Jump to content

Empty Nest Syndrome: A Jeris Guillford Introduction

Recommended Posts

"Cactaur's Spittle" got it's name from a joke between Heath and his brother when they originally put down roots and built the tavern.  Nothing more than a shack at the time, the two would joke to any caravans on their way to Ul'dah that the only drink they would find past that point would be Cactaur Spittle.  A blatant lie, and any seasoned traveler along the trade route knew it to be so, nevertheless, those who could appreciate the humor would indulge the pair, until years later, it became it's own fully fledged trading post.  Albeit small in comparison to most of the others, Heath, the surviving brother, was pleased with how things had turned out over the years more or less.


Traders became regulars, and the few local personalities who opted for a life in the wilderness as opposed to the city became a great boon for pelts and the more exotic of herbs that were too far off the beaten path for any passing caravan to lay claim to.  One of those locals happened to be the large, muscular fellow that stumbled somewhat unevenly into the tavern, a hand clutching the side of his face, his black and white peppered hair in a mess, and his unruly beard matted with blood and dust.  A fresh split across his lips was obvious, and one could assume his hand held another injury, his face matching the visible portions of his arms and chest underneath his tunic, battered and bruised.  He barely mustered a grunt before staggering to the side and practically falling into a vacant chair at a corner table, tossing his hand up for an drink ever so briefly.


"Jeris?"  Heath paused his absentminded polish of the bar, his eyes wide.  "Gods, what happened to you?"  Jeris, for what it's worth, opened his mouth to try and speak, but he only managed half a raspy grunt before bringing his other hand up to cover the split which had begun to bleed once more with the effort.  Heath winced, and turned to grab a bottle of the more potent drink he had, along with a mug of ale and a fresh rag tossed over his arm. Quickly he crossed the mostly empty tavern to sit opposite the battered man, sliding the ale over and splashing some of the stouter drink on the rag before handing it over.  Jeris nodded in thanks and began to wipe and dab at the cut along his lip in between a gulp or two of ale in an effort to clean himself up.  Heath nearly kicked himself for taking this long to realize it, but he immediately went to the door, swinging it wide and taking a look around for another familiar face.  With nothing to show for his efforts, he immediately ducked back inside and sat opposite to Jeris once more, leaning forward in almost a conspiratory manner.  Jeris was never alone.  "Jeris.  What happened?  Where's your boy?  What happened to Jaykob?"


At the mention of his son Jeris paused in his efforts.  Taking a deep breath, he pulled his hand back from the side of his face, revealing a large cut across his cheek, and winced, beginning work on it with the rag.  "The boy is fine."  His voice was even, almost regretful actually.  "...he's the one who did this to me."


Heath leaned back against the chair with a dumbfounded look on his face.  Jaykob did that to Jeris?  He knew Jeris had to have been training him to take care of himself, but the boy barely had half the father's muscle.  Even discounting that, the two of them were always together, aside from a few rebellious streaks that every boy had, they always seemed to get along famously, even if Jeris was a bit smothering with the way he tried to look out for him, but with everything that had happened in the past five years, it was understandable.  "I...Jeris, I don't understand..."


Jeris took a deep breath, wincing a little as he felt an ache along his ribs, still dabbing at the wound alongside his face.  "He left."  He reached out and took a hold of the ale and drew it up, tilting his head back, nearly downing over half the mug in one go before setting it down and letting his gaze rest on the rim for a moment.  "We had it out.  Usual arguments.  He was wanting to charge off into gods only knows what, and I wouldn't let him, told him the world was too dangerous to shove off like that.  The same argument for the hundredth time.  Every time it came down to blows, and every time I'd knock him down until he gave in, and things would go back to normal for a bit."  He hesitated for a moment before tapping the side of the mug.  "....funny thing, he wasn't the one to go down this time."


Heath took everything in quietly until Jeris tapped the mug, at which point he rose and made his way over to the bar to swap it out with a fresh drink.  He'd clear the tab later, the man was as beaten on the inside as he was on the out.  Returning with a fresh mug, he sat it down just as Jeris finished the last of the cleanup.  He was rough, that was for sure.  Those cuts would leave scars and it'd be weeks before the bruises all over his face dissipated without any sort of magical assistance.  "Jeris....you couldn't keep him out of the world forever, you know that right?  More importantly, the world wouldn't let you.  Better he goes into it on his own terms than to have it crashing down on top of him, aye?"


Jeris took a deep breath, nodding a thanks for the fresh mug and gulped down another drink.  "You have kids of your own Heath?  All these years and I never asked, forgive me."


Heath laughed and waved it off, taking the soiled rag from Jeris' side.  Heath was slightly older than Jeris, but hadn't begun to lose the color in his hair quite yet, giving him a deceptively youthful appearance.  "Two girls.  A little older than Jaykob, one in Ul'dah and another in Limsa."  He paused for a moment.  "And a son...lost five years ago."


Jeris paused, finally looking up to meet Heath's smiling face, having difficulty understanding how he could have coped with something like that.  "Any regrets?"


Heath laughed once more but gave a nod.  "Oh aye, a lifetime of them, but not with my children.  The girls are happy enough, and my boy......well.."  He grew solemn for the briefest of moments before adding.  "The world crashed in on him, but he lived happily.  You can't fight the world for em you know?  Whatever's out there they have to fight it themselves."  He gestured to Jeris' injuries with a wry grin.  "In fact, looks like he may have a better chance than you do."


Jeris grunted a laugh, lifting up the mug to his lips and letting his gaze meet Heath's own.  Compared to him, Heath was a twig of a man, there would be no contest between the two in a match up, yet what Jeris saw humbled him...and put into perspective how laughable his entire situation was.  A situation he had practically engineered himself.


His grunt turned into a chuckle, then a full on laugh, which caused him to wince and lean forward a bit, tucking an arm in to wrap around his aching stomach.  Heath of course, could only laugh in response, reaching a hand out to Jeris' shoulder in an effort to steady him.


"Aye well....I suppose I had this coming."  His chuckles began to die down and he gave a shake of his head.  "It's my own damn fault you know.  When he was growing up, all I did was tell him all these ridiculous tall tales about how his old man was a valiant knight saving everyone he came across, battling scores of pirates and bandits, and slaying monsters."  He took another drink of the ale and murmured.  "Imagine his disappointment when he was old enough to know better."


Heath gave a faint smile.  "It's not your fault Jeris, every father wants to be idolized by their son."


Jeris laughed a bit and gave a shake of his head.  "You know what the last thing I remember the smug pup say before I blacked out?.....'I'm leaving, because Eorzea needs the kind of man I always thought you were.'...."


Heath gave a sad smile and let his gaze fall down a moment.  Jeris had made his own bed so to speak, but he could easily imagine himself in his friend's shoes, and he felt the sting of the words as if they came from his own son.


Jeris slapped the table and took a deep breath, startling Heath.  "Well, only one thing to do then."  He reached into his pocket and took out a small pouch of gil, more than enough to cover his two drinks.  "I can't sit on my arse in the desert all day.  Word is Eorzea needs itself a monster slaying, bandit hunting, savior of the innocent."  He winced a grin to Heath who could only blink in surprise at the sudden turn around in behavior.  "It's a father's job to make sure his son surpasses him.  At the moment, that arrogant whelp won't have to do much and I can't have that."


As he rose up from his chair, Heath followed suit, somewhat flabbergasted.  "W-wait, hang on a moment Jeris, you need to get looked at!  What exactly do you think you're doing?"


Jeris clasped a hand on Heath's shoulder and flashed a grin, immediately followed by a wince.  "Why, to become a better man than what my son always thought I was.  Thanks for the drink and talk Heath.  Imagine the business you'll get when folks hear one of Eorzea's greatest heroes Jeris Guillford came from the Cactaur's Spittle?"  With a cackle, he gave Heath a quick slap across the shoulder and turned to saunter out the door and into the wide world in desperate need of saving.  Saunter is pretty gracious, it was still more like a stagger only with a bit more style.


Heath stood dumbfounded in the tavern for a few moments, blinking at the empty space his friend had just occupied before inquiring to himself.  "...Guillford?  What was wrong with Blackstone?"

Link to comment

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...