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Starlit Kitten (One-shot Story)

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Sitting hidden behind the stone stairs by the Aftcastle, A'kuri picked up the small leather bag that was usually tied to her waist and gave it a shake. The few coins she had been given in exchange for work jingled lightly. Gil, they called the small clinking coins. They looked peculiar, but in exchange for a few pieces, she was able to get things like food and drink. It was difficult for her to believe that she could eat whenever she wanted as long as she had Gil. It had been a few days since she came to this grand port city of Limsa Lomina and did a few small jobs for the barkeep Baderon. He gave her the small bag with a few pieces of Gil inside and bid her to come back if she ever need anything, be it more work or a room to sleep in. However going back into that bustling tavern and speaking to the loud man was definitely out of the question. So instead she padded through the city, looking for someplace quiet where she could rest and figure out what to do next.


Looking up at the iron grey sky she shivered. Over the past few days it had gotten colder, her threadbare clothing offering no protection from the decreasing temperature. Her clothes, her poor worn out clothes. She eyed the people passing her with jealousy, their outfits clean, intact and oh so warm looking. They must do a lot of work to be able to afford such nice clothes she thought as she curled her legs under her chin and tried to warm herself up.


The small girls eyes began to droop as she was slowly taken away by fatigue and sleep. It was never this cold in the valley she was raised in, so she did not know the dangers of sleeping in such cold weather. She shivered, cold, as the tendrils of sleep stole her away into the warmth of oblivion.


"Oh dear! This poor thing!" A woman's voice, concern painted in her words. "Come here! Quick! We must get her out of the cold right away!" Strong arms lifted her up off the floor and something warm and heavy was thrown over her. A'kuri was too weak to cry out or fight against these strange hands, so instead she closed her eyes and allowed sleep to take her.


When she awoke she was in a small room with a large window allowing the sun's rays to reach in. Warm, A'kuri thought to herself as she curled up beneath the blanket. She didn't care where she was, or what happened, but she was warm and out of the salty cold wind that seemed to endlessly blow. Curled up in the bed, slowly returning to sleep, she didn't hear the door come open and the soft steps enter the room. Breathing in deeply, she let out a sigh that seemed to come from her very bones. So many questions were begging to be asked and answered, but she cared not for them. She just wanted to sleep warmly, however with a loud rumble, her stomach decided she would do otherwise.


As she placed her hands on her empty and complaining stomach, she heard a small giggle from somewhere in the room. Instantly freezing, her heart began to race, those unasked questions beginning to force themselves to the forefront of her mind. Where was she? Who picked her up? Who just laughed?


As if to answer her minds racing questions, a voice called out "It's alright little one, I'm not here to hurt you. My comrade and I happened upon you near the Aftcastle. I saw you were shivering and I could not leave you there to freeze, so I brought you to my room. My name is Amh Garanjy, you're safe now, so would you please tell me your name? I also have some food we can share."


Laying there, heart racing, she slowly peeked out from under the covers, she eyed a young looking Mi'qote with soft pink hair and a earnest and kind face. She was wearing a red dress with white trimmings, her smile soft and full of kindness. Besides Amh, A'kuri spotted a tray laden with candied fruits, cheeses and bread and her stomach grumbled at her once again. Blushing deeply with embarrassment, she pulled the covers off and sat on the beds edge, face turned down, hands writhing in her lap.


"M-my name... is.. A'kuri...Kota..." Barely a whisper in the room as she replied to Amh. Eyes darting around, she looked at the door, Amh and the plate of food and then the floor in front of her. Too scared to move, she sat there, waiting for what would happen next.


"I see, such a nice name, A'kuri! Come, don't be shy, let us eat something. It's not much, but it should fill us nicely!" Gesturing to the seat next to her, she turned and started to arrange two plates of food.


Slowly, cautiously, A'kuri slid off the bed, her eyes glued to the floor, but for each movement she made, she sent a quick, nervous glance to Amh. Stepping slowly to the table, she pulled out the chair and began to seat herself when she spotted her tattered grimoire sitting just besides her plate of food.


"My book!" She forgot about the notion of sitting down and grabbed her book, hugging it tightly to her chest. Unbelievable she yelled at herself in her mind, how could she have forgotten to think about this precious book and instead cared for nothing but a warm nap!


Startled by A'Kuri's loud yelp, Amh jumped and looked at the girl in shock. "Oh! Yes! The book! You startled me, yelling like that! We found it next to you when we picked it up and figured it was yours. Glad to see I was right! Now sit, sit and eat or else your tummy will start yelling again as well!" She said with a small laugh.


Still holding the book tightly, A'kuri slid into the chair and eyed the plate in front of her. There she sat, waiting for Amh to give her permission to eat. She eyed the food hungrily but her instincts were telling her not to touch the food unless she received the OK to do so. As Amh began to eat her share of food, she eyed A'kuri's motionless form, just sitting in the chair and came to a quick realization. "Now, now A'kuri, eat up, no need to be shy!"


Looking up from the plate of fruits and cheeses, A'kuri glanced at Amh, and after receiving a nod as if to say "Go on, eat!" A'kuri stretched a shaky hand out, reaching towards the fruits. After grabbing a small piece of candied orange, she again looked to Amh, who was too busy eating her own plate of food to see this second questioning stare. With one hand on her grimoire, she slowly brought her hand back and placed the small piece of orange into her mouth and began to chew.


The flavor, the texture was unlike anything she could have ever dreamed of! It had a slightly similar texture to the raisins she would often snack on, but this orange was even better! She chewed slowly, savoring the morsel, for she didn't know when she would next be able to taste something so extravagant. They ate in silence, A'kuri too wrapped up in the strange luxurious food in front of her, Amh watching A'kuri with satisfaction in her eyes.


This food was too good! Too good for someone like her to be eating! She was nothing, a stain on the earth. A murderer who killed her tribes Nunh. Yet here she sat, in a warm room with someone caring and sweet who was giving her something so wonderful to eat. Tears came unbidden to her eyes as she ate. Sniffles echoed from her body in between each bite. She didn't deserve such kindness, there was no way the Gods, who left her to suffer for so long, would suddenly show her such overwhelming kindness. Amh served them both more from the main platter as they kept eating, as well as pouring water from a carafe on the table, saying nothing of the girls tears, simply allowing her to eat her fill.


Once the food was gone, Amh sat back, closing her eyes and sighing with feeling of fullness. From besides her another sniffle sounded, followed by a quiet laugh. Opening her eyes, Amh looked at A'kuri who was sitting there holding her book tightly, crying even harder than before. "T-t-thank you... T-thank y-you... s-so m-m-much!" The girls shoulders shook from her cries.


Amh stood up and walked over to A'kuri, pulling the girls head towards her body and began to pet her head. "There, there A'kuri. Not everyone is here to hurt you. There are those, like me, who want to help people. You just have to look and I'm sure you'll find us. Now come, I have one last gift for you before I must depart."


Wiping her eyes and nose on her sleeves, A'kuri looked up, "Y-you're leaving? Al-already? B-b-but!"


Walking over to the nearby dresser Amh replied to the sniffling girl, "Yes my dear little one, I still have work to do, helping other children find happiness. But before I go, I think it would be well advised if we replaced those poor torn up clothes you have been wearing. It's not much, but it should keep you a fair bit warmer than your current attire!"


Reaching into the dresser Amh pulled out a red dress with white trimmings, much like the one she was already wearing. Laying it out on the bed, she also pulled out a pair of black leggings with snowflake decorations and a pair of long sturdy black boots.


"These should keep you nice and warm for the time being! And hopefully, if you ever feel helpless again, you'll remember that there *are* people out there that can help, you just have to be strong enough to reach out for their hands."


Pulling A'kuri to her feet, she busied herself with the task of undressing the young girl, and then helping her into her new outfit.


"There! Now we match!" Amh cried out with a smile and a lighthearted laugh.


Looking down at the clothes, tears began to well up in her eyes again, but Amh quickly placed her hands on A'kuri's shoulders and gave her a quick shake.


"No! No more of that!" Looking right into A'kuri's eyes, she stated firmly, "I don't know what happened in the past, but what's done is done! You are here, breathing in front of me. It may be hard, but this is where you can start over! Use this as your first lesson, your first quest! The kindness that I have shown to you, you must show to others. Look around you A'kuri! There are other people out here, just like you! They all need help, they all need someone to pull them up onto their feet. You can do that!" Giving A'kuri's cheek a gentle caress, she smiled "You're scared, you're hurt, I can see it. But I also see something else. In your eyes, behind the fear, behind the pain, I can see determination. I can see a fierce pride. We just met and I can see it, I know it's in there, you just have to bring it out."


Stepping back from A'kuri, Amh started towards the door, placing her door on the handle she turned and began to speak once more. "This room is the one Mister Baderon said you are free to use, so use it. This can be your new home. Mister Baderon says he can help you find work and there are plenty of people here in Limsa Lominsa that need assistance. This is the start of *your* story A'kuri. A brand new chapter one! Before you ask, you may see me again, you may not, but that doesn't matter. I wish to hear tales from your story wherever I go! My goal in life is to help children and bring a smile to their faces! I want to one day visit a town and find out everyone is already happy! Where the bards sing tales from your story and the children act out chapters of your greatness! I expect great things from you A'kuri, because I can see it all in your eyes."


Stepping out of the room, she closed the doors leaving A'kuri to the silence. Sliding down to the floor the girl began to cry. She just... could not help it. The tears came forth with great wracking sobs. Clutching her book, she cried, cried until it was all gone.


The fear, the pain, all the things holding her stuck in time were still there. But for the words of this kind stranger, the first crack in the chains began to show. There was a way out of this desolation. There was hope, it was a small lonely flame, hidden deep in her soul, but it was there. It was the hope that one day, she would reach her dream, she would one day find her place in the sun, where she belonged.

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