[url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/257262473/0/0]Table of Contents[/url] Ayane feels the cold hand of fear gently caress her heart. Decorations cover the facades of every building. Things resembling Engrams, Ghosts, little jumpships. Lamps are strung on wires above the street, shrouded in phantasmal cloths that cut off the light and cast long shadows over everything. She doesn’t like this. The flickering glows, the shadows. It reminds her too much of the Red War; of the City on fire and long nights terrified of the monstrous silhouettes of Cabal patrols. Of losing the Light and everyone she knew. The streets are crowded. Everyone’s out to celebrate the Festival of the Lost. Children wear the faces of her nightmares. Papier-mâché masks of humanity’s enemies to show that the City doesn’t fear them, though the young aren’t aware of the meaning behind it. Ayane steels herself, pretending not to notice every time a new horror rears it’s head through an opening in the crowd. The bone-chilling red stare of a Vex Goblin. Pitiless, precise killing machines watching, learning the best way to kill you. A Fallen Vandal lurks in the shadows. Cutthroats waiting for the perfect opportunity to slip a blade between your ribs. Cabal stomping proudly over the pavement. Ready and able to crush any opposition. All enemies she’s faced too many times and has learned to fear. Pure terror freezes Ayane’s blood in her veins when the pointed head of a Warbeast bursts into sight at waist level, charging forward ravenously. Vivid memories of wicked teeth tearing into flesh run through her mind, but she resists the urge to react, to scream, to kill it. It’s only a little boy with a homemade mask, growling and barking as he runs ahead of his parents. “It looks nice, doesn’t it?” Mina asks, startling the Huntress. “Yeah,” she lies, turning her head away. Anything to avoid seeing the nightmares. Instead she focuses on the piece of candy she had been given, using her tongue to roll it from one side of her mouth to the other. Not the best flavor but a nice treat. It’ll last awhile if she manages to keep from biting it. “I love the dedication to it,” the Titan continues, gesturing at some decorations with her hands. She seems to have a talent for keeping a conversation going. “Some of those masks are pretty incredible. And those little jumpships over there. Some of these things take a lot of work and practice. You’ve gotta be passionate about it, and the results are beautiful.” Ayane says nothing, letting Mina go on, “I only found your bar because I noticed that little paper Ghost outside. It was amazing. I don’t know how people can do those little things so perfectly. You know who made that?” The Huntress glances at her company, for once not completely unwilling to respond. She knew of the paper Ghost and also admired it. “One of the old regulars. His family passes down teachings for paper-folding art.” Mina’s head bobs enthusiastically, “Oh, well give him my compliments.” The conversation ends there and they slip back into silence. Ayane is left with a wilting feeling and disappointment. For a brief moment she’d been distracted from all the things around them that put her on edge. “You and-um…” Mina attempts to recall a name, but fails and searches for the next best thing, “You and the barkeep seem pretty close. How long‘ve you known each other?” Ayane doesn’t take the time to remember. Too many memories of people that aren’t around anymore. “Years.” “That was a pretty clever trick, hookin’ you and me up,” Mina remarks, her respect genuine. She pauses, leaving a few seconds of silence, then delicately tests the waters, “So. You looked…sad. In there.” [i]crunch[/i] What a waste. Ayane vents by chewing on the shattered bits of her candy. Mina doesn’t say anything more. Ayane is grateful. The two sift through the multitude, quietly making their way to the end of the road and rounding the corner onto the next. There they are stopped. Two children bar the way, staring up with wide eyes at the mighty Lightbearers. One is a little boy, the other a girl with a few more years. They’re probably siblings. Each has a blocky makeshift Cabal mask, painted red, though they aren’t wearing them. “Uh oh,” Mina chuckles, sinking down to a knee to address them at eye level, “We’ve got a couple o’ Legionaries.” The boy puts on his mask and gives his best roar. Ayane studies the sister impassively. She bears a slight resemblance to a different little girl Ayane had met, during the Red Legion‘s attack. If she remembers correctly, it was a stray microrocket that killed her. Or maybe a payload from a Bronto Cannon. Either way, there wasn’t much left of the girl. Seeing this familiar girl with a Cabal mask is cruel irony, but Ayane only feels a small pluck at her heart strings. Just a drop in an ocean of guilt that she’s grown accustomed to. “You should give them some candy,” the Huntress recommends, trying to dispose of the runts as quickly as possible without appearing rude. She very slowly moves her hand away from her sheathed knife and attempts to appear relaxed. The children perk up at the mention of sweets. “Good idea,” Mina nods. Several candies materialize in her open palm. The brother holds out his hands, eagerly accepting the gift and squeaking out a thank you. The sister closes in on Ayane with her hands held high. Ayane stiffens awkwardly, not knowing how to react. “She doesn’t have any,” Mina chuckles, coming to the rescue with another serving of treats. The Titan leans close to the girl and lowers her voice to a still-too-loud whisper, “She ate all of hers. [i]She’s a huge food junkie.[/i]” The sister graciously accepts the candy, then gives Ayane an accusatory look and clutches them to her chest protectively. Ayane just stares at her. Mina rises with a huff and waves the children away, “Run along now. Happy Festival!” As the children scurry away the Huntress turns on the Titan, crossing her arms over her chest, “Food junkie?” “C’mon, it was funny,” Mina flashes her teeth in an innocent grin and waves her hand dismissively. Then she suddenly becomes serious, “You should smile for the kids.” Ayane doesn’t respond. Smiling doesn’t come naturally anymore, and she’s not that good at acting. The Titan plants her fists on her hips and looks around, sighing. “You don’t like it out here, do you?” “No.” Armor clinks softly as Mina rubs the back of her neck, “Um…I know a good spot where no one’s around. Has a good view. Wanna go?” Neither speaks for a moment. Ayane considers the offer, then replies measuredly, “Only if you give me some more candy.” Mina laughs so hard she snorts.