Categories > Games > Harvest Moon > Sanctuary0 Reviews
Chapter Four: Industria - Acedia Tristitia
When Clair returned to the dinning room where Kai and Gotz were, she was dressed in a black ninja outfit similar to Kai's. Her golden hair was tugged away under a black bandana and she was ready to blend in with the night. This was only a precaution of course, since if all went well no one should be out there to see them, but better safe than sorry.
Gotz picked up his large black jacket from the back of his chair and put it on. "One of these days Clair... one of these days..." he muttered as the trio left Clair's mansion via the back door.
Clair smiled at the remark and even let out a soft laugh, as if remembering something from the past that she and Gotz witnessed. "I'm always armed, you know that." She patted the black holster on her waist that hid her favorite silver gun.
Kai's uneasiness returned to him as he wondered just how well acquainted those two were with firearms. Kai himself had never had the opportunity nor the necessity or desire to hold one.
As if reading Kai's curiosity in his face, Gotz elaborated while they walked down the dark path of Clair's yard. "Clair's father, my brother and I used to go on hunting trips. The three of us were inseparable. One day when Clair was only fourteen, her father brought her to hunt with us. I told him I would never think of bringing my daughter on one of our trips, since it was no place for a girl. Then Clair shot my hat right off my head and gave me a look that no one would dare to challenge. She's got great aim and sharp senses; she's known how to shoot, and shoot well, since she was thirteen."
"Are you serious?" Kai stammered, no matter how much of a firearm enthusiast Clair's father was, to let someone so young train with a weapon felt dangerous.
"There were reasons of course," Gotz left it at that, hinting that the reasons were private and not even he knew about them. He trusted the judgment of his friend, Clair's father, may he rest in peace.
"Was your mom okay with that too?" Kai curiously asked. Clair ignored the question and kept walking with a noticeably more aggressive stride. Kai felt one of Gotz large hands on his shoulder. He looked at the tall bearded man who sternly shook his head. Kai knew that he had stumbled on a sour topic. Clair was quite an enigma, her thoughts, her personality, her family, her past. This was obviously a puzzle that he wouldn't solve any time soon, if he ever did.
"We should all go to the mountains and hunt wild bears sometime. What do you say Clair?" Gotz tried to lighten the mood as they approached the far end of Clair's vast property. "You can bring your pet!" He playfully elbowed Kai, almost knocking the younger man to the ground.
Kai stumbled but managed to maintain his balance. He was so puzzled and curious about Clair and her mother that he didn't even bother to complain about being called Clair's pet.
"He's like Cliff," Clair finally spoke, "he's not a hunter. I can't turn him into one any more than Cliff's father could."
"Ah, I see," Gotz nodded in understanding.
With the mention of another person that both Clair and Gotz knew but Kai didn't, his curiosity grew but he kept quiet about it. The silence went uninterrupted as they were close to the fence that marked the border of Clair's land.
Gotz revealed a rope that he had hidden in his large black jacket. The rope had a hook at the end, which he skillfully threw up into the tall brick fence that stood about fifteen feet up. He pulled the rope to test it before Clair stepped in to take it. She skillfully climbed up and peered over the fence. She looked back and nodded, then jumped to the other side of the fence.
"Go on, boy," Gotz offered Kai the rope, "I'll catch you if you fall."
"I won't fall," Kai assured before going up the rope himself. His primary skills outside of the culinary arts lay in swimming and surfing, but he was generally athletic, so climbing up a rope was no problem.
"What do you know, he didn't fall," Gotz chuckled and followed the other two, climbing the rope to the top of the fence where he unhooked it. He jumped down to the other side with the rope in hand. He quickly wrapped it up and put it away in his coat.
The three then followed Gotz towards a small shed nestled between two trees in the darkness of the night. Gotz clearly knew exactly where he was going. He pulled out a key from his pocket and opened up the lock on the wooden shed. Inside it there was a small metal cabin which Gotz proceeded to unlock with a code on an electronic lock. "I work in home security," Gotz confessed to Kai's bewildered look. "This here's an emergency escape. The tunnel leads to the basement."
"Thank you, Gotz" Clair acknowledge before going into the tunnel. She stopped and looked back for a moment, "Kai," she indicated for him to follow, then continued on.
Kai followed into the tunnel, pausing at the entrance to look at Gotz, who nodded. He would be there waiting for them, this was all he was willing to do, to open the door. The investigation was up to Clair and Kai to conduct.
Kai was quick to catch up to Clair in the tunnel, "be on the look out for anything suspicious, substances, liquid, dust, anything that could be poison," Clair instructed. Not only that, letters, receipts journals, notes contact information, anything that hints at Sasha acquiring poison or expressing intentions of acquiring it. Once we have something to work with, we can get a confession out of her and record it."
Though Kai should have been relived at the possibility of proving his innocence with the confession of the real culprit, he was worried. Was the recorded confession needed because a live one would become impossible? Did Clair really intend to kill Sasha? A life for a life? Even if it meant his freedom and regardless of how well acquainted with firearms Clair was, he didn't like the idea. Even if she could get away with it due to her fortune and connections, he still didn't like the idea at all. Maybe Clair was right, maybe he simply wasn't a hunter and maybe she was too much of a hunter.
The emergency exit tunnel that Clair and Kai were using to enter the mansion, home of Karen and her parents, Sasha and Jeff, seemed endless in its darkness. Clair stopped near its end and Kai bumped into her, though thankfully not too hard. He stepped back quickly muttering an inaudible apology and waited. She produced a small pen flashlight from her pocket and a silver key. Kai realized that Gotz must have given her the key in advance before he joined them for cake.
He could imagine Gotz excuses for having a copy of the combination and keys of people's homes. They lost their keys and forgot the codes, then who did they go to? The one who installed them in the first place. It was a cheap excuse but one that most would overlook as somewhat logical and even convenient. Kai supposed that they assumed that one person being able to get into their homes wasn't a big deal. Why would he? He would be the obvious culprit after all.
All those musings reminded Kai of how he was thought of as the obvious culprit in the poisoning of Jack Harvest simply because he was the chef. Gotz must really care about Clair as his own daughter if he was taking such risks.
The inside of the mansion was dark, as all its occupants were sleeping. The decor was elegant, Kai had seen it before, as had Clair. Yet the cheerful shades of fiery colors, blending in red, orange and yellow, accented in gold, were lost to the blackness of the night.
Quiet and sneaky, the two intruders advanced, "go to the studio, the one with the art supplies," Clair whispered, assuming that Kai knew his way around the mansion well enough. She knew Sasha liked to pretend she was good at painting. She would spend hours in her art studio and would have no doubt at some point requested a snack or beverage to be delivered to her, which would fall upon the chef to prepare. "Meet me in the kitchen in ten minutes."
"Right," Kai went on his way, while Clair left in the opposite direction, turning off her light.
Kai made his way to the art studio in the darkness, but was able to find it without stumbling on anything. He saw that there was a light coming from the studio and froze. Maybe Sasha was up late, painting to calm her nerves. Was the therapy of art needed because she had committed a murder or because she was an innocent mourner? It was a big risk, but Kai couldn't help it but to discreetly peek in to the studio.
Inside the studio he didn't find Sasha in front of a canvas depicting something abstract that was not supposed to be abstract. Instead he found a young woman with a rare shade of strawberry hair, so in between red and blond that it could be more accurately defined as pink. Her canvas depicted an ocean view so vivid that Kai felt that he had seen that place before. The sun was setting, tinting the sky in shades of orange and pink. The ocean glowed, clear and calm. There was a rock far from the shore. On top of it a small figure, merely a dot in the distance seemed to be waving to someone who was out of the picture's view in the beach.
A few seconds passed in silence and Kai recognized the scenery. He had indeed seen that place before. He had been to that beach last summer. He had swam out and climbed that rock. The tiny dot was him; he was waving to Popuri who was back at the beach, chronometer in hand. He was trying to see how fast he could swim out there and if his time would improve when they went out to the beach every summer evening. Karen and her family were there as well, enjoying their private area of the beach. On the far left and right there would be fences in the distance that marked the limit of their shore property, but that was out of the picture's view.
"Popuri..." The name escaped his voice before he could stop himself and he entered the art studio.
The pink haired young woman dropped her paint brush, staining the polished hardwood floor with the colors of the sunset. She turned around and saw him, eyes brimming with tears, "Kai," his name left her so softly that it was barely audible. Then she rushed to him and buried her face in his shoulder with muffled cries. "I know you're innocent, I know you didn't do it."
He tried to console her as best he could, "it's okay, I'm going to prove my innocence, it'll be alright." Remembering his mission he looked around the studio, "isn't this Sasha's studio?"
"Yes," Popuri nodded, still holding onto Kai, "she knew I've been depressed since you were accused so she's been letting me use it. She's been very kind to me."
Upon hearing Popuri's words, Kai felt guilty about thinking of Sasha as a murderer, though something felt off. "I thought Sasha didn't particularly care about the working class."
Popuri's face was a mixture of sadness, confusion and thought, "it's strange really. Sasha has been acting different since Jack passed away. It's very recent so none of us have even begun to recover. I still think it's odd, she seemed angry with Karen. Poor Karen has been crying none stop since Dr. Trent pronounced Jack was... never going to wake up."
Kai patted Popuri's back softly, tracing circles to ease her crying. "You mean Sasha hasn't been consoling her as much as one would expect from a mother?"
Popuri nodded sadly, "now that you mention it, it's exactly like that." She frowned with guilt, "she's been more kind to me, a maid, than her own daughter."
"Maybe seeing Karen reminds her too much of the event," it was Karen's husband who passed away after all. Kai tried to find some sort of logical justification in Sasha's behavior, but no matter how he looked at it, something was off. Maybe Sasha was feeling frustrated that Karen married Jack, since she had wished that her daughter would marry someone else. Perhaps Sasha was reproaching Karen, thinking that if she had married another man, they would have no one to mourn or maybe... maybe she really was the culprit and was consoling Popuri out of guilt and to keep up appearances, unable to face her own daughter after her crime. Yet Kai found he had a hard time condemning anyone who had shown Popuri kindness in her time of need, when he was not there to offer his support, instead being part of her grief.
Realizing that he was going in mental circles, Kai decided it was best to take care of the task at hand before his ten minutes passed and Clair came to find him. He trusted Popuri and knew she trusted him. Even so, Clair might not be happy that he revealed himself to her. "I'm here looking for clues. There's someone who's helping me prove my innocence."
Popuri's redish amber eyes met Kai's brown orbs and in an instant she offered without hesitation, "I'll help."
xoxox xox xoxox
After searching all over Sasha's art studio, Kai and Popuri didn't find anything that would accuse her. "I should be heading back to the meeting point now. Stay here," Kai finally decided. He hoped Clair's search went better than his.
"I'm coming with you," Popuri insisted with great determination. "I want to meet the person who is helping you; I want to give my thanks."
"No," Kai was firm in his decision and seeing Popuri's frown he added, "please understand, I don't think Clair wants anyone else involved in this and I don't want to break her rules after she has been hiding me..." Kai realized his mistake too late, "I have a big mouth, don't I?"
Popuri's eyes were wide in surprise, "Clair, as in Clair Moon, Karen's cousin? Why would she want to help you? I didn't even think you two were friends."
"We weren't," Kai assured, wondering if he had imagined the hint of jealousy in Popuri's voice. "Actually, I don't think we're friends now either, Clair is not exactly the easiest person to spend time with. Either way, for whatever personal reasons she may have, she wants to find the culprit. I don't understand it either, but I can tell you that it's not about me, it's about uncovering the truth."
"I see, so she's not helping you specifically, she just wants justice," Popuri sighed, "then maybe..." she shook her head as if pushing away her thoughts.
Kai's interest had already been captured and he had to ask, "maybe what? Anything at all could be a clue, so if you know something..."
"It's nothing, just something Karen said some time ago," Popuri recalled, "it was before she and Jack got married. She was having a fit in her room; I don't think she realized how loud she was being. She said something about Clair being a spoiled brat that could have everything she wanted, even if she didn't deserve it, even Jack. The way she said it made me wonder if there was something between Clair and Jack. I've heard nothing but bad things about Clair; maybe she had tried to steal Jack away from Karen."
Kai thought about the option and more so about Clair's possible feelings for Jack. Then he remembered something Clair had told him. 'They say you hurt the ones you love, but that's only when you don't know how to love. I know the difference between that superficial lustful love and true love. I've felt both in the past, neither ever amounts to anything in the end, but true love lets go.'
Remembering her words, Kai couldn't help it but to wonder which was it that Clair had felt for Jack. If his death upset her, then it was reasonable to think that she had feelings for him. In the end Jack married Karen, did Clair let him go? Did she still love him none the less? Kai felt his curiosity for Clair growing, if she truly had been selfless and let Jack pursue Karen. Then, even though he left her for another, she still wanted to avenge him; she wasn't so selfish after all. Maybe she could feel for others, even if she was hard to understand at times. Maybe in payment for her sanctuary, Kai could offer his friendship to help her heal from past wounds.
"Kai?" Popuri's soft voice got Kai out of his thoughts.
"Thanks for telling me everything, at least I have a clue as to why Clair would want to avenge Jack," Kai finally spoke. "Don't tell anyone I was here and don't worry, everything will work out. I have to go now, please stay here, I really don't want to give Clair any reasons to throw me to the police and continue her search for justice on her own. I don't know what jail is like, but I think I rather stick to cleaning and cooking for Clair and not find out."
Popuri nodded, she seemed almost relieved that Clair was making Kai work as it gave their unusual partnership more of a business feeling. She helped him avoid the police until his innocence was proven and he worked in payment. "I understand, even if the culprit is found by Clair of all people, I wouldn't want you to have to wait in jail until then."
"Yeah, neither would I," something told Kai that if he ended up in jail, he wouldn't be getting out any time soon. Clair wanted vengeance more than anything. If he angered her, she would probably let him rot in jail while she carried out her own murderous revenge, seemingly unrelated to his case. If it was in his hands, he would stop her from doing that. By his newly formed theories, she was hurt and someone as temperamental as Clair could be dangerous when dealing with pain. It made her more defensive and her best defense was offense.
xoxox xox xoxox
While Kai had been investigating Sasha's art studio, Clair had gone in a more dangerous mission. She snuck into the largest bedroom of the mansion where Sasha and her husband, Jeff, slept. A small nightlight was plugged to the wall on the husband's side of the bed as he was an uneasy sleeper that often got up in need of a glass of water, a little fresh air or a trip to the bathroom. The small light illuminated the area at the bed side, showing some of the light blue wallpaper, while the rest of the room was shrouded in darkness. The bed and furniture were of polished white painted wood with dark blue details.
Clair immediately headed for the vanity, which held a large mirror and an assortment of facial creams and makeup. Obviously, the majority of the furniture in the room was there for Sasha's benefit. She opened up the drawers one by one finding an assortment of things she wasn't looking for. Jewelry, nail products, hair brushes, combs and accessories. Finally, in the bottom drawer of the vanity, Clair found a music box with a thin slip of paper peeking out from its cover. She pulled it out seeing that it was a small white enveloped addressed to Sasha from Tim Trent. Dr. Trent had treated Jack and had been in the past one of Karen's suitors.
Clair heard Jeff stir and mumble something. She took the music box along with its contents and gently closed the drawer before hastily crawling out of the room. She couldn't open the box, as its sound may alert her uncle, who was out of bed muttering something about being thirsty. Jeff couldn't stand warm water, he had to drink it cool, but not icy, from the refrigerator, or else he claimed it made him nauseous. A lot of things seemed to make him sick to his stomach if his food was not served in a certain way, with only the lightest condiments and very little salt, if any, when his drinks were not a certain temperature, etcetera. Clair knew he would head to the kitchen which she was hoping to search with Kai's help.
The blond young woman, hurried to the kitchen, easily beating the half asleep Jeff there, but Kai had not yet arrived. With the music box still in her arms and that one letter that slipped out hinting at the possibility of others within it in her pocket, Clair hurried to find Kai. She fortunately located him heading down the hall towards the kitchen, when she arrived from a connecting hallway emerging behind him. She silently caught up to him placing her hand on his shoulder.
Kai gasped and jumped in surprise but managed to keep himself quiet. He breathed in relief when he turned around to see Clair, barely perceptible in the darkness, but just clear enough to be recognized. "Change of plans, we're leaving," Clair ordered, leaving no room for argument, not that Kai had any intentions of arguing with the end of their property invasion.
The kitchen search would have to wait for another occasion, if it was even necessary. It was time to leave and investigate the letters. The thought of murder by poison seemed to fit with the background of someone knowledgeable in medicine. Maybe they were accomplices, or maybe not, but it was definitely worth looking into. As for the music box, Sasha wouldn't know what happened to it. Perhaps later, Clair would sneak it back and leave it in the mansion for Sasha to find and believe her husband or someone from the mansion staff had moved it. For the time being, the next step was to retreat and study their findings.
xoxox xox xoxox
Sanctuary: Diligence, the Pursuit of Ethics
Chapter Five: Castitas - Luxuria
It was late and the tension was hanging in the air, as Clair and Kai made their way out of the mansion of Sasha and her family the same way they came. Their pace through the emergency exit tunnel was faster and more anxious even if they were moving away from the danger of being discovered instead of towards it. They emerged next to Gotz, who closed off the tunnel, leaving it as if the group of trespassers was never there. Then the three returned to Clair's mansion the same way they came, climbing over the fence with the hook rope and jumping into Clair's land on the other side.
Though the two portions of land bordered each other, there was so much empty land between the two mansions that they could hardly be called neighbors. Gotz Kai and Clair, returned to Clair's mansion where Gotz said his goodbyes for the night. "It was an interesting visit," his smile was not really perceptible behind his bushy brown beard, but his small beady eyes expressed it well enough. "I hope next time we meet under better circumstances," he glanced at the music box Clair still held as they stood at the entrance to her mansion. He was curious for sure, but decided he was already too involved as it was, "take care."
"Are you sure you don't wan to stay?" Clair asked as if she was seeing off a guest in the middle of the afternoon, courteously offering to have them over for dinner. Except it wasn't the afternoon and this was far from an ordinary visit.
"I've had enough adventure for one night, I'd best be off," he yawned loudly, producing a sound that one would expect to hear more so from a bear then from a man. "Good night," Gotz gave his final farewell then nodded at Kai, "nice meeting you, boy."
"Likewise," Kai spoke automatically, almost in disbelief about how casual the conversation was.
"Drive safely," with a final smile and a gentle wave of her unoccupied hand, Clair sent Gotz off.
It was then that Kai realized that Gotz was perfectly capable of letting himself out past the front gates of Clair's property and probably let himself in on his own when Clair called him over before. At least he was on Clair's side; hence giving him access to her home didn't seem so bad. Gotz didn't appear to be the kind of person to pry anyway, despite having opened the way for them to pry into someone else's home. Exhausted from the mental and physical strain of work and uncertainty, Kai followed Clair tiredly inside.
Clair made her way up one of the X shaped stair cases, past the painting of the farm, which she glanced at before continuing on. She returned to the room of wilted roses that no longer had any wilted flowers or dust. Kai had cleaned it all out, but without the dead flowers the room looked even sadder if that was possible. The gloomy atmosphere was replaced by emptiness. She took a seat just like before and set the music box on the coffee table, taking the envelope out of her pocket and setting it down on the table next to it.
Kai could almost hear his own hart pounding with anticipation as Clair opened the music box. The box was a light pink with white edges, the color fading perfectly. The material was hard to identify, but Kai could tell that the pink and white stones edged to the cover forming flowers were some kind of quartz. A soft melody played as the box was opened, one that sounded like a nostalgic yet unknown lullaby. Kai was transported to the past by the song.
He saw himself as a small child. The memory was blurry at best. There was a storm raging outside with loud wind and thunder. To top it all up he had a cold, his nose was stuffy and his forehead was warm, but the rest of his body felt freezing cold. A woman sat by the boy's bedside humming a gentle tune with words whispered so softly that the child could barely understand them. Kai tried to figure out the words to the song, but the memory, like all memories of his mother, was simply too distant.
"Kai?" Clair's voice brought him to his senses. "You look like you were having an out of body experience. The hardest part is over, at least for tonight. You can take a moment to breathe, don't have a nervous breakdown now."
Kai shook his head, "sorry, it's just that the song from the music box reminded me of my mother." He stared at the music box some more, he had seen another box much like it with the same melody and the same soft ivory interior with a mirror on the inside of the cover, just like that one. However, the outside was different, instead of pink fading to white; it was sky blue fading to white, with blue and white quartz on the cover. "My mother had the same box in blue and it played the same song."
"Really?" Clair raised an eyebrow in slight curiosity. "Ironically, Sasha always bragged about this song being hers alone. She paid an European composer to make her a unique lullaby for her newborn daughter. It's called Golden Dreams, quite fitting for Sasha whose fortune would be nothing by now if she had not married Jeff."
"I'm sure it's just a coincidence," even so, Kai could almost remember the phrase of 'golden dreams' being spoken in the lullaby his mother used to sing. After she passed away it was sad for him to think of her so he tried not to. Later he realized the details about her were fading away and he tried desperately to hold on to what little he could still recall.
Upon thinking of his mother, something else surfaced on Kai's memories. It was not related to the lullaby; it was something she told him long ago, 'if you see someone in need of help, life has granted you the opportunity to be their angel, don't waste it. You never know when offering your friendship may go as far as saving a life.' Kai had thought about it as motherly advice and nothing more, yet there seemed to be so much more to her words that he didn't know.
Kai looked at Clair as she dug through the many envelopes contained in the music box. Some were visibly much newer than the others. The most recent ones were from Dr. Trent and the oldest were mostly from Jeff, probably cheesy love letters from their youth. He looked at Clair's focused blue eyes as she searched through the mail, ordering the envelopes by dates judging by the cancellation of the stamps, as they seemed to be stored in a random order. He suddenly felt more determined then ever to offer her his friendship.
Clair organized the envelopes into three piles, one pile for letters from Dr. Trent, their main source of potentially useful information, another pile for Jeff's old letters, which were too old to be related to the case in any way, and a third pile of letters from a Seara Summer. "I've organized them by date, lets see if we find something." Clair paused noticing that Kai had paled and his eyes were glued to the third pile of letters, which were clearly old, with the envelopes somewhat yellowed by time. "Summer," Clair spoke the surname aloud, it was the same as Kai's, "do you know her?"
"Seara Summer was my mother," Kai revealed and hesitantly reached for the letters. His thoughts were focused on the past rather than the pressing issue of proving his innocence. Kai felt wrong for prying, but if he could regain a few traces of his memories about his mother, then he felt he could somehow allow himself this. He could take the letters he and Clair had stolen from Sasha and find out just how did she know his mother.
Seeing Kai's hand hovering above the pile of letters from Seara, Clair pushed the pile towards him, perceiving his need to see their contents in his eyes. "Take them with you. I can take care of reading the doctor's letters by myself; I'll let you know if I find something. Don't forget to return those letters to the box and don't switch the envelopes' contents around."
After another second's hesitation, Kai took the letters, realizing that Clair was offering him the chance to read them privately. "I'll be careful with them," with that said, Kai took the letters and went to the room were he was staying.
Clair was meanwhile left to examine the letters that were more recently exchanged by Sasha and Dr. Trent. She picked up the most recent one and silently read it.
'Esteemed Lady Sasha,
What has happened with Karen has been most regrettable indeed. However, I fear that we have found out the truth too late, for she is marrying another as I write these lines. You see, I have spoken with Elli and she has given me a most dreadful confession. The child that Karen claimed to have expected from Jack, that child with which she pushed him into marriage, was not real. Elli has done a terrible thing falsifying the medical results. I will take care of reprimanding her myself, though I cannot understand her motivations, and she is not in the disposition to explain herself, despite claiming to be willing to take any punishment.
Dear lady, I implore you, do not try to disrupt their marriage. I have purposely given you this letter now, after the wedding, instead of telling you when I first learned of this, during the wedding. It matters not to me by what methods Karen has attracted Jack, albeit the thought of her secret relationship with him does anger me, my point is, he is the one she wants, that much is clear. I am deeply hurt as you must understand and will of course no longer pursue your daughter. Despite it all I hope you may still think of me as your confidant, for I still do hold a great appreciation for you, madam Sasha.
Should you need a shoulder to lead on in this time of stress, I beg you to come to me and not act rashly in ways you might regret. Dear lady, I had hoped that things were different, that I may one day be called your son, but it was not meant to be. I bid Karen a silent farewell, never again shall I think of her, but I will always think of you as one of my closest friends.
With sincere regret,
Clair's breathing became labored as she read over the letter several times. Her eyes were wide and her teeth clenched. Her breaths turned into gasps for air, as if she was choking on oxygen. Then she let out a terrible ear splitting wail that echoed through the mansion. Her screams continued, her throat burning with the intensity. For Karen to have faked a pregnancy, something must have obviously happened between her and Jack before her lie, to make it believable. He was with her; he was with her all along.
"Clair!" Kai returned to the sitting room where Clair had been left to study the letter. She took the papers ripping them apart into tiny pieces. "No!" That was their possible proof, the first and maybe most vital fruit of their investigation and she was destroying it. "Stop!"
Clair screamed loudly, her voice breaking in her agonizing cries. Abundant tears ran down her face blurring her vision and she once again wielded her silver gun. Her once melodious voice was strained and raspy from screaming in agony as she pointed the weapon at Kai. "There are few good men in the world and they are reserved for the most evil women." She shot, the bullet barely missing Kai and drilling a hole through the wall behind him.
Kai froze for a second, his arms instinctively raised, his open palms facing Clair in front of him. She must have seen something in those letters that deeply disturbed her. She was having an episode like what happened in that room, the room that belonged to her previous butler, the unknown man that wore the same size clothing as Kai. "Clair, calm down!" It was hard to keep someone else calm when Kai himself was anything but, yet it was impossible for him to stand firm and speak evenly with a seemingly insane, violent woman pointing a gun at him and clearly willing to shoot.
"I'll kill you!" Clair growled through clenched teeth and that was Kai's cue to run for dear life. Yet there was something peculiar about the way Clair spoke those words. She wasn't voicing a threat, it was a warning. It was as if she was holding back her inner turmoil as hard as she could to give Kai time to get away.
For the next few hours there was the sound of gunshots and when the bullets ran out there was insistent clicking, as Clair pulled the trigger over and over even if the gun was empty. Then there was more screaming, though much less in volume since her voice was all but completely gone. Furniture was thrown over and items were smashed, the room that had once held wilted roses and later held an unbearable emptiness, soon became a war zone of destruction. Finally, there was an absolute deadly silence and in the middle of the disarray, there lay Clair, on the floor, unconscious.
xoxox xox xoxox
By the time Clair opened her eyes, it was already mid day. She was on her bed, still wearing the same black outfit from the night before. This was her room; she recognized the shades of deep crimson accentuated with sky blue details that stood out. She rolled over on the large bed to face her side and saw Kai on a chair. She crawled to the edge of the bed and stood shakily, leaning over the sleeping man. Her hands gently cupped his face as she leaned closer. "Jack..." she whispered before joining her lips with his.
Kai was jolted awake immediately. His brown eyes shot open and his arms reached for the body now practically on top of his. He took Clair's arms and tried to get them loose from his neck. She pushed herself against him and the chair fell backward. At the sudden pain of his head impacting the floor, Kai instinctively bit down, drawing blood from Clair's lower lip.
Clair pulled away, pushing herself up with her left hand on his chest, her right hand reaching for her face. She traced her index finger on her bottom lip and frowned with disapproval. "Jack would not do this," she scolded as if he had disappointed her.
"I'm not Jack," Kai breathe, his heart pounding for various reasons.
Clair leaned back down on Kai, her face again inches from his. "Try to be," she insisted with a seductive warm breath that tickled his face and almost made him give in.
"I... I'm Kai, not Jack... I'm Kai and we shouldn't do this." Popuri, he had to remember Popuri. He had been chasing after her with her brother hindering his every step. After their father left, Rick took care of his sister and mother, thus Popuri felt grateful to him. She hated fighting with Rick, but she was clearly attracted to Kai, and besides, Rick would disapprove of any man Popuri liked, fearing that his sister would be abandoned like their mother, Lillia. Kai didn't want to justify Rick's disapproval when it finally seemed that he was making progress with Popuri, the woman who believe in him against all odds. "Don't do this, please stop," he could only ask, because he didn't think he had the will to fight.
Clair's eyes turned blank and she repeated his words and added a few more, "don't do this, please stop... Don't hurt me.... please don't hurt me anymore..." A few tears spilled out from her icy blue eyes before she snapped into reality and got up. Ignoring Kai completely, Clair strode to the bathroom to get ready for the day, as if the incident had never occurred. Letting out a breath, Kai got to his feet and shuffled out of the room.
xoxox xox xoxox
Kai didn't know what to think, he didn't know how to face Clair, but one thing was for sure, he couldn't stop thinking about her. The way she repeated his words as if they were her own, adding more to them... Who had hurt her? Who had made her as troubled as she was? He had hurried to his own assigned room, not knowing what else to do.
He was in one of the waiter uniforms and catching glimpse of his reflection in the large full length mirror in his room, he wondered if the man who had originally used that uniform was to blame for the state Clair was left in. Kai didn't know who that man could be, but he felt a strong loathing for whoever he was. It was something he couldn't explain.
Kai noticed the pile of letters he had begun to go through that night. He picked up the envelopes, sorting through them, they were quite thick. He opened one up and began to study its contents, fascinated by his discoveries. Several papers were folded together, he began to read them in the order in which they were.
I wish to express to you my gratitude for your kind words in my time of need. Please accept the enclosed gift as a token of my appreciation.
That first letter was quite old, written before Sasha married Jeff if the use of her maiden name was any indication. The strange thing was that it was from Sasha to Seara, rather than the other way around. Kai set the paper aside and looked at the next letter, which was longer.
'To my friend Sasha,
Forgive my rudeness if I offend you by returning your letter and check. I do not wish for a monetary compensation, but for your friendship instead. Please write to me again with a real letter for me to keep.
I will not pretend to understand what was going through your mind when you tried to end your life, but I couldn't bear to see you jump to your doom in stormy seas. As I am I basically a stranger to you, I believe you would have trouble trusting my sincerity, so I will explain the reason for my insistence.
My beloved is a sea captain and on that stormy night at the beach I was waiting for him, fearing that he would not return. For my husband to be stolen from me after only a month of marriage felt too cruel. Yet I remembered what he told me about courage being a necessity if one was to tame the sea. I wanted to stay strong for him and I would not allow the sea to take anyone's life. Fortunately, my beloved has returned to me alive, a day late and with a wrecked ship, but alive with all his crew.
I am not clear in terms of the cause of your affliction, but from what I could understand, you are being made to marry a man you do not love. Please do not let yourself fall pray to pressure, follow your heart! I once again offer my friendship and support should you ever choose to accept it.
Kai read the next letter in the group.
'To my only friend,
I regret to say I cannot follow your advice, for my heart only knows how to lead me to peril. The life I wish to live cannot be afforded by love alone. Please forgive me if this is an offence, but none the less, if you are my friend, please accept my invitation and bare witness to my marriage with Jeff. My parents and his insist that we will one day be grateful to them; I can only hope they are right. The enclosed tickets will take you to my city where there shall be someone awaiting your arrival if you decide to come.
From what Kai could conclude, Sasha's opposition to her marriage with Jeff had driven her to the brink of suicide. It was a fate from which she was spared by Seara. Kai could almost picture it, a stormy night at the edge of the sea in the cliff he had seen in his childhood. His mother going out to wait looking into the horizon, searching for signs of an approaching vessel in the raging storm. Then she saw a woman close in age to herself. She ran to that woman realizing she meant to jump. She consoled her and tried to make her change her mind; she hugged her and didn't let her go, she saved her life.
A memory surfaced for Kai. He remembered his mother speaking about a friend she had in a distant city. They would exchange letters regularly, but Kai had never met the other woman. He had heard something about her having a daughter around his age, but he never met her either.
Then a sad memory came to Kai and he remembered the day when he was told the terrible news. He had been happy before he knew. His father was off at sea, which was not unusual. This time however, in honor of their anniversary, his mother was with him as well. Kai was staying with his best friend Gray, who was spending summer vacation at his grandfather's house. The two boys had become close friends over the past few summers.
It was on a clear afternoon following a harsh storm, when Gray and Kai were happily playing outside. With a stern face, Saibara approached his grandson and his friend in the small home's back yard. "Boys," his serious tone left no room for argument as the child approached him. There was also a police officer present.
Kai broke free from his memories and tried to focus on the present. Though his aunt and uncle raised him well, they never filled the void left by his parents. Even so Kai vowed not to fear the sea, he would go to the beach often to prove to himself he was brave, even if on the inside his memories were deeply buried as he ran away from the sadness. Maybe it was about time he faced the loss instead of pretending his parents were away at sea fated to return any day. "They're really gone..." He breathed.
He looked over the contents of the letters further. His mother was Sasha's confident, though their differing moral sometimes clashed. The last letter was from Sasha to Seara in a closed envelope that was never sent. Kai opened it and took out the paper that seemed newer than the others by several years.
'Dearest angel Seara,
Where ever you may be, I wish I had your guidance. I know I am mistaken, terribly mistaken. I know I should receive no forgiveness, yet I long for your kind understanding words. I must confess something terrible. I have fallen in love with another man not my husband, in terms of age he stands in the middle between my daughter and I. Our romance was brief, short lived and deliciously forbidden.
We came to our senses and broke things off, yet I want him near and he's not opposed to the idea of marrying Karen. However, I know that if he does, he will no longer spare me a glance. This is alright; I want him near none the less. This is my confession to you, Seara, my one true friend. I wish you were here to comfort me and to guide me, for it was the fear of disappointing you and losing your friendship that in the past kept me from making terrible mistakes. Now you are no more, what am I to do?
Missing you always,
Kai gasped in shock. Could the man mentioned in the letter be Dr. Trent? He fit the approximate age and the fact that Sasha was trying to arrange his marriage to Karen. That didn't work out, as Karen married Jack, then the story ended in tragedy. Speedy precise footsteps made Kai snap out of his daze as Clair stepped into the hallway and seconds later entered his room. Would it kill her to knock? Then again, this was her house and he was a fugitive, he was at her mercy. He cringed thinking of the consequences of refusing her earlier. What was he supposed to do? Cheat on Popuri? Hold on to the excuse that it was to avoid jail?
"We're going out to the church," Clair's voice pierced through the air scattering all of Kai's thoughts.
"The church?" Kai blinked dumbly, that was unexpected, it was miles away from the topic he thought she would discuss.
"Yes, the church, it's not far from here, let's go." Clair walked away, out of the room, with a stride that made Kai believe he better follow, thus he did. She had changed out of her ninja outfit and was wearing a cozy sky blue sweater and navy pants with sky blue boots, all perfect for the chilly weather. It was one of those cloudy days when the sun refused to be seen behind the thick curtain of gray clouds, rain threatened to fall at any moment and the chilling breeze made autumn feel like the middle of winter.
"Is it okay for me to go out in public?" Kai would guess not, he was feeling tenser by the second as he walked with Clair. Was this all just a lie to get him outside? Or was she taking him out to give one final prayer before she executed him? Should he run? Was his sanctuary over?
Kai was trapped in such thoughts when Clair stopped in one of the locked rooms that Kai was not allowed to enter before. She opened it with a golden key adorned with an emerald and walked inside. Picking up an Indiana Jones style black hat, she swiftly placed it on Kai's head, then handed him a black coat and a dark gray scarf. "Not much of a disguise, but there will be noone there to see you anyway."
Clair exited the room waiting for Kai to go out of it before she locked it again. Kai had very little time to take in the room's appearance, perceiving little beyond the polished wood and shades of brown. It was elegant, but simple, functional. Did it belong to Mr. Moon? Kai dared not ask, he only quietly followed Clair outside.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Harvest Moon.