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From the Ashes

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The light and sound of the outside world were drowned out by the thick stone walls, no window in sight. Only a handful of candles adorning the massive ornamental table in the center of the chamber barely lit the immediate area.


From the shadowy edges of the room, several hooded figures quietly made their way to the table, each taking a seat without a single word. Silence remained the game for several minutes, until the hooded figure sitting at the end of the table finally spoke up, his male voice echoing off the seemingly impenetrable walls.


"It has been too long. If one were to tell me I'd be here again, I'd have laughed them off."


"We have much work to do in a short period of time," another male voice responded. "Let us save the pleasantries for the tavern."


"The leadership has time and again failed the cause in recent years," a feminine voice said in quick response. "We all long for what's best, but we are all clearly incapable of providing that. The old guard is unfit. -We- are unfit."


"Part of being a leader is knowing when to let go and let the next generation take the reins," responded the first voice. "It seems we are agreed that the time for that is now."


"Our secrets shall we pass," sounded a fourth voice. "Our memories shall they inherit. We've all observed potential candidates from afar for some time now. Are we agreed on the initial points of contact then?"


There was momentary silence again before several 'ayes' were uttered in quick succession. The figure at the end of the table rose, taking one of the candles in hand with him and turning several steps to the wall behind his chair. Raising the candle up, a massive painted sigil became visible on the stone wall. It was a knotted circle with a lightning bolt down the center of it. The man spoke softly. "Until Halone returns, or until Rhalgr's destruction consumes us all..."


In perfect unison, the voices resounded in harmony. "Long live the Order of the Stormguard!"





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The miqo'te man entered the small hay-filled barn and closed the door behind him before casually removing the turban and mask that hid his face. He had a tan complexion, much moreso than most Keepers of the Moon. His forest green eyes almost matched his outfit perfectly, a green colored Ala Mhigan outfit. His short white hair was kept nicely and his myriad of facial tattoos only seemed to compliment his features further rather than distract from them.

The man smiled warmly at the single yellow chocobo in the barn, walking up to it and scratching the tamed beast under the chin. The chocobo let out a single loving wark with a quick flap of its wings to indicate joy.

"Such jovial creatures," the male voice sounded from seemingly nowhere, causing the miqo'te to quickly turn around and draw the sheathed blade at his side. From the shadows in the back of the barn, a single hooded figure emerged, his features nearly impossible to discern aside from the hyur like shape of the body.

"No need to be defensive. I mean no harm to you or your newfound friend. I've come to simply talk, Malik Ishvari."

Knowing the miqo'te's name only seemed to heighten the man's defenses as he gritted his teeth. "Who are you and how do you know who I am?"

"I know a bit more than that," the figure stated as he strode a bit closer, keeping his hands visible as if to put Malik's mind at ease. "We have been watching you, and others, for moons now. I know that you just assaulted a merchant who was illegally selling poached goods. I know that you covertly belong to an eco-terrorist group. I know that your love for nature is beyond your love for near anything else. I know that you never learned to read and write, that you live in a small cottage in the Lavender Beds technically owned by one Razaya Raza, that you..."

"Enough!" Malik was clearly agitated now.

"My apologies," the hooded figure gave a half bow. "I did not mean to alarm you. I assure you that your personal life is of no consequence to me. We all have our own sins that we carry. I am here because of your passion, your ability to lead, your skill on the field, and your unrivaled desire to maintain balance at all costs. I am here on behalf of the Order of the Stormguard."

Malik finally sheathed his blade, seeming content that the figure was no immediate threat to him or the also seemingly content chocobo. "Never heard of ya."

"Of course not," the figure said with a faint smile showing under the hood. "We exist to protect in the same way that you do, to ensue balance remains in tact and that certain relics of power never reach the wrong hands. I am here to extend an invitation. To allow you the honor of further protecting the world that you care so deeply for. All you need to do is come to a single meeting and see for yourself what we do..."

The figure slowly reached into his robe and withdrew a parchment, walking it over to Malik and handing it to him. "Come to marked location on the 22nd sun, at the sixteenth bell. All shall be revealed then. That is, if your desire to protect is as strong as you outwardly claim."

Malik unrolled the parchment, glancing at the sketched map and narrowing his eyes slightly. Thankfully, it was a map he could at least understand with no written words. He looked back up from the map and then quickly glanced all around the barn. The hooded figure was gone, just like that.

The miqo'te grimaced and looked back to the still unruffled chocobo. "What do you think? Should I go? Even if he's full of it, he does know way too much about me it seems. I may not have much of a choice..."

The chocobo let out another quick wark as Malik was left to contemplate his next move.

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