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Under the Pale Moonlight [Closed]

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20 YEARS AGO on the outskirts of Gridania...


A caravan of warriors and sellswords made their final preparations to head into battle, hired by the kingdom of Ala Mihgo as a last ditch effort against the invading forces. Kima stood at the rear of the caravan with his father, both watching as wife and mother prepared for battle.


She strapped up her leather armor, and slid both daggers into their sheaths on her sides then slid the longsword onto her back and strapped it down. She turned to Kima and smiled, then motioned him over to her.


âYou'd best take care of your father Kima, you understand? You know he isn't a warrior, not like us, watch out for him until I return. And always remember Kima, when you feel lonely, look up at the pale moonlight, and know i'm thinking of you, watching you...â She said and kissed him on the forehead. She gave her husband a long loving smile before she went to join the rest of the mercenaries.


âWill she return father?â Kima asked.


His father nodded once, giving a sad smile as he watched her walk off...


17 years later. 3 years before the present...


Where are you now, mother? I wonder if...


The sea breeze blew across the ship and filled Kima's nose with the smell of the salty ocean they sailed on top of. He was lost in thought as he gazed upward at the stars, memories of the past floating through his head.


âKima! We're approaching the outcropping, no sign of the enemy sir!â


The young woman's voice crackled and broke the quietness of the moment. He let out a sigh and glanced over at the dark furred Miqo'te and smiled.


âThank you Khatai, tell the men to prepare to disembark. Leave no stone unturned. We were hired to do a job, lets get it done. And remember, do not kill anyone, that's not what we were paid to do.â He said and hopped up to his feet. He winced slightly as his injured ankle reminded him of its presence.


The crew stood their, assembled in front of him, waiting for him to give the order. He looked them all over once, the playful, sly smirk never leaving his face. His crew knew what it meant, it meant their boss was feeling good about this assignment.


âAlright, let's keep it short, quick and clean. You all know what we need. The map. If you find it call out for me and i'll come. Remember just to subdue any resistance not kill, no one deserves to die over a piece of paper. With that, move out!â He screamed. The crew returned the scream and all boarded the smaller boats, setting sail for the small outcropping off the coast of the mainland.


Kima watched as they all disembarked from the main ship and headed out, he glanced up into the moonlight and let out a sight.


"If you... would you be proud of my accomplishments, are you truly looking down at me, from the pale moon light?"

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The open sea. Such a fickle mistress.


She can be a blessing, giving life in the form of food to those she lets live alongside her, and carry from place to place, providing them with a cool breeze on a hot day and even a way to be entertained, or she can be a curse, swallowing up entire ships in its massive and angry waves as she goes from calm and gentle to rough and turbulent in moments, and she can even conceal beasts which are only spoke of in legend and in shadowy taverns. But through all of that, we still love to visit her, but never, would we wanna live there.


âCaptain, we're approaching the island,â


Khatai's voice broke into the waking dream he was having and he nodded and sat up quickly, his eyes focusing on the approaching island. He patted her on the shoulder as he stood and slid on the set of spiked knuckles over his fists and cinched them tight so they'd not slide off.


âHeh, right, I was just resting my eyes,â he said and gave her a grin.


âMhm riiiight, restin yer eyes, more like off daydreamin 'gain'.â she said.


He chuckled lightly and gave her the usual shrug of âso sue meâ, to which she just rolled her eyes, causing him to laugh a bit more.


âAlright alright 'nough' o' that, lets get in an' out, no dallying. We find te' map as we've been tasked and leave understand?â The small group he was with nodded as the small boat came to shore. He jumped out and landed softly in the sand, pulling the boat a bit more up onto the small beach. It didn't take long for the rest of the small team which was with him to follow him as well. He looked at Khatai and gave a nod, then reached into his belt and removed a small map.


âAlright, what we're looking for is said to be in this general area. There are 7 huts here, according to my information. The issue we may run into is bandits and highwaymen supposedly patrol this island, because it is where many wash up from wrecked vessels. If we run into them, we simply kill them, but we don't kill non-fighters if there are any. Khatai will be bringing up the rear as he head into the camp. Since the moon is out, and its bright we'll be moving in a staggered line formation, stay to the shadows, and follow me closely.â he said and rolled the map back up.


The small group moved silently under the moonlight across the small island. Going from shadow to shadow and sticking to the treeline of the jungle, out of the purview of the highwaymen which patrolled the roads. They came upon a small village, which looked abandoned at first sight. Kima raised his fist and brought the group to a halt.


âI'll go check it out first, wait till I give a all clear,â


They nodded and watched as he peered left, then right to ensure his path was clear then darted off. He was agile, despite how he favored his left ankle, and managed to silently slip into the the area around the huts without much notice. He closed his eyes and held his breath, letting his ears focus on hearing footsteps, heartbeats, or whispers. He heard none and then waved the rest of the crew over.


It didn't take them long to all make their way over to him and with one wave of his hand the small group all spread out towards one of the huts.


âAlright map... Where are you...â he said softly as he slipped into one of the huts nearest to him. The place looked abandoned, at least as far as he could make out. The fire pit had not been used in weeks, what little food was inside had spoiled rotten. The bed, or what passed for it, had not been slept in either.


âHuh.. why would someone hide a map in this place...?â He asked himself as he carefully shuffled through all the items, turning over small chests and opening drawers. Finding nothing he walked back out, in time to meet with the rest of the small group with him. Khatai frowned as her tail swayed back and forth, a sign of her irritation as he'd learned.


âCaptain, we found nothing, all of them were empty pretty much, they all looked like they were lived in-â Kima stopped her and looked around quickly, his ears twitched as he focused directly ahead of him.


âWe have guests.â he said. Khatai drew both daggers from her sides and lowered her posture as the rest of his crew got into fighting position. Not even two seconds later, torches came on all around them. They were surrounded, archers with arrows already cocked. A hyur stepped forward. This woman had on what looked like bandit attire and a large grin on her scarred face.


âWell âKimaâ, ya were easy to capture, why dontcha surrender peacefully, so ah' can collect the full price on yer head.â she said and raised a hand above her head. âYe got five seconds to comply, or ya will all be shot down...â Khatai glanced over at Kima and smirked lightly, keeping both daggers at the ready.


âOne o' yer women Kima? Eh I shouldn't be surprised heh, this looks like quite the predicament you got us into eh?â He glanced back, his own grin plastered on his face.


â Firstly i've never seen this woman in me' life, and secondly...It wouldn't be an adventure if it was any other way...â

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âStop trying to buy time Kima! Surrender peacefully, and yer crew can get outta here alive, you have my word.â the woman said. He glanced at Khatai once more and she shrugged once, tail swaying back and forth. The rest of the men glanced at it out the corner of their eyes, then looked forward once more.


âWell, how bout tis', ye leave me and my crew alone, and we'll leave you and yer people alone, even tell you why we were here in te' first place. You look like a business woman after all, ah'm sure you'd like to know right?â He asked. His eyes cut to Khatai again and her tail continued to sway.


âYou are a mercenary after all so you know I can't just abandon a job in the middle. What kinda reputation would that leave me with?â She said. He shrugged once, his small smile remaining on his face.


âProbably one like my old one ah take it, then again ye look like a smart woman so you'll avoid that ah'm sure. But even so you aren't just ah lil bit curious? You know ah'm smart enough to recognize a set up, so why do you think ah came here anyhow?âHe asked.


She furrowed her brow and glanced to several of her men, they all nodded once and she in turn returned there nods and tilted her head at Kima.


âAlright, tell me what were you after, but you have 30 seconds to tell me and then we're jus gonna take ya.â She said. He acknowledged her with a smile and glanced at Khatai once more. Her tail had finally stopped moving back and forth and his smile widened a bit.


âWell, we were looking for a map, that's what we were told. And the truth is, dere' really IS a map here, it leads to a unknown land said to be flowing with gold and gems worth hundreds of thousands of gil. Ah know it's on dis island... I even know the place now.â His eyes moved towards the right, away from Khatai and like clockwork everyone's eyes followed his.


âIt's right over... that...ridge..â As he finished saying âRidgeâ Khatai dropped her daggers. Before they even hit the ground her eyes glowed with electricity and a bolt of of lightning struck the ground, kicking up large chunks of dirt and dust.


âMove it now!â Kima shouted and they scattered in the confusion. Kima didn't leave until he was sure all of his people were out. As the dust began to clear the bounty hunter had her sights on Kima, who was fleeing towards the shoreline.


âKill em all! Let them fly freely!â She shouted. Arrows flew from their bows like small wooden bolts of lightning, coming down out of the dark night sky like a deadly storm.


âmove it! Faster!â Kima called out as arrows littered the ground all around him. He jumped over a log and rolled behind a tree as another volley fell on them. That's when he heard it, Khatai's gasp. He recognized it anywhere, he growled and saw her crawling along the ground towards the coastline.


âHold on, i'll get you!â He called out. He knew the next volley was incoming, and that after this they'd charge them to collect whoever they've wounded, but he couldn't afford to wait. He wouldn't leave someone behind, especially not his first mate.


âMother would do it, I have to prove to her I can do it too..â He took a breath, and as he heard the arrows notch on the bowstring he took off as fast as possible for Khatai. He wasted no time scooping her up in his arms. âDamn you always causing me trouble aren't ya mage.â he said with a grin as he heard the arrows fly from there bows. âNo time to wait for your witty retort, we have ta go!â he said as he continued.


âBoss wait! Don't leave me!â he heard someone call out. He stopped and glanced over, it was one of his crew. The poor soul had three arrows in his back. Kima turned to try to reach him and winced as the hot, tearing feeling burned through his arm, then his back. âDamnit!â he said as he heard them getting closer and closer.


âY..you, you have to leave me boss...â The man said. It was obvious he didn't mean it but he had to say it. You sacrifice yourself for your captain, and he'll do the same for you. That was the motto they had, but this time, Kima couldnt think of a way to help him. Khatai yanked on Kima's shoulder, letting another arrow sail past his back, tearing at his armor as it slammed into the man's neck.


âI'm sorry...â Kima said as the man's outreached arm and hand fell to the ground, his eyes left forever locked looking up at Kima.


âWe have to go Kima!â Khatai said as she winced from the pain of the arrows inside her leg and back.


âR..right.â he took off towards the boat which was already in the water, the crew had waited for him, much to some of their own demise as a few died from bloodloss on the small boat. Kima ran into the water and sat Khatai on the boat and let the others pull him up. They let the sail up and quickly drifted off to sea, towards there main vessel. Kima frowned as he could feel the darkness begin to take him from his wounds, closing in on his vision, everything beginning to be funneled down into a small tunnel.


âLaylei... She'll help us... Find Laylei Khatai...â he said before he succumbed to the dark, sweet bliss of unconsciousness.

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There is nothing but darkness...


In the darkness a small lantern can be seen illuminating a small area through what was only darkness. Two figures sat on the bench engaged in conversation. Both of these figures wore armor and were obviously warriors of some sort. The female Elezen smiled at him and tilted her head as she placed a hand on his.






âDidn't think i'd see you so soon boy, what happened?â


âWell, I was shot, guess they didn't get me to Laylei in time, it seems like it...â


âDo you have any regrets?â


âYes. Yes I do. I never got to see my mother again... It's the only thing I regret.â He said, before he could say anything else he gripped his chest and almost fell off the bench.


âWell boy, it looks like you may get your chance yet... Don't worry, we'll meet again when the time is right.â


There was a small light in the distance, slowly, this point of light began to grow and grow in size until it overtook everything, blinding his vision with its overwhelming power. He could hear a voice calling out to him over and over, reaching out for him.


âKima wake up you bloody fool! You still owe me money no way you're gonna die on me!â She called out to him.


He grunted and opened his eyes, there was Khatai, staring down at him with a concerned look on her face and in the corner was Laylei, working on some type of concoction. He glanced at Khatai and grinned weakly.


âHeh, see you found her eh? She didn't give you too much trouble ah hope,â he asked her. Khatai just shook her head, fighting back her own smile.


âYou the only one who gave us trouble heh, we'd lost you for a moment there but she brought you back.â she said moving to the side so Kima could get a better look at Laylei.


âYeah, I figured she could heh, why I told you how to find her. So what do ah owe ya Laylei?â he said and tried to stand but fell back down, the wounds still very fresh.


âFirst off fool, you owe me a place to practice my abilities without restraint... And secondly, you should really remain laying down for another day.â she said but never turned to face him. He chuckled and looked at Khatai, who put a hand on his shoulder.


âWhat're your orders Kima?â


âHow many we lose?â He asked in a hushed voice. She looked away, biting her lip and not wanting to answer.


âWell? How many?â


â12... and 14 more were wounded...â she said. He blinked and looked down, shaking his head as she continued. âWe needed a healer quicker than we could find one, and it took me too long to get to laylei. If i'd got to her sooner they'd still be alive.â She said.


Well, I knew it would happen eventually... We'd run into this exact situation... Never again...


âKhatai... The crew is yours, you're captain now. Laylei, you'll have your healing inn... I'll make sure of it.â He said. Khatai tried to protest but he shook his head.


âThis will never happen again Khatai, we made too many enemies, and too many people have a horrid outlook on what we are, so tis' is what ah will do bout' it. Ah expect ye' te' come visit me every month tho' girly.â he said giving her a smile. She grinned and nodded then leaned down and gave him a soft kiss.


âThere, never say I didn't give you one...â He chuckled and nodded.


âYes well, i'll be still out there, jus, i'll make sure we all have a place to come to when we need it is all, so don't think you're rid of me so easy. And don't worry, ah'll tell the crew when ah'm better.â He said. She nodded to him and went to sit down in a chair next to his bedside, reading over sea maps.


Although she had her back to them both Laylei was ghiddy. She could barely contain her excitement. Finally, she'd have a place to do anyh kind of work she pleased.


âOh, Kima, what will we call it?â


âThe Underground. A place where mercenaries, pirates, adventurers and soldiers can go to rest and relax, to get healing and to recuperate without being persecuted.â


âI like it.â She said. âThe Underground Inn and Tavern...â




The Underground Inn and Tavern, a place for people of all types to come for a pint, or to get in some rest and relaxation. A place to overhear the latest rumors and secrets, to learn of jobs which need to be done. A place which supposedly doesn't exist, but yet it does. Currently Kima runs the tavern, and Laylei runs the Inn.


"So, how's things goin?" Kima asked and slid a mug of ale to his old friend, Khatai, who had a patch on one eye. She grinned and took it and drank deeply from it before looking at him.


"Heh, they go as they always do my friend, heh wouldn't mind you coming back on a job sometime." she said as she stood up and walked to the door, now finished with her drink. He followed her and shook his head in agreement.


"One day soon Khatai, one day soon, after all, I still need to find her..." he said. She grinned and gave him a nod and a hug before strolling down the streets back to the ship.


Kima looked up at the large full moon once more and let its light encompass him. A small, sad smile graced his face as he leaned against his doorway.


"Tell me mother, would you be proud of my accomplishments, are you truly looking down at me, from the pale moon light?"


(comments are welcome :)

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