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Damned Steam-punks, Get Off My Lawn!

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[align=center]Honor's Last Candle[/align]


Never did Kiht Jakkya think she would adapt to, nor appreciate, anything aside from the Shroud. However, La Noscea was not so unfavorable anymore. The sea air no longer burned her nose, and the judgement of nature did not feel as ever-present as it did in her home forest. She could enjoy the breeze, and the weather. There was a big lack of shade during the sun, but dusk brought a fairness to the air that she enjoyed.


The Keeper knew 'he' was on this island, but she did not know where. She still had eyes in many places like a stubborn spider who kept rebuilding her web even as countless strands were destroyed by the weathering of time and life.


Every time he called her ‘little sister’, the guilt would strike her like lightning. She had to drop this final burden of the past if she was to truly continue into the future.


"Osric, are you there? Do you still have this thing?" Kiht called into the linkpearl.


"....... course I still have this bloody thing. It's mine, ain't it?"


"Indeed, but with how we have gone through linkshells in the past... Nevermind. I need to speak with you."


A grunt. "Well, there's this pearl... 'n' if y'don't trust it, or you need t'speak with me in person... that's a tad tricksier. I'm. Ahhh. On Vylbrand. Where I'm wanted. Head, axe, that sort' of thing."


He was ever the man of discretion. When she first met him, he did not even speak his real name. He had always acted like someone who was trying to avoid notice. She supposed that came with his life. But this time, she needed to talk to him face to face. She would not hide behind the linkpearl.


"What I need to speak with you about is not really meant for the ears of others. I mean, I can tell you over the pearl if I must. It may become awkward..."


"Nah, nah... come t'Red Rooster. There's a, um... shite, the hells would you call this, Kana? A storage room? What'd the man tell you when y'asked t'rent out the space?"


"Storage, love." Another voice spoke; Kanaria's voice.


His wife was with him. She was surprised. However, she was not afraid to let Kanaria hear the truth as well. This involved her too, and she has always had a calming effect on him. It was good she was there.


".....I know where that is. Worry not."


"Aye, but it's got a table 'n' chairs 'n' everythin'-- oh! Oh. That's good. Be seein' you soon, then."




Red Rooster Stead… How ironic that this was the place she first asked that woman to help her. The place she used her knowledge to help the Exiles interrogate that assassin. This is the place she first stepped into the mud, and even when one wades in with the intent to step out soon after, they will find that their feet are still dirty until cleaned.


"That's why I asked you t'rent it out. Bad enough that I can't afford t'be seen by jacks 'n' the Storm."


Osric Melkire sighed. "Pissin' Red Rooster... used t'bunk in the Quay when I needed to."


Kiht arrived and heard the voices. Despite her intent, she was not too nervous. It was time to clean off her feet.


She sniffs the air as she enters the storage room then closes the doors; making a light creaking sound. "Osric?"


"Round the corner!"


Osric smirked at Kiht, and Kanaria wore her usual smile.


"Lo, Kiht."


The couple sat upon stacks of boxes behind a wall in the corner of the warehouse. It was dim and dusty, and Osric looked like a vagrant pirate who had brought a fair maiden into a secluded place for a seedy affair. But even Kiht would not speak such a thought to them.


Kiht glances between them and smirks lightly. "How romantic."


"You ain't seen romantic 'til you've been to the Torch on the right night."


Kanaria spoke sarcastically with a smirk. "Very."


"Like the night I found you under attack? Well, that was day I suppose..."


"..." Osric scowled. "That doesn't count."


The huntress lets out a soft snort. "Nay, I suppose it does not..." Her expression grows more serious. "Mayhaps this is not the best time, but I am not sure when that would be. I need to speak with you about the past... So that I can look to the future."


Osric blinked and shifted to face the Keeper. "Been a lot o' that goin' around. Reflection 'n' foresight, that is. Fair's fair; you've helped us more'n we can count, 'bout time we can help you."


Kanaria tilted her head slightly, curiosity showing within her lavenders.


Kiht nods slowly. "Have I helped you, or have I simply tried to undo what I may have caused?" She lowers her head a bit. "I do not know anymore... That sun on the beach, well, you reminded me of a mistake I had made. I am not sure you know the extent of it."


Osric had the gall to look ashamed. "Errrr... don't mind what comes out o' my mouth. Gods know, 'n' so does Kana, that I'm one t'rave, rant, and ramble.... That said, might be best that you explain. From the beginnin'."


She shakes her head slowly. "I lied to you... Mayhaps it was long ago, but I did do it. I thought I knew what honor was, but I was a girl. I might still be a girl. Experience has humbled me, and..." A pause. "I do not even remember what lies were told by people and what truths were revealed. It was one problem after another."


"Truth 'n' lies went hand in hand back then," Osric murmurs. "We were still learnin' where we each stood, with 'n' against whom."


"I let her go... The first time. I let that monster go." She tries to meet his gaze. "I do not even fully know why. Fear I would not admit, or mayhaps I fooled myself into thinking I knew honor. Mayhaps I just did not have it in me to kill her right then and there."


"You speak o' Banurein."


Kanaria glanced up to Ossy then back to Kiht.


Kiht slowly nods. "You know she got away from me, but what you do not know is the first time I could have killed her. We were in the midst of Gridania, but I could have. She was helpless..."


"...and y'chose Mercy over Justice." Osric spoke those words with a casual air... but the emphasis on them was clear.


The Keeper’s expression turns to stone neutral, but with a hint of tension. "I did not know what justice was back then. I was not the law, not the military. I was barely more than one who hunted animals. I had fought before... After the Calamity, but it is different when the one you face is helpless before you; no weapons, no emotions. Just a woman sitting on a bench..."


Kanaria interjected. "Did you know she would come to ruin us all at that point in time?"


Osric glanced at Kanaria. "That's a fair point. Did you?"


Kiht closes her eyes and shakes her head. "Nay, I did not..."


Kana pursed her lips lightly, thinking for a moment. "Hmm... Then there is no reason to be beating yourself over this." She sat up, folding her legs to one side. "It would be very different if you had known."


Kiht opens her eyes. "I am not sure it is that simple. I will not lie again. I knew she was wanted. Osric told me to let him catch her. I had a choice, and I chose to talk to her first. I wanted to know if she was truly deserving of the fate the Flames had in store for her. I did not know Osric well at the time, and I judged wrong."


Osric frowned. "What's past is past. She disappeared, aye, but the only one likely t'hold you t'account for that is Grimsong... 'n' she ain't here, 'n' we're not like to tell her."


Kanaria bowed her head in a slow nod. "I see." Lavenders looked up to Ossy then returned to Kiht. "Aye, we are good at keeping things hush, hush."


"Still leaves us wonderin' what brought this up, though. You said you're lookin' to the future."


The Keeper's ears lower. She reaches to untie her bandana. It was getting uncomfortable on her head. Everything was uncomfortable... "Mayhaps you misunderstand. I am not worried about the law. It is you two who were most hurt by my choice."


Osric snorted. "Don't rightly see how. Banurein leaves us well enough alone. It's Roen 'n' Gharen 'n' Delial she plays with. Worst thing t'come o' her for us was Cedric mistakin' Kanaria here for Raelisanne." He shrugged. "Was tryin' to catch the bitch on account o' Grimsong turnin' her coat. That was her condition."


Kanaria nodded. "Yes, that was a /fun/ time. I've never been detained in my life."


"...there was that one time where y'--"


Kanaria's gaze jumped to her bonded, eyeing him. "When I what?"


Osric seemed to wilt before her eyes. "...nothin'. Forget I said anythin'."


Kana pursed her lips at him and returned her gaze to Kiht.


Kiht nearly snorts. "Then why were you so angry? Hells, I put this off for so long because I expected I would have your daggers at my throat." She pauses. "I helped to fix Gharen, I am not sure all that she did to him could be undone. Delial has shite she has done as well, she has no right to judge, and I already told Roen this..."


Osric stared at Kiht, and worked his jaw for a moment or two. "I had a lot o' cause for anger, back then. I'd better explain...."


Kiht's fists tighten at her sides. One clenches her bandana. "May as well. My feet are stuck here for a time..."


He reached up and pulled his own bandana off, shaking his hair loose with a sigh. "Five cycles, I'd served with the Flames, the night I saw you 'n' Xydane speakin' with Erik."


"Two o' those, I'd spent drillin' new recruits. Wastin' m'life away, as it were, on account o' pissin' off the rich 'n' wealthy somethin' fierce. For that, I'd spent two moons in the oubliettes. The Blades gave me these." Osric ran his fingers over his left cheek, and his right eye.


"I was sick 'n' tired o' bein' pulled around, powerless... helpless... no purpose...."


Kiht's gaze remains fixed on him as he speaks, but she is still tense like a statue.


Osric shrugged. "Stumblin' across Vale's handiwork? Discoverin' that Mynhier had gone missin'? That a Garlean coeurl was plannin' on blowin' up half the gods-damned Jewel? That gave me purpose. That gave me room to work with. 'n' it grew, 'n' grew, 'n' grew... more 'n' more. I could stretch m'wings. At a word, folks'd line up t'speak their secrets 'n' desires, because I'd forged connections. Links to a chain, one that I held.": "...and then you balked me."


"You balked me, 'n' then all the folk I'd gone t'such lengths to ingratiate m'self with, to earn their trust... they started lookin' at me funny. Lookin' at me sidelong."


"I /hated/ that, 'n' I hated you for bein' the cause." Osric scowled... but not at Kiht. At himself, more like.


"I missed m'chance at Banurein. Epinoch came along, and after the chaos he left in his wake, her pawn... Taeros... his power 'n' influence grew. Mine was left in /pieces/."


"Now d'you get it? Now d'you understand? I was a child throwin' a tantrum."


She goes quiet for a moment as she frowns. "I was a child trying to be a Matriarch. Mayhaps we had much in common... Even if our lives made us something different."


"Aye. I stopped hatin' you, y'know. After that talk we had o' jackals."


Osric fell silent for a moment, and then... then he whispered four words across the room to her. "After you accompanied Roen."


Kanaria Melkire thumbed over to Ossy. "You should see him when he's sick. Anyroad, I believe we've all moved on from that point, yes?"


"...oi!" Osric pouted.


Kiht raises both brows, and is made speechless for another moment before she gives a slight nod.


"So, little sister. We clear? You don't owe me anythin'. I was a fool, same as you."


The Keeper lets out a long exhale. "I recently learned that I need to understand honor. It is not something I have just by following a code. And that is why I am here. Not only to confess, but to tell you what I plan to do about it."


Osric leans to one side, towards Kanaria. "I hate confessions. Remind me o' gods-damned Ishgardian orthodox."


"...go on, then."


Kanaria snickered lightly, he was such an arse.


"We are clear, but I still feel I need to do something." She speaks after a pause.


"That's life, aye. We keep movin' or else the guilt gets t'us. This about Banurein in the end, then? Or are y'still goin' on about apologies 'n' Justice 'n' makin' things right by payin' off debts?"


"In the end, who did she serve? That monster in woman's form." Kiht asks as she regards Osric.


Osric blinks. "Huntress, I know not." His frown deepens, and he looks to Kanaria. "I'm startin' to talk like /him/. Slap me, next time."


"Garleans... I did not tell you that either? .... Shite. That part was not intentional. I mean, she serves herself, but she gets support from Garleans."


"...that'd explain Jameson's ceruleum-powered suit." Osric pinches the bridge of his nose. "Ain't a soul in Ul'dah who could make somethin' like that, not since the Ironworks moved to the Toll."


"That it would, and I will slap you." Kana adds.


"I said next time!"


Osric shuffles away from Kanaria and blows her a raspberry.


"Yes next time, not now."


"So. Garleans."


Kiht relaxes her posture a bit more now that the two are playing around. "I have decided to hunt monsters. I will not shy from ending them. But there are monsters at the throats of Eorzea as we speak. Those Garleans."


"...if you're meanin' their forces stationed at their castri, or the gods-damned spies 'n' informants they've slipped into our midst, good on you."


Kanaria lofted a brow at her but said nothing, her thoughts her own at the moment.


"But I /won't/ be hearin' o' you takin' on m'earlier request without the others. That's /suicide/."


Things were going smoothly, Kiht thought, and everything felt normal with Orsic interrupting her long, speech-like statements. People loved to do that to her…


"Many times they have encroached into East Shroud from Gyr Albania, and Castrum Orriens sits there in my home like a giant boar that thinks it is supposed to be there. I am tired of it. Are you not tired of them?" She asks like a grumpy old person who wants some kids off her lawn.


"...I am," answers the Lominsan after a moment's hesitation. He glances towards Kanaria. "But I've certain obligations, and... truth be told... my interest ain't in Oriens but what lays beyond it." He looks back to Kiht. "Word from the Flames has it that more 'n' more men and women are bein' sent north, to be stationed with the Resistance. I know one too many good souls... many o' which I instructed... t'just sit 'ere and not do what I can t'bring them all back home."


Osric speaks up again, before Kiht can. "That said! We're resolvin' business at the moment, both here 'n' with the Dauntless. Ain't sure how long that's like to take."


Kiht curtly nods. "Then you know as well? While Orriens and the Shroud -are- my concern, that is not my solution. Nay, I heard rumors of the resistance; the only people with the spine to take the fight to the Garleans in Gyr Albania. I am not Ala Mhigan, but I and a few of my friends have been thinking of joining their fight."


Osric eyes Kanaria, catches her attention, and just... stares at her. "Give us a moment, Kiht. While y'do, I've a question t'put to you."


Kanaria shifted her gaze up to Ossy, she glanced back to Kiht a few times before giving him an odd look.


"Ask me anything."


Kana smiled up to him and nodded.


"Are you doin' this out o' concern and a genuine stake? Or jus' because you're feelin' guilty as all hells?" He asks Kiht.


Kiht turns and paces for the door. "Call me back when done."


The huntress was surprised, and it seemed she surprised them. As she waited outside the warehouse, her mind had not left it. Even when she made it clear what she did, and why it was wrong, they let it go. It was like an old burden she had forgotten about had been lifted from her shoulders.


She was unaware he hated her once. Though the revelation did not surprise her. The Keeper’s old code had always been something most did not understand. Justice had always been something she saw akin to laws from city-states. Their idea of ‘justice’ was something she was never interested in. It was not this breach of Justice that made her regret her choice… It was how much she misjudged Raelisanne, and how she let someone go who brought suffering to others. Kiht let an enemy of Eorzea go even if the woman claimed not to be. She let a Garlean go even if the woman claimed not to be one.


In Kiht’s protest against city-state ideas of ‘Justice’, she overlooked a far simpler justice… Enemies and their allies must be stopped. Garleans bombed the Shroud before the Calamity, and they continue to try to invade. Anyone who works with them is not just an enemy of the city-states, but an enemy of those who call the forest home.


"Kiht? Y'can come on back, now." Osric's voice came through her pearl.


Kiht made her way back in. Her answer had been made long before she left the warehouse. He did not know how long she had been thinking on this.


"Your answer first. Then ours."


An audible breath escapes Kiht. "This place is stuffy." She composes her thoughts. "I am doing this for stake and concern. I give you my word. It is simply the guilt that opened my eyes. Made me see I have to fight the battles of those who fight the ones that invade my home. I must care for others; not just my little corner of the woods."


Osric considers that for a few moments. "That... is the answer of a matriarch. Yes. Our answer is yes."


Kanaria nods in agreement.


The Keeper smiles. "Grand.... What are you saying 'yes' to?"


"We'll help. Soon as we're clear of our own dangers, which we will be. Soon enough, anyroad. We'll come with when the time's right 'n' knock down the gates o' Oriens on both ends. Down the path 'til Ala Mhigo we'll go, if need be."


"On one condition."


Kiht grows an expression of understanding now. "Grand! That is good to hear. I... Do not have as many allies as I once had. I am glad you two are still among them."


She perks a brow. "What is the condition?"


"...Been some time since our paths crossed often." He throws a meek grin Kanaria's way, then turns back to Kiht with pride. "We've two daughters now. One's adopted, the other's blood. You'll understand if we keep our distance from the worst of it, for their sake."


"Aye." She blushed softly thinking of their little ones.


Her eyes blink as her mouth goes slightly agape. Her ears perk up as she grows a grin. "You have children?" Her voice squeaks a bit.


But she quickly clears her throat. "....Indeed, I understand. I am glad... I mean, congratulations."


As she concluded her talk with the two, and said her farewells, she could not help but feel some of her old strength return. She heard one more thing uttered from Osric as she left. "...That wasn't what I expected."


It was not what she expected either. The most challenging thing in nature is balancing fear and bravery. It is easy to get wrong; even for the oldest and wisest of us. It felt like every cycle brought her more caution. Wisdom tempered much in her. However, she was not ready to get rid of her bravery, and this dusk reminded her that she still had it.


She will no longer feel shame when he calls her ‘little sister’.

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[align=center]The Rain From Doma[/align]



Yasu Hasimoto came from a people who have lost just as much as the Ala Mhigans. Kiht knew this, and it meant a unique opportunity. As the Garleans made many enemies, and those enemies continued to gather in Eorzea, the Empire was unwittingly building up an army of refugees that had little to lose, and much to gain from war.


Ala Mhigans were known for their martial prowess, but the Domans did not lack it. Yasu was one of the best Raen Archers Kiht had ever met. The middle-aged, veteran soldier was exactly what the resistance needed. However, in order for KIht to ask for Yasu to break from her new life to fight the Garleans again, she would have to remind the Raen of old scars and unforgettable loss.



Kiht Jakkya makes her way under the shade of a small tree near Apkallu falls in Old Gridania. Her gaze finds the fair Raen who sits on one of the provided benches. "Greetings, enjoying yourself?"


Yasu sat there with her eyes closed, meditating to the sound of the gentle springs. At the sound of her friend's voice, she regards Kiht with a smile. "Yes, for now. Will you sit?"


"I see sitting is a custom for you as well. Everyone likes sitting." She mutters, but smiles lightly. "You seem relaxed, or mayhaps it is that clothing."


The Raen did indeed look quite comfortable, wearing looser clothing and her hair casually wrapped in a bun. "I take some time to rest here with other people. There is a festival. Lots of life and lots of smiles, it is always good to see." She pauses. "How are you since the battle?"


The Keeper shrugs. "I know not what to think. We defeated his men, but he got away. I am not discouraged by that even if many seem to be. Those people we fought were not just hired bandits. They were his comrades. He is without them now, and he will eventually come back for me. I suppose the next thing I must do is see if I can catch him before he is ready to do that."


The Doman nods. "I will help you, like always." She reaches over slowly, placing a gentle hand on Kiht's arm. "You are strong but you have many friends that can help you too. These battles are not yours alone."


"Gratitude, Yasu. I suppose I will see how many of them are willing to chase a stone." She cants her head a bit. "When this is over, I am taking the fight to them. They have caused too much, and ruined too much. I had nearly forgotten as I tried to return to the past."


"If only my people were strong as Eorzeans, we would have been free. But we lost." She says softly. "I am happy enough to be fighting for another home. Maybe, one sun, I will return to mine."


"If Eorzea can be free, so can Othard one sun."


The huntress reaches to grab Yasu's arm that had extended to her shoulder - the gesture meant to awaken her from her memories. "Yasu... Do not lose pride in your people. The Garleans are no jest, and I tell you many are very afraid of them. We did not win, we fought them to a stalemate, and this war is not over. They wish for us to think that, so we will let down our guard. Mayhaps we can not travel across the sea to save your home yet. But we have to kick them out of our home first. The fight starts here… The Shroud, Gyr Albania, Ala Mhigo, Doma and Othard - they are all linked by this one enemy. We will use the chain they have made, and follow it to the source."


Yasu offers Kiht a warm smile, closing her eyes as she looks forwards. "My husband's last wish was for me to find a new life and a new home, when we lost everything. But even his spirit must know, the fire of a warrior's heart only fades with their life." She moves onto a stand. "For each dream taken away from my children, hundreds of their lives will be taken."


Kiht rests her hands in her lap. "I will always be a Huntress; you will always be a Warrior. Old ways do not fade easily, not for my kin, and mayhaps not for yours. But for what it is worth to your husband, this new home can not be safe until the Garleans are gone."


"I know... That is why I must continue to fight." She turns away and inhales deeply then exhales a heavy sigh. "I will ready everything for the suns to come. You know you may call me anytime you need help, yes?"


"Indeed. Moonlight guide your path, Yasu." The Keeper speaks, sincerely.


Yasu bows courteously to Kiht in Doman fashion. "Thank you. Sleep well, Kiht-o."


As Yasu walked away, Kiht wondered if Yasu had even left the war in the first place. Behind the calm and kind demeanor, Yasu did not hesitate to take up the coming battles. However, who could ever truly move on when one’s children were taken from them?


The Ala Mhigans gained another ally.

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  • 2 weeks later...

[align=center]The Wolf's Song[/align]



Kiht Jakkya found herself alert and wary as she awaited the arrival of one whom she shared a confusing past with. Osric said Oschon’s Torch was a grand spot, and it was only upon remembering the context of the recommendation that she also recollected his meaning. It was a romantic place…


This added flustering thoughts to her already tense mind. But shortly after, she saw his approach. She could not help but remember all the great sword swings. How many times had this man tried to cut her into pieces?


But that wasn’t him. She faced his demon back then, so she would face him now. The huntress was ready for a figurative battle, yet all the man was doing was arriving casually at a location she chose. Life had clearly taken a toll on Kiht…




Gharen Wolfsong approaches, steps unbound and not worried of any sort of dangers. "Miss Jakkya, got yer message. What's th' occasion?"


Kiht had her gaze turned out into the ocean. Though the light fog seems to make it hard for her to see anything. She squints a bit and leans forward slightly to see if it improves her sight, but she ultimately falls back into a normal stance and sighs. She turns to Gharen.


"Greetings, Gharen." She pauses. "I suppose two things... How do you fare?"


He shrugs slightly, "Better'n we last met I suppose. Don' need th' cane te get about any more. Though I can still feel th' weakness there. Like somethin's... Off.. likely my aether still. An' ye? Been stayin' safe?"


She studies him for a moment. "...It depends on what you mean by 'safe'. I am... Alive. I am also intact." She grows a slight smirk. "I am not sure if my life is ever safe though... It is good to see you stronger at least."


Gharen nods to her response with an ever so slight grin. "Well, alive tis infinitely better than th' alternative, no? An' thank ye, It's been slow goin' as far as recovery. Been hopin' te get some trainin' tha' may speed it up but..." He shrugs again. "My people nae wont for stubbornness."


"Speaking of your people..." She paces a bit more toward the road. No intent aside from an idle desire to move her legs. "You are Ala Mhigan, are you not? Were you born there?"


The Highlander watches her as she paces, "Aye, some five cycles before it's fall."


She blinks noticeably at that. "You are my age?" She bites back a smirk.


"T'would assume we're about th' same age. Though everyone seems te assume I'm older'n dirt I guess.” Gharen speaks as he moves to what looks like a comfortable spot and takes a seat in the grass.


Kiht smiles lightly as she sits as well. "I do not suppose you remember much about where you were born. Do you ever wish to go back?"


"I remember bits an' pieces, before th' occupation. Most o' it drowned out in th' background by th' night th' Garleans killed my parents. Dinnae care te go back till I found out th' truth o' who our family was. Now, I feel like it's an obligation, nae only te myself but fer Roen, an' others."


The huntress raises a brow. "I had heard rumors of a resistance, so I began to search. I talked to another Ala Mhigan friend, and she lead me to them. They are no mere rumor. Mayhaps what I saw were merely followers, but I also saw those who were not Ala Mhigan, yet they joined their cause." She pauses. "Have you heard of this?"


"Aye, got mixed up with them some time ago ye may recall, before our first encounter with Banurein? Mind ye, I've nae had anythin' te do with with them as o' late, been focus'n on recovery mostly. But I've heard rumblin' here an there, whispers among th' refugees."


"I have seen the few refugees who brave the Shroud. I have seen how the hearers of Gridania deny them aid; saying the Elementals do not want them there." She sighs at the thought. "So it may surprise you to hear that the Twelveswood and the Ala Mhigans share the same enemy. The Gridanians are fools not to accept it, but the Garleans that encroach from the East... Those are from Gyr Albania."


"Aye, dinnae surprise me th' Gridanian's are less than hospitable, many have long memories, an still remember th' Autumn war. Or heard an elder's tales o' it. Te this day it colors thier perception, resentment fer Ala mhigans leads te blindness o' th' more immediate an' dangerous threat. I would see th' empire forcibly removed from th' shroud if'n need be, as I've spent much time livin' under it's canopy."


Kiht looks a bit surprised by that, but quickly continues. "Good, then you understand. The Autumn War, it was big enough to be passed down word-of-mouth in my family for generations, but I remember more recently the bombs dropped on the forest by the Garleans before the Calamity, and I am reminded every time I see that Castrum in East Shroud... "


"Aye, I was nae there when th' Garlean's attacked, but aye, I can understand yer want te have them gone. I can almost guarantee th' resistance is lookin' te remove tha' obstacle, an has been fer awhile now. Th' gridanian's however, continue te be an issue."


She gives him a curt nod. "Fortunately, I am not Gridanian. I was born in that forest as a member of the Jakkya family, and we knew no nation’s authority.... We had to work with them or around them because of their power, but never really part of them. I can not tell you what they will do, but you and your people have some friends in the Twelveswood. And if this resistance takes the fight to the Garleans in the East, I would go as well."


"Well, I would thank ye an' be glad te have ye alongside as brethren. Th' resistance would certainly be lesser without yer skills.”




Kiht found herself relaxing. This man was nothing like the man she had fought. Before Gharen became ‘The Wolf’, she had only talked to him once. Those were tense times. Even if he was kind and respectful, he was Hells-bent on stopping Nero, the man who Roen loved. The love blinded Roen, and Kiht’s loyalty to Roen blinded her. Anyone who opposed Roen could not be trusted – that was Kiht’s mindset back then. Gharen had been in the right, but Kiht and his very sister wanted little to do with him.


That is part of the reason why Kiht took on ‘The Wolf’. Even if Roen was away, Kiht became her envoy in an effort to save the man they should have trusted.




A smile escapes Kiht as her mind returns to the present, but she averts her gaze. "Gratitude..." She speaks more softly then clears her throat. "I need to learn about them, earn their trust and help them gain support. As the only group looking to take the fight to the Garleans in the East, they are the best option." She lets out an exhale. "That is why I sought to speak with you, and all the other Ala Mhigans I know."


"Well, I'm sure you've found them te be both stubborn, an' prideful, a common set o' traits amongst my people. Persist an' ye'll win them o'er, may nae always seem like it but.. A good portion o' us tend te be... A little rough around th' edges. Even I have trouble relatin' te many o' em' a good portion o' th' time."


She snorts softly then nods. "Very well, I will be persistent... With respect. They would find it hard to get rid of me." A snicker. "Hells, even Roen can not get rid of me."


He grins and shrugs "Well, If'n even my sister cannae shake ye," he says, insinuating the magnitude of his sibling’s stubbornness. "Ye'll have nae problems with th' rest."


"Grand." She smiles as she looks back to him. "What of you? I doubt I have to show you where to find the resistance, but what is your plan?"


"I have my camp upon th' edge o' th' shroud an' Thanalan. At th' beach I spoke with Melkire te introduce me te someone tha' may teach me th' fightin' arts o' Ala Mhigo, Specifically th' Fists' o' Rhaglr. I've met with her more'n a few times.. Gettin her te train me though has been a challenge howe'er. Bein' in Thanalan though puts me in proximity te Little Ala Mhigo, an' th' refugee camps, tis nae secret tha' there'd be resistance contacts abound there. When I feel I am healed enough, I'll make my efforts again with th' resistance. Tis somethin' I must do I think te see my people home where they belong, nae in th' caves an' squalor they are in now."


"To tell you true, I feared what happened may have-. I feared it may have erased too much of your old self. I did not know you much before all the shite happened, but your spirit still seems as strong as it was back when you fought in the Grindstone."


Gharen draws in a breath, "There are times when I look back, an' I don' feel like my old self.. I'm.. It's hard te explain, I still have nae memory o' what happened. I find myself doin' things differently, or reactin' te situations differently. It dinnae fee familiar, yet at th' same time, there are times I feel.. Well, whole."


"Mayhaps that is normal change. I have changed as well. I use to think I knew everything. I use to think I understood what mattered... But things did not oft turn out how I wanted. It has taught me lessons."


"Such is life, one lesson after another, some unfortunately harsher than others. Tis good though, I still recall our first meetin’. You seemed very, rigid in your beliefs, an' I can tell tha' in tha' short time ye've changed quite a bit."


Kiht gazes to her hand and flexes it. "I still have my beliefs, but some other things... I have decided to admit that I have not learned everything yet. Honor is more complicated than I thought, and people are not always what they seem at first."


"Well I don' question yer beliefs, but rather, jus point out tha' experience has earned ye flexibility o' mind an' self."


She glances back to him, and smiles lightly. "You are very kind. It must be in the blood. Somehow you and Roen are both fighters, but also both kind to me. I know what you mean, and you are right. I am not offended by such an insight."


"I am sure we get it from our mother's side o' th' family. O' course I'd do well nae te offend ye lest I wind up down range o' yer arrows.” He grins lightly in return at the jest.


A chuckle escapes her before she remembers having shot him in the thigh, and she nearly loses her humor. Her face goes straight. ".... Then your mother was wise. I have met many fighters who thought they had to always be of a mind to fight. Their words had to be weapons, and their mood had to be angry." She pauses. "But I have more respect for those who know when they must use weapons and when they do not have to."


"Well such severity shows a lack balance in their lives I suppose. A concept I'm sure ye an yers are all too familiar with. Whether it be a balance between nature an' man, or within one's self. Nae always easy to maintain as I've had te learn repeatedly I suppose but, tis a universal constant."


"Indeed... It is." She says with mild surprise. Her mind ponders that for a moment. "I suppose I am still learning it myself. Things like mercy and justice can be about balance as well..." She lets out an exhale. "It will be grand to have you as an ally, Gharen."


"An' you as well Miss Jakkya, t'would be foolish o' me te let my sister steal yer friendship all fer herself now wouldn't it?." He says and he pushes himself to his feet then turns to offer her a hand to help her to hers.


Kiht takes his hand, and he helps her to her feet with little needed effort. She smiles slightly and averts her gaze for a moment before looking back to him. Their hands stay together, and she shakes his. "Mayhaps it would be." She speaks as she grows a mild smirk.


Gharen shakes her hand in return. "I think so, though I must say Miss Jakkya, thank ye fer bein' such a good friend te Roen, and te myself especially when I most assuredly did nae deserve it."


The huntress sighs lightly as she lets go of his hand. But her smile does not fade. "It is hard to tell who deserved what. All that happened was born from shite I still do not fully understand. You are welcome though. We Keepers are sentimental, and It kept me going. I just had to remember who she was, and who you were... Even if I did not know you well at the time."


"Regardless ye have my thanks all th' same, and if'n yer ever in need. I'll help however I'm able."


Kiht decides to finally let the man go. "Gratitude, Moonlight guide your path."


The Highlander bows, "And to ye Miss Jakkya. I should nae take up more o' yer time."


She gives him a slow, casual wave as she paces off.




Kiht’s steps were light, but she insisted her stride be disciplined and strong. He was likely watching her go, or so she assumed.


The visit to the beach had not yet let her know if Gharen would be recovering well from his ordeal. But this dusk there were no crossed loyalties, no lies, no conflicts of interest and nothing to prevent the Highlander and Keeper from being allies.


This is what Kiht had always wanted; comrades who she could fight alongside, and people who would hunt the monsters with her.

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  • 1 month later...

[align=center]The Heart of a Fox[/align]



The hustle and bustle of the Sapphire Avenue Exchange always created an uncomfortable place for Kiht. People were packed together like a herd of sheep – all looking for their own place to graze. The Moon-Keeper carefully made her way through the crowd. She avoided tripping on the Lalafells, being knocked over the Roegadyns and being bumped into by distracted Hyur. If Aya wasn’t at the Quicksand then another common place for her to be was the markets.


To Kiht, it had always felt like she lived in a different world from Aya. She was beginning to understand why. People were pushing through each other to buy things as if they were starving, yet many were simply buying trinkets. Kiht’s expression betrayed an irritable mood. She moved through the crowd as if it were a nuisance.


Her mood quickly changed as she found who she was looking for.




Aya Foxheart is involved in the final stages of a conversation with a trader, in her usual energetic and cheerful manner. “It’s a good thing I didn't wear my usual around-Thanalan outfit!”


Kiht Jakkya grows a smile as she paces towards Aya. "Buying uh." She glances to the wares. "Wilderness stuff? Aya? ....Or tools?" She glances to the Marchant. "Or whatever the Hells this person sells."


The highlander looks surprised turning her head before her wide-eyed gaze settles on Kiht, "Aaaah! Well look who it is!" She grins, stepping away from the momentarily confused merchant. "Just a little bit of everything I think!" She laughs.


"You are buying a little bit of everything, or they sell that?" The Keeper asks with a slight smirk.


Aya pulls her lips to the side in an amused smirk, "Both, maybe. Pens and ink; a couple of plant pots!"


"I can only assume you are writing about plants then.... Botany?" She cants her head a bit. "Hobbies are good I suppose." She teases.


"How -are- you?" She laughs, reaching her hand out to Kiht's shoulder. "It’s been -so- long."




The two found a place to sit after exchanging brief formalities. The Markets were still crowded, but stone benches were set in the shade of alcoves built into the walls. The masses of people gave the benches a wide berth as if the idea of sitting was taboo. Shade, space and quiet was a relief.


Kiht considered Aya a friend, but she wasn’t one she worked with much, so they did not see each other often. The Huntress was always distracted, and this resulted in infrequent casual visits.




"So much happens to me and around me I find it hard to imagine a peaceful living." She pauses. "Then again, I learned that I seek trouble. I have a hard time living without it..." Kiht admits.


"Life offers plenty of its own excitements without requiring danger〜" Aya responds.


The hunter snickers. "Does it? I have not found such." She pauses. "And that is what I mean when I said we oft do not think alike."


"Or that you just don't look in the right places!"


"I was raised in a forest full of danger. Mayhaps I just find things that many find exciting to be mundane."


"Or, perhaps, it’s the other way around."


"That what I find exciting is mundane?" She lets out a chuckle. "Aya, clearly you see it is a matter of one's own mind then."


"I never suggested otherwise! Only that I'm sure you'd find a diversion you enjoyed if you looked hard enough."


"What makes you think I have not looked hard enough?"


"That you haven't found one!"


Kiht slowly shakes her head. "Failure to find something exciting that does not have danger does not mean there is something I am missing. Unless you have ideas you wish to share?"


"The alternative is so thoroughly depressing as to not warrant consideration."


"Why is it depressing?" She asks as she leans over a bit.


"That you shall either fall to one of your violent escapades, or to existential ennui when you are fortunate enough to no longer engage in them."


Kiht sits up straight again. "Mayhaps that will change when I am old. Mayhaps I will fall before then, and not have to worry about it. The truth does not depress me. Apologies if it does you."


"What, shouldn't I wish for my friends to be happy?


The Keeper sighs. "I am happy, Aya. You can not imagine being so in my shoes, and that is again why we do not think alike. Do I wish there were some threats I did not need to face? Indeed, but they are there, and I will not flee from them."


Aya shrugs with resignation.


The Miqo’te sighs lightly once more, and averts her gaze. "I have always been like this. I did not intend for this conversation to go here. Apologies."


The highlander woman slowly shakes her head, "Of course you have been. You've also never been happy as far as I've seen, and I know you'll never find it in violence whatever you tell yourself. You throw yourself out there for friends, or whatever cause you have found to embrace in a search, I suspect, for lasting satisfaction." She presses her lips together firmly for a moment, "But it’s alright, Kiht. I just have high hopes."


Kiht bites her lower lip at that as she furrows her brows, but not in anger. Her expression is pensive. She is quiet for a long moment. "I can not deny that you may be right." She says quietly. "But without a cause, without allies that need me, without something to fight or hunt, I know not what to do with myself."


"I hope you'll find it. Somewhere. In the meantime, I'm here to help you, whatever your cause. Because that's what dear friends are for, isn't that right?" She smiles softly and slips a hand into a belt-pouch, offering an opened bag of jelly candies toward Kiht.


Kiht glances to Aya at the sound of a bag opening. Her eyes fix on the bag of candies, and she can't help but crack a slight smile. She reaches into the bag to draw out some candies; taking a moment to study them. "They make funny things to eat in the cities." She snickers. "You are kind, Aya, gratitude."


"Most things made in the city are pretty funny." She laughs softly, "But sometimes a little candy brightens the day. They're part of the Starlight Season, too."




Often agreeing to disagree was the best Kiht could accomplish with Aya. It did not hinder friendship, but both were stubborn in their own ways. Foxes are adaptable, elusive creatures that live by taking advantage of opportunities, and taking minimal risks. Kiht’s life; however, had always been this constant fight against the wind. She feared complacency, and had to keep ‘flying’ from cause to cause. Without the hunt, she was afraid. But in a world of never-ending problems, it meant Kiht might never truly find peace.




"Do you remember aught of where you were born, Aya?"


Aya lets out a deep breath, though her smile remains. "That's a good question. I can still see bits and pieces of our home. More of a castle, really. And I recall the spires of the city of Ala Mhigo from the road, but to be honest I do know not if that's memory, or just a picture I have seen." She smiles, "mostly what I remember is the smell. The scent of burning wood, pine needles, and the sounds of a feast.”


“I think it’s all been harder on father than anyone. Osvald and I were young enough that I don't think we even know enough to miss it."


"As someone oft paranoid about the protection of my home, I can imagine his pain. " Kiht responds. "It is hard to say if I would try to lead those twenty cycles my junior to take it back.”


Aya's expression fades somewhat, "I fear he's in no condition for that sort of thing any more. My brother Kale, though... I fear he just may do something so foolish. He has a young family of his own to tend to now, but that's always been his dream. His place, were you to ask him."


“Father was more than a soldier. He had a tradition, a family, a bloodline to protect. That's why, in the end, he chose us over a glorious death as honor demanded." She swaps her legs over, looking out toward the opposite wall in a mostly undisguised look of disapproval, "He's older than Osvald and I and he does remember. And he was raised from birth knowing that he would succeed father, and that the family legacy would become his."


"I think if you asked him, he'd rather father have died nobly, regardless of what happened to us. He thinks of nothing but our 'place'.” She sighs and turns her eyes quickly back toward Kiht, "Don't get me wrong… He's a good man, a wonderful brother who did everything he could for us when we were children. He's a terrific father, and has been successful in Ishgard. But he cannot leave Ala Mhigo alone, he's never been able to move on. And with the gates now open... I do fear for the worst."


"I prefer to live in the world we inhabit, rather than in the one we wish we did. Father made the tough decision, and the right one. I know he doesn't regret it, though I don't know how he bears everything he's been through. What about you? Would you risk everything to try to make the world like it was when you were a child?"


Kiht grows pensive; her gaze averting to bring her thoughts into mind. "Were you to ask me over a cycle ago, I would have said yes. But that has changed. I look to the future now." She pauses. "But Aya, the world we inhabit still has war with the Garleans. For the Twelveswood, they are still an ever-present threat. So my answer to your question is nay, but I still find myself doing what I would have done even back then."


Aya nods, smiling softly, "and, regardless, you do not have two young children and a wife to think about." She swaps her legs again, scooching a bit on the bench as she seems to get comfortable again. "I don't suppose you know I've just been to Gyr Abania, myself?"


The Keeper’s eyes widen a bit. "Nay, I did not. How? When did you do this? What did you see?" She asks the questions a bit quickly in surprise. Her posture tenses.


"You won't believe it." Aya lets out a laugh, "Well, it was just for the pictures. I'd had a few people ask if I could make one for Ala Mhigo as I had for Ishgard and so on... They raised some funds, and we took a small group and snuck through the frontier and into the foothills."


"And right by one of their massive walls I assume. Holy shite, Aya... You did that for some pictures? And I am the one who needs to do less dangerous things?!" She speaks with mild exasperation, but bites back a smirk. "Just... Swiving snuck in there. I will remember this, and if you ever call me crazy one sun, remind you of this." She teases.


"The Garleans aren't half as clever as they think, it’s an incredible frontier. With a couple of bateaus, and some local know-how, you find a way by! Of course, we were literally out in the middle of nowhere." She lets out a laugh, "Oh I think I'm a little crazy... Maybe more than a little!"


Kiht leans back. "I do not suppose you would be willing to part with this information? This secret way in."


"I don't think you could get -anywhere- without running into Garleans, but if you just want to see the landscape, of course."


"Indeed, but getting that far without them knowing is still impressive... And potentially important."


"I'd be surprised if you don't already know of some woodsmen who could show you the back-water ways about. Garleans are so accustomed to traveling by air and sea, but I think they overlook travel by small boat through the wetlands."


Aya leans toward her, her voice softening as if sharing a secret, "That's what happens when you rely solely on soldiers, engineers, and politicians. Few are as clever as hunters and woodsmen, hmmm?"


"Indeed, and it is hard to wall off the wetlands. I will ask around. If anyone is doing that, they are not talking about it much. Mayhaps as to not rouse the Adders. Gratitude, Aya."


"I'm guessing this isn't idle chit-chat. Ala Mhigans, hmm?" She cants her head, peering a bit. "The next cause?"


The huntress exhales then nods curtly. "But I would be lying if I said it was for them. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Garleans encroach from the East, so at least helping those that wish to fight there will help the Shroud. If they were to actually accomplish the take back of their home, mine would be safer."


Aya tilts her head to the side, "I cannot blame you. The Garleans are a threat, its simple truth. Even I can see that... Is there anything I can help you with?"


"You already have. To tell you true, I was merely wishing to see how you felt about it. I had not thought to ask. I am somewhat surprised." She lets out an exhale. "Information can help, but even simple things like food for the refugees helps. After all, many who join the resistance come from the refugee camps."


Aya nods, "of course... I've visited a few recently as well, as part of the same effort... I suppose I'm giving back a little bit." She shrugs again, it’s clearly an issue she's grappled with, "My feelings on the resistance are mixed. I think many people would be better off worrying about adapting to their new lives, rather than expending all their energy trying to reclaim what they lost. But with all of the violence in the world, and the threat to Eorzea the Garleans pose, I cannot fault their efforts. And I gladly offer them my encouragement when able."


"Then you are helping already." She glances to the markets. "Mayhaps our views do not differ on it as much as I thought.” She sighs softly. "I should have visited you sooner, Aya. Apologies for being away so long."


"It’s on both our shoulders, mon amie, but we shouldn't have gone so long, I have to agree." She grins brightly, sneaking a candy before offering another to Kiht. "I hope you're taking the time to enjoy some of the amenities of city-life while you're here. Like a hot bath?"


Kiht grows her mild smile once again as she takes the candy. She then sniffs herself. "...Springs and rivers do not quite remove the scent of nature it seems." She lets out a short chuckle. "That sounds like something I should do, indeed."

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