Friday, December 29, 2006

Call Home

I was sitting in Selbina watching the boats come and go while I enjoyed the warm fullness caused by my latest meal from a small local inn when I first spotted the Beastmaster. He was a tall Elvaan with red hair barely visible from around his ram-like head piece. He was dressed in impeccably clean white fur armor that exposed his tanned muscular abdomen. I’m a big fan of a well sculpted body. Who isn’t? Anyways, I had never seen a Beastmaster who looked like him so I couldn’t help but stare a bit.

It was a thing of great curiosity to me. I didn’t know much about them or understand them at all. I had never met one in an experience party where I would normally learn about a particular occupation. Beastmasters generally seem to prefer to go alone or with a companion of the same job. The only time I ran into someone who took more than a casual interest in the job was when I happened to see them wandering about heavily trafficked areas like Jeuno.

“Sheepy!” the shrill voice of a Mithra shrieked. Kammy bounded up behind him and he smiled warmly at her and caught her to his side with one arm. She looked so small next to him. Seeing her always made me smile. Her seemly boundless energy was contagious. I waved and called her name as I hoped down off the shipping box that had been my seat.

Kammy leapt up into my arms in what I thought was an enthusiastic hug until she reached around my neck to pull warm pumpkin cookies out of my bag, the dessert left over from dinner. “Cookies!” she purred as she let me go to sit and eat her catch. I laughed and sat down next to her. “Nice to see you too Kammy. Who is your handsome friend?”

The Elvaan blushed and smiled at me as he said, “My name is TastyWaffles.” With that he sat down with us. “What a name.” I thought.

“He’s my sheepy!” She said, “but I’m the only one allowed to call him that.” Scooting into his lap and wiping her crumb covered mouth on his arm. “He was helping me level through the dunes. Icky place.”

“Oh I see. That’s very nice of him. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a Beastmaster as accomplished as you. I admit I’m very curious about you. How long did it take you to get so strong without a regular experience party?” I asked.

He laughed softly at my inquisitiveness. “A long time. You can call me Waffles if you like. Where are you headed today Alison?”

“I’m on a bit of a vacation.” I said as I pulled out more cookies to give to Kammy.

“You should go home Alison.” Kammy said with a mouth full of cookie. “ThumbGalka is taking over. Puppets everywhere. I’ve been trying to stay away but I need my armor soon and I’ll have to go through the lobby to get to my storage.”

“You think it’s dangerous to go home?” I asked feeling a bit taken back by the idea.

Kammy nodded and leaned over to lick my cheek with her sticky tongue. “We need you. You hold us together. Why have you been gone so long?”

I looked at her briefly sad eyes and felt a bit guilty for my indulgence. I had made a commitment to ThumbMonkeys and two weeks may have been too long to leave without a word. “You’re right. It’s been too long. I will go home soon.”

Monday, December 25, 2006

Through the Archaic Mirror

This is Guest written by Guankim. Considering when I received it, I'm counting it as Christmas gift from him to us. It is meant to follow the chapter "The Great Escape." I think it's absolutely adorable. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. (Updated 12/31)

Sometimes a ride through the plateau was nice…but it wasn’t Lufaise Meadows, mind you, but it was a nice breezy area nonetheless and I could ride through and half-doze while letting the choco run where it wanted. Now, mind you, I don’t get all mushy and go trying to be a chocobo-raiser of my own. Far too annoying to keep up with the little brats…Such is the same with children – no need for them right now.

But anyway, my chocobo apparently decided to head towards Halvung, as I could hear the grunting of Trolls as we passed, and resisted the urge to hop off the bird and throw a thunderbolt their way. I told you, I was half-dozing. That implies not trying to walk on my power, of course, so much less anything that would require multiple spells!

My brief but enjoyable doze was abruptly ended when the rental bird decided to run towards one of the huge mirrors, which instead of shattering, acted as a portal. This brilliant clucker ran (Deliberately, the bastard) right into another bird upon emerging, causing a stop abrupt enough to send me de facto flying, and then dashed back through as the swirling portal closed. Jump is especially useful up in the mountainous areas around Giddeus where leaping down off cliffs is just commonly called “a shortcut.”
Luckily, learning to land was required in my training as a Dragoon, and I carried it over as a handy trait.

For those of you watching at home, we keep all our traits, and that is why I have trained every single job up to a minimum of 10th level. Yes, even the damnable puppetmasters.

So, upon landing, I had to look up to see this other bird whose rider was all hyper and into the day (much more than I was at the time) looking at me. I suppose keeping a grip on the bird might’ve helped in the art of not going flying, but that wasn’t a point I would bring up. And of course, the stupid bird went running off when it realized it was riderless, despite the presence of another chocobo. Obviously it wasn’t suffering with lovesickness at the time. How convenient. And why I’ll avoid raising my own.

Well, such is the glory of being able to teleport and warp, right? Right. My wandering mind then decided it would be appropriate to acknowledge the rather annoyed…or was that amused…woman into whom my rental chocobo had chosen to plow without grace. I noticed she didn’t have on her communicator shell, so I figured I would do a slight courtesy and actually pay attention, (since my chocobo actually HAD crashed into her, ya know) and I removed my HeavenEarthWarriors communicator as well.

“Sorry about the collision there. I suppose napping and riding don’t mix too well. But at least the bird appears to know a good target,” I opened ironically, considering who she was. “I’m Guan Kim, Mystic Sword. Are you alright?” I realized she was, most likely, as she hadn’t been thrown from her chocobo. I asked anyway, not really knowing what kind of thing to expect from an Elvaan…especially one from whom power radiated, yet wore casual gear and had her hair down, windblown. It wasn’t something I was accustomed to running into, but then again, I usually actually ride as opposed to sleeping, so that wasn’t really worth much, was it?

Apparently, she wasn’t exactly overjoyed about the crash either, “Where the heck did you come from? You could have hurt Momo. She could very well be champion material you know!” The woman glared at me for not saying anything, so of course, wit must thus ensue.

"If she's hurt by that pansy bird that I rode up on, she's far from champion material, luv." I tilted my head to the side, amused. "And as to where I came from...I rather napped through the rest of the ride for the particulars, but Bastokan I am."

“Not surprised. No wonder you’re so reckless and rude.” She sighed, “Are you ok?”

I looked around as if just realizing where I’d ended up, "Outside of not having a ride anymore, sure. So what brings you to the plateau?"

Her reply was abbreviated, “Secret mission...”

“Yeah, too brief, something’s suspicious with that,” I thought to myself. Now this meant I had to form a plan to eventually convince her to weasel out what it was, just because it was supposedly “secret.” So I replied, “Soloable, I take it?”

Her reply got a bit more evasive for such a simple question, “I guess you could say that.” She paused and attempted to shift the conversation subject, a typical thief skill, I noted. “I’m not exactly in a rush. I suppose I could give you a lift if you need one. My "not so champion chocobo" is actually rather strong.”

I thought, "Well, outside of something about a corny 'pick up' line, I think I’ll let the joke slide...the air doesn't feel the same here." Instead of making that comment, I countered with a topic shift of my own. I didn’t go through all that SATA training for nothing, you know! "Dare I ask a question first...Which galaxy is this, as the elementals feel quite different here?"

She laughed hard at that, “Galaxy? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think you may have hit your head harder than it looked.”

"Hmmmm. I suppose you may be right, but something is amiss, but that I suppose adds incentive to take the random kind offer, despite its apparent dubious nature." I let a joking grin slide onto my face for a brief moment.

“Well, if you think you can actually stay on a chocobo without a saddle then you’re welcome. I'll consider it my good deed for the day.” She extended a hand down to me.

My head tilted back slightly as I laughed, allowing green and golden eyes to finally show from beneath the brim of the feathered hat. "Good deeds, eh? Except replace good with Devious, and you might have a deal." I took her hand and deftly swung up behind her on the bird, wrapping an arm around her waist. "So…where are we headed for this mission?"

This elicited a chuckle from her, “I didn’t plan on taking you on my ‘mission.’ Where were you going?”

"Well, I was headed through to the Mis..." I paused, and it must have looked like it just dawned on me, but I didn’t particularly care how it looked at this point. "This isn't Lufaise Meadows, and I didn't sleep *THAT* long..." I looked up again, "I think that if you don't mind the company, I might give you free services for your mission, at least until I resolve how I ended up in La Thiene Plateau when I was near Halvung..."

“Are you sure you don’t want me to take you to Jeuno to see a doctor?”

"Bah. I already talked to Monberaux before I got involved in the whole escapade that sent me to Lufaise Meadows in the first place. I'm fine really, though your concern is touching." I thought to myself, "She obviously doesn't remember that Red Mages are invincible...just not immune to misleading effects of stupid birds’ misdirection, it appears."

A smirk crossed her lips, “Hmmm…I just don’t want to feel responsible for you if you pass out and fall off Momo.” That was rich, it almost sounded like something I would’ve said.

I couldn’t help but chuckle, "I guess I'll just have to make sure I don't let go, eh?"

“So you’re telling me you have no idea what you’re doing and you don’t have anywhere to go? Figures.”

I paused briefly at the question, "Like you're really going to complain about having me around, you could use the help, especially since I don't mind you keeping all the treasure." As I felt the elements while we rode, I smirked, "And I don't think I'm in the Garudan galaxy...the elements of this world are astoundingly different."

“Garudan? This is Ragnarok, honey. You are seriously lost.”

"Ragnarok..." I leaned my chin down to rest on her shoulder as I thought. "So… How did I manage to end up here would be my next question...?"

“OK stranger I admit my mission has failed already.” She sighed heavily, “I’m on a mission to do nothing. You ruined it.” I pondered if I was supposed to feel guilty about that before she continued, “Well, now that you're here I guess I might as well feed you. Hungry?”

I just laughed quietly, "Then your mission can be a success still, luv. It’s very salvageable; random daily enjoyment is a past time of mine...unless you're opposed to my company?" I pondered the food question. "Are you a chef also? Surprises may never end."

The woman laughed loudly, so I sufficed it to know that she didn’t enjoy the kitchen. “No, I don’t cook but I know a place.” She turned the chocobo downward into Valkurm headed towards Selbina. “And no, I guess I don’t mind a new face…it’s the old ones that have given me trouble lately.”

I smiled in memory of Fiery, and the bits of cooking I’d learned from her, though it probably passed over well as a kind reply, "How about you just find a place on the beach here, and let me handle the picnic planning. I have enough synthesis that I should be able to make a few things...and you can tell me what's going on while we ride, yah?"

She paused to think, and Momo must’ve been in sync with her, as the bird slowed down as well to give her time to decide. She nodded after her Zen moment, “I guess that would be nice.”

"Play your cards right and I might even bring out my bardic skills for entertainment," I joked. I pondered meal ideas, "Do you prefer vegetable meals as most Elvaan from my world, or do you have different tastes?"

“Well, I do love carrots...” We arrived at the beach as I was in thought still, and she pulled my hand off her waist suddenly, causing me to tumble off the back of the chocobo, which I recovered into a convenient tuck and roll, rising to my feet smoothly. ”How does this spot suit you?”

"Works for me. Some flavorful steamed carrots then. It will give you enough time to tend to Momo there." I pulled out a fire crystal and smiled, "And not a bad toss. Have you studied the monk class?" I setup the ingredients and focused my will into them, allowing the magic of the crystal to forge them into dinner.

She dismounted and released Momo, sitting in the sand to watch silently as I continued work.

I lay down my extra white cape from our battle with Diabolos, and set the meal down across it, spreading the variety of steamed carrots, a grilled hare, and some San d'Orian grapes leftover from crafting a red wine. "Did I do something to earn this silent treatment, or is it just a benefit of being me?" I winked as I asked, as she continued to ponder whatever it was she had her mind so wrapped around.

“Just taking some time to try to figure you out. Clearly you’re crazy.” She carefully tasted the carrots, “But dang these are really good.”

"Sometimes crazy is a benefit in this realm of adventuring. And hopefully the Orcs think so now after the last raid we did into Davoi." I paused, sampling a bit of wine, "I have a logical question for you, then. You call me rude, but you have yet to give me your name. Doesn't sound exactly proper where I come from."

“Well, I can’t just go around revealing personal information to questionable men… even if they are good looking.” She broke a grin, “My name is Alison,” she said, bowing slightly, her hair dancing in wisps about her brow.

A smile crossed my features briefly at the compliments, and then I laughed, "Excellent, I'll be sure to stalk you later since you seem to enjoy my cooking so much.” A pause before adding, "But you're not half-bad yourself." I chuckled and took a bite of the hare, following it with a sip of wine.

Alison moaned as she tried the hare, which didn’t do the best job of helping keep repressed the naughty part of every Red Mage’s mind, admittedly. “Oh warm food does taste good. I usually eat cold take out.”

"That's where it would behoove you to learn a low-level Fire spell, chere. Ah, one moment." I took out another crystal, and focused again. A moment later, a wrapped chocolate bubble appeared in my hand, and I offered it to her, "Nice to meet you, then, Alison."

Alison’s eyes grew wide as she took the chocolate and quickly gobbled it. She lay back in the sand looking very satisfied. “Well, thank you stranger.”

"Wow. I take it you're a fan of that type, eh? And please, call me Guan."

“I do have soft spot for chocolate of any kind,” she said, sitting up again. “Well then, thank you, Guan.” Her smile was a tender one, such that I was getting somewhere, at least, “So tell me. Why are you here?”

"My pleasure entirely. Has the mission already been completed, or do we have bonus time to farm for other thoughts?" I grinned, a sparkle in my eye at her question, "I think that you might have as much the answer to that as I do currently, Alison. The gods of Vana'diel have seen fit for me to run into it were."

She giggled softly, “Literally.”

I couldn’t help but to chuckle to myself, "You didn't tell me what was distressing you about... the old faces yet, either, you know."

I think she thought she’d managed to escape the line of questioning for it, as she lay back again, “Hmm...”
"So I'm claiming a free service from my lack of entertainment on my travel, as well as the story that was omitted. I'll keep the ticket until I decide to use it." I grinned, swiping a napkin which mystically changed into the spoken-about ticket. Allowing a shifty-eyed glance intentionally with a wink, I queried, "So yes, story time; mind if I join you?"

Alison’s brow furrowed, “I’m so confused now. You are going to tell me a story?” She paused, her face brightening then, “I do love stories.” She propped herself up on an elbow, as if waiting on me to begin a long epic.

I cleared the cape and joined her in lying back, leaving her an arm to use for a pillow since she propped up. "Nay, time for you to tell me the story of the old faces. Then perhaps I'll return that, but not before," I laughed. "Nice attempted derailment, though."

”OK, you got me.”

“I know.”

“Once upon a time there was a lonely maid. She felt trapped in the same daily routine and longed to be free from her world.”

My hand ran it lightly through her hair just because it gave me something to do as I listened, and I nodded for her to continue, pondering why people put stories about themselves in distant third person, as if to remove the emotion from them or something.

“So one clear day she put down her pail and ran and ran and ran until day turned into night. She didn’t know where to go anymore and sat down and cried in frustration.”

"Poor thing." My hand took to massaging her neck as she told the story, hopefully easing a bit of her tensions, as she didn't seem to react. "What happened then?"

She paused for a long moment before continuing, “Then a prince found her and called her by name taking her chin in his hand and drying her tears.”

Guan scowled slightly, "Hopefully not like Trion..." I commented before a playful wink.

Seeming to not even realize I was still there she continued, “Off to the castle he took her and taught her what happiness felt like, and she was truly happy. Years passed and she grew old. One day, as she returned from her daily ride, she was not permitted to enter.”

"Old, in Elvaan terms, of course, meaning she still didn't look a day past 23, and just as beautiful as ever, I assume?"

“Do you want to hear the story or not?”

Hmmm, that could’ve been a bit of an icy breeze, I’ll humor it for now…silence is good. I just smiled, motioning an invisible zipper across my lips.

“OK then…She saw her prince and called to him. He said, ‘Just because you feel like a princess doesn’t make it true.’ He turned his back on her and joined his queen. He lived happily ever after.
That’s the story for you.”

"So what did she do then?" I shifted slightly, meeting her eyes again, "For it was her story, not the prince's to usurp."

Turning away from me, she wiped a silent tear and watched the waves break on the shore.

I wrapped an arm around her in a gentle hug and said softly, "Sometimes destiny is left better to a warrioress than a princess. I'm sure the fair maiden will find something much more enjoyable than wasting her time away in a castle with someone who would only disillusion her." My head lay lightly on her shoulder, but I didn't speak; I only offered her my support quietly to let her cross the bridge on her own.

“She returned to the woods to search for her true purpose.”

"And what did she find," I asked softly.

Alison laughed, “I don’t know. I think I may have lost that book.”

Turning her lightly to face me, I wiped the tears from her eyes slowly, "I disagree. I think it's still being written." My voice came out as a velvet cloth in the darkening sky, "and she has to choose how it ends."

She shook her head and sat up, “OK Mr. Wise Pants. What's your story?” She eyed me suspiciously before deciding to lay her head down on my arm. She quickly reached in my pocket and stole a chocolate, popping into her mouth.

I smiled and chuckled at the eyeing and theft, draping the cape lightly over the two of us, caressing her arm tenderly, "First, thanks for sharing that with me…And now, our story begins on the distant deserts of Altepa, where a young child started out training with the legendary monks of the Galkan temple before the Antican invasion..."

"However, it wasn't a Galka; it was a young Hume of perhaps eight years, who the Galka found stranded and surrounded by hungry spiders and rescued. His parents had been killed, and he shared a lot of spirituality with the immortal race."
I frowned slightly at the memory, "Soon after he had reached adulthood, the Antica finally succeeded in overrunning the ancestral village, and the people fled through the Korroloka Tunnel to Bastok for refuge." Her hands tickled as they searched my chest pockets, probably looking for more chocolates and finding none. "The Humes there accused the Galkans of kidnapping him, and only after...." I paused at her patting around on my chest, and focused a crystal in my free hand, and held up a heart chocolate, placing it to her lips. "There you are, chere."

She propped herself up on her elbow to watch my face as I told the story, eating the chocolate silently, her lips soft as they brushed my fingertips.

"After a lot of trials, he helped the Galka earn their trust, as the people of Bastok seemed to think of him as one of their own. They claimed they knew his parents, and whisked him away from the friends and family he'd grown to love." I sighed softly, “The boy became a warrior, which was very easy with his martial training from the Galkan monks to back him up...and he met a young man who became like a brother to him, and inspired him along the paths of the warrior mystic, logically deciding that of course magic plus physical skills equaled more dead enemies."

I blinked and met her eyes directly for a bit, revealing my green and gold spheres rimmed by a thin ring of the deepest lapis lazuli. "He grew and fought many battles, leading many men to conquer new areas, but grew weary of the constant grind, deciding that peace was the way, and he would be forever alone: a friend to those in need, a heart full of love, and yet a soul destined to wander eternally in search of those who needed help.” I looked up again into the crystalline sky, “But above all else, he would always be a defender of the world itself...And then he vanished from the world he loved."

She lay back down, resting a hand to my chest as her temple pressed to my arm again, “So is that why you’re here? Did I will you to come?” She blushed adorably, her voice trailing off into the night, “Or is that silly…?”

"I think you're the only one who could answer that, Alison. But it's very possible." I smiled at her blush and tilted her face to my own, "But it's definitely not silly."

“If nothing else I'm glad for the company.”

I reached up and took off my hat, the very symbol of a Red Mage, and set it on her head with a smile, "As long as I can get a smile on your lovely face, I'm content for the time being." Alison’s smile seemed to grow brighter at that; she took the hat in her hands and ran her fingers along the feather. "You look much better when a smile is on your face, chere."

“I can’t remember when I started.”

The back of my hand slowly traced a path along her jaw line. "And maybe I'll turn you into a red mage eventually," I quipped with a wink. Propping myself onto an elbow, I turned on my side to match her position, "You don't need to remember, the important thing is to always keep that happiness within you."

She blushed a deeper red at the touch and looked away, “So how are we going to get you home anyways?”

My voice was soft as I held Alison lightly to me, wrapped in my crimson cape as the sunset faded into the distance of the Valkurm Dunes beach. "Do you want me to leave already?"

“I didn’t say that. I just figured it’s late and you must miss home.” Her eyes revealed her nerves were on edge in the silence that followed.

"I am guided only by the wings of destiny, Alison. I go where I am needed most at the time. I cannot miss home...for as long as there is someone in need, that is precisely where I am home." I met her eyes again, turning her face back to face my own yet again as if forcing her to see her own truth reflected, "The question would be: Are you alright, and do you wish for me to go?"

“I'm tougher than I let on,” her voice took on a much softer and vulnerable tone, “…but I wouldn’t mind if you stayed.” Her eyes and lips agreed finally, both smiling warmly.

My thumb slid up, gently pulling down her lower lip, "I think that sounds odd coming from one who aided in bringing me into this realm."

“Well you do have a way of going from stranger to old friend don’t you?”

I grinned slightly at that, "Perhaps I have a way of changing through many things." With that, I leaned in very slowly to meet her slightly parted lips with my own for a gentle and brief kiss.

She started to return the kiss, but then looked away, “Please…” She paused as if unsure of what she was about to say, “…Don’t kiss me. I can’t handle that right now. It feels wrong.”

"Does it?" I tilted his head to the side, "It's a physical expression to let you know that you're beautiful and you are a dear person." Brushing a hand through her hair slowly and dotingly I continued, "Maybe that's exactly what you need to free your spirit once again. Should I say the universe told me to give you the message, perhaps?" I winked slightly, only half-joking.

“Can I admit something?”

"Please do."

“I don’t think the Princess is ready to give up on the Prince even if he doesn’t deserve it.”

“Ahhhh, Now we will find out her true feelings and the end of the ‘story’ perhaps,” I thought, nodding my head before vocalizing again, "If the prince already has a queen and is living happily ever after, then the maiden would either be making a grave error in judgment, or showing that she selfishly cares more for what she wants than for his happiness, and thus wouldn't truly love him...wouldn't you agree?"

“Maybe you’re right,” she confided, leaning forward against my chest and pressing her self lightly against me.

I pondered briefly, "Maybe indeed why I was summoned." Another crystal found its way to my hands, and I focused on it before slipping something into her pants pocket. I embraced her tightly and rubbed her back, "I can't promise you anything but to be who I am, Alison. I'm needed by many: some as a warrior, some as a healer, some as a heart that won't betray them..." My voice trailed off as I remembered many of those very people about whom I spoke.

She let out a sigh of relief.

"I can only offer you truths, in all of their unabashed...well, truthiness, but if you need me, I *will* be here for you, Alison."

“You say that like you’re leaving.”

"Being here for you means leaving? Odd way of taking my statement, I admit."

Alison suddenly looked panicked, reaching down to her pocket where I’d placed the item. “What is this?”

I clasped my hand over hers as I saw her reach in the pocket. "Not yet. That is for you to find when you wake up and I'm asleep." I winked cockily and grinned, slowly guiding her to put the item back in her pocket and release it, "You'll appreciate it more if you forget about it for the time being."

I rubbed my bald head slightly, tracing some of the tattooed markings before adding, "I think I'll give you the choice, but make it difficult for you at the same time, such is the way the universe works." She looked up at me with wide questioning eyes, and I continued, "If you want me to stay, open your mind, your heart, and your spirit, and kiss me. Convince me that you want me here. If not, I will go for now, and tomorrow, look at the item in your pocket. That is the decree of the universe."

She shivered, looking down at the sand, “You ask too much, Guan.” A tear formed in her eye, and began to run slowly down her cheek.

I gently kissed the tear away, "I warned you it would be difficult, chere. But I can only send the messages as they are given." My hand ran through her hair again. "You should keep your hair loose and free more often, your spirit may follow..."

Alison struggled to think but came up with absolutely nothing, falling silent against me again.

I nodded silently, "I guess this means I should go then, eh? It was a pleasure to meet a spirit such as yours, then, Alison. I will burden you with my presence no longer..." Slowly, I released her, my hands sliding down her back and sides as I watched her expectantly.

“I'm so confused.” Her voice sounded lost, like she couldn’t grasp fully what was going on, “You come out of nowhere, gain my trust…just to leave me?” Her features twisted angrily as she shouted, “How dare you?!?”

I sighed softly, having seen such reactions before…but that didn’t mean I liked them. "No...The universe asks you to choose. I .. My feelings cannot come into play at all." I looked down to the sands, "Hit me if it will make you feel better, Alison. You know and I know that I didn't do this to hurt you."

That seemed to diffuse her anger as she replied with a deep breath, “I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want to be at peace.” She turned her back to me, sitting in the sand to watch the waves.

I moved over, lightly massaging her shoulders, "I want very much the same as you, chere...Destiny is a fickle evidenced by that it has given you that choice."

She rose, facing me and taking my hand in hers, “I'm sorry, I am grateful. Thank you for this day.”

As she spoke, the universe summoned me again, as she didn’t need me there anymore by her own choosing, though I did leave her a way to contact me more simply…and without chocobo crashing, hopefully! My hands slipped from hers into nothingness as she watched me disappear like magic, the universe wrapping me in a mysterious light and fading away into memory.

Only my smile remained in the air..."You will remember in a few days. Thank you for the time we shared, Alison. I will remember you too." Alison sank on the ground in thought, and picked up the hat that remained behind, a memory of her encounter, and possessed with a spirit of the red mage.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Valkurm Emperor

I took a momentary break in concentration to dump the sand out of my boots. I had just finished making the rounds and killing all the flies in the area without spotting the Valkurm Emperor that was known to carry the hairpin I wanted.

I often came here when I wanted to be alone and unbothered by those who’s good intentions made me want to hide under a rock. This hairpin is the treasure of treasures. Almost anyone can find value in it. Not only is it extremely useful but it’s also very beautiful and I do love beautiful. It’s an iridescent pin in the shape of a damsel fly wing with silver veins and trim. It glistens as if it knows it’s a treasure of treasures not to go unnoticed.

Knowing it took about five minutes for new flies to show up I took a good look at my competition. Two others were there after my hairpin at the moment. Both of them were Hume males. Eyes darting back and forth they watched me nervously as they tried to sum up the competitors themselves.

I loved this. Just being a Thief seemed to make them nervous. I had a good idea where I thought the fly would show up and about the timing. In the rest period between spawns I would occasionally dart off in one direction with a determined look on my face just to see if they would try to beat me to the prize they were sure I was after. New treasure hunters came and went on a regular basis so new victims were always available. It never got old.

Then the moment came. I didn’t need my wide scan to spot the fly not far off. Using flee I darted off. I did not have a good long distance claim method so I relied on my speed to get me close enough to the fly to use my steal ability to win it’s hate first. If I wasn’t fast he’d be gone and it would be a long time before I would get another chance.

Luck was with me. The eyes of the Valkrum Emperor glowed red at me and it swooped down to try to tear a piece out of my shoulder. Ducking the attack and coming up under its soft armored belly I stabbed the angry beast with my dagger. My heart leapt and my blood rushed. The thrill of claiming a long awaited notorious monster was an electrifying rush to me. Swing after swing we battled it out in a dance of death. Both of us knew I would win. I was far too strong for him and he must have known it but for whatever reason he would not run. I respected that.

As he fell I couldn’t help but hold my breath as I searched for the treasure I hoped for. I checked and double checked but this fly did not have the hairpin I wanted. My heart sank but it was not too surprising. I had already killed four others and found nothing. It was a long shot but one worth trying for a dozen times if needed to get that gorgeous pin.

I shook my head no at the crowd that had gathered around to see if the hairpin would be won. Some of them gave me sympathetic looks and wished me better luck next time while others looked angry like somehow if they had killed it the pin would have magically appeared for them and I had ruined it. I had to laugh at the angry ones. I knew the disappointment of missing a claim I hoped to kill but anger was a wasted emotion in this kind of situation.

I was feeling very at peace was I walked down to the beach to rest my feet in the lapping water around the trees. Some alone time was doing wonders for my spirit. I had time to reflect on what a good life I enjoyed and how blessed I was to have so many good friends who cared about me. Even if Brodie was in love with another woman I loved him enough to be happy that he was happy and leave it at that. I knew I would find my perfect match in good time.

For now I was happy sitting on the smooth water worn roots of the trees and watching the brightly colored fish dart around my bare legs as the sun that trickled through the trees kissed my warm skin. “Everything is ok.” I said aloud to myself and I closed my eyes and leaned back to listen to the hypnotic sound of the crashing waves. Now was a time to live for me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In the beginning there was light

A brief break from the tales of Alison the Amazing Thief to bring you the origin of my dear friend Garness as he tells it. You can find more Garness the Galka tales on the Thumbmonkeys website. I adore these. I hope you get a kick out of them too.


Harken and do mark my words
For the tale of Garness does begin at the beginning
And such are these words that
They should be put to song

Twas early on lights day
And a young Mithra who was called Muelix
Did wander out into the wilds
Of West Sarutabaruta to play

And did happen upon her
Three of the foul goblin race
And the young mithra did fear for her life
For the goblins were in ill temper

Muelix did make to run for the gate
But was bound as a cruel jest
And blades were unsheathed
To taunt and reveal her shame

Muelix did cry in terror
And her tears did fall down upon the earth
And her wails reached into the trees
but did not fall upon only the wind and sky

From where he did come from is still unknown
But a young galkan did fall from the sky
And in his first act he did drive his feet into the head of a goblin
Crushing it into pulp

The remaining two goblins did stare stupified at there comrade
And the anger rose within them
And the larger of the two gave a great warcry
And shook his hands into the sky

Then did the Goblin fall to his knees
With a squeal of pain as the young Galkan did strike a critical blow
In the Gobbie's bag of family jewels
And they were shattered

The final Goblin did strike the young Galkan
And he was knocked back by the blow
And fell from his feet onto the ground
Near a carrion crow finishing his early morning meal

In a last act of definance, the Galkan did grab the crow
Putting it to the face of the oncoming Goblin
Such was the rage of the crow
That it did scratch out the eyes of the Goblin

But the crippled Goblin was not done,
And did strike a cowardly blow from behind
Cutting a deep gash down the galkan's back and tail
Such was the rage of the galkan child
That he did renew his attack,
Breaking the necks of both goblins
Leaving them to die on the rodside
So other may see their fate

The young Mithra, at this point had regained her wits
And was unsure of the galkan, never having seen a Galkan before
And she did try to cover herself up
With her tattered clothes

The Galkan did pull a cloak from the Goblins bag
Giving it to her, so she would not be embarrassed
And the child Mithra did say
as only a young child could say

Gosh your a mess, which came out as
AND LO there was chime in the air as our hero was named

Garness did escort the young Mithra back into Windurst
And was met with some specualtion
But the Mithra did love him for saving one of their own
For such valor was not a common thing in these dark days
And as such the Mithra did accept him among them

Such is the tale of Garness
Who did save Vanadiel
But that is another story...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Great Escape

So what do you do when you feel like you want to drive your dagger into your brain to make the screaming stop? Between Ubaro then Brodie my life was starting to feel a bit too much like some bad opera without the lovely music and I really felt like I needed to stop it now before I did something drastic like burry my linkpearls and take up Beastmaster to hide away from the people who were very successfully stealing my sanity.

I really consider myself a people person. Not that I love being around lots of people but I love to love people. Does that make sense? I don’t know. I didn’t want them all to go away completely I just needed a rest for an unforeseeable amount of time.

I woke up one morning about at my wits end and realized if I didn’t take a break I was going to do something I’m sure I would eventually deeply regret. I took off all linkshells for the first time since I had started ThumbMonkeys and walked to the chocobo stables with a long determined stride. I had a chocobo I hand raised that I stabled there named Miss Momo. She was a gentle natured animal. Not exceptional in any way but mine all the same.

A good ride really does wonderful things for my spirit. I feel a deep connection with chocobo that is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t feel the same way. Being nuzzled by a cooing chocobo heals me like no magic can. If there is such a thing as reincarnation I believe I was once a chocobo. Maybe that is why I feel so compelled to be with them.

I found Momo out in her stall already done with her daily duties. I felt better just seeing her. Walking up to her I whispered the sweet nothings I always do as she searched me for the carrot she knew I always brought. I had to laugh at her predictability. I gave her the treat and she gobbled it in one great mouthful and let out a loud chirp. It was time to go.

My armor felt like a suffocating corset. Not that thief armor is ever very restrictive or uncomfortable in the tactile sense but stripping it away felt like I was leaving all the aggravation behind. I had not worn my street clothes out in public for a long time and it felt good to feel like a common unnoticed again.

I tied a blue ribbon around Momo’s bridle and buckled it around her neck. She shook her head in anticipation knowing it was time to race off to some adventure together. Glancing over at the saddle slung over the rail next to us I decided against it. Kicking off my boots into the straw I vaulted onto Momo’s downy back and clucked at her to go.

She lunged forward through the barn as I ducked down low against her back to avoid the low rafters of the barn until we were in the tunnel and out into West Ronfaure.

It felt like I was racing from the things that haunted my dreams as of late and I urged Momo to hurry. An irrational fear in the back of mind nagged that if I didn’t press onward as fast as we could they would somehow catch us and spoil our ecstasy of freedom. I started to get the rhythm of her tremendously powerful two beat stride and was able to loosen the hold I had on her feathers and feel like I was unified with her sharing her gift.

In one last release I untied my hair and let the twine blow away behind us. I was free to run. The wind tossed my short red hair and brushed softly on my face. It was a perfect sunny day and all felt right with the world again.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mending Wounds

All I found behind the Marble Bridge Eatery was a blood stain to let me know he was there. I was panic stricken. I tried to follow the trail of blood but it was cleaned off the street starting at the front of the building. I guess they wanted to keep up appearances but not so badly as too clean the entire mess.

Racing to the front door I was greeted by the doorman. “The Marble Bridge Eatery Welcomes all Taru today.” I didn’t even pause to look at him as I pushed threw the doorway. The doorman reached out and caught me with one great arm. “I’m sure you must hear this a lot, but you are a little tall for a Taru. I’m afraid you’ll have to come back later. I’d be happy to give you a schedule.” He said looking rather annoyed.

“I need to find out if anyone has seen an injured Hume here yesterday and knows where he is now. My height with brown hair and a full beard. A Paladin.” I pleaded.

“Well you don’t need to go in there. I was told you would come. An Elvaan with an ornate gil bag paid a hansom tip to make sure you got his. I do love a good tipper.” He bowed as he handed me a dirty envelope from out of his coat pocket.

I wandered away from the doorman as I unfolded the enclosed note.

Brodie is fine. Got you going didn’t I? I wanted to remind you that you’re not ready to give him up. Some things are worth fighting for.

I could have killed him. He had a rather odd way of giving me unwanted advice. I wondered who’s blood I had seen, but I was just relieved it wasn’t Brodie’s.

I didn’t know what to do. I slid my back down the wall and sat on the cold stone walkway. He was happy. I didn’t want to mess that up. I was Elvaan after all and she was Hume. It was silly of me to think he’d stay by my side when she had so much more to offer him.

Rebornsoul was no stranger. The lilac flower pin I always wore in my hair was made for me by her. She was a friend to both Brodie and me and I knew her to be a good person. I couldn’t be angry at her for seeing a good thing and taking a shot at it. It was Brodie who couldn’t see that I thought of him as more than a best friend.

I reached in my pocket and rubbed my fingers across the engraving on my ring. It was pathetic I realize to hold on to it but I didn’t have anyone I cared to impress so I didn’t care to hide it. Maybe Beldin was right but I didn’t want to be with someone who thought I was anything less than the only person for him. Chalk it up to Elvaan pride but I wouldn’t beg or swindle for any man.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Unwanted Defense

“And you give me a hard time about dragging in dirt. You’re covered. What happened to you?” Garness asked with one great brow raised in my direction.

“Don’t pick fights with me. I’ll tell everyone about your mandy doll.” I snapped.

“Hey, hey now, I’m not picking a fight. I’m just asking.” Garness said as he tossed his hands up defensively. “And if you must know I have the mandy doll so I can practice squeezing the life out of them while I sleep. Builds muscle and quickens the reflexes. Let them try to sleep me now. It won't do them any good.” Garness grinned as if he were imagining crushing the cutie little devils.

I just shook my head and went to my room. “Can you run a bath for me please?” I asked my moogle.

“Ofcourse Kupo. Everything ok Kupo? You haven’t been home for three days. I’m afraid your plants died. They are so sensitive about attention Kupo.” He buzzed as he filled the copper tub.

I was feeling a bit better about things. Time has a way of doing that I guess. As I slid down into the bubble bath my arms burned in agony. I had spent the last few days farming crawlers with Paganlorre for their silk. It was incredibly satisfying to slash the great furry worms open letting the gooey blood spill everywhere.

I was so charged with rage that I didn’t even notice how strained I was until I calmed down and really took a look at my Elvaan companion. He looked exhausted and filthy. He had stood by me so patently while I let out my frustration. I’m not sure if he didn’t say much or I was so preoccupied I didn’t hear him. It all was a bit of a blur. We did both come home with six stacks of silk threads and they were selling very well lately. Nothing makes a girl feel better like a pocketful of gil.

“I found Brodie for you.” Beldin shouted through my door.

“I’m not really interested in him right now Beldin.” I called back. “Mind if I enjoy some peace and quiet for a little while?”

“Well you’ve been gone three days. Isn’t that enough alone time?” he called. “Besides, I thought you might like to know I shot him for you.”

“What!” I shouted as I leapt from the water. “Why would you do such a stupid thing as that?!”

“Well, I think he had it coming. Don’t worry, I didn’t kill him. I know how you feel about murder. I just shot him in the gut. He was still completely alive when I left him.”

The crazy idiotic pirate. Moogle wasn’t back from cleaning my artifact armor yet so I threw on some event clothing from new years and rushed out of my room.

Grabbing Beldin’s shoulders and staring him down I growled, “Beldin, where is he?”

“The Paladin, why would you want to find him? We all know what happened.” He said looking rather proud of himself. “I took care of it.”

I punched Beldin’s jaw as hard as I could muster with my soar arms knocking him onto the sofa. “Tell me now or I’ll gut you like a crawler” I threatened.

“Try to help a woman out and this is what I get for thanks.” He said as he rubbed his bearded face. “I left him in Upper Jeuno beside the Marble Bridge Eatery yesterday.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Paganlorre came out of nowhere and sat down beside me. He threw his cape around my dripping body in an attempt to protect me from the rain, but it was lost cause. I was already soaked through and it suited my mood.

“I never did like this place,” Paganlorre said as put his arm around me and pulled me tightly to his side. “it takes the fluff right out of my feather. I hate that.”

Throwing my legs over his lap and hugging him tightly I leaned my head on his chest and sighed deeply. “Thank you.” I said.

As I allowed the hypnotic movement of his chest rising and falling to sooth my nerves my mind drifted back to when I met him. It didn’t seem that long ago. The moogles where hosting their annual Valentines Day event and Brodie and I were determined to play the game and take home the prizes.

We were enlisted to help the local town people find love by way of chocolate. How perfect is that? Anyone who knows me knows that I go a bit nuts over the smooth creamy confection of the Gods. I think I’d do almost anything when I need a fix which is almost always. A fact I try not to let get out for fear of abuse.

“Alison, don’t eat it!” Brodie looked at me with faults disappointment. “We have to figure out what to do with them if we are going to get that signed charm wand you want.

“But it seems like we don’t ever get it right and the chocolates go to waste. If they won’t appreciate it I might as well have a nibble.” I pleaded.

Brodie laughed loudly and fed me a piece of the broken heart. In my excitement to accept the morsel I grabbed his hand and eagerly sucked the bits of melted chocolate off his fingers pausing and looking up into his eyes only when the chocolate was gone. I blushed in embarrassment and gave him back his hand.

“I think you have a bit of a chocolate smudge there around your mouth. Allow me.” Brodie grinned as he turned my chin towards his.

“I couldn’t help but notice you two seem to be having trouble with this crazy event. I just finished it myself. I’d be happy to explain it to you.” A hansom Red Mage said smiling down on us.

He had wild blond hair jutting out from around his Red Mage hat. I couldn’t help but smile back at his warm face. He seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he had just stolen my moment for a rare kiss from my Paladin.

I am a sucker for a Red Mage. Why you ask? Well even if you don’t want to admit you care you’re reading this so you’re going to find out. I find that Red Mages have a certain spunk that seems to unify them in their confidence that they are in fact very desirable in every way. If you need a man to take you out for a wild night of crazy fun then a Red Mage the man for you. Really the feathered hat says it all. I think it stems from how easily they get invites into experience parties as they are leveling. By the time they hit level 75 their heads are so big there is no living with them. It makes them a perfect target for a girl looking for a distraction. Sadly I don’t think even Paganlorre’s vibrant charm was enough to make me forget how betrayed I felt that day.

“Are you ready to go?” Paganlorre said breaking my day dream.

I nodded. I had enough solitude and I was grateful he somehow managed to find me.

“Seems like a good day to break rules.” he said as he put his broad feathered hat on my bare dripping head and scooped me up in his arms. The thought crossed my mind that if anyone saw me like this it would seriously jeopardize my reputation I was trying to establish as a tough as nails thief but I knew Paganlorre wasn’t going to tell and his loyalty wouldn’t waver from witnessing my moment of self pity.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Brodie's Betrayal

Raining. Always with fricken rain around here. I felt so numb and lifeless. I just sat there letting the drops make waterfalls down my hair and into my eyes, staring blankly ahead wallowing in the shock of what I had seen and wondering where I went wrong.

I couldn’t remember how I got there or why I came. This place seemed to pull me here. It’s always murky and full of despair. Funny how this place had come full circle. My first visit to Pashhow Marshlands I nearly died only to be saved by my white knight and now the place that was a fond memory of a sweet beginning was sucking me in again to draw me deep in despair over an unexpected end.

He was meant to be MY white knight. For months we were inseparable. Every moment that we could we were either together or talking about being together. I don’t know how this happened. I really thought he was “the one.” You know, the one I get to bring home to Mom as her son-in-law. But now that was never going to happen.

As I thought about it tears blended into the rain and rolled down my cheeks. The image of him with her felt like a dagger in my chest stealing my breath and breaking my heart. Even in the betrayal I admit that I wished he would ride up on his chocobo again and wipe the mud and tears off my face.

I had already confronted him with the photograph of him holding and kissing her. He said he thought we were only friends. He didn’t mean to upset me. I don’t know how we could be so different in our feelings. I guess it was my fault. I wasn’t clear somehow. Or was it his fault for not realizing that I not only felt we were a couple, I wanted to marry him? How could he not know?

I reached into my bag and rubbed the soft peddles of the flower necklace between my fingers. It didn’t seem that long ago but it had been months since that sweet sunset on the beach.

Rebornsoul was a Hume. Maybe I had been fooling myself to think a Hume could love an Elvaan. We couldn’t even have children and he always seemed like a family man. Thinking he wanted a future with me was foolish.

When I told him I couldn’t be friends he just looked at me in shock. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t beg me to change my mind. He didn’t ask me why. Just nothing. I think nothing was the most painful thing he could have done. When you don’t care anymore nothing is the easiest thing to do.

Brodie was my white knight. What was I supposed to do without him?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bad Night

“Just another minute.” I said without attempting to hide my irritation. “I almost have it.” I was standing waist deep in the shimmering waters of Purgonorgo Isle.

Continuing to rub my hands in the salty water the blood wouldn’t come off. It just swirled around me in clouds of red.

“Come in now.” Brodie called from the shore with uncharacteristic firmness. “You’re done.”

Ignoring him I felt overwhelmed with the urgency of the task at hand. Unable to clean my hands I reached down to tear a strip of my pants to help scrub but I saw his pale white face staring up at me through the red tinged water and stopped. Reaching in to pull Orabu out of the water an unseen force swept my feet out from under me. I struggled to regain my footing but the ground was gone.

“Brodie!” I shouted in panic.

The earth split along the beach with horrible thundering and moaning as if the ground had completely given up the will to hold itself together. Brodie was thrown to the sand like a limp rag doll. The divide grew into a large chasm driving me further and further away from my would be hero.

Realizing the water around me was rushing and swirling at increasing speeds I started to feel dizzy and hopeless. The ocean was poring into the newly forming canyon and it felt like it was pounding the air from my lungs. “I’m going to die.” I thought as I fought to stay on the surface.

I woke in a cold sweat screaming. Rover was jumping on my chest and I threw my arms out in self defense, tossing the wyvern to the floor.

Garness was standing in my doorway in white pajamas covered in large red hearts. “We thought you were being attacked. Very nosey. Late. Sleepy.” Garness mumbled.

He didn’t even have his eyes open. He just leaned on the door frame clutching a mandy doll to his chest with one hand and holding an axe in the other. I’d never look at him the same.

“I’m sorry, I’m fine.” I said with a trembling voice as I patted my body just to make sure it was all there.

“Good.” Garness said. Rover raced after the Galka as Garness closed the door mumbling something under his breath that I’m sure I didn’t want to hear.

“I think I need a change.” I thought as I got up to find a towel to wash my face. “These dreams have got to stop.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Meeting New Friends

Ever just feel like you need to get out and find someone who doesn’t look at you like you killed their best friend and then did a crazy stomping hoot hollering dance on his grave at the funeral? Well I have.

Sometimes it’s just good to go meet new people. Now I’ll share with you a secret place I know of to meet new faces. It’s fabulous, exclusive, and the view is great. Airships. Yep, you heard me right. It’s perfect. You have a captive audience and they generally are not busy since there is nothing to do but stare over the edge. Well, a few of them jump over the edge but they have their own issues and it’s wise to not look them in the eye.

I boarded an airship back home to Sandy one sunny afternoon with the need to be distracted from my thoughts. Walking into the main cabin and started scanning the crowd. Considering the crowd consisted of me and one other man it didn’t take me long to spot the hottie and decide he would be my next victim, I mean umm… friend.

A hansom Elvaan, tall but not so tall it hurts your neck to look up at him. He had neatly combed blond hair that came down a little over his warm thoughtful eyes. All decked out in crafters gear including a very flattering pair of glasses, he definitely looked like a man who was not afraid to get his hands dirty. Mom would love to know I was flirting with someone who clearly spent a lot of time in Sandy crafting for a living.

I smiled and waited. He looked down at me standing in front of him and smiled warmly back at me without a word. I was so in. I checked his bazaar comment and my heart sank. It was all in Japanese. All the Japanese I knew was what was in my translation book of short phrases for communicating with fellow adventurers.

There are two official languages in Vana’diel, English and Japanese. Sadly I only know one of them. I blame my mother.

Anyways, I decided this was not going to stop me today. I was determined to meet someone on this trip and he was my man even if he only entertained me for the ride until we ran out of things to say to each other with our phrase books.

Actually you can get a lot said with gestures and short phrases and I had a blast laying it on thick with the smiling, dancing about, and seductive grinning and winking. It wasn’t until we arrived at our destination and I winked and waved goodbye that he spoke plainly.

“So we are only going to play charades and go our separate ways?” he asked.

“I didn’t know you spoke English.” I said with a shocked expression on my face. “Your bazaar comment is all in Japanese I just assumed....”

He looked at me and laughed. “You didn’t ask. I speak both reasonably well. I’m sorry to mislead you. My name is Kiraa, it is a pleasure to meet you.” He said with a bow.

I blushed in embarrassment. I really had acted like a monkey on a sugar high. Now I felt rather silly. Now that I think of it, I embarrass myself a lot so I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

Somehow we clicked and I became close friends with this gentle man. Or maybe I became his stalker and he was too kind to tell me to go away, either way a very beneficial day. Enjoyed a lovely airship ride and gained a very intelligent soft spoken new friend. I found him completely fascinating. He was much more experienced than me and I wanted to learn everything I could from him. He is unlike anyone else I have ever met and I treasure his friendship.

So, next time you feel like you need a fresh face to talk to, put down the warp cudgel and take a nice relaxing airship ride. You never know who you’ll meet when you’re brave enough to just say hello.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bringing Him Home

“I am willing to give you his body and soul in exchange for his power. The moogle took a dagger out of a mahogany box and handed it to me. You must pierce his heart threw his back and let his blood spill down the hilt onto your hands. Return the dagger to me and he is free.” she instructed.

“How do I know it won’t kill him?” I asked.

“Well I guess you will have to trust me. He won’t die today. I never lie. It’s like a fresh clean slate to start a new life. With time he can be just as powerful and famous as before if he is willing to work at it and most importantly he will be completely freed from his contract with me. A win win situation really. I keep his power and possessions and he gets his life and freedom. What is there to decide? I guess I could keep him for our agreed upon eternity but hey, how many people do you know who get to live that long? Maybe you should leave him with me.” Ursula grinned.

I clutched the dagger tightly and lunged at the moogle but I didn’t get far. She froze me in my tracks. It felt like I was encapsulated in stone unable to move an inch and struggling to breathe.

“Oh come on, we already did this. You can’t hurt me. Do we have a deal or not?” Moogle said looking a bit irritated.

She released me and my arm fell to my side. I clutched the dagger knowing that I had no choice. This enemy could not be defeated. She legally owned Orabu by his own decisions and she was too powerful to be forced her to release him.

Orabu just stood there where he had been all along, expressionless and blank. Tears welled up in my eyes and I prayed that he would forgive me. Standing behind him I thrust the dagger into his back piercing his heart. Orabu cried out in pain and his knees buckled. I grasped one arm around his waist to steady him as his blood ran down my hands. As I pulled the dagger out of the wound it healed over leaving a silver scar on his shoulder. Sliding the bloody blade across the room I crumpled on the floor with Orabu in my lap.

“It’s done.” I said solemnly as I pushed his long hair away from his eyes.

The moogle picked up the dagger and it crumbled into a pile of ash. She had absorbed all his power and experience. No wonder she was so strong. I can only imagine how many lives she had stolen with her deceitful deals.

“Alison,” he whispered as he looked up to me with a ghost pale face. “What have you done?”

I just held him and sobbed. “Please forgive me. There was no other way.”

Ursula raised our party and they sat up in stunned silence to see me holding Orabu and weeping.

In a flash we were all teleported to Port Jeuno. It was over.

For days after we got home some of our party members still felt the effect of the run in with the moogle witch. I can only imagine what she whispered in their ears that haunted them. To let someone so powerful know your heart’s deepest desire is a dangerous thing.

I’m not sure exactly what happened to Ursula but after we told our story to our personal moogles they assured us that it would be handled internally and no adventure would ever be tempted by her schemes again. They all left for a few hours and came back saying it was taken care of.

I can only imagine what Beldin had secretly been through but it was unnerving to catch him crying in Whitegate near the port the night we got back from Castle Zvahl Baileys when he thought he was finally alone.

“Beldin, what’s wrong?” I asked quietly as I put my hand on his shoulder.

“Allergies.” Beldin smiled without even turning to look who asked the question. “I’m allergic to… um…” He looked up at the moon as he paused to think, “Full moons. Blasted thing makes my eyes itch every month.

“Is this about the witch? She spoke to me too but she seemed especially interested in you.” I asked cautiously.

After what felt like an eternal silence as we watched the ships come and go he looked down and overflowed with emotion, “I had a wife and a son. She forced the images of their death in my head again and offered to reunite us. That’s impossible isn’t it? The past can not be changed and the dead can not be made whole again. I hate that I felt so helpless to stop her. I’m pissed that the moogles got to Ursula before I had a chance to go back and jam my spear into her black heart and crush her body to a messy pulp.”

He paused for a moment and continued, “But this pain is nothing new. I just needed a night to allow myself to feel again before I hide it back away. I’ll be back to my old charming self that you love by morning.” He looked down at me and gave me one of his Beldin grins even as he let the tears run down his face.

There was nothing I could say. I couldn’t pretend to know how he felt. I just smiled softly to acknowledge his weak attempt at reassuring me he was ok. I linked my arm with his and squeezed tightly. It didn’t feel right to let him be alone on a night like that even if all I could do was stand in silence with him while the “allergies” got the better of us.

Orabu couldn’t forgive me. Our friendship was never the same. From that day forward he called himself Ubaro, a new name for a new life. He didn’t give up on adventuring. He has not reached his former glory as a level 75 adventure known world wide for great deeds but I do not doubt he will again some day.

Sadly after months struggling to heal the hurt Ubaro and I decided it was best to part ways. Every time he saw me he thought of the agony of the loss of his life and it tore me apart to have him look at me that way. Ubaro left the linkshell to find a new path. He was a mentor and a friend and I respect and love him deeply still but to me it feels like Obaru is dead and Ubaro is a stranger. From time to time I do pass him in my travels and wonder if he can ever really forgive me.

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Image of Ubaro and Martin putting on a concert after the start of his new life but before we parted ways.

Monday, November 06, 2006


“But you’re not a demon, you’re a moogle.” Apocolipse said in disbelief. He managed to say what we were all too shocked to utter.

“Yes I am. My name is Ursula. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” The moogle witch said with a bow.

“I thought your race all preferred to be called Moogle.” Foxx said suspiciously.

“I am a unique individual like you. I think it is only fair that I have a unique name. Don’t you think?” She said. “In the spirit of my race I only live to serve though I don’t feel compelled to call everyone Kupo. Why must they always finish everything they say with Kupo, Kupo, Kupo? It’s so annoying. Don’t you agree? And all that happy chirping with no real emotion. I am more honest, more real than that.”

I take service a step beyond what other moggles dare. Moogles are very powerful. We are capable of much more than storage and house cleaning. Where my counterparts will fetch your mail I will fill your mailbox with something that will make all your comrades green with envy. If your heart is empty, I can fill it. Whatever your desire, I have the power to give it to you. I only desire to be the most successful moogle of all time in advancing the success of you adventures. I only wish to help out the poor unfortunate souls who can not achieve their full potential without my help. Those in pain, those in need, I am more than willing to share my gift with them. For a fee of course but do I help them? Yes, indeed.

“We’re not here to rub the genie’s lamp. We are here to take Orabu home. Where is he? We want him back.” Willowkarr demanded.

“He is home. He’s with me and quite comfortable. He could not fulfill our agreement so he is paying off his debt. Justice demands it. I am bound by our contract.” Ursula replied.

“The question is what can I do for you?” I heard the moogle witch say to me.

I startled as I realized the question came from within my mind instead of through my ears.

“I heard your wish, a truly pure and worthy desire. You would be doing the world a great disservice to keep it to yourself.” The voice cooed sweetly.

“Enough!” Ryger shouted. “Get out of my head before I slice yours into pieces”

Ryger drew his sword and stood ready to charge but just as suddenly he yelled in pain and dropped his blade. Clutching his forearm he fell to his knees.

“Now now. Moggles are not a violent race. Why would you be so rude as to draw a weapon in my home? Please, make yourselves comfortable. There is no need to worry about your friend. He has simply retired from adventuring. It was his choice. I am always honest in my dealings.” Ursula said.

“Then you won’t mind if we see him.” Brodie said.

“I can see this is the only thing that will satisfy you.” Ursula said with a sigh. “Orabu, please bring your friends something to eat and show them that you are doing just fine.”

“Yes my Lady.” Orabu said as he came into the room with a platter of grapes.

Marrcus took the platter from him tossing it on the ornate tile floor just in time to keep Willowkarr from running head long into it as she charged Orabu tossing her arms around his neck and weeping with emotion. “I was so worried you might be dead.” She cried.

Others came forward to greet him but I just stood there filled with dread. I walked up to him slowly looking him over. I knew it was him but something was terribly wrong. I cupped his face in my hands and looked deep within his eyes looking for some glimmer of my friend. His eyes were blank and expressionless. He was clearly under Ursula’s spell.

“Restore him back or we break your black magic by spilling your blood.” I said angrily.

“Why does everyone assume that I am a villain? He came to me you know. He wanted the most powerful linkshell there ever was. He wanted his group to be widely known not only for being capable of accomplishing tremendous tasks together but for a strong brotherhood they would to enjoy. A real family bond. Beautiful don’t you think?” Ursula chirped.

“He doesn’t look very happy to me. He doesn’t look like he feels anything. What did you do to him?” Petru demanded as he rubbed his tiny Taru hands together in preparation for any spell needed in the impending conflict.

“Your friend couldn’t fill his end of the agreement. All I asked was that he prove his leadership abilities by having fifteen people equip his linkshell at once within one month without mentioning our agreement ofcourse. He couldn’t do it.” Ursula explained. “It should have been so simple.”

“I think we have had enough talking. I like the blood spilling idea.” Dominuse said standing ready to pound the tiny white fluff ball of a witch with his large fists.

The moogle leaned back and laughed loudly. “Galka always prefer brute force over good reason. I think Beldin understands that I only want to help. Don’t you Beldin? He knows that only I can grant his heart’s desire. Is that something you really want to give up?”

“I’m not stupid enough to try to make deals with you. Find yourself another victim.” Beldin growled as he reached back for his lance.

“You can stroke your lance and ready your weapons all you like. They will not serve you here. I’m so hurt by all of this hostility. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave if you can’t be nice.” Moogle said in a slightly sharper tone.

“Not without Orabu.” Garness said.

“I want to kill him myself most days but I wouldn’t leave him here in that state. He’s ours. Hand him over or we see just how tough a moogle can actually be.” Doma said as she tightened her white gloves and reached for her weapon.

“Well if you insist on making me prove my point.” Ursula said.

We didn’t need a second invitation. We rushed in to chop this little fur ball into bite sized wyvern snacks but we didn’t get far. We bounced off an unseen barrier like rain off a window pane. The stronger party members continued to try to force past it while the mages worked earnestly to find a spell that would deteriorate it. Foxx circled the wall to see if there was any other way to enter. Doma, Kammy, and Willowkarr tried to dig under the unseen force but it seemed to circle the evil witch moogle in an unpopable bubble.

Meanwhile Ursula flopped down in an overstuffed chair propping her feet up on the arm rests and started to read a book, ignoring our efforts. After about twenty minutes of struggle she looked up at us with a rather annoyed expression. “Must you be so loud? Can you not see I’m really getting into this book. I just adore a good love story. I’ll read aloud if you promise to quiet down.”

“You have got to be kidding me.” Martin said exasperated.

“Fine. I won’t share.” Ursula said and with that she peered over the book at Martin and the Paladin fell helpless to the floor a breath away from destruction.

Marrcus cast a raise spell on him and healed him as well as he could but other party members started dropping in quick succession until only I was standing.

The moogle put her book down and flew over to me looking me in the eye and speaking to me in my mind. “I wanted to talk to you alone. I can see in your heart you can save your friend. I do leave room for mercy but at a steep price befitting of the reward. Only someone who loves him can break the spell he is under. It will not be easy. Are you willing?” Moogle asked.

I felt a tide of panic well up at the thought of negotiating with this notoriously deceitful creature but I didn’t see any other way. “Tell me what you want and then I’ll tell you if I will pay.” I replied as coolly as I could muster.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Demon Witch

“I’m here. We can go save the helpless Hume now.” Beldin announced as he brushed the snow off his Dragoon armor.

Dominuse came in quietly behind him. “I’m sorry we are late. How can we help?”

“We saved room for you both in Foxx’s party. If you don’t need a rest I think we’re ready to go shake this witch out of her hiding place.” I said

The demons in Castle Zvahl Baileys look like they were cut out of the castle itself. Both are roughly cut and black as onyx. It makes it easy to be caught off guard by a large group of them and be overwhelmed if you don’t pay attention. If a demon sees you attacking his comrade he will waste no time in coming to his friend’s aid by attempting to remove your head from your shoulders. A task with which you really don’t want him to have success.

We wasted enough time killing our way up to the castle so we opted for speed by way of sneaking around as many of the locals as possible though in a group as large as ours we did have more than one, “Oops I think he spotted me, and oh by the way he has friends.”

“Not to doubt your sense of direction but I think we’ve passed this way already.” Marrcus said.

He was right. The map didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t see how I was supposed to get down to the floor we needed. “I think you’re right.” I admitted. “Can someone else make sense of this maze?”

“Give that to me. How do you get so many people willing to follow you when you have no idea what you’re doing?” Foxx blurted out in frustration. “I’ll get us there. Just show me where you are trying to go.”

I handed the map to the Taru and he bounded off without another word in long Taru leaps as he held the map close to his face. We followed him closely as we could until we reached a room with a cavernous hole in the middle. Foxx circled the edge until we reached the far side and stopped. Looking down and then checking his map again he nodded to himself and said, “Yep, we jump down here. See that ledge. We want to land on it. You miss the ledge and I leave you there to die and maybe we’ll pick up the bodies later” he sneered. Without hesitation he leapt down nimbly and walked out of sight.

The two Dragoons followed quickly behind without a problem but when Jumpingtaru took his turn he hit the ledge hard and rolled. Garness reached out and grabbed Jumpingtaru by his boot before he tumbled over the edge. “Ouchie.” Jumpingtaru whimpered. “I didn’t like that.”

“Bend your knees when you land.” Beldin called up.

“You have got to be kidding me.” I said. “You are telling me the only way in is a fifteen foot drop to a ledge I may or may not be able to land on? This is crazy. What kind of person designs a castle like this? I know a king is not expected to leap down there like a rabbit. There must be another way.”

My fellow party members took turns jumping down with perfect success but I was not so sure this was a good idea. It’s not that I have a fear of heights it’s that that I have a fear of a painful death where my lovely face may be smashed by large pointy rocks.

“Are you ready to go?” Brodie asked me as he stood behind me at the edge.

“I’m not sure. Another minute maybe.” I said timidly peering down below.

“I’m afraid we don’t have another minute to let you decide. I think that pack of demons coming this way would like to use us as welcome mats for future visitors.” With that he picked me up in his arms. “Sorry sweetie.” He said as he tossed me over the edge.

I hardly had time to gasp in disbelief before Gurok caught me in his massive Galkan arms and shook with laughter. “Do you need me to carry you the rest of the way or do you think you can handle the remainder of the trip on your own two feet?” he mocked.

“Stop messing around.” Foxx commanded. “We’re here.”

With that I squirmed down not even pausing to give my usual look of death appropriate for such occasions. “Which wall Foxx?” I asked.

“Humm…” he said as he ran his hand along the wall without touching the stones. He stopped as a faint purple glow emitted from a barely visible crystal shard embedded in the rock. As Foxx took his hand away the light dissipated. “Here.” He stated confidently.

“Everyone ready?” I asked.

“Of course.” Kammy said as she reached out and touched the wall. Nothing happened. In what can only be described as a Mithra temper tantrum she started clawing at the wall wildly. “Foxx broke it! Fix it, Fix it!!” she shrieked.

“I can fix it.” I reassured her and she stopped and perked her ears to listen.

“To open the door, and I quote, you must have a ‘heart aching with a burning desire." I told her.

“But I do. I want to save Orabu!” she said as she went to work on the wall again. Her fingers started to bleed and Moltov reached around her holding her arms down tightly against her sides and whispered something to her that calmed her down.

“Maybe it needs to be something bigger though by your determination I’m surprised you didn’t qualify. Something you would be willing to give everything for. Think of it clearly and try again.” I told her.

“I think I should go in first. Hard to say what is over there and I’m sure I have something that will open this portal.” Siegg said. With that he reached out and touched the wall. The crystal burned a blinding purple to white light and Siegg disappeared.

“Lets not waste time.” I said. “We don’t want him in there alone. I’ll go last to make sure we all enter.”

The light burned almost continuous as hero after hero reached out with the one thing they would give anything to have secretly expressed in their minds until it was only me and Garness.

“I can’t get it to work.” Garness said with frustration. “I’m having a bit of trouble thinking of anything.”

“Isn’t there something you crave above all else?” I asked.

“Darn you woman if there was I wouldn’t be out here with my friends in there!” he shouted.

“Ok, easy big guy.” I said. “I have an idea.” I reached my arm around him.

“I don’t feel that way about you Alison.” Garness said as he started to step back.

“Don’t be silly. Trust me for once.” I said as I pulled him near me and touched the crystal.

With that we were in. We all stood silently with shocked expressions. What we saw we had not been prepared for. A pack of fifty demons would have been less shocking to see.

“Welcome adventures.” It said. “So many customers at once I have not had before. All with such noble desires too. It must be my lucky day to be of service to such a fine group. What can I humbly do for you?”

Thursday, October 26, 2006


“She’s on my tail again.” Gurok grumbled as he turned around picking Kammy up by her mantle and tossing her at Moltov.

Moltov caught the Mithra and she clawed her way up to sit on his shoulders. “He’s so mean.” She whimpered as she pulled Moltov’s mantle up around herself. “Why did we have to bring him?”

Moltov gave Kammy a handful of cookies and the Mithra quieted down for awhile while she glared at Gurok and nibbled the treats.

Willowkarr’s tail swished angrily. She had been fighting with Foxx the entire trip over everything and everyone was tired and cold.

The tarus legs where tried and it was snowing so hard the drifts where difficult for them to climb over so Apocolipse carried Petru and Fox. Gurok had jumpingtaru tucked under one arm like a bed roll. I would have thought that would be a rather embarrassing and uncomfortable way to be carried but Jumpingtaru was sleeping peacefully. I’m sure Garness would have been willing to help out too but his wyvern Rover hissed at anyone who came too close to his napping place around Garness’s neck like a great scaley scarf.

As I looked out over the snow I was struck by its eerie beauty. I had been here before but under much better circumstances. Brodie had taken me here on vacation to ski Beaucedine Glacier and see the lights in Xarcabard. I remember the first time I saw the rainbow of glowing mist rising out of the deep scars in the earth leading up to the castle. It took my breath away. It’s a shame such a beautiful place is over run with some of the most feared beastmen.

“That’s a lot of demons up there.” Ryger said as he came up behind me while wiping Evil Eye blood off of his sword’s blade. “I think we should use sneak and invisible spells and potions up to the door.”

“Or we can kill them all!” Martin yelled as he rushed the nearest demon knight driving his sword deep into its black hide spattering it’s blood all over his white paladin armor.

Gurok dropped Jumpingtaru into the snow and Garness leaped into the air coming down with impressive force onto the demon’s head with his long lance. You would think the weight of a massive Galka thrusting a large weapon into its brain would be enough to kill it instantly but wouldn’t you know it actually took a bit more effort to kill him and all his imposing winged friends. Must be like cockroaches. Do you know how long they can live without their heads? Very icky.

We opted for the kill everything in our path method so when we finally arrived at Castle Zvahl Baileys we needed a rest to say the least. We all huddled just inside the door where we were protected from the cold and wind. For reasons unknown beasts never wander to the castle door. You would think that would be a favorite waiting place, easy pickings and all. Wait, stab unsuspecting adventurers, rest, and repeat. Great plan! Thank goodness they seemed too stupid to think of it or maybe I’m just more diabolical than they are. Interesting thought….

“I’ll stand guard.” Doma announced. “Everyone else should close their eyes and rest awhile until we feel up to full strength for this unknown witch we are about to chase out of her hiding place.

“Sleep? Not a problem at all.” Petru said as tipped his mage hat over his eyes and dozed off almost instantly.

“Rest not sleep. We don’t want to be caught off guard and groggy. This place gives me the creeps.” I said as I wedged myself between Brodie and Ryger to take advantage of the warmth for a few minutes. Pulling out my map I tried to make sense of where to go. I only wish I had some idea what we were up against and what we would do once we found Orabu.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Rescue Party

“This is it Kupo!” Moogle squealed as he dropped a large dusty book on the table. “This is the map I was looking for Kupo. See, the room is hidden. Only if you touch the wall with a heart aching with a burning desire will the wall give you passage Kupo. I will pack the map for you with your sneak oils. Take great care Kupo.”

I managed to pull together a full alliance to go after Orabu. The first few where from ThumbMonkeys and were easy to convince. Jumpingtaru, Willowkarr, Martin, Petru, Garness, Brodie, Kammy, Apocolipse, Ryger, Siegg, Marrcus, Doma, and Moltov jumped at the chance to support Orabu’s rescue attempt. Some of the others were a little tougher.

“Foxx you said I could call on you when I needed you.” I begged.

“Well that was then, this is now and now I don’t recall why I said that. Tell me why I should go?” he said with a rather evil grin on his face.

I really just think he wanted to see me beg for his help which I was happy to endure for this cause. I knew he was a friend of Orabu’s and he would give in once I satisfied his need to make me grovel. After a large meal at the local pub and plenty of promises I convinced the Taru to join us.

Gurok was the next man I went to. I had met him while in an experience party at The Boyka Tree. He was the best Paladin I had ever had the pleasure of working with in that type of situation. A large Galka with snow white hair he had an amazing talent for knowing just what to say and do to keep a monsters attention on him only. I never had to worry about missing a trick attack with him either. He was as steady as a brick wall and nothing could move him against his will. All a Thief could ever hope for.

“So you say there are dangerous monsters and I get to kill them?” Gurok asked.

“Well if we need to. Really our only goal is to bring Orabu home in one piece. We need your protection and your brute strength if things get ugly. You are the most talented Paladin I have ever had the pleasure of leveling with you know.” I knew he would like that last part.

“For you cutie, I’m happy to help. You’re my favorite Thief you know.” The Galka grinned.

“I hear that is what you tell Camis too.” I glared in mock disapproval.

Next on my list was one I was a little reluctant to call on but I was really needed a full alliance of eighteen to give Orabu the best chance. I found the Elvaan sitting in Whitegate waiting for an experience party.

“Coming back for more?” he said with a sly grin.

I just rolled my eyes and sat down next to Beldin. “I need your help.” I started as I told him my situation.

“Oh yes, you mean the Hume who wants me dead or possibly just tortured in some dungeon to rot forever alone and far away from him?” he replied.

“Umm… yeah, that would be the Hume. I know you two don’t always see eye to eye but think of it as a favor to me because we get along so well and you think I’m swell.” I smiled as sweetly as I could muster.

“Well darling, I can do even better than that. I offer you my services along with my associate Dominuse. I think you’ll find his Galkan skills very useful. I look forward to the chance to rub in it Orabu’s face that he needed me to save him.” Beldin laughed and leaned back looking very satisfied with himself as usual.

Our party gathered in my home town of San D’Oria and traveled by way of Ranguemont Pass to Beaucedine Glacier. From there it was an agonizing trek to Xarcabard. More so because of our freezing feet and worried minds than the constant beast attacks we had to contend with. We just wanted to get to Orabu and fast. No one knew what we would find there and if there was even a chance for him against this witch of legendary power Most of our alliance had hearts heavy with worry.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Note

I’m retiring from adventuring forever. It’s no longer fun for me. I’m sorry I can no longer lead a linkshell for you all. I hope you understand. Thank you all for being such good friends.
Love, Orabu

We read the note that we had found on his empty mog house floor but it was still hard to believe. As I already told in an earlier chapter we decided to form a new linkshell as soon as possible to keep our little group together. It was a sad time for all of us but full of hope.

I flopped down on my mog house bed and hung my head over the edge letting the blood rush to my face as I reached out to touch the floor. It had been about a week since Orabu had left and no one had heard anything from him. I honestly didn’t think he would actually stay away. It didn’t sit well with me. Something deep within me ached and I was sure I was missing something.

That’s when I saw it. Under my dresser was a rock wrapped in crumpled paper. Reaching out I grabbed it and pulled myself upright again. I unfastened the silk string and tied it around my pony tail as I read:

I’m so sorry to involve you but you’re my only hope now. I made a bad deal with a powerful Dread Demon witch who lives deep within Castle Zvahl Baileys. I’m imprisoned as her slave. I couldn’t tell you before or the contract would have been broken and still she would have owned my life. I am a fool. Please find a way to help.
Love and grapes, Orabu

I felt a chill as I thought of that place. I was still only a level 52 Thief and that place was certain death if I went alone.

Moogle started spinning wildly over my shoulder. He must have read the note with me. “Oh Kupo, that’s bad news Kupo. I have felt that dark magic hanging over our homes all month. You’re very soul is at risk of you go see her. There are legends of a witch who lives deep within that castle and lures in those with burning desires and great ambition. She promises them great things but only after completing impossible tasks Kupo. Then they belong to her. She is very very powerful Kupo. Makes my blood feel painful cold at the thought. Please be careful Kupo and make no deals with her Kupo. That would be very very dangerous Kupo.”

There was no doubt in my mind that I could not leave him there alone. It was time to call in favors. I picked up my communication pearls and started calling franticly for help. This was going to take everyone I knew to save him. I only hoped it was not too late.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Starlight Celebration

“You need to come because it’s important to Orabu and he’s our friend.” I said.

“I’m sorry Alison, I can’t. I already have a date with a hot Mithra and I can not tell her I have other plans and ruin it.” Martin said.

“Oh come on, you can bring her with you. This is going to be a lot of fun. We need to support him in this. He’s going to be really upset if we don’t have a good turn out.” I pleaded.

“I’ll talk to her about it but I can’t promise anything. This is really last minute to change plans.” He said.

He was right. I wish I knew what was going on. Willowkarr and I had gone to every linkshell member we could find but the prospects were iffy.

When the night of the party came Orabu was there to great us at the door of the linkshell lobby. I didn’t know what was going on but I knew that he was on edge all week. As he reached out to hug me I whispered, “Are you ok?”

He didn’t get a chance to answer before Kammy bounded up behind us nearly knocking us both over. “Cookies!” she shrieked as she attacked a platter of festively decorated treats. Orabu laughed and left me to greet one of our favorite hyper Mithra.

Willowkarr brought me a strange blue drink with green mist spilling over the sugared rim. It was surprisingly tropical and very very tasty. “My secret recipe.” She grinned. It gave me a sensation of tiny fizzy bubbles in my nose. Very tickly I assure you but absolutely delightful.

Only trouble was I think the tiny fizzy bubbles made a big bubble of my brain. I don’t think that Willowkarr Special was intended for Elvaan. I do recall dancing on the sofa with Orabu and hiding under a bed with Kammy from something that I’m sure was very frightening but I don’t recall much else. Well except fireworks. I’m sure there were fireworks at some point.

Next thing I remembered was Brodie stroking my face and asking me if I wanted to come out now. I tried to sit up and hit my head. Opening my eyes I realized I was under the bed still and the sun was just barely coming up. I whimpered, “Ouch, that was my only head I just busted on that board. Why am I under here?”

“Well you said the rabbits were after you and that under the bed was the only safe place. Kammy assured you that rabbits don’t go under beds. I tried to get you to come out last night but you tried to bite my hand and Kammy scratched me. I think you had too many of Willowkarr’s special drinks. They were very delicious but I think she put some black magic into them for extra punch. Very effective.”

I squirmed out from under the big oak bed and Brodie scooped me up in his arms for the trip back to the linkshell lounge. Willowkarr, Kammy, Jumpingtaru, Clowns and Poptart were all passed out in various corners of the room. Taru really do have a surprisingly loud snore and I’m not sure how but apparently Mithra can sleep upside down.

“Where is Orabu?” I asked as Brodie set me down on a chair in the kitchen.

“He left around midnight. He looked rather upset. He said he was sorry he failed us and it meant a lot to him that we came. He said he wasn’t ever coming back and not to bother looking for him. I think he had too much to drink. I would have stopped him from going out like that but when I opened the door to go after him he had vanished into thin air. He must have warped or something. Really it was a crazy night. I’m glad I came a little later to see the effects of Willowkarr’s special brew so I could keep an eye on you.”

“I think there is more to it than that. He has been acting a bit crazy all month. I want to find him. I’m afraid he’s gotten into some kind of trouble.”

“Well first things first.” He said as he handed me a bag and a paper cup from a Hume bakery down the street. “I’m sorry I can’t cook but I did get you some breakfast.”

I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him. “I don’t think I have said thank you yet.”

“You’re always very welcome.” He said as he cast a cure spell over me to help speed my recovery.