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Let What is Past, Flow Away Downstream [Char Story] (OOC welcome)


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1567, Third Umbral Moon, 17th Sun


"Chiané, où êtes-vous?" (where are you?)

Her head shot up, the papers she'd been scribbling on hurriedly shoved behind her back and the scattered components  quickly folded up into the cloth fold and stuffed into the pocket of her tunic.

Her father stood at the tunnel arch, peering up at her perch above the subterranean lake, the flicker of the torch highlighting the planes of his face. His dark eyes flickered to her back then up to her face.


She kept her face purposefully bland, knowing full well he'd heard her frantic shuffling long before he'd arrived. He'd likely even heard her making notes and trying to reassemble the strange trinket halfway down the tunnel, despite her efforts to hide any sounds by the roaring waterfall that poured from the crevasse high above.


He angled his head to the side, his brow arched. He held out his hand.

She grimaced, then gave him a tight smile.

"My sundial."

Oh... that's what it is called... Her fingers itched to make note of it.

She nodded once. "I... saw it last on your desk."

His gave her a bland look. "Chiané."

"Oui, Papá?" she smiled innocently at him- which only grew a bit bigger as she saw the twitch in the corner of his mouth.


"If you are to steal properly, you mustn't leave evidence," he stated.

She blinked. "Evidence? Wh-" She straightened up in affront. "I did not steal anything!"

He did smirk then. "You are a poor liar too."

She narrowed her eyes, jerking her head to the side. "I didn't steal your... sundial. I only borrowed it... And what evidence?"

He crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against the cave arch. "Spiders."

"Spiders?" she frowned, leaning over the edge to peer at him.

"Very small ones," he pinched his fingers together, leaving only a slight gap.

Chiané gave him an odd look. "What has-"

"And honey." He flashed her a quick grin, his teeth bright against the darkness of his face.

She quickly looked down at her hands, then up at him with a glare. "My hands aren't sticky!"

"No- but your response gave you away." He tapped his temple. "Always think ahead and train your body to not betray you."


She sighed, gazing at him.

"Come down, Chiané. It is time to train."

She set the small candle she'd been working by safely aside before moving to comply, then froze at his next words. "And bring down my sundial. You will find it useless here. The sun never touches this lake."

"Ah... well," she glanced at the notes held down by a rock, then over at him. "I... ahm... don't have it right now... exactly...."

His hands grabbed her around the waist, pulling her the rest of the way down. She looked up at him, then away.


She shrugged lopsidedly. "It's just... not, ahm.."


His hands rose to cup her face, turning it up to gaze into her eyes. "That sundial was a relic from the Rhalgr Massacre. It was given to me as a gift. It is irreplaceable." His deep purple eyes narrowed, his voice soft and low. "Tell me it is intact."

Chiané winced, then winced harder as her father's hands gripped her face tighter. "I'll fish itp! I pomish!"

He let out a frustrated sigh, spinning around as he released her face. "Why must you take apart every Void-cursed thing you see?!"

She rubbed her cheek, eying him resentfully. "I want to see how it works, Papá. If I can understand how it works, I can make it. Maybe make it better..."

She sighed. "I.... I am sorry. I jus-"

He cut her a dark glare, then stalked toward the tunnel entrance. "You are late for your training. And rest assured, you will train- and train hard- today."

Chiané grimaced, carefully removing the bundle of components that made up the sundial from her pocket and placed them carefully on the ledge with her papers.



She grimaced, rolling her shoulder before placing another soaked cold compress onto her bruised shin. The icy water trickled down her leg, soaking the hem of her pulled up pants, and making her shiver. But it did not pull her attention from the perfectly assembled sundial before her.


She looked once more at her notes, then up at the trinket again with a frown.

Everything looked right, according to the notes, was done right... yet it would not work. The manual levers would raise and lower, the dial could be raised and locked in position, the minute switches and buttons worked smoothly. All the moveable parts could be turned and secreted within the ball case. But prior to her dis-assemblage, a faint bluish-purple glow had pulsed from the base crystal, powering the rotating disc that seemed to denote the moon cycles. Granted, the movement was slow, but it had been there.


Now, it simply sat there, colorless and inert.

Sure, she could manually move the moon calendar, but what good was that? It was supposed to work automatically.


She let out a low curse. Her father was going to kill her.

She looked into the mirror, gazing at her battered face.  Her eye was already threatening to swell shut, but at least the cut on her cheek had stopped bleeding. The spiderweb had finally worked...


Her green eyes stared back at her, wide and innocent beneath her thatch of dusky teal hair. She bared her teeth, a flicker of disgust passing over her face as she noted the smears of blood across her white teeth. She prodded her canine with her tongue, then sighed.

Loose. Again. By... the... Twelve...

She grasped it, pressing it firmly back into the socket and forced herself to not prod at it. It wasn't too loose this time. She had blocked the kick that had been aimed at her head, it had been her own knuckle that had struck her.

She sighed, turning to refresh the cold compress, then leaned back against the wall.

There was no hope for it.

She would have to go topside.


And that thought caused a certain twinge of fear and excitement to twist in her belly. Rodrick had left the year before- 'striking out to find his way' as Papá had worded it- but she had seen the frown of disapproval. She had noticed how suddenly the Elders and others stopped speaking of him. Even his own blood relations did not speak of Rodrick anymore.

Would it be the same for her?

There were rules...


Chiané frowned, hugging her arms to her chest, ducking her head. But was there a choice? Papá always spoke of facing your mistakes and fixing them, not hiding from them.  Being honorable and true to the Blood. She grimaced, picking idly at a loose waft from the rug she sat on. She was young and had only been to the surface a handful of times, and each time, her father had been beside her. And each time, he'd spoken so strongly on never going up on her own, never trusting those not of the Blood. Could she make it alone? And was it worth the risk of angering the Tutelaire?

And yet...

Her eyes drifted once more to the dull sundial, then closed her eyes. He would notice. He noticed everything. Saw, heard... she believed he even read her mind sometimes.


She absently prodded at her loose tooth, then grimaced making herself stop.

No choice.

She had to fix her mistake. She had to make it right.

She was not some weak child anymore- boys her age often went above hunting and foraging. And a lot of them weren't even half the student she was. Rodrick himself had only been four years older...

But he had broken the rules, he had defied the N'Ardenté Code...

By leaving...

She set her jaw, her eyes narrowing slightly.

But this was different. She loved it here. She was happy and had an honorable family. Her own Grandfather was a former Guerriére and long-standing Tutelaire!

They couldn't believe she wanted to leave...

She frowned, a twinge of uncertainty twisting her gut. No- It didn't matter. She had to make it right, no matter what. Honor above Self.

Father had said it was an Ala Mhigan relic, then the logical thing to do would be to go to Ala Mhigo and find out why it wasn't working.



She remembered from her father's story of the incident, that the King had killed himself in the war instead of being captured- but that it had still been too dangerous for them to remain in the caves along the river. Even dead he had had allies... And then there were the Others that had come in from the North, with their great warmachines...

Though what that had to do with them she had no idea. Why would any of them care about a Clan of Duskwrights?

But regardless, that had been eight years ago... Surely it was safe now.

Besides, she was just a young girl who wanted just a little bit of information.

Hardly a threat...


She slowly rose, grimacing at the dull pain throbbing in her leg as she lurched over to pick up the sundial. She gently slid all the parts back into the compact bundle, then closed the top over it. She carefully slid it into her hip-pack, then returned to her pallet.

She pulled her bound notebook of sketches and notes out, flipping through several before she found her rough-drawn map of the area of the cave. She had made notes along the sidebar, things her father had taught her about the area and the surface-dwellers, including the name of the area (Xelphatol), and the general direction of Ishgard, Gridania, Ala Mhigo and Sharlavan. And the lands up north that he would not speak of- simply to say that that was the home of the Others and under no circumstances should she ever venture North out of the mountains.

She ran her fingers along the paper,  trying to figure out relative distance and time. She would be on foot, so that would take longer...


Chiané peered critically at the discolored knot on her shin before dropping the iced compress back on it, shifting and laying back on her pallet. She closed her eyes. Hopefully the knot would go down enough that she could cover a good distance. She wanted to be back in no more than seven suns.

The hunters were sometimes out for that long when they had to go far to get supplies and food.

Maybe they wouldn't forget her or be too angry over just seven suns...

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Third Umbral Moon, 25nd Day


Her arrival in the small camp was met with little alarm.

The moment she'd drawn close, one of the five leapt out and threw her to the ground, then jerked her up with her arm wrenched behind her. The other, she knew, would be scouring the area around them for more of her kin.

She schooled her face to not show how much he was hurting her, forced her resisting pectorals and biceps to relax and simply waited. Her father had warned her that surface dwellers didn't like them, so she was prepared.


She had been following them for a week, initially keeping to the shadows since first hearing them, then slowly drawing closer out of sheer curiosity. The cadence of their words was different, intriguing; their pronunciations and where they focused their accents, fascinating...

The day she finally decided to draw close enough to actually see them, her heart was pounding so hard she was certain they could hear it. They were a team of Hyur, according to the description given to her by her father. Though they seemed very tall... of course, at age thirteen, she had yet to hit her growth spurt and everyone seemed tall.


"All clear."

Her gaze was clear as she looked at the three seated around the fire, then flickered up to the one now joining them with a faint smile. The one behind must have known it, for he jerked her painfully. "What're you doin' following us, Chigoe?"


Chiané grimaced, then wiped it from her face immediately. She angled her head slightly toward the speaker, though her eyes remained on the four at the fire.

"Why do you think?"

He grunted behind her, shoving her to the ground. "Stupid lurker... 'kind of idiot smear are you to come a-spyin' on us alone?"

She hunched herself slightly as she fell, protecting the treasure rolled up under her tunic. She rolled over, peering up at him as she supported herself on her elbows.  Her eyes tightened slightly, followed by a smirk. "Solitary hunters fare better than noisy packs."

The massive Hyur flashed her an irregular, but surprisingly white smile. "And nosy little spies are quite tasty to noisy wolves."

She frowned. She wasn't exactly certain why she would want to spy on them, but clearly it was a fear... and that could be useful. "Hm. That's true."


She sat up slowly, flashing her empty hands with a somewhat annoyed look when he jerked.  "Speaking of hunger..." She glanced over at the skinned creature impaled on the spit, then back at him.

"What makes you think we'd feed a little scab like you?"

She blinked. "Because it is considered polite when one is a guest at your campfire?"

The men at the fire laughed. "Guest?" one said.

Her tooth hurt where she'd hit the ground, and a slight probe told her it was a tad looser. She frowned, pressing it back into socket with her tongue.

She frowned. "Yes." Her stomach gave a rather unflattering growl.


"Look," she hefted a huge sigh, leaning onto her knees as she regarded the others. "If I wanted to not be seen by you, I would not have been. If I wanted to steal your food, it would be gone. If I wanted to slip away and notify..." for a moment, her mind blanked on exactly who she would notify, since it was pretty clear they thought her a spy. Her eyes flickered from one to the other as she recovered.

"Anyone... that a scouting party of .... of Garleans had ventured close to the Twelveswood, taking detailed notes of the area, and searching for... Cerulean..."

She hazarded a glance back at her former attacker, gauging his response- which was what she had hoped.

"I would have."


His scowl had grown with each word, especially getting a rise out of her mention of Cerulean. She had never heard her father speak of this substance, but there was a great deal he did not speak of regarding the surface dwellers and his time among them. Most of it had happened before her birth, the rest during the Exodus. The only thing she knew for certain was that her mother had died sometime during that time, from events unknown. But clearly... clearly this substance was important.


She smiled, her eyes narrowing as she moved in for the ultimate threat, her voice low. "And you wouldn't know any different. U-until the soldiers came and killed each and every one of you for trying to take it!"

There was muttering, then laughter, somewhat mocking, but amused from the men, then another spoke, warily amused. "Well then, my well-informed imp. What is it you want?"

She slowly looked at the speaker, a tall blond with sun-darkened skin. "Well... some food would be nice. After that... well," she looked toward the east. "Do any of you know the way to Ala Mhigo?"


The laughter stopped, as each stared at her in something close to confused astonishment.


"Oh." She frowned, her mind spinning. "Did I say it incorrectly?"

The blonde stifled a laugh. "N-no... No. You said it just fine."

"So you know of it?"

"Yes, we know of it." He leaned forward, peering at her. "The question is: what does a little Duskie girl like you want with Ala Mhigo?"

She gave him a bland look. "Nothing. It is a city."

"Going to thieve 'em blind, hm? Or root out all their secrets, are ya?" the first one asked, smirking at her, his eyes strangely dark.


Chiané shot him a dark look, that turned thoughtful. "Well no, that wasn't the plan. But I suppose it could be quite profitable..." If she could bring home more relics, along with the fixed sundial, then her father would have to forgive her... And more relics meant more to disassemble...

She flashed him a grin.

He arched his eyebrow.

Her grin faded.

The blonde snickered, pulling her attention back to him. "So why do you want to go to Ala Mhigo, little one?"

"Oh," she rooted around in her tunic, finally pulling out the bundled sundial. She carefully unwrapped it, holding it towards them. "I need someone to help me fix this."

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"Where..." the blond was crouched before her, staring at her eye to eye as she sat perched a crate in his tent, the sundial dangling from its chain on his finger. "Where... did you get this?"

She frowned, her eyes darting suspiciously from face to face looming above her.

"Found it..." she said somewhat sullenly, rubbing her upper arm that still bore the fingermarks of the one that jerked her up and threw her into the tent.

He smirked, his eyes dark. "I don't think so. Not a little Grey like you... Not this far west."

"Didn't say where I found it, did I?" she snapped back, crossing her arms over her chest.

"No," she smirked. "You didn't. Maybe you should tell me."

"Maybe I should-n't," she peered at him from under her eyelashes.

"Why not?"

"It's not yours and its none of your business." She tried to snatch it, but he jerked it out of her reach.


"Maybe cuz you stole it, you little thief!"

She ducked the swing a moment before it would have struck her head. She shot the Hyur flanking her a murderous glare.

The blonde's eyes caught the others, his chin lifting. "Keep an eye on the camp, Mal. You too, Cris and Jakob. I've got this."


He waved to them. "Finish your meal."

"Ahm..." she looked at him with a tremulous smile, lifting her chin hopefully. "I-"

He narrowed his eyes at her, then smirked. "Any scraps, bring in here for the imp." He lowered his voice to speak only to her. "I might let you eat, if you answer my questions. Truthfully."

Chiané raised her eyebrows, pursing her lips. "I'm not a liar."

"Oh, I think you are," he tapped her forehead. "In the genes."

She swatted his hand away irritably. "What are genes?"

He grinned. "Your blood, little one."

"What has my blood to do with anything?"

He laughed, ruffling her hair atop her head. She swatted at his hand again, glaring at him. He took a seat across from her, placing the sundial on the table beside him.


"So. Where did you get this?"

"I already told you. I found it."

"Hm. Where?"

She stared at him.

He arched his eyebrow. "If you want me to help you fix it..."

"You can't."

He looked surprised. "Why not?"

"You're not from Ala Mhigo. You're from Gar-Garga-Garglemoon!"

"Garlemald." He was clearly fighting a laugh. "Ala Mhigo is part of Garlemald."

She frowned. "It is?"

He arched his eyebrow, studying her. "It is now."

"Oh," she paused, glancing at the door, then back at him. "Are you from Ala Mhigo then?"


He was silent a long moment, then suddenly stood, scooping the sundial up in his hand. "So, what happened to it?"

She frowned, ducking her head a moment before as the tent flap opened and one of the men entered. She heard the blond start, then give a grunt of thanks to the other. She peered up at the massive man, who shot her a dark look before dropping a plate of half-eaten bones on the table.

"Food," he grunted.

Chiané wrinkled her nose, dropping her head again. She waited until she heard him leave, then settle by the fire to resume laughing and talking with his mates before looking back up at the blonde.

"Who said anything happened to it?"


He angled his head to the side, peering at her through some mechanical eye device that he now wore. She fought a giggle at the oddity. He glowered, flipping the lens up.

"Stop dodging the question."

She sighed. "I took it apart." She fiddled with the hem of her tunic.

She heard him breathing, the tent edge flapping, a fly whining from the corner of the room, every word from the men at the fire (though she really cared little for their discussion about females), a canine slinking through the brush in search of prey-

but no movement from him.

She peered up at him from under a thatch of hair.

He was staring at her.

She looked away, then back again.

He was still staring at her.


"Hm." He snapped the eyepiece back down and resumed studying the sundial.


She sighed, sliding off the chair to grab one of the bones.

"Didn't say you could eat."

She shot him a glare, taking one with a fair amount of meat still clinging to the bone. "Didn't remember asking."

He looked quickly at her from the corner of his eye. She tore off the meat with her teeth, staring at him.

He lowered the sundial, flipping the lens up again. "I don't think you understand the gravity of the situation you're in, Dusky."

"My name's Chiané, not Dusky." She peered at him, picking a piece of meat off the bone. "What is this? It's not bad."

"I don't know," he gazed at her, his tone clearly stated he did NOT wish to discuss the meat. She frowned, taking another meat speckled bone. "Fine. Tell me about the gravity of the situation."


"The gravity is... those men out there think you're a risk and want you dead."

She looked up at him, her voice suddenly soft. "I know that. I can hear them whispering about what they want to do to me."

He blinked in surprise, then frowned quickly.

"But I don't care about... Gridania or Garemald or fighting or Cerulean or Aether or... any of that. I just want to fix that sundial for my Father and go home." She looked away.

"I'm not a threat. I'm just a little girl..."

She looked back at him from under her lashes, gauging his response.

He considered her a moment, then took his seat again.


"So, tell me, Chiané... how did your father come into acquiring this little piece of history?" He smirked faintly, placing it back on the table.

"What dif-"

"You know, refusing to answer me is not doing you any favors." He leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest, his tone dry.

"I don't recall asking for any," she returned, narrowing her eyes.

"You asked me to help you fix the 'dial." He gestured lightly towards it.

She frowned briefly at that, then glowered at this reminder.

"If I tell you, will you help me fix it?"

"If you don't, I won't."

She let out a frustrated sigh. "Fine. It was a gift."

"A gift? To a Duskwright?"


He seemed to find that idea far too entertaining, and incredibly doubtful. She threw the bone at him, nailing his eyepiece. "Yes! A gift. During the war!"

He jerked the eyepiece off, glaring at her as he looked it over before letting out an annoyed growl and setting it aside.

She stared at him.

He gazed back at her, his face unreadable. "The War?"

"Yes. In Ala Mhigo. There was a horrible king."


"Yes. Him. He killed a lot of people before he killed himself."

"And your father was there?"

She raised her eyebrows, her tone somewhat sarcastic. "He got the sundial, didn't he?"

"He could have stolen it."

She stuck her chin out, shooting him a dark glare. "Well Papá didn't. He told me so."

The Hyur laughed once. "And of course I should trust the word of a Duskwright? If not a thief, then likely a traitor and deserter..."

Chiané threw another bone at him, this time hitting him square across the bridge of his nose with considerable force. "MY FATHER IS -NO- TRAITOR OR DESERTER!"


He let out a sharp cry of surprise and pain, standing immediately and barely stopped himself from knocking her across the face. She glared up at him defiantly, her jaw set.

A series of emotions sped across his face before he abruptly dropped his hand and took his seat again. He touched his nose lightly, eying her.

She was more than a bit disappointed it wasn't bleeding.

She sat there a moment longer, then crossed her arms over her chest with a short puff of air that lifted her bangs. "Well so what if he did steal it anyway. Not like the dead need it."

He smirked, his eyes never leaving her face. "Unless he stole it from a living soldier."

"Well, good thing he didn't then, isn't it?" she retorted. "He said it was one of his most prized possessions an-" she abruptly shut her mouth.

"And?" he arched he eyebrow.

"And... nothing. I just want to fix it."


"Hm..." he glanced at it, then back at her, then absently rubbed his nose again. "You said you took it apart..? The case or..."

"Everything," she pulled her knees to her chin, wrapping her arms around her knees. "I took it apart, then put it back together again."

He looked at her thoughtfully, slightly doubtful. "Did you, then."

She shot him a glare. "Yes, I did... then."

He gave a half smirk that lifted the corner of his mouth. "All by yourself, I assume?"

She bristled. "Yes, 'all by myself'!" She jerked her legs down, glaring at him as she pulled her notebook from the inner pocket of her tunic.

"I took notes!" She shoved the tattered book at him. "See for yourself."


He looked mildly amused as he stood, and began thumbing through the bound book. His amusement soon faded to a slight frown, then a faint, thoughtful smirk. "I... see."

"Told you." She extended her hand and he handed it back to her, feeling rather vindicated.

"Well then. Two things, Chiané..."

"One..." He held up a finger. "The sundial isn't broken. It is merely lacking basic aether crystal to power it. And Two..."

He tossed her the eyepiece. "You owe me a new Oculus."

She caught it on reflex, looking up at him in surprise. "What?"

"You broke it. Fix it."

He strode toward the door. "I expect it by daybreak."

"Why should I-"

He paused, looking back at her from the door. He cut her a smirk. "Because you haven't seen one of those yet, because I asked you to... and because it- and me- might be the only thing standing between you and my associates."


She blinked, opening her mouth to respond.

"Oh... and don't even try to just take it and run away." His eyes sparkled once devilishly. "We have Magitek."

She looked unimpressed, letting out a derisive snort. "Is that supposed to mean something to me?"

He grinned faintly. "What do you know of tech... besides what you can disassemble and reassemble?"

"Nothing. I grew up in a cave," she stated, sharply.

"Ah... so you did. Well then let me just tell you that... trying to escape would not be in your best interests."

She frowned.

"And remember, I want that fixed by daybreak. Tools are over there, if you need them." He gestured toward the small box on the table.

"I fix it, you help me put Aether in my sundial and let me go- right?"

He smiled with a wink. "Something like that."

He moved to leave again, lifting the tent flap.

"Wait. W-What is your name?"

He paused, glancing back at her. "What difference does it make? You'll likely die in the morning."

"Then I won't get a chance to tell anyone, so what does it matter?" she returned.

He laughed. "Petyr. Good night, Chiané."

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She spent the first several hours looking over the tools. They were fascinating and so delicate. She had had a brief flurry of fear that she might break one of them too, making her in even more trouble than she already was already in, then dismissed it.

It was only a tool. Surely he had more, and surely these were not his best tools. Only an idiot would leave intricate and costly tools in the hand of an inexperienced child...


She ran her finger along the shaft of one, her eyes sparkling at the blue glow that intensified at the tip at her touch. She wanted to see what it could do.. would do..

And wondered exactly how useful such a thing would be at home.

She touched the edge of the table with the tip, then immediately jerked it back with a gasp. The glowing tip had melted away a small round area. She looked back at the tool with awe, stroking the haft- and this time noticing the intensity of the light grow and fade.

Her mouth watered with desire.


Her eyes darted to the tent flap, then back to the small case of tools thoughtfully, then frowned. She couldn't try to leave... not yet. Not until Papá's sundial was fixed. And that wouldn't happen until th- Petyr's... Oculus was fixed.

She picked up another tool, testing how it handled, then another.

She was in love... so light and easy to manipulate. She could pick up the smallest component with this one... solder it with that one, tighten with this other...


She jerked, her head darting to the door as she heard one of the men cough, then laugh outside the flap. She had, of course, heard them milling about outside, but this one...

Chiané frowned.

She had a guard. How annoying.


She took a seat at the table, then picked up the Oculus, looking it over.

The golden casing seemed intact, but lens casing appeared to be... cracked and one of the components within, loose. Part of her cringed at the sheer delicacy of the tiny screws and parts- even as it simultaneously filled her with excited curiosity.

She carefully unscrewed the back, then laid it down, removing the front casing.

The fine interworkings  were a mystery.

A beautiful, enticing mystery.

Her eyes darted over the elements, her fingers absently twitching as they hovered above  it.

She had no idea where to begin. Everything was a symphony in the smallest scale... and she both wanted to dismantle it to understand it... and not touch it for fear of disrupting the music.


She frowned, gently using the magnetic end of one of Petyr's tools to lift the loose gear from the lens face. She carefully set it aside, then grabbed the magnifier. She gasped at the interlocking discs, tiny gears and cogs. Strange writing appeared to be etched into some of the parts...

And suddenly, everything beyond the Oculus was irrelevant.

She quickly hopped up, grabbed her notebook and a stylus and began rapidly sketching and making notes.




The fifth bell of the morning found her seated on the table, legs drawn up and chin resting on her knees. Before her lay her notebook full of notes and sketches and the mostly reassembled Oculus. Mostly... since a few of the minute parts had somehow fallen off the table and were swallowed into the abyss that was made up of the dirt rug covered floor.


The lens was still cracked- nothing she could figure out to do about that.

She closed her eyes, resting her forehead on her knees. Her eyes burned, her fingers ached and the side of her left index throbbed and still felt as if it were on fire from the soldering tool's burn.

She'd tried. And failed.

And Papá's sundial was still non-functioning due to a depleted crystal.

Whatever that meant.

Where would one find a full crystal anyway?

She paused, eying the Oculus. It had had a crystal... albeit very small. Of course, the one in the sundial had also been very small- that was obviously how she'd missed it.

She sighed, rubbing her eyes wearily, then returned her head to her knees.


The night was quiet, only the soft sound of night bugs singing, a few croaking rivertoads and several discordant snores... and an odd high pitched whine. She frowned, focusing on it, trying to locate the source...

She rose, moving silently to the tent flap and peeked out. The camp was still and the fire dampened, but all around the perimeter was this faint odd blue glow.

Chiané glanced down at her guard, who sat slumped against a pole, the faint glimmer of drool dampening his lip and darkening his shirt. She glanced around, seeing the still shapes of another, wrapped in his cloak by the fire. The others... seemed to be in their tents.

She swallowed, her eyes flickering to the woods just beyond, then back to the one by the fire and the one near her feet.

Papá would recommend incapacitation followed by a rapid extrication.

There was wisdom in this.

If she could get to the forest, they would never find her...


She rubbed the side of her nose, then glanced back at the box of wondrous tools and the Oculus. She wanted the tools. She needed the tools. But they would likely weigh her down, slow her escape...

She bit her lower lip. But a few?


She quickly dismantled the Oculus again, removed the crystal, then reassembled it. A quick look at the sundial with the magnifier identified a small socket where the crystal clearly sat. She gingerly socketed it, smiling quickly as the device began to glow and the moons set themselves.

She glanced behind her, then slid three of the most useful tools into her pocket.

A slight rustling, then silence as a body resettled in sleep. She smiled, moving quickly as she noted the time. The sun would be rising very soon...

And the benefit of shadow would be lost.

A quick dismantling of the static aspects, secreting them into its protective case, and the sundial was dropped into her other pocket. She slung her pack on her back before slowly and carefully making her way to the tent mouth again.

The moment she emerged and stood, four faces looked back at her.

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She blinked, her cheeks flushing hot, but otherwise kept her expression fairly neutral.

"Going somewhere?" Her erstwhile guard growled, his face twisted in a self-satisfied, dark smirk.

She shifted her pack on her shoulder, sketching a shrug.

"Coeurl got your tongue?" he prodded her shoulder.

She felt the telltale tremble in her hands, but clenched them to hide it. "Just... wanted some fresh air..." She wished her voice sounded as light and dismissive out loud as it did in her mind.

A hand grabbed her forearm, jerking her back and against the tent post. She grimaced, looking up at the massive Hyur. His eyes were narrowed as he grabbed her pack and carelessly dumped it onto the grass before her. Papers, a few bits of dried meat and her traveling minutiae fluttered in the breeze as she let out a pained cry.

He laughed, tossing the sack aside as he stared at her.

"Won't need those where you're goin', Chigoe."


"But I-"  Her eyes darted from face to face, all looming wide, solid and massive above her. She was going to die... Petyr had already said so...

So what was there to lose?

Rhalgr damn her if she'd go down without a fight.

She grabbed the post behind her and kicked out- surprising the Hyur more than any damage she might have done. The moment she hit the ground, she scooped up her notebook, tucked and rolled between their legs and darted towards the woods.

She was brought up short in a most painful way.

Shocks, snaking across her skin, stealing her breath as she was locked in place by the shield that surrounded the camp. Her body jerked uncontrollably ad she bit her tongue, fighting to not lose control of her bladder before the shield was abruptly shut off...

She collapsed bonelessly onto the ground, bathed in the uproarious laughter of the Hyur.


She clenched her eyes, refusing to give them the satisfaction of seeing her cry as she lay on the churned grass, curled up like a worm and rode out the final mini convulsions.

"Shocking... isn't it?"

She felt hands on her, groping her, but she couldn't move. Felt one reach into her pocket and pull out the sundial. She tried to protest, but her throat was still too seized up to do more than grunt like a hog.

"What's this, huh?" he took it out, peering at it in the sun. He lifted the top, exposing the carefully folded up appendages, then started prodding them with thick fingers.

She grunted again, this time managing a feeble reach towards it.

He laughed, prodding her side with his boot. "Liar and thief? Who would have guessed, eh boys?"

She squeezed her eyes shut as the boot struck her harder, skidding her body across the grass.

He laughed hard, and she heard him toss the sundial in the air and catch it.



Petyr's voice broke in somewhere in the midst of her pain and humiliation, causing her to wince and curl up tighter.

"Little chigoe was trying to escape," her gaoler growled, giving her another solid kick.

She heard Petyr crouch near her, his voice soft. "Did you fix my Oculus?"

Chiané grimaced, shaking her head.

"Hm. That's a problem."

She heard him stand. "Bring her back to my tent. I'll deal with her. And Mal, Cris... clean up this mess, huh? Do you want her people to come looking for her?"

"Hmph. Don't bother me much. Less scabs in the Forest, less we have to deal with later..." she heard one mumble under his breath a moment before she was unceremoniously jerked up by both arms and drug back to Petyr's tent, then thrown inside.


She landed in a collapsed heap, skidding several feet across the floor. Something pinched her cheek- one of those missing components. She picked it off with a sigh, noting her hand still had a fine tremor, then closed her eyes, resting her head back onto the ground. She lay there with her eyes closed, once more reviewing her limited options.

Limited being... no options.

She whispered a curse she'd heard one of the clansmen say once. She tried to ignore the mutterings of the Garleans outside. She felt like she was going to throw up.

Several minutes later, she heard another enter.

By the sound of his movement, she knew it to be Petyr even before he spoke.

"What went wrong?"

"Shield," she muttered. "Got in the way."

His voice sounded a bit more amused. "I warned you. But no, I mean the Oculus."

"Lens is cracked. Can't fix that. Think you need a new one."

"You're right." She heard him pick it up, then put it down again with a faint grunt. "You took it apart."

"Had to figure out how it worked."

"The crystal's gone."

She opened one eye, peering at him. "Papá's sundial needed it more."

He smirked down at her. "Did it."

She saw he had the sundial in his possession now and was considering it.

"You have more. I don't know where to get one or how to cut it or fix it to work in the sundial."

"You could ask." He paused, looking down at her. "Irrelevant though, the shield drained it."

She could see the the sundial, once more missing the faint blue glow in the base.

She had the urge to either cry or scream in frustration.

Instead, she grit her teeth, trying to cover it up in a sharp retort.

"Well why would you tell me? You are going to kill me anyway."

He sat down on the chair, peering at her with that same smirk. "Am I?"

She cut him a withering look. "I am not stupid. I can hear what you all are saying out there."

"Hmm... "

He picked the Oculus back up, studying it. "Took this completely apart, did you?"

"I already said I did," she muttered. "... Lost a few pieces in the reassemble. But..." she lifted her hand toward him, the tiny gear stuck to the end of her finger. "Found one."

Petyr arched an eyebrow, carefully picking the component off her finger. "Ah."


She sighed, laying back and staring at the tent over her head.

"What's your name, Chiané? Your... full name?"

"What does it matter?"

"Humor me."


"Why not?"

His tone sounded slightly amused. She shifted her eyes to him. "Because you would hunt down and kill my Clan."

"Or perhaps I wish to sell you back to them."

She snorted derisively. "I am not stupid, we are not rich and you are not interested in acquiring gil anyway..."

Petyr grinned, considering her. "I am always interested in acquiring gil... but, you're right."


He leaned forward, angling his head to the side. "So... the way I see it, we have two choices here. One, I kill you and mount your corpse on a tree as a reminder to others what Garlemald does to spies." He nudged her leg with the toe of his boot, grinning a bit wider.

"Even amusing pipsqueak cave rats."

He paused, glancing down at her. She stared up at him, fighting to keep her face neutral.

"Or... I take you with us."

She blinked, her eyes widening. "W-what? Where?"

He nodded once, setting the Oculus aside. "To Ala Mhigo."


He flashed her a grin coupled with a shrug. "Always wanted a slave."

Her face blanched. "A... slave? What k- I..." She felt her breath pick up and a cold sweat break out across her cheeks. "I- I would make a horrible- I mean, my clan is- is expecting me home an-"

He nodded abruptly. "All the more reason that we should go now."

He stood, extending his hand. "And I do think you will make an excellent slave."

He winked at her. "Now take my hand, Chiané."


"I don't want to be a s-"

"Take my hand and tell me your name."

"No!" She jerked her hand back, scooting back away, her eyes dark.

He leaned down, taking her arm and pulled her up. "You would rather die?"


"Then you will come with us."

"I'll hurt you i-if you touch me!" She bared her teeth, glaring at him.

Petyr sighed, sitting back and staring at her. "Chiané. You only have two choices here. Live or die."

She shook her head, her face screwed up in pure hatred. "I... will... not... be... your... slave..."

"Then you will die and never go home again."

"I will never go home again anyway!" She refused to cry, channeling all her emotion into her anger and swallowing her fear.

A shadow shifted across his eyes, then he smiled. "You definitely won't if you're a corpse."

She swallowed, then kicked out, knocking a chair over as she glared at him.

"So what's going to be?" He angled his thumb up, then slowly flipped it downward, gazing at her.

She looked away, setting her jaw.

"Chiané," she heard his voice, low with annoyance several minutes later. "My patience, and this offer, has limits..."

"Fine... I'll go..." she muttered between gritted teeth. She cut him a dark glare of promise, but was smart enough to hold her tongue, then looked back at the tent entrance again.


He straightened up, an immediate smile spreading across his face, his voice once more upbeat and businesslike. "Good! Now, what is your name?"

His hand extended out into her field of vision, urging her to take it. She glanced down at her feet, then up again.

"Chiané... N'-Naevioux." She looked back at him with a slightly narrowed eye as she let him help her stand.

"Hmm..." Petyr nodded once as he reached into his pack and pulled out a small bracelet, then slid it onto her wrist. It tightened to fit snugly, but not uncomfortably so.

She immediately pulled her arm away, her fingers going to the bracelet.

"Stop-gap until we get home. So we can find you if you get..." she grinned faintly, ignoring her attempts at pulling it off. "Lost."

She looked back at him, her brow furrowed in alarm as her last hope for escape was quelled. "I can't. I have to go home. You don't underst-"

His face shifted oddly, his eyes darkening. "I understand perfectly, Dusky," he stated softly. "Now return the tools in your pocket to my toolbox and help me load up the cart. We have a bit to go before we reach the rendezvous site."

He paused, glancing back at her. "And Chiané- It is very important you do exactly as I tell you. Don't make this harder than it need be." He paused, then continued. "No matter what you do, you cannot succeed against the Empire. Resistance... only makes things a lot worse."

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1571, Third Astral Moon, 14th Sun


Chiané looked up from her workbench, frowning faintly at the door a moment before Petyr burst through it, his eye wide. She quickly threw her hands up over the fine electronics, shooting the Hyur a dark glare.

"Petyr- mind the door. You are getting dust in my field-"

He silenced her with an abrupt gesture. "Go home, get whatever you need and get out of the city," his eyes were dark, his brow creased with concern.

"Go now, Dusky."

She blinked, giving him an odd look. She had never seen him so disheveled. "What are you talk-"


"Something... something is coming, Chiané. Certain things have been set into motion tha-" He grasped her shoulders, shaking her, his eyes intent on her face.

"Go home. Back to your Clan, your family... where ever...  I release you. Here-" he grabbed a piece of parchment and quickly scribbled something, then shoved it toward her.

"There. Service complete. Pardoned. Just get off Garlean occupied soil. Hide in the forest, the mountains... anywhere but here..."

"But my apprenticeship- you promised..." She frowned, taking the wadded parchment, but not taking her eyes off him. "You promised to teach me."

He closed his eyes, turning away as he began shoving all manner of tools and half-completed tech into a sack.

"None of that matters now."


She shook her head, standing, her green eyes flashing in anger. "Why not?! You disallowed me from returning home, you lied and I went with it. You promised to teach me if I kept my mouth shut. I've done exactly as you told me."

She grabbed his arm, forcing him to look at her when he didn't respond.

"I've kept my head down, I've not caused trouble, Petyr. I've towed the line when interrogated. I've borne my presumed sin and am paying for it." She jerked his sleeve, narrowing her eyes at him.

"I've not caused any interest at all to you."


It had been a near thing upon her arrival to Ala Mhigo, but Petyr had managed to convince both the scouts he'd traveled with, and the Ala Mhigan guards she was a Duskwright orphan thief from the caves of Ilsabard trying to return to Ala Mhigo- but had gotten lost. Which seemed to justify her possession of the relic from the Fall of the Fists of Rhalgr, as well as her location and why she had approached the Garleans to begin with...

But hardly old enough to be tried as a possible traitor, and proving to possess a certain natural gift for technology that could only 'benefit the Empire'- which she had eagerly stated a desire to do, if given the chance- she had managed to escape both reconditioning and death.

It also, quite neatly, justified her subjugation as an indentured apprentice to the Magitek engineer, Petyr Tarquinius, who swore to keep her in line at the threat of the blade.


He gave her an annoyed and somewhat exasperated look. "It's not always about you, Dusky."

She arched her eyebrow, giving him an eloquent look.

He narrowed his gaze, running his hand through his already messy long hair. "I'm serious. You have a pass to get out of town. If you need it... which I hope you won't b-" He halted, then groaned, shaking his head and letting the rest of the sentence die. "Just... Go. Now. Before... before it's too late."

She stilled at the tone in his voice, her faint smile fading into a frown. "What is going on, Petyr?"

He paused, then sighed, gesturing for her to hurry and gather her things.

"The Resistance," he finally stated softly.


She frowned a bit more. She'd heard of it in passing, but per her pact with Petyr upon her arrival, she'd focused all her attention on keeping a low profile and serving as his duly 'obedient to the Empire' slave/apprentice-in-training.

"You're one of them," she murmured. It wasn't a question, but a statement. She'd suspected for awhile, based on his behavior toward her and the strict rules he'd set forth, but she hadn't dare ask.

He merely grunted, peering out the window. "Make your way out of the city to the west, then angle north. There are caves... maybe more of your kind..."

She shrugged, glancing back at her briefly.

"Maybe.." the thought gave her a slight twinge of uncertainty.

He sighed, looking back at her, his eyes tired as he shook his head once.

"Doesn't matter. Go there. The area is far too rugged, the land far too difficult to control. Far too many Ixal." He frowned at that, then shook his head. "Keep to the trees and caves. You'll be safe there."

"And what about you?"

He hesitated, then looked away. "I'm...  I have things to do."

She narrowed her gaze, sighing.



"Chiané..." He returned quickly, snapping back to stare at her. "Have you seen the sky lately?"

She frowned, shrugging dismissively. "I have noticed a growing red star..."

"That is no star. That is a moon. And it is coming towards us."

She stilled, her eyes riveted to his face. "What?!" She let out a short, disbelieving laugh. "That's impossible... Moons don't fall-"

His grin was wry, a bit sarcastic and a bit sad. "What did I tell you before? Never underestimate the power of the Empire."

She swallowed. "T..The Empire did this...?" she shook her head, her brow furrowed. "I don't understand..."

He shook his head. "No. Just one Imperial Legate of the Seventh."

She blinked at him. "One?"

"Well," he laughed once, dryly as he looked away. "He has allies."

She nodded, then shook her head mutely.

"Yes, but... I mean," she finally said, meeting his eye. "Why... why a moon?! A moon is..." She paused. "Petyr- there will be no Eorzea left..."

Petyr gave a wan smile.

"I believe... that is his intent."


A shudder passed over her. "Well. Well surely the Empire can stop it..."

He merely gazed at her for a long moment before speaking again, his voice whisper soft. "All that can be done, will be done. But you- you should return to your family... Just in case we do not succeed."

She swallowed, staring at him. Then slowly nodded.

"May the Twelve guide you then."

He smiled, shoving the sack into her arms, then looked away. "Go now. And keep your head down."

He paused, then smiled at her. "Oh. And take anything you want from my home. As you said long ago: 'the dead have no use for it.'"

Chiané simply stared at him a moment longer, her chest tight with unexpected emotion, then gave an abrupt nod and turned away, hurrying out the door.




Making her escape from the City took time.

Time that now ate away at her gut. Time she could physically feel slipping away from her. Time that she might not have with her family- if they still even recognized her as one of the Clan.

She frowned, peering up at the sky. Was it her imagination, or had the moon grown even bigger since the last time she'd noticed it?


She looked back at the mountains looming several malms ahead, then glanced back at the glowing speck that was Ala Mhigo. She had waited til the seventh bell and the sky to begin to drift into darkness before slipping past the city gates manned by Hyur and crouching in the shadows, moving only when her ears told her none were around. She had worn a dark cloak and light sandals and carried a pack strapped to her back, giving her the odd silhouette of a hunchback crone. She had kept to the trees, the shadows and whatever else she could use, and had been traveling for a day now.

There had been so many troops, so many convoys teeming in the city proper, and smatterings in the surrounds. She hoped Petyr would survive whatever he was part of.


But he did not think he would. And, as her sole protector and guardian for the past five years, his death would leave her open for all manner of abuse. More and more Petyr had begun to be coerced into more military focused magitechnologies and less into the basic wetware and component aspect....

She had lived with him for nearly five years, and, as much as she hated to admit it, the blunt Hyur had become as much family to her as her own blood.

She would miss him.

She grimaced, picking up her pace.

But, if he truly was of the Resistance, she doubted she'd live long in the controlled city without being incarcerated, reconditioned and pressed into service in his stead.


Night was falling fast now, as the sun finally settled beneath the mountains, the lights of the city only the faintest glimmer now, blending almost seamlessly with the star-filled sky.

She sighed, closing her eyes briefly as she rested against a tree, then slowly let her gaze drift up again to the bright red moon looming ever closer.

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It was another week before she saw her first Duskwright.

She had begun traveling in the day, now that the city lay nearly twenty malms behind her and the threat was lessened. The mountains of Xephotal were rugged and harsh, the Ixal a constant threat, and many of the caves shallow and empty.

She had been trying to recall where her Clan had established their home by keeping an eye on the Velodyna, but since she'd left as a child, and her drifting toward Ala Mhigo vague until encountering Petyr's Survey team, she had yet to find any landmarks.

But the hunter might know.

Or if not he, his Clan...

She hung back, watching him. Trying to place him, wondering if she had once known him...


He disappeared into the side of a rock and she darted forward to catch up- which ran her directly into a trap that caught her foot in a fine rope loop. She caught herself a moment before her face met the ground, the pack on her back shifting and knocking her center of gravity off-kilter. She let out a soft curse as she flipped over and began working the knot.

"Only an idiot would try to follow a Duskwright into a cave."

The tone was dry, rather annoyed and sarcastic. "What do you want?"


She looked up at him, shoving the cloak's hood back as she matched him tone for tone. "To speak to your Elders."

She got a brief flurry of amused satisfaction as he saw her face, recognizing her as a fellow Duskwright. "And I am no idiot."

He flushed, looking away for a moment, then back at her. "Why?"

"I am seeking information," she began as she resumed picking at the knot. He dropped down to assist her, his face clearly curious, urging her to continue.

"About Clan N'Ardenté."

He looked at her quickly, his gaze even more curious.

"The N'Ardenté?"

She nodded, slipping her ankle out as the knot loosened, her eyes on him. "You know of them?"

He frowned, nodding once. "Further West. Keep the mountains to right and then straight ahead..." He hesitated, looking over her dark, but well made, and distinctly un-Elezen attire, then continued. "Why do you want to find them?"

 "It's personal."


He paused, a look of wariness stealing over his angular features.

She sighed, angling her head to the side. "They are allies."

She smiled a bit, considering him. "Blood is thicker than gil or water, hm?"

He eased a bit, nodding once as he considered her. "Nymeria watch over you then."

Chiané nodded, knowing full well that before she had reached her Clan tunnels, a runner would have already reached them.

She readjusted her pack as she rose, then moved to head west, but halted when the male caught her arm. She looked back at him curiously.

"I... Are you the one... that went missing?"

A tremor ran up her spine, then settled in her belly. "Missing?"

He nodded, still studying her face. "A young female of the N'Ardenté disappeared several years ago. Several hunters followed her tracks to what had obviously been a Garlean spy camp- but her body was never found."

She flushed, looking away, unexpectedly pleased and reassured that they had sought her and tried to bring her back. That she had not been written off as Rodrick had.

"Yes," she said quietly, then gave him a faint smile. "Thank you."

His face shifted to one of suspicion, his hand tightening on her upper arm. "So... you are?"

She gazed at him, casually turning her arm out from his grip. "I am not a Garlean spy. I am N'Ardenté. I have always been N'Ardenté."

His eyes narrowed slightly, suspicion churning within.

She paused, considering if she wished to speak further, then simply smiled and moved away, holding her hand up, palm out in farewell.

"Nymeria watch over you and your Clan."


Within half a malm, the landscape began shifting into shades of familiarity. The trees, slightly bigger, but recognizable. The rock face, slightly eroded, but still gave her a sense of 'home.' She found secret entrance in the Mouth easily and slipped inside. Heading down the twisting tunnel, the smells and sounds of her childhood began to rush back.

Chiané stopped, resting back against the cave wall, her eyes pressed closed. For a moment, she was a child again and everything that had happened... was just a dark dream.


The sound of movement ahead of her caused her eyes to spring open and her body to instinctively melt back into the shadows. She watched with wide eyes as an elderly Elezen walked past- and she belatedly realized he was her grandfather. He still wore the robes of the Tutélaire, but they were hanging heavily now on his frail frame.


He halted, blinking myopically in her direction. She could see now that his eyes were almost entirely whited out. "Chiané?" his wavering voice was uncertain, wary.

"Oui, Papiere."

He reached unerringly toward her, his long fingers touching her face, then began tracing her features. She watched as his dim eyes began to shine with tears. "Mo'chere..."

She pressed his softly wrinkled hand against her cheek, smiling up at him.  "Where is Papá?"


She stiffened, staring up at him. "Gone?"

His rheumy eyes looked sad. "He set out to find you, but never returned."


A cold chill ran down her back, her breath catching. "H-he's been gone since I-"

"Non... he returned frequently early on, with hopes you would have returned. But... he has not returned for a year now."

She frowned, her gut clenching and her hands shaking. "Gran'papá... what does the Dreamer say?"

He was silent a long moment then sighed. "She said you lived. It is because of her, your father never stopped looking."

"And of him?"

He frowned. "I do not know."

Her grandfather sighed, still tracing her features lightly, a faint smile on his lips. "You look like your mother, Chiané. She was a good woman. Strong. Like you."

She frowned, uncertain about the change in subject. "I wish I had known her."

The smile grew a bit more. "Your reflection speaks true. Come, hm?"

He gave her cheek a parting pat, then gestured for her to follow.

She did so, her brow creased with confusion and curiosity.


Once in his private chambers, he took a seat and gestured for her to follow suit. She sat before him, still uncertain.

"Your mother Tatania was a strong woman. A true wife to Gerárd in every way.  She was killed when you were a bebé during the Massacre." He gazed at her. "Your papá was targeted too- but he managed to rejoin the Clan." He paused, gazing at her with his disconcerting eyes. "Though he was true to the Clan, your family lived among the surface-dwellers."

She frowned. "We did? But-"

He held up a hand. "Your father is a true Guerriére, Chiané. He sought the training of the Monks, so that he could train the Clan. He believed that one could never have enough martial training-  but that some types were more suited to our lifestyle than others."

She nodded mutely, simply listening as she thought back to her own training. Of the countless hours spent with staff, bare knuckles and feet, and fisticuffs.


"But... When the soldiers came and began slaughtering and capturing the worshipers of Rhalgr, your father slipped away. He and Tatiana tried to make it to the Clan caves- but she was struck down by an arrow. It was by Nymenia's grace, Gerárd was carrying you in his arms when the archer found her." His brow creased in sadness. "We could not even make a cairn for her."

He paused, then took in a deep breath, his voice growing a bit stronger.

"We all elected to move north, deeper into the caves here, as many knew of your father- and that his Clan was somewhere nearby." He gave a tight smile.

"The Ixal flocks nearby discourage the curious."

His hand reached out, resting immediately on her knee. "But, he has been gone before. He will return..."

She shook her head once. "If he went east, anywhere near Ala Mhigo, he will not return."

Her grandfather blinked, then frowned. "Why do you say this?"

"There is something happening. A great moon is approaching and the Garlean military is forming to head south. If Papá traveled east, he will be found."


He paused. "How do you know this, Chiané?"

She tossed her head once, looking away. "I have been a... Hm. I was taken to Ala Mhigo and kept there. I... was trained in some of their tech..."

His eyes narrowed, his voice dropping slightly. "You assisted those that seek to obliterate us? Not merely surface-dwellers, but Garleans?!"

"No!" She stiffened, grabbing his hand before he could pull it away. "I never worked on military equipment. I was merely an assistant to a Magitek engineer that focused on microtechnologies. I-"

He pulled his hand away, his face dark. "Did... you... not hear what they have cost us, Chiané Arielle N'Ardenté?! Our blood... our home...?!"

"I didn't know- and even if I had, I didn't have a choice, Gran'papá!" She leaned forward, her voice urgent. "Please... I did not betray us. I did not tell them who I was. I would die before I would put the Clan at risk."

"But you chose them over us." His tone was deadly.

She shook her head rapidly. "I did not. I chose to not be made an example of in death. To live and to learn a useful skill that could serve the Clan later. Just like Papá. You have to believe me. I am N'Ardenté."

She paused, "But I was also a scared little girl who could not escape. I tried. Believe me... but their Magitek..."

His face slackened, his eyes grew distant as he sighed.

"I know of their Magitek, Chiané..." he whispered. "I have seen it with my own eyes- and though I am blind, I see it still. The blood, the carnage, the destruction it brought upon all that it touched..."


She swallowed, gazing at him for a long moment, then whispered. "I have not betrayed us. If I had, do you think they would not have already come?" She hesitated, then reached out, taking his hand in hers. "Gran'papá... Is it not right to sacrifice Self before Clan, and value Blood before Water? To place one's Honor before Self and Life?" She squeezed his lax hand, her voice soft.

"I did that to the best of my ability. T-Tell me what I must do to... to be forgiven?"

His eyes slowly turned to her, his voice remaining soft.

"Why did you leave?"

She quickly dug into her pack, pulling out the slightly tarnished case holding the sundial. "I had to fix Papá's sundial."

She placed it in the Elder's hand. He held it a moment, then let it drop to the ground with a dull clang that echoed throughout the small room.

She jerked, as if to catch it, but his held her hand hard.

"You sacrificed yourself... my son... for a trinket?"

She frowned. "It was his most prized possession! I broke it and I was honor-bound to fix-"

His grip was brutal. "Non. You were his most prized possession. He would gladly lose a hundred of relics of Rhalgr for one of you."

She shuddered, but his grip did not abate. She tried to not wince or let her voice change, but she felt it go a bit higher, her breathing a bit more pained as she spoke again. "I... was... young and... foolish..." She leaned over her hand, grimacing as the bones of her hand ground against eachother.

"I'm sorry, Gran'papá..." she managed, her voice nearly non-existent. "I... "

He suddenly released her hand, his voice pained. "Be silent."


She ducked her head, cradling her throbbing hand against her chest, slowly rocking back and forth.

He did not make a sound for what seemed like hours, save his breathing. She felt his blind eyes on her, but didn't dare look up. He would hear and know it. And she couldn't bear to face him.

"Mo'chere..." he began, and she let out a breath of air she hadn't realized she was holding.

"Oui, Gran'Papá?"

"... you were not much younger than Rodrick..."

Her head shot up. "But he left because he disagreed-"

"Be silent."

She swallowed, ducking her head again.

"You were not much younger than Rodrick when he left us." He lifted her chin with his fingertips. "But you have cost us much more.  A daughter, a son, a skilled protector of the Clan- and another just as promising... "

He smiled faintly. "Rodrick only cost us a blade and the hope of a child from you."

She blinked, shaking her head slightly in confusion. "What?"

He gave a dismissive wave of his hand, his tone matching.


"You were to be married. His father and yours were... good friends. And he sought a seat on the Tutélaire. Such a union would bring both families together and gain him a bit more rank."

She frowned, then shook her head. "I- did he know?"

"The boy? No. It wasn't relevant to either of you at the time." He paused. "And now it is even less relevant."

Chiané sucked in a deep breath. "You have not lost me. The Clan has not lost me, Gran'papá.  A-And I will find Papá-"

"No." He tightened his hand around the back of her neck. "No. You will not seek your father. If what you say is true, then... he will either return to us, or he will not. But... we will not lose you again."

She bit back a small cry of relief. "S-so I am not to be sent away?"

He paused, then sighed.

"I cannot fault you for being a frightened child, mo'chere. But the Consiel du Tutélaire will still want to hear of it. And your travels... and of this moon that is falling upon us." He paused.

"Then... we will convene and weigh your case."

She closed her eyes, ducking her head.  "Yes, Gran'papá."

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Chiané gazed at the Six, her back straight and face impassive.

She still wore the dark Garlean-cut robes, but she had pushed the hood back from her face. From beneath the long sleeves, her fists were clenched in an effort to be patient and show the proper respect.

Problem was- they weren't listening.


"So.." the youngest Tutélaire peered at her from just above his small round spectacles. "Let's review this again..."

"Why?" she murmured.

His ear twitched and his brow furrowed. "Why? Because we need to get to the root of this... this..." He looked around for support. Her grandfather sighed and rolled his eyes.

"I have already told you." She shifted her gaze to the Châtelain, ducking her head slightly.

"The surface-dweller issue is our issue as well. If a great moon strikes-"

The Elder laughed, causing her to shoot a glare back at him. "Truly child, a moon?!"

"Yes, a moon. Dalamud." She turned back to the Châtelain, ignoring the sniggering and derisive remarks whispered behind her amongst several of the Tutélaire. "The might of the Garlean Empire is profound. You know this..." She looked back at them, immediately silencing the words, though the mocking grins remained. "You all know this- it is what brought us here."

She paused. "But what you fail to understand is- the Empire that you knew, less than a decade ago... is not the same Empire anymore. It is larger, stronger... and so much more powerful than you can possibly imagine..."


"She only seeks to frighten us! My lord, please... She is just a woman-child- and likely a spy. You have all heard the stories..." his tone was infuriatingly condescending. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out.

She didn't even look at the one who'd spoken. Denying, or even acknowledging the accusation would be pointless.

They had already beat that dead chocobo past the point of resurrection.

"The fall of Dalamud was the catalyst that finally gave me my freedom. Why would I be let go, to find my Clan again... to- to try and warn you... or at least to have a chance to say good bye?"

"Why would you indeed, young one," a gravely voiced Tutélaire spoke up, his yellow eyes peering at her. "Why would any surfacer give a damn about a Duskwright girl- especially an Ala Mhigan...?"

"My... my... Petyr. Petyr helped me and... 'owned' me in the eyes of the government..." she grimaced, rushing on while trying to choose her words as carefully as possible. She shook her head, gesturing quickly. "But... it was a deception. He was... Was one of the Resistance. He did not want to see me trapped there if he were to fail. Did not want to see me conditioned and forced to serv-"

He raised his eyebrow, interrupting. "This Petyr... was not of the Blood?"

She met his gaze. "He was a Hyur. From the Highlands of Gyr Albania, though he was born in Ala Mhigo around forty years ago. And surfacer or not- he kept me safe and treated me as if I were his blood."



She turned back to the Châtelain. "The moon is not a terror tale. It is real and it is coming. All you have to do is leave the Tunnels and look up. Ask the chasseiur! They have to have noticed the red moon."

One of the Council frowned, looking slightly uneasy. "I have heard speak of a red star..."

"Oui! But it is no star- it is a moon. Ask the Advocat- surely they have been tracking its approach?" She looked to each of their faces.

"Hmph. Many Eras have spoke of close flying stars and moons, yet they did not spell destruction of Hydaelyn," a shrewd eyed Tutélaire lifted his fingers in dismissal.


She was losing her patience. "Do you not think... If it worries the Garleans, should it  also worry us?"

"Why should it? We are deep within Hydaelyn... The problems of the surface-"

She let out a tight sigh, interrupting him. "For the sake of the Twelve and all their spawnings! It is a MOON! Not some Ixal that forgot he can't fly. Not some airship out of Aether. Not a hundred of them all together!"


She looked quickly at her grandfather, his face tight and eyes dark. But she just turned back to the Châtelain, her cheeks nevertheless flushed at her outburst. "Forgive my disrespect... but if a moon should strike us, no one- not for malms and malms away and beneath the blast will be safe." She paused, shaking her head slightly, her voice soft and somewhat pleading.

"Surely you understand this?"


His stone grey eyes bored back into green ones, unblinking as he held her gaze. "It is fortunate you have returned..." he murmured in a deep voice. "Just in time to tell us of this impending catastrophe..."

Chiané felt a slight tingle race up her spine, a slight shift and awareness that set her heart to suddenly pick up its pace. She blinked, frowning as she broke his gaze uncertainly, her brow furrowed as she looked to each of the Elders, then finally the Oracle.

"Dreamer..." she whispered. "What do you see?"

The woman gazed at her with her clear pale blue eyes, then closed them. "Death. Suffering. Fire and destruction. Calamity- abated. Brilliant light."

She looked back at Chiané. "Your face."

She jerked, her brow furrowed as she took a step back. "What?"

The Tutélaire all stared at her. The Châtelain slowly rose. The Guerriére at the corners of the room began moving toward her.

"No! I came to warn-"

"Seize her."


The command from the Châtelain was low, soft, but had the impact of a thunderclap.

She spun and darted toward the exit. Hands grabbed at her, but she twisted and evaded. Tears threatened to blind her. Faces she'd once known, loved and trusted blurred into smears of color.

She felt hands grab her again, and this time, her feet were likewise swept from under her and she fell face down on the smooth rock floor.

"Bring her."

She was hauled up again and drug before the Châtelain before being pushed back to her knees.

"I'm not a spy... I'm true to the Clan! I swear it before Nymeria and Rhalgr and the entire Pantheon of Twelve." She grit her teeth, glaring up at them in furious frustration. She sighed, shaking her head once, her voice softening slightly. "I... I just want to find my father... and I want to come home..."

She closed her eyes. "Please."

She heard the whine of the blade as it was unsheathed, felt the whisper of coolness as it was placed into position.

"Chiané Arielle N'Ardenté, daught-"




She opened her eyes, gazing up at him. "Naevioux." She stated, her tone dull and soft. "If you truly wish to remove the taint from the Clan, use the name I have lived under for the past five years."

He narrowed his eyes. "You changed your name?"

She swallowed, nodding once firmly. "The name N'Ardenté had not touched my lips since I left here those years ago, until I inquired of it two suns ago with an ally in the caves to the west."

"Not even to your 'friend' Petyr?"

"No. He knew me as Chiané Naevioux."

She placed her palms on her thighs, kneeling before him as she studied his face, completely ignoring the Guerriére positioned at her side.

"I left here a foolish child. I survived the best way I could. I returned to the Clan as soon as I was able. I offer my skills.. and my knowledge of the enemy..." She paused, then looked to her grandfather.

"I have neither betrayed nor forgotten who I am." She looked back at the Châtelain.

"So, I die with my honor intact."

She reached up, grabbing the blade.

"And if my Clan knows me not anymore, I die honoring my own, and release them of the burden."


The Conseil du Tutélaire gasped just as the earth started to rumble and shake, knocking bodies back and forth across the Chamber. The sudden instability caused the blade to shift and slice deeply across her hand, then upper arm, but Chiané ignored the pain as she leapt up, immediately running for her grandfather.


"Chiané?" His thin arms flailed, unable to locate her in the noise and confusion. She grabbed his arm.

"Come with me- I'll get you safe."

"No.." he brushed her hand off. "I am a blind old man, mo'chere. Save those you can. Save yourself..."

"NO!" She grabbed both his arms, pulling him. "I'll not leave you!"

He effortlessly knocked her arms off again, his voice low and firm. "Yes. You will. Survive this. Remember N'Ardenté, Chiané. Now go."

She rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet, her hands grasping at air. "Gran'papá.."

But he didn't turn around, merely continued heading deeper down the tunnel until he was obscured in a cloud of dust and dirt.


A hand grabbed at her- a small child of five with wide, terrified eyes. Then a young woman, bleeding from a cut on her head. A boy, dressed in the garb of an Enrôlé ... More... more...

Passed her by, eyes full of confusion and horror.

"Follow me!" she suddenly yelled, swung the child onto her hip and began moving quickly toward the passage leading to the surface. Her arm was beginning to throb painfully, her grip difficult to maintain on the child.

She went to shift him to the other hip when another concussion rocked them. Great stones rained around her, screams of fear and suffering pierced past the deafening noise of a world falling apart. She spun around, trying to gain better footing as the child squirmed in terror...


A moment later, she was picking herself up off the floor, her vision blurry. She rubbed her face, blinking to focus in the dusty air and staggered forward. The cave was full of crying, moans and an odd keening; the floor soaked with blood. She scrambled up, the child she'd carried nowhere to be found. Bodies half crushed and broken littered the room.  Shifting shadows told her others lived and she rushed toward them- just as another blast knocked her off her feet and freed a deadly stalactite to come barreling toward her head.

She rolled quickly, falling into the small, icy lake and was submerged. Dull thuds and splashes surrounded her, muffled but painful with their concussive frequencies as the cave began to crumble.

She dove deeper searching for a small chamber with an air pocket, then closed her eyes and waited for the end.

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Chiané was shocked to find herself alive.

She lay half in and half out of the lake, the air around her still and dark. She could still smell disturbed earth and guano, ozone and water. She fumbled to get her bearings- but it was no use. The entire landscape of the cave was changed.

She followed the remains of the room around, stumbling over corpses, murmuring apologies and prayers, and trying to find an exit.

There was none.

She was trapped.


She closed her eyes, then opened them, her attention focused on the lake. The water had to enter from somewhere... she recalled feeling currents brush her skin, the edge lapping gently onto the rocks...

And something had pushed her out from the small air pocket chamber and back to the surface. She didn't remember anything past the encroaching black, the churning nausea and immense pain.

She had never expected to surface.

Yet here she was.

She sat down, resting her head between her knees as another surge of dizziness and nausea washed over her. Her right upper arm felt odd, heavy and swollen. She grimaced, placing her hand on it as she recalled the sword slash-

The let out a disgusted cry to feel several elongated, soft pulsing masses attached to the site. She tried to knock them off, fighting another round of nausea, but they were latched on.

She put her head back between her knees, taking in deep breaths. She knew the leeches would fall off as soon as they got their fill... and their mere presence told her the river did in fact lead out...

But that was the limit to her thankfulness.


Chiané felt the first one fall off within a few minutes, followed pretty quickly by the others. Her arm wept tendrils of blood and felt strangely tingly, but other than that, seemed in good order. She quickly felt around for more creatures that cared to feed off her, then let out a sigh of relief finding no more. After a quick bandage over the deep incision on her arm and shallow on her palm, she groped for her hip pack, feeling blindly inside for the few bits of tech she'd salvaged from Petyr's home before...

She pressed her palm to her eyes, feeling the strange disorientation and burning pain in her chest again. Before...

She sniffed, shaking it off as she slipped the aerobreather on to rest against her teeth, then dove in to the water.


It was dark, murky with the dust and dirt... and blood.

Lifeless bodies drifted past, arms and legs stroking her in their final caress. She pushed them aside, refusing to acknowledge who- or what- they were. She could not... not now.

She would grieve later. Speak words over them later.

The cave would be their eternal cairn.


She dove deeper, her breathing slow and even as the aerobreather broke the chemical bonds and changed the cool water into cool, if somewhat stale, air. She felt for the edges of the underwater cavern and tunnel, following the gentle urging of the current toward its source. After what seemed to be hours, she sensed a light, then more light. She fumbled, waving her hands forward into the murkiness, following the light now.

Several minutes later, she found the source... a small crevasse in the wall that was barely as big as her head.

She began grabbing and pulling at the rocks, seeking loose ones and kicking and hitting others to loosen them. Slowly but surely, the light grew and she managed to open the hole up just enough to wiggle through.


When she emerged, she was bloody, ragged and totally disoriented. She wasn't certain where the underground river had dropped her off- but she had to believe it was somewhere along the Velodyna. But nothing in the landscape looked anywhere close to familiar.

Chiané pulled the aerobreather out and sucked in a deep breath of fresh air, peering up at the sky.

The red giant was... gone... But the sky was a murky red-brown that shimmered oddly as the sun tried to shine through it. She took a step forward, scanning the landscape for any sign of life.

There was no one.


Not even a bird singing or the whine of insects.

Just water burbling over rocks, wind whipping through the trees... and a low, unearthly, throbbing that seemed to be heard in her bones as well as the lower frequency of discernible sound.


All that seemed left in the world was just one lone, barefoot Duskwright standing in dripping rags along the side of a rushing river.



[align=center]***{And thus ends the prestory}***[/align]



Hope those that read enjoyed, OOC comments/criticisms are appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

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