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The Glass Rain

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“So where are you from,” asked the grizzled bartender, eyeing down the tavern’s newest patron with a raised brow. “After all, don’t hear of many Miqo’te being from the area, city being as it is.”


“Oh, well I do suppose soft tails are out of place around here.” The stranger chuckled a tad, and took the bowl of the wine glass in his palm as the fellow behind the bar handed it over. ”You’re not wrong, though,” he continued. “I’m quite foreign.”


“How foreign,” the bartender asked, cocking his head just barely to the side. “You one of those adventuring types?”


The masked Miqo’te shook his head. “Oh, no, no, I’m hardly that eager to lose my head.” He sniffed the wine in his glass, then took a gentle sip, before finally answering the tender’s question. “I hail from Thanalan, since you’re so curious. The Sagolii, to be specific.”


“Bah, you lucky bastard,” the old tender mock-cried, before breaking into a hearty chuckle. “Dry, warm, distinct lack of dragons, what I wouldn’t give for THAT in this frosted hell right now.”


“Heh, funny you should mention dry… My tribesmen tell me it’s actually raining back at home. Ah, how I’ve always enjoyed the irony of rain in the desert… almost as much as I enjoy the rain itself.” With half a smile, he brought his glass to his lips once more, and downed the last of its contents.


“Rain? Well, I dunno about that.” The bartender cast his gaze to the tavern’s only window to the outside. “But, hey, at least you’ll find no shortage of snow around here.”


The traveller turned to the window as well, lazily watching the snow fly outside. More than a flurry, but less than a blizzard. What a lovely setting, but it lacked the ambience he was so fond of. The smirk across his face widened into a wry, knowing smile. “Oh, I don’t know about that,” he mused, gently shutting his eyes behind his halfmask. Then, he stood, dropping a handful of gil onto the counter, ready to take his leave. As he made for the door, he paused, and turned back to his conversation partner once more.


"Take heart, my friend," the Miqo'te warned, before turning his back to the bartender once more. "There will be plenty of rain to come."

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A Grand Sonata


Snow came down upon the Jeweled Crozier in short flurries as Aekira Swyfte trudged his way through the shopping crowds. A million times, it seemed, he’d been stopped for conversation, by a million people he needed to thank, for without many of them, he wouldn’t even be standing in the city. One day, he would be sure to repay their kindness, but for now, there were more important things to worry about.


Aekira finally came to a pause in front of the market’s many doors. It was home to the business of a goldsmith, the one who had received Scero’s glasses for repair. He didn’t feel much like questioning how his brother’s last keepsake made it from his own pockets to the desk of an Ishgardian smith. He found himself more concerned with the sudden absence of the man he meant to meet with, who had deigned to take a short vacation upon Swyfte’s arrival, despite previous plans to meet. Even more so, Aekira found himself wondering the identity of the one who brought the glasses to him. If they an idea, even the faintest clue as to the whereabouts of his elder brother…


But that, Aekira thought, Would be getting ahead of myself.


The hyur held his breath as he pushed open the wooden door, and was greeted by an empty office. Strange, he thought, he told me he’d be back by now. But even after a “Hello,” was called out, he heard no response, and saw no sign the goldsmith had ever returned from his trip.


“Oh, hells with this,” he grumbled, but just as he intended to head back out the door, he heard a response.


“Apologies,” called the mystery voice, which he assumed belonged to the goldsmith. “I’m upstairs!”


Taking it as an invitation, Aekira stepped inside, finding his way to the staircase and up to the building’s second level. “Second room on your right,” the voice called, and he followed his directions. He found the door to the room left open, and slipped inside. And not a moment later, it slammed loudly behind him.


“Well THAT took you long enough,” the voice from before complained. It belonged not to a Hyurian goldsmith, but to a Miqo’te, with ashen fur and eyes hidden by a mask. “Honestly, Mister Swyfte. You stopped to talk to so many people, I thought you’d never arrive. For one who’s never seen Ishgard, you have many friends here.”


Instinctively, Aekira found himself reaching for his bow, but he also found it wasn’t at his back. He’d left it in his inn room, on the pretense that he wouldn’t need it. “Missing your toy,” the Miqo’te taunted. “I wouldn’t worry, you’ll have no need for it.”


“You’ll have to forgive me,” the hyur responded. “I tend not to trust suspicious masked men who slam doors behind me. Now who the hells are you?”


“Ah, yes. You may call me N’yhl.” The Miqo’te began to wander the room, tail swaying back and forth, his gaze fixed upon Aekira. “In case you’re wondering, your goldsmith is currently lounging on a beach in Costa del Sol, far from his nation’s troubles. A just reward, for one who follows directions so well. Wouldn’t you agree, Mister Swyfte?”


Aekira’s eyes narrowed. Though he didn’t have his bow at his side, he did carry with him a knife. He did not reach for it. Not yet. But he had the strangest feeling he’d need it. “I don’t even want to know how you know my name,” he retorted, “but knowing your type, I’m sure you’re about to tell me anyway.”


A smile formed upon N’yhl’s face. “How clever of you,” he praised. “I must admit, I wasn’t originally intending to tell you much of anything. But there’s a certain satisfaction to be had in explaining a scheme, no?” He strolled toward Aekira, arms folded carefully across his chest. “Now, the easy answer would be to say I’ve been observing you since you came to Ishgard, but truth be told, I’ve had eyes on you for a bit longer than that.”


“I’m sure you have,” Aekira groaned. He was tiring of this fellow already.


“It’s true,” N’yhl countered. “And I’ll admit, there is much to praise. You’re a strong young man of stronger conviction. Sharp of wit and of tongue. Not terrible to look at, either. And even now, when brightness is dulled by all these “What-ifs” and “could-be’s,” I find you a man to be admired. It’s a true shame you’re not the real subject of my assessment, wouldn’t you agree?”


The hyur sighed with exasperation. “Well, assess this. You’re boring all seven hells out of me. Are you going to try to kill me yet? Or is there more to this farce?”


“What?” The Miqo’te almost seemed taken aback. “You’re not even going to ask whose skills I REALLY mean to gauge? I’m disappointed, Mister Swyfte.”


“Alright, FINE,” Aekira grumbled, his tone turning more and more sarcastic. “Who were you ACTUALLY watching, oh great villain?”


“I think you already know,” came N’yhl’s short reply.


“Did you just REALLY want to say that or something?” Far beyond annoyed, Aekira distanced himself from N’yhl, heading for the window at the other end of the room. “You think I already know? That’s shite. If I knew, why would I be asking?”


The masked man smiled, wry and knowing. “That’s fine, I suppose. We’re skipping to the part I most enjoy.” He slowly approached Aekira once more. “Mister Aekira Swyfte,” he began. “Why was it that you came here, again? ...Actually, don’t answer that. I have it in my coat pocket already.”


Aekira found himself tensing as N’yhl pulled a particular pair of glasses from the pocket of his jacket. As he laid eyes upon the familiar battered frames, all fell into place. He finally drew the dagger from his belt, now certain he’d need it.


“Finally put it together, have you,” the Miqo’te asked.


“I was hoping for your ilk to be dead.”


“Oh, but we live on, Mister Swyfte.” N’yhl offered up a toothy, wicked grin. “But enough of this aggression, you should be thanking us! After all, I trust I’ve just answered for you a very long-standing question.”


And he was right, though Aekira was not quick to admit it. This stranger, N’yhl, could be lying after all, but why go to all the trouble? Why bother luring him this far if he had no reason? Two years had not changed the people this Miqo’te worked for. They still sought the same thing, and through the same people. They had observed him, hunted him, before he’d gone missing, and if the hunt continued even then, it meant only one thing to Aekira. It meant, after so much time, that Scero Swyfte yet lived. And that these mad-men still wished to use him…


Aekira Swyfte found himself filled with rage.


In an instant, all better judgement left him. He knew what these people were capable of. He also didn’t care. He sprung forward, dagger in hand, and thrusted the weapon towards the Miqo’te’s neck. There was a shield between them, however, tendrils of solid aether which burst forth from his adversary’s hands, weaving together to prevent the knife’s passage before shattering like glass.


“I was waiting for you to do that,” N’yhl announced, confidently, as if he’d planned every aspect of this encounter to a tee. He stepped back and cast off his coat, displaying the arcane equations etched into the very skin of his arms. He turned his palms upward, and from them rose yet more wicked tendrils, poised to strike like a million snakes. Flashing that same sinister grin, he goaded the hyur. “Come then, Mister Swyfte, give me your best!”


And he did. Once again, Aekira rushed toward his foe, his dagger clashing repeatedly with the arcane weapons N’yhl produced. Each one the blade contacted shattered back into the nether from whence they came. There were those that found Aekira’s skin instead, which sliced into him like whips and left burning welts. But despite it all, he pressed forward, dancing around the deadly vines.


The Miqo’te let out a chuckle, once Aekira finally broke through the sea of tendrils. “You impress me,” he commented, and he turned his focus to defense, just barely shielding himself from the Hyur’s unforgiving dagger. “You know, had you trained as an arcanist, you would have made a wonderful addition to our ranks.”


“And you’ll make a great addition to hell,” Aekira growled, fighting desperately against the mage until his blade finally found the Miqo’te’s stomach.


There was a choking noise as the dagger sunk in. “Oh dear,” N’yhl remarked, as his shirt became wet with blood. “Seems you’ve got me.” Every arcane weapon which remained broke apart like the glass of the window, and still, N’yhl seemed smug. He even started laughing, as Aekira pulled his blade away.


“Is bleeding out funny to you,” he asked.


“Oh, hardly…” N’yhl gazed up at the seemingly victorious fighter, clamping a hand over his wound. “I just thought you should know something.”


Aekira’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t suppose that something has something to do with where Scero is.”


“I’m… afraid not,” the Miqo’te wheezed, his voice becoming weaker from blood loss. “I don’t…”


What he said next was all but unintelligible. The hyur drew closer, the blade still in hand. “What was that?”


N’yhl gently shut his eyes, seeming almost serene. “Mister Swyfte, you fool,” he replied. “I said I don’t die that easily.” He removed the hand from his wounded abdomen, and from it sprung forth another of his aetheric tendrils. Though Aekira reacted, it all too late. The dagger he swung fell from his hand as he found himself pierced through the chest. The Success which he thought was all but secure slipped painfully from his grasp, and Aekira could do naught but watch. 


The arcanist before him stood casually, as if he hadn’t been stabbed just moments ago. He walked forward, driving Aekira away. “You know, Mister Swyfte, I’m not nearly the villain you think I am.” Aekira grit his teeth, hand pressed over his wound to cease as much bleeding as he could. He backed further and further from N’yhl, until he found his back to the window.


“You’re a music man, yes?” Though N’yhl asked, he did not wait for the hyur to answer. “Well, then think of me as a composer, writing a grand sonata. Not for myself, mind you, but for you AND your dear brother.” The true victor finally met Aekira at the window, wearing a triumphant look on his half-hidden face. “Scero, you see, is in his phase of exhibition. His tale has just begun, and I’m sure he will become a masterpiece of magic in time. However, it would seem he needs a little push to get going. And what better motivation than tragedy befalling his dear younger brother?”


Aekira gripped the windowsill behind him. It was all he had to keep him upright. We needed to fight back, he knew, but he was growing weaker, his limbs would not move as he told them. And so, Aekira watched helplessly, as one of N’yhl’s arcane whips retrieved the glasses, and tucked them into the pocket of his coat.


“And lucky for all of us,” N’yhl concluded, “Your tale has reached its finale.”


Suddenly, N’yhl became distant, his face drawing further and further away. At first, he thought he was dying, then he felt the wind, saw the snow raining down along with the bloody, shattered glass of the window. He almost called at an improvement from his first thought, then decided that falling off of Ishgard to his death is really no better than bleeding out. They both have the same end result. He closed his eyes, unable to keep them open. No sooner did he hear shouting, feel a pair of arms grab him. So this is what the afterlife feels like, he thought, as consciousness drifted from him, I wonder whose arms they are.




For a moment, it felt as though he were floating through the nether, then suddenly, he hit solid ground. Upon opening his eyes, he expected to find himself destroyed, but instead saw he was intact, or at least, as much as he was when he last left himself. He couldn’t move a muscle, not that he tried, he simply watched as citizens of the foreign city started to crowd around him in confusion.


And then he saw him. Crawling to his side. “Are you okay,” he asked, his tone shaky with concern… yes, his hair had gotten darker, he lacked the glasses he always wore, but it was him, living, breathing.


Overjoyed, Aekira brought himself to smile. He just barely raised a hand, to grab the man’s arm. “...S-Scer,” he choked out. “I… I’m so glad…”


Those few words were all he managed. His hand dropped to the ground, as consciousness left Aekira Swyfte once more.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lost in Elegy


“Oh you sorry soul, as cold as ice...”


Aekira hummed quietly to himself, as he pulled a shirt over his freshly re-bandaged chest. Three days, it had been, since he’d awoken from a two week slumber that did little to ease the stabbing pains. It still hurt to breathe, let alone speak or sing, but the scraps of a song he’d written weeks ago, the song for Scero, were stuck firmly in his head.


He spent most of his waking hours issuing thanks. Not just to House Farendaire for nursing him back to health, but to the Twelve that he hadn’t been stabbed in his hands, for if he had been, the rest of that song would never have found its way to paper. Otherwise, he might have gone mad, and not just on the account of an unsatiated muse. Had he been left to think about his assault all day? He shuddered to think about it. He’d much rather write. Paranoia is better left to others.


It was earlier that morning, in fact, when he finally found the rest of the words, though it took several hours to arrange them just right. And after a bath and a redressing of his wounds, Aekira finally found the heart to stand and sing it. Quietly, of course, so that no one heard, but he had to make sure it sounded right…


Of course, an injured man can only stand and sing for so long before his voice gives out. Halfway through a verse, Aekira’s voice cracked, then gave way completely to coughing. His exhausted lungs’d had enough. With a heavy sigh, he sat himself back on the bed, setting the notebook in his lap. Finish it another time, he thought to himself, as he read over the lyrics for the millionth time that day. It’s perfect, he thought. Everything he hoped it’d be, it became. Suddenly, though, there came a realization.


...What do I name it?


Naming a song, after all, is akin to naming a child. The title given to a piece of music is, in many ways, the core of its entire identity. His first thought was to name it for his brother, since he’d written the song with Scero in mind. But “A Song for Scero” sounded... spectacularly bland. “What We Were” had also crossed his mind, a phrase plucked from the chorus, but it seemed too easy. It didn’t roll off the tongue the way a title should. And GODS, the alliteration…


Aekira groaned and faceplanted into his pillow out of annoyance. Bestowing a name upon a song is the first step to defining what it’s meant to be. And though the lyrics were all in place, the music written out, the issue was that Aekira had yet to decide what the song should be in of itself.


A sudden knock on the door kept Aekira from dwelling upon it further. Judiel again, he figured. He shut his book and set it on the night table, responding to the knock with a quiet “Come in.”


To his immense surprise, Judiel was not the one to enter the room. Nor Aronaux, nor anyone else from the Farendaire estate. “Oh, good, you're awake,” said the fellow from behind the door, a lanky hyurian man with a mess of brown hair atop his head. “Aekira Swyfte, right? Pleasure to meet you!” He started chattering on endlessly as he wandered the room, as if meeting an old friend, though he never quite made eye contact with the Aekira. In fact, the stranger seemed to move so quickly that he could only catch the barest glimpse of his face at all. “I've been meaning for days to come meet you,” he went on, “But you've been resting each time I tried! I thought for a while that Nymeia was conspiring against our meeting, but… Ah, well, that was then, and this is now. How've you been feeling? I trust your recovery has gone smoothly. I DID hear you singing in here, after all. Has anyone told you how lovely your voice is? Regardless! It must mean you’re feeling at least a little better.”


Overcome by the embarrassment of being heard, Aekira couldn’t find a decent response, so he answered the strange fellow with silence. “Cat got your tongue,” the stranger asked, his back turned to Aekira, sleeves rolled up and a match in hand to light the fireplace. There was a certain familiarity about the way he spoke, though he was certain he’d never met the man. It bothered him to the seventh hell and back, but he couldn't quite place what it was. “That's all right for now,” he continued. “Of course, I'd love to hear how you ended up falling off the city sometime, if you'd be willing to share. I even have some stories about falling out of things myself... Ah, that should do it.”


Aekira cast a glance over, as he heard the beginnings of a crackling fire. The other hyur closed the grate over the fireplace and stepped back to admire the flames. He eyed the stranger up and down, the first good look he’d gotten, though he remained turned away.


By all means, he should have been more average, for at least from behind, nothing about him seemed particularly impressive. A thin chest connected to a narrow set of shoulders, supporting a head that would have been slightly too large for his body had he not made up for his slenderness with height. Maybe it’ll make sense, he thought, once I see his face.


And then Aekira noted his arms.


Oh my gods.


Suddenly, the bizarre, familiar feeling the stranger gave him made perfect sense. It was the right arm that gave him pause, the left being bare and normal. But the right was covered, etched all over in ink, tattoos taking the shape of the spells out of an arcanist’s tome. Not unlike N’yhl’s, perhaps, but these were kinder, and far more recognizable. After all, he’d seen them a million times before, and even though it had been so long since he’d last laid eyes upon them, Aekira knew immediately who they belonged to.


Two years.


“You know… It just occured to me,” the hyur said, “I should apologize. This must be pretty confusing for you! I haven’t even introduced myself yet.”


The man went on about his shameful lack of an introduction, but Aekira didn’t hear a word of it. Finally, he turned to face Aekira with a warm smile. The face of the man from the Aetheryte Plaza who snatched him from the sky now stared back at him with a piercing green gaze. He cleared his throat, and bowed his head. “My name is M-!”




For a moment, the room was void of conversation, as both men processed what one of them had just blurted out.


“...P-pardon,” the stranger asked, eyes gone wide from excitement, or perhaps even fear.


By then, Aekira had already crawled back out of bed, stumbling his way over to the other hyur before near collapsing into an embrace. It became the stranger’s turn for silence, as the younger man struggled not to burst into tears. “I… I didn’t think I’d ever see you again,” Aekira choked out, burying his face into his brother’s shoulder. “Gods, Scer, I…”


As though a dam had been broken within him, two years worth or words unsaid spilled forth from Aekira’s mouth, about their their home, the people they knew, their entire world and how it had changed. How he’d moved back to Thanalan, and the people he’d met since then, the Sols, and Reina, the Farendaires, all these new faces who had come into his life, for better and for worse. He told him about the work he’d found, with Rhyn, how he was finally doing something positive, and how he’d finally started writing again for the first time in an astral era.

And all the while, the man he knew as Scero stayed silent. Aekira didn’t seem to notice his brother’s look of confusion, the way he seemed to sink as he kept talking about every little thing he’d missed.


For the elder hyur, it became too much.


“I don’t remember,” he mumbled, perhaps without even meaning to. Aekira’s recollection of the things Scero had missed came to a sudden halt.




“I don’t remember,” he repeated, louder this time.


“Don’t remember,” the younger hyur asked, eyebrows knitting together in confusion. “Don’t remember what?”




He hastily stepped back, pulling out of Aekira’s embrace. All the hope Aekira had felt, finally seeing his brother with his own eyes, melted away into confusion. “...This is a joke, right,” he asked, hoping it to be some ill-timed ploy. He’d be annoyed about it, sure, but then they’d have a laugh about it, and all would be well... But that’s not like him at all. He could see it on his brother’s face, the way the question seemed to pain him, and the dejected shake of his head.


“...How could you not…” Aekira took a step toward his brother. His hands began to tremble. Dammit, get a hold of yourself. “You knew my name, when you came in…”


“Because Judiel told it to me,” he admitted. “If she hadn’t… I… I wouldn’t have known.”


“And the Aetheryte Plaza,” he then asked.


“It was a coincidence, I think… what else was I supposed to do, you would have died.”


“But… this has got to be a mistake,” he insisted. “We… We’re brothers, how could you not remember? We grew up together, we travelled together… We met up in Ul’dah, remember? It had been years, we were so happy…”


“I… I don’t doubt you… I believe you, even, but...”


”What about our parents,” he asked. “Or Fer? You don’t remember them?”


Once again, he simply shook his head.


The younger hyur shook his head right back. “...No… no this is wrong. Just… give me anything. There has to be something you remember.” Aekira grabbed his elder brother by the wrist, watching him with pleading eyes. “Please, Scer… something. ANYTHING.”


But there was nothing the elder Swyfte could think of. “...I’m sorry,” he choked, “I…” He trailed off, leaving the room quiet, save the burning of firewood.


Aekira took in a deep, stinging breath, trying to steady himself. But he couldn’t help but wonder what horrible thing happened that stripped Scero of his memories. He became tense. Another deep breath.


This can’t be happening.


”It’s… it’s fine,” he eventually said, breaking the silence that near consumed them. “...We’ll figure out a way to set your head straight. I don’t know how, but… we’ll get through it, Scer, we always-!”


“Hiro,” his brother interrupted, still turned away. “Please,” he muttered, he seemed almost angry. “My name is Hiro.”


The silence returned, but only for a moment. “I’m sorry,” Hiro uttered, before hastily making an exit, leaving Aekira in his chambers alone.


The last of his energy finally left him, and Aekira fell to his knees. He made no effort to pick himself up. After all, what is one to do when all the hope he carried for the last two years crumbles into dust?


Why, when a man is hopeless, he writes about it.


After a moment, Aekira crawled toward the nighttable, and reached for his notebook. Naming a song, after all, is akin to naming a child. Bestowing a name upon a song is the first step to defining what it’s meant to be. The issue, until then, was that Aekira hadn’t decided what the song was meant to be. But now he had a few ideas. After a thoughtful pause, he picked up his pen, and scrawled out a title at the top of the page.




For a song for a brother who didn’t seem to recognize himself, the title felt like a perfect fit. So perfect it almost pained him to write down. With a heavy sigh, Aekira closed the book and set it aside. He pulled his knees to his chest and rested his forehead upon them, feeling no more need to stave off any tears. After such an ordeal, it was deserved, though he wasn’t really sure if he cried out of stress or mourning. An elegy, after all, is a song for the dead.


He could only hope that his brother still lived on.

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