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Starsfall [Fate-14] IC Thread

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One year ago.



The sun was obscured behind a rare bank of clouds, welcome relief and good omen alike to one that preferred lands far colder than this hateful desert. Not that the huntress needed the latter (the former being always welcome); not with the prize burning hot in her clenched fist, as it had for the past sun. The proof of her success, and redemption for… mistakes. Not that she’d done anything wrong! Scouting, yes, that was all, seeking exactly this manner of trinket for her Nunh. Certainly not making a side trip to murder a rival.


That failure still stung, briefly overshadowing her pride at having claimed the trinket. Only briefly, however; then she once more pictured his face, how intensely his eyes had burned when he spoke of wanting this thing. And now, she had it.


For the first time in bells, she paused, and unclenched her fist, and looked at it. Such a dull little bauble, to her eyes. Yellow, and not even pretty. She had seen much prettier gems, since leaving the Lands; by comparison, this one was just boring and ugly. Even her own eyes were of a brighter yellow.


A frown creased her brow, then. The gem seemed a little brighter than she remembered. She cupped her hands around it, creating shadow, and peered in. Yes.. it was definitely glowing. And there was a sound…


The huntress shook herself, straightening with a grin, and laughed. "Yes!" She’d been almost sure.. ALMOST sure she had the right one. That Outsider she took it from had been so mad, just SO mad, had been trying to keep it so hard. Only later when she looked at it properly and saw how boring and ugly it was, did she wonder if she’d been tricked… but no, behold, it was glowing, it was special, it was the thing he wanted!


Practically skipping with joy, X’kirra rushed onward, to where the others waited. To where HE waited, her Nunh. He would reward her, for this, and the thought made her shiver.


Her fist gripped the wyrmtear even more tightly as she ran.




Present Day



“You will do as you’re ordered.”


Such statements had never used to cause Rienne any trouble, but then they’d never been used to keep a murderer safe from the law. One or more murderers, she reminded herself; the connections, the good family name that must not be soiled via open arrest under suspicion alone, covered the lot of the little bastards, not just THAT one. The little street rat. Twelve alone knew why the Elementals had let her in, and now see what was happening, as she dragged those fool boys down into the muck with her.


Well, there was more than one way to skin a coeurl.


With a brisk step, Rienne made her way up to the blue-lit counter. The pretty lass there smiled up at her.


“Good day, Wailer. May we be of service?”


“Yes. I would like to issue a leve.”




Also Present Day



“So, the Master is upset, is he?”

“Ah, yes, I would say so.”

“Throwing things?”

“No, no, but he is sulking.”

“Oh dear. The shrimp-kabobs?”

“He had three.”

A shocked silence.


“Indeed. May as well have had none at all.”

“And the dancers?”

“Two of them are in there. I called for a third, but she is off servicing that gentleman, what was his name... anyroad she won’t be back for bells.”

“Damnation. Well, I suppose this was to be expected. It’s been.. What? Six moons?”

“Closer to fourteen, actually.”

“Fourteen! How awkward.”

“The Master and his cousin were never very close, but, well…”

“Indeed. No word in so long…”


Another silence.

“Perhaps... Adventurers?”

“As dancers?”

“No! Well, mayhap. Not a bad idea. But you know what I mean.”

“Yes, actually. He does favor Adventurers.”

“A contest could be made of it. So many always show up. The contest alone might cheer him up.”

“Brilliant, yes. His name does draw them in.”

“As it should. You will handle the details?”

“Yes, tonight. A leve should do it. You can handle the Master.”

“As always. He’ll come up with the idea himself, or think he did.”

“Exactly as one would expect, from the eccentric Master Gegereju.”




Still Yet Present Day





The berobed miqo’te held up the parchment in a triumphant flourish; his sole companion stared for a moment, and then leaned over and proceeded to lick herself. The thaumaturge glared, then scoffed. It was a good scoff, practiced, with exactly the same amount of condescending disdain to which he treated most other living things.


“Even you will be forced to concede my brilliance, Minna, when I secure the tear! And now, thanks to this ritual-” Another flourish, carefully not on the same side of the table as the candles, not after last time, “-I will be able to follow its trail! Then its SECRETS shall be MINE!”


Minna yawned, and he reached out, scratching her head reflexively. She bit his thumb, of course. He winced, but continued. It helped to focus. When was the last time he slept? Focus. On the ritual!


“Now… yes, the ritual is dangerous. Of COURSE it is. Draws voidsent like flies. And the corpses… well, they do need to be there, and… ow, CLAWS, Minna! No, I won’t… I shall be busy. Too busy to be fighting horrors. I need.. Need…”


He slapped his head with his other hand (and the scroll), and laughed.


“AHA! BEHOLD ONCE MORE, MY GENIUS!” He grinned fiercely at the cat, who was licking his blood from his fingers.


“Minions, Minna! Underlings, lackeys… thugs!”


He dropped the scroll, snatched a quill, and wrote quickly on the back of it.


“Seeking… bold Adventurers… power untold… great rewards… well, I am sure the, what’s it called. Leve person. Whatever. They will put a spin on it. And then… all shall TREMBLE before the coming of U’jakataAAAH CLAWS, MINNA!”

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  • 2 weeks later...

[Following Act I, Scene I: I Adventure..!]



Delivered unto the hands of Damascus, Leanne, Aigiarn, Uzuki and Arblis.


'Dear Adventurers,


Master Gegereju would once more wish to express his compliments with regard to your impressive display, and bids you attend, for herein are the details of the Quest.


The purpose of the Quest is to discover the whereabouts and ultimate fate of his cousin, Fafaraju Gegeraju. Some two turns ago, Mister Gegeraju, using personal funds and contacts, did set out to found an outpost at the opposite end of the Sagolii Desert. However, at a time approximately fourteen moons ago, all contact ceased.


By way of clarification, Mister Gegeraju was not in the habit of communicating regularly with his family by any means, and as such his absence was not immediately noted. Fourteen moons is the time of the last sign of life, a missive to Forgotten Springs inquiring upon U'odh Nunh as to whether any of his huntresses might wish to eventually moonlight as dancers.


Since that time, there has been no sign of Master Gegereju's cousin. You are bidden to seek him out, be it at his outpost or wheresoever he might be, and confirm he yet lives; failing that, to investigate and resolve the cause of his death.


As travel across the Sagolii is dangerous in the calmest of times, and Master Gegereju wishes to ensure the success of this Quest, he has used his considerable influence to push a request through the Immortal Flames, and arranged for the assignation of one Flame Captain Maximillian Maximus to organize and launch an expedition. The time of departure is to be determined, as the necessary manpower and resources are being organized, yet should be less than a moon from now. The Immortal Flames outpost in Forgotten Springs will serve as a primary base of operations and rendezvous point.


Master Gegereju wishes you the foremost of luck, and good fortune; considerable rewards await all those who succeed.





Maidservant of Master Gegereju


P.S. It is worth noting that, as Master Gegereju cares more about the success of this Quest than its costs, additional help will not be frowned upon. Should you need to seek out the assistance of fellow Adventurers, they too will be compensated for success. Twelve watch over you.'





Flame Captain Maximillian Maximus frowned at the paper between his hands. They were powerful hands, huge with his highlander heritage and hard from years of direct application to the enemies of the Sultanate (and the occasional barroom brawl). A fighter's hands. The paper looked rather puny in them, but it carried power of its own. The power to greatly irritate, and for a moment he was inclined to crush it, and feed it to the fire... but instead, he read through it once more. Frowning. Deeply.


"A Thaumaturge who summons Voidsent. Yet these Adventurers did not kill him. And instead wish for us to... babysit him. So they can use him to find this.. Wyrmtear."


"Yes sir."


Captain Maximus glanced up at the Private who had brought the report. The lad - Joss was his name - looked nervous, as well he might be. The Captain knew what an impression he made, in his Flame leathers, thick mustache bristling when he scowled. Good. The rank and file should always be a bit nervous.. yet Joss seemed like a sturdy lad. He could ease up.


"You bore witness to this ritual, yourself." He knew he had, it was in the report.


"Yes sir."


"Another might have.. effected a tactical withdrawal, to seek reinforcements. But you remained. Trying to be a hero, private?"


"No sir. Just my duty, sir."


The Captain nodded. "It's good to see a man not afraid to do his duty. Dismissed."


Private Joss straightened, snapped a crisp Flame salute, turned, and left. Maximillian looked back at the paper... and then drew out another one. The 'request' from the Syndicate, though no one with half a brain could confuse it for anything less than the order it was. This harebrained expedition into the depths of the Sagolii. How much money did that fatcat in Costa Del Sol throw into this? And now he had some mad void mage to watch over at the same time.


A thoughtful frown creased the Captain's brow. The mage also wanted to go into the desert. And these Adventurers.. Zanzan Yanzan, Gallien Vyese, R'shesha Otharn and Kuina Kusushi.. and the other ones Gegereju would be sending.. and gods-knew what others who decided to tag along for the ride.. they would be going, too. Probably too much to hope they were all going to the same place... but a lot could happen in the desert. And while Adventurers were useless for things like marching discipline, they were hell on wheels for taking care of insane mages and Voidsent.


Well. Perhaps things could be made to work out after all. As long as nothing else came along to further complicate matters...






The warehouse-slash-hideout of the Changing Leaves was fairly comfortable, as these things went. Rienne, now that she was not set on infiltrating - nor falling into a cage, to her enduring frustration and embarrassment - was able to appreciate the obvious effort these.. youths.. had put into fortifying their little base, but also into making it comfortably livable. The main level was kept clear; she advised they change that, adding some furniture, in order to make the going more hazardous for thieves or Adventurers sneaking in. The downstairs was crowded but also cozy, and positively stuffed with what Rienne could only call adventuring supplies. Backpacks, torches, spare weapons, scroll cases, climbing instruments, and probably a malm or two of rope. Upstairs, the wealthy backgrounds of the would-be revolutionaries showed, with quality furniture, books, good lighting when they were not under siege, and excellent food.


The youths were skeptical about her, at first, but she thought she was winning them over. It helped that she truly had no further interest in their arrest, which was something she knew still confused them. No matter; she was in earnest, and it showed. She was no good for deception. The near-catastrophe of the attempt to arrest these kids proved that. She was a scout, and her skills were more in line with miss Carpenter's than with politics and subterfuge.


Hearing the description of the murderer - murderess - recounted by young Garri had changed everything. It was her, it had to be. Rienne still had nightmares of Weylan's death, witnessed unseen by herself. The way that miqo'te with the white and blue fur humiliated.. slaughtered him. Defiled, with his own spear. So fluid and sure, the motion with which she impaled him. She could have done it quick, like in Garri's dream, like with the Wailers and Pelderain, but no. It was personal, that time.


Personal. Her mind flickered back to the other keeper girl, Nihka Mioni. Rienne has been startled to see her showing up to the leve, and for a moment had wondered if she'd been set up.. but it seemed to have truly just been chance. She'd watched her closely, during the description, and the recognition had been there. On her, and on that tall Ishgardian, Enju, and on the other miqo'te, Vael'a. Would it be trouble? Probably. And yet they seemed earnest about their desire for justice. If they could be made to see...



Her ruminations were disrupted as a cry rose from the other room. She was on her feet and by the door in a moment, to find the Lorieux girl comforting Garri. They slept in the same bed like sisters - or lovers? - and wore only nightclothes, a demure silken shift for the former, and a simple camise for the latter. Rienne noted how underfed Garri looked, and felt a pang of conscience, but shook it off. She had other things to concern her.


By all evidence, Garri had a bad dream. Which was what Rienne had been waiting for.




The girl was sweating, shaking, and Rienne quickly but calmly retrieved a glass of water, handing it to Frances. The young elezen girl smiled as she gave it to her friend, who drank gratefully. Rienne waited. At length, the miqo'te girl shook her head, notched ear folded back with its twin.


"I saw a sign. Forgotten Springs..."


Frances looked up at Rienne, who nodded to her.


"Inform your family, miss Lorieux."

"And you your superiors, miss Rienne. It appears we are going to Forgotten Springs."


Garri summoned up a grin, wiping her brow and looking up at her friend, and the Wailer. "That's near where the catlizard people are! I've always wanted to see one..."

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Late at night, while her fiancé slept soundly, Nihka busied herself around the estate. Sehki, old enough now to toddle along without being carried and young enough to be direly curious about the chores her mother was doing, was her joyful shadow. She smiled warmly at the sight, Sehki padding around on bare feet in a little green dress and dragging along her Ahriman plush. The plushie was named Ahman; an accident but the name stuck even after Sehki could say the word Ahriman clearly.



Cleaning was almost meditative. As her hands brushed a soft cloth against ornate wooden surfaces, knocking dust into the air and leaving the wood gleaming, Nihka’s mind sifted through recent events. Five forestborn and one miqo’te who had taken up with them. They fancied themselves revolutionaries, the rich children of influential families who sought change in society.



That she thought of them as children gave Nihka pause. She was hardly older than they were, she was still a child herself in the eyes of Menphina. Fingers slid along the tops of books by rote as her thoughts drifted to her childhood, traveling with her family. At fourteen summers old, she was almost ready to take her trial and become an adult. She was just waiting for their next visit to the clan, but that visit never came. The ixal attacked, her family fought and lost, and the only reason Nihka survived was her older sister holding them off long enough for her to run. She’d never taken her trial, never become an adult. Who was she to call anyone else a child?



The miqo’te, Garri, was the most interesting of the bunch. She’d had a vision of the merchant, Pelderain Dornier, being murdered by a masked miqo’te. The same day that Nihka had been arrested by Weylan, hidden away in a secret prison.



She didn’t want to think about that part…



Nihka pushed those thoughts away as she hoisted a bucket of water up the stairs, what mattered now was the masked miqo’te. Garri described him, or her, dressed in greys and browns, with bright white fur with blue tips. Nihka was no stranger to unusual visions, so she accepted that what the girl had seen was true, but that was no less worrying. White hair with blue tips, though an unusual combination and unlikely to occur naturally, was Anstarra’s true hair color.



One moon ago a guest had come to the Redezvous. Vael’a had hosted him, and later went to security to describe the experience as deeply unsettling. He seemed less interested in food and conversation and more in conquest. X’zarann Nuhn had come to scout the location, searching for An. But he found Nihka. As he was leaving he caught sight of her, and his gaze made her want to run and hide. He had white hair with blue tips, like his sister.



Nihka’s nostrils flared unconsciously as she scrubbed the wooden floor. Lightly floral soap filled her senses, subtle to most races but quite strong to her huntress/alchemy-trained nose. She’d spent that afternoon, before hosting, cuddling her fiancé. The scent of Anstarra might have been hanging on her. Could he have smelled it? Did he know? What would he do with that knowledge? An was terrified of him, and that meant Nihka was as well.



This wouldn’t be the first time Nihka could be used as a means to hurting someone else. She’d been kidnapped before, back when she was still with the Shroudwolves. Assassins seeking out Khloe had grabbed Nihka and bound her to use her as leverage. If she wasn’t careful, someone would use her to hurt An.



She couldn’t let that happen.



But how would she go about that? Never leaving the house? Never taking another leveplate? Give up her work and hide in the estate forever? She couldn’t do that. As a registered adventurer and loving mother, it was her duty to make the world a safer place for everyone, for her daughter. Nihka ran her hand over her belly, ears flicking. That would be plural, some day. Daughters. Children. How could she raise a family with this threat hanging over their heads?



Nihka understood, now, why her mother fought. Kemi fought to the bitter end to save as many of her children as she could, and though she died she had succeeded. Nihka was alive; would she be willing to die to save Sehki?


Physically exhausted, Nihka collapsed back into the warmth of Anstarra’s bed while Sehki played in the other room. She tangled herself up as best she could, to enjoy the cuddles until dawn came and the rest of the world woke.

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Damascus found it hard to become tired of counting money.


In the Jewel of the Desert it represented time, food, water, health, dreams, anything that could be bought, sold, our traded. She stacked up a tower of coins, making soft muted clinks as each coin slides onto its neighbor. The tower contained value enough to purchase a small house in the outskirts of the city.


A man give twenty years labor for such a sum, stacking his coins night by night. Twenty years for such a sum, and most would think it a bargain well struck. She topples the tower, coins rolling this way and that on her crowded desk. Twenty years of life, and Master Gegejeru had handed it over as easily as his pocket change.


Well, she supposes, it probably was close to pocket change for him.


Damascus sighs and begins regathering the coins, fishing them out from the scattered books, papers, and inkwells on her desk. The reward from the Leve in Costa Del Sol had been generous, strangely so, but she was learning a Free Company was a thirsty beast. The Night Ravens drank money like a drunkard does wine, and it would not be long before these funds were gone. She rubs her temple, Primrose's fools errand of an airship was no where near being complete, and while Klynzahr and Alderimont's gardening was bringing in funds, it was not enough. Miss Ueno was already complaining about not being able to pay the month's bills.


Not for the last time she glaces at the letter Gegejeru had sent.


"Money..." She mutters, knuckle rapping softly on her mask, "And here I always thought our greatest foe would be villains and evildoers."


"And here instead it is our ledger book."

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It was coming up on a sennight since the preparations had begun, and much had already been accomplished. Soldiers had been issued orders, materiel had been shipped in from Limsa, maps and charts had been consulted, and something very closely resembling an expedition in earnest was shaping up. U'odh Nunh had been shown the advantages of hosting this little adventure, as he called it, and had assigned U'khuba to wring every financial concession they could from their guests while the chaos lasted, and U'tykha to keep the peace and head off confrontation between the huntresses and the influx of people. Both Tias, eager as always to prove their eventual superiority, set to with a will, and as a result there were few enough problems. Even with the extraneous civilians underfoot.


Three such individuals sat (or stood, in the third's case, ever vigilant even without her Wailer mask) and watched as a half-dozen Flame recruits fought to lift a bulky crate onto a wagon bed. The soldiers sweated and swore under the bright midday sun, making the miqo'te of the trio shake her head.


"THIS is why I'd never join the army. They should be doing this at night or something! Or at least the evening. They're nuts." Garri bit into a fruit, dark tail swinging below her crossed legs. She was perched on one of the rocks, in the shade provided by the lovely oasis' palm trees.

"It does seem rather.. unnecessarily arduous." Frances, in a wide-brimmed hat and sharing her friend's shade, was nonetheless sweating almost as badly as the soldiers, or so she felt. Nothing in a life among the more privileged children of Gridania's nobility had prepared her for the desert heat. "Perhaps their commanding officer might be prevailed upon to allow them to continue when the sun is not quite so.. murderous."

Their standing companion (also in the shade, for though vigilant, she was hardly stupid, in her opinion), snorted.

"I would not bother, mistress Lorieux. These ones probably did something to annoy their commander. Thus.. earning this work detail."

"Truly, Rienne? That seems cruel." Frances looked her way, frowning, but it was Garri who answered.

"Naaah. They're used to it. Flames are tough. 'sides.. haha, look!" She nodded across the way, to shade provided by one of the public houses. Four of the local huntresses were watching with distinct interest, and were soon joined by two more. Some of the soldiers, men and women alike, flashed grins their way, and maybe went out of their way to flex a bit more than was strictly necessary.


Frances peered, then giggled at the sight. "Goodness! It's like a mating display~" She blushed a bit, glancing at Garri, who also laughed. "Uh huh.. though it's weird, I thought that, like, Seeker women were, uh, reserved for the Nunh or something."


"For mating purposes, yes!" another voice cut in from nearby, making the three start a little; the robed figure stepped dramatically from among the trees, almost tripping as a cat wound through his legs. He glared at the animal, then straightened, gesticulating. Also dramatically. "But how dull would that be! To so restrict the ardor of a huntress! Hah! Impossible! Tribeswomen find pleasure where they will, yes, when they will and how and with whom and however frequently. 'tis only pitiful Tias must make do and wait.. or leave, and thus form their own harems of nubile warrior females."


The three started at the male miqo'te, covered in black robes, standing with extravagant pose, and blinked. Garri covered her mouth, snorting laughter. Rienne eyed him suspiciously but made no further move toward her spear. Frances smiled with habitual politeness.

"I take it you are from this tribe, then, ser?"

"That I am! U'jakata, Thaumaturge Most Puissant, this is my name. And here, Minna, my ever-respectful familiar. Mark how she cleans herself in apparent disdain of our discourse. 'tis but a ruse, oh yes. Her ears are as sharp - as are her claws, the little fiend -sharp as you could wish. Or not wish. Well have my robes suffered from her tender attentions. And my leggings, and flesh, betimes."


The three girls couldn't help but laugh at this, and the Thaumaturge huffed.

"Bah! Soon, matters of robes and wardrobial disarray shall matter not, once the object of my search is acquired. The days only pass too slowly! Would that my formidable will alone could encourage this expedition to take flight with greater haste, that I might claim my rightful place upon it."


"Oh? You're coming along, too?" This from Garri, whose black ears had piqued with interest. U'jakata nodded arrogantly.

"That I- what do you mean 'too'? The deep Sagolii is no place for children!"

"HEY! I'm not a child, I'm fifteen! And Frances is sixteen!"

"Hrm.. old enough to hunt, and mate, I suppose. Still, 'tis not for helpless, inex-"

He blinked, flinching sharply back as a dagger slammed into the tree six ilms from his head.

"And I'm NOT helpless! Got it?!"


The mage adjusted his robes, straightening. Stooping down, he gathered his cat into his arms. "Fire she has, Minna! Reminds me of my sisters, and isn't that a strange thought. How does a Nunh do it, surrounded by such energy, vitality, femininity?" He straightened; the cat regarded Garri with feline languor. "It excites and frightens, small wonder you might say that I surround myself with tomes, and risk only flame and void, rather than women. Which is more alarming, more alluring, more destructive, who could even say?"


Frances blinked, and looked at her friend, who did not seem displeased by the strange male's rambling commentary. Rienne cocked her head, clearing her throat.

"Excuse me, ser.. U'jakata. You said you were part of this expedition. In what capacity? Are you representing the Drake tribe, somehow?"

The thaumaturge froze, taking on a shifty expression. Frances jumped in.

"Oh! Are you going to help with the attunement ritual?"

Under his cowl, the mage's ears visibly perked.


"...ritual, you say?"


"Yes. Flame Captain Maximus informed us that we will be setting up an Aetheryte to facilitate travel and to minimize our baggage train, at a halfway point. I understand that there has been some trouble with acquiring sufficient Thaumaturgical aid to empower it, due to some internal issue at the Ossuary. Mayhap you could lend your talents to the cause."


The robed miqo'te's answering grin was... a little unsettling.


"Mayhap I could, my dear young lady. Mayhap I could at that."

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  • 2 weeks later...

A scuffing noise. A short whoosh. A hiss that quickly fades away to nothing.


Scuff. Whoosh. Hisssssss...


There was something soothing about the sound of each grain of sand falling back to the earth, their chorus tapering off into silence as the last few specks return to land.


Scuff. Whoosh- Arblis opened her eyes just in time for a stray gust of wind to blow the plume of sand she'd kicked up back into her face. She added a yelp and an array of spitting sounds to the otherwise peaceful early evening air.


It was dusk, just one sun left before the expedition departed- the perfect time for brooding. She stared back toward Forgotten Springs from a mere hundred yalms away out in the sands. Ever so reluctantly, she was beginning to like the place, even though it reminded her of her own tribe. Much of the same atmosphere, well-meaning souls sprinkled here and there, and the same sort of deeply flawed values and disdain and long-lasting prejudiced little feuds and thoughtless followers and braggarts with no real accomplishment and--


Arblis shook her head. It's not their fault. She sifted through the wreckage of her train of thought as her ears kept watch, twisting to hear the skittering and burrowing of tiny creatures escaping the oncoming chill of night. Her thoughts inevitably drifted back to her tribe. All that traveling and she'd never bothered to find out if they had survived the Calamity. But they were awful. But...


The visored turban she'd unconsciously been spinning around on one finger the whole time rotated to a gentle stop as she looked directly at it. In a last-ditch attempt to make up her mind, she spoke her thoughts aloud. "I can't decide whether I'm better off knowing or not, but... If I do run across them, at least I can stop 'em from knowing it's me unless until I'm ready."


A smile quickly found its familiar spot on her expression. "And even if they are still around I probably won't run into them and it's been so long that there's no way they'd recognize me because I probably look a lot different! Ha! No problems!"


The Seeker scuttled back toward Forgotten Springs before she could change her mind about that.

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“They are going after the Wyrmtear” That is what Anstarra had said. Even after so long the taint that was left by the heretics in Ul’dah persisted. How he had wished that he could eliminate the idea of the blasted artifact, relegate it back to legend so that none would seek its power. The reality was instead that so long as people knew of it, there would be those who would seek it. Would the same go for Tharl Oom Khash even after the eventual capture of Friont? Once he is gone, who would answer the call? 



For now, it mattered not, U’ala had written to him for aid and he was beholden to his promise. The coincidence that an Immortal Flames expedition for the tear was occurring at the same time was merely that: a coincidence. Nevertheless, Orrin secretly hoped that they could pick up the trail of X’kirra where he had failed. He made his preparations, he made the mistake of wearing full plate in the desert before, he would not make the same mistake this time.

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[align=center]Camp "Sodding Nowhere", 14th Sun of the 3rd Astral Moon. [/align]


Kiht Jakkya sat in the shade of crates and a tent in what could be considered the corner of a little camp in the middle of the Sagolii Desert. The Immortal Flames worked in the midst of their daily duties; Kiht hardly paid attention to them, and her mind was on other matters.


She sat in a rather undignified position; her legs straight out in front of her, and her back against a crate. A journal laid on her lap, and one hand held a quill, but the other hand held her abdomen. Her tunic was cut and bloody, but her wounds had been mended as much as magic could manage. She just needed time to heal.


Her head rested back against the crate, and it kept her gaze slightly skyward. She closed her eyes, and reached into her pocket. Slowly, her hand drew out a tiny bone ocarina. The little instrument was so simple it could easily be called a bone whistle. She played a short tune on it that sounded more like a melodic whistle.


A slight breeze blew across the desert sands, and the camp’s tents rustled when hit with the wind. Suddenly, a tiny winged figure landed upon a crate in front of Kiht. The bird arrived so quickly that it was almost as if he aether-ported to her.


“Haru.” She said as she grew a smile. The small Falcon stared at her expectantly.


“I hope you have been able to find food in this desert… I have none for you. I am sorry.” She said in a casual tone as if the bird could understand her.


Haru canted his head as she talked, but responded no other way.


Kiht studied him for a moment. The bird just watched her with patience. “…What are you?” She asked quietly. “To me, you are just a tiny animal. Too small to be worth much food, and too lacking of mind to have conversation with. You would not comprehend my troubles, my dishonors or my worries… You only care about where your next meal will come from.”


Haru doesn’t respond, of course. His head only adjusted upright. But his gaze stayed on Kiht.


“Are you meat?” She asked. “Are you just flying meat that needs to eat more meat to continue to be meat?”


Kiht let out a short chuckle that was interrupted by a cough. Her body was not ready to let her laugh without protest.


“Flying meat with feathers…”


Haru just stared.


“Flying…” She spoke quietly. Her eyes fell shut. “You can fly faster than I can run, you can dive and swoop a mouse from the ground with the accuracy of a seasoned archer, you can see a tiny creature from Gods knows how far away, and you do this without magic, soul stones or even a mind such as mine.”


The bird tilted his head the other way.


“I am a predator. I am not prey. I am not meat… Nor are you, Haru.” She weakly brought up her arm in front of her.


“My friend, I have no food for you right now, but I can admit when I am wrong… Am I wrong about you?” She asked in a soft tone.


Haru swiftly hopped from the crate, and glided to Kiht’s arm with the grace that can only be shown by one who has spent years flying the skies.


Kiht’s eyes met with Haru’s. For a moment, she focused on him. For a moment, she could feel his intent. For a moment, she saw herself through his eyes.

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[align=center]Path to Camp 'Sodding Nowhere', 14th Sun of the 3rd Astral Moon[/align]



Akiko was not particularly fond of deserts. Certainly, they had their uses, but... Even so. The uneven terrain and the beating sun made the place a veritable deathtrap. Her face and head were covered in thin cloth, which helped to keep the worst of the sun's effects off of her dichromatic skin, but the woman was having trouble keeping the chocobo she rode under control. Disgusting creature that it was, the Au Ra couldn't help but wish that there was an alternative means of transportation. However, without the coin to purchase one of the exotic couerls that had been tamed, this was her best option.


Normally, the woman wouldn't have been caught dead outside of her silks or fine cottons from home, the courtesan appreciating beautiful things but... That was not the apparel for hard riding. Peiste leather adorned her frame, revealing bits of the dichromatic tattoos that covered her entire body, and her long daggers were securely strapped to her side, in the open for once.


"One hopes this damnable trip is worth it... But one does not want another cry of help to go out, that one cannot answer." She mumbled to herself, remembering the call on the linkpearl. Even if she never was able to help, even if the call never came again... She wanted to be ready.


It would just take most of the sun to finally reach the camp. If she could stand the chocobo's stink that long, she'd be fine. She hoped.






Hours passed, and while she had never truly gotten used to the smell of the strange horsebird, she had at the very least arrived at the makeshift camp. The desert sun still beat down upon her, and she could tell that many of the others who had made the camp their temporary home were suffering. For a second, she reached into her bag, sliding out a pair of reflective shades, with which to protect her eyes... But a certain Keeper caught her gaze first. Nihka. The woman whom was naturally inclined to nocturnal activities, and whose eyes would be suffering the most, out of everyone. Seeing the medic, a twinge went within her, and she finally chuckled, moving closer.


"You're going to want these." She murmured, handing over the protective shades to the white-haired Keeper, before slipping away to get settled in. And, to attune.

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Flame Captain Maximillian Maximus slammed his fist down on the campaign table. It was a solid oak affair, an old companion of his, and no stranger to such love taps; it weathered the blow with aplomb. Nonetheless the sound of it was enough to make everyone in the room jump (and in the adjacent one as well, which, it being an infirmary, prompted a round of resentful - if silent - frowns).


"Four of my scouts... gone! Vanished into the dunes! Twelve take this bloody desert!"


His words went without reply from the three standing before him. Outside, the winds rose once again as the sandstorm that had besieged the outpost for the past six bells howled its fury. The Captain glared at the door (and the storm, by proxy), and Corporal Joss leaned slightly aside as though concerned that the man's gaze might otherwise impale him.


At length, Captain Maximus sat down with a growl. The three that he'd come to privately consider his command staff relaxed, a little.



U'jakata jumped, blinked. He seemed distracted, but then he always did, of late. The discovery of the fates of the Drake girls - one dead, badly, the other virtually unresponsive - had been a blow to him. Same tribe, hardly a surprise. Probably neighbors, growing up.

"Yes, the Captain wishes?"

"Too bloody right he does. When is this Twelve-damned sandstorm going to end?"

"Ah. Yes, the news is good. The aethereal flux dissipates. Or, no, it changes. The sandstorm ends soon, though it may return, or other manifestations. I could say more if I were to look more closely."

"Forget it." He was not having his only on-staff arcane specialist blunder off into that. If the aetheryte broke down they were good as dead out here. "Just keep your ass inside. You can look around when it's over."

The mage nodded absently, muttering and looking away. Captain Maximus stifled a sigh. This is what came of dealing with Adventurers. Command ends up assuming you can get by with whatever you can scrounge up. The man WAS effective, if only he could be certain not to wander off to his death.



A crisp salute. Joss was just as steady as before; the addition of a chevron of rank to his uniform had been a good call. Ordinarily Brune would be standing in his place, but the sergeant had earned Roof Guard Duty since letting the outpost's resident Firedrake climb onto a roof and gouge out a mess in the planking (sending some harebrained adventurer up after the beast, with a haunch of meat, hadn't helped matters) and that didn't change just because of a little sandstorm.



"Supplies are holding steady, sir. Due to provisions brought in via aether, our warehouse could sustain the camp for a sennight before we'd have to withdraw. Morale is also steady. The Adventurers haven't been too big a distraction, aside from that one incident with the drake. There's more than enough water, and I'm told this storm won't change that." He looked to U'jakata for confirmation, who flicked an ear distractedly.

"Good. And the objective?"

"Preliminary scouting reports confirm the lay of the land to closely approximate the maps you were given, Captain. Unfortunately, we can't more closely confirm, because, ah..."

"Yes, the bloody patrol went missing."


The Captain cast his glare across the long room, to the farthest corner; there, manacled to her bed by one wrist and ankle, the prisoner laid curled up. Her eyes were open, bright points reflecting candle light. Not for the first time Maximillian wondered if the girl could properly hear them from over there. Most people wouldn't make out enough to listen in, but he'd learned not to underestimate miqo'te ears.


The girl disturbed him. Bad enough the enemy - for her presence proved there was an enemy, just like that Syndicate tart had claimed - was using children as fighters. But this one had eyes that did not belong on a girl so young. Bright eyes, yes, but bright with hate and fear, and dark intent. She never seemed to sleep, either, at least not for long.


He looked back to the corporal, and nodded. Then, he turned to the last of the trio.

"Miss Lorieux."

Frances smiled at him, a bit tiredly.

"Yes, Captain?"

"Status of the infirmary."


His civilian liaison-slash-field-commissioned Medical Lieutenant shrugged. "Oh, well. Supplies are adequate, though we could use some more sedatives. Too much conjury-induced repose risks aetherial saturation, as you know.." The girl adjusted her glasses, looking at her notebook. She looked a little older than her sixteen cycles, now; the desert had a way of ageing you. Or maybe it was the things she'd seen. "On that topic, Rienne should be over her illness in another two or three days, which is normal for aethersickness. We're lucky we don't have more cases, with the aetheryte so close, and the persistent wards... Mmm, private Emmis should be able to do light duty with his ankle by tomorrow morning, though I would avoid, um, forced marches or pitched battles."

"Teach him to try to kick a bloody firedrake. He's lucky it didn't barbecue his fool arse. Also teach him not to wave that damn gilded scabbard around like that, the ponce. Go on."

"Ahah.. yes, um. Miss U'niall attempted to walk today, but... she will need more time. We've erected a curtain between her and miss X'nikka. I wish I could move her to another building, but... she's not well enough to use the aetheryte, either. That is to say... mentally. I.. think she's afraid to go home. Without miss U'khenova."

"We don't have the capacity to care for an invalid here. U'odh Nunh has said they're sending out a party to recover her in person. It wasn't outright said, either, but it seems likely that this party will carry a dual purpose."


This time, three sets of eyes wandered over to the prisoner. U'jakata still did not look her way, nor at U'niall. He twitched, and looked at nothing, instead. Frances cleared her throat, and continued.


"Miss.. X'nikka is still far from healed; her injuries were very extensive, and most people would not be recovering at all. But.. she is. Nonetheless, she cannot walk to any real degree, let alone try to escape."

Not for the first time, she gave the Captain a reproving look for his decision to manacle the girl, and not for the first time, he ignored it. This was one subject not open to debate.


"Very good. You all have your duties. Dis-"






Heads snapped around, as everyone turned to look at the infirmary's final occupant, who had just started from a doze. Curled up in the corner like she was, of a size with the Lynx tribe teen despite having three years on her, Garri was easy to overlook.. except..



Frances hiked up her skirts and rushed to Garri's side, helping the smaller girl rise. Despite comparable ages, there was more than a fulm between their full heights.


"They're.. coming. They're getting ready. They're gonna come attack."

"Who, Garri?"



Her arm flung out, without looking, pointing at X'nikka. The Lynx tribe girl was sitting up now, staring at Garri with those mismatched orange and yellow eyes. The Captain turned, and looked at U'jakata. The miqo'te was also looking at her, intently.



"Yes, Captain."

"Is she.."

"An Echo-bearer, yes." The mage seemed calm, almost unnaturally so, as he continued to watch the Keeper girl be helped to a bed by her friend. "I suspected it since hearing of her visions. Dedicated a number of focii to monitor aethereal wavelengths, and.." He produced a tiny crystal from his sleeves. It was glowing bright white, enough to obscure the runes on the surface. "Hydaelyn's light is unmistakable."


The Flame Captain narrowed his eyes, and went back to looking at the girl. A gawky, coltish thing, years of being a rat on the cruel streets of his home city not so easily scrubbed off, even by the cares of her friend. Hard to imagine someone less likely to be a chosen of the Mother Crystal.


Or maybe not. There was a defiance about her, that he liked. A toughness. And that stunt she pulled with the Amalj'aa... over a score of the damn 'catlizards' dead, and the only casualties a few Adventurers injured. Altogether quite a fine night, despite the trouble. Scrappy girl. Gutsy.


And an Echo-bearer.


"Alright. So, they're coming for us."

It explained the missing scouts. Four days out, said the maps. They would need a wider screen of riders. Reinforcements. Fortifications... He turned to look at Joss, who looked determined, and U'jakata, who looked... vengeful. They met his gaze.


Flame Captain Maximillian Maximus smiled, his mustache curling ferociously with it.



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The room smelled of sweat, wood, and leather. It wasn’t an unpleasant odor, but it was powerful: the mingled scent of countless students who came to this practice hall. Today, Nihka was one of those students, and soon the sweat dripping from her body would leave her own mark on the room. Not to say that she had never been here before, she had been taking self-defense lessons from one of the members in late evenings, but this was her first visit as a true pugilist.


Nihka made no attempt to hide that she was legally registered with the Adventurer’s guild, though few would ever guess. She spent most of her time researching Alchemy, tending to the estate, or gathering botanicals. She didn’t match the typical image of a brazen youth gallivanting about Eorzea in search of danger and excitement (and money). She preferred the more tame pursuits but circumstances had worked against her. Thankfully, being an adventurer meant she had the right to sign up with any of the various guilds throughout the city states.


Every single Guild of the Hand had her name on their books, as did those of the Land (but the less said of the fishing fiasco the better). She had taken lessons at every Guild of Magic, as well, but the Disciples of War were all foreign to her. Marauders were of a whirlwind of destruction, she did not want that. She couldn’t bear the thought of all the heavy, bulky armor that gladiators wore. Archery felt right, but it had never been her strong suit even when first learning to hunt. The lancer’s guild bore too many painful memories to even bother stepping into. It was the pugilist guild that drew her attention as she watched lithe warriors fight with little more than hand and foot, their steps flowing like a dance.


She hated fighting and she hated hurting anyone, but to protect her daughter, to protect her beloved, and to protect those she would call family she would fight.


Since the visit to the conjurer with Anstarra....


Her first lesson began at the fourteenth bell, and she stepped into the room in loose pants bound around the calves and a comfortable, tight top. All around were other students, members of the guild, and a young midlander approached, catching his breath. Nihka glanced up at him through her hair. He had olive skin, green eyes, and black hair cropped short against his head.


“I haven’t seen you around here. Are you new?”


Nihka shook her head, then shrugged.


“Oh?” He looked at her again, eyes narrowed; there was a moment before he nodded in understanding. “Oh! Night classes. I don’t see many keepers awake this ... umm... would you call it late? Early? Anyway. My name’s Saebald.”


Nihka nodded.


“Do you talk?”


“...Not... a lot...” She paused a moment before answering him, then delivered the line plainly, as it was the truth.


“Uh, right.” He glanced around awkwardly.


“Nihka,” Nihka said. The man looked to her and blinked.




She said her name again, pointing to herself. He seemed to understand her meaning that time.


“Well, Nikka, welcome to the guild.”


“Ooh, a little black cat come to play? Hope it’s not too bright for you.” A pair of slit-eyed seekers sneered at Nihka, snickering to one another as they walked into the guild. They were both tan with ruddy hair and shared similar features, likely close sisters. Nihka turned to watch them as they set down bags and pulled on leather gloves.


“F*** off, you c**ts,” Saebald called out to them with a rude gesture. Nihka said nothing, looking elsewhere.


“Chasing tail again, Baldy?”


“Ignore them, Nikka,” Saebald said as he placed a hand on Nihka’s shoulder. She flinched, and pulled away, turning to face Saebald’s hurt expression.




“..p..please... not touch....”


The twin seekers burst out in laughter.


“Hey! I’m trying to help you, Nikka. You should be grateful.”


“..Not help...”


“Sure you do. Those bitches like causing trouble.” Saebald said. Nihka shook her head and pulled away when he tried once again to wrap his arm around her shoulder.


“.. take care self...”

“He’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel, isn’t he,” one seeker said to the other, drawing Saebald’s attention (thankfully) away from Nihka.


“F*** you, U’lata.”


“I’m U’tahla! She’s U’lahta.” She pointed to the identical seeker beside her.


“Knock it off, all of you!” An older elezen man shouted to the room, and everyone went silent. Nihka took advantage of this moment to put some distance between her and Saebald. He approached Nihka, and hooked his thumbs into his belt. Leaning in, he peered at her closely. She flinched, leaning back. “You must be the cat Archienne told me about. What sort of training do you have?”


“Study alchemy.... study... arcanima....” Nihka stammered out. The seeker sisters snickered.


“Okay, I’ll be more specific. Do you have any training that might actually apply to fighting?”


“...train.... ah... self-defense lesson... Archienne.....a..and.. study dance...”


“A dancer? I knew it!” U’lahta whispered to U’tahla. The pair giggled to one another. Saebald smirked.


“Good,” their instructor said waving her off. “Assuming you do more than shimmy your hips for gil you might not be completely worthless. Let’s begin.”

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Renaea refused to be helpless. One by one, the people she had grown close to, and had grown to care about, had begun to head to the desert. Each time, a part of her began to worry, to fret. She wanted to protect people, after all. To help them. The thought of any of her friends going out there and facing harm without her? It gave a knot in her belly.


So it was that she set out, saddling up her chocobo after preening through it's golden feathers. She loved the animals, dearly, and even with the prospect of many hours of hard riding, she was still somewhat looking forward to this. Her chest was bound, as was usual with her, and she wore the heavy armor she'd grown accustomed to. Certainly, as she began the trek, the sun was hot, but at the same time it just meant she had had to better prepare.


Hours passed, with her taking time to let the chocobo rest, water it from her own skin, and feed it greens. Her blade was ready, her shield newly repaired, and her armor shone in the desert sun, for all appearances the shining knight come to save the day.


But armor only shone while brand new, after all. And there was nothing that would dull her eagerness for her blade like the bite of blood along it's edge.

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The smell of salt and fish, the crash of waves and the sounds of gulls (and the occasional yell of someone under those gulls). The typical sounds and smells of Limsa were all around R'shesha as she walked along the upper walkway towards the Coral Tower. She stops before the doors into the tower and takes a deep breath "Alright, here we go."

Inside the circular room was a little bit of organized chaos. Yellowjackets at desks filling out paper work, the sound of metal on metal or the occasional gunshot from down the stairs to the right. At the center of the room were two Roe and a Hyur. The hyur and the Roe were in the middle of a sparring match. The rapid crashing of weapons between the two of them ringing throughout the room before the Roe spun his axe around and the  Hyur crashed to the ground with the pop of a barrier spell failing.

The older Roe that had been watching the whole exchange claps, a deep boisterous voice carrying through the tower "Good job lads. Keep up the good work. Oh whats this? You need something there girl or you just come to gawp?" The other two marauders turn to also face Shesha as she steps closer.

"No, I came to join." The two that had been sparring laugh a little as Shesha stops about an arm's length away and looks up at the old guild master. 

"Yer ah bit small aren't ya?" The Roe and Hyur chuckle a little while Wyrnzoen looks her over. After a moment he nods almost imperceptabley "Why?" 

"Because I need to learn to protect my friends better. One of them nearly died in front of me and I couldn't stop the one attacking her. Everything I know is for taking down prey or ambushes. And I can't see myself running around with a sword and shield trying to be all holy. And as for those crazies with the big swords...no..." She keeps her eyes on the older Roe's the whole time. The other two in the room start laughing again but go quiet as soon as Wyrnzoen speaks again "Alright girl. I'll give you this one shot. Get a practice axe and we'll have you go up against Demrin there. If you win we'll train you. If you loose...well we'll see what happens there."

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[align=center]Rock Falls, Southern Thanalan[/align]


The moment Kiht, Zanzan, Arblis and Nihka emerged from the cave, Kiht felt a rush of accomplishment as the Immortal Flames carried sleeping Seekers out into the open air.


Some of the Flames had been waiting outside, and what they would see is the nearly fifty members of the Falling Stars tribe being carried out, unharmed. With no context for others to understand, it looked as if four adventurers went in and neutralized over forty Seekers without taking harm. It was a sight one might describe in a legend.


However, despite Kiht's willingness to take her share of the credit at first, she would not exaggerate this story to make it sound more fantastic. The team went in, showed mercy and kindness to a broken girl, and with her help, were able to sneak up to the chamber where the many enslaved Seekers and few huntresses rested.


There was a struggle, but not one of combat or arms; it was one of philosophy.


"What in the Seven Hells?" One Flames soldier spoke out. "They had this many in there? This many they could have attacked us with?"


Kiht turned her gaze to the soldier. She had thought the same thing. The Falling Stars Huntresses were among some of the most difficult foes she had ever faced, yet they squandered their numbers by turning a large part of their tribe into these disgraced servants. It was not only dishonorable, but strategically foolish.


Was it all in order to breed even stronger generations? Was it so the Nunh could maintain power without his underlings growing too big in number? Kiht's mind wondered, but found no answers.


"Be gentle with them." She called out to the soldier.


He looked at Kiht as he began to drag one of the sleeping Seekers. "They weren't gentle when they attacked us, miss."


"These are not your enemy. See that tail cut short? The rubbish clothes? She was stripped of her title, her tribe letter, her rank and her right to be a huntress. She was punished enough. Carry her rightly, or I will do it myself." Kiht spoke sternly.


She had taken responsibility for Miqo'te akin to this in the past: the banished, the strays and the abused. It reminded her of the once honorable cause she once fought for. The Clans were left behind, but it never changed her belief in the cause of aiding Miqo'te in need; especially, when the fate of some were reduced to something like this...


The soldier scoffed, but he lifted the sleeping woman instead of continuing to drag her. He was even more unhappy about it when he found out how much the woman weighed.


"She's as heavy as my wife!"


"That is not a kind thing to speak ab-"


"My wife is a Highlander!"


"... Ah, I see..."


Kiht withdrew a bone whistle from her belt. She blew a short, melodic tune on it then peered into the sky. It was time for her to do what the White Seer had asked, and take responsibility for the children.


A shadowy silhouette from something that flew moved across the ground at nearly the speed of an arrow. Kiht held out her arm, and the small Coerthan Falcon, Haru, abruptly landed on her forearm. His birdy gaze met hers.


"Right then, Haru, time to be my eyes in the sky." She spoke softly then focused her aether in linking with his.


Suddenly he flew off back into the air; not only acting as eyes in the sky, but understanding the instinctive intent of Kiht.


From above, she could see through his eyes to overlook the entire operation. Any Seeker being dragged, roughed up or abused would be spotted so Kiht could intervene. It only made sense that the Immortal Flames might be angry - they lost comrades to this tribe. But these were not the people to blame.


There was a certain Nunh who needed any number of violent things done to him.




[align=center]Camp Sodding Nowhere, Sodding Nowhere, Sagolii, Southern Thanalan[/align]


Bells after the nearly fifty Seekers were brought to camp finally awake, a newly-purchased steel spear would be found close to where the Seekers with clipped tails were being kept. It was a weapon brought with the Immortal Flames, but Kiht purchased it from the requisitions officer.


On the spear, a small letter was tied to it.


The letter bore a somewhat poor drawing of four people - three Miqo’te and one Lalafell. One Miqo’te had white hair with a dark-colored body, and another was like a negative image being dark-haired with a light-colored body. The third was drawn in the midst of a goofy arm-wave motion, and had reddish hair.


Only two words were written on the note.


“For Orri.”

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Inside the Workshop, banging and zapping sounds could be heard. A Magitek Reaper-class Construct stood upright, as parts of it’s internal workings were left open. A small flock of magitek bits fluttered around the Reaper, polishing and sterilizing the armor plates with medium-energy magitek beams, while other bits roost in the scaffolding of the workshop. At the front, where a heavily modified bit flutters with a diversity of tools attached to it, a Au Ra woman could be seen tinkering with the Reaper’s core casing. Her upper body is obscured by the Reaper’s plate as her tail eagerly swishes back and forth like a upright pendulum. A bit carrying a variety of tools hovers overhead and occasionally the woman’s tail hooks a tool off the bit, before lowering it down into the Reaper’s innards as she works.


“There’s sand everywhere. Sand in the motor, sand in the core, sand in the cannon.” She musically muses as her tail lifts and holds up a tool she previously used. The tool-carrying bit snags the tool with its’ barrel and deftly launches it into the air before catching it on its tool racks. The Reaper shudders as the woman pulls at a internal valve and suddenly a torrent of sand spills out of the Reaper’s chassis, washing out nearby Mammets and Model Vanguards. A small strange red orb agitatedly hovers over the small avalanche of sand and ascends to the Reaper’s compartment as some of the magitek bits swarm the sandy floor, vacuuming, polishing and sterilizing the sand.


“User Aigiarn, this Accompaniment Node must insist that you …bzzt… follow basic mechanical procedures regarding the disposal of earth and earth-based aether. Failure could result in the agitation of natural elements into rebellion, …bzzt… per Protocol 51.4.” Aigiarn lifts her head, narrowing missing the armor plate above her. “I thought you lost all of your protocols, Node?” She glances up at the Accompaniment Node with a smirk. ‘Node’ flashes red and whirls, “I have been parceling together information from my databanks, while much is still DAMAGED - DELETED - I have managed to restore approximately 11% of my files within a confidence level of 0.10.” Aigiarn smiles up at the refurbished node. “Maybe. Maybe.” She lifts her head and bounces into the plate above her. “Ow!” ‘Node’ beeps, “User Aigiarn, you must be careful… bzzt… this is the 112 incident this month…bzzt… moon…” Rubbing her head, Aigiarn glares at ‘Node’, “I know, I know.” Her tail swishes agitatedly. 


Rubbing her head, a magnificent, if not terrifying image comes to her mind. Her heart felt as if it briefly stopped as she recall the power of one Flame Captain Maximillian Maximus. His manly physique, his impossible athletics, his thundering rapport, and the aetheric lightning sparking in the desert moonlight and illuminated by the defensive wards, creating an exemplary image of a heroic eikon. Above all, his magnificent mustache, a rival for any senator or centurion in Garlemeld. Had he been in service to the Empire, Legatuses would have fought each other for the privilege of adding him to their ranks. In a sense, Aigiarn is perplexed as to his rank of Captain, as surely he could have been promoted to Colonel by this point. 


The sight of his righteous fist slamming into the sinister Tia of the Falling Stars, the force shattering his nose before smearing his face with the remnants of it, the force compressing the tia’s eyes, mouth, cheeks and forehead into the rest of his head. The aetheric lightning of his fist thrusting into the tia’s face with the compressed force of Maximus’s righteous fist, piercing through the tia’s face as if the tia’s unnaturally handsome features were a blasphemy to the Twelve of Eorzea, and the Captain’s absolute fist was a cleansing lance through the maw of some heretical monstrosity. The sight of the tia’s skull crackling and exploding off his neck in a shower of gore and lightning, the moonlight and wards reflecting off the glistening and sparkling material, agitating his glorious mustache to a glimmering polish, while simultaneously illuminating his thrusting, piercing fist, raised to the heavens in pronouncement of divine victory.


Aigiarn understood why the remaining huntresses promptly surrendered before this enrapturing display of dominance. She frowns as she recalls the arrogant smirk of one of the huntresses, X’cinna, whom somehow managed to enrage her Reaper’s Mammet Core. Against the technological might of her Reaper, the huntresses were amazing reliant. Even the Dotharl of the steppes couldn’t deflect a point-blank magitek cannon blast with their skin. The others also spoke of biological materia absorption, of which intrigues Aigiarn's inner technologist. On the other hand, Flame Captain Maximus pierced their natural defenses with a single aetheric lightning-infused drilling punch. While she was initially solely interested in the unnatural reliance of the Falling Stars, the sheer power of Maximus’s fist superseded that reliance by malms. Aigiarn smiles broadly as she analyzes the Captain’s physique in her mind’s eye, perhaps she could redesign her projectiles, modify the body of her constructs, create a personal light source with one’s inner aether, or develop a training regime with that knowledge; so many possibilities emerge and compete inside Aigiarn’s mind, like imperial Senators engaged in “vigorous debate” on the Senate floor of Garlemeld.


“User Aigiarn, your heart rate has elevated… bzzt…”, Aigiarn ignores Node’s diagnostic and continues mentally scanning the Captain of her memories. “Oh, I would love to study the Captain more throughly. I wonder if he’ll let me implant sensors around his fist. If I replace his knuckles with a pair of modified Ironworks Magitek Jamadhars. When he practices, I may be able to learn so much… Teehee. <3” She leans on the Reaper’s forward plate, her tail happily swishing back and forth as Node flashes agitatedly, in anticipating of all of the future knowledge to be had, from both the Captain and the Falling Stars. 


In the background, the flock of magitek bits have started fighting over a large, but extremely well-polished pile of sand.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Half a week earlier than this post was written...


"Right you are, miss! It's always a pleasure to help such a well-established Free Company. I look forward to you submitting its name to our records!" The clerk made a professional bow, though the effect was slightly spoiled by him adding "When you know what it'll be" in an amused undertone. He stood back up in time to see Arblis wave and skitter out of the office.


That was the last of it, she hoped. Both of the impediments and the money. Money was always annoying to take care of - scams to avoid, proper prices to be researched and danced around, bluffs and bribes and negotiating... Arblis smiled to herself. She'd spent enough to even get someone else to do the paperwork "correctly" for her! Sure, it had taken the entirety of the huge windfall she'd had a moon or two ago, plus her own savings that had been sitting around gathering dust- but it was worth it, to have the whole thing done right.


Though she wondered, what would the clip-tails name themselves? That was going to be very important.




The blazing desert sun beamed down upon the roof where Arblis lay, sprawled out lazily across tile and stone. She was fairly certain the wait was going to kill her. Uncountable piles of gil spent buying this plot in the Goblet, getting paperwork waved away, caravan hired, officials bribed- and yet she was still the one stuck here waiting for the supply delivery. A flicker of doubt crossed her mind, and she instantly bashed it away with a thump of her fist against the roof.

"If I am going to rescue dozens of people from a tyrant and spirit them away, I'm gonna bloody do it right!" she defiantly proclaimed to the sky. "No boring wait will stop me, not when I'm this close!"


"Get outta here, you godsdamned cat!"


Arblis flinched and peered over the edge of the building. A midlander with a thin moustache, a clipboard, and a disapproving expression honed by decades of annoyance was leering up at her from the front yard. She stared at him a moment, looked over to the chocobo-led cart now parked outside the plot, and put the clues together.

"Don't give me that, I hired you! Been waiting all day for you to show up!"


The man gives her an unimpressed look. "I'm half a bell early. I could come back later."


Arblis leaps off the roof, landing lightly on the ground and pretending she heard nothing. "WELP, let me show you where I want to hide the food, then I'll help unload everything..."

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Location: The Goblet, a newly purchased home


Nihka approached the house, one hand resting on her satchel as tiny jars full of alchemic medicines clanked together.  The cub, Sehki, toddled along behind her and looked at all the houses and fresh planted flowers with the wonder that only a two-year-old can muster. X’orri stood guard near the door, and balked at the sight of the child.


Nihka thought for a moment, and realized that it wouldn’t be X’orri any longer, but simply Orri. They had left the falling stars, and were their own tribe now: a tribe of cliptails, a tribe of ex slaves, the disgraced and abused. The whole concept made Nihka feel sick; she had to push down the revulsion and smile instead. It was over, they were safe: Arblis had even gotten them a home of their own in the Goblet... Somehow...


Though Orri seemed hesitant around Sehki, the cub was anything but. She was  more than willing to show giddy kindness to Orri, waving and singing a greeting with her little tail wriggling excitedly. Nihka explained that Sehki was her daughter, and she wanted everyone in the fledgling tribe to meet her family. She wanted them to trust her, and so she chose to show that she trusted them.


The idea was alien to Orri.


Inside the house the cliptails were everywhere. Some were lounging about resting, others tending to the tasks that came with a new home, and a few were talking to a representative from the weaver’s guild. Calling in every favor she had and then some, Nihka had arranged for each crafting guild to send at least one representative, scouting for possible talent and offering hope for apprenticeship to members of the refugee tribe. It was Nihka’s hope that this be a chance at a new life for the broken miqo’te, that this be the first step towards mending the emotional scars every cliptail bore...


She needed something new to call them, cliptail was wrong. It needed to be something proud and strong, that wouldn’t carry too many ties to the pain and suffering they endured. In her mind she resolved to think of them not as cliptails, but as the Bright Ones.If she could show these broken people kindness, that the world wasn’t the broken place they had been living... then maybe they would shine brightly again, maybe they would become strong and kind. She wanted to kindle their hearts, ease the dying embers back into a roaring blaze.


Before the heart could even begin to heal, though, before they could be as bright as Nihka knew some day they would shine, they needed a warm, safe place to live and the physical health that had been denied to them by their own people.



Nihka went amongst them, offering kind words and medicine. They healed fast, and so all but the most seriously injured were largely healthy now. The only lasting damage were the bones; too many of them had had bones broken and forced to heal wrong to keep them from rising up. Some had lived with these injuries so long it was nigh impossible to fix. Nihka had to beg them to let her break their bones again. She had to watch their eyes fill with pain and fear.


The hardest part...

The hardest part was accepting when one of them rejected her offer, but Nihka knew that just being able to say no was more important than anything else, and so she never pushed. She only asked that if they changed their mind to not hesitate to tell her, knowing that many of them never would.


When she finished treating those she could, Nihka returned to Orri and made the same offer to her. Orri was the proudest of them all, having only recently been clipped and only recently been maimed. Of all of them, she had the greatest chance to recover fully. Nihka expected Orri to question her motives, but found that convincing Orri to undergo such a painful and risky surgery was easier than expected.


Many of the Bright Ones had come to terms with their crippled states, but Orri still had the raw desperation to feel whole again, to walk and run and feel the pride of being a huntress. It was a desperation that Nihka was intimately familiar with.



Nihka took Orri to a plain, comfortable bed and asked her to relax and lay down. Orri complied, and rested with her broken leg exposed so Nihka could work. Fixing broken bones like this, though, tested Nihka’s healing skills to the limit, and Orri’s was particularly bad. She would have to pull out all the stops, mix her medicine and magical skills with the alchemical genius that many of her friends had come to know her for.


She started with a plain-looking white lacquered board, gently placed beneath Orri’s leg. In just the right light, the board seemed to glitter and shine. In truth, she had created it by dissolving unaspected crystals in the viscous secretions of Shroud slugs and formic acid. Adding chalk neutralized the acid and gave substance for the crystalline structures to cling to, keeping them evenly distributed through the solution and giving it that white color.

Once she had dried the substance on the board, it created a blank, neutral aetheric matrix. In theory...


Orri watched curiously as Nihka painted on the board from a jar of thick black ink. Made with gold dust and spoken blood, it was a common recipe used in the creation of arcanist tomes for its aetheric conductivity. She painted out the complex geometries of arcanima, and at each major vertex placed a single goobbue fang. Alchemy was often used to create medicines and poisons, but many people overlooked why the concoctions worked. A string of goobbue teeth held the residual energies of the creature, lending their innate toughness. It’s why they were used in vitality potions. The toughness of these creatures would now be used to enhance the power of her healing.


With a touch and just a hint of her own aether, Nihka ignited the spell. Magic cycled through the geometries, pulled by the gold dust and guided by Nihka’s will. The black ink began to glow faintly, and fear touched Orri’s eyes. Nihka gave her a reassuring smile, and began to explain each step before she took it. It made the process take three times as long, with how Nihka spoke and stuttered, but she didn’t want to scare the patient; the process slowly became a lesson on anatomy, alchemy, and arcanima.


The spell would act as an aether battery, aspected towards the vitality and endurance of a hardy plant. Geometric switchbacks would collect the power and hold it within the matrix as the resonance built up. Aether was life, and nearly every potion she had drew upon and affected the aether of the patient in some way.


The first, a dark red liquid made with a base of distilled morbol spit, was technically a poison. It would draw the strength from Orri’s bones to make them easier to break. She cautioned the girl to be careful for the next few days while the effects wore off, but in order to fix her leg she would have to rebreak the bones. It was going to hurt.


Orri almost scoffed at the idea of pain and drank the potion without hesitation.


Next was a pale cream which she spread on Orri’s leg. It was a mild paralytic, made from scalekin blood and snake venom run through landtrap leaves steeped in a weak acid to make them pliable and porous. In a weak dose such as this, it acted as a vasoconstrictor and would reduce blood loss when Nihka had to cut into Orri’s leg. Orri noted that a great deal of Nihka’s medicines were made using poisons. Nihka couldn’t argue.



What was she doing, going on these adventurers, risking her life? She had made a promise that healing was her goal, her devotion. This was more appropriate, this surgery, than rushing out to the desert and fighting beast tribes. She could almost hear her mentor speaking to her, walking her through the task. Why was she registering with the pugilist guild now? Why was she rushing off to the desert to hunt down Anstarra’s family? She should be staying home, staying safe, and tending to the wounded when they come back from their adventurers.


But there was something inside of her that refused to be kept like that, an anxiety and a need to travel and move that refused to let her stay a housecat. The urge to fix the problems, to be proactive, to not wait for Zarann to come to her. She couldn’t explain it, that feeling.


She couldn’t wait at home to heal the injured. If she could heal the hearts of those who threatened them, then no one would end up hurt to begin with. The world would be a safer place. For her, for her daughter, for her fiancé, for the family she had collected.


She cut between the muscles, careful not to tear. Small trickles of blood dripped down onto the board, and sizzled with the power of the magic it had collected, the matrix approaching saturation. It required tools, gripping and twisting with a hard jerk, to break the weak joints where the bones had improperly healed.


Orri didn’t even cry out.


The next was a hardening agent, applied with a narrow syringe deep into the wound. Nihka explained as she applied it. It would be catalyzed by the blood in Orri’s own body, causing it to harden and create a rigid lattice. It was designed to break down slowly over time and provide nutrients that would promote bone recovery.


Finally, it was time to release the aether that had been building up. She drew a single line onto the board, linking two vertices of the spell and reversing the polarity of its flow.  Light flashed as the magic released. The neutral matrix was completely ruined, crystallizing into strange shapes as the aether warped the woman’s body, suffusing with healing energy that would help to bind the bone together. It would still be weeks before everything was fully intact.... but her kin all healed remarkably fast. Perhaps it wouldn’t even be that long.


Nihka slumped back in the chair and surveyed the scene. Goobbue teeth burnt beyond recognition, the prototype aether matrix similarly destroyed as the spell she’d drawn on it etched into the physical structure of the crystals.


Orri would need to stay off the leg as best she could for the rest of the day. It would take time to heal, even for her. But it was easy to see what An often spoke of, the aetheric mutability inherent in the falling star blood. Even her weak healing magics and alchemy were able to affect significant change on the patient.


Now it was just a matter of waiting and recovery and hope.

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The room was empty.


In a way, Renaea had been expecting this. Nihka hadn't shown up in a few days, now. It wasn't like the normally safe woman to just disappear for a few days. Brushing her fingers over one of the many books littering the room, she felt... Worried. Alone.


She could still see the man's dying look. The man whom she'd protected with her body, shielding him from harm. The man who had started the fight by attempting to shoot the Lynx Tribe. Spear after spear had hit her, but she'd pressed on. And yet he'd died anyways.


"Did I do the right thing? I failed, Nihka... I couldn't save him. I stopped the bullet that might have killed the warband leader. I..." She shakes her head.


"How many have I just doomed to die?"

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Don’t arm the criminals, they said.



Fools, they were. Bereft of vision. For who are the real criminals in Ul’dah? The rich and royal, hiding behind the ranks of the Flames and Brass Blades.






Evangeline brushes a lock of hair from her face, leaning down as she taps the delicate machinery into wood. That is the rule of this world, the powerful control the powerless, and call their oppression justice. Those women were not criminals, only victims of a war between the tyranny of the savage, and the tyranny of the civilized.



The two halves of the blade fit together almost perfectly, the thin layer of gold on each having but a hair’s breadth between them. She’d tried other materials, but only gold carried the aether well enough for her needs. Too soft to use for the blade, the edge of the lance was all matte darksteel, ground to a leaflike point that allowed stabbing and slashing.  The blade was long, for a spear, almost a glaive, and the area where it meets the shaft bulges out, a strange mechanism borrowed from the IronWorks new bolt action rifles.



More gold traces down the hardwood of the shaft, embedded below the surface of the wood to protect it from damage. She had originally wanted the entire spear to be metal, but too much metal interfered with the effect.



She was impressed with the results, despite the specificity of her orders, the parts fit like clockwork. Clearly the craftsmen of Ul’dah had skill that at least equaled their greed. However the true part that mattered, was the mechanism sheltered under the darksteel lancehead. The mechanism, that if her guests were to be believed, could only be obtained by a god and his chosen.



In the end, it was simple really. The life of a materia was measured in decades, usually. The small stones filtered the bearer’s aether as it flowed through the weapon or armor, adding speed, or strength, or even focus. The more refined the gem, the more aether that could be used. However what if one did not care about the life of the gem.



Could all its power be drawn out at once?



She fingers the ‘ammunition’, a brass and glass cartridge. Where firesand would lie on a normal round, instead glowing blue ceruleum sloshes behind a glass viewport. Instead of lead or copper, the tip is a softly sparkling materia. This one was for strength, and rather low quality. If used typically, its effect would be barely noticeable. However she didn’t plan to use it typically.



With a soft click she slides back the bolt, the cartridge rasping slightly as it enters the chamber. The bolt slides forward, the round seating itself with a metallic purr. Then, she pauses a moment, briefly considering the damage the darksteel lancehead will do to her body if it the ceruleum explodes, propelling fragments through her at a terrible speed. Then she remembers that Klyn is home to put her back together again.



Evangeline nods to herself, cradles the lance in her arms, and pulls the recessed trigger. Something slides forward in the spear with a bang, and she almost drops the thing as clouds of steam billow forth. A pulsing red glow builds between the gaps in the spearhead, and then moments later, flashes down the length of the weapon. The gold inlays pulsed with power, and through them, her hand and body. Suddenly the spear seems weightless. She gives it a few practice swings, her body thrumming with power as the tip leaves red afterimages in her eyes.



Then, but a few minutes later, it is gone. The red lines slowly fading back to gold. Evangeline yanks back the bolt, the cartridge flying out and lying smoking on the floor. The Materia that once glistened so proudly was now cracked and blackened, the ceruleum payload pushing decades worth of energy though it in mere minutes.



Evangeline checks the lance for defects, it will require several more tests before she’s comfortable letting X’Cinna use it. Something tells her the woman will not use it delicately.



The Elezen’s face slips into a wolfish grin as she slides in the next payload, this one a materia for speed.. The Radiance, X’cinna had called it. The well from which her Nunh drew his power. The bolt slams forward again, and Evangeline pulls the trigger, filling the spear and her with power once more.



She’d have to thank him, he gave her such a good idea after all. People did always say gods were inspirational. Maybe this is what they meant.

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The sound of a flute intoxicates the air.


Not much was to be said of recent events, thought Leanne. Once more to her chagrin, she was hunting a voidsent, this time, one taking the guise of a little girl. With the mannerisms of a little girl.


She -was-, a little girl. Of exacerbated malice, a twisted, morbid sense of humor, and the whimsicality, the "innocence" of a little girl.


Leanne exhales, and shakes her head. "You see one thousand things while traveling, you think yourself ready for any turn of events, but there is always a thousand and first surprise waiting."


The sound of a flute polluted the air.


The Falling Stars. What manner of massacre they committed for such a being to born within the realm? Why herself were so friendly with people capable of committing atrocities of such level, Leanne thought.


Was Eva right in taking custody of two of them? Do they really deserve a second chance? Or simple condemnation? Does she have to blame the way they were taught to see the world? Or simply blame the person for the conscious genocide? A phrase is uttered within the recesses of her mind. Spoken by herself.


"Always offer redemption to those seeking redemption."


Leanne shook her head. "It is not quite that easy."


They had to be stopped though. Either through good, or bad. She could hope it would be through good means. It can happen. Leanne proved as much. As so did some of her friends. Yet, she had to accept the possibility, perhaps the inevitability, of the bad. Leanne looks to the myriad of papers scattered over her desk. Drawings of Starlight, the voidsent kid, and notes regarding her. Neatly piling them up, she pushes the notes aside, settling new, blank ones in front of herself.


"Peace can be offered. But if not accepted..."


...The sound of writing scratched the air.

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Aigiarn bubbled in the hot spring, feeling her wounds soothed over by the spring water at Camp Bronze Lake. She had heard of the healing properties of the hot springs at this Maelstorm affiliated  It has been awhile since that expedition up north. While her skills were successful in saving the airship as it descended, the battle with the Kaiser Behemoth afterwards left her incapacitated and covered with wounds. Afterwards, she found herself back at camp within the infirmary; apparently one of the dragoons had carried her back to camp. She remembered a gentle, yet gruff voice and it carried the memories of a dragoon infused with the power of the Maximus she strove to replicate, diving into the raging Kaiser Behemoth like it was another of the Dravanian monstrosities, that the dragoons had sworn to destroy, during the last battle for Ishgard. She recalled that gallant figure and smiled happily. “Ser Orrin was it? How I would like to replicate his power.” She’s been developing this weird fetish recently, fascinated with the supernatural strength of Eorzeans. From Flame Captain Maximillian Maximus to Orrin Halgrin, was it? Aigiarn frowns as she remembers that dragoon, whom carried her gently back to camp. 


They shared a discussion afterwards, where she expressed her thanks. Aigiarn blushed as she recalled their discussion, he seemed really interested in what she had to say and had a gentle, yet firm demeanor. She regretted calling him a pervert at the very beginning of their exchange, when he touched her tail; although it couldn’t be helped, since it was a self-defensive response created by her time here in Eorzea. He accompanied her to Camp Bronze Lake for recuperation; in the process, she stayed in a hot spring far too long and passed out. When she came, she spotted him surrounded by beautiful women. “He was with those two women, I thought it rude to interrupt, I wonder if they are his mistresses,” Aigiarn muses. A strong and seasoned dragoon like him would surely have many admirers as well as partners, the image of his strong and noble physique embracing his admirers like a Ishgardian highborn seizing a lowborn maid makes her squeak with delight. as she twacks the water behind her with her tail. The water sprays around her as she absentmindedly tailslaps the water, *cough*, “Could you stop that madam?” a voice rings out. She looks around and spying nothing but a strange green rock, thought to herself, “I thought I heard someone talking?” 


A response came back, “I’m right here, you silly girl.” The unusual green rock slowly turned. Aigiarn gasped! The green rock had two big amber eyes set upon a smooth, perhaps scaley head. It stared at her like a big round rock and a strange obscene urge came over Aigiarn. The green thing with big amber eyes recoiled, “What?” A splash of water and Aigiarn was upon it, squeezing the thing’s adorable green round head into her towel-wrapped chest. “Unhand me you woman of loose morals!” The little green thing flailed in Aigiarn’s loving but unforgiving arms. Having her fill of hugging, Aigiarn eventually loosened her grip and let go of the cute green thing. It staggered around the spring in a confused state, before plopping down into the water. After a little while, the cute green thing raised it’s head and stared at Aigiarn, before…. “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING! YOU LOOSE WOMAN! RUBBING YOUR BODY ALL OVER ME! I SHOULD STRONGLY CHASTISE YOU FOR HARASSMENT!” The angry green thing let loose a shout that shocked nearby patients into flight. Aigiarn blinks, “What? Ah!” She blushes, “I’m Sorry! You were just so cute and round! And I had to deal with a lot of stress recently!” The green thing twitched at the word ‘cute’, before shaking its’ head, “I once had the most excellent physique of the renowned Scholars of Nym, yet now I have been reduced to a hug toy for childish girls.”



The green thing shook it’s head once more before staring at Aigiarn with it’s round yellowish eyes, eliciting another burst of desire barely repressed by her embarrassment and the thing’s obvious dislike for cuddling. It looked up at Aigiarn, it’s eyes narrowing as it attempted to look cross, “I am Ibes Habes, formerly a pre-eminent Scholar of Nym and currently, a very unfortunate Tonberry.” Aigiarn looks at the cute Tonberry thing in puzzlement, “A tonberry?” Ibes stares at her with his big yellowish beady eyes, “Yes, you ignorant woman! Haven’t you realized the importance of information gathering, even in a place of leisure!” Ibes sternly shook his round arms at Aigiarn. “I suppose none of the residents bothered telling you new arrivals; since death of the plague here, we Tonberries have been relatively accepted, although many of my kin feared assault for our monstrous appearance.” Aigiarn responds, “I… I don’t think your monstrous, Ser Ibes.” Ibes stared at Aigiarn, “It may be so, yet I doubt your highly questionable assessment of our looks should be valued. At the very least, they allow us to wander around this settlement after the incident.”



Aigiarn stares at Ibes, whom stares back. This continues for about ten minutes, until Aigiarn started to feel hot again from staying in the hot spring water. “Ah.” She broke her stare and climbed up the platform where Ibes was. The tonberry turned and looked at her intensely, Aigiarn involuntarily moved to cover her bosom, “Wha… what are you looking at?” Ibes chuckled, “So you have some modesty after all.” Ibes’s beady tonberry eyes examines Aigiarn, “Hmm, scales, horns, only natural. Mmm. You must be one of the scale folk from the greater continent, if I am correct.” Aigiarn blinks, “Scale… folk? Ah.” Her tail swishes nervously, “I am a Xaela! My name is Aigiarn Kha of the Kha Tribe!” The tonberry scratches his chin, “Ah, a racial name and tribal identification. And what is your occupation?” Aigiarn stares at Ibes briefly, before declaring, “I am a Magitek Engineer of Garlond Ironworks, and part-time adventurer!” Ibes raises his arm in a thoughtful manner, “Magitek? Hmm. Ah. I recall hearing about it. Mmm. Interesting means of bypassing natural aetheric limitations, through the mechanical manipulation of tangible aetheric resources. Little wonder you are so excitable, given that only the insane or overconfident would pursue such a unstable pastime.” Aigiarn’s tail shoots upward in anger, “Hey! Magitek is a wonderful and innovative field of study!” “It is a field that pushes the ambitious and foolhardy to overstep their limits, as the Mhachi with their void magicks,” Ibes interrupted. 


“The Mhachi? You mean those who pursue ‘black magic?’” Aigiarn mutters, “Ho? So you know of them?” Ibes responds. “Only in my studies of the War of the Magi.” “Ah.” The tonberry spoke with a tinge of sadness, “Poor Nym weathered many storms, but ultimately found its’ walls grinded into dust. Our memories nearly lost.” “Hmm, Nym?” Aigiarn exclaims, remembering the word from her trip up north. “Did I stutter, did I not announce myself a pre-eminent Scholar of Nym! DO YOU NOT KNOW WITHIN WHICH RUINS THIS SETTLEMENT RESIDES?” The tonberry pounces and slaps Aigiarn’s cheeks with its round hands, which held quite a bit of force, despite the tonberry’s diminutive stature. “Ow! I’m still wounded you know!” Aigiarn yelps. She splashes water over the site the Tonberry slapped her. “I’m surprised such a thick-skulled girl like you would get hurt from some proper discipline.” Ibes bluntly stated, as Aigiarn frowned and protectively covered her cheeks with her hands.


“Although I am interested in how a girl like you would suddenly express interest in the prestigious name of Nym.” Ibes waddles closer as Aigiarn draws back, still covering her cheeks. “How about it? If your story is interesting enough, I may just forgive your ignorant transgressions, thick-headed girl,” waddles close and stares into her with his big beady Tonberry eyes. Aigiarn seizes up as she fights the urge to embrace that diminutive, yet embraceable form. “Yes…, this strange Miqo’te woman calling herself the Whiteseer mentioned the name of Nym.” Aigiarn tells him of what she knows, of a sept of miqo’te supposedly imposed upon by ancient Nym; as a side, she also recalls her encounter with similarly phenotype miqo’te in Thanalan, and notes the discussion of her comrades regarding materia absorption. The tonberry seems absorbed in thought, “This feels somehow familiar, as if I should recall it.” The tonberry narrows its beady eyes as he tries to remember something, “Hmm, perhaps there is something, but time is required. The rancor has left its mark on me, as did the passing of centuries.” 


“Oh!” Aigiarn perks up, her tail shooting up in excitement. “This is direct aetheric biological manipulation; from what little I recall, it was a unfortunate field that emerged out of the Kingdom’s desperation against the Mhachi.” Ibes put his right round hand under his chin as he thought, “I had presumed that the projects to have failed, given the state of Nym as it is now. Fittingly, it was a mistake to mirror the reckless abandon of the Mhachi in the vain hopes of outwitting the void mages.” The tonberry shrugged, or at least it seemed like a shrug to Aigiarn. “Yet, this fascinates me. It has been so long since I underwent a intellectual pursuit. Mmm.” Ibes placed his round hands once more upon his chin, a scene that invoked her old mentor in Garlemeld. “Ah. Ser Ibes, you will look into this?” Aigiarn looked on with a bright smile, which made Ibes do a double take at Aigiarn with his cute round tonberry head. “That smile… Mmm, I see why anyone bothered to teach you. You have that shining look, which reminds me of myself in the old days.” 


“Yes. I will look into this, although I cannot guarantee I would find anything, nor would be certain it would be of interest to you.” Ibes stated. Aigiarn exclaimed, “Oh! It would be interesting to me, it is my dream to learn all about the diversity of technologies created in Eorzea!” Ibes stared at Aigiarn, “Well, all would be quite improbable for one with a definitive lifespan,” he spoke. “But your eagerness is noted.” The tonberry stares off at the Wanderer’s Palace in the distance, “if you or any of your associates have time, it would be pleasant for us to have visitors, if they do not mind our looks. Perhaps something would have been uncovered about these miqo’te and the fate of our ill-conceived desperation. I will confer with what colleagues I have. I will investigate this matter on the side as we negotiate with the local settlements, Limsa was it?” Ibes rotated and plopped into the water, moving to leave. “May we meet again, Miss Aigiarn Kha.” Aigiarn squeaked as she was splashed by the water emitting from the tonberry’s descent. “Ah! Yes, Ser Ibes. Oh! May I make a request before you leave?” Ibes turned to regard Aigiarn whose tail is swishing about with anticipation, she beheld Ibes’s cute round head, staring at her with his beady oval eyes, just above the waterline, “Yes?” “Can I hug you?” “No.” “Aww.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

"...could 'ardly believe my eyes. Who'da thought it, yeah?" Gunther leaned an arm against one of the pillars of the entry gate, an action which allowed him to loom over the girl standing there, and to tickle her chin with his other hand, as he did now. Her white tail flicked in the air, but the much larger hyur barely noticed; her sort were always flicking their tails this way and that. He knew what they liked.


"Who'da thought my fav'rite girls'd end up here! In th' bloody Goblet of all places!" Gunther laughed, and flashed a grin over this one's head, at another pair who were sitting in the shade. "'ow'd you end up in this house anyroad? Someone buy you all up? Knew it was too damn good t'be true, out there'n the desert. Twoscore whores prettier'n any an honest Blade could 'ope to afford on a year's wages, jus' ripe for the pickin', 'specially once them damn Flames moved out." He leered at her, tilting her chin up to look at her pretty eyes. She blushed a bit, and that was damn appealing. "What was it you went for, that first time? Slice of aldgoat steak? Up for an encore-ey, Whorri?"

Gunther laughed crudely at his own wit.


The girl shook her head, drawing her chin out of his grasp.

"This.. my name is Orri. And is different now. Is not prisoner. Clipped are not... refugees. Bright Ones, now." Her voice had that same rasping huskiness from before, and Gunther shook his head, barely listening to the words. Just the sound of it got his blood roiling, and other things stirring.


"Yeah yeah. Look, whore." He completely ignored the spear she had in her hand, as before; there was no way she'd use it. Instead, he grinned, and moved up close, forcing her to move back against the pillar, cornering her. He lowered his voice, smirking. "I get it. You moved to the city, got a taste o' civ'lized life, taste o' gil, you gotta up your rates. Hey, I get it, welcome to Ul'dah." He reached down, suddenly, putting his hand between her legs; she gasped. "But don' try to give ol' Gunther a line 'bout things bein' differen'." He moved in closer, and she squirmed, her leathers rustling against the stone. "I know what you tribal girls are like. Hot t'be touched, hot t'be fucked. So why don'tcha jus' stop tryin' to run up the price, an' get on yer knees where you be-"


His next words were lost in a high-pressure rush not unlike a squeak, forced out as Orri shifted her stance and lifted her knee with force akin to a chocobo's kick. The massive hyur crumpled to the ground, gasping and retching; the miqo'te girl watched him, tail lashing, cheeks still flushed. Then she cocked her head, took two steps, and kicked him in the stomach so hard that he actually vomited, his breakfast streaked with blood. Then she stepped back, watching him, her face once more expressionless and alert.


"Is different now," she insisted, without raising her voice, as though continuing a conversation in all civility. "Orri's.. my leg is healed, and other Bright Ones learn things. We learn value, of us, of skills, from Guilds. We learn value of our bodies, of sex." She casually poked the man's side with the butt of her spear, making him flinch. "You cheated us, you and other Blades. But like say; is Ul'dah. Yes? Well, no more cheating. If Blades want sex, pay fair price, and us, only if we want it too. If not, go away." She poked him again, in the rump this time, and he began working himself to his feet, wiping off his mouth, face red in a rage.


"Y-you Twelve-damned who-"

He was cut off suddenly, red turning to white as faster than he would have believed the tip of her spear was at his throat. He froze. She tilted her head, her expression... chillingly empty of anything like anger. He knew he could die, right here and now.

"Is not a nice word, Orri learned. Is insult." The spear lifted, and suddenly he was on the tip of his toes. "Gunther can leave now." A slight pressure, pushing him back.. slowly.. until he got clear, at which point he stumbled back several paces. Then several more, getting a safe distance before turning and snarling.


"You.. you sodding whores ain't heard the last o' me!" He wiped his mouth again, stumbling away several more steps. "This ain' over!" On he went, cursing, and staggering, the girl watching him from the gates of the estate the whole way.


When he was out of sight, one of those who had been in the shade came over to Orri, and punched her in the shoulder. The spear-holding girl blinked, and looked at her.


"Why scare him off? This one might have liked to play with."

Orri grimaced, and shook her head, tail lashing.

"We must not.. not act like Clipped, Naya. Are Bright Ones now, like Nihka says. Bright Ones are worthy of respect." She said the words with a tone almost of ritual, as though speaking a memorized verse or coda, or perhaps a creed. Naya huffed, but nodded. "Bright Ones are worthy of respect."


They both looked out in the direction where the hyur had departed. At length, the unarmed girl pursed her lips. "Why does respect mean no sex?"

Orri growled. "Naya..."

"You wanted him, too. How long since you have lain with a male?"

"Shut up."

"We could have shared him."

"I will stab you..."

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In the Goblet - at the House of the Clipped/Bright Ones


X’cinna walked down the street to the house of the ‘Bright Ones,’ as they call themselves these days. These Clipped of the Falling Stars have been liberated from their sept and openly reside within the Outsider territory of Ul’dah. Cinna approached the house, where a sentry looked outwards, while three additional individuals could be seen nearby talking nearby in the shade. Unlike the previous night, Cinna approached openly and immediately visible towards all, especially those at the house. The sentry spotted her and alerted the others, two of them took once glance at Cinna and scurried into the house, the other laughed at them and glanced at Cinna. “Hello Naya, Hello Orri,” Cinna greeted the sentry and the remaining woman. “You again, why have you returned? Did you forget something on the lawn?,” Orri suspiciously responded. “Come now, Orri. X’cinna is a ‘Bright One’ now, at least in spirit,” Naya murfully states, her clipped tail swishing as she sat with a few gil spread ontop the lawn table. Orri hissed, “She may be outcast, but she has not been Clipped. I remember what you did, X’cinna. What you did to me!” Cinna frown and lower her head slightly, “I’m sorry Orri. For what I did to you, while you were being clipped. If you’ll like, I can open up a wound and let you throw alcohol into it.” Orri recoils in shock, “I… no. Nikha will be sad. And X’orri, who enjoyed such things is dead. You killed her. But after listening… Orrin… maybe…” Cinna advanced and stepped on the grass, the action snaps Orri back into the present, drawing her spear, “You step on our territory, X’cinna! If not for Nikha’s grace, I would have killed you right here?!” “Oh, I see you still got some fire left in you,” Cinna smirked back at Orri. “What about a warm-up? I’ve been getting bored recently.” “A warm-up?” Orri responds in confusion, while Naya’s eyes open wide. “Yes, a warm-up,” Cinna draws her spear as Orri involuntary hisses and takes a defensive posture. “Orri of the Bright Ones. I X’cinna Ares challenge you to a test of strength and skill!” Cinna twirls her spear around and brandishes it at Orri. 


Orri stared at Cinna’s display in shock, alongside Naya. This continued for about a minute before Naya responds, “This… this… you would offer this to a Clipped? No. Orri. She may seem as one of us, but her body is a Warrior still!” Naya stands up from the table, accidentally knocking some of her precious gil on the grass. Orri remains still, her body still in a defensive stance; however, tears could be seen streaking down her face as her body shook, “You… X’cinna… you could see me as a warrior? Orri?” “Yes. Orri. You are strong, strong enough to become Orri despite being Clipped. Many others would have chosen death, preferred death.” Orri shook her head, still crying somewhat, “No. Orri. Was afraid of death.” “Yes. Orri was. But all living things fear death, I learned this from the Outsiders. From Nikha. But that is fine. It means we are alive, Orri…” Cinna shudders somewhat, surprised at her own words. “The Warlord… we… stripped you of worth to the Sept, but you… valued your life, yourself. You wanted to live, Orri. You wanted… something… for yourself.” Naya continued standing there in shock, while Orri stared straight at Cinna. Tears still streaked down Orri’s eyes, but her eyes seem to brighten. A spear twirls through the air and is brandished at X’cinna. “X’cinna Ares, I Orri of the Bright Ones, accept your challenge!” A confident smile appeared on Orri’s tear-streaked face, spurring Cinna’s memories of the past, she could see traces of a almost predatory smirk on Orri’s face. “Naya, go inside and tell the others. Tell them not to be alarmed of our challenge,” Orri instructs Naya. Naya nods before hurrying into the house, her white-clipped tail trailing behind her. 


Cinna and Orri face off on the lawn, the same lawn by which Orri encountered the dragoon in the previous night and barred their spears proudly at each other. From the house windows and by the doorway came a multitude of curious (and scared) eyes of the Clipped within. The wind blew across the lawn, blowing Cinna and Orri’s hair along, their tails twitching and muscles tensing. “Naya, you give the signal,” instructed Cinna. A sound came from behind the slightly opened door, “Ah yes, X’cinna.” A few seconds passed, “Start~”, the word sent Cinna and Orri immediately lunging at each other. Their spears intersect and they both evaded at the last second; a series of gasps came from the house as the Clipped watched. Landing on her feet, Cinna smirked and reached for one of the bundles of sticks on her back; Orri widened her eyes and dodged the thrown stick. “Still like to toss things, X’cinna!” Orri lunged once more at Cinna, whom brought her spear up as she evaded Orri’s lunging thrust. “Always wanting to get up in everyone’s business, Orri!” Cinna suddenly rammed her kneel into Orri’s distracted gut, and she spat out as the kick sent her flying upwards. Cinna positioned her right leg in a diagonal position and smacked into Orri with her strength, propelling her skywards. Cinna lunged up with her spear, as more gasping and crying came from the house. Cinna smiled viciously at her spear raised at the flying Orri. 


However, “X’cinna, your not the only one who learned new tricks!” Hefting her spear while in-mid-air, Orri twisted, using the weight of her spear to spin and with a shock, she rocketed down, forcefully thrusting her spear ground-ward by fortifying her body and lunging mid-air with all her abnormal strength. Cinna gasped as she tried to evade Orri’s rocketing strike and the latter spear passed by Cinna’s by a ilm, slicing pieces of her clothing before smashing into the ground. Cinna jumped back as she beheld the result of Orri’s crashing dive, a small crater could be seen where Orri landed, her spear surprisingly intact despite its head wholly buried in the ground. Orri knelt on the ground, panting but proceeded to look up at Cinna, there was a mirthful smile on her face as she stood up and with one swift motion, pulled the spear out of the ground. “You are someone new, Orri,” Cinna replied. “Your as serious as ever, X’cinna,” Orri responded, “Ah. The lawn.” Cinna and Orri looked down at the crater, “Nikha will get mad if she comes back and see this. I do not think we would be able to keep this a secret.” As if waiting for that statement, cries of joy and applause came from the house, “Wow Orri! That was great!”, “You sure showed that warrior!”, “Do you think… we could…?!?”, “Orri!”, the praise went on and on as Orri beamed at the house and her compatriots. Cinna on the other hand, looked rather annoyed, “Not a cheer for me avoiding that strike, although I supposed it couldn’t be helped…,” she muttered. Cinna brandished her spear once more, “Let us continue, Orri!” Orri looked back from the house, “Of course, X’cinna. I’m not finished with you yet!” Taking up their positions, they bared their skills at each other and began again.


Afterwards, the lawn has a suspiciously barren patch on it, although if any one asked, Orri would respond that she got bored and decided to dig a little. Cinna returned to the Ravens’ house with her clothing torn up, exposing herself to a unfortunate seeker-turned-keeper in the process. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is a cleaned up log of Skype RP with Orrin, Nihka, and Anstarra. Things have been moved around/edited for the sake of ease of reading and a more written narrative experience



Several Days after the failed northward expedition into Xelpahtol



There was blackness. Though Orrin did not know it, he was unconscious for a while. Maybe his captors kept him that way, maybe it was the toll of his fight or maybe the toll his inner dragon took upon him was getting worse and worse. Regardless, time seemed to hold little meaning in this place; there were no windows in this subterranean gaol. 


The walls are coated with crystal and ice, the air is cool but not freezing, and light seems to come dimly from the walls and ceiling. The chamber is small enough, fifteen fulms in any direction. There was a pot for necessities and some layered mats as a bed. Orrin is dressed lightly, left only with his tightly bound slacks that made up the bottom-half of his under armor and basic bandages around his chest. His weapon and armor were nowhere to be found and though he was not shackled by the wrists and ankles, he was, for all intents and purposes, a bloody heap. 


Face down, his broken body laid upon the cold unforgiving ground in a puddle of his own blood that managed to seep through his dressed wound. It was black from the exposure to the air and cold and the scent of copper would be readily apparent even to a Hyur and so could only be imaginably overwhelming to a Miqo'te. He was shivering, his breath could be seen condensing against the floor.


In the distance, footsteps could be heard echoing in the distance, bouncing off the shining walls of what was known as the Crystal Caves. Nihka approached, dressed for cold weather and wearing a fire aspected choker like a strange negative image of her fiancée.


X'indro is about; Nihka saw him briefly, a laid-back-looking male with short, spiked hair and crystalline pink eyes. Though Nihka did not know him, he did stand out because a pair of similar-looking warriors tailed him, one male and one female. He was busy, leaving a meeting with the Nunh, but still waved amiably at Nihka on the way, giving her an interested look.


Nihka steps into the doorway of the prisoner's room. She hadn't expected anything like this... but in exchange for free passage and the ability to treat the clip tails (and freedom to teach them things) she is somewhat beholden to the whims of the Nuhn.


Nihka taps lightly on the wall. Something to intentionally give away her presence so as not to startle the patient. Nostrils flared, and through the scent of blood she recognized something familiar .Her ears drooped completely against her head, and she approached. Recognizing the horrible state of her patient, Nihka set to work without any further attempts to announce her presence. Kneeling beside him and pulling out medical supplies, medicine she'd brought with the intent to share with the clipped... looks like it might need used. She had some clean bandages... maybe not enough but hopefully…


She checked his pupils, pulse, all vital signs, and worked to clean the injuries and apply her typical alchemic salve. Not enough to instantly cure but definitely help speed recovery. She worked quietly, diligently, and efficiently, lost in thoughts about what could have happened.


Orrin’s pulse was weak, but steady, she quickly realized that the Dragoon had seen worse days, deeper wounds. She had treated far worse as well. It was the sheer negligence of his captors that had left him in this state. Usually Orrin would be able to limp back home for proper physicking and treatment. Not this time however, beaten and then dragged over the Xelphatol Tundra had worsened the injury, an old wound on the verge of healing had reopened under his left peck and was the reason for the hemorrhaging. His fingers were curled into gnarled, clawed positions, his body was tense and wound like spring under pressure.


Nihka grimaced, and pulled out supplies for stitches, lots of gauze, and some of her more potent healing concoctions, force feeding the unconscious Dragoon with a gentle touch and massage to the throat. Soon enough the Hyur relaxed thanks to the salve. Though he still shivered, being left in a pool of chilled, coagulated blood had done him few favors.


If his captors were negligent, Nihka was the opposite. Once she was sure the bleeding was stopped, she took off her coat to drape over him in order to keep him warm while she got up to ask the guard for some blankets. Naturally such a request would end up fulfilled by a cliptail... and not the proud huntress standing guard. Nihka would eventually procure (rough, uncomfortable) blankets to drape over Orrin.


It wouldn't be instant, but the added bandages, the coat and then finally the blanket would eventually stop his shivers and pained moans.  Nihka took her time packing up her healing supplies, watching and waiting for some sign that Orrin would be okay before she felt comfortable leaving.


 A few minutes would pass, Orrin'd appear stable, twenty minutes now and not a sound, but a bit past a half bell the wounded soldier would let out a pained, nearly airless gasp, eyes wide, hand outstretched towards the cave ceiling, a sudden act that of course would cause him pain, turned to his side curled up into a ball, the neatly laid out blanket wrinkled and folded over from the sudden movement, barely covering him anymore.


Nihka watches with a frown, quietly observing. As Orrin curled up, she stood and moved to adjust the blanket to drape over him once again. He feels a touch and turns towards it, teeth grit from the stinging pain "...Nihka..?"


Nihka offers a small, weak smile to the male.


"..injure... try not move...."


He smiles softly "Thought I saw an angel…" his gaze flits about around the cavern "It is like Halone's frozen halls..." he keeps looking and his eyes narrow: just behind Nihka, within view was a silver-haired miqo'te standing guard at the door "Where are we..." his softness quickly faded into a low growl.


 "....crystal cave....  fallen star tribe land...." Her ears lowered slightly."... please stay still...."


Orrin would not, of course, heed any such statement and try to prop himself up on his elbows, blanket rolling down to his hips exposing the fresh bandages that now started to show signs of being bled through. Not a moment later he collapses again onto his back as a shock of pain rolls over him. "Why.."


".. because if move... will... tear injure...." She sighed and moved in to check on the bandages she had applied. ".... limit supply bandage... please... lay back...."


"Not that, I know that..." he said "Why...are you here..."


Nihka raises a brow. ".... information.... chance talk..t..to tribe.... have few patient.. in. tribe... need treat..." She glanced back to the guard spying on them.


"You...you are helping them?" he gasped and then coughs up a fit, spitting up some blood that had not the chance to escape till now "Helping them maim and kill?"


"...no.... I am..try... prevent fight.... prevent kill..." She turned back to look at Orrin, frowning sternly. "..t..to avoid blood...."


"They…killed two score men, stripped their skin clean from their bones, piled their skulls in monument...Ngh.." he could not keep his head up, he stared at the icy cave walls "You only tend to their wounded...let them go back for more..." he gasped.


Nihka's eyes narrowed. "...not tend huntress..." Her tail flicked and twitched. "...tend to clip.... huntress proud.... refuse treat... not need treat...” Nihka sighed. ".... try show...outsider not beast... show possible dialog... with... outsider... instead hunt... instead kill...." She poked his chest gently. "...like prisoner... instead kill..."


"You think they keep me out of mercy?" He groaned in pain "my... imprisonment is only a step to more bloodshed…" he gasped those agonizing, airless gasps, struggling to breath, his left hand gripping helplessly at his chest.


"... Orrin..." She sighed, trying to press on his shoulders to hold him still. ".... relax....or will tear stitch..."


He could not hold still, he felt like he was suffocating, he rolled over, propped onto one weak arm, he retched onto the floor, that coppery tinge filling the air freshly once more. He then collapsed beside the blood, quivering.


Nihka growls softly."...do... i... need... restrain..." Yet… she moves to adjust the blanket again to keep him covered.


He seemed settled now, his body concluding its removal of dead blood from his body. He closed his eyes involuntarily, his breathing was quick and shallow. Nihka frowned, her ears lowered as she watched him convulse and cough.


"....Orrin.... " she paused  "... reason Orrin here...."


He is shuddering, letting out the occasional groan of pain, clearly trying to hide his suffering, his fingers digging into the blanket with near white-knuckle force, or what he felt it to be. In reality it was quite feeble.  Nihka caressed his forehead, brushing sweat slicked hair out of the way. Orrin turned to lay flat on his back, only position he could rest without putting pressure on his ribs and the stitched up wound. His face scrunched up tightly, soon enough the delirium of his injuries would claim him and he'd drift off into a restless, pained sleep, but he was better off than before. Nihka closed her eyes and sighed softly. Eventually, she stands and pulls her coat back on, gathering her things. She did as asked... she had more work to do.



Nihka held onto one thought: Hopefully, this was all worth it. Hopefully, lives would be saved.

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Part 2 of the skype RP cleaned and edited for readability


Orrin tossed and turned, eventually waking from his slumber. Lifting a hand up out from under the blanket, he moved to rub at his eyes. It was still the shining crystalline ceiling. He tries to sit up and gasped and held his rib. He looked down and saw the bandages and he winced. He turned his gaze to the exit of his cell, there was no door, merely an opening in the rock and crystal.

No guard is visible, but line of sight being what it is, it was just as likely that one was just around the corner.


Orrin tried to stand, gripping at his chest, he limped his way over to the far wall with the exit. The blanket was cloaked over his back for warmth. He moved, skirting around, to at least get a look at the guards since all he could see were walls.


Just then, there is the barest whisper of a foot's tread, and a girl, or young woman, came into the room. 


"Oh!" It is one of the tribals dressed in cloth robes, by her movement alone it was not necessary to see her tail to know she was one of the Clipped. Her demeanor as she came in was of one who practiced being invisible… though she straightens, and even frowns a little upon finding Orrin up and about.


"You should not be moving… Outsider bodies are frail, and the Nunh will be displeased if you damage yourself…" It was said without mockery, like a simple fact.


The wounded man leaned against the wall by the exit, looking at the clipped Miqo'te. His icy blue eyes gazing at her, brows furrowed "My armor, my weapons, where are they?" He says, sliding down the surface, slumping to the ground, his knees brought up to his chest.


“You must rest," she insisted, sitting down and checking his eyes, his pulse. "Your possessions belong to the Nunh, now, as do you..." 


She was very gentle with her touch, reminiscent of Nihka, in some ways, with blue eyes a softer shade than Orrin's. "You should think on how best to please the Nunh, if you want to live. If you live, then maybe your things may be returned to you…" Her tone was placating, as though she did not truly believe it, but wanted him to relax all the same.


Orrin at any other time would have tried to stop the Miqo'te from touching him in the slightest, but he did not have strength, he could not bat her away. She does not seem particularly bothered by his resistance, letting him tire himself out before resuming her work. There's a deep patience in her, the endless mindset of one for whom the task they have is all they have, and so they'll do it...However, much like a wounded, cornered hound Orrin growled even in defeat. 


"I belong to no one...." he looked at her "Where are we? I know I am a captive Falling Stars tribe, but do they live here? Deeper in the caves? Are we far from them?"


“These are the Crystal Caves, the den of the Nunh. There are many of us here, but it is not the Home Sept."


“The Nunh does not live with the home sept?" he said, looking down at her then up at her when she stood and basically his gaze followed whichever direction she was as she tended to him.


"The Nunh is among us, yet apart, as it must be. The Home Sept is not so far that those who seek His favour cannot walk here easily." She checks his bandages, then gently proceeded to unwind them, in order to replace them.


He winced as the cloth clung to his body due to all the dried, coagulated blood. "Your tribe has killed so many of my people, why have I been spared?"


She shruged, her robe rustling slightly. "This one does not guess at the desires of Warriors… but.." She lowered her voice slightly, as the cloth comes off and she took her own damp cloth from a bucket, wiping away crust and blood alike. "Warlord X'indro must have found something of interest in you. Perhaps you may give knowledge to the Nunh."


He shuddered and shivered from the icy-cold water rolling his battered, body "He'll learn nothing from me. I'll not speak to a barbarian like him." he said through gritted teeth.


The girl's ears flick back, and she frowned… but shrugs, in the end. "Always may choose to die. Unless the Nunh does not allow. This one's task is only to make sure the Outsider healer's work is done while she is away, that you may meet the Nunh when He wishes it. If you choose to flee from life after, this is your choice."


"You follow a Nunh who'd mutilate his own?"


She blinked. "Is the Nunh." As if that was all the explanation anyone could ever need.


"The Nunh is naught but a man, a cruel evil man."


She hissed slightly and tossed a quick, nervous glance toward the way she came. Then leaned in, ears folded back. "Outsider should not say foolish things. The Nunh wishes you alive, but if a Warrior were to hear and be insulted, you would be given pain, or maybe even scarred." She drew back, and sets to hurriedly winding new bandages about him.


Orrin looked at her with those icy eyes of his. It was that old, tired glare of a man who had seen countless deaths, countless fights "I'll not bow to one who rules by fear. The Nunh can bleed, I'll prove it."


She met his gaze, but then shied away from it, shaking her head, muttering as she sets about finishing up his bandages. "Outsiders are stupid, it is known. Do not know anything, do not know the Nunh's Radiance. Outsiders are cruel, invading, trying to kill us. Outsiders are weak, and jealous, trying to take from us, enslave us. Outsiders are cowards, fleeing into death rather than face life. This is known..."


Orrin’s fury rose, flickering errant aether coalescing ever so slightly "You dare speak to me of cruelty?" He said "I saw my friend devoured from the legs up alive by one of your kind, saw how you flayed flesh from the skulls you piled up. Your Nunh lies to you, any violence now has been brought upon yourselves by his own greed. Why do you think now, after so long of being left alone that there is conflict like this? Your Nunh is poison."


The girl shook her head, sitting back. "Outsiders cannot understand." She eyed the flickering with a little frown, ears folding back. "Outsiders enslave and kill and lie. They lie, and so think others lie. But the Nunh does not lie. The Nunh does not need to lie. The Nunh is all, to us. He follows, we lead. Why would He need to lie? He guides." She pushed herself to her feet, with a pitying look. "You Outsiders, who do not have a Nunh, can only be lost."


"Then what are you?" he said "Are you not a slave? Forced to work and serve? Raped and dealt with as any other pleases? You are no freer than I am."


She flinched. "I…I am Clipped." She raised her chin, ears folded back. "I was not fit to be a Warrior, but I can still serve the Sept. I am weak, so Warriors can be strong, and protect the Sept. I make myself useful, so that Warriors can fight, and the Blessed can rest, and Kittens can grow, and the Nunh can lead. I know MY place, Outsider…and it is still above yours." With a soft growl, she turned and fled the room on light, quick steps, taking her things with her.

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