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.”