Jump to content

Kannadi's Observations [story]

Recommended Posts

Small flies sang of luck, in their fog around the corpse. Vultures braved the buzzing weather, tearing at gashes already opened. Some of the rats were becoming too fat to turn around in the tunnels they gorged through the body. Beetles dabbed greedily at the seepage. The gray hill was now arguably more alive than when it had lumbered Vylbrand on all fours that morning.


Its horns were missing. Kannadi counted two circles of flesh carved neatly out of its flank, the point of ingress for so many of the little opportunists.


“Sometimes, Alcibiades, I dislike people,” Kannadi said.


“Kweh,” Alcibiades said.


“It’s easy to blame Dalamud, of course, but I’ve seen similar sights for years.”


Alcibiades preened himself under his rider.


High above, clouds swirled about the red moon Dalamud. The ugly bruise it made in the sky had become little to remark upon after Kannadi’s exhaustive personal study of its lined surface. That dire herald of disaster and the shifting of ages had intrigued her once, even entranced her, but now she found it quite normal… one pile of notations later.


Other subjects demanded her attention now. What if the world didn’t end? When the smoke cleared, someone would find edge-of-eras monster data valuable, even if it was only her.


A kobold, safely distant, clicked beads across an abacus, looking up only to squint at the great buffalo corpse and make estimations. The armored black beastman had glared exactly once at Kannadi on her chocobo when she arrived five minutes ago, but a clear lack of initiative on the adventurer’s part indicated she was merely a spectator and therefore unprofitable.


Kannadi produced a notepad and pencil from the recesses of her robe. There she noted the estimated height and weight of the late beast, the distance the battle had ranged, the exact site of demise, the time of day, and the direction and estimated velocity of prevailing winds.


“Of course it scarcely helps that I’m a person myself,” Kannadi said to her ride. “May I borrow your head?”




Alcibiades held his head still. Kannadi leaned her notepad on him as she drew a toothed line. Above the line she wrote shorthand headings for "Species," "Totals," "Demography" and "Ingress/Egress." Below the line she wrote abbreviations and numbers.


“The beastmen use every part the scavengers don’t eat first, you know,” she said. “Hair to bone. Even if it’s just to burn for fuel. But us? All the profitable bits, and nothing but.”


Kannadi steadied her notepad and filled her free hand with a pocket abacus fetched from her dark sarouel pants. Beads flew and clicked under her left thumb as her right hand went back to writing. Multitasking when gathering data paid when such a large kill could attract less patient predators.


“Never mind the fact that more measured care in the assault could have preserved much more of the hide. I can’t imagine a horn hacked off like that would fetch more than sixty…” Click, click. “No, sixty-five percent of a clean break.”


Alcibiades didn’t have a head for numbers. “Gwark?” He ventured.


“It’s wasteful. Inefficient. Disrespectful.” The abacus disappeared into a pocket. “And completely predictable of a species simultaneously short of sight and easily satisfied.”


“Then why are you here?” Came a voice close to the ground behind her.


Kannadi paused writing long enough to think, which was not long. She resumed her task without the slightest quiver in her hand.


“I suspect,” she said after a moment, “that the only thing standing between me and an unpleasant display of kobold thaumaturgy is your curiosity toward my opinions.”


The Mendicant, second kobold to the scene, patted the minaret bulb of a cudgel. “You are knowing that I am a mage?” He, or possibly she, said.


“Your common tongue could benefit from a more active voice,” Kannadi said. She took a deep breath, then spoke as long as her lungs allowed: “But yes, I know you are a mage, since clearly you are sufficiently educated enough to respond to me, to say nothing of you approaching me from downwind and outside my chocobo’s range of vision, nor of how you seem to have padded what I assume to be cotton in the joints of your armor, so as not to be heard above the happiness of the flies, which as I understand it is what passes for a stealth tactic much in use among your people.”


The Mendicant continued patting its weapon with the same vague menace. Kannadi returned to writing, as if she had just spoken to herself.


“You are using many words,” the kobold finally said.


“Is that a problem?”


“No.” Pat. Pat. “But why are you here.”


Kannadi finished writing. She patted her mount’s head. Alcibiades relaxed, stretched his neck and saw the kobold not six fulms behind him, its fuzzy black tail flicking in the wind.


Alcibiades tensed to panic, but Kannadi stilled him with a touch.


“I came to record data like your friend over there,” Kannadi said. “Is that some sort of affront?”


“No. Now be explaining your first words. You are hating your people?”


“Hate is such a strong word.” Kannadi pivoted Alcibiades in place, carefully, so as to better converse with the newcomer. Ah, she thought. Typical armor, typical skin tone, hair coverage indicative of relative middle age. Menacing red eyes owing more to biology than personality. Gender impossible to tell. Weapon-patting behavior a common attempt at intimidation. Fight? Flee?


The visitor was nothing she couldn’t handle, Kannadi decided, but when would she have a chance to converse with one again?


“Do you know of disappointment?” She continued aloud. “Stupid little things your people do that embarrass you by proximity?”


Pat. “Yes.” Pat.


“My people have many of them. Inefficiency aside, they have no appreciation for ecological balance. None. How many Great Buffalo are left, for instance? Not enough for herds, so the creatures adapted to solitary lives. Easier to hide, but easier to pick off. And behavioral adaptation has not yet made them sufficiently timid to run away from adventurers instead of trying to fight them off.”


The mountainous vermin-shot buffet had certainly fought, that was clear. A lost rat attempted valiantly to chew its way out of the titanic ribcage. It would need time.


“And yet my people hunt them still, for sport or physical training, heedless of the likelihood of extinction. And not just buffalo, mark you.” Kannadi gestured to the horizon. “All across Eorzea, rare monsters, many notorious, are slain before they have the chance to reproduce. One day, all that remain will be only the most vicious and the truly threatening, beasts who will roam beyond set territory and harbor enmity toward the innocent. And my people alone will be to blame.”


“Hyur are doing this?” The kobold asked.


“Oh, certainly. Hyur, lalafell, all of us.”


Red eyes inside a black helmet squinted. “But you had said your people.”


“I did. I meant adventurers, of course. It’s all I can do to record the kills, to salvage some data out of the horrid waste, to educate my people as best I can. I intend to instill some respect for ecological balance and the creatures who compose it, in the event that Dalamud doesn’t end us all. That way, I will ensure there will always be such fascinating creatures in our shared continent.”


The kobold drummed its fingers on its cudgel. Its tail flicked in thought.




“If I don’t, who will?”


Drum, drum. Pat.


“Write your numbers somewhere that is not here,” said the kobold.


“I shall,” said Kannadi. “Good day to you.”


Alcibiades practically tore the ground to bedrock as Kannadi rode him away. He took his rider’s share of fear for himself and then some. Kannadi merely adjusted her notepad to secure it in the inner pocket of her robe.


“Fascinating indeed… sapient or otherwise.”

Link to comment

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...