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Kiki's Tales: Lives of Sin, Hearts of Gold

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(Hiya! As a bit of an intro, this is a story about my title character, Kiki Carson, and some of her past travels. I'll be touching on her far and recent past. I do hope you enjoy!)


[align=center]Chapter 1[/align]


Gridania was a place of great beauty, at least to some. The treeline of the Black Shroud was as picturesque as always, a sea of green lying in front of a bright blue sky. The wildlife of the Twelveswoods were abound, whether it be to forage, hunt, or simply survive. All was as it should be on the surface that day.


At least, it was in the mind of Kiki Carson.


Her full name was Akilda Carson, and that's what she wascalled at the time. Even though she was just barely 12 years old, Akilda didn't have any friends to give her a nickname just yet. Her four siblings were quite unkind with their taste in names for each other, so none of them stuck. She was stuck with Akilda for a time, and didn't seem to care all that much.


The aforementioned nasty nicknames that came from Akilda’ssiblings were mainly due to her inheritance: she had naturally blue hair, and it was quite a striking shade. The hair was a mix between silver, white, and mostly baby blue, looking quite striking against her pale skin. Even with how unique and elegant the hair color looked, Akilda’s brothers and sister were often ridiculing the absurdity of it, even if one of their parents had similar locks.


The day was just beginning for Akilda as she roamed the woodsaround her home. Their house was quaint, comfortable enough for the seven people living there but spacious enough to fit another if needed. Of course, a lovely home this far out into the forests needs a large fire, so it was Akilda's job to collect any firewood she could. And she was darn good at it in her mind, especially with the day's haul of a single log and a few large sticks.


Suddenly, a rustle came from one of the nearby bushes. Ananimal? A hunter? Both?! Akilda didn't know, but she wasn't keen to find out. The rustling got more rapid, and the culprit emerged... or at least the fuzzy ears of the culprit did. They belonged to a blonde Miqo'te girl, no older than Akilda was herself.


"Erm... hello?" Akilda attempted to communicate,thoroughly confused by the sudden arrival of another child to this section of the woods. Was she moving in nearby? Maybe she was a traveler who wanted a place to stay? Akilda started to get excited, hoping she just met a new friend!


That excitement died when the Miqo'te girl pounced and tackledAkilda to the ground.


"Ack!" Akilda dropped her firewood and collapsed,pinned under the small weight of the other child. "What was that for?!"


"Poacher!" was the only reply Akilda got, as herassailant slapped and punched her face. She tried to cover herself, but Akilda wasn't physically strong at all. In fact, she was unusually frail for someone her age, hence why she couldn't manage more than a log of firewood.


"Poacher? What does that even mean?!" Akilda keptstruggling and pushing up, but to no avail. "Help!"


That help came quicker than expected, as the sound of a mechanicalrifle firing into the air split the two of them from fright alone. The man holding it was a surprisingly shorter-than-average Elezen man, with ragged clothes and a bit of scruff to him. He shared Akilda's silvery-blue hair color, making his unkempt facial hair even more noticeable.


"Get out of here, beast." The words were morevenomous than a warning, coming from a place of hate. The Miqo'te apparently picked up on it, taking off for the bushes from whence she came. She called them 'Poachers' one more time before scrambling out of sight, allowing Akilda a chance to stand up and brush herself off.


"Thanks Dad... why did she do that?" Akilda startedgathering the firewood she dropped dutifully, as if guilty for even leaving it.


"Don't know, and frankly don't care." He turned toleave before even seeing Akilda grab everything. She scrambled up to keep pace, making sure her head was tilted down.


"...Dad? What's a 'poacher'?" Akilda asked with atwinge of fear, staring at the rifle in her father's hand.


"Don't worry about it."




Kiki awoke with a start, sweating a bit. Another dream of herpast had come to haunt her, as they did from time to time. Then again, what she did the night before could have influenced the level of enjoyment any dreams brought.


Kiki was currently aboard Tala’s

Bounty, a ‘commandeered’ vessel currently under the order of one StrongBuck. The captain wasn’t an actual animal, but a grizzled Roegadyn man that his crew affectionately called Cap’n Buck. He was intimidating to most but friendly to others, all depending on your reactions and his mood.


Thankfully, Buck had taken a shine to Kiki immediately due toher ‘unfaltering indifference to the rules’, as he called it. She was a stowaway on a cargo vessel that the crew of Tala’s

Bounty happened to be raiding, and Cap’n Buck found her while searchingtheir haul from a successful attack. From then on, Kiki was simply a passenger along for the ride, not treated as anything less than a crewmember. It was nice, being fully welcome for a change, even if it was among criminals.


"’Oy! Kiki, get up ‘ere!” A familiar voice chimed in fromoutside, prompting a smile from Kiki. The voice belonged to Revi’ka Virba, a spiky-haired Miqo’te with great eyesight and terrible jokes. The two of them were partners up in the Crow’s Nest, keeping each other entertained throughout the sea days.


As Kiki went to leave, she felt a twinge of pain on her brow,instinctively going to touch it and causing more. A glance in the mirror reminded her where the pain originated, as a white design surrounded by sore red skin stood on her face. As an official welcome to the crew, Kiki had been ‘convinced’ to get a face tattoo using a lot of alcohol and some surprisingly accurate handiwork. The design traced over and under each eye with white ink, looking quite stylish with her blue hair and matching lips.


“You’re gonna miss it, dreamer girl! Hurry!” Another yell fromoutside snapped Kiki out of her daydreams. She would grumble about the half pet name, half cat call, but everyone was just as snarky with each other anyway so she ignored it.


Arriving outside, Kiki saw what the fuss was all about: amassive beast off in the distance, snake-like and fierce looking, was diving around far off into the sea. The remains of a boat floated next to it, entirely scrapped.


“Cap’n is trying to steer clear of it. We don’t know what to make o’ the damn thing.” Revi gave commentary as they watched, most of the crew trying to deny even seeing it to put themselves at ease. Revi was just astounded instead of scared.


“Aren’t you a little worried that the creature will come forus next?” Kiki crossed her arms, a bit worried herself now. “If it could decimate other vessels with such ease, what chance do we have?”


Revi gave the most frustrating of answers, which was simply ashrug and a chuckle. Kiki rolled her eyes and followed him up the Crow’s Nest to start their day of looking out.




“…so, why’d you choose all your stuff?”


It had been a few hours since the sea beast sighting, andthings had been relatively quiet. Kiki and Revi kept on chatting as usual, losing track of their actual task in the process.


Kiki was still a bit confused at the nature of the questionRevi just asked, tilting her head cutely as she always did when perplexed.


“Alright, lemme clarify.” Revi sighed, going on to elaborate.“So, Kiki isn’t your real name, you throw magic around at people instead of shooting a bow even though you can, and you always got that blue look goin’ on with the lipstick and the hair. Why?”


“So… to be clear, you’re simply asking why I’ve done a lot ofthe things I’ve done in my life as a whole? That’s… a little broad.”


“Nah, I mean just the big stuff! Your name, magicky stuff, allthat.”


Kiki folded her arms, choosing her words carefully beforeanswering. “Well, if you must know, I just don’t like my full name. My parents constantly used my full name, and it never meant anything good. So, I just stick with a nickname someone back in Ul’dah gave me. Sounds nicer.”


“Makes sense. Now what about the other stuff?” Revi chimed into respond, earning a grumble from Kiki.


“If you didn’t interrupt, you would know! Now, anyway… mypractice of Thaumaturgy comes from a unique opportunity I had to study it and a love for the art it creates. Weaving your own Aether to create such magnificent elemental creations and destructive forces… it’s almost poetic. Plus, I’m quite frail up close. Using magic can allow me to defend myself and avoid injury all at once!”


"Alright, cool. Now-”


In mid-sentence, Revi’s feline ears shot up at attention. Hestood up and peered around, eventually pausing and pointing.


“A boat, looks like Maelstrom troops. They’re heading directlyfor us.”


In no time at all, Kiki was sliding down the ladder to theCrow’s Nest, calling out a warning. “Maelstrom troops on the horizon! We may have been spotted!”


“Storm’s comin’ too, we gotta move!” Revi was right behindher, the both of them getting to work with the rest of the crew.


The time flew fast while working and slow when waiting. Someof the crew were itching for a fight just as others were fretting over the weather. Kiki was of neither group, concerned with the situation as a whole. She sat up in the Crow’s Nest on her own once the setup was done below, silently contemplating the outcomes of the situation.


For a time, Kiki stared down at her arcane implement withconcern. It was a simple wand, nothing fancy by any means. And yet, through it she could create fantastical bursts of elemental power. Was she fully confident in her abilities? No, but the potential was there and she knew it.


Even so, she was mortified at the thought of having to use itthat day.


The Maelstrom vessel arrived with the storm, sliding slowlyalongside the Tala’s Bounty andkeeping pace. The misty rain swirled with the thick tension in the air, as both ships had cannons ready. For a while, there was only the storm and silence.


Then, a ship was boarded.


The crew of the Tala’s

Bounty hadn’t budged from the left side of the vessel, leaving the rightedge open. A small dinghy had snuck around during the tension and allows some Maelstrom troops to climb aboard.


The chaos was instant, as people started yelling out battlecries the second combat started. Blades clashed and cannons fired, leaving Kiki alone in the Crow’s Nest to watch. She had defended herself before with magic, but the loud crashes and bangs made her lose focus. Each firing sound brought echoes of her dreams back, of memories haunting her again. It was almost too much to bear.


Then, she spotted him. Revi, along with Cap’n Buck and a fewcrewmates, were outnumbered and cornered. A well place fire spell would save them, but destroy the ship. Ice wouldn’t be enough to stop the whole crowd. Even so, Kiki had to do something…


So, she channeled thunder.


All the pent-up anxiety, rage, confusion, and fear of themoment went into her wand, as sparks started flying. She knew precision would be important, but was far too in the moment to aim well. Kiki raised her wand and fired the spell, praying for it to work.


As her own lightning struck the mass of people below, herfriends included, a bolt from the sky smashed into the Crow’s Nest.



Everything went dark.



[align=center]Chapter 2[/align]


Akilda heaved a pained sigh, her arms burning from overuse. Itwas another day in Gridania, and her father was once again forcing her to practice her archery. Every attempt ended the same: she simply wasn’t a perfect shot, and that was unacceptable.


At least, it was to her father.


“Can we take a break now?” Akilda finally gathered her courageto ask, dropping out of the stance she was taught so many times.


A firm ‘No’ was all she got as always, along with a glare hardenough to strike animals down all on its own. She withered and got back into stance, struggling to draw the bow again.


Hours of this passed before either of them spoke. Not a singlearrow hit the tree she was aiming for, which was only 20 yalms away.


“…Dad? Why do I need to learn this again?” Akilda kept stanceas she talked, not wanting the glare from earlier.


“So you can work for us once you get older.” His reply wasbrief, with a twinge of annoyance.


“But why do I have to? I want to be an artist like Mom-“


“Your mother wasn’t an artist, she lied. Keep shooting.”


Akilda paused and shook a bit, lowering her bow and looking upat her father. “…but why would Mom lie about-“


Akilda didn’t finish, as a hard smack landed square on herjaw. Her father’s other hand gripped her face roughly and pointed it at the target tree.


“Stop asking questions for once and strike the damned tree.Focus on being precise for once.” The shaking didn’t stop, but Akilda nodded and got back into stance.


Hours of this passed, and neither of them spoke again.




Kiki awoke from her nightmare with a start, stumbling backinstinctively. She was on the deck of a vessel, albeit not a familiar one.


“She’s awake! I told you to cuff her.” A deep voice chimed innearby, prompting Kiki to glance upwards. She was sitting on the ground of the Maelstrom ship that was after the Tala’s

Bounty, surrounded by the uniformed crew. The speaker was leaning on a box,staring down at her.


As she tried to sit up, a massive headache slammed into Kikiall at once, recalling her last moments of consciousness. “…where is everyone?”


“Oh, you mean your ‘mates’? Probably dead.” Another crewmember strolled over, holding some manacles. “Get up and turn around, scum.”


Kiki went for her belt to retaliate with some magic, but foundher wand gone. She was defenseless. Panic began to well in her chest, the culmination of her nightmares and fears starting to take root.


“Hold!” Suddenly, a smooth voice came from one of the innercabins. The man’s walking cane poked out first, then the rest of his hunched body. He was Roegadyn, and surprisingly old. “What proof do you have that the girl was a pirate? All I see is some frail, defenseless woman being harassed by two oafs!”


“Oh, here we go…” Judging by the groans of the two Maelstromsoldiers, this old man has a reputation.


“Until I see proof, you’re gonna be leaving her alone. She’sprobably injured, that leaves her under my care.” As he got closer, Kiki started to realize why his cane was so odd. It was a Conjuration focus retrofitted to become a walking cane. The man was a healer.


“You weren’t in the battle, old timer! Some said she castedmagic and shocked some of our own!”


The old man let out a guffaw, eventually making it over toKiki and offering a hand up. She took it while he spoke. “You mean as if a lightning bolt had hit the ship? Oh, hold on… maybe it’s my failing eyesight, but I believe that indeed did happen.” He sneered at the two guards, escorting Kiki into the cabin he just left from slowly. “As you were, slackers.”


Once inside, Kiki was led to a seat in some sort of impromptuoffice. There was a desk and everything, although none of it was too high quality. The old man took a seat behind his desk and looked over Kiki, more curious than wary. Even though he was old and withering a bit, he still had to hunch over quite a bit to stay eye level with Kiki.


“…muscles aching? Any tension you feel?” Kiki slowly nodded justas a twinge of pain shot through her. It definitely felt muscle related. “That’s from improper use of your thunder magick. Be more careful.” The old man grabbed Kiki’s wand from his pocket and handed it back to her, to Kiki’s surprise.


“Wait… you knew-“


“Of course I did. They don’t know that though, and it’s betterthat it stays that way.” The man had a knowing smile, giving a little nod of delayed greeting. “Call me Stark. I’m the healer on this floating bucket they call a ship.”


Kiki paused, slowly putting her wand away and offering a smileof relief at the overall friendliness of the man. “I’m Kiki. A pleasure.”


Stark lifted his walking cane and started waving it over Kiki’sbody, a green glow starting to gather at its front. It didn’t take long for the cure magicks to take effect. “The punks out there are constantly looking for any way they can get a promotion or a raise, even some side cash if possible. It’s best you stay in here for the trip, keeps you out of their reach. They’ll be looking for someone to turn in for a reward.”


“I see… if you don’t mind me asking, why would there be areward for one of our crew being turned in? Seems a bit specific.” Kiki was concerned about the fate of her crew members, but was far too afraid to ask just yet.


“Something out here has been absolutely trashing ships. No onewas exactly sure what, but most aboard this vessel just blamed pirates. We assumed you were the culprit since there was another wreck nearby and attacked. If it were up to me, a bit of talking would’ve been done, but no one listens to the old, experienced one until they need help.” Stark grumbled a bit, continuing his curative works as he talked.


“So they intend to send in any crew members from the vessel Iwas on and just collect the reward?” Stark nodded, but also couldn’t hold back a regretful sigh.


“That was their plan… but you’re the only one we found afterthe lightning struck and sunk the boat. We had to leave before we got too swept up in the storm, and the boarders only had time to grab your unconscious self before hopping on the dinghy and getting back to us.” Stark paused to let the information set in, seeing the fear in Kiki’s eyes. “I’m sorry. Really, I am.”


Kiki didn’t speak for the rest of the day, letting the magickfrom Stark fully sink in. Criminals or not, Kiki just lost the only friends she had in this world, not to mention her sense of purpose out on the seas. She felt as adrift as the wreckage of the Tala’s





The next day, Kiki awoke in a much more comfortable situation.She was on a soft cot, in a small medical wing of the ship. A few others were in there as well, recovering from the wounds of their previous skirmish. Some of them eyed Kiki warily, while others were too distracted by their condition to care.


“Ah, Kiki! You’re awake.” Stark walked in, cane clacking onthe floor as he went. “I had breakfast prepared, if you’d like to join me. We have to discuss your condition.” Judging by his glances at the other infirmary patients, it was more of an escape offer than a request. Kiki gladly took it, walking beside Stark in surprisingly full health.


Once in his office, Stark took a tray of food and handed itover to Kiki. It was basic stuff, but she was ravenously hungry so it didn’t matter the contents. They were gone before Stark had fully sat down.


“Color me impressed! I haven’t seen anyone eat that fast sincemy own youth.” He patted his stomach and let out an earthy laugh, grabbing some of his own food. “You always scarf things down like that?”


“Erm… actually, yes.” Kiki took a seat, patting her ownstomach and looking down. “For some strange reason, using my thaumaturgy abilities tends to make me quite famished, not to mention thirsty. And even before that, I had quite the appetite.” She contemplated a moment before speaking. “…I suppose you’re the best person to ask on that. Why exactly does my Aether use cause hunger?”


Stark thought a while before giving a shrug. “Ah, heck if Iknow. Maybe your body makes more Aether out of food?” Kiki shrugged as well, and the two of them laughed it off. There was a moment or two of silence before Stark spoke again. “…sorry to change the subject, but I gotta ask. What are you running from?”


Kiki went from good-natured to quite perplexed, raising aneyebrow and trying to play it cool. “…I don’t know what you mean. I wasn’t on that vessel for transportation, really.”


“You know what I mean.” Stark smirked, seeing right throughher. “You give me either a nickname or a fake name, practice thaumaturgy so far outside of Ul’dah, and you clearly didn’t join that pirate crew of your own choice. You’re far too out of place for this to simply be how things have always been for you. You’re running from someone or something. Maybe I can help.”


By now, Kiki would usually change the subject or sneak off. However,whether it was a moment of weakness from recent events or her constant nightmares harassing her, she felt it was an appropriate time to be honest.


“…I was 15 when the Calamity struck. My father was a poacher,and my siblings were being raised to do the same. I didn’t want any part in it, and they were all far too cruel to let me just leave. I used the Calamity to escape. I ran until I could secure passage to Ul’dah, which only lasted two years.”


Stark raised an eyebrow, only saying a few words. “What madeyou leave? Criminals, or the law?” Kiki’s resigned sigh suggested the second option.


“The vagrants and thieves of Ul’dah were the kind ones. Theytaught me how to survive on my own, and even helped me start my education in thaumaturgy. But that didn’t last once I saved a friend from abuse by the Brass Blades. I either had to leave or face arrest... or worse.” Kiki shivered for a moment just thinking about it, and Stark let her pause and compose herself.


“I lived outside of Ul’dah and traveled for a while… but bythe time I was 18, I had found a vessel to stow away on so I could get as far from both Ul’dah and Gridania as I could. The crew of the Tala’s Bounty, the boat your crewmates just sunk, raided the cargoship I was on and decided to let me stick around upon my discovery. They treated me nicely. Just like Ul’dah’s thieves.”


For a while, there was silence. Stark nodded and thought,surprised to hear all of that.


“…running from your past is common. Running from your legacy, prettymuch the same. Both are tough… especially without a destination.”


Kiki shook her head and sighed. “I suppose you’re right. Ijust… don’t think there is anywhere to go. How can I escape a living off crime if the only kind people are outside of the law? I simply can’t go anywhere now, so long as officers of the Grand Companies are around. I’ll either end up a true criminal, stuck in jail, or far worse.”


“…You probably resent me a bit, don’t you?” Stark raised aneyebrow, gauging Kiki’s reaction.


If anything, she was surprised. “What? No, not at all! You’vebeen so kind to me… why would you think that?”


Stark paused, then let out another guffaw. “There, you justproved yourself wrong. I work for the Maelstrom command, yet you don’t mind having me around. If you’re a good seed among a bad field, why can’t the same be true for others out there?”


Kiki was hesitant, tilting her head as she responded. “Thatstill doesn’t give me a destination after this, does it?”


“I have one for you. Home.” Stark knew Kiki would besurprised, so he explained without pause. “Run from your past, and it will just keep chasing you. Confront it, and you may yet live beyond its reach.”


As he spoke philosophy, Stark took out a sack of gil andtossed it to Kiki. “We land tomorrow, in the docks of Limsa Lominsa. Buy yourself some supplies, take all the time you need and live off the land if you must. But when you’re ready, go home and face your family. Whether it end in violence or peace, you’ll come out a better person. And don’t you fret about the law! Brass Blades never recall a face outside of the profit it brings, and the Wood Wailers of Gridania likely have no recollection of your affiliation with your father. And if any of them still give you trouble, know there’s always people like me to help. You’re never truly alone.”


Kiki spent time deep in thought, concerned with just howthings would play out. But in that moment, she realized Stark was right. Her nightmares wouldn’t end until she settled things herself. “Thank you, Stark. I mean it.”


Stark got up to head for the door, a warm smile on his face.He patted Kiki on the back before taking their trays. “I’ll bring these trays to the kitchen. Can’t have a messy workplace.” Before fully leaving, he looked back at Kiki again. “By the way... we didn’t find many bodies at the wreckage of the Tala’s Bounty. That, and oneof our dinghies were taken during the battle yesterday. Now that we know this, it’s likely your crewmates made it out alive.”


Kiki lit up at hearing that, cracking a truly genuine smile.Her long-term goals were terrifying, but relatively far off. She would one day return home to set things right… but first, she had to find her crew, if not to at least give a final goodbye.


Kiki had purpose again, and she wouldn’t let her nightmaresget in the way of that.



(If you have any comments, just go ahead and post them! I'll be editing this first post if possible to display more chapters as I write them!)

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