Firelight Fountain
Chapter information

The Haunting Burden



Written by




Release date

May 17, 2014

Last chapter

Chapter 5 - A Night Out

Next chapter

Chapter 7 - Shattered Family

Out of nowhere, Ryoma grabs onto my arm and interlocks it with his. I have no words. All I can do is just walk along, glancing down at the gesture, fighting back the sudden urge to blush, but that's far out of my control. All I can do is hide my face from his view. Wakato looks over to us, and raises an eyebrow. I give a little shrug and work up the courage to ask Ryoma, "Why'd you do that?"

Ryoma seems a little embarrassed to answer back, but replies with, "Well Gaoling's a big place. I wouldn't want to lose you in a large crowd."

I can't help, but smile and feel my blushing cheeks flush even harder. Not because I like Ryoma or anything, but more because he just knows how to treat someone right. I kind of feel bad for Wakato. Here I am, linking arms with Ryoma and he's having to walk beside us. It must be a little awkward for him.

A few minutes pass, and we start to make it further into town, away from the residential area. The candles lit around the city make any reflections of water illuminate in a hypnotizing way. The smell of food surrounds the whole area and can lead to anywhere. The most amazing thing is the buzzing of people that like to walk around at night, enjoying themselves as if they're all just one big, happy family. There's so many options, I wouldn't know where Ryoma wants to start!

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Ryoma asks as we all stop walking for a second.


Ryoma guides me with Wakato following to a small cart filled with food. There's rice in little, wooden bowls, chicken on the ends of sticks, eggs and fruit in a basket, and tea in cups. There's also a slightly overweight woman running the cart with a smile across her face.

"Excuse me, but could we get three pieces of chicken on a stick and some tea?" Ryoma politely asks the lady.

"What kind of tea would you like, sir?"

"I'll take a jasmine...Naomi?" Ryoma asks, turning to me.

"Oh, I'll have a cup of ginseng," I say.

"I'll have a ginseng too," Wakato says.

The lady pours the tea from a large container, one for each different type of tea, and pours them into the wooden cups. Then, she pulls three sticks with chicken out of another container, and places the cups one by one in front of us.

"That'll be twelve copper pieces and three silver pieces," the lady states.

The pricing in Gaoling is a little much, but I have to keep in mind that this isn't Chin Village.  These prices are probably considered low here. I wouldn't have minded to pay, but my dress has no pockets. Ryoma has no problem getting the right amount out, and giving it to the lady. He hands me my cup and chicken on a stick and does the same for Wakato. After Ryoma grabs a hold of his, he does a head bow to the lady, which makes he smile and bow back. I decide to give a little head bow myself along with Wakato, and we walk away. Now with the meal in our hands, Ryoma and I are no longer within each other's arms and it actually makes me sort of sad. His embrace made me feel safe, even if it was just our arms together.

The taste of the tea is warm and flavorful - in other words, perfect. The chicken, meh, I've had a lot worse. It was bought from a cart after all. The sun has completely gone down, and the sky is starting to turn black. The people that walk by us seem so innocent and lively. I wish this night could last forever. I haven't felt this happy in a long time.

We manage to walk towards a man, probably in his thirties I'm guessing, with a liuquin in his hand. Instead of his clothes being well-kept, they're ripped, torn, and muddy. On top of that, he smells like he hasn't had a bath in weeks. I know how that feels.

When we walk forward to him, he looks like all he wants is a hug. I feel like I want to be that person to give him a hug. Before I can say anything to him, Ryoma reaches into his pants pocket, pulls out a silver piece, and hands it to him.

"Play a song for us please," Ryoma asks.

The man looks at the silver piece like he's the happiest man in the world. Before he even begins to play, he bows his head to Ryoma with the biggest grin across his face. Ryoma smiles back, and as I turn my attention to the man, he begins to strum his fingers against the strings, making a beautiful humming noise. The notes begin to happen more rapidly, creating a catchy beat. Ryoma starts tapping his feet and clapping his hands to the beat. I eventually join into the fun, and attempt to dance, making Ryoma giggle. He decides to walk over to me, holding out his hand. I grab onto it, and he drags me out further into the area, moving me along to the beat of the music. At first, I don't know where to step or where to move, but as I watch his feet and try to copy the way they're going, mine become more in tune with his. By the time the man finishes his song, a whole crowd of people start to clap. I'm not sure if it was for us or the man, but it doesn't matter.

Wakato catches up to us after the crowd starts to leave. "Wow, Naomi. I didn't know you could dance like that," he says.

"I didn't know either. It just clicked."

"Come on, lets head back home before it gets too dark. My parents are expecting us to be back soon," Ryoma explains.

We start to head back, and...I don't know. This is probably the best day I've ever had. Not that much happened, but it's a special night that I know I'll never forget.

"So, what did you two do when the war was happening?" Ryoma asks.

Where did this question come from? Perhaps I should take back the thought of this being the best night ever.

"We just tried to ignore the fact that it was happening," I reply.

"The one thing that bugs me is that Avatar Kentaro didn't come to resolve it," Wakato adds in.

"Yeah, it would've been helpful if he had come. Maybe then, more people would've survived. He's not a very good Avatar so far," I say.

"Hey, I'm just as upset he didn't show up as the next person, but maybe he's still in training," Ryoma suggests.

"Isn't Avatar Kentaro in his late twenties or something?" I ask.

"Who would know? The point is he had six months to fix something, and he let us down," Wakato says.

We all become silent after that. The rest of the walk home is silent. Nothing can be heard except the sounds of our footsteps and owls hooting. As we walk into the gardens of Ryoma's house, I look at the moon, feeling grateful for this wonderful night.

"Thanks for taking us out tonight. It was nice," I say, breaking the silence.

"Yeah, I had a lot of fun," Wakato adds in.

"I'm glad you both enjoyed yourselves," Ryoma says as he opens the front door to his house.

I walk in, expecting to be happier than ever, but the mood turns from sweet to sour. There, laying on the floor in front of our faces are the unconscious couple that is Mr. and Mrs. Shimabukuro, beaten and bleeding.

And all I can do is scream of pure terror while seeing the horror in Ryoma's eyes.

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