- Quest Description:
A hair-raising crackle in the grey sky drew a delighted squeak from a small voice. "KYAAAAA~!!"
The pygmy lass flung her arms out with her baby fingers spread wide. If it were not for the steady grip of her carrier, she surely would've tipped over backwards. She swiftly balanced herself with a possessive grip on her mount's ears."Ish unna waaaiiiin, Gway-papa~~!!!!"
The girl exclaimed in a nasal sing-song voice. Her pitch was high as if infected by a cold, yet honeyed like a canary in spring. Gray—the bear-like man serving as her vehicle—twisted his head up just enough to look at the straddler without knocking her off. His long orange-brown hair curtained down to his shoulders and had many poppy red cherries tied to its strands like Christmas tree baubles. "That's right~! You like rain, don't you, Merry-chan~?"
The chipmunk nodded like a bobblehead, making her short, sandy brown pig-tail do a salsa dance. "Buzz come aat aftuh wainsh! Cawwe catsh wain beetush at thish ailun?" "You betcha, punchkin! We'll catch as many rain beetles as you can fill in that little jar of yours."
Gray hummed a cheerful ancient rhyme ambling along a soon-to-be-wet cobbled street. Showing off a billion-berry-smile, Merry flailed her head side-to-side in rhythm and occasionally mumbled nonsensical words with the chorus.
After the umpteenth threat made by thunder, a woeful downpour cursed the dingy town of Port Artor. Street vendors had prepared shelters of varying quality, perhaps representative of what they could afford.
Activity in the market had slowed to a crawl. Stranded shoppers hurried to the eaves of the low buildings flanking the road to avoid soaking to the bone. Gray and his spirited ward were unfazed by the torrent. Pellets of water struck an invisible shield an inch above their skin and rolled off without touching a hair. Motherly bystanders murmured in judgment when they noticed the unkempt cyborg carry around his young pup through the rain with not a care in the world.
Merry plucked two cherries off of Gray's ginger hair locks. She mouthed one herself and reached around the giant's face to hold the other above his lips. Gray obediently accepted the offering like a dog eating off his owner's palm.
The ox and the little calf wandered through the town until they found a park suited for a bug hunt. This piece of open green land was hidden away within a den of misery and depression. The buildings nearby were decrepit, and the roads neglected. The few folks who lingered in the vicinity looked more suspicious than an elephant playing possum.
The pair's buggy enterprise blinded them to the dubious nature of their surroundings. Their one-track-minds guided their hunt for the elusive rain beetles. Merry darted from one bush to another, shouting an off-key rain song. The rope belt tied like a butterfly behind her bounced like a tail with each step. She screeched whenever she mistook a cockroach, acorn, or human litter for a beetle.
Gray pursued her lazily until her bottomless energy drained him into resigning. A shoddy bench served as his temporary relief—even if it was ill-suited for ten feet and a thousand pounds of muscle and metal. He shuttered his weary eyelids and allowed a few rain droplets to cool them a little. He cleared his mind and let the distant sounds of the city fill the vacancy.
Port Artor was one of the more famous coastal cities of Ilusia Kingdom. A stone's throw away (at least a stone's throw away for Gray) from this trade port was the 45th Marine Branch. Even after the recent alleged NRA assault on Lumina Bridge, the increased Marine presence had failed to polish
the lawless face of the Ilusian coin. The disreputable denizens of the island abused the corrupt nature of the marine officers stationed there. And from what Gray had heard, even the royal family of the kingdom could be counted among that lot.
The lamentable affairs of the locale did not concern Gray long though, for a presence engaging his charge across the field stole his attention.