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Wanderlust [Story]

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[align=center][align=left][so, I'm not the best at writing, but as of late I decided to sit down and re-chronicle Endemerrin's adventures after he reached Eorzea, leading up to and culminating with the battle of Carteneau. It's going to be a long one, but I have a reasonable bit done for certain portions of the story. Figured I'll just add them in as I go along.]


Chapter 1[/align]



[align=center]Year 1560 of the Sixth Astral Era[/align]


The sun sat perched high in the sky, shining brightly across the vibrant blue skies. A few tufts of soft white clouds drifted aimlessly across the sky, and a light breeze swept through the trees, rustling their leaves ever so gently as they swayed in the wind. The dappled sunlight breaching the canopies above splayed out across the forest floor, dancing to-and-fro in an almost mesmerizing motion.


"It's beautiful here.." Endemerrin stopped and dropped to his knees next to the river they were walking alongside. He went to place his hands in the water, only to hesitate and lower in only his right. A faint look of sadness washed over his face, though it was quickly swept downstream as a smile crept across his cheeks. "..and the water is so refreshing. I want to just jump in."


Rorolumu let out a heavy sigh and shook his head from side to side. "We do not have the time to spare. This is still a dangerous region for us to be in." The Lalafell rolled his eyes at the young Endemerrin. How could he be so infatuated with something so simplistic? "Quit wasting time. You aren't a child, anymore. Act your age and be responsible."


Endemerrin closed his eyes and his smile slowly morphed into something more akin to a smirk. "You know as well as I do I never really had the luxury of a childhood." The Miqo'te tilted his head in Rorolumu's direction and his eyes fixated on the Dunesfolk. "I'm only sixteen, you know. Some might still consider me a child." He rose to his feet and wiped his hand across the side of his pantleg. "I was just saying it was refreshing. No need to get your undergarments in a twist, gramps." A light chuckle escaped from Endemerrin as he sprang forward to catch up with Rorolumu, who had already started on his way further downstream.


"I don't see the rush, you know. It's not like either of us really have anything waiting for us here in Eorzea." Endemerrin began to muse quietly as he strolled along next to his miniscule companion. "We could take our time and enjoy the trip. You've only ever spoken about the Sultunate and the desert. What about everything else? Don't you want to see what Eorzea has to offer?"


Rorolumu remained silent. It wasn't necessarily out of character for him, but it was still a bit disappointing. Endemerrin had come to learn that his silence usually meant one of two things. Either he was firm on his stance, or he was busy contemplating another. He would just have to hope that it was the latter, and that Rorolumu might eventually break and chose to continue their adventures. Things had just started to get interesting, after all. They had successfully managed to flee Garlemald, in one piece for that matter. Well, mostly one piece. They even got through Ala Mhigo without raising a single brow, at least to their knowledge.


Things were finally starting to look up. The dread-inducing feeling that one lingered in the pit of Endemerrin's stomach was no longer there. The nightmares of the empire finishing the job they once started no longer plagued him. He no longer felt the need to constantly be looking over his shoulder. Sadly, they were out of one fire and directly into another. Perhaps one with less sinister intentions, but still just as dangerous.


"Endemerrin." Rorolumu grabbed Merri by the leg and quickly forced him to the ground just in time for a large man to come sailing over the top of the Miqo'te. The stranger hit the ground several feet away and slid to a stop, only to turn around and charge the two once again.


Rorolumu whirled the staff from his back and quickly cracked it to the ground, sending up a wall of ice in front of them. It did little to stop the massive figure's onslaught, and he forced his way through the blizzard. Endemerrin whirled himself up to his feet and quickly rolled to the side.  "The hell is your problem!?"


The hulking Hyur turned his attention away from Rorolumu, instead focusing in on the young Miqo'te that was now yelling at him. Yet before Endemerrin could draw his guard up, he felt a heavy pressure in his chest. In the blink of an eye, the Hyur had almost instantaneously warped to his location and drove an open palm into his torso. Endemerrin tumbled backwards across the ground and came to an abrupt stop as he slammed into a nearby tree.


The Hyur went to take another step forward, but a calm and collected voice caused him to briefly hesitate.


"Stop this madness."


The distraction proved adequate, as Ice burst out underneath the Hyur's feet and successfully rooted him in place. No matter how hard he struggled, he was unable to pull himself free.


"We are not your enemies, you fool," Rorolumu continued. "We do not seek t-"


"Stay your tongue, dog of the empire! I know full well what you are!" The Highlander cut in, still struggling effortlessly against the ice.


"We're not Imperials! You have to believe me!" Endemerrin groaned out as he did his best to push himself to his feet. "Please, just...  ...just listen."

[align=center]Chapter 2[/align]

[align=center]A new friend



"Traitors, then?" 


"No, not traitors. Well, not me, anyways. He uh.." Endemerrin cast his gaze to Rorolumu, who was staring intently at the fire that crackled gently before them. "He fled the empire for good reasons. I.." He bit his lip. "I got caught up in the crossfire, so to speak."


The Highlander's gaze traveled between Endemerrin and Rorolum for a moment. "I see. The empire did not take kindly to you assisting a fugitive, then."


The two former Garleans remained quiet for a moment, and Endemerrin's gaze joined Rorolumu's in the fire. 


"I apologize for assaulting you, in any case. I am Fritz. Frizt Raptorclaw."


Fritz was an imposing man in his own right. He was built almost like a Roegadyn, and nearly as tall. Rich brunette locks covered his head, though they were twisted into all manner of knots and braids. A thick beard covered his face, with a few grey whiskers subtly alluding to the Highlander's age.


"Ah, yeah. My name is Endemerrin." He shot a thumb over towards Rorolumu. "That's Rorolumu. I call him Lumu-"


"Rorolumu will suffice." The Lalafell huffed out sharply before turning his attention back to the fire in front of them. 


 "I see. I overheard your conversation, and assumed you were with the empire. Trust does not come easy these days, given the circumstances."


"Circumstances? Oh, right..." Ala Mhigo was most certainly still raw in their memories. "Mm. I'm sorry." His remained silent for a moment before his tone jumped up a step, growing more lighthearted. "What do you do? And why are you dressed up like a giant pamama?"


The look strewn across the Highlander's face wasn't entirely reassuring, prompting Endemerrin to grin nervously as he heaved his shoulders up in a subtle shrug. Closing his eyes and taking in a deep breath, the Highlander held up a hand and opened his mouth as if to say something, though he ended up coming short. His mouth closed once again, and a more serious demeanor crossed over his features.


"He is a Monk, Endemerrin." The tired, ragged voice of Rorolumu finally called out over the silence. "A follower of the Fists of Rhalgr, no? I would say I am surprised there are still Monks of the order around after the massacre, but your people's reputation precedes you."


"...Massacre?" A frown spread across Endemerrin's face, and his eyes grew rather sullen.


"I do not believe our friend would appreciate us digging into the matter. Please, stay your tongue, young one." Rorolumu folded his arms across his chest and pulled his hat down over his eyes.


Fritz's gaze met Endemerrin, though the silence remained. The young Miqo'te could almost feel the pain hidden behind the Highlander's steeled eyes. He had to say something, anything. He could sympathize with the Monk, after all. He knew true loss. The loss of family, the loss of a piece of your very being, both figuratively and literally in Endemerrin's case.


"I'm sorry. About your people. I can sympathize with loss, I-" 


"No, I do not think you can."


A disconcerting silence fell over the small camp momentarily, before Endemerrin slowly began to unfasten the buckles that secured an elbow-length glove to his left arm. Rorolumu cast his gaze off away from the group as the young Miqo'te slowly tugged at the leather glove, drawing it down ilm by ilm. What should have been exposed flesh, however, was a reflective surface. Metal. The fire in front of them danced across the surface, illuminating all manner of bolts and plates. With one final tug, the glove came off, revealing the metal prosthesis from the elbow and below. The faint sound of shifting plates and creaking metal rang out over the crackling of the fire as Endemerrin slowly brought the prosthetic's hand up to his face. He rotated it about, examining it in the light of the fire before flexing the hand open and closed.


"I understand loss." He began again, letting the arm drop back down to his knee. "I lost my arm to them." His gaze traveled to Rorolumu, who still had his gaze focused elsewhere. "...Among other things."


The Highlander clasped his hands together and rested his chin upon them, clearly studying the arm with great intensity. He remained this way for a good while before finally opening his mouth. "I see." He exhaled sharply through his nose as Endemerrin gently rolled his prosthetic's fingers across his knee. 


"Mm. Magitek. It really is something else. I lost none of the mobility, and gained both strength and durability. Really isn't so bad a trade, I guess..." 


"So long as you have come to terms with it, hmm?"


Endemerrin's eyes dropped down to the ground. 


"...Y-Yeah. Sure.."

[align=center]Chapter 3

An Arm of the Destroyer




"I do not think you have what it takes." Fritz folded his arms across his chest and shook his head from side to side.


Endemerrin's ears stood on end, and he steeled his gaze in determination. "I know I do! Please, just give me a chance. I've always fought with my fists. It's all I've ever really had reliable access to..." The Miqo'te clenched his fists tightly shut.




[align=left]Without giving Endemerrin so much as a warning, the Monk was upon him. He barely had time to blink before Fritz drove his fist into his chest. He tumbled backwards across the ground, only to be caught with a swift kick to his abdomen. He felt the air rush out of his lungs, and he collapsed to the ground in a heap. Coughing and hacking, he did his best to stagger up to his hands and knees. No quarter was given, however, and Endemerrin received yet another powerful kick to the chest, which sent him sliding across the dirt.


If he kept up this pace, he was going to kill Endemerrin. This wasn't training. It was just a thinly veiled excuse for a seasoned Monk to brutally beat a fairly inexperienced pugilist. A young boy, even.


"Are we done, then?" Fritz came to a stop next to Endemerrin and crouched down, grabbing him by the back of his neck to help him up to his hands and knees. The amused smirk across the Highlander's face quickly faded, however, as Endemerrin's gaze slowly rose to meet him. Blood trailed out the corner of his mouth, and his face was already covered in all manner of dirt and scratches, yet his eyes remained fierce. Fritz had seen that look once before. A look of pure determination. Perhaps this strange boy had something in him after all.


Endemerrin wobbled to his feet and hunkered down into a fighting position. He wouldn't give up this easily, not without giving it his all.[/align]



[align=center]Several hours later



"Ugh..." Endemerrin groaned as he lay sprawled out on the floor of the camp, covered from head to toe in dirt, blood and bruises.


"As I said, I do not think you have what it takes."


Merri's groaning stopped and he took in a sharp breath of air in an effort to steel himself as best he could. "I'm fine."


"Brawn is not all there is to being a Monk, young one. No, the true strength of a Monk comes not from muscle, but from within." Fritz placed two fingers upon the crown of his forehead. "Within each of us lies hidden pools of energy. Chakra, as they are called. Your very lifeforce. They beat within us, but they are locked, and they cannot simply be forced open at will. It takes months, even years of training to master ones Chakra. I have not even fully conquered my own. Perhaps in time you will come to understand them, and one day you might very well unlock them all. But that day is far, far away, and you must not focus on that end. You must focus here, now."


"Yeah? And what if I don't feel anything? Except pain. There's lots of pain right now." Endemerrin groaned out as he rolled over to lay face first in the dirt.


"Your Chakra react to heavy flows of lifeforce. A novice is not likely to feel their Chakra in just any location. Great battlefields must be sought. When a spirit leaves this world, it leaves behind a great deal of this energy. We seek out these ancient grounds, and it is there that we meditate. With enough lifeforce, you can feel the Chakra beating inside you. Almost like a drum."


"Sounds exhilierating.." The Miqo'te's voice was muffled as he lay flat in the dirt. "Let's do that another time, huh? I think I'm just gonna..." A slight groan escaped his lips as he rolled back over onto this back. "...lay here for awhile."


[align=center]The following morning


"Sooooo, what's the significance of this place?" Endemerrin took a seat on the ground, folding his legs one over the other and placing his hands on his knees, much like his mentor. "It seems..  ..different? I can't pin a finger on it.."


"I am impressed. I did not expect you to sense anything without being told of this area's significance." The Monk closed his eyes and inhaled slowly. "This was the site of a great battle between Gridania and Ala Mhigo many cycles ago. Many lives were lost, and the land is saturated with their very spirits. Their lifeforce."


"Lifeforce?  ...Wait, you mean Aether? That's sort of what it feels like. I think, anyways. It's what Rorolumu was teaching me about since we arrived here in Eorzea. I hear it's important."


"That is another name for it, yes. It is what resides within us all. Now, focus. Clear your mind, and-"


Endemerrin closed his eyes and took in a deep breath as the Monk spoke on, yet before the Highlander could even finish his sentence, a bright light flashed from the crown of the Miqo'te's forehead.


"What was that?" Endemerrin's eyes snapped back open. "The drum-thing you were talking about stopped. I feel kinda weird, now. What's that mean?"


The Monk's jaw hung slightly ajar as he stared in disbelief at Endemerrin. Who the hell was this kid? He had unlocked his Chakra without so much as a flinch. It was as if it were second nature to him. "Hmmph. " Fritz focused his gaze intently on Endemerrin, almost threateningly. "Perhaps I was mistaken. That was your first Chakra."


Endemerrin's head slowly cocked over to the side and his ears twitched curiously. "Really?" He hopped up to his feet and bounced into a fighting pose. "Yeah, yeah. I think I feel it. Let's go! Round two."

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