilia anymore.

As it turns out, Vina was a dainty box full of secrets. For the outside world, she was the perfect carefree girl without a problem in the world. But finding myself as her closest confidant, I saw the real world she lived in. And it wasn't picture perfect as I had imagined.

She was the eldest of six children of the village leader. A destiny to become a hunter like her parents and lead their village someday was placed on her by virtue of birth. And because of this, she couldn't help but feel constrained by her own fate. So, in an act of open rebellion, she ran away to her grandparents here in Prontera and took up a profession of less violence. Because of this, she was practically disowned.

I saw her as a wellspring of smiles but deep inside, she was really lonely.

Somehow, in knowing all of this, I felt responsible for her. I wanted to share her burden. So I said to myself that I should never leave her. For me, she was but a fragile rose that can be crushed by mildest force.

But then again, there's Emilia. I couldn't help but wonder at times what she was doing. How she went on in life without me. What happened after that night during the Moon God festival. I thought about why I was still thinking of these things when I should be happy for where I was right now. This was after all, a dream come true for me.

I was preoccupied by so much thought that it wasn't too surprising to discover that all this had quite an effect in my training. My grade point overall drastically dropped since I found my studies second only to Vina. Father Anthony of course, was quick to notice. After our fourth quarter qualifier, he decided to confront me.

"Red, I've noticed a change in your attitude in your training."

I chuckled, seeing everything as trivial matter. "I kinda noticed that too, Father."

"I don't want to sound intrusive but could the reason have something to do with Vina?"

I smiled at Father Anthony. "Some things are just more important than this, Father."

"Vina?"

"Yes, Father. I feel as though I ought to be always near her."

"I know you and I know Vina. You two have been my students for as long as I can remember. You are like my children already. You have been looking for a your perfect match ever since you were a child. Vina, on the other hand has always been lonely throughout her stay here. Now I ask you this, do you really love her? Or is there only pity in your heart?"

Those words boiled the blood running in my veins. The truth is perhaps the most painful of devices. Father Anthony hit ground zero.

"What do you know, old man? You've never been in my position! You'll never be!" I angrily retorted.

I ran as far away as I could into the frozen forest. I ran until I broke down due to exhaustion. I ran until my heart saw fit. I felt like running forever. But I guess that's what gravity is for. To pull back down those that try to escape the reality of life.

There's no running away from everything. I finally decided to have a talk about Vina about it.

To the irony of things, we found ourselves on the bench were we first kissed, during the last moonless night of Autumn.

"Vina, do you love me?" I asked.

Vina kissed me lightly, afterwhich she replied, "Why do you even ask?"

"It's just that I... I'm confused about... "

Vina tried to fake a smile. She only knew all too well where I was going. "About us?"

She took a deep breath. Her exhales turned into mist and drifted south with the blowing northern wind. Everybody seemed to be a step ahead of me each time.

"So you've finally noticed too. I was hoping you'd find out later. It didn't take me much time to find out that I was just running away from things with this relationship."

"What are you running away from? I'm here. To hell with the past and the future won't come too soon. What's important is here and now," asserted I.

Vina stared at the dimming skies of Pronteran winter. The candlelights coming from the nearby windows gave the place an eerie mystic glow. I hugged her from behind and asked,

"Are you afraid?"

"I'm sorry Red. You are right; I'm afraid. I guess I have been running away all these years. I'm scared of looking back at everything that I have left. But I saw in you and Emi the life of freedom that I could have had. I longed for it so much. I wanted it for myself so much that I thought it was love. But I know you felt it too. That there still is something missing in me. And for that, our relationship can never be whole. I really can't give a heart that Payon never really returned to me."

Tears were welling in my eyes. I hugged her even tighter.

"I can't give a heart that Payon never really returned to me. "

Was it possible that I too, never had the heart to give to begin with? Have I given it to somebody else?

Vina kissed me in the cheeks. "I know I can only dream of having you by my side forever. That night during the Moon God festival, I already knew your heart belongs to another special someone. I saw it in your eyes. They never lie. But I just wanted to live in my dreams a little while longer. But I guess I dreams are never meant to be lived out for so long."

She saw Emilia?

She finally let go of me. I almost collapsed when she did. As if a brace that had been supporting me for so long had been removed. Tables have been turned; it was I who had needed her all along.

But she's right. I wouldn't admit it but she is. We were playing with love without even really knowing what it was.

"I'm going back to my family on Sunday. I shall pray for only good fortune for you two. Thank you for everything, Red. I will never forget the kindness that you have shown me. And don't you be worrying about me, Red. I'm not the fragile girl you think I am. It is time for me to confront something that I avoided a long time ago. Only after I've done that can I truly say that really love something."

Having said those words, she left me, with only the falling snow as cold company.

I though long and hard that night. The following morning, I left a note on Emi's door.

--

- Meet me by the Magnolia Patch this afternoon.

- We have to talk.

- Signed, Red

--

I waited for her till afternoon. While I waited, I watched the frozen Magnolias sleep soundly underneath a casing of ice. Seeing them so peaceful and calm made me miss the beauty in their liveliness during other times of the year. I never did like winters. Sad to say, a fourth of our lifetimes will be spent just for winters. Each one only colder than the last.

But not necessarily lonelier.

I recalled how Emilia and I used to sleep together as kids every winter. We had this theory that so long as one stayed with his/her best friend, you will never feel cold. As a child, I really believed in it. And perhaps it did work for a while.

I longed for the days. I just needed to get separated from my source of warmth to realize it's importance. I realized that … that my…

That my heart belonged to her.

As the sun slowly started it's daily descent, I heard footsteps coming from my back. I looked hoping to see Emi but I saw somebody else.

It was Dante. "Hey Red! Emi said she'd be following shortly. She had to pick a few things up at the convent."

What the hell is he doing here? thought I.

"Uh, listen Red, I came along here to say something. I understand that you're Emi's best friend so I thought I would like to let you be the first to know."

The hell is this guy trying to pull? Seriously, he's not Emi's first boyfriend?? Is he?

"I like Emi."

Perhaps what I did next came from all the anger pent up inside of me. Or perhaps it was just the rage of the moment. But why now? Now that my heart is feeling so clear about Emi? I really didn't know what two think. I just blanked out.

And before I know it, I had delivered a punch in Dante's face. I felt out of control at that moment. I said,

"Emi is mine."

"Damn you, Droughtsalve!" shouted the archer as he tried to stem the bleeding of his nose, "Just who do you think you are? Emi is a real person, you know. She feels what we feel. You don't toy around with other girls and keep them in the closet when you're through with them!"

I heard a gasp come from the path to the town. I glanced and saw a dumbstruck Emilia. She probably saw everything. I waited for her to side with me, being his best friend.

I should have known what I deserved.

Emi ran towards Dante and tried to heal his wound. Dante jerked away from her in disgust and started walking away from the park. Drops of his warm blood melted the snow that it fell on, staining the snow-covered ground with crimson marks.

I tried to rationalize. "Emi, please understand. I was just confused. Vina and me, it was a mistake. I never should have left you alone."

Emi merely stared at me with cold eyes that pierced through my heart. There were tears in her eyes. I just had to drop all my aces at that single moment.

I ran towards her and kissed her unsuspecting lips. Warm and sweet. The feeling, better than that which I had experienced with Vina. With rush in my blood and the quick, muffled beating of my heart. For ten seconds we stood unmoving.

I looked at her, not as my friend but as the one who had run off with my heart without my notice.

"I love you Emi."

One.

Two.

Three seconds passed.

Then a cold, hard slap landed across my freezing right cheek.

I could no longer speak. Neither could she.

The fields, white as snow, echoed the deafening silence that ended the final season of the year for both of us - A fitting culmination for a year of insanity.

The heart truly grows weak in the cold.

But that which does not kill it, only makes it grow stronger.

Winter is the season of peace. A blanket of white blessing covers the sleeping land, while its inhabitants patiently await the passing of the season of silence.

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PostSubject: Re: Four Seasons   Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:19 pm

Fourth Season: Spring - Hope with the high wind.

The joy of spring starts when the rule of the quiescent snow ends. The melting of ice brings life to everything beneath it, ushering in something more beautiful than the sereneness that is the fleeting winter paradise.

Two months have passed since that fateful winter afternoon. Vina left for the mountains of Payon after the melting of the snow that covered the pass to her hometown. I could be said that it is my entire fault. Nonetheless, I keep on saying to myself that it's for the best.

I never did see Dante the Archer again either.

Meanwhile, I was finishing my final training phase before priesthood. And if ever life would have to turn out for the better for me, the key to it would have to be somewhere else. I just couldn't move on with time in a place where memories of the past seem to be in a complete standstill.

I planned on leaving after taking my oath of priesthood. I didn't even care where I would get assigned anymore. In departing Prontera, I shall be leaving nothing in this land but memories of long thoughts and lament.

That winter night was the last time that I talked with Emilia. A wall of ice formed between our friendship and somehow, not even the warmth of spring would melt it away. I missed our carefree moments one year ago. But the real pain came from the thought that things will never be the same again, like an intricate glass carving, lost forever when shattered.

But instead of sulking and wasting more thought on sour things of the past, I finally reconciled with my mentor and put most of my energy in my training. Father Anthony was more than glad of this. He started giving me special mentoring sessions so I no longer had to sit in his class. I zipped through the track to commencement, hardly thinking of everything else.

Every time I saw something that reminded me of the last three seasons of my life, I looked far ahead and thought of something else. One can say that I was burned and that I no longer wanted to play with anything that had to do with fire.

After much hard work, I finally finished all of my tasks required to become a priest, save the taking of the vows. Father Ranaulf Emmerich Droughtsalve! What a name that would be! But as much as wanted it, the final step could not be hurried like my training. I had to wait for another seven days.

Finding so much free time for the very first time, I finally got back to thinking once again. I often stayed by the woods near Father Anthony's classes. There, I would see Emilia as though she had gone through nothing either. I guess we had both forgotten about everything, in our own ways.

I spent my days reminiscing the happier memories - memories before everything that had to do with the recent times. I ate, I slept and I recalled. I walked around the city, half-dazed, half-dreaming. In a few days, I will finally become that which I have been dreaming of all my life.

By the woods, there was this bridge overlooking the cesspool where the culvert drains poured excess water from the city. As a child, I used to stay there when I felt gloomy. Often, I would find myself accompanied by my best friend. But those days have long since come and gone.

I stayed there the whole day before the night of my oath taking. If I were going to become what I have wanted to be as a child, I wouldn't disappoint the younger me. But why was the feeling somewhat deviante? Why did I find myself staying in this bridge on what was supposed to be the most ecstatic day of my life?

The sun came down on the whole of Prontera. The mating lightning bugs illuminated the pockets of water below with their dances of joy - it was a sight to be seen only during the season of spring.

Then, I heard footsteps coming from the woody path that lead towards the city. I looked back and saw two people, one, which I would have expected, and another, which I have not.

Father Anthony had come to bring me to the Sanctuary for the Council. Along with him came Emilia.

Finding himself a little out of place, Father Anthony mentioned that he would take a walk in the woods for a while, leaving only the two of us and the gentle pouring sound of the culvert pipes.

The situation felt really awkward for me. I guess she felt it too, as our eyes would tango with each other and not even meet along the way for quite a while. It has been too long. And neither of us has seemed to have forgotten.

"You remember when we were still kids? We..."

"Yes," I jerkingly interrupted. I have had enough of the past.

Emilia sighed as she walked towards the same side of the bridge railing where I was leaning.

"Vina told me about everything before she left. I heard that you're planning to go away after becoming a priest."

I closed my eyes and tried to drown myself in another world of make-believe just to distract myself.

"You heard right. So how's life treating you?"

Emi picked up a pebble and threw it by the cesspool. She them slowly replied,

"The same way the world has treated me for the last seventeen years, like the child that I no longer am. But that's not why I came here. I still want to know why you want to leave so badly."

She knew why but I knew she'd ask anyway. That's just so her. I told her anyway, just to get the show going.

"To get a new life; to leave the old one behind."

"Is the old one that bad a life for you?"

I slowly nodded. The old life. She knew, it was the life that I have been sharing with her for the last seventeen years."

"Then I guess your leaving me behind too," said Emi in a grief-sodden tone.

I faced Emi and walked up to her. She faced me too. We have never been this close for quite a while.

"I'm sorry. But as you have always said, one has to get a move on."

Emi began to cry but you could see that she was trying so hard to make it stop.

"Fool! There has to be a point where you stop moving on. There has to be," she said while restraining her sobbing.

Emi rested her forehead in my chest, staring at what seemed to be an infinite ground between us. I could feel the sadness in her every breath. I could only guess how much pain it was causing her. Fate has weaved an invisible net that would forever set our paths apart.

"Don't go. I... I won't let you. Not when everything feels so clear."

I gently pushed her head nearer and finally said something that's been kept locked inside of me for the longest time.

"Do you hear the beating of my heart? Every second that it spends beating is every second spent beating for you. That moment during the winter festival, it was the best ten seconds of my life. Emilia, your presence in my life has made it more than perfect. I can never thank you enough for that."

Emi looked at me. She hasn't really changed much, as what I had thought a year ago. She tried to show that she is now a strong woman and no longer the sniveler that she was fifteen years ago. But then again, deep in side, I know that the child I grew up with is still there, crying her heart out.

"But you don't have to go! Don't you understand? I was confused. I didn't know what to say. What to think. What to feel. But that was a long time ago! I'll do anything to make you stay. I'll do anything because... because...

I love you too!"

I put two fingers of my hands in her mouth to stop her for saying anymore. I didn't want to hear anything more because I too, was starting to feel pain.

I let go of her. And this time, she made no more effort to resist. Her face had suddenly contorted in tears and she cried. I couldn't even bare look at her. This was probably the worst day of my life.

Sometimes, life isn't all fairytale.

Thing's can't always end as intended.

Father Anthony who came from somewhere nearby finally broke the silence.

"We have to go, Ranaulf. The council is waiting for us."

I took one last look at her beside the bridge and nodded in agreement. Without another word, I walked away with Father Anthony. Along the way, Father Anthony put his arms around my shoulders as my father would have had he still been alive.

"You know, you can get all the riches in this life and not be happy if you let go of the one key to your heart. I am an old man, Red. But I wasn't always old. Once, I also was young. And to be able to follow the whims of the young heart is a gift that I never took for granted."

I couldn't help but cry. But it's all too late now. I wiped away the futile tears and I took my vows shortly after reaching the council chambers.

I really should stop my story here, lest I forever engrave a year's fearful memory into the eternity of my soul.

Signed,

Ranaulf Emmerich Droughtsalve, Missionary Priest.

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PostSubject: Re: Four Seasons   Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:21 pm

A Year Hence: Summer Solstice - ClosuresA Year Hence: Summer Solstice - Closures

A year has passed since the start of this story. I'm now a priest and it's about time that I put an end to this tale of mine. I officially start with my work tomorrow so I thought it best to give Emilia one last visit.

Yesterday, I put on my red and black garb for the first time since the ceremonies and walked down the same street on my way to the fields where Emi and I used to play, train, and grow up. People bowed down in respect wherever I went. Even if it felt really awkward, the thought that I finally got what I wanted pretty much made up for it. It was nothing that I couldn't get used to really.

I looked at the bridge beside the culvert cesspool. Memories of that fateful moment three nights ago felt all too fresh. I couldn't stay for too long.

After a good half-hour's walk, I finally arrived at Father Anthony's training grounds. Father was giving out the usual daily announcements. She was there, along with most of her classmates. Upon seeing me, Father Anthony bowed down in respect. I almost forgot that my rank was now higher than his.

I asked for his permission to talk to Emilia, to which he politely approved. Emilia got up slowly and walked to where I was staying by the woods. I wanted to see something from a not so distant past. But somehow, it wasn't there. Her smile from childhood was no longer there. Perhaps it was all whisked away along with the storm that stayed for an entire year.

Emilia spoke with a sad tone, feeling the impending sad news that I bring.

"So, you've finally changed your job. Congratulations."

I smiled, still drowning in my own game of charades.

"Couldn't have done it without you."

Still afraid of losing 'it' again, Emilia turned away before replying.

"Silly Red, you've succeeded because you never lost hope. I am so happy for you. I really am."

I could tell from experience that she was just being hurt more as we prolonged the conversation.

"Whatever you say is fine by me, Emi. Anyway, I came here just to say that I start my missionary work in two days. I still don't know where I will be placed."

Running tears that never fall graced the beautiful crimson eyes of Emilia. A strong girl she may be but it was just all too painfully powerful for her. Still, she managed one last salvo of composure and replied,

"Good luck then. Oh, and yeah, you look really good in your robe. I bet you'll be the chick magnet wherever you'll be destined."

Ever the optimist Emilia, I thought. She started walking back to Father Anthony's class. I put my hands in my pockets as I watched my best friend walking away, no longer a child from my memories but as a woman that I love.

Father Anthony saw Emilia come back so he finally continued with the daily announcements.

"And as for a final announcement, I will no longer be your instructor. The council has decided to put me once more in action inside Glast Heim. I shall be leaving in two days but before anything, let me introduce to you your new mentor."

The whole class was speechless at the announcement. Even Emi.

"Father Ranaulf Emmerich Draughtsalve, welcome to your new assignment."

I walked in front and gave my respects to the old professor. My eyes were glued to but one student.

Emilia finally broke out in tears of joy. She ran up to me double-paced, it was classtime but she didn't even care anymore. And for the first time, too, Father Anthony didn't even bother to restrain her. She threw herself at me with open arms. I caught her and felt the best embrace that I have had all my life.

She softly whispered to me, "So this is what you wanted to tell me."

I kissed her lightly in the forehead and smiled, amidst all of her peers, "Silly Emi, I don't need to come here to tell you that. I came here to tell you that I love you, I always have and I always will."

She kissed me in the cheek and whispered back, "Well, you finally got your first girlfriend."

"No. You're not the first. You're the last."

Sometimes, life isn't all fairytale.

Thing's don't always end as intended.

But that doesn't mean you should lose hope.

Because sometimes, they just do
.

This is my story.

My Four Seasons.

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PostSubject: Re: Four Seasons   Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:24 pm

Addendum

Author's Note: This not really a part of the story. This was however the essay that inspired me to do the story. In my opinion, this has got to be the most profound chain-email that I have ever recieved since I first opened an email account six years ago.

A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime by Brian Andrew Chalker

People always come into your life for a reason, a season, and a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.

They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.

They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are. They are there for the reason, you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.

They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season. And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall, the season eventually ends.

LIFETIME relationships teach you a lifetime of lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.

Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person / people (anyway); and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life.

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PostSubject: Re: Four Seasons   Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:27 pm

O yan CHill, since i assume na kaya ka nakarating d2 e tapos mo na ung story, nilagay ko 2 para naman maiba and daloy ng hangin, ndi na lang palaging bad ending.. Neutral

Try ko pa magdagdag ng happy stories, lam ko meron pa ung me RL eh.. w8 lemme see..

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