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Eat the Red Apple : Snippets From Six Years

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Eat the red apple

Your dreams will find peace

Llymlaen will carry you

Though harsh her caprice



Eat the red apple

Your dreams you may keep

Though bodies and souls

Are separate in sleep



Eat the red apple...





The child's eyes popped open at the harsh interruption of her dozing, knocking a stuffed snurble from the bed. From the dock outside her window she could hear frustrated hissing. She had been quietly singing along to the flutist's gentle lullaby, the tune a favorite. Rubbing her eyes, the little hyur silently crept from her bed to peer out of the window, retrieving the lamb on her way. She couldn't see the flutist and, curiosity getting the better of her, tip-toed to the back garden door. She carefully pulled down her jacket, tucking the snurble into a pocket. She quietly slide through the gate, mimicking the way she had seen her elder brother slip out.


Though the alley was poorly lit, but she knew the way to the secluded dock behind her parent's house perfectly. It was a favorite hiding place during hide-and-go-seek, especially as it wasn't used for much beyond storage for old crates and rowboats. Padding soundlessly in her slippers the child leaned around a large crate to spy on the flutist. To her surprise it was a little miqo'te, perhaps her own age or younger. He had restarted the lullaby, playing slowly to make sure each note was correct.


Smiling the young hyur watched the tiny flutist's practice, whispering the words of the tune to herself though she stumbled over some of the tougher words. She wanted to giggle at the seriousness of the boy. His intense expression was such a contrast to the sleepy song. His expression only changed upon completing the lullaby successfully, his cream colored ears perking up and his tail swishing with pleasure. As he began to tuck his flute into a small bag the little hyur dashed out from her hiding place.



“Don't stop!”


Tail fluffing in surprise the miqo'te flushed with embarrassment and looked away crossly. He hugged his flute and bag close to his chest.


“Please,' the little hyur sat down next to him on the dock, 'play just a little more.”


She smiled at him, eyes wide with hope at another performance. The little miqo'te mumbled something crossly and hugged his bag tighter. The girl's smile shrank slightly, then grew wider at a thought.


“I'll trade you for a song.” She dug the toy snurble from her pocket and held it out to the boy. He looked at it warily, then took it gingerly. He kept his frown in place, though his swishing tail betrayed the pleasure of holding the soft toy. He quickly tucked it into his bag and withdrew the flute. Sitting up straighter, he began the lullaby again.


“My name is Camille. What's yours?”


The little Miqo'te paused in his playing long enough to mumble, “Zarik”. Camille wrapped her arms around her shins, resting her chin on her knees.


“Nice to meet you Zarik.”

A Year Later


“You've gotten much better! You don't mess up any of your new songs. I bet you can play through all of the Red Apple without stopping now!”


Smiling, Camille leaned back against crate. She looked out over the water and pulled an apple from her satchel.


“Of course I can. I've been playing it for over a year. Now you just have to learn all the words better.”


Zarik grinned and dragged her satchel over to himself. He dug around inside and withdrew a sandwich. He took a huge bite, still grinning as he kicked his legs over the side of the dock. Cam turned with a frown and threw her apple at him.


“I know all the words! And stop eating my lunches everyday!”


She sulked when Zarik caught the apple and stared back over the water thoughtfully.


“Hey Zarik... what's a whelp?”





“What's a whelp? Mister Porter, you know, the man who sells fruit at the stand near the gate. I was buying apples for mommy and he said that I was very grown up going by myself and I said I even come here to see you almost everyday by myself like a grownup and he said that you were a feckless whelp that gets his oranges all the time,' Camille looked over at her friend with a serious face. “So I want to be a whelp too! How did you get to be a whelp?”


Her friend stared back a moment, then shook his head as sagely as only a small child can.


“You have to earn it specially, Apple-head. And you're a girl, so there's no hope.”


“I can too!' Cam puffed out her cheeks and stood up, 'You'll see you big meanie!”


She spun on her heels with a huff and stormed away. The little miqo'te stared after her a moment then mumbled, “You forgot your bag, Cammy...”

Some Time Later


The lamps flickered from the soft breeze, disturbing the already lackluster lighting through the streets of Limsa Lominsa. A group of children were rushing home on All Saint's Wake, clutching their pails of cookies nervously. The shadows seemed longer, the usually calming sounds of the evening were now malicious, and every rustle made them jump. They murmured amongst themselves about imps and monsters, about how they were more than brave for making this trek so late, about how they could easily stand up to any monster.


As they rounded the final corner a dark shape loomed out from the darkness with a horrible shriek. The kids screamed and scattered, each sprinting for their own home. One, a red-headed hyur girl, stepped backwards and started throwing her cookies at the cackling shape.



“Go away you boogity!”


She tossed cookie after cookie until the shade finally cried out, “Stop! Stop! It's me...' He swept back his hood, revealing a familiar, if cookie spattered face, “Jeez... You're no fun sometimes.”


“That wasn't funny Zarik! You scared everyone!”


Shrugging, the little miqo'te wiped the crumbles of cookie from his face.


“If you say so... Can I have some of your cookies?”


Camille heaved a sigh and offered him the pail, “You should come to dinner, it's so late now.”


Zarik nodded as he stuffed two cookies in his mouth and they opened the gate, wiping their shoes at the top of the steps. As Camille reached for the handle the door swung violently open and a nightmarish figure grabbed them both.


“Two little mortals to add to my dinner!! Mwahahahahaha!”


The children both screamed and burst into tears, calling for a brother and parents. The figure laughed a moment more and set them down. Camille sniffed a moment then dashed past the figure into the house.


“Octave you're so mean! Boys are terrible! I'm telling Daddy!”


The older hyur pulled the hood from his strawberry blonde head with a chuckle and set his hand on Zarik's head.


“Aww, I didn't mean to scare you so badly kiddo. Come on in and I'll walk you home after dinner, okay?”


Zarik batted his hand away and stalked past him with a grumble. “I wasn't scared at all!”


The tall hyur tossed up his hands in defeat and followed them in, barring the door behind him.

A Year Goes By


“Octavian, why doesn't Zarik go to tutoring with me like my other friends?”


The older hyur looked at his little sister, giving her small hand a squeeze.


“Well, our neighborhood isn't a very wealthy place. And not everyone is lucky to have a dad in the Barracudas or a mom with a solid job that take care of us. Zarik's family is even more different, so he can't always have things that you have, like lessons or books or things like that. Do you understand?”


“Yes, I think so... He doesn't have parents like ours, so his brother has to be his parents instead. But Jayce isn't even as old as you are,' She smiled up at her brother, “Is that why you ask him and his brother over so much? So they can borrow our parents sometimes?”


“Mmhmm. And here we are... I'll be back in the afternoon to pick you up for voice lessons, okay?”


“Okay! And don't forget you promised you'd teach me a new song!” Camille waved goodbye and scampered up the steps to join a group of young girls milling around a center desk. Her brother waved back, shook his head, and went on his way, tugging a bard's hat on his head before pulling out a small linkpearl.


“I hope this leve doesn't take too long guys. I've gotta meet Cam in a few hours.”

Another Year Passes


“They're so pretty! Where did you find them?”


“In the forests surrounding Gridania. You'd like it; there are so many flowers.”


Octavian held out a small pile of wind shards for Camille to admire, “I thought you'd like a few since green is your favorite color. Happy birthday kiddo! Eleven already. You're almost grown up~”


Camille beamed and accepted them. She turn one over in the light, watching it sparkle in the light.



“Thank you Octave!”


“You're very welcome. I'm sorry I missed your party.”


“That's okay. Daddy didn't make it either. But mom still made a cake! And some of my friends came over.”


“I'm glad you still had fun. Why don't you go put your presents away? I need to talk to mom. I'll take you out for dinner tonight if you want. You can even invite someone along.”


Camille nodded and scampered to her room, gently setting the little gems in a small box. She tucked her treasure under her bed and went back towards the kitchen. She paused at the door when she heard the hushed, worried voice of her brother.


“... worse than everyone realizes. They're pushing closer Mom... Has Dad said anything about what Limsa's navy is going to do?”


“No, but he's as worried as you... Can't you stay home for now? Other adventurers are coming in with the refugees.”


“I think I can do more good – Hey Cam,' Octave noticed his little sister's worried frown, “Why don't you go find a friend to come with us to dinner?”



“But I want to know what's wrong.”


“It's a grownup worry right now, okay sweetheart? But once we understand it a little better we'll talk about it, I promise.”


Camille looked over at her mother and gave a small nod, still worried but no up for an argument. She went out the back door and headed to the markets. She had strolled along for nearly ten minutes before she noticed Zarik sitting by a fountain. Putting on a smile, Cam ran over to her friend.


“Want to come out for dinner tonight? Octave said he'd take us.”

Chaos. Everything was in absolute chaos. People were screaming, panicking, crying. The sky itself was on fire as the moon came closer and closer. Camille stood on the doorstep, holding her mother's hand. She was frightened, everyone around her was frightened, and she wanted to ask her mother if things would be okay. One look at her mother's face told that things would not be okay. Things might never be okay again. The moon began to crack and she squeezed her mother's hand. Someone shouted her mother's name, “Charlotte go inside” but the world was frozen.


Then the explosions started. Tears began to stream down her face as meteorites rained down around the city. Her mother picked her up and ran inside. They hid beneath the heavy worktable, Camille sobbing into her mother's neck. The sounds of the world being torn apart surrounded them as they huddled together. Hours or maybe even days passed, time no longer seemed to exist.


They finally emerged, Charlotte holding her daughter tightly. Others were walking around slowly, like sleepwalkers trapped in a horrible dream.


“Let's... let's go find our friends, sweetheart, while we wait for your father and Octave to come home...”








Camille looked up as her mother flew through the door. At the gate, disheveled, limping, with his arm in a sling, was her father.





She ran to the gate and wrapped her arms around his waist, crying as hard as her mother. She looked up at him and saw a strange expression of joy tinged in sadness.


“What's wrong?”


He let go of her mother and pulled a beautiful blue engraved flute from his bag.


“Octave... he won't be coming home, Love... All I could find was this.”


Camille took the flute, tears pouring down her face even faster. She hung onto her parents and sobbed.


A few days later


Camille cradled the flute in her arms as she escaped the house. She ran through the streets towards the markets, looking around frantically. Everyone she passed still looked haunted or shocked. Finally, she reached the house she wanted and pounded her small fist against the door.


“Zarik, I need to talk to you! It's important!”


A hand on her shoulder made her jump and she spun. Zarik looked at her reprovingly.


“You're going to upset everyone if you keep up that noise, Cammy.”


“I'm sorry... But,' she sniffed, “it's really important! We're moving! We have to leave! It's so unfair!”


Zarik stared at her, motionless and expressionless.


“Mom said we need to move to Gridania... There are better healers there for Dad. And she has a job offer there... And she keeps saying there are too many bad memories now, so a fresh start would be good... But it's only because they're forgetting Octave! And they won't let me stay here even though I kept asking... I don't want to leave...”


She was crying now, desperate for her friend to understand that she'd tried her best to stay.



“You're really leaving?”





Camille sniffed again and wiped at her tears, “But I'll write everyday. I promise! And I wanted you to have this... So someone else remembers him too...” She pressed the blue flute into his hands and then hugged him.


“I really will write. And I'll come back, I promise. You're my best friend, Zarik. I'll miss you more than anything.”


“I'll write back,' he mumbled awkwardly, “And if you don't come back I... I won't forgive you.”


“I will,' She hugged him more tightly then lightly kissed his cheek. “Goodbye Zarik.”



“Goodbye Camille...”


She let him go and stepped back, then spun and ran home. She didn't want him to see any more of her tears and didn't want to see his either.

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