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This leather bound tome can be found randomly in the Rising Sun, home of the Ascendant Dawn. In the kitchen, near the baths, or just sitting on the front desk, the owner of this diary seems to treat the adventuring companies headquarters as if it is her home. And perhaps in some ways, it is. The book is protected only by a small lock on the front cover, though it is the simplest of mechanical locks, easily opened by anyone with any skill, or even occasionally poping open on its own if jolted. The script inside starts off somewhat shaken at first, but becomes a little more flowing and elegant with every entry.

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I can't believe i found this thing! Big Sis gave this to me almost a year ago, when she was first trying to teach me to read and write! I had given up on ever learning and kinda forgot about the book. It was a thoughtful gift, and it would be rude of me not to use it. So much has changed since then, but I guess i'd better start at the beginning.

My name is.. was.. Nehlu Thaiasona. Well, i'm sure about the first name at least. That is what I remember my parents calling me. You see, they died at Dalamud's Fall. The Elder Primal Bahamut burst from his prison and scorched the Twelvewood with his wraith. Many people died that day, and i'm not even sure how I lived. Eventually i was put into one of many orphanages created to house the countless children that had lost family that day.

My official record lists my last name as Thaiasona, though with how hectic things were back then, that could easily be someones guess or a mix-up. I did fairly well at the orphanage. I liked the people and got to meet new friends. However, every time a new batch of kids came through, they would cry for their parents, and it would remind me that my parents were gone too, and then I'd start to cry. One day I couldn't take it anymore, and I guess i just kinda.. ran away. I packed some fruit and stuff from the kitchen in one of my shirts, tied the armholes together and made a small pack out of it. Then at night I snuck out the window.

Living in the wild was not as easy as I expected it to be. What little food I had brought turned stale and worse rather quickly. Hunting and fishing were not the simple tasks I thought them to be, and many a nights I would go hungry. I learned that sleeping on the ground was a mistake rather quickly, when late one night, a predator thought me a quick meal. If I hasn't been able to scamper up a near by tree, it would have been my last mistake.

As time passed, I forgot more and more of that old life. Survival was all that mattered now, and a more feral side emerged to keep me alive. I dug a hole in the dirt at the base of a tree, a place to hide from predators who can climb, where as the branches would offer shelter when the hole filled with water from the rain. I learned to hunt during the night, to kill using teeth and nails.

After thinking about it, I'm guessing I survived like this, as an animal, for four years. By the time I actually saw the next person, I had long forgotten proper language, only a smattering of words left. The stranger was a miqo'te, like me, though several years older. She was beautiful and dressed in a fine, shining armor. She clearly ate well and didn't seem like she'd missed a single nights sleep due to rainstorms or predators. She was perfect, and I wanted to be her.

I watched her for awhile, stole some food from her camp while she slept, even moved my hidey hole closer to where she rested so I could keep an eye on her. Then I saw it, my chance to be like her. To be her. She went for a swim in the stream.. took off her armor and clothes, dropped her weapon. I waited for her to swim far from the shore and.. well.. I took them and ran.

The armor was not the right size. It pinched at my tail and pulled in uncomfortable places, but it was mine now. I started practicing using the spear and walking in the armor until I looked like I knew what I was doing, though i'd have no chance in a real fight.

People are strange. They see someone in armor and immediately start offering all kinds of little jobs fetching and delivering. As if armor was a uniform for the local courier service. I didn't have to speak much, Just take an item from here to there and i'd get coins i could use to buy food. I also got to listen to them speak so I could work on my words when I was alone. I took several of these little jobs, but they almost always went badly.

One of them went so badly, i almost gave up. I was delivering for the Quicksand and had gotten lost in the Goblet. It was dark, and the sky opened up and dumped buckets down on me. Alone in the dark, wet, my body sore from the illfitting armor, and ready to give up, I ducked into a stable and started to cry. I cried for so long, that i cried myself to sleep.

It was daylight when a soft voice awoke me. A beautiful woman, an angel. She asked me who I was, and if i was lost, and i just broke down and told her everything. She invited me to stay there, gave me a room, and clothes, and food. I was so shocked. She was my hero, she was kind, she was nice, she was.... 'MOTHER!' i cried as i collapsed into her arms, and she held me and told me it was alright. I hadn't meant to say it, but the woman just smiled and nodded.

That is how I became Nehlu Faircloud!

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So, where was I. Oh, right. 

 

Mother... Karen Faircloud, turned out to be from Ishguard. She had family there, but there was some kinda split. I never really did find out much about it. Something about the family. They were a noble house, or part of one, or something. I should really find out more about that. Hmm.  Anyway, mom turned out to be kinda wealthy and very skilled in combat as a Lancer. When she saw me in my armor she kinda laughed a little. She told me that she was one of the leaders of a company of adventurers called the Ascendant Dawn, working to make sure the sun rises every day. She offered to fix my armor, to train me in how to use the spear, and to help me become a REAL adventurer.

 

Her friend.. another one of the leaders of the group... objected. She said they were not a daycare, they didn't take care of children and run-aways. I almost cried again. I thought she hated me. Turns out she was just worried about me, she wasn't sure the life of an adventurer was safe and secure, and she didn't want something bad to happen to me. As far back as I've known her, she's always looked out for me, though she isn't always gentle about it. I guess thats why i call her Big Sis. Big Sister Iniera. She's strong and fast. She leads a special study of monks that she calls 'Aetherical Monkhood.' I bet it would surprise her to know that I remember that.

 

Anyway, mom promised her that I wouldn't go into danger until I was trained and ready. Iniera, for her part, huffed and nodded. But as angry as she appeared, she still decided to help me learn to read and write. That's right, this book was from her! I call her Sis, or Big Sis. I'm not really sure how she feels about that, she's never called me sister back, but she also doesn't object to loudly when I do it. Maybe thats her way of agreeing without saying so. Maybe.

 

So i learned many things. Mom teaches her employees to use the Spear. Her bodyguard, a beautiful Elezean woman named Aurora, teaches people to use swords. Iniera leads the monks, and a very mysterious woman named Miyo leads a group she calls 'Shinobi.' Alekse and Totoko seem to handle magical and mystical things, and Becka and her sister are into Magitek. Ladies Yaris Rowe and Elenore Weaver seem to handle the supply and bring in a lot of the coin the group uses. And Dio.. well.. Dio protects the house.. kinda. She hides bombs in the yard and stands guard on the roof all day. Mother keeps yelling at her to get rid of the bombs. Dio is.. strange and beautiful. Together they make a very powerful group of people. This is the Ascendant Dawn. My family. 

Edited by Nehlu Faircloud

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So. I started to train. I took up the spear and followed my mother's teachings. She was incredibly patient and loving, but I was still rather feral inside. Whenever I would mess up, stumble or fall.. I would throw down the spear in anger and attack the dummy with my claws, screaming in rage. I didn't want my family to see this part of me. They would hate it, they would hate me. So I started training by myself, hiding it. I'd take long trips to distant areas to practice and train without worry that my new family would see the beast hiding inside me. 

 

That isn't to say I was always successful. Once when the Dawn was fighting some Garleans, One of them challanged Mother to a duel and she accepted. It was back and forth, and I got very afraid that I would loose her. I tried to interfere, and Mamoru, a blind samurai working with Miyo, stepped in front of me. He was talking of things like honor and goodness and all that other stuff. I didn't care, I wasn't hearing any of it, I had already lost one Mother, I wasn't about to loose another. Still he wouldn't let me pass, and i threw down my spear and screamed in rage. My claws were ready, I was going to tear him apart if he didn't move.... and then Mother won. She had been playing the man she was fighting, letting him get cocky, waiting for him to make a mistake.

 

Thinking back, i'm fairly sure Mamo would have had no problem stopping me. Blind or not, he's impressive, and a good friend. I was delusional to think he was ever in any danger from me. 

 

Still, I've been able to mostly hide that side of me. Even today its there, I can feel it deep beneath the surface, and hopefully, no one knows.

 

Well, no one except Dio, I guess.   Dio knew everything. We talked a lot and eventually, well, she became my first girlfriend.   I mean, don't get me wrong. I was .. and still am, crushing on mom pretty hard. I mean, she's not blood, she's beautiful and awesome and... but.. anyway. Dio was my first real girlfriend. We spent all our time together, sitting on the roof, watching the rest of the Dawn come and go. 

 

She was my first kiss, and so much more. She learned my secrets and I knew her's. Even the really big one she hid from everyone else. But I couldn't keep my feral side in check, I still had to do my training in private, far away. My long trips left her alone for so long that we eventually grew apart. She moved on. I'll always think fondly of her, I'll miss her, and i'm fairly sure that if I ever needed her, she'd be there for me even today, as I would be for her.

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When I came back from one of my longer trips, Dio was with a new person, a young Miqo'te named Mei. She was kind and funny, and I like her, so I was happy for them. I moved on, met new people and even took a new lover, Ai. She was my exact opposite in some ways. We looked identical, but where her hair was black, mine was white. Where she had gray fur, I had silver. It was strange and kinda funny at the same time. We had a great time together and things went on as normal.

 

This is about the time when I decided I wanted to make Mom proud. I wanted to be the heiress she deserved. I started taking reading and writing more serious. I worked harder on my stance, my speech and my mannerisms. My mother was a fighter, but she was also a Lady in every way, and i was determined to show her that I could be the same. It wasn't easy. I messed up a lot, and still do. The world continued to turn and things came and went. Ai moved on during one of my trips. I was starting to get used to this pattern. It wasn't their faults, they couldn't be expected to stay here and wait for me when even I didn't know when I might return, or when I might leave again. 

 

The next time I came home, however, the Dawn had changed a bit. It was fuller. Bigger. All kinds of new people had joined.  Lexi, an Ishguardian Knight of some kind in service to another noblewoman who had also joined us. Chinua, a crimson beauty from across the sea. Orlasia and her Mother, who I had met before but now seemed far more a part of the family. Trance, a cute one who seemed maybe a little subdued compared to some of the others. Allissah, strange and mysterious. And then there was R'aili.

 

She was Captain of Lady Kathren's guard, and stunningly beautiful. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She looked so stern and strict. So dutiful  and and sullen at the same time. I wondered what It would be like to make her smile. I wondered what it would be like to kiss her lips slowly, until I had forced a fire to build up inside her. Would she look so stoic and taciturn when i was nibbling on her ear? The thoughts made me blush a bit, and Lexi seemed to notice. 

 

I didn't care.. but I did. I mean.. I wasn't ready for anyone to know, including the Captain. And that, I guess, is what started a chain of me being stupid and emotional. I didn't want to tell her.. but I did want her to see. Why didn't she see it, Why didn't she see ME? She was a strong warrior and a capable woman, did she see me as some silly kid? The Ward of her employer and nothing more?! It really set me off. If she wasn't going to notice me on her own then I would MAKE her notice me!

 

That didn't work out to well either. It only resulted in me constantly angry and yelling at her, and her having no idea why. It wasn't fair, i was being mean to her and blaming her for things that were not her fault. She had her reasons for both being distracted and not noticing my childish crush. Her secrets are not mine to write, and will never be told to another, but they did shock me to learn. 

 

Mother and her best fighters left for an important mission, and while they were gone, the foundation of the Dawn cracked. Feelings were hurt, people picked sides. I'm not really sure exactly what started it, but in the end, Mother had to make a trip back to the Rising Sun to clean it up.  The house was empty again when she left to rejoin the others in the field. It was just me, Eona and Yayoi. 

 

And that is how it is now. The House is Empty. The Family is split. Most of the Dawn is away on assignment, and I'm left here alone.

 

But i am not afraid, and I am not helpless. I wanted to make my mother proud of me? Well this is my moment. When she comes back from her mission, she will find a line of candidates begging to join the Dawn. She'll find allies and trading groups that need only her signature before they pledge their service to the Dawn. She'll find powerful friends ready to charge into battle at her beck and call.

 

Most of all, She will find her Daughter, the Lady Nehlu Faircloud, taking care of the House, Growing the Company and proving the leader she can be!

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Tear stains mark the page, the hand writing is shaky and not as fluid as some of the past entries.

 

I ran into the other, the ones who had left the house. Turns out we were still fast friends, and I figured the best place to start with forming alliances and friendships are with the people who already knew and loved the Dawn. We spent a great deal of time together, talking and laughing and sharing stories. It was wonderful to see them all again. Many had fallen in love and married in the time since I had last seen them. There were words of joy all around, even a few new kiddos on the way!

 

We met up at this club Chinua had heard about. Things were a little strange at first, as some of the patrons were people that had been hostile towards my friends before. Still, I thought Lexi handled it really well. Eventually the club owner called for volunteers to sing on stage. I dont know what came over me. I stood up and agreed. I didn't know any of the bawdy songs most of them had been singing, so I pulled out my favorite comedy song and shared it with them. Everyone seemed to love it! I was on top of the world. The feeling was.. well.. i dont have a way to describe it!

 

All week people came up to me on the streets and even in linkpearls to talk about my performance or mention that I did a good job. My head was swimming with all the kind words, and I decided i'd start learning more songs for the next time.

 

Meanwhile, at the home of my friends, things were not going well. Heartache had gripped my friend, Chinua. I tried to help but there was little I could do, until an idea came to me. Ladies night!  The club would be opening again the next day, so I invited her to come and hang out, have a good time, forget the world and just enjoy herself.  I told everyone how eager I was to sing. I even went and bought a new dress. It was sooo embarrassing. It showed off sooo much skin, so much that my armor normally hides. It was, however, beautiful. Pure silver in color, sparkled in the light. 

 

It would be the best night of my life, even better then the first time i sang. Well, thats what I thought.  When it came time, i ran into Chinua and her love. They were talking and seemed to be doing well. I figured ladies night was probably off. That's Okay. I'm glad she was happy and they were together. So I went to the club.. and it was empty. It took hours to find out that it had moved to Gridana. GRIDANA! on the other side of the bloody forest!

 

I had to run to the airship landing, getting dust and dirt all over my pretty dress, and by the time I arrived, it was late. Most of the crowd had left. I took a deep breath and stood on the stage. That is when I realized.. they hadn't come. None of the friends I had invited showed up. No one was there. I stamped my foot and told myself to do it anyway. Fine, if they didn't want to be there, the people here would love my song anyway!

 

Except they didn't. They didn't get it. The joke went over their heads, or maybe I sung it wrong, or maybe it was just to late at night. All i know is I got a few polite nods and a smattering of 'good job girl,'  and that was it. It was supposed to be my night. It was going to be the start of my social outing that would lead to allies and friends and recruits, and I had failed so badly.

 

Maybe its a good thing the others didn't come. I would never live down the embarrassment. 

 

Oh god, what would Mother say if she knew how badly I had failed.

Edited by Nehlu Faircloud

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So...

 

I've decided to try again. I sent out invitations to the next opening of the Den, and I will stand on stage and face my fear of failure. I will succeed or I will stand my ground trying. A Faircloud does not give up!

 

Speaking of which, I've finally gotten to a point where i feel i can say that I have successfully Mastered the Spear and the Great-sword! That, of course, leaves me with a question.. what to do next?  Mother's next weapon would probably be the Great Axe. And I do have some skill with that, but I've been thinking lately..

 

Mother isn't the only person I need to show how much i've grown up. I need to convince the entire Dawn leadership, and more then that.. the rest of my family. I've been thinking that maybe... Maybe I can make Big sis proud of me, maybe if i could master the discipline and skill.. of the Aetherial Monk.  I've got uncle Alekse's book on it, and with some training from the pugilists guild I could at least get started.

 

Perhaps Iniera would be proud of me if I show her I can carry on in her footsteps and keep her legacy going.

 

I've always wanted to be like her, so strong and sure of herself. She's confidant in everything she does, always knows where right and wrong lie and is never afraid to tell anyone, including Mother, when she feels they are wrong.

 

Yeah, I think... Aetherial Monkhood, here i come!

 

Love you sis.

Nehlu


 

Quote

 

Included with this entry is a small flyer that reads as follows.

 

To whom it may concern, 

 

Please join us Wednesday at 8pm EST in the Den of Desire, Lavender Beds Ward 11 Plot 12, where Nehlu Faircloud will take the stage for song.

 

Be Advised: The venue and theme of the night are not suitable for younger audiences.

 

 

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Nehlu smiles at the half elezen woman in front of her, love showing clear in her eyes as she hangs on every word the woman is saying. Its interrupted by an outside voice, bringing her back into the present. She stands on the front lawn of the Rising Sun, the house of the Ascendant Dawn. With her is a beautiful half elezen with short, crimson hair, wearing what looks to be riding gear. Next to her is a miqo'te woman in full armor, a massive sword strapped to her back. "Looks like Nehlu's off dreaming about her crush again" Felexina says with a laugh. "Tell me Nehlu. Why do you look at her like that?"

 

The pale Keeper gifts off a soft laugh of her own and shrugs. 'Do you really want to know? Alright.' She walks past Lexi, over to the red head and looks into her eyes, smiling softly. "♫She's in my head again. She knows where I have been. I'm going down that road again.. Mmmm mmm mmmm.♫" She reaches out and brushes her fingertips down the woman's cheek. "♪She's in my bed again. She marks her fingerprints, in my skin. I breathe her perfume in... It burns like Heroin."

 

"♫♪Now she's in me, And I just cant. let. her. go! My bones are caving in. And she stole my faith again.♪♫" Nehlu smiles and dances around her slowly, her hand on the woman's shoulder, never letting go as she sings each line in a voice that seems to have all the ache and need of an addict missing their high. "♫and I wish you well, ohhhh for the night. Till you come again. She's in my veins again, but she knows i'll bleed her out, before I wake.♫" Nehlu leans in front behind, nibbling softly along the woman's neck before whispering, "♪Inhale her oxygen. It burns like heroin.♫"

 

The young woman pushes the door open behind her and begins to pull the half elezen into the house, smirking at Felexina, who's left standing in the yard when the door closes.

 

And... well.. that is where I woke up. Mom was pounding on my door. Gods, if she knew what she had interrupted in my sleep... I have got to get ahold of myself!

 

I guess while we are on the subject of being woken up for training... its going rather well. My attempts to learn discipline and willpower.. kinda.. fell through and I ended up finding myself deep into the dark arts before I even realized what I was doing. I guess some part of me I was ignoring took to it rather well and in the end, I followed. It seems to have worried some of my friends, they object to wielding a dark blade, even as they do it themselves. I understand the reasoning, but all they see is 'sweet little Nehlu'. They think i'm playing at darkness, that I have no idea what it is.

 

I can tell you what darkness is.   Darkness is a fourteen year old girl strapped in a small hole, and at the other end, is a giant eft. Its dark, its raining and both of you know that one of you is about to eat the other. Darkness is deciding to be the one doing the eating. Fighting for your life with your teeth and your claws to barely survive, only to do it all again the next day.  Then when you finally find your happiness, your family, your life, Darkness is that nightmare that whispers how easy it would be to lose it all again, to go back to the hole. Well screw that, Nehlu's never going back.

 

On a happier note.. Rommie set me up to preform again. I don't know, maybe i'm a glutton for punishment. I told all my friends, sent out a bunch of invitations, and I prepared my songs. Several new ones, with new outfits. Things went really well from the start. And -SHE- walked in. Oh gods. She was here. Was actually going to watch me preform! I got nervous, my stomach started jumping around inside me, if I had eaten that bowl of noodles before the show like I almost did, i'm sure I would have lost them. That would have been a real shame, besides being embarrassing, Rixe makes a damned good bowl of noodles!

 

My friends all started laughing, of course. They knew what effect her being there would have on me. They were right, I was blushing head to toe, stumbling to think of what I would do. My songs were... well.. a little crass and kinda below what I figured her standards would be. I didn't really have anything else ready though, so I started with the best in my repertoire. A slow tear jerker. Didn't really see anyone crying, but It went off well and seemed like most people enjoyed it. Of course, at that point all i had left was the kind of stuff you don't sing in polite company. I just kinda.. shut my eyes and did it, hoping she'd understand.

 

Except she loved it. Huh? Go figure. A high born lady like her was having fun and laughing with the songs. When i finished I joined her at her table and we talked. I learned a lot of things that surprised me. She didn't care what I did, or where i worked, as long as I was there by choice and enjoying myself. I mean, i don't do 'that', but I do know the Den offers it with some of the staff. I'm more of a... it needs to mean something kinda girl. Doesn't have to be love, but... never will it be coin. Anyway, as we were talking, Rommie came over. I introduced them and they hit it off pretty well.

 

And started flirting with each other. I sat there smiling while thinking to myself, 'Don't stab Rommie, she's your friend. Don't stab rommie, she's your friend!' And she is. I really like her. I'm very grateful she lets me sing in her place. Anyway, I guess.. the night went perfect. 

 

Well, almost perfect. I said something in passing that let my training as a Dark Knight slip. Oh gods, i'll pay for that one later.

 

******

 

Songs in this entry:

Badflower: Heroin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM3F5tq4p-k

 

Nehlu's Set List at the Den

Shinedown: Monsters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nll48NdS7q4

Halestorm: Familiar Taste of Poison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHZKPYQnsmc

Halestorm: Freak like Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sXoA7B5yJo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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