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Daughters of Ala Mhigo [Backstory] [OOC welcome]

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[align=center]DAUGHTERS OF ALA MHIGO[/align]






The Ninth Sun of the Fifth Astral Moon


Strange that I should come by this journal now. So much has changed, yet these pages have remained blank even with the changing of many hands. You may be wondering where I stumbled upon it, little sister. Maybe you wonder why now? I wonder sometimes too. I found it in the markets of the Sapphire Avenue in Ul'dah of all places! It lay out among other wares and perhaps would have forever if the leatherworking hadn't caught my eye. I guess that it reminded me of home and when I think of home, I confess to always think of you.






The Twenty-third Sun of the Fifth Astral Moon


The White Raven may be dead, but I find little comfort in the knowing. Dalamud grows larger against the sky and an epoch of conscience bears steadily down upon my mind. I wonder sometimes if you even know of these things? I surely hope that the Elementals are kind to you in that you do not. This must all seem as mooglespeak. Maybe this will seem as nothing at all if you never read it. You were... and maybe are so young, do you even know who I am?






The Twenty-seventh Sun of the  Fifth Astral Moon


With every passing sun I sense an urgency within every blank page of this journal. I find myself frantically tearing pages from it on which to write you letters, but the fever ebbs and I know not what to say. As if the wind will take my loose words on loose paper and carry it forever away, as the Lominsans say, "Til sea swallows all" - which I fear may not be many moons away.


I am in Limsa Lominsa. Do you remember Cambre? Maybe you do not. She used to pick you the most beautiful flowers in Al...

She says I should go back to the Twelveswood, but I am afraid. Afraid that you will not remember me. Afraid that you do and would wish I had not returned. I imagine that you are happy among the brothers and sisters of the Wood. I imagine a great many things. There is no other way to sleep. I imagine that you are happy. I imagine this most of all. But I imagine other things. Maybe things I have missed that I should not have were Hydaelyn a better place; your first hunt, the choosing of your clan markings, watching you become a miqo'te from a kitten.






The Sixth Sun of the Fifth Umbral Moon


Cambre woke me from a dream. The White Raven flew once more over Eorzea under a sky lit ablaze. I had seen that sky nary an epoch past. Twas the sky above Ala Mhigo. But I should try to sleep once more.






The Twenty-Ninth Sun of the Fifth Umbral Moon


Dalamud now breeches the clouds. Garleans come south nearly to our cities and with them they bring dark beasts. I have nary slipped a wink helping to keep them at bay. I tell you this so you know that I have been courageous. I think that is the sister you have never known. Always have I tried to be the courageous one and always have I been the coward for you. I might slay ten thousand Garleans but it will never fix Ala Mhigo. I used to have that hope. Now my only hope is that the Twelve intervene. I would pray to them, but I do not think they will listen to me. They did not before. You always believed, so I will say this prayer on the battlefield because of you. Llymlaen guide me from Imperial blades.






The Eleventh Sun of the Sixth Astral Moon, The Year 1572 of the Sixth Astral Era


I write this from the Carteneau Flats. The Nations march against Garlemald here. I can see their banners and I can hear their metal boots with such deafening clarity. I cannot imagine my way from this. I would never imagined my nameday to be my last day. I only imagine that somehow I will see you on this battlefield. If there is any sleep to be had, I will not have it tonight with that thought. When all time seems to be out, I have managed to set aside this time for you.


You do not remember Ala Mhigo, but it was the most beautiful city in Eorzea. The crisp air from the north blew in every morning, sweeping the night's dew from the flowers. When I was a miqo'te of just ten summers, Cambre and I would play with sticks and pebbles by the river. You would sit and try to eat the flowers on the bank. You were only four. Cambre would go and take the flowers you picked and string them into your hair. She wasn't even family, but you would never know had her elezen form not shot up that summer. That summer...


The summer the Garleans came. We were playing together in the orchards. Cambre wasn't with us that day. I thought we should go look for her but that is when we heard the sound of their magitek. I cannot forget the sound of their airships. I saw fire falling from the heavens like stars and then felt the ground shake beneath me. I tried to find you but you were hiding from me. I might have looked forever if you had not begun to cry. I carried you on my back all the way to the city past the people fleeing. They kept screaming, keep running. Don't go back child! But I didn't understand. I had to get home.


Daddy was a soldier of Ala Mhigo, a great highlander lancer. I like to think that I took more after him than I did mom. Dad was at the house, just outside the door. He was screaming something. For us maybe. But his cries just attracted the Garleans. I remember watching him slay an entire regiment of those bastards, all while he screamed without break. I don't remember how long I watched transfixed, but when I came to myself Mom was there with us. She tried to pull us away, but I would not move. I watched as Daddy fell to a Centurion. Mom told us to run. But as the Centurion closed in on Mom I knew that I could not. You were still on my back when I took up Dad's spear and pierced the Centurion from behind. I could barely lift his spear at the time, but I was overcome with something I had never felt in my life before, but would feel every day since. Rage.


I carried it within me and within Dad's spear. I would not let go of it as the three of us ran from Ala Mhigo. I kept my eyes skyward, looking for those haunting airships. But all I saw was the sky alight from the Garlean wildfire. They let us flee into the Twelveswood, thinking we were safe, then they let the wolves loose. We ran, but a pack was close behind us. We could hear screams. Mom yelled at us to go on ahead. Make for Gridania she said, I will be right behind you. But I do not think she abandoned us like I abandoned you. I think she wanted to be with dad.


We reached Gridania with many other refugees. You were asleep when we arrived and I was faint. The conjurers were kind to us. They took us to Mother Miounne who fed us well. She even gave you a small leather bound journal that you could write down all the things you wanted her to get for you because you were too shy to speak to her. More refugees came every day, brought in by the wood wailers. They found Cambre lost in the Twelveswood days later. We did not talk about what had happened. We did not need to talk. We needed vengeance.


After a moon or more in Gridania, Ala Mhigans started returning through the Twelveswood from the south. These Ala Mhigans were no longer refugees, but warriors, bound to take back our home.


I am ashamed that I abandoned you for them.


I was young and I thought that our home would be won and that everything would go back to the way it was. But death only begets more death, and once changed nothing is ever the same. Cambre and I barely escaped with our lives, but we could not stop. Each defeat brought us to a new city and with each new city, a new group of refugees wanting to go home. So ashamed was I that I could not return you home, I could not face returning home to you. For many summers that is how we lived, until Cambre was wounded on the battlefield. Her healer brought her to Limsa Lominsa, and she has lived there ever since. She says the sea breeze makes her forget old things and she smiles when she says this.


I have traveled far but always my thoughts are with you. And for the first time in many moons, I smile as I write this. I think that I am like our father. I can see no more fitting way to die than in the final battle against the Garleans. But maybe tonight I would rather be more like mom. There by your side until I knew you were safe.


If this journal finds its way back to you, Sophie, I want you to know I love you.



[align=center]------- three Moons after the Calamity -------[/align]





A northeasterly breeze needled its way beneath the high canopies of the Black Shroud. Had these winds not been increasingly more common since the fall of Dalamud, the huntress might have mistaken it for a far off howl of some wounded beast. But no. Since the sky rained fire and the land breathed out its Aetheryte, everything had changed. Even the land's very nature had altered into something almost foreign - a new Era, one the people of Eorzea would have to adapt to if they were to survive. On the dying cry of the wind, a labored breath puffed steam into the cold morning air. The forest floor was still black as a spriggan. Only the breath of the huntress and dim outline of her prey shone in the pale moonlight.


If they were to survive, the huntress thought. She drew back her bow, let her hot breath snake its way down the shaft like vines, and an arrow let fly! But not hers. Ahead, the huntress's prey fell with a short yelp and the huntress let her arrow fly in the direction of the first arrow. It burrowed into a thick tree, chipping off a piece of bark. There was a tense moment of silence then a hearty laugh. Out from behind the tree came the figure of a lalafell, bow in hand. The huntress sighed and lowered her bow.


"That was my kill," she said. The lalafell gave another laugh.

"Aye, that it was, but I could 'ave bagged three in the time it took you."


The huntress huffed and came out from behind the tree. The huntress was a miqo'te of short and slender build, maybe only twice the height of the lalafell. The miqo'te went to withdraw the arrow from the dead antelope, and the lalafell did the same with the arrow from the tree, but had to climb a bit to reach. Arrow retrieved, the lalafell pointed it at the huntress admonishingly, "You aren't supposed to go on rangings alone," the huntress opened her mouth to interject but the lalafell persisted, "with or without the Elemental's consent."


"Well then, where was my partner?"

"I was bagging another antelope."

"I don't see it."

"Soon you will learn, Sophie. I kill and you carry."



Dawn began to break as the two hunters neared Treespeak. The miqo'te carried an antelope on each shoulder. She was so small the antelope's hooves dragged along the ground behind her. The lalafell marched along in front of her. He oftentimes disappeared into the underbrush and would've been invisible if not for a ridiculously large feather protruding from his bowman's cap. He chatted amiably while Sophie labored behind him. Normally some of the antelope would be left behind for the wood, but since the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era, Gridania's needs were great. The hide would be given to the leatherworker's guild, a portion of the bones to the botanists for meal, the rest of the bones to the Wood Wailers to be used in crafting spears and arrowheads, and the meat would go to the outlying hamlets as their need was greatest. Rarely would the Elementals consent to the taking of so much, but they understood that as Gridania recovered so too did the Twelveswood.


At Treespeak, the pair was met by a conjurer from Stillglade Fane and two Wood Wailers. The Wailers relieved Sophie of her burden and the conjurer thanked them both for their service to the Wood. "Zazaseba," the conjurer said to the lalafell, "report back to the Quiver's Hold. Sophie, Brother E-Sumi requests your presence in the Stillglade Fane."


"Yes, ma'am," they replied in unison and set off towards Gridania. Once out of earshot, Zazaseba turned to Sophie saying, "Brother E-Sumi? You don't think word has gotten to him about your persistence to hunt alone?"

"How can I hunt alone? I can never get rid of you."

The lalafell chuckled, "Well whatever it is you've done, you're in trouble for it now."



At Gridania the two parted ways. Zazaseba gave Sophie a reassuring pat on the thigh and was off without a word. Sophie watched him go then went off her own way to the Stillglade Fane. On her way Sophie passed many conjurers. Some waved at her, others smiled, but Sophie's mind was racing to determine why the Padjal wished to see her in person. Was he not busy tending to the Elementals? Sophie pushed open the heavy oak doors separating her from the inner cloister and found to her surprise not only Brother E-Sumi, but also Kan-E-Senna.



Sophie inhaled deep the moist, morning air of the Stillglade Fane. It had an earthy smell that comforted Sophie for reasons she did not fully understand. Of all the things that had changed in recent moons, thisplace had not. She could remember it this way since her memory began. For Sophie, no change was good change.


Without turning, Kan-E-Senna addressed Sophie and quite suddenly the earthy air of the Stillglade Fane caught within Sophie's throat. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and without realizing, she was down on one knee before the leader of Gridania.


"Dearest Sophie, there is no need. Stand." Sophie stood. Kan-E continued, "It is good you answered your summons so promptly. Brother E-Sumi informed me that you were on a hunt."

"Yes Ma'am. I know I am not supposed to hunt alone, but Zazaseba is such a deep sleeper. I feel horrible for waking him. But it won't happen again, I swear it."


Kan-E-Senna just chuckled at this while Brother E-Sumi smiled and shook his head. Sophie's face flushed bright red. Kan-E came towards Sophie and placed a hand upon her shoulder to comfort her. "No," she said, "we have much graver things to discuss, I'm afraid. Brother E-Sumi and I have spoken at length of the Calamity that has altered the Twelveswood. In this time of need, my siblings and I have decided to return to Gridania to live once more among its people. Until such a time that it is safe to venture out into the world once more. I would like to walk among the people and to know them."


"I am honored."

Kan-E bowed her head, "Brother E-Sumi tells me that you are quite the archer."

"Under Zazaseba's instruction, Ma'am. I am learning."

"You have learned to be with the Wood much for one who was not born within it. You are a daughter of Ala Mhigo, are you not?"

"I- I suppose. But I was young and as long as I can remember Gridania has been my home," Sophie said.

"Do you remember your family? This Wood is home to so many orphaned younglings, some of Ala Mhigo, some of Gridania. Now there are many more."

"I remember being one of many," Sophie admitted, "My mother was an archer and a Seeker of the Sun, like me. I chose my clan markings to match hers. I don't know much else about her. I was young when I was brought to the Wood. I know my mother and father died defending Ala Mhigo. I had a sister, but she left the Wood and died fighting the Garleans when I was still young. Miounne gave me a journal with which to write my desires to her because I was too shy to speak. I would write that I wanted my sister to come back. I would write for my family. But I knew it could not be so I threw the journal away. But Miounne has been like a mother to me, and Zazaseba like a brother - so the hurt was not so bad. Zazaseba is older, but we still grew up together. I think all of us have grown up alongside each other. So in a way we aren't really orphans. We've had the blessing of having many more family members then we could have dreamed of before."


"It brings me joy to hear that, Sophie," Kan-E said, "There are many hard times ahead, but knowing the people of Gridania are arm in arm makes the knowing that much easier. But it cannot make what I must say any easier. I must share with you a great weight that has been upon me in recent days. My siblings and I have spent many suns wandering the Carteneau Flats, sifting through the ashes of the fallen. Many survivors from Ul'dah and Limsa Lominsa joined us there in our grieving."


"I do not understand," Sophie said. Kan-E looked through her sadly with eyes that were distant. Brother E-Sumi turned away ever so slightly. The very air seemed full of the pain that Kan-E-Senna felt. With each breath, Sophie felt a wave of sorrow wash over her, yet she did not understand why. She knew many who went, but she was forbidden to go. She was too young and had not yet proven her skill with spear or bow. But the fires of that battle reached to Gridania all the same.


"Among the fallen, this was found," Kan-E said, withdrawing a small book from her robes. The leather binding was badly burned and ripped. Sophie opened the fragile thing and immediately dropped it to the ground. Her hands flew to her mouth and she could hear her own hurt cry escape. Sophie's legs felt so weak she was forced to sit. Through her tears she read the solitary line on the open page: I want my sister back. Sophieflipped through the pages. Always the same request on each page. This was the same journal Mother Miounne had given her fifteen years before.


"Why... was this... there?"

"Turn to the last page," Kan-E-Senna said. Sophie did, and began to read aloud. Each word hurt her but she choked back the tears and read until the end. Sophie reached the end, but she could not say her sister's name out loud. Her chest ached just reading it. Sophie had to bite her lip as Kan-E-Senna placed a hand on her shoulder, "Perhaps it is best you were alone," she said and left with Brother E-Sumi.


When she was sure both had gone, Sophie let it all out. She screamed from deep in her chest. It echoed throughout the Fane, but Sophie didn't care. Her hoarse scream settled into a wail. She lashed out violently at nothing, flinging the book from her. She flailed and screamed until she could no longer. Then she laid motionless, sobbing into the cold wooden floorboards.


Sophie did not cry because her sister was dead, she cried because her sister had been alive.



Outside the door, Kan-E-Senna listened and shed a tear herself.



Five summers had come and gone since the day Sophie learned of her sister's death. She was now a miqo'te of twenty-four summers and the scars of that day had long since healed. Over the years the Twelveswood had slowly recovered from the fires of the Calamity and with it her people. Though there was much still to be done. Hamlets were ever in need of food, supplies, and medicine for the sick. The fauna of the Wood grew desperate as well, often attacking the very same Hamlets for freshly delivered supplies. That was if the bandits didn't get to them first. The Hedge was in almost constant need of repair, allowing for the passage of many unsavory types into the Wood unchecked. But life in the Wood carried on much like it always had. Just now with more urgency about the tasks at hand.


Sophie set herself about on her daily task of gathering fruits and leaves for poultices. Despite protests from Zazaseba, Sophie conceded her lackluster performance with a bow and found that botany much better suited her speed. Even still, when she would gather in the Twelveswood, she still carried her old bow across her back should its need arise. Scythe in hand, Sophie knelt beside a lush shrub and began to cut away its excess leaves. She bagged her trimmings and carried on further south. Sophie only trusted herself as far south as Buscaron's Druthers and rarely ventured further without Zazaseba accompanying her. The lands beyond were wild and full of bandits watching the road on the edge of the forest.


The Wailers did all they could to protect the Hedge borders, but with so many refugees and adventurers coming and going, there wasn't much to be done. It seemed only to heighten the mistrust of outsiders. For good reason, Sophie thought as she passed one such adventurer on the road. Sophie did not meet the Elezen's eyes but she could see plain by her garb she was from a distant land. The sandy-haired Elezen wore head to toe an outlandish mixture of cobalt plated armor and vibrant red cloth-ware and a great lance upon her back, and her chocobo was barded to match. Sophie took note of an exquisitely crafted red acton beneath a cobalt chest plate, greaves, and bracers. Such armor was not of the Wood, but Sophie had heard stories of such armor being worn on the battle field against the Garleans. This line of thought pained her a little so she looked down at her feet until the Elezen and her chocobo had passed. Sophie's own garments were rather plain in comparison. She wore a botanist's jacket and thighboots and a feathered bowman's cap that Zazaseba had insisted on her keeping from her days in the Hunt.


When Sophie took note of her surroundings, she found herself quite farther along the main road than she had intended to walk. She was just turning around when she heard shouts and hurried feet from the direction she had been heading. Sophie ducked behind a nearby oak and waited. Four hyur dressed in raggedy leathers ran past, panting heavily. Between their labored breathes Sophie thought she heard one say, "That Elezen couldn't have gotten that much further. Come on!" Then they disappeared, heading north.


Sophie allowed herself to breathe again only after she was certain the group had gone. Bandits. Sophie tried to step out frombehind the tree but her feet were leaden with fear and indecision. Had Zazaseba been with her, he would have charged off after the brigands, his bowman's plume trailing comically behind. But Sophie was neither courageous or skilled in combat. She was not too far from Buscaron's Druthers, but the bandits would have caught their prey by the time Sophie raised the alarm there. Sophie's conscious got the better of her and she took off back the way she had come.


Sophie felt as if she had been running for an hour. Her sides burned and her legs felt like flan. She was about to give up when she heard the sharp wark of a chocobo just ahead. Cresting a hill, Sophie found the Elezen soldier in combat with the bandits. One lay dead in the dirt already. A second swung his blade at the chocobo clashing with its breastplate. The chocobo reared and jumped the bandit, clawing viciously with its talons. The Elezen was locked in a duel with the third, their spears dancing across each other like fencers. But Sophie could have sworn there was fourth. Her heart sank when she spotted him circling behind the Elezen. Sophie drew her bow and took aim, but she could not fire for fear of hitting the Elezen. She stood there, transfixed, her hot breath leaving condensation on the shaft. She felt her stomach launch itself into her throat when the bandit raised his spear and prepared to strike from behind. Sophie's arrow let fly and found the assailant's heart. The hyur fell with a yelp and his remaining companion turned to Sophie. Her hands clasped her mouth, nearly dropping her bow in surprise that her aim was true. That was when the Elezen's lance pierced the last bandit's chest and it was done.


Sophie felt her legs wobble violently so she took a seat. The Elezen withdrew her spear and met Sophie where she sat. The soldier knelt beside Sophie and placed a hand on her shoulder. "You have my thanks," the Elezen said, "Tis true what they say that there are none keener with a bow than the forestborn of Gridania." Sophie managed a laugh which sounded more akin to the sharp exhalation following the wind being knocked from you.


"Aye, tis true. But I have no great skill with a bow myself. I am just thankful I did not hit you," Sophie said. The Elezen laughed at this.

"Well, thank you for coming back just the same," she said, "If I may, you look a little weak from the encounter. We should make haste to Gridania before more trouble befalls us."


Sophie nodded in agreement and the Elezen woman went to fetch her chocobo, who was still poking at its kill. "Caslmaeva!" the Elezen called to it and it ran over to its rider. "Behave," she crooned to it. Caslmaeva approached Sophie and sat next to her. The Elezen helped Sophie mount the steed and soon the three were on their way north. The Elezen walked out in front, lance in one hand and reins in the other. Sophie began to collect herself as she rode. She suddenly felt really silly that she was being taken care of after she was supposed to be rescuing the outsider. Zazaseba would be rolling. Sophie told herself that she would dismount the chocobo before they reached Bentbranch.


They rode in silence for more than an hour, which would normally suit Sophie just fine, but she felt compelled to speak to this woman. So she tried to start up as general a conversation as possible. "So what business do you have in Gridania?" she asked. Which she almost immediately regretted for fear that it was a rude question. But apparently the Elezen took no notice.


"I'm looking for someone," the Elezen said, "An old friend."

"The Calamity has misplaced many people from their families. Your tale is not uncommon around here."

"Aye do the tales usually end with a happy reunion? We've been on quite some journey I'll tell you that much. Would be glad of some good tidings."


Sophie allowed a long pause before saying, "My name is Sophie. Should you be wondering. Sophie Mirke."


"And yours?"

"Um, my name is-" But before the Elezen could answer there was a call from up ahead. Brother E-Sumi stood with four Wood Wailers ahead on the road. Two Wailers approached the Elezen, spears raised. "Halt! Go no further!" they called. Sophie scrambled off the chocobo and met them.


"She means no harm!" Sophie said. The two Wailers recognized Sophie and lowered their weapons. Brother E-Sumi approached, "Sophie! Are you hurt? The Elementals spoke of danger on the south road."

"No Brother, thanks to this elezen. I was ambushed by bandits on the road and she saved me from them," Sophie lied. The Elezen opened her mouth to interject but then thought better of it. "Please. I am just passing through," the Elezen said, "I mean only to stay the week before setting off. I did not mean to trouble the Wood."

Brother E-Sumi looked surprised, "You have respect for the Wood, traveler. Should you carry that respect with you from here you have my blessing to pass. What is your business in Gridania?"

"Thank you Brother," the Elezen said, "I am only here to regroup with my company."

"Then come, we shall see you safely to Gridania."



The Elezen and Brother E-Sumi walked together out ahead, flanked by the Wood Wailers. Sophie walked along behind the main group with the chocobo, Caslmaeva, who seemed to have taken a liking to Sophie. At length the Elezen and E-Sumi began to talk of the world outside the Hedge, a world Sophie had never seen. But Sophie's mind was currently occupied wondering why the Elezen had not told Brother E-Sumi that she was looking for someone who lived here in Gridania. Surely E-Sumi could help? As they walked, Sophie began to wonder about the true intentions of the Elezen she had just helped enter her home.




...to come. Stay tuned!

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