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The Lion [Story; OOC Welcome]

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((I've changed the title of this thread, and will be adding to it in an attempt to not spam the forums. The Lion will feature the stories of Montague Morne, a troubled layabout searching for answers. A warning for some mild violence, and vague spoilers which are hidden below. As always, comments and criticisms are welcome.))


Viola Lion



Sleep has not come easily for a long, long time.


Night falls near the same time each evening, and he with it. He bundles up against the cold, away from the others but close enough to feel the heat of the fire, leans against a wall or a tree or a rock or his pack. He does not like sleeping on his back, not since Carteneau. It takes too long to rise.


The twilight hours are spent fighting wakefulness. He tries counting, but his numbers only go so high. He tries thinking of things - distracting, inconsequential, random. Then he tries thinking of nothing. Sometimes he will worm his way closer to the fire and read. Others he will leave as quietly as possible, walk and move and work in hopes that exhaustion will trump his insomnia. Others still he simply lies there, staring up at the old light blinking out in forever.


On rare, wonderful occasions, he sleeps.


It is fitful, fleeting, barely able to be called restful. He shifts and groans, breaks into cold sweats, mumbles quiet little pleas for the images dancing before his eyes not to be real. He awakes with quiet little gasps, eye wide and searching for some spectral enemy. Most times he looks up, expecting to see the sky burning around a giant, black dragon.


He left part of himself on the Carteneau Fields; in return he has brought part of the battle back with him. It festers in his mind, eats into his dreams, haunts his memories. If he closes his eye he can still see it, hear it, smell it, taste it. Madness and death soaking the air around him. Just the thought makes him shake.


He would complain, were he more inclined to do so. His time awake is slow torture, losing more of himself to exhaustion and delirium with each passing day. Sleep dredges up the dead and gone, things best left buried in the bleakest holes of memory and time. Between these two states he cannot recall when last he felt rested, normal.


He cannot recall when last he felt like himself.




His dream tonight is even more unhelpful. Once more he stands upon the battlefield, Dalamud screaming down above the din of war. Tonight he plays spectator, a puppet tugged along by the strings of fate. The movements are rehearsed, he can repeat them in his sleep. Often he does.


It does not take long to notice a discrepancy: He is facing the wrong way. The divergences spread from there. Garleans swarm around him like zealous, armored insects, but spare him little more than respectful nods. He tries to frown, the muscles will not respond. Before he can contemplate the strangeness of the moment a member of the God's Quiver enters his sight. He wants to be relieved - those archers had saved his life more than once, their presence always a good fortune.


He wants to, but cannot, for the bowman has knocked an arrow and trained it between his eyes.


He tries to shout, to question, but the words will not form. Instead he lifts an arm, bringing to bear a longsword with a barrel attached to the blunt edge of the blade. Seeing the weapon in his hands shocks him to the core - he had been on the receiving end of one five years ago. What was he doing wielding it?


He feels his fingers squeeze down twice, each accompanied by a deafening crack and a jolt through his arm. The first blast tears the archer's bow in two, the second punches a hole in his throat.


Horror builds in his chest. What has he just done?


He wants to scream, cry, beg, deny.


All he does is laugh.





For days he does not try to sleep. He has, in fact, been actively avoiding it. The nightmare has shaken him.


He has heard whispers, this last cycle. Hushed conversation in taverns, a mumbled word between passers-by. The Archons are moving again, slinking along the shadows, hunting for something that no one can see. The Beastmen grow restless, itching to summon their Gods. The adventurers are returning - not the Warriors, but the lifestyle. Strangers looking to make it in Eorzea.


Through it all he hears one word repeated: Echo. Sometimes with disbelief, sometimes with reverence, but always that word. Echo, echo, echo.


What he learns is sparse, and difficult to understand. Strange accounts of folk knowing things that they oughtn't - nay, couldn't. Speaking of people and places as though they were stood there moments ago. Before he had dismissed these as drunken ramblings, but now...


Is that what had happened? Had it just been a nightmare, or had he entered the mind of some Garlean soldier? If so, was it a random occurrence, or will he visit again in his dreams?


If so, can the Garlean see into him?


Questions and questions and none of them ease his worry. How does one deal with this? Who do you even ask of the voices in your head? Can he even speak of it without being wrapped in chains and cast into the sea?


The only thing he knows for sure is that the calm has finally ended. The last five years have been nice, cleansing, a breath of fresh air for the soul - but all good things run their course. He will have to leave the caravan - he speaks in his slumber, so the others tell him. He can not chance espousing the greatness of Garlemald in a sleeping fit. Someone will kill him, or worse turn him over to someone that won't.


Where will he go? What will he do? He has grown accustomed to company - not friends, barely comrades, but no man is an island. He does not want to be alone.


What of the dangers? He can hear well enough to avoid most attacks from his blindside, but what of archers? Mages? He shivers; guns? A shield, then, something sturdy. Turn your weakness into strength.


He doesn't know how to fight with a shield.


Blessed Twelve, how could things go so wrong in the course of a night?


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  • 2 weeks later...

((Takes place prior to Monty's involvement in the 'All Aboard!' thread.))


The Crippled Lion



Leaving is more painful than he cares to admit.


He cannot call the men and women around him friends, cannot remember a quarter of their names or half of their faces, but for five long cycles they have been his family. He has broken bread with them, slept by the same fire, shared in their victories and frustrations. Each of them makes a point to meet his eye as he walks out of camp, and many solemn nods are exchanged. For the first time in his life he feels like he is leaving home, and the pain in his chest is bittersweet.


A rough hand lands on his shoulder, stopping his exit. He turns, the glum face of his foreman filling his vision. Hollow Mountain is aptly named, a hulking beast of a man with skin like leather and a hideous smile. All his treasures had been plundered long ago, but still he remains, a fixture in the land itself. He is one of the few men in life Monty has looked up to - figuratively and literally.


"Leavin' withou' sayin' g'bye?" Mountain asks, something approaching humor in his cavernous voice.


Monty gives a helpless little shrug. "I've never... done this. Goodbyes, I mean."


"Always time t' learn, Monty lad. Always time t' learn."


Hand still on his shoulder the Roegadyn steers him away, off toward a small gathering of workers. He recognizes few by face, less by name and most by trade. Fellow carpenters, blacksmiths, the odd alchemist, a fisherman or two and the 'van's chef, all huddled together and shooting him nervous smiles. Monty feels his heels dig in of their own accord, instinctively shying away from such attention, but Mountain's firm grip keeps him moving.


"We didn' wan' ye headin' off an' forgettin' abou' us," Mountain rumbles, dragging him to a stop before the group. "So's we all pitched in an' made ye summat."


Monty feels his cheeks heating. "I... I couldn't possibly-"


Mountain claps him firmly on the back, sending him stumbling forward. "We insist."


The next several moments pass as Monty tries to accept their gifts as graciously as his social ineptitude will allow, which judging by the occasional snicker is not very. From the fishermen he receives a rod and reel, from the cook a few meals for the road, and a potion from the alchemists to help him sleep. The latter makes his gut twist, the thought of sleep still unpleasant, but he thanks them all the same.


"This is from the rest of us," a Hyur blacksmith says, reaching forward and placing a small object in his hand. His eye widens as he gets a good look at it: in his palm, attached to a fine silver chain, sits Dalamud in miniature, perfect down to the finest detail. He can almost swear it glows.


A Miqo'te carpenter steps forward, standing on her toes to reach up and take his hand. Monty frowns in confusion, but she merely smiles and brings a finger to the little moon, pressing down on the topmost spire. Monty's ears twitch as something within clicks, the moon's shell cracking open to reveal a sight that stops his heart.


Bahamut glares up at him, coils and scales deftly carved and painted. He wants to drop it, but the small hands wrapped around his hold him steady.


"Ne'er forget, Montague Morne," Mountain says, voice softer than he's ever heard. The Miqo'te steps back as he reaches a calloused hand over and closes Monty's fingers around the gift. "Ne'er forget th' things ye've seen, th' path tha' led t' t'day. Ye are where ye've been, what ye've done an' didn' do. Don' know who ye were 'fore ye found us, an' I don' know who ye'll be from now, but fer five cycles ye were a good man.


"Fer five cycles, ye were a good man wit' us, an' we'll miss ye."


Not for the first time in life, Monty can't find the words.

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