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A Small Debt of Honor [Story, OOC welcome]

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A small velvet sack landed on Jojorigi's lap, his hand raising quickly to shade his vision against the small sliver of sun that managed to navigate past the tall stone structures that flanked the Avenue of Sapphires, through the multitude of colorful canopies, and right into his eyes as he peered up at his Highlander muscle. "The cave-creeper over there asked me to give you this." said the Hyur, thumbing over his broad shoulder toward the nearest passageway. The Dunefolk goldsmith looked towards the deep shadows that lurked between the break in the walls, spotting the dusky Elezen, who stood motionless only through the briefest of eye contact before spinning on her heal and quickly disappearing from view.


Jojorigi quickly untied the simple hemp drawstring and emptied the contents of the bag into his hand; a small rose gold brooch of some fine quality, fashioned in the shape of a crying masque, with a tiny diamond embedded near the left eye...exactly as he had expected.


"What's that for, anyways? Consignment sale?"


The Lalafell began deftly rolling the piece of jewelry back and forth across the knuckles of his hand, as a slight-of-hand artist might do with a coin. With a distant look in his opaque turquoise eyes, Jojorigi smiled ever so slightly.

"Lets just call it a payment on a small debt of honor."


Fifteen years ago, he had been a mere apprentice in a large guild-front stall, toiling and training under a rather stern (who among them weren't?) Wildwood Master Goldsmith named Flaumbeaux. The old codger seemed to have a rod stuck up his arse taller and straighter than any of the great boles populating the Black Shroud, but by the Twelve, he could craft an exquisite piece of wearable art when the mood took him.


Jojorigi had seen Duskwights come into the stall a few times in the past, attempting to peddle raw ore to his Elezen master. The Lala could never really sense any change in the demeanor of the Wildwood when those of the darker clan were about, but then again, Flaumbeaux was a famous grump to everyone, and treated all with an equally poor disposition. Still, he had to shrug and look the other way as the haggle always heavily favored the house when the Master dealt with his far-removed subterranean kin. Typically, the negotiations were conducted through a graying Duskwight (Jojorigi chuckles to himself at this thought..."greying" Duskwight, heh) of at least as many years as ol' "Flamebutt" himself, accompanied by a couple of his kind acting as porters. Usually, they left with empty packs, and gil-sacks more than likely quite a bit lighter than they thought they'd come away with. It must have been somewhat of an acceptable business arrangement, however, for the same clan did indeed return to bargain fairly often during his tenure there.


It was during one of those bargaining trips that Jojorigi first met her. He was in the back of the stall, sweltering in the shade, swatting ineffectually at the cloud of tiny gnats who thought to share the cover beneath the canopy with him. Ahead, near the front of the stand, Flamebutt and the elderly Duskwight were in heated discussion over the contents of a couple of burlap sacks full of ore....well, as impassioned as a couple of coots could wheeze at each other, Jojorigi thought irreverently.


Suddenly, the Dunefolk became aware of a shadowy form lurking to the side of him. With an air of practiced nonchalance, honed through months of being the only form of security maintaining order over the various display shelves of the stall, Jojorigi drew out a silk kerchief and began wiping the sweat from his brow, taking the opportunity the motion afforded to steal a glance and clarify what that darkness was. The danger of theft was always present for a merchant, even within the higher-echelon districts of the marketplace (of which this particular stall did not inhabit, in fact). Very few became trade apprentices without at least a modicum of martial skills, and much of the first few years might be spent by the typical young craftsman as merely a glorified guardsman, protecting the Master's products from potential poachers.


Before the displays to the left of him stood a small dark Elezen girl, maybe six at the time as he could recall. Small sharp eyes, a head that hadn't come close to growing into her ears, black hair pulled back into a rough high-tail, wearing a simple homespun shift, coarse and frayed and unremarkable in the least (this described both the garb, and the child wearing it). If there was anything of note about the girl, it was the intensity of her amber stare, currently locked upon a shiny necklace of minuscule worth...hence its location in a side display well to the rear of the stall. It were a small trifle, adorned with an ornament those in the actor's guilds sometimes took to wearing, or those aspiring to be; masks of comedy or tragedy that signified the range one must posses to portray the various roles required of a thespian...this particular one being the sad face.


As Jojorigi quietly watched, the little Elezen's hand crept up into the display case and fingered the chain of the pendant. She made a cursory glance about, but so intent was her concentration upon the piece of jewelry that she wasn't about to notice the sly observation placed upon her by the nearby Lala. And as she began to withdraw her hand, dragging the trinket with it, the Dunefolk did the only thing expected of him in dealing with thieving dregs; a dagger appeared in his left hand as if by magic as it lashed out from beneath his robes, thrusting out and then down as the blade passed through the sleeve of the Duskwight child to embed deep into the display.


Neither the noise nor the action gained any notice or distracted from the business taking place at the front of the stall, and Jojorigi quickly rolled his small body between where his dagger now protruded through the arm of the Elezen girl's shift, and the front of the stand. She stood motionless, mouth agape and eyes wide, arm pinned outstretched before her by the skewered sleeve.

"Like it, do you?", the Lala questioned quietly. All she could manage in response was a grunted "Unh-unh." Her eyes began to dart quickly from Jojorigi's to the front of the stall and back, and her gaping maw further extended into a horrified grimace. It dawned on him that she was more worried about the elder Duskwight finding out than actually being caught in the act of theft. She was obviously with those of her kind doing business with the Master at the storefront, and not a typical street urchin.

"You can't always get everything you want just by stealing it, you know." The lala took his hand off the hilt in order to waggle a finger in time with his words. "Sometimes, its a better thing to ask. Most of the time, its the best thing to work for what you want. Remember that." By then, the girl was in such a fright, her eyes were lolling around like a hamstrung chocobo, and all she could do was grunt and nod feverishly in response.

"Think of what your Pap would say" he admonished, though obviously, with her fear so clearly visible, the little one was already doing just that.


He could have probably taken a finger off the young thief, and no one would have thought or said nothing of it, so unvalued was her kind at any venue by anyone save their own. The way most told it about the Duskwight Elezen, anything that might discourage them from coming into the bazaar would earn him a draft or two at The Quicksand from the greater body of Ul'dah's merchants for certain. It wasn't in this particular Lalafell to carry this any further, however. There was no money to be made in chasing off potential business, and if he wanted to be judge, jury, and executioner, he'd have joined the ranks of the Syndicate's toughs. Duskwights were supposed to be a conniving and deceitful people, but this was just a scared little girl; there would be no profound point made by any continued cruelty here.


"You dark and lanky lot already have a no-good name 'round these stalls...at least keep off the thievering until you're good at it." Jojorigi winked, withdrawing the dagger from the Elezen's sleeve, quickly looping the necklace around the blade and flicking it forward to the now-flailing fille. "You pay me back when you can, understand? And against my better interest...I won't even charge you any. Interest, that is" the Lala grinned. "Away you go, and tuck that thing away before someone asks questions neither you nor I care to answer." She was off like a bolt, shoving the necklace into some hidden pocket as she ran towards the Duskwight porters at the front of the stall. Jojorigi watched her progress for a moment, then reached in to his pocket, withdrew the thirty gil the necklace was worth, and tossed it into the till. 'The gnats are still here', he sighed.


Jojorigi had seen the Duskwight girl a couple more times during his apprenticeship under Master Flaumbeaux...always briefly, and always at a distance. The Dunefolk eventually moved on to greater things, ultimately opening his own market stall on Sapphire Avenue. Then the Calamity came, with all the traumatic events pre and post. Rebuilding what was destroyed and restoring what was lost was all that anyone could do in the aftermath, and many things from a simpler time were merely forgotten....things like small memories.


A few seasons ago, Jojorigi was bent over his little worktable at the back of his stall, when a small sack landed unceremoniously before him. He looked up, and fell right off his stool in shock (granted, it wasn't that far of a fall...). Before him stood a female Duskwight, staring down at him with arms crossed. The fact that an Elezen of that clan would actually be IN his stall was somewhat of an unexpected surprise, but what really put the ticker thumping in his wee chest was the visage he gazed up at from the rug he had spread over the bazaar's hard cobbles; a stark-white masque covering the left side of her face, contrasting dark grey skin held in an equally solemn regard.

"Do you remember me?" she asked evenly, in a slightly amused tone. The Lala raced through his memory, trying to think of who among his rivals he knew employed Duskwights as assassins or muscle...none he could think of. He was about to reply in the negative, yet there was something about the intensity of her amber gaze (at least, from the single eye that was visible) that suddenly rang familiar.

"You!" he sputtered and pointed.

"Me" she said, a small grin slipping past the mask to appear on her exposed lips.

"Well, well...my, you're a tall one!" was all he could think to say...a common greeting for wee folk in many a place, on many a world.

"Tall is relative" she smiled, motioning with an extended finger at the small bag. "Consider that partial payment for what I've owed you all these years."

"I, no, its really, I..." being a Lalafell, Jojorigi was usually not at a loss for words, but the whole situation seemed somewhat surreal...Duskwight, creepy mask, paying, not stealing, it was almost too much to take in at one sitting.

"Oh, it is necessary", she said, filling in the blanks left by his sputtering response. "And though you weren't counting the interest, I was." The Duskwight began to turn and head out of the stall, then stopped suddenly and looked over her shoulder at the still sprawling Dunefolk.

"My life's thread would have taken a different turn round Nymeia's wheel, were you to have made the choice many others would have when we first met. Our fates have been woven within the same tapestry by that decision."


"I'm Isobeau" she said, then left.


Since the first, he'd received a few sacks from her, always the same beautifully-crafted work, crafted with equally fine materials. He didn't know how much longer she'd feel the need to pay him back, but he wasn't about to look a gift-choco in the beak.

"Gonna try and sell it?" asked the Hyur, seemingly more interested in breaking the monotony of his watch than what the answer might be.

"This is a fairly niche design, and not much a call for it here. No, I usually just pop the gem and melt them down. But its the thought that counts, right?" replied Jojorigi, flipping the brooch into a nearby materials box on his workbench with his right hand, while unconsciously reaching for its twin, the first payment he had received from her, found deep within his robe pockets with the left.

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