Sunday, December 02, 2007

Moving Day

I was frustrated and I felt like picking a fight. My round middle was so large now that I couldn’t even see my feet when walking and my body felt cramped and uncomfortable. I should be home resting on pillows and making cute little baby blankets but no, not for me. I was being jarred along on a chocobo with an attitude problem that wouldn’t stop shaking its head and wings whenever I asked it to slow down a little so my insides didn’t feel like they were being shaken like a baby rattle.

“I hate birds.” I grumbled.

“You love chocobo.” Gurok replied calmly.

“This one hates me.”

“Well you keep pulling on his face rather roughly.”

The nerve he had to disagree with me. “That’s because it won’t listen to me just like every fricken other thing in my life.”

Gurok raised his eyebrows as he watched me battle the poor bird as I pulled on its head heard enough to make it squawk franticly and take a few steps backward.

Kjarbo got down off of his chocobo and took mine by the reins. “I’ll have a talk with it.” He said with a warm smile as he walked on leading the two birds quietly. My mount lowered its head to nuzzle Kjarbo’s shoulder appreciatively and Kjarbo rubbed its cheek with kind affection.

“I’m glad he likes you.” I grumbled ungratefully as I flopped backwards against its back and stared up into the sky. I didn’t even know where we were going. I don’t think they even knew where we were going but no one wanted to tell me anything. They just told me not to worry and try to rest and other such worthless nothings.

Pulling a ginger cookie out of my bag I gnawed on in with beast-like ferocity as I scanned the party. They all looked completely preoccupied with their own thoughts. I could hear them whispering about me when they thought I couldn’t hear and it just added to my agitation.

“Where are we going? It’s nearly dark and I really could use a steak. I’m hungry.” I pouted.

“Oh me too!” Jenjen perked up and bounced on her chocobo as she licked her teeth.

Kjarbo smiled patiently up at me. “Almost to a good place to camp.”

“Camping? Please tell me you’re kidding. Did I mention I’m pregnant and I can hardly get comfortable in my own bed let alone this goddess forsaken wilderness.

No one said anything. I just rolled my eyes and went limp against my mount in a childishly overdramatic gesture of displeasure. Taking in a deep breath and letting it out loudly I watched Kjarbo as the birds plodded along slowly. The sun was going down now and soon the ghouls and bats would start to wander. Not that they were any threat to us physically but they did make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. If you looked into what could be called eyes the painful emotions of the beast would intrude into your brain as if they were your own. Not only creepy but I didn’t want to risk the baby feeling it. Who knows what that could do to a developing mind.

I became aware of the feeling of being watched. Without moving I listened first before scanning my peripheral vision. I thought I heard an extra set of footsteps in the gravely earth. I locked wide eyes with Gurok and he seemed to see what I was thinking. He stopped and looked around before getting down off his chocobo.

“Are we here?” Jenjen asked excitedly as she jumped down.

Gurok shushed her and I spotted it, a set of foot prints that didn’t belong to anyone. I pointed and a little cloud of dust ploomed up and a new set of phantom tracks started. Waving his sword over them something small fell and slid to a brief stop in the dirt knocking off the prism powder that had kept it hidden from view.

It was a short ugly little goblin. He stood up and started to run. Jenjen’s ears pricked and she was off like a shot. Tackling the little stink she took it to the ground and they rolled to a dusty stop. Biting into its neck she pinned it down her tail swishing excitedly in the air.

“Nice catch.” Gurok said with clear admiration. She looked up at him and smiled as he pushed his blade against the goblin allowing Jen to let it go. “What do you think you’re doing following us like that and then trying to run away like a coward? Not very goblin like.”

“Lusafix is sorry.” It sniveled. “Lusafix just traveling to sell wares. Don’t hurt Lusafix. Lusafix wasn’t going to harm the nice galka. Just traveling I was. No harm. No harm!”

Gurok pressed his sword into the goblin harder as he growled low and deep. “I mean you harm for coming too close unless you can convince me why I shouldn’t kill you now.”

Sliding down I pulled Kjarbo in front of me and buried my eyes in his mantel. The sight of blood made me queasy lately though it never had before and I was sure some was about to be spilt. I wanted to see what was happening but I didn’t all the same.

“Lusafix is nice peaceful merchant. Lusafix give galka nice deal on wares. Very nice.”

“I don’t believe you.” Guork glared. “I think you were following us and I want to know why. How can I convince you to tell the truth?” Gurok grinned as he stepped down on the goblins neck causing him to howl and squirm in pain.

A bomb went off and Gurok’s pants where on fire. Batting out the flames and swearing under his breath he extinguished the fire with the help of a water spell by Kjarbo. It didn’t do him too much harm but his lovely paladin armor was in need of repair and his poor calves were burnt. “That nasty lying beast. We should hurry. I’m sorry Alison but we have to travel faster. It’s not far now.” He was shaking with rage and I could tell he was holding back what colorful things I’m sure he would have said if Jenjen and I were not in ear shot.

I wanted to help. He was a little frightening when he was angry and looked like he might explode with ten times the force of the goblin’s bomb as his pale white face turned red with feeling. Coming close I clutched his coarse white hair and pulled his face down to kiss his cheek. “Thank you.” I said with a warm smile and scurried back to pull myself clumsily onto my chocobo.

I realized as unhappy as I was they were sacrificing all they could to help me. I could be a little less like a spoiled child and a little more like a dignified elvaan mother with the strength to conquer the world for my child. Holding my head high with these new ideals in my head I smiled mischievously down at my friends. “Well let’s get going then. Adventures await.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Broken Plans

The reaction to the news that nothing awful had happened to explain my disappearance such as death, becoming the foot massage slave to an Orc, or being lost at sea was positive among my friends. To my great dismay my slight fame in my home city of San d’Oria put me in a position to be ridiculed over being pregnant. I wouldn’t say I’m considered a hero of the people or anything but anyone who doesn’t know my name is most likely comatose and near death. Sneaking around West Ronfaure one late afternoon I overheard two gossipy chocobo walkers out exercising adolescent birds.

“Oh did you hear about Alison? She popped up after being unseen for over a month.” The woman in blue started.

“No, I didn’t hear. I’m sure she needed some time to mourn. Poor dear thing.” The white haired woman said as she lowered her eyes and shook her head sympathetically.

“It’s not that. You won’t believe it. She’s pregnant and pretty far along too. I hear she could bear a child any day now!”

“How scandalous! She married that short hume for Bastok. Who’s the father?”

“Well I hear it’s an Elvaan from Windurst. He’s a fisherman and a respectable mid-level red mage.”

“Well that’s better than a hume but wow, so much for Elvaan pride. I never took her for such a dishonorable woman. She seemed so nice and always so helpful.”

“My question is: What if one of them is responsible for the death of the hume? Could it be something sinister was planned?”

“Oh goodness me, I hope not. That is not the kind of story we need going out about our people.”

I sat still as the tree I was leaning against as I listened and cried out of sight of the two yappy women as they carried on. I know I was too quick to tears with all these crazy hormones but it did all sound awful. I knew it must have gotten back to my mother but I certainly didn’t have the nerve to go into the city and talk to her yet. What if I had made a huge mistake making such a mockery of Brodie and my love? Stories like this would forever define how we would be remembered and honored and how our child Hope would be respected.

Gurok was, to put it lightly, a little miffed that I had kept him out of the loop and gone into hiding without a word to him and no excuse I could come up with would satisfy him. I even told the great beast the truth in a fit of frustration over all his questions. Crazy thing is I think he was the only one who actually believed me and finding out the truth just made him angrier that he was left out. He had taken to sleeping outside of Kjarbo and Jenjen’s cottage like an enormous guard galka reluctant to let even those with ThumbMonkey linkpearls inside without questioning.

Near the Kibubu Lighthouse I was sitting at the top of the cliffs with the water crashing below me watching the tall dhalmel chew contentedly on tuffs of grass. “I wonder what it would be like to tame and ride one.” I thought to myself. I bet they are faster and more exciting than a chocobo.

That’s when I would get the call that would crumble my peaceful plans. My linkpearl buzzed briefly as it turned on to get his call. “So Alison, we had a visitor come looking for you at the linkshell lobby.” Garness’ distinct voice reported.

I laughed. “We don’t have visitors. Either you know where the location is because you are a pearl carrying ThumbMonkey or you don’t and you can’t be transported there. Funny funny Galka.”

“Ah well I forgot to check for a linkpearl before I broke his arm.”

I stopped to think before responding. It was not like Garness to harm new linkshell members. Usually that was Beldin’s doing. I missed that crazy corsair’s mischief. If Garness had broken someone there must have been a good reason. “And why did his arm need braking?” I asked him reluctantly. “I do trust your judgment but I like to know.”

“Ah well it was kind of a spur of the moment decision. See, he said he was coming in to arrest you for crimes against your country and I said I would break his legs first. I feel kind of bad about being dishonest but his arms were simply easier to reach than his legs. As I said, it was kind of spur of the moment.”

“Now it’s both arms? Garness, dear man, I think you should tell me the whole story. Who was he?”

“I already said that. He was coming to arrest you on behalf of San d’Oria. He is a Royal Knight.”

“So what crime am I being arrested for?”

“Didn’t think to ask. He got pushy and I had to break him. I promised him I would and I am nothing if not a man of my word. I feel bad about the mix up on limbs. Think I should go find him and break his legs too?”

“Yes.” I said dryly. I’m not sure if I was kidding or not. I knew he wasn’t. I was frustrated that my plan seemed to be a failure.

“Yes Boss.” He responded dutifully. I thought I could almost hear him smiling.

“But Garness, be careful. I think I might need you in one piece and not in prison soon.”

He cut the transmission and all was quiet but the sea and the munching dhalmel. I looked over at Gurok and Jenjen sitting a good distance away but watching me. I felt bad about yelling at them earlier to let me have some space. I guess I could get a little moody lately. I smiled. Jenjen was sitting on his broad shoulder weaving little flowers into his thick white hair. He seemed completely oblivious of her. It was so cute.

I stood up and waved my arms to signal him as I called Gurok’s name over the roar of the ocean.

He leapt up as quickly as an enormous galka can, sending Jenjen tumbling off his shoulder and looking a bit surprised. Catching her in one of his great arms he lumbered over towards me carrying an angry looking Jenjen like a pack. It was time for a new plan and I figured this time I should enlist the brain power of my friends simply because I didn’t know what to do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Buns in the Oven

Footsy was being played under the table. Jenjen and this summoner batted at each other as she grinned seductively at him fluttering her thick lashes. I was only aware because I was the occasional mistaken recipient of Zerokb’s attempts to push Jenjen away as nonchalantly as possible. She seemed quite taken with the hume. I just wanted him to go away and let things be as if nothing ever intruded. I didn’t want my beautiful plan ruined.

“We should keep him.” Jenjen smiled.

“We should not.” I retorted.

“Maybe I should get home.” Zerokb said as he tried to rise. “Thank you for..”

He was interrupted as Kjarbo slammed a bowl of vegetables down on the table in front of him. “No, please, stay.” Kjarbo smiled wickedly with his hand on the summoner’s shoulder pushing him back into his chair.

I pulled Kjarbo over to me and whispered to him. “You’re not poisoning him are you?”

“No. Should I?” he smiled as he kissed my head.

“No!” I exclaimed a little louder than I meant to and Zerokb raised an eyebrow at us.

I smiled back at him sweetly. “Sorry, Kjarbo is just protective with our first baby on the way. Please forgive us if we get a little carried away. We’re new to parenting.”

Kjarbo choked on his drink and spit it all over his sister. Pounding his chest a little and reaching for a cloth to wipe up his mess he seemed maybe a little surprised. I held my breath as I watched his reaction. Maybe I should have mentioned my idea to him before I blurted it out, but out it was, same as his drink. There was no taking it back now.

“Ummm yes, I’ve always wanted to be a father. I love babies.” He smiled as he raised his glass cheerfully before taking another drink his eyes never leaving me. “Sweetheart, can you help me? The buns in the oven may need buttering.” He took my hand and pulled me out the front door.

“The oven is in there.” I said as I looked back.

“I lied about the bread.” He said. “Are you sure about this?”

“We can let him go and tell everyone the baby is yours and mine and no more worries.” I explained.

“I have not questioned you at all while you have been here but I feel like I should better understand what you are thinking, what you are planning, and what I am going to do to help. I only ask because I think it is important for me to know if I am going raise this baby with you.” He paused before continuing. “Who is the father and why do you want people to think it’s me?”

I pursed my lips as I gathered courage to try to convince someone again.

“I’m honored and thrilled to be asked. I really am. It’s just…”

I spoke over him. “Brodie.” I blurted.

He thought for a moment without looking away from me. “He’s hume.”

I had to chuckle a little to myself. He said this as if I didn’t know; same reaction as his sister. “It’s true.” Taking about five minutes I gave him the quick explanation including what moogle had told me. He just listened wide eyed and quiet.

“I am at your service and by your side as long as you’ll have me my lady.” He said humbly with a little bow.

Jenjen poked her head out of the house. “So how are those buns doing?” she called.

“Still baking.” Kjarbo called back. “We should go inside and finish dinner with our guest.” He said to me quietly.

“Letting Zerokb tell everyone that we are having a baby together should satisfy any suspicions that might have put us in danger.” I said almost as a reassurance to myself. I grasped his wrist. “Thank you for being so perfect about everything. You’re my hero.”

He smiled warmly and I felt good about the direction things were going in my life. Maybe things were starting to go my way again.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Zerokb the Summoner

*Picture done my the fabulous Shiyu-chan aka Asrielle of Kujata.

Someone was watching me. As a thief I can sense when something is just not right and as I sat with fishing pole in hand subtly scanning my peripheral vision my skin tingled. I admit a little bit of paranoia along with a whole variety of other unpredictable emotions had victimized me lately but I was sure this was something this time.

A hume approached me. Setting down my pole and wrapping my fingers around the hilt of my dagger I looked up at him menacingly.

“Bad time?” he asked with a warm smile.

I stared hard.

“You’re Alison aren’t you? I’ve seen you around but I haven’t had the chance to say hello.” He extended his hand in typical hume greeting. I ignored it.

“I’m Zerokb. You can call me Z if you like. Mind if I rest my feet?”

I nodded acceptingly and he sat near me pulling his summoner robes out from under himself as he got comfortable on the dock planks.

“I know that name.” I said. He had thick strawberry blond hair and a youthful warm face hidden behind thin framed glasses. Clearly he was a well experienced summoner by the look of his gear and the easy confident air about him.

“I know yours.” He said with a chuckle. “Gurok talks about you all the time. He makes you sound like quite the woman. He and I have been friends for a long time. The big guy has been worried about you. He said you went missing and not even your linkshell mates have seen you and if I spotted you I should tell him right away.” He looked at my round middle. “That’s why I had to make sure it was you.”

Without thinking I brought my arm protectively around my belly. “Have you told him yet?”

“No. Is that why you’re hiding?” he went to touch the arm over my belly and before he could react I had stabbed his hand pinning him to the boards beneath us. He hollered in surprise and pain before clinching his teeth and looking at me through squinted eyes.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have...” He groaned. “I won’t do it again.” He pleaded in a hushed pained voice.

“I’ll make sure of it.” Kjarbo’s blade was at the summoners throat and Jenjen was running up behind him.

The dagger was lodged into the hardwood planks firmly and I had to wiggle it back and forth a bit to get it free. The motion sent the summoner howling in pain again. Freed he eagerly clutched his hand to his chest as he quickly muttered a healing spell on himself until only the blood stains on his clothes showed evidence that anything had happened to him.

“I guess that means I’m not invited for dinner.” Zerokb said with a remorseful smile. “Friends of yours?”

“I think it’s time for you to move on stranger.” Kjarbo firmly insisted.

“He is a friend of Gurok’s.” I said.

“Is that why you stabbed him?” Jenjen said cheerfully as she picked through Zerokb’s pockets. “I think the whole town heard him squeal like a girly man.”

“You can’t tell anyone I’m here.” I pleaded as I pushed Kjarbo’s blade away from Zero’s neck. “It’s a secret.”

“I can see that.” He said a little wide eyed. “I didn’t mean to intrude. I make it a policy to stay out of people’s personal affairs. I really only meant to say hello for Gurok.” Zerokb reached in his bag and handed Jenjen a handful of ginger cookies without even looking away from me as if he knew exactly what she was looking for. He was right. Jenjen took them eagerly and sat down fearlessly close to the hume as she gobbled them.

“You were going to be a dancer at my bachorette party.” Jenjen smiled mischievously. “Kammy told me all about it.”

Kjarbo raised his eyebrows. “A what?”

“A stripper.” She chirped as she swayed her hips in demonstration.

“Just a little talent/hobby of mine.” Zerokb smiled clearly pleased to be known as he winked at Jenjen.

Covering his eyes and sighing deeply he said, “Some things I really don’t want to know Sis.” Kjarbo looked at me. “So what is he? Friend or foe? He already knows too much now. What do you want me to do with him? I’ll kill him if you like.”

I knew he wasn’t kidding about the death part though his desire to protect was stronger than his skill as a red mage. He improved daily until I interrupted him with my little emergency. “I’m not sure. Let’s invite him in for dinner and find out.” I replied.

“You heard the lady. Up you go.” Kjarbo prodded the now smiling hume lightly with his sword as if to remind him he had one.

“So, what’s for dinner?” Zerokb asked cheerfully as he stretched.

“Fish.” Kjarbo answered dryly.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cat's Out of the Bag

“Good morning sleepy.” Kjarbo said as he handed me a cup of hot chocolate as soon as I came out of my room.

It was late in the morning. After my late night up with Jen I needed a bit of an extra rest. I took the cup gratefully and watched Jenjen bounce on her toes behind her brother as I sipped. “Thank you and good morning to you two.” It was nice to see Jenjen in a better mood but something was up.

Kjarbo grabbed me and pulled me in for a hug. “It will be ok. We’ll help you.” He said.

“What are you talking about?” I asked as I glared at Jen.

“I know all about it.” He said.

“Jen!” I shouted and her ears fell flat against her head.

“Family doesn’t count! Family doesn’t count!” she said as she ducked behind her brother.

I sighed. “Who else knows?” I looked around the lobby but everyone else had already left for the day.

“We didn’t tell anyone else. Promise.” She said as she put her hand over her heart still keeping hidden behind Kjarbo.

“I’m glad she told me.” Kjarbo said. “You shouldn’t do this alone.”

“I don’t think you understand.” I said as I rubbed my face in frustration. “I need to get away before anyone else finds out.” I turned on my heel back into my room. “Moogle?”

“Yes Kupo?” he smiled.

“Pack our things. We’re leaving.”

“Ah, good idea Kupo.” He spun and got right to work. “Is it a bad time to tell you a package arrived Kupo?” He dropped a box on my bed.

“Pack it with the rest. I think we should hurry.” I said as I went to my closet to find clothes.

Kjarbo and Jen were standing at my door watching me run around in a panic. “You need to come home with us.” Jenjen said.

“What? We are home. I need to get away from home and hide.”

“You shouldn’t worry so much. Your friends love you no matter what.” Kjarbo said in his best attempt to reassure me but he just didn’t understand.

“Mhaura. Jenjen said. Our home near the docks. That is where we want to take you if you feel like you need some privacy.”

I stopped to look at their kind faces looking back at me. It wasn’t a bad idea. Not bad at all. “Thank you.” I said and I went to hug them both. “Thank goodness for true friends.”

It was no time before they had unpacked the few essential items I brought. There simply wasn’t room in the small home for me but in I would squeeze anyways. I smiled as I looked at the beautiful gold accented cradle I brought sitting against a wall. I could almost see the tiny little angel bundled up in it as I thought of her.

“That is the last of it.” Kjarbo smiled. “I hope you don’t mind sharing the back room with Jenjen. She can purr rather loudly while she sleeps but I’m sure it wont take long to get used to it. “If it gets too bad we can always make her sleep in the kitchen.” He smiled at her as Jenjen’s tail swished with annoyance.

“You just keep watch at the front door and leave us girls to worry about girl things.” Jenjen nipped playfully. She was clearly excited about her new roommate.

I crawled into the hammock so graciously given to me by Kjarbo with the intentions of giving it a test nap. So much had happened lately I had hardly had time to breath but at this moment I felt good.

Pulling the package that had arrived for me into bed I unwrapped the red paper around it. I smiled. It was half a heart chocolate with a note. It read: I didn't want the last thing we shared to be the death of a friend. –Kallo

How sweet of him. I broke off a piece and sucked on it letting it melt on my tongue. That’s when the idea struck me. I knew what I needed. I never thought I would think this again but I needed a man. An elvaan man…. I stared at Kjarbo as he prepared the fish he would cook us for dinner.

I hoped Brodie could forgive me but the best way to protect our child would be to tell everyone the baby wasn’t his. I cringed and my heart hurt but it was the best I had for now. Now I had to figure out a way to ask Kjarbo to help me raise my child as his.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Meeting in the Moonlight

*Image by Votm*

It was impossible to sleep with the yowling. My head was still fuzzy with dreams as I tried to determine where it was coming from. Getting up and peering out my window on my tippy toes I could see the moonlight glowing off her ruffled hair.

I pursed my lips. Poor mithra. With my own troubles I had not been as sensitive as I should have been to her worry. Gathering a plate of cookies and a wide glass of milk I shuffled outside sleepily. The wet grass chilled my feet quickly and I regretted forgetting shoes.

She drank eagerly. “Hi.” I said simply.

“Hi.” She said with a whimper and a sniffle.

“Full moon. Very pretty.”

She nodded and scooted closer grabbing a cookie in each hand. “Why isn’t he back yet? He can’t be dead.” She said with a quiver in her voice.

Wrapping my arms around her I kissed the top of her soft plume-like hair. “I just don’t feel it in my heart that he’s dead Jenjen. I know he’s been gone and not said a peep but I just don’t feel it.”

“Altana kept him. I just know it.” She yowled again and buried her face against my arm her hot tears chilling on my skin only served to remind me that it was too cold to be outside like this.

“Give him time. We both know how unpredictable Beldin can be. I’m sure his reason isn’t a good one but I’m sure he’ll pop up soon.”

“That’s not what you said about Brodie.” She spat out almost spitefully.

I had to pause a moment as twang of pain shot through my heart at the thought.

Wide eyed she looked up at me apologetically. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring it up like that.”

I smiled to reassure her but I had to look down at the ground away from her eyes. “It was the feeling. I knew as soon as the water swallowed him I would never see him again. I pray that I am wrong but…” my voice trailed off.

“All I feel is frantic. I’m desperate to tell him I love him. We were fighting and…” She started yowling again and her angry tail slapped my back.

“He knows and I expect him to walk around the corner any moment with that self-assured look on his face expecting us all to throw him a welcome home party for a hero.”

She sat up to look around as if she thought I had seen him coming. Sighing deep and hard she slumped down and drew her knees up to rest her head. “Can I ask you about your secret yet?”

I was a little startled by this sudden change of topic.

“I’m sorry but I need to think of something else and I have been really good not to say anything yet because I understand why you wouldn’t want to say anything. It must be really hard for you.” Jenjen started stuffing cookies in her mouth like she hadn’t eaten all week.

“I don’t know what you mean.” I said a bit wide eyed and grateful for the darkness.

“The baby.” She said through a mouth full of cookie.

I gasped and my heart raced. If she knew than who else did too?

“The fainting, throwing up all the time, your pants are way too tight even though you have hardly been eating a thing lately and you’re forever sleeping. You knew you were pregnant right?” she said as she angled her face under mine to look questioningly into my eyes.

I nodded and looked at her with pleading eyes. “You can’t tell anyone! No one can know.”

Wide eyed and gaping mouth she asked. “Who’s the father?”

“Brodie.” I said as a surprise tear rolled down my cheek.

“He’s a hume.” She whispered as if she thought I might not know.

I nodded.

“You’re an elvaan.” She continued as if she hoped that might help her point sink in.

I looked at her and she handed me a cookie. “Who is it really?” she whispered. “I won’t tell.”

Her ears where completely erect and attentive as she chewed a bite while she waited for me to answer. I didn’t.

“Wow…” she said. “You really are in a pickle. “I can understand why you wouldn’t want anyone to know you got pregnant while you were newly married to a hume. You can tell me what happened. We’re like sisters now. You can trust me to help.”

“That’s the thing Jenjen. It was only Brodie. I have Brodie’s baby.” I don’t think she believed me from the look on her face.

“I’m so glad its out. I won’t tell anyone your secret. I’m going to help you. I love babies.” I could tell her normal bounce was returning as she grew in excitement. I’m not sure if it was over the thought of a baby coming or if it was being the soul trustee of my greatest secret but I was glad to have someone to share it with.

“What are you doing outside at this time of night?” She said as she popped up and pulled on my arm. “You can’t be chilled in your condition.”

We both turned as a bush shook and a goblin ran out. “Odd, don’t they usually run toward people?” I questioned.

“I bet we scared him. We are extra mighty.” She smiled.

She wasn’t concerned but I had been around long enough to know that was not normal behavior for a goblin. It could be my motherly instincts making me more protective but I was eager to get inside away from the prying eyes of night.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Moogle brought me a cup of my favorite mint hot chocolate with a dollop of decadent whipped cream. “I was reading up on your little surprise while you were away on your completely inappropriately dangerous adventure Kupo.”

I wiggled my toes nervously as I sipped my drink on top of my bed. I knew he was right about the dangerous part. I shouldn’t have gone when my baby could have been hurt. I felt horrible and it didn’t make me feel very hopeful about my potential as a mother. I had not really fully absorbed that she was real then but with a name I was beginning to really feel her with me. I just nodded shamefully and he stopped spinning and continued.

“Children born to hume and elvaan parents are not impossible but are extremely rare and often look so much like one or the other race that they go unnoticed which is a very good thing for them.”

“School yard bullies?” I asked.

Moogle chuckled and rubbed his head as if remembering some distant memory. “No.” Fluttering away to the table he picked up a book twice his size and bobbed back to drop it in my lap. “A prophecy very unpopular with the leaders of both San d’Oria and Bastok. They try to keep it very hush hush but my moogle libraries are full of theories on its vague details. The popular opinion in moogle circles is that it’s the vagueness of the prophecy that drives the leaders of these prideful nations to be so defensive.”

I shifted uncomfortably and pulled a blanket protectively over my belly. “Please hurry to the part about my baby.” I begged nervously.

“Well, read here.” Moogle pulled the great book to the page he wanted and pointed to a section highlighted with gold foil lettering.

A child shall be born of the blood of the kingdom of San d’ Oria and the republic of Bastok to unite the great races and bind them together in love for one another and the people will rejoice and praise the name of the child for she will bring down the haughtiness of the great evils and lift the extraordinary showing forth the true strength of the people in unity.

I read it a couple of times before looking up to Moogle. “This is my child?”

Moogle spun as he bobbed. “Oh, I don’t know. As I said yours is not the first child to be born of hume and elvaan blood. Although it’s very rare it’s happened before. A secret your country would like to keep from its people.”


“Ah well, the interpretation by their great scholars and wise men is that this child will crush both governments and make one all encompassing or that one government will overtake the other. Neither is a popular idea with either. Another possibility being that citizens of mixed blood will become common place and the line between hume and evlaan will become unclear forcing a merging of countries. This is simply unacceptable to the pride of either race.”

I rubbed the outside of my mug in my hands as I looked down at the book and let the words sink in. “And I thought I was worried about how to tell the ThumbMonkeys before…”

“Oh Kupo,” he spun wildly, “it’s not my place to tell you what to do but it might not be wise to tell anyone about this Kupo.”

“How can I not tell them?”

“If either government finds out who’s child you are carrying there could be grave consequences as both races have vowed to prevent a child from harming their beloved way of life Kupo.” Kupo laughed musically. “In this one way she has already united them ironically enough.”

“I don’t see the humor.” I scowled.

“Forgive me Kupo. Ofcourse.” Kupo flew over and hugged my neck in his tiny arms. This being the first time he had ever hugged me I was a bit startled. “It will be ok. I will take this news to the council of moogle right away. Don’t worry Kupo.” Patting his warm head I smiled and did feel a bit comforted.

I really had full confidence that I could hide this child’s lineage from those who would harm her. I had just survived a great trama in my life. If I disappeared no one would think it was unusual. Now I just needed a plan and place to hide. For her, I would do anything.

“Oh and Moogle,” He turned to look at me. “Any word from Beldin yet?”

“No, but don’t worry, hope is not lost just yet for him Kupo.” He smiled widely causing his tiny eyes to squint closed as he spun wildly.

I smiled back and sipped. I had a lot to think about.

Friday, October 05, 2007


That’s the last things I remember. Explosion, forgot to breath, heart wrenching pain, and then lightness. Ok well things went black but I felt light as a feather. I even remember the sensation of floating along like a bobber on water with the faint awareness of voices around me.

As sensations returned I found myself laying comfortably in the firm arms of a slowly plodding galka. The rocking rhythm of his heavy pace was soothing. I didn’t want to come back.

“She’s moving and groaning.” he reported.

Startled that I was making noises I didn’t intend I opened my eyes and looked up into the face of Gurok.

“Ah yes, defiantly awake now. How do you feel?” He stopped and all the sudden I was looking into nearly a dozen wide eyed faces and feeling a little embarrassed.

“What happened? Did something hit me?” I asked still a bit dazed.

“No, you fainted.” Kjarbo said with a warm smile.

“Again.” Jenjen added looking rather cross and clearly distraught by worry but not over me.

“Been out long?” I asked.

“Nope, less than a minute. Didn’t want to wait for more cave-ins so I decided to help you move along.” Gurok said as he started to walk again. His arms were as big around as my waist and he made me feel so protected.

“Can we hurry? I’m worried about Beldin. I need to pray to Altana to return him to me.” Jenjen said with tears still running down her reddened face. “I’m so worried she’ll keep him.”

“We really need a black mage in this linkshell. I hate walking.” Martin grumbled as he continued on.

Gurok seemed happy to carry me and I was happy to let him for a minute longer. I’m not sure what I expected to feel after killing Pete the Meat but I had hoped it would be more than this and I was worried about Beldin now on top of the baggage I was already packing around. What if I had lost a dear friend over this only to make things worse? After my vengeful battle meant to end it all I still felt sad. Immensely painfully sad. Like my chest might implode at any moment from the deep emptiness left without him and it made it hard to breath if I thought too much about it.

I rested my hand gently over my abdomen and my head over Gurok’s heart. I hadn’t told anyone yet. Barely confirmed by Moogle I had a hard time believing an impossible miracle myself. I had never heard of such a thing happening and I figured people would call me a liar and think me insane. The second part I think I would have a hard time debating with lately but I didn’t care. A child was on the way and I knew who the father was even if no one believed me.

I knew I would have to slow down for awhile and it actually sounded like kind of a nice idea. My pursuit of riches had cost me too much. A quiet life with me and our child had a nice feeling to it. It made it seem as if he was watching over my shoulder not so far away as I caressed the blessing he was forced to leave behind.

Thinking of her I had to smile. Knowing she was coming lit my soul and chased away the pain that had consumed me. That day I named my child Hope. I had no idea at that time just how fitting a name it would be for her. Not just for me but for everyone.

Monday, September 24, 2007


This was chapter co-written with The Dread Pirate Beldin. I hope you enjoy his special touches. :D

The team stood at the top of the tunnel as Kallo came fleeing towards them dragging Alison behind him by her hand. “Everyone,” Kallo shouted, “Get ready! They’re coming this way!”

Garness with his axe, Gurok sword and shield and hand, and Beldin now duel-wielding hexaguns stood grinning. Even Kammy who was apprehensive before was hungry for some action. Jumpingtaru on the other hand stood toward the back jumping up and down excitedly from a safer distance.


Gurok chuckled, “I like your style pirate. Maybe after all this is over we ca-“ He fell backwards as a bolt took him in the shoulder from somewhere down the tunnel.

“Gurok!” Alison screamed, dropping to the galka’s side as the others rushed forward. “Take him to the back so I don’t trip on him,” Garness ordered eyeing the raging mob approaching.

“I’ll fix it!” Kammy chirped in and hurried to bless Gurok with her healing magic.

Alison stood as a tear ran down her cheek. Her knives slid from her belt with a steely hiss and a vengeful fire burned within her. “I want him dead,” she growled, “I want Pete the Meat to suffer for what he did. His blood is mine.”

“You can have your theatrics later,” Beldin snapped, letting off a few rounds, “We’ve got a fight to survive at the moment”

The mob rushed forward soon over taking the party. Garness stood laughing as he fended off three humes with his gigantic axe taking each one down as if he were swatting flies. Foxx, despite his size, was going toe-to-toe with a Galka easily side-stepping his blows and chopping at his legs with his knives. Beldin stood more like a paladin than a corsair making quick thrusts with his rapier and slicing at those who came for him.

Pete the Meat charged through like an angry bull and straight towards Alison swinging a giant scythe over his head. Standing her ground with her teeth clinched angrily she met the murderer of her husband head on. With evasion only a thief could have, she moved gracefully to avoid his savage blows not allowing him any satisfaction.

Frothing at the mouth in rage Pete continued to swing wildly, forcing Alison to retreat backwards to avoid the massive weapon. Catching her heel on a stone jutting up from the rocking floor she fell back unable to catch herself until her hands hit the floor.

Pete, an evil and insane glint in his eyes, grinned as he prepared to deliver a deadly blow. “Peace of cake.” He sneered. “Weak, just like your dead lover.”

Rolling forward she evaded his strike as his scythe sent chunks of rock flying from the force of the impact. Pete the Meat roared as only a galka can as the cold steal of her dagger bit into his belly and split his blood. She pushed up hard to slice through him. “Doesn’t feel good does it?” She hissed angrily.

Picking her up by her vest he lifted her into the air. His dark magic was draining the strength from her body in a visible channel of death. “I’ll break you with my bare hands if I have to.” He spat. “You’re nothing but an annoying little rodent in need of extermination.”

Gurok charged at Pete the Meat driving his sword into his bicep causing him to drop Alison at his feet as he howled in pain. “I don’t think so. She won’t be harmed as long as I still live.”

Beldin caught the scene out of the corner of his eye and joined in. “You stupid son of a mangy hound,” he swore through his teeth. You say you’re looking for the killer of your brother, well he’s right here!”

Beldin blocked a swing of the dark knight’s scythe with his rapier and flung it aside knocking Pete the Meat off balance. Then, with Pete’s guard wide open, Alison stood and shoved her knife to the hilt into the scar on Pete’s throat and gave a forceful twist.

Clutching his throat in an all too familiar scene he tried to staunch the flow, but it was futile.

“I loved him.” Alison cried out painfully as she watched Pete the Meat gasp for his last breaths. Overwhelmed with emotions she fell to her knees as the fight continued around her. Resting a hand on her shoulder Kjarbo watched protectively in case someone were to break through the circle her friends formed around her.

“Not a good time for resting sweetheart.” Gurok muttered over his shoulder as he used his foot to thrust an evlaan’s limp body off of his long blade.

Kammy took the chance to jump wildly on the fallen evlaan. “I got this one! He’s dead!” she shouted triumphantly. “Oh, and I’ve drained all my magic to keep you strong. I have next to nothing left. You should hurry up and be done soon.”

“Taru down!” Martin called as he tossed Jumpingtaru into Kammy’s arms.

“Oh yuckie!” Dropping him promptly onto the hard floor she looked appalled as she tugged at her tunic to examine the blood that was sure to leave a stain. “I already said I can’t fix him now. Let me rest a few minutes.”

“I could use a little help with these two.” Foxx announced. Tastywaffles sent a pugil to bite down hard on a taru bandit and shook the poor red mage right off his feet.

The battle continued on in a whirl-wind around her but she didn’t really notice. Sitting in a stupor she felt nothing but her chest rising and falling with each breath. It’s hard to say how long it took before she heard Kallo’s voice.

“Anyone hurt?” Kallo asked, surveying the field.

“They are,” Martin snickered.

Tastywaffles’ pugil pet snaked through the area ensuring that no one from the heartless gang would rise to strike again that day.

“No time to talk you fools,” Foxx snapped looking down the tunnel, “Here comes the rest of them!”

The entire team turned and stood in awe at the fifty or more bandits that flooded the tunnel.

“Oh I think it’s time to go now!” Jenjen said as she shifted nervously.

“Agreed.” Kjarbo said as he grabbed his sister’s hand and pulled Alison to her feet.

The entire team turned and fled back. Garness lifted tiny Jumpingtaru onto his shoulder away from the onslaught. They raced up the tunnels but Beldin stopped by the Golden Door as the other ran past him.

“Beldin!” Garness shouted. “Bad time for sight seeing.”

“Alison, I’ll fend them off and give the rest of you time to escape.” Beldin turned to Jenjen with a smile and a wink, “Jenn, I love you.” Kissing her quickly he pushed her into Kjarbo’s arms.

“WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING BELDIN!” Foxx shouted as he paused to turn and yell.

Beldin drew his rapier and grinned widely as he crouched slightly to wait. Turning towards Garness he spoke, “I want you to get them out of here as fast as you can, and please, watch over Jenn for me.”

Garness opened his mouth to say something but changed his mind and clamped it shut with a nod. Turning he pushed at the rest of the team to keep running.

Looking back over her shoulder as Beldin shut the Golden Door, “Garness…” Alison muttered questioningly.

“Run now, talk later.” he barked as he leapt over a bounder rather nimbly for a galka.

The party of friends had not gotten much further before the entire tunnel shook as a massive explosion rocked the mountain and the team was thrown to the floor. Everyone stared back down the tunnel they had just run through…

“What in Exarcabard was that-taru?” Jumpingtaru demanded, rubbing his head where a rock had assaulted him.

“Beldin…” Garness panted, “The fool…. He….”

“He blew up the tunnel,” Martin finished for him. “He blew up the tunnel and
all those who were chasing us.”

“We’ve gotta help him,” Jenjen screeched, tears flowing down her face as
Kjarbo took her in his arms to hold her back from running to the unstable rubble.

“There’s no use.” Kjarbo said quietly. “Nothing could have survived that.”

A stunned silence hung over them all as they realized the sacrifice that had just been made.

Kallo cleared his throat, “We’re not outta the woods yet folks. There could be more of them. I think we are done here.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

Nothing Like Cookies

“So what did you do?” I asked

Looking a little annoyed he tried to shush me with an angry glance.

“That bad?” I continued.

“Nooooo, we’re trying to be sneaky and you’re running your mouth like a woman.” He replied.

“I know what I can get away with and she’s too far ahead to notice us. She’s a hume and too busy talking to herself to hear us.”

“Nosey.” He mumbled under his breath as he watched the woman sit down and open her bag. She pulled out what I hoped was some kind of jerky though from the distance it was hard to know any more than it looked icky. Nothing like cookies. “Of course she has to stop and eat.” Kallo said looking exasperated.

“In a rush?” I asked.

“Well yes. I’m hungry and I don’t want to be here all day. I have stuff to do too.” He grumbled like a pouting child.

“Get a little cranky when you’re hungry don’t you.” I smiled and handed him sushi and biscuits. He was kind of likable in a childish sort of way. Without even looking away from the monk he popped them in his mouth eagerly.

“Sorry.” He said flatly.

“It’s ok.. I shouldn’t be so nosey. I like my secrets too.”

The monk stood up and started walking again. She was still talking though this time I think it was to a linkshell. “It was twelve against two! I can’t be blamed for not being able to handle more than five by myself. Maybe if I had better equipment. I need a bigger cut. I don’t get enough for all I do.” She grumbled at them. Pausing at a wall she pushed hard against the stone revealing a small entrance.

“Bingo” I said.

Kallo gave me a curious look. “A what?”

“Never mind. I guess it’s time to pull them all out.” Grabbing my arm and pulling me against him, Kallo smiled a devilish grin as he pushed my hair away from my face.

“Let me go make sure Pete the Meat is actually in there before you bring the entire group down on us. We don’t even know how many there are.”

Pulling free from him I nodded and turned away from him to watch the door.

“I’ll be right back Doll.” He said as he tugged my pony tail and walked into the room like he had been there before.

It did occur to me that maybe this was a trap and I should run now before he tried to turn me over to the gang. He seemed just a little too confident. Shifting nervously as I thought over all the horrible things that could go wrong. I settled on my trust in Washu and held my ground but kept my body angled towards my friends so I could take off quickly if needed.

It seemed like forever I waited there. I couldn’t hear or see anything that gave me any clues to what I was missing. He could have been killed as soon as he stepped inside for all I knew. He did seem like a bit of a fool.

“Run run run!” he shouted as he hopped out of the hole like a rabbit with his tail on fire. Behind him two galka were lodged in the door as they tried to come out at the same time. I stood stunned for a moment as I realized it was Pete the Meat snarling like a wild dog. In my mind I could see Brodie’s eyes as he looked at me shocked and panicked and the feelings from that day washed painfully over me.

Grabbing my arm hard for the second time that day he nearly pulled me off my feet. “Do you not know what run means? Now would be a good time.” Kallo yelled.

“He’s here.” I said a little shocked though I don’t know why. It was what I think I was hoping for.

“Yes, that has been confirmed. Now is not the time to chat it over.”

Snapping out of it I dug my toes into the loose gravel and ran hard for my friends. This was the time for it all to be finished I hoped.

*Image by the amazing Krilldog*

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Battle of Jumpingtaru

I feel I must tell you I was not actually here to witness this part of the story as I was busy with the group at the gold door at the time. I am telling you how it was told to me from various points of view that I have patched together to form one telling. I am rather suspect about some of the details but I’m sure its close enough to call history. Let me begin.

Jumpingtaru came running. The tiny taru warrior looked panic stricken as he stumbled over the rocky terrain. “I’m here-taru!” he shouted. “I want to helpy-welp…” Coming up behind him was quite possibly every monster and beastman from the entire cavernous area. “but get these things offy-wawfy me first!” Jumpingtaru dove behind Garness the great towering galka, a sharp contrast in size from the taru. Pulling out his little axes the taru put on his meanest face. “Come and get-taru me now beastie-weesties!”

“What did you do you fool?” Foxx said with a twisted angry glare.

“I did not a thing-taru wrong. They attack-tarued me without-taru reason-weeson.” Jumpingtaru stuttered. He usually didn’t use taru speak outside of his home land unless he was exceptionally nervous. The back of his trousers where shredded from the attempts of the creatures to stop him for a proper stomping and he must have narrowly made it.

During all this chitter-chatter the monsters had gathered in a great herd in front of the group of friends. Snarling and speaking to each other in their tongue I’m sure they were discussing their great fortune to have the band so hopelessly outnumbered.

“Stand together!” Garness demanded as he readied his great axe and took a defensive stance.

Gentle Kjarbo sword in hand had already been casting his best defensive spells on his friends in preparation for the inevitable battle. His mithran sister stood with her tail looped around his knee cracking her knuckles in anticipation of a good fight.

With a roll of dice Beldin announced with a pleased look on his face, “Luck is with us today. This will be easy.”

“Die or run for your lives beasts.” Garness growled as he led the charge meeting a cluster of thick shelled big claws and bowling them over like child’s toys. Like a blue ocean wave they rose up to try to overpower him. Garness whipped his great axe around his body in a cyclone of steal cracking the shells of the snapping creatures and sending crab parts and fluids flying in every direction. Alive with excitement Garness was all achatter. "RAAWWWWWWWW" "Damn you" "PINCH MY TAIL WILL YOU!?! EAT STEEL!!!"


"RAAWWRRR" "Hunh? YOU WANT SOME TOO" "Dammit Fox, that's my Tail not a shuagin's. Quit jabbing it with those thumb tacks you call a dagger!"

“At least twenty down by my hand.” Garness announced triumphantly. “How is everyone doing?” he asked, the thrill of the fight apparent in is voice.

Foxx pulled a sata attack from behind Garness and grumbled something about appreciation of thieves as another Sahagin fell to his blade.

“Fifty at least” Beldin called back as he shot another down from the back of the group. “I lost count honestly.”

“The lies!” Jenjen spat as her dragon kick sent a pugil flying towards Beldin at blinding speeds slapping its wet body hard against his nearly knocking him from his feet.

“You only do so well because you have Beldin and me to enfeeble the little beasties and magically super charge you.” Kjarbo smiled the pleasure of the fight evident in his face even over the intense concentration.

The pile of bodies was forming a great wall between the heroes and the flood of angry beasts yet the fish-like creatures and crabs continued to creep over their fallen comrades to take a shot at spilling blood.

Deciding to take a more offensive stance Foxx raced up the back of Garness as he was hunched over slightly after an especially hard swing. Leaping from Garness’ shoulders he flipped head over heals in a blinding flash of daggers and landed in the middle of a group of sahagin. With a cyclone attack half of the group where finished and the other half where easily taken down by the blades of the fearless party.

They were winning the battle of bad odds but even with Kjarbo working hard to keep the group fresh they were tiring. It was perfect timing for the coppery tentacles of a sea monk to creep over the pile of warm bodies. Everyone already had their hands full on the last of the creatures and hardly noticed as it wrapped a powerful tentacle around the tiny body of Jumpingtaru. “A littl-taru help please!” he shrieked as it slapped his tiny body against the floor.

“I got it!” Jenjen shouted as she turned to attack the creature ten times her size. Leaping onto its head she aimed her punches at its tender eyes causing it to buck up and shriek angrily. Dropping the tarutaru on his ample little bottom it focused its attention on the mithra riding it.

“Weeeee!” Jenjen shouted as she grabbed hold to ride wildly around the small space.

Beldin took aim. “Hold still gorgeous. I’ll shoot it down.”

Wide eyed Kjarbo leapt at Beldin knocking him too the ground but it was too late. The shot was fired in the chaos. Gasping from the shock of it Jenjen grabbed her thigh and fell from the beast as blood saturated her koshita.

Panic stricken Kjarbo and Beldin stumbled over each other to get to her. “Look what you did.” “Idiot” “Fool” “Son of a Dhamel” and other such statements where hollered by both but it was tiny Foxx who took care of it. Sneaking behind the sea monk he sliced it to sushi sized bits in a furry of swinging daggers.

Scooping his sister up in his arms Kjarbo cast healing magic and held her close.

“I wouldn’t have missed.” Beldin grumbled angrily as he looked over her with remorseful eyes.

“Good warm up but we have already taken too long to bother with resting. Time to pick up and get going.” Garness said as if he had not even seen the mishap. Slinging his axe over his shoulder he headed off towards the gold door. Once again assuming they would naturally follow soon enough.

*This story written with help from Garness the Great.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Job for Thieves

An arrow bounced off the wall behind us. “Yeah, we hear you too.” Two figures stepped out about thirty feet away from us with evil looking smiles and chuckling. “There is a fee for coming into our territory. Hand over anything of value and you can live.”

Slidding down off of Tastywaffles Kammy still had a handful of his coat in her hands unwilling to step out from behind him just yet.

Not very tough or very smart looking for that matter and I had a really hard time taking them seriously. They seemed to match the description of the group we had been told about. “They’ll know where Pete the Meat is hiding.” I whispered to Gurok.

“I was thinking the same thing.” He said.

“It sure would have been nice to surprise them instead of the other way around.” I said with a crooked frown.

“Lozzi! Crazy story about how I lost your linkpearl. I’ve been meaning to catch up with you soon.” Kallo smiled and approached one of them.

Tearing off her face mask she threw it at him. “You dog! This one dies. Then we can get his fee off his cold body.” Face twisted with rage she spun around aiming a high kick to his head. She had the musculature of a miniature galka and was defiantly not the kind of woman I would want angry at me.

Grabbing her foot he pushed her off balance. “Don’t be angry Doll. I have just been busy with work. I need to be able to afford the life you deserve.” He whined in an insincere tone. It was no wonder she looked so angry.

Kammy was muttering softly and lifted her hand toward the heavens as she whispered. “Slow down Lozzi” and a slow spell was cast with a gentle glow of her aura. Without a hesitation she started another spell with quiet concentration.

Still guarding Kammy with his body, Tastywaffles called sweetly to a dire bat that listened intently as it chirped back at him. Kallo seemed busy catching up with his lady friend.

“Let’s go ‘question’ the other one.” Gurok said as he was approaching the second man.

Drawing his sword the warrior stood his ground as Gurok confidently strode towards him. “All your gil!” the hume demanded nervously.

“We just want to talk.” Gurok said with that twisted grin of his as he drew his own sword in response.

“We don’t mean you any harm. We need to know where Pete the Meat can be found.” I said sweetly as to not provoke him.

As the warrior lunged at me and I dodged behind Gurok. Frowning Gurok swung his shield around bashing it into the hume’s face knocking him off his feet and leaving him cross eyed and stunned.

“I don’t think he wants to talk. Might as well kill him.” Gurok said as he lifted his foot to stomp on the man.

“I want to talk!” he squealed as he covered his eyes and curled up in a fetal position.

Smiling Gurok put his foot down harmlessly on the ground.

Kallo was still busy getting the stuffing beat out of him by his very burly woman friend but at the moment he appeared to have the upper hand as he sat on her and had her arms pinned down. “Why the hostility Doll?” he said before she spat at him somehow managing to roll him over and get the upper hand.

“Don’t call me Doll. I’m going to strangle you with my own hands.” She growled through clinched teeth.

In a furry of clawed toes and wings the dire bat attacked the woman’s face. She shrieked and batted at it trying to get it off of her giving Kallo a chance to regain his feet. Sinking its teeth into her neck and wrapping its wings around her tightly it drained her blood thirstily as she tried in vain to get it off her.

“Sleep her Kammy.” Tastywaffles asked calmly.

Kammy went to work muttering her spell as quickly as she could. Casting seemed to take away all of her nervousness and endow her with a grace and power that only added to the mithra’s beauty. “Sleep Lozzi.” Kammy commanded and without a struggle the tough as nails monk fell to the floor and looked as peaceful and harmless as a sleeping child.

Tastywaffles called his winged friend back to his side and petted its tiny furry head.

Everyone’s attention now was on the man on the ground who rolled and picked up his sword.

“I’ve got him!” Martin shouted as he leapt off a near by rock using his weight to drive his sword into the heart of the man we wanted to question.

“Martin No!” I shouted but too late. The hume disappeared only leaving a hole in the rock where the sword had shattered it.

“He home pointed.” Tastywaffles said with a sigh and we all turned and glared at Martin.

“Where did Martin come from?” Kammy asked.

“What? Why the dirty looks? It looked to me like you were in battle with these people. I was just doing what needed to be done. We are here to kill the people responsible for Brodie’s murder right? I got that one. Yay me!” Martin looked a little confused.

“Yes, but I wanted this man to tell me where Pete the Meat can be found.” I said with a sigh as I hugged Martin hello. “I’m glad you came to help.”

“I would never miss it.”

“I have an idea.” I said as I turned my attention to my linkshell. “Garness we found the general area. There is a woman here I’m pretty sure we can follow to their main base. Can you bring your group and wait just outside of the gold doors? I’m going to lure them out past the door. If you are hidden I’ll run them to you so we can surround them and get the upper hand.”

“Sounds good fearless leader. We are a little busy right now but we’ll get there as fast as we can.” Garness replied sounding a bit out of breath.

“Kallo, this is a job for you and me. Everyone else should wait here.” I instructed.

“I don’t think so. I’m coming too.” Gurok said as he stepped closer.

“Gurok this is job for thieves and you know it. We need to be undetectable as we follow her back to the man we want and we need to be sure we can stay just out of reach until we get back to the main group here at the door. You know that’s my specialty. Let me do this my way.” I asked. “We need to hurry before she wakes up.”

Gurok grunted and nodded unhappily as he found a place to hide and wait with the others.

The monk groaned and started to stir as Kallo and I hid ourselves and watched.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"I Hear Bad People"

“Move it along. I have a hunch.” Kallo said as he departed with long purposefully strides.

“What kind of hunch? Could it be that this hunch is inspired by knowledge gained while consorting with them?” Gurok said with a raised eyebrow.

Kammy leapt onto Tastywaffles’ back and dug her claws in clinging nervously with her face pressed into his fuzzy armor. She was one of our less experienced members and she was right to be concerned about wandering too far from us. Tastywaffles reached up and scratched behind her ear calming her considerably.

“Gurok if Washu sent him to guide us then he is trustworthy enough. Try to be optimistic.” I said with a sigh.

“Oh I’m loaded with optimism. I just don’t trust him. My job is to protect you not be a cheerful greeter of every stranger you bring along.”

“They’re called the Gold Door Death Dealers.” Kallo said as he rolled his eyes. “So my hunch is that their hideout is behind the gold door. They’re thugs not geniuses.”

That seemed to be a satisfactory answer and we were able to continue on. It didn’t take us long to get to the door. A short hike and a hidden Kammy and we were standing in front of it.

“It requires a gold beast coin.” He said as Kallo held out his open hand to me.”

I wanted to argue about giving up one of my precious shinnies but now was not the time. I always had a handful of them on me as I never wasted the chance to take them from passing goblins or anything else I could steal and hide from effortlessly.

Putting my coin in his pocket he smiled and held out his hand for another. The entire party glared and put their hands on their weapons in unison.

“Ok fine. Not the time for jokes. Sheesh.” Removing the coin from his deep pocket he pressed it into a hollow. It hovered and glowed a dark purple before the coin fell out of sight into the massive door and it rolled slowly open the ground trembling from the size of it.

“It gets a bit more dangerous from here out.” Kallo said as he took out his daggers ready for whatever might be waiting.

Ears twitching Kammy pushed herself up high off Tastywaffles’ shoulders. “Shush shush!” she hissed. We all stopped. “I hear bad people.” She whispered.

(Picture temporarily borrowed from the fabulous

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Gathering Strength

It was a great comfort to me to see some of my closest friends waiting for me. This whole experience had left me feeling weak and out of control. That something like this could happen made me question how much power I actually had over my life. I needed this to regain something. I honestly didn’t know what I expected to get out of the hunt but I felt driven along this track like a train with no breaks.

Yes I know, I’m a thief and confidence and strength are essential. At the time this all happened I tried to hide what I felt was a serious weakness of character from all but those who knew me best and couldn’t be fooled. I wanted to be thought of as tough as nails and unshakable.

Looking back now after it has been so long ago I don’t mind admitting that I was more like anyone else than I wanted to admit. At some point all of us feel shaken by life. It’s not what we are given that makes us who we are it’s what we do with it.

Sorry, back to the story. So, there they were, all the Thumbmonkey friends who could be found on such short notice which wasn’t very many. Jenjen in the arms of her brother Kjarbo with Beldin hovering nearby, Garness my always wise and faithful galka with Foxx, my tiny taru mentor who never ceased to pop up in dire times of need. Kammy our wild little mithra was there too. She looked a bit nervous as she clung to the fuzzy garb of Tastywaffles the beastmaster who I had not seen since Kammy introduced me to him on the docks so long ago.

Beldin pulled out his gun and shot at Kallo. “Who is he?”

Kallo rolled out of the way and drew his daggers. “Wait!” I shouted. “No need to go shooting every person you don’t recognize Beldin. He is here to help me so you will be civil or leave.” An empty threat. He knew I didn’t want him to leave any more than he wanted to go.

Beldin kept his gun aimed at Kallo, and the thief crouched low with his daggers drawn staring hard at the corsair. “I’m not exactly thrilled you left without telling me. How am I supposed to keep an eye on you if you sneak out like a thief in the night?”

Jenjen took his gun and smiled warmly at me giving me a big hug and nuzzling her face into my neck tickling a little. “Hello. I’m sorry Beldin is so bad today.”

“You don’t need to apologize for him you know.” I whispered to her. “He’s his own man and you can’t be responsible for his compulsion to shoot people. Maybe we can put his energy to good use today.” She smiled warmly and gave Beldin his gun back. He looked at her with sad longing eyes as she turned away. They were speaking now but the friendship was clearly fragile and emotional.

Kallo none too pleased took the opportunity to flick a rock at Beldin and hit him square between the eyes. Beldin raised his arm to take aim again.

“Please!” I shouted, “Can we just go and get this over with?”

Beldin frowned and put his weapon away.

“I’m assuming our goal is search and clobber. You find him, I’ll clobber.” Garness said as he beat his hands together anxiously.

I nodded. “We will divide into two groups and use our linkshell to communicate when we find him. Me, Kallo, Gurok, Kammy and Tastywaffles should go as one group and Beldin, Jenjen, Kjarbo, Garness, and Foxx should go as the second. Garness, I’d like you to lead the other group if you would.”

Garness smiled a wide blood thirsty grin and nodded in acceptance. “Let’s go then.” He turned to march off in search of blood to spill.

Beldin turned away from Garness and walked up to me looking very displeased. “I feel responsible for you. I want to keep an eye on you not wander off in the opposite direction.”

I smiled at his kind intentions. Stepping closer to him I spoke in a hushed voice. “I need you to help me. I need you to be my second pair of eyes on this search and to watch over and guide my friends. I’m a call away. If I’m in danger you’ll know right away. You don’t need to worry so much about me. I don’t need it.”

Beldin smirked at my response but nodded and followed after Garness. I was pleased he didn’t make a bigger fuss about it. He had become so protective since that day when Brodie was lost to the sea. I think he felt somehow responsible though of course that was nonsense.

Kjarbo took the chance to say hello and pulled my face in close to kiss my forehead. Pausing to smile warmly at me he followed after Garness who was already nearly out of sight. He was always such a kind and sensitive soul. He smelled salty like the sea and I knew he must have come from his home to join us. I lost myself to my thoughts for a moment as I watched the group leave. I had to smile at the speed at which Foxx could travel with those tiny taru legs.

Kallo cleared his throat. “You done there? I’d like to get back by dinner time.”

Gurok glared at the thief with a low gravely growl before turning to me. “Let’s get going Alison.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

Norg Biscuits O.o

Walking into Norg the leathery faced outlaws half glanced up at us without making eye contact. They were used to occasional adventures coming here because of the tenshudo in Lower Jeuno but that didn’t mean they trusted us and the feeling was mutual.

More of a cave than a village it opened to the open ocean to allow the boats to come and go secretly from their shady voyages. Dark and damp it was lit by intensely hot torches that left black smoky residue on the ceiling of the cavern and the heavy smell of burning fuel.

Feeling it was my turn to be in charge I knew right where I might find the kind of information I wanted. Jumping down on the wooden planks around the dock I intentionally steered a bit clear of the large torches. Fire always made me a bit uneasy though I didn’t really know why I saw no need to take any chances.

Twenty feet in the air a watch man glared hard down on me with a scowl. The last thing we needed was an entire village of angry ruffians chasing us. I’d be fine but Gurok couldn’t run as fast and there is a limit to how many he can take on at once. We’d have to be careful not to draw too much attention. Five of them or so I could take one handed but making trouble with these people was not my goal.

Continuing up the stairs I pushed open the heavy oaken door to the left. Inside were the usual group of drunken fools. Gurok grabbed the first hume by the back of his shirt and lifted him a foot off the ground. “This one looks like he knows things.” Gurok grinned.

“Washu!” I smiled widely and hugged my old family friend who stood near the kitchen door.

“Child you are too thin! How is your mother? Oh, hold that thought.” As she scurried into the kitchen Gurok let out a loud groan of disappointment and set the hume down on his feet. The startled man chose to leave as quickly as possible without a peep instead of retaliate or ask any questions of the looming galkan attacker.

When Washu came back she had a basket full of the hot steaming buttery biscuits that she knew I loved when I was a child. “Oh Washu you’re heaven sent.” I gave one to Gurok who seemed like he felt a little left out and took one for myself tearing off one little piece at a time to put in my mouth and savor.

“Mother is well but I come with solemn news. My husband was murdered by a galka and I am here to find his killer and bring him justice.” I said matter of factly. “I really hope you can help me find out where Pete the Meat can be found.”

Her countenance fell. “Yes dear, I do know where he and his gang can be found. I’m so heartbroken to hear about your husband. Pete the Meat is known for being quick to anger and deadly. His gang likes to creep about Sea Serpent Grotto in search of lost adventures to mug. As accomplished as you look, you really should bring more help with you. His group varies in size and strength but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. I don’t want to be the one to bring your mother bad news.”

“Very good biscuits mam. Thank you.” Gurok complimented as he sprayed crumbs with a mouth full of his third for fourth biscuit.

She smiled warmly and brushed crumbs off his whiskers. “Sweet boy.”

“Thank you for all your help Washu.” I hugged her tightly.

“I have one more bit of help. I can’t go with you but I want you to take my friend Kallo with you. He knows all of Pete the Meat’s favorite hiding places and every twist and secret of Sea Serpent Grotto. He’s always coming around here looking for something to eat. He’s a bit of a scoundrel but invaluable in these sorts of situations and he owes me a favor or two. Kallo, I know you’re ease dropping again. You might as well and say hello.”

“I wasn’t ease dropping, I was eating lunch.” He said as he sat up from a nearby table. “and yes, I’d be happy to help if it allows me to check off one of those favors I owe. This one should be easy as stealing...” The evlaan thief trailed off and bowed low to kiss my hand without breaking eye contact.

Washu beat him with a hand towel. “Knock that off! Her husband just passed. Show some respect. She’s not one of your girls you understand me boy?!”

“Yes Madam!” He shouted mockingly for mercy as he winked at me.

Gurok had already turned his back to call my linkshell. “Yes, it’s time to gather.” I heard him say in a low voice. Turning back around he gave Kallo a hard glare and stood between us. “Let’s go meet everyone at the gate.”

Washu tucked a warm box of her biscuits in my bag and the three of us waved goodbye and headed off together to finish what needed to be done.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Visiting Norg

“We’re going to Norg.”

I rubbed my eyes. The sun wasn’t even fully up yet. “Gurok?” I mumbled.

“Of course it’s me. Who else? I have good news for you. We found out that Pete the Going-to-be-Dead-Soon makes Norg his home. We’re going to pay him a visit.”

“Norg? Should we gather help then?”

“No, if we need back up we can call for it. I don’t want to scare him into hiding and lose him again.” Tossing my clothes at me he grinned as he stopped to look at me then left my room.

The morning was still cool and dewy when we arrived at Kazham. I always loved the beauty of this island. Lush and in full bloom year round the exotic fragrance and musical wildlife made it a thrill for the senses.

Racing out of the small port town on rented chocobo I urged my bird to go faster cutting down the route the best I could. Competitive by nature I often turned the casual ride into an undeclared race.

“You may be able to win a foot race against me but on chocobo is whole new game.” He called ahead to me. He was on to my game.

“Well then why am I winning?” I grinned.

Turning hard around a blind corner my chocobo leapt over a goblin. Stunned the goblin turned to curse at us only to be kicked off the path as Gurok came racing behind me. Laughing hardily I forgot for a few moments the unpleasant reason for this trip.

Holding the saddle tightly I braced myself as my chocobo plunged down a dark hole near the outpost nearly unseating me as we landed. I always hated that part of the trip. Through a tunnel we ran towards the light that opened into a green damp valley with waterfalls coming down a cliff wall and a crystal clear lake. It was breath taking here.

Feeding his chocobo a speed apple it called out loudly and pushed into its bridle surging past me in a cloud of kicked up dirt and vegetation. Racing behind a waterfall Gurok vaulted off of his mount and let it run back to the stables.

Coming up behind him I patted my chocobo gratefully and gently slid down. “You cheated!” I accused.

“You must be rubbing off on me.” He laughed and turned to walk inside the cavern hidden behind the falls.

Inside was damp and dramatically cooler. In the dark I stumbled a bit until my eyes adjusted to the low light. The creatures that lived there looked up at us but didn’t bother challenging. They were an easy kill for seasoned veterans like us and they knew it.

Turning right and climbing the incline to the secret community of Tenshodo I resisted the urge to put Gurok between me and the skeletons that often wandered outside the gate. I knew they couldn’t do me any real harm but they still gave me the creeps. Without thinking I reached out and grasp the edge of Gurok’s armor as one turned and stared at me with his hallow eyes.

“Time to do some questioning.” Gurok smiled as he turned his head to look down at my fingers wrapped around his mantle. “Are you ok?”

If I were honest I would have told him my head was spinning and I felt sick ever since I got off that chocobo. Huffing I let go and straightened myself. “Of course. Save the silly questions for some pirate or something.”

“Hum... Yes, good idea. I can think of a pirate that I’d like to question with the edge of my sword.” He grinned in a rather frightening manor as he turned his blade in his hand. I had the suspicion that the pirate he wanted to use his sword on wasn’t going to be in there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Brief Explaination

“So why did you tell Kjarbo that my life may be in danger? What happened on that boat?” Beldin asked as he handed me a cookie. Cookies have a very positive effect on me and this one I think was meant to sooth me. Everyone kept expecting me to come unwound again but I had done my crying and I didn’t intend to burden anyone anymore with it.

“Our histories are more connected than you realize.” I nibbled the edges of the ginger cookie and sucked the strong flavor out of the pieces more crushing it with my tongue than chewing.

“Meaning?” he asked.

“You killed a galka dark knight in a tavern a long time ago. I was there. I was working with him. I hated him and the story is more complicated than I need to tell right now but he was my partner for a job. His name was Bruto.” I looked up to try to read his face.

“He wanted to kill me.” Beldin said with a raised eyebrow.

I nodded and looked down at my cookie. “It seems Pete the Meat was his brother of sorts. He said I turned him over to you to die.”

“I didn’t know.”

“I know. I kinda hoped it might stay that way.”

“Well I ‘kinda’ wish you had told me now.” He said a bit exasperated. “Maybe I could have…” he stopped himself and we sat quietly for a few minutes that felt like eternity, both of us looking down at the valley below us.

“The ferry captain said a small boat picked up the galka before he could get to port. They just don’t have the security on those ferries to stop attacks during transit.” He paused and rested his hand on my shoulder. “We will find him Alison.”

I smiled weakly. I wasn’t sure I had the heart for more death and it seemed only blood would satisfy our angry friends.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Hug

One, Two, Three, Four. Yep, still four beams. All just like before. Straight and perfect. Aged yet so strong.

Why was I counting beams? How do I know how many there should be? What are beams for anyways and who gave them that funny name? Do they actually have a purpose besides being pretty? Do I?

This is my room I think but I’m pretty sure I’m dreaming. Feels like dreaming. Very quiet and I feel odd. I feel sad. I don’t think I want to be here. Maybe I should close my eyes again.

“You look a lot better.” A man said. “Your face is pink again. You looked almost dead for a couple of days.” He paused for a few moments. “Alison, I’m sorry.”

“Why sorry?” I thought. I was reluctant to come out of my head but curiosity won and I lifted up to see blankets then a man sitting on a stool near the foot of my bed.

“Beldin.” I said aloud. My mind painfully began to realign and I remembered. I remembered everything. Tears welled up and threatened to spill down my cheeks. I wanted to go back to counting beams and I laid back.

Reaching out he took hold of my hand and squeezed it. Gasping for air I began to sob without even thinking of the reason why. I just hurt. Everywhere, everyhow, hurt. Pulling me up he held me close and let me tremble and cry out while I let it go. It flowed from me like an avalanche. Rolling, and crushing, and pounding emotion making my whole frame shake. I’m not sure how long it went on but it blinded me from anything going on around me.

Then the peace came and I gasped and caught my breath letting it enfold me. I just breathed and enjoyed the warm cocoon of arms around me. I realized as I calmed that I wasn’t alone. I looked up and Beldin kissed my soggy eyes. All around me my friends had gathered. More than I even realized I had, gathered in a group hug around my bed.

I think that was the moment I realized my greatest strength. My friends who never failed to rally around in times of need. I had no more doubt that things were going to be ok somehow. Not the same, maybe not even as good, but ok. With them I would never feel alone and together we would do our best to make things right no matter what.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I could hear their muffled voices around me but I didn’t really want to. My heart ached. Turning on my side I moaned. Soft fingers ran through my hair and I could hear Yamari calling my name. Suddenly it occurred to me that if someone had found me maybe they had found Brodie too.

“Brodie?” I asked as I sat up and looked around. Just about everyone I knew was there in my mog house watching me as I lay in my bed but suddenly they were very quiet. My eyes dodged from face to face looking for an answer but they just looked down at the floor to avoid me.

Garness broke the silence. “I’m sorry, no one could find Brodie. He’s um… missing.”

Suddenly I felt dizzy and sick. Leaning over the side of the bed I threw up salt water and everything else into a rusty bucket by my bed. Whimpering I slumped back down into my bed pulling the blanket over my head so they couldn’t see me cry. “How could this happen?” I thought to myself. “These things don’t happen like this. He can’t be dead.”

My mind turned to the dark knight. I had to find out what happened to him and if need be, finish him off. He needed to pay for Brodie’s brutal murder. I was a horrible fluke that he got the better of us while we were unsuspecting and he would not be so lucky ever again. Anger swelled inside my chest and pushed away the tears.

Coming out from my hiding place most of the people in my room had left. “Is Beldin here?” I asked.

“No, haven’t seen him in months. Not since the wedding thing with Jen.” Kjarbo replied. “Maybe Jenjen has seen him. I think they are still talking. Do you want to see him?”

“I think the dark knight that came after us will look for Beldin too. He should be warned to keep alert.”

“I think someone is always trying to kill him. I don’t think he’s ever not expecting it. Don’t worry about him. You need to rest. We’ll get him the message.” Kjarbo looked so sympathetic. I hated it.

“I’m rested.” Placing my bare feet on the warm floor I felt a bit queasy again but shook it off.

“At least a good meal first then?” Kjarbo asked. “Then I will go with you to do what needs to be done.”

Moogle flew over and brought me my boots which I slid on walking out to the lobby in my night gown not meaning to ignore Kjarbo but had other things on my mind. “A galka needs to die. Who would like in on the action?” I announced.

Gurok and his linkshell Bonds of Blood was there and he raised a great eye brow in my direction. Whether it was over my appearance, my announcement, or my sudden recovery I’m not sure but I brushed it off. Triumvirate was also there making for a very full lobby.

Martin was the first to speak up. “Killing sounds good. Let’s go.” He was always ready, always the hero whenever action was needed.

“Go where? Look at her. We can go tomorrow first thing.” Zhirin said. Yamari was with him and nodded silently in agreement.

Garness came out with an apron on and a warm bowl of soup. “You’re pale as a ghost and sweating. Here, drink this. It’s a special windhurstian bit of magic. It will help bring back your strength plus some.”

Taking it without another thought I drank down the smooth salty soup and tried to continue to tell them my plans but I couldn’t. Staggering to the side my legs gave out and my body went limp. Someone caught me before I hit the floor and just before I fell into a deep sleep I heard Garness’ voice. “Added a sleeping potion. She should feel much stronger after some much needed rest. Let’s get started on those plans.”

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Dark Day

The next few weeks were a blur of bliss traveling wherever our hearts desired paying no attention to the rest of the world. We took the time to spread the word of our happy union but had not allowed much congratulations as we basked in each other hiding away from anyone who might try to damper our spirits. It was the happiest I had ever been and if it had never ended my joy would have been legendary. I didn’t care if I ever returned to normal life. I loved him truly and I didn’t care what it would take I wanted to stay by his side for the rest of my life.

This day was warm and sunny and we decided to take a trip to Purgonorgo Isle to spend a few days digging for clams and enjoying the beauty of the island with all of its secret coves and crystal blue waters. I had already made a few trips out here since the wedding. It was one of my favorite places though Brodie didn’t like how the sand collected in his clothes he did like how happy I was there so he indulged me.

First we had to take the ferry from Selbina to Mhaura across the dark cold ocean waters. The air was crisp and salty and tossed our hair about wildly as the boat sped along. The sun beat down hot on our skin contrasting the cool breeze that came off the icy waves. The water still looked so inviting I could hardly wait to get to the sandy beaches of the Isle to play in the gently lapping water.

Holding each other like the twiterpated lovers we were, we leaned on the railing and watched the fish below us chase the boat.

“I love you.” I said kissing his bare shoulder and smiling at him mischievously. He had already abandoned his armor and weapons for red swim suit trunks and a bare chest because he knew I loved to see him like that. It was still a bit too cool on the boat for me to follow his example.

“I still love you too.” He laughed. “I can’t believe you’re making me roll on that sandy beach again. I think I still have sand in my crevices from last time. Next week we go skiing again ok?”

“Deal. I want to get a fishing pole.” Kissing him deeply I slid out from under his arm to go to the small shop on the boat.

I was near the door when I heard a deep galkan voice. “I've been looking for you.” He said in a low growl.

As I turned I saw a massive black galka swing a scythe at my beloved Brodie who was still gazing down at the water below him. I felt my heart stop. Without even having to think about it I drew my daggers and leapt at the galka who was attacking the only thing that mattered to me anymore. I called Brodie’s name to warn him but it was too late.

His scythe struck before my daggers. Brodie had heard the commotion but had not turned in time. He straightened just in time to feel the scythe pierce through his body jutting out his stomach and up towards his chest like a deadly fish hook. Brodie grasped the blade to try to push it out of his body blood tickling down his arms as the blade tore into his bare hands. Reaching for a sword that wasn’t there he tried to turn to his attacker.

“Touch her and I’ll kill you.” Brodie yelled. Rage in his eyes he began to concentrate his paladin ability to be invincible for a short time but he must have been a split second too late.

Driving my daggers deep into the dark knight’s back with a rear sneak attack he winced but lifted my husband into the air Brodie’s weight tearing the weapon at least half a foot through his body. I struggled to keep my grip as his evil blood trickled down the hilts.

“Bruto was my twin brother, body and spirit. Your betrayal got him killed.” The galka said to me. “You were his partner. You handed him over to that pirate to die.”

“You have it all wrong. Let him go and I’ll explain.” I pleaded as I doubled then reached deep within myself to triple my attack taking advantage of his distraction and my speed but it seemed he was determined not to stop no matter how much damage I did. I knew he couldn’t possibly take much more of my attack before he would go down. His armor was shredded and his body riddled with gushing wounds. I had reached level seventy in my training but still he frustrated my attempts to detour him from his mission.

“You took all that mattered to me. Now Pete the Meat will show you how that feels.” As the galkan dark knight pulled the scythe out of Brodie’s body the motion of his arms coming back threw me down. Sliding across the deck cracking my head against the wall my vision blurred for a few moments.

Brodie clearly wasn’t conscious anymore as he slumped on the wooden deck. His blood was pooling alarmingly quickly. I had no time to waste to end this and get him to a white mage.

The dark knight lifted Brodie’s limp body by his neck. Tears of fury formed when I saw blood dripping from his mouth and nose. I roared and charged at the Galka once again.

“Drop him now!” I demanded as slit his throat using a powerful swift viper bite attack. With that the dark knight grasped the gaping hole in his neck as he thrust Brodie far over the edge of the boat then fell to his knees. Hearing Pete the Meat gurgling from the wound as I pushed off of the wretched beast gave me a fleeting feeling of satisfaction.

Slipping on my true love’s blood as I tried to dive off the boat, I tumbled with a graceless flop into the icy ocean. Under the water the world was eerie quiet. I couldn’t see anything. Even the fish seemed to have fled. Coming up for air I yelled Brodie’s name. Dispirit to find him the wind seemed to carry my words away to nowhere. Driving again and again I began to be aware how painful the cold water was. Like tiny razors in my skin it chilled me quickly but didn’t slow my determination.

Diving deep and trying to see any trace of him when I surfaced, franticly I searched but after an eternity I simply couldn’t find him. The ocean had swallowed him and I failed to pull him from its icy grasp. I continued to dive and call his name but I was growing so tired and my body hurt so badly to move. Every limb was stiffening. I’m not sure how long it took but I began to realize he was dead and I was going to die with him.

Surfacing I began to sob. I looked up for the boat but it was gone. I couldn’t see anything over the rolling waves. No land, no boats, not even a bird, just the mocking sun and the black glassy water. I wanted to die. Brodie was gone and it was my fault. All I could do was cry and curse at the gods.

Letting myself sink under the water I wanted death to take me too but when my lungs cried for air I instinctively surfaced to satisfy them. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t have to. The cold of the water was taking its toll and I didn’t have long until the ocean would claim my life as well.

Resuming my dives I began to lose awareness of where I was or what I was diving for. Dreams of Brodie took over and I saw him smiling down at me the sun behind him as we lay in La Theine Plateau. I felt so happy with him. I just wanted to touch his face again. One way or another we would be together and I felt at peace.