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.