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What does not Kill...[Closed Archive|FIN]

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It was another boring day, spent in the heat of the desert in Thanalan. “How could the empire even want this shitty place,” said a Merc who was clearly getting drunk in the early afternoon. Of course, he didn’t say those exact words out loud in the Quicksand, that would simply be stupid. Instead, he kept the thoughts to himself the best he could, trying not to fall into another fitful rage.



Thankful to at least not be in heavy iron armor on this day, Merc did keep a small mask covering the top half of his face. While he didn’t care if anyone in Eorzea knew his face, there were….others who would. The mask would keep his identity hidden well enough to at least get through the town, should there be any spies sent after him. Of course, he knew the one person who would be keeping a constant watch, regardless of his actions. “She better not get my arse killed for this,” he muttered.



The small Lalafellin form outfitted in most of the Brass Blades uniform attire walked into the Quicksand as part of his patrol. Seeing only men and women getting drunk or chatting, he felt it was fine to stop for a moment. It wasn’t yet time for the usual bar fights that may occur. At least, to Kage’s eyes it appeared that no one looked that drunk just yet. Though it was particularly worrisome when he saw some patrons who were hooded or masked. The hidden dangers of not knowing what may be hidden or who they may be.





Kage noticed that Aya was not working yet so he took the turban off his head, sweat locking together some hair to his face. A quick swipe meant that at the very least it wasn’t as if he stepped outside into hot water. He turned to the barkeeper to ask for a glass of cold sweet water. He placed some gil on the counter and took the glass, drinking its contents quickly. Placing the empty glass in front of the barkeep, his eyes swept over the Quicksand once more before he resumed his patrol outside of Quicksand into Pearl Lane.



“Of course he’d end up here,” Merc thought to himself. “I can’t even get a good drink before that little shit shows up.” Downing what could only be considered one of too many mugs of ale, he slightly adjusted his mask and made his best attempt to stagger out of the Quicksand. “HEY!”, clearly yelling in Kage’s direction. “I think the two of us need to have a little ‘chat’.” He assumed the people around would think of him as dead-drunk, and would pay no mind, pleased with the acted staggering.




Kage made a growl of frustration. Really? Now? Of all times it had to be now. This Garlean was becoming a massive pain in Kage’s arse.



“You need to pick a new hobby, merc. Get out of Ul’dah and leave me be,” Kage spat. One hand gripped the scimitar hilt while another gripped one of the concoctions that Frhanz had given him. He stared down the masked man, gritting his teeth.



“Hey, hey! I’m not here to fight much,” as Merc dropped the staggering act and walked over. “Like I said, I want a conversation this time,” he said snickering. “Maybe I’ll even pretend to ‘behave’ and carry you over,” mocking Eorzean society.



Kage narrowed his eyes, loosening the grip on his scimitar but not letting go of the item Frhanz had given him. He looked around at the poor in Pearl Lane, before he gestured to one of the hallway chambers  leading to one of the various guilds in Ul’dah. “What do we have to talk about?”



Merc looked around the hallway a bit, checking to see if there are any people around or watching. Merc looked around a couple more times, making sure nobody was following. Judging that none of the people who get close cared, he turned his attention to Kage and promptly gave the Lalafell a heavy kick. “Day wouldn’t be complete without that,” he almost smiled at the pain caused by his kick onto the smaller figure.


“GARGH!” Kage yelped out in pain and anger. “What is wrong with you, you twelve-damned piece of scummer?!”  Kage threw the flashy concoction that Frhanz had given him, using his turban to shield his eyes briefly from the light. He unsheathed the scimitar, wielding it unsteadily. He missed his straight sword and the scimitar was a blade he did not spend much time with when he had been training on his swordsmanship. He regretted that now.


“What’s wrong with me? A lot,” Merc said as he saw Kage reach for the concoction, not knowing what it is, or what it could be used for. By the time he saw Kage throw the thing and cover the lalafell’s eyes, it was too late. The bright flash blasts Merc and stuns him a temporary blindness. “You see, wouldn’t you ‘miss’ these wonderful little encounters if one of us were to disappear?”



Merc went back to the “conversation” trying to hear a response out of Kage. Somehow, he managed to keep a steady control on the aether device, almost intuitively keeping it from drawing too much from the surrounding area.



“I would prefer not having any more of these conversations, really.” An eyebrow twitched. What would it take to phase this man? Really? Kage didn’t want to use the other concoction that was given to him. After all, Frhanz had said that it would be quite… well he didn’t want to use it. Not here. Not now.



“Why don’t you go back to the Empire’s lands, leave me and mine in Ul’dah alone?” Kage gripped the scimitar tightly, his other arm reaching out for his shield.



“Where’d the fun be in that?” As Merc blinked a few times, trying to regain sight again. After a few times, he could make out enough outlines to see the obviously uncomfortable and ready for battle Lalafell holding some new weapon. “You know, that back cut bloody hurt. Maybe I’ll give it back.” He was started to get riled up. Probably not the best thing, given how collected he had been. He knew if things go too heated, being inside a city would be a bad idea, whether because of an aether-drain near an aetherite, or from an aether-release that might overload the aethernet he knew better than to try.



He figured Kage would try to make another attack. Merc was treating this like a game. He stood by, waiting for a good reaction.



Kage snarled, “You can just try it.”





The lalafell was having none of it. He hated being in this position but he wasn’t Sultansworn. Not anymore. He didn’t have any pull within the Brass Blades, in fact he was pretty sure he was on the shit list within the organization.





“Leave Ul’dah and leave me be. Or attack me. Choose already,” Kage spat once more.



Merc simply smirked at Kage, there was a glimmer of regret in his eyes, “I don’t get to go home. And this….is boring. Don’t think this will be the last time.” Merc simply turned around, made sure his mask was on, and walked away. “Let’s have a real ‘conversation’ next time.” He simply walked away, expecting to get something out. He was almost hoping to get attacked from behind. Anything. She had told him to keep Kage alive, and he didn’t want to upset her. She probably could hear the whole thing anyways.


Kage narrowed his eyes at the fleeting back. He wanted to make sure that the man wouldn’t cause trouble within the city. For himself? Hopefully Kage could just handle that. He didn’t want this man to continue to cause problems but it wasn’t like him to attack anyone. He still had the concoction that Frhanz gave him after all. Perhaps it would work on the man. Perhaps he’d never need to use it.

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Kage gripped the scimitar hilt with one hand, the other hand resting slightly off to the side. He was tired of the sneers and the snark he received from the other Brass Blades while he worked patrols. There hadn’t been any direct orders from Natalie about where so he’d been patrolling the streets, sometimes watching an entrance of Quicksand and sometimes he would keep watch outside of the Aetheryte Plaza.





He was soon to finish his patrol, heading towards the Plaza itself. It was a little exhausting. This job.



“Just on time, as usual” thought Merc. She had only just left and there was Kage, walking in fairly clueless. Merc took off his mask, and a couple of the more obvious layers of clothes he typically wore. In terms of fashion, the Highlander-style seemed to fit his size best. With just a cotton shirt, some pants and shoes, he judged he’d look different enough to not catch the notice of the Lalafell. He only needed to not speak. Merc got up from the bench and shifted into the crowds around the aetherite. He wouldn’t get noticed this time.



Kage took off his turban, giving polite smiles and not receiving any such in return. He swallowed in his throat, forcing himself to not become downtrodden over it. He didn’t notice anything amiss as he briefly shook his sweat logged hair. He wiped his forehead with one hand and drinking some water from a waterskin. He put the skin back into his pack as he started to attempt to use the aetheryte to send him to Eastern Thanalan.



It wasn’t even difficult. In a quick motion, Merc easily found Kage, and watching him focus on what he could only imagine to be some use of the aetherite for something, gave his a good hit. It would be sufficient to knock Kage out without dealing any lasting damage. Merc had expected someone to notice, but through all the hustle and bustle of the plaza, most of the people were too focused on their own tasks. Merc simply discarded the brass blade uniform to the side, knowing if he tried to walk out of the plaza with Kage still wearing it, someone would eventually stop him. With Kage dressed in what he had under, it’d simply appear like a man was carrying his friend who’d fallen asleep, or maybe just passed out for aether-sickness, whatever that was.


During the walk to Crescent Cove, Merc did slightly envy the Eorzeans who could have simply used an Aetherite for faster transport. He supposed he could have as well……, but given the circumstances and what had happened last time, he figured he probably shouldn’t. Upon arriving, it wasn’t too difficult for him to find her. Not many people could really fit her description, despite the fact that she could easily blend into a crowd and never be suspected. He envied her for that.

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Kage groaned as he woke up in the unfamiliar building. His neck and hurt pounded with pain. He had been headed home after morning patrol and then… and then what? Why couldn’t he remember? This was not home. Where was he? And why was it so cold and… why did it smell so much like fish? He held a hand to his nose to try and pinch it closed before he looked at it. Did… did his hand get swollen? Why was it bigger than the usual? Why did things sound so… odd?


He clapped a hand to his head before pausing. Was that… wait. Kage started to frantically pat his hands over his head as he looked down at himself. What… what in the Twelve’s name was going on? He had -ears- and they weren’t the ones he was used too. They were furry ears. His ass twitched and something soft touched his legs. He turned his head and saw it. Yes, it was a tail. He… had he really. This must be a horrible, horrible dream. He must be dreaming.


Kage could not have just suddenly become a Miqo’te. Right? As his ears twitched he widened his eyes as he pressed a finger to it, wincing as he hit his head first before actually pressing his pearl.


“Natalie? Roen? Are you there? Is anyone there? Help! Please!”


The response was just one. Natalie and Roen must have not been awake or able to hear their pearls. Aldyet. Ald!


“I don’t know where I am but I need your help Ald. I’ve got no clothes and am practically naked. But… but I’m not sure… It smells a lot like fish here. It’s got a dock. I believe I’m in Crescent Cove.”


Ald came to him. He didn’t believe it. She didn’t believe it. But it was true, he was taller. He had the furry ears and a tail. He could… he could see his reflection in the water near the docks. He was a Miqo’te.


How did this happen? What was he going to do? Could he do anything at all?

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Cuts, bruises and dirt. Blood, sweat and tears. No sleep. No rest. Barely any sleep. All of it was fueled by three thoughts. Tribe. Liability. Pride.


Tribe. Kage was the… the nunh? He still didn’t understand this. But he was the one in charge of protecting and leading the tribe. His family. He wanted, needed, to keep them safe. Protected. Able to thrive.


Liability. The Brass Blades won’t let up. Natalie could only hold them for so long before it looked bad on her that Kage hadn’t been on a caravan run. That he had only been on patrols. He had never taken a bribe yet. Or extorted any gil from anyone he encountered. If he couldn’t even stand his ground, what good was he?


Pride. With a yowl to the empty desert Kage let out all his frustration. His anger. His sadness. Of course his parents would not want him. His mother had already been upset when he told her his plans and then about his actual swearing. She hadn’t returned any of his missives. Neither had his father, nor had his older brother or his younger sister. In fact, as soon as he had told them that he had completed the trials the only thing he ever got was a sack of gil and a one word note that said “Congratulations”.


Kage had left Ul’dah as soon as he and Natalie parted ways. Ald was in Limsa. Shifu and Frie must have been in Lavender Beds. Roen was in Ul’dah. He needed to make sure he could at least use a sword and stand his ground before he was thrown to the wolves or he’d be eaten like an aldgoat by starving animals. But first, he wanted to see his family. To tell them in…. person about the changes in his life. The inability to use thaumaturgy without it backfiring or hurting him.


It did not go well. Upon arrival to the family estate he had been escorted out and surrounded by the guards. His mother had screamed obscenities at him. His father had just watched him with a small frown on his face. His older brother took one look at him and shook his head. His sister could not even look him in the eyes. His baby sister. He had given her her first alembic. He had thought that of all of his family, that she would care. In his desperation he had tried all he could to cast an ice spell or a fire one. It had only ended with his hands burnt. In the end of it all his mother had a guard approach with a chest. His chest. The one given to a youngster when they first picked up a goldsmiths’ hammer or a staff. It was meant to signify their place and value to the family. He watched as she burned off the family emblem with a bust of her own aether. His mother took a long look at him before pursing her lips and releasing them with a sound of annoyance. One of the guards took him by his arm as another came back with a large sack. He placed it in the chest as his family stared at him.


‘This is what would be your inheritance should you have been what was expected. You’re useless. You can’t even hold a sword without hurting yourself. You chose that path over thaumaturgy. Now take it. Never come here again. Never show yourself to me or your father again. You are not our son.’


Kage blinked back tears as the guard released him and they returned to the estate without another glance or look. He cradled his hands a bit as he shuffled forward to retrieve the chest. It slipped in his pained, loose grasp and something fell out. He picked it up gingerly, his hands stinging with pain. It was burn ointment. Kage clenched his eyes for a few seconds before he took one last glance at the estate before leaving. There was nothing for him.


His tribe was his family. Natalie was his family. Roen was his family. He could not and would not let them go. With a fierce determined look in his eyes, Kage returned once more to the motions of his labors. He would not rest until Natalie called him. He would be able to hold himself up without being a liability. He had to. There was no other option. Even if he had to continue with the pain of cutting himself with his sword every so often. He was seeing the results. The threat of killing himself or failing his family hung over him as a large motivator.

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Kage clenched the vial in his hand, staring out into the desert. He’d moved away from where he had first trained and away from the populated areas. He hadn’t slept in a few days, even when he sulked and returned to Ul’dah for a bit. He tipped the opening of the vial to his lips and knocked his head back as he upended the contents into his mouth and swallowed quickly.



The lalafell turned Miqo’te thought back to what Kayah and his friend had said. Something needed to change. It wasn’t just his physical prowess or difficulties in this new form that was holding him back.



Kage needed to accept that he’d been changed. How could he even desire to protect his family if he couldn’t even face them? How could he when he always thought of his faults or failures, perceived or real?



The now-Miqo’te took the sharp edged rock he’d seen and started to whittle away at it with the small hunting knife he had brought with him. He’d left his other equipment in a camp closer to Ul’dah. He leaned his back against a rock as he started to work on assembling together a makeshift hunting spear.



At a sound behind him he growled, furrowing his brow as he stood up and turned around. The sight of what had caused the noise left him gaping.



“Natalie? Shifu? Roen?”



None of the women that he called family gave him a response. Natalie was as beautiful as ever. Strong and poised, but gentle in her own way that he saw in her. She smiled at him as Shifu gave him her teasing grin. Her green eyes sparkled as her blue hair moved slightly in the gentle breeze of the desert wind. She smirked as he turned to Roen. A mentor turned friend. A sworn sister. One Kage would say was even stronger than just a sworn sister but one he believes to be his own sister in all but blood. Roen was the woman in his family that Kage would call his older sister if he would have had one… and if she was actually older than he. Which she wasn’t. She gave him that gentle smile that he so missed seeing on her lips. They did not speak otherwise.



Kage closed his eyes but they snapped back open at the sound of a dull roar. He found Roen lying on her side. “Roen!” He scurried forward and stopped seeing a flash of red and blue. Shifu lay on her belly, a large red gash on her back. “Shifu?!”



He tripped over himself as another dull roar hit his senses. A flash of brown and green. Natalie! “Nat! Natalie oh by the twelve what is-” His eyes were drawn to the wound on her chest and her unseeing eyes.


“Natalie? NATALIE!” He yowled in desperation. His throat dried up instantly as he felt everything and nothing at the same time. The dull roar in his ears just seemed to get louder and yet quieter at the same time. He fell to his knees beside her.


“No… No… I can’t. I can’t lose you Natalie I can’t.”



What was happening? Kage did not know. It was going all too fast for him. “I love you Natalie. I can’t lose you. I can’t lose you.”



His mind flashed to Shifu. To Roen. “I love all of you. I won’t lose you. I’ll do anything. Everything.”



Another roar and they were gone. All that was left was a tall hooded figure. It bore an axe in its hands as it towered over him. A Roegadyn? A Highlander? Red was splashed along its hood and he small the trace of a smirk on uncovered lips.






Kage threw the spear he had fashioned but he missed his mark as it flew wide. He fumbled for his hunting knife as he  pounced onto the figure and knocking it onto its back. He was kicked off easily and he scrambled to his feet. He poised himself before rushing in again close, taking a hit to his forearm as he grunted. He slid the hunting knife into the figure’s chest and pulled himself away.



He wouldn’t have done that before. He had let his subconscious take over, not thinking about how he would defend and then attack. He’d just attacked, getting in close and attacking with a fervor he hadn’t used before. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before panting at the activity. When he opened his eyes, the figure was gone. His family were gone as before. All that was left was an aldgoat. He had killed an aldgoat. He gave a small chuckle, wiping crusted tears off his cheeks.


Kage thought about it and gave a small smile. He hadn’t thought about what may or may not happen in the fight because of his issues. He had only thought of using what he could to down them. Doing everything he could for Natalie. For Roen. For Shifu. At that, Natalie reappeared and smiled before disappearing again. He stood, taller than he had ever before.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As he walked through parts of Peal Lane, the Unnamed Mercenary made sure to avoid walking anywhere near the Quicksand. Not only did he not want to deal with any of the mess he's made his last "visit", but he didn't want to run in to either the of the women related to the same incident. 

Checking the local bulletin boards for any work, nothing looked very good. Feeling frustrated at both the lack of things to do, and his own lack of gil, he let out a shout.



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A low growl was heard as Kage stopped from where he was. He narrowed his eyes and headed in the direction from whence the shout came from. He thought he might recognize the voice. He stalked forward, fists clenched with his form crouched. Seeing the origin of the shout he growled once more, "What do you want? Ye twelve damned merc?"

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He turned to face the person he was looking for. "Was that part not clear?" Were it not for the mask he had today covering his entire face, his grin would've covered his entire face. The thought that he had, at least in some part, helped to shatter the had-been-Lalafell's life was as entertaining as ever.


Treating the encounter almost like it was supposed to be friendly, he walked up to Kage. "Hey there little guy. I could really use a good punch right about now, what'dya say?" He didn't have to worry about someone else provoking him into a fury like this. The mere sight of Kage was enough to make his blood surge.


Merc had purposely come without a weapon again. Fighting with fists had been a lot more entertaining than swinging an ax back and forth lately. He'd wait to see if today would be the day that Kage took initiative.

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Kage snarled, leaping forward. "I don't have time for this shite ye twelve damned mercenary!"


He swung his right arm into a hook at the highlander's head followed with a left uppercut before he just charged and jumped onto him.

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The Unnamed Mercenary barely had time to blink before the first of Kage's attacks him square in the face. Then another one hit him. Where most people would probably have ran away in pain, the mercenary just stood there. Laughing.


"So you /can/ hit first!" The Unnamed Mercenary couldn't have been enjoying this more. The previous fight he'd been in was boring compared to when Kage would try to hit him. He was enjoying every hit while the Miqo'te was probably not.


After a few more hits to himself, the mercenary sent a punch of his own towards Kage. "Can't let you have all the fun". The force would be enough to send him flying if it hit.

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The Miqo'te flew in the air, crumpling as his back hit a nearby wall. Kage quickly got to a crouched form, his canines showing as he growled. He leaped into the air straight for the Hyur's knees. It didn't matter if Kage was able to knock the man to the floor onto his back. As soon as he got to him, the Miqo'te started to swing his arms once more. Raining blow upon blow. They were all aimed haphazardly at the head and neck of the other.



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Between the barrage of incoming hits, the mercenary was getting beat. It'd been a while since he could feel the pain of battle, and he missed it. He didn't really know why he felt like he missed this sensation, but it was likely from a piece of the past he'd lost. But these thoughts were better off being pushed aside for now.


When he had a moment of opportunity, he threw the possibly enraged Kage off himself. "Leave you alone? Why? Can you honestly say this isn't the least bit exciting?" He was keeping a clear head, the aether-device within him wasn't out of control. /This/ was exactly what he had wanted.


Closing the distance between them again, to get another punch in, he leaned in to Kage. "Don't forget you have me to thank for being able to land a hit now". He was waiting to see the reactions. How much more could Kage handle before he'd lose himself to rage? Would he understand Merc's suffering in this strange land? This feeling of not belonging? Or would he, like Merc had before, lose himself to bitter rage?


It hadn't even occurred to the mercenary that his mask had been knocked off from the last hit Kage had sent to his face, which was now partially bruised and scratched. The Garlean eye, just barely hidden from an old glamour spell a person had put on it.

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"I don't find being harassed particularly exciting, no! Nor do I find it exciting to always have to fight!"


His head knocked back from the blows he received in retaliation but Kage honestly did not care. He either was too blinded by it or his new body was fueling it. It did not matter.


He knocked his arm back, about to hit the mercenary in the face once more before he stopped. He narrowed his eyes and with a feral growl he asked him, "What are you talking about? Thanking you?"

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The Garlean man just merely laughed. "Were you not the first to attack this time?" He still hadn't noticed his face had been revealed. The fight was much too exciting.


Focused more on the conversation than anything else, he opted to deflect or dodge any incoming attacks. When he was a lalafell, Kage would never have acted this way. He would've instead tried to cower behind a spell or would have been on the defensive. This new Kage that Merc had gotten back seemed more...hateful. More duty-bound. More...unleashed. It had occured to the mercenary that Kage had trained to some extent to acclimate to his new size. Some of the hits seemed a little off, but Kage would surely train harder because of it. The whole thing was honestly entertaining for the man.


"You can't honestly believe you woke up a miqo'te on your own can you?" "One might say it was a gift. From one person to another. You just happened to be the right medium for everything." He wouldn't say any more of this. A certain hyuran women would probably end his life if he said anything else on the matter.


How would Kage react? Would he keep fighting? Would he despair? The Garlean mercenary didn't even care about the fight anymore.

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You're responsible for this?!" Kage howled.


"I can't use my aether anymore. I had to train to get into even a competent chance of fighting and you say it's a gift?!"


His chest suppressed the low growl of anger welling inside. "I've lost so many of those I held dear. Some believe I'm an imposter. And you think I want to thank you?!"

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It took him a while to realize that Kage had taken his words literally. Perhaps he wasn't quite as fluent in the Eorzean language as he thought. "I never said it was a gift to you", he managed to say. Owning up to at least having a part in the whole transformation, the man calmly said "Of course I had something to do with it though."


Any moment now. Perhaps even in just a bell or two, Kage was surely going to snap. How could he not? The Unnamed Mercenary just had to hold on a little longer. "We've all lost people, boy. At least /you/ can remember them!" His tone took on a form that was almost sad, regretful. Kage would probably be too enraged to really judge anyways. It was better that way. At least, that's how the man had decided things should be. It all made sense somewhere.


It was at that moment he spied his mask on the ground. "Huh. Wonder when that came off..." He wondered for a moment what the ramifications of his recent actions would be, then went back to the more pressing matters, like Kage.

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Kage scoffed, eyes flashing with rage and unmitigated fury. His fists reared back before flying into the air, aimed once more at the mercenary's head. He tried to knock the man back as he eyed the exposed features.




Kage held onto the man's tabard, glaring up at him.

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"Why what?"


There was no remorse in face whatsoever, but the same could be said for malice. 


The mercenary had never given any of his recent actions a second thought. Aside from that one run-in at the Quicksand, Kage was the only reason every day wasn't exactly the same. 


And probably the only reasonable explanation for the man not having not gone insane.

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Kage's hands trembled in rage and fury as he held the tabard fabric in his fists. His eyes were stormy as he glared up at him.


"Why me. Why do you keep going after me? Why did you do this to me?!"


Pushing the man away as he released the shirt he held, Kage breathed in and out heavily. His breathing was ragged as he tried to search for the answers he asked for in the man's eyes.

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The mercenary had to actually stop and think for a moment at Kage's questions. Why did he care so much? All he could remember from their first encounter during the kidnapping was an endless amount of rage, but it wasn't as if the then-lalafell had been responsible for any of it. He just happened to be there, and happened to be the other person the mercenary remembered from that day. At least, the only one whose face was visible.


"Well, it started off as some revenge. But I can't quite put it there anymore. It's less....malicious...."


He realized just how hard Kage had been hitting him, sitting down on the road. He was tired. Exhausted. Worn-out from the repeated attacks. It wasn't so much a bad feeling as he just couldn't keep it up any longer. 


As he tried to find the right words to use, his vision went blurry, and began to darken. He was losing consciousness. He supposed he'd probably wake up back there on the road, or in a jail cell. All he knew was he didn't want to be at the lab again.


As the Unnamed Mercenary passed out on the road, he was greeted by an image that seemed both familiar, but far away at the same time.

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Kage slumped, blinking down at the man's unconscious form. He rubbed his face with one hand staring down at the man who has caused him such grief since he encountered him.


Really, what was with this mercenary? Revenge? The mercenary was paid to hold Mergrey's sister and Kage had been tasked with freeing her so that the sister couldn't be held to leverage the bomber. Revenge? For what? The mercenary even gave Kage a beating.


Pinching his brows, Kage gave a deep exhale. He looked about Pearl Lane and shook his head. He lifted the man's arm and started to slowly drag the man into the Quicksand. Telling the innkeeper that the man fell unconscious drunk outside, Kage paid for the night and left the man in the inn room.


He had other things to worry about.

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The Miqo'te paced. Over and over he paced.


"I love you."


The words were said prematurely. Kage was sure Natalie was ready to die. In fact... he was sure that she was still ready to die.


"Tired? Of what? Of living?"




Tears slipped down Kage's face as he remembered the events. Seeing Roen as she was. The utter looks of contempt and hatred everyone had. Hatred for someone who did all she could think of for one she wanted to protect and love. He knew the troubles best intentions had. Was it not Kage who had ended up being the catalyst for Roen's confession? The confrontation within the Night Blades' Headquarters?


And yet everyone wanted to condemn her. Condemn Natalie. Not the ones who actually did... whatever was done to Roen and Mergrey. Natalie had never placed an armed bomb within Ul'dah. Natalie had never killed multiple Ala Mhigan Resistance fighters. Well, just the one that had shot an arrow into Roen... In fact, Kage had killed more people than Natalie. Kage had killed the Blades in the underground tunnel leading to Gharen's prison, for fear that Taeros would rain retribution among all of them. Natalie, Roen, Gharen, Melkire.. 


He grit his teeth as he stared down at his hands, remembering the copper smell of blood. He closed his eyes.


"You witnessed it... I want her to hang... I want reform... I need Roen."


The cool stone basin did nothing to clear the warmth that weighed him down. 


Who did he have but just Natalie?


"Tired? Of what? Of living?" "Maybe" They echoed inside his head.


Perhaps Ul'dah was turning him into what he had thought he never would. The machinations... the backstabbing... the politics. No wonder Natalie was tired of it. No wonder Natalie had said those words. Roen didn't deserve a life in Ul'dah and was not her new family in Limsa? She was better off this way.


But now, what could they do? Natalie seemed resigned. It wrecked him. It wrecked Kage to think of it. Natalie seemed so fatigued and she was so willingly... so willing to die even after Roen was... safe. After Roen was away from Crim.


But who? Who now? Who could they use?






Jameson Taeros.


Now that it was only Natalie... Anything. Everything. For Natalie.


Even if it is that stupid fop.

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What used to be a tidy room was now in disarray. Discarded mugs of what used to be filled with ale were strewn about. A chair upturned with its legs in the air, one of them even broken.


In the middle of it all stood a trembling and shaking Miqo'te. Kage was wracking his mind as to what he could offer Jameson Taeros. He had no idea of what his motivations were. What did he actually want when he helped maneuver them into being suspended from the Sultansworn to being a Brass Blade. What did Miss Banurein have to do with any of it if anything really at all? Was Melkire just playing Kage for a fool, set on hanging Natalie?


A low growl emanated from his chest as he remembered.


"...I want her to hang..."


If Melkire thought that Kage would let that happen than the man was sorely mistaken.


"Tired? Of what? Of living?" "Maybe."


If Natalie thought he would let her just die or waste away, he wouldn't let that happen. He'd take her far away from Ul'dah before that happened. Now that Roen was free from the oppressive Ul'dahn environment and it was just the two Miqo'te, Kage would not let anyone take Natalie away. Not Melkire. Not Taeros. No one.


Anything. Everything.

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Kage smiled bitterly once he was in the room, alone. He had not needed to use his placement in the Brass Blades to gain access to it, just as Natalie had said but Momodi remembered him. Remembered his small amount of grief the one night when he had waited for Roen in celebration of their triumphs in the trials.


He closed his eyes as tears dropped. He could not regret the actions today but only felt heartbreak. Roen would be free. Free from the corruption of the Brass Blades. Free from the crushing taint of Ul'dah. It never deserved someone as kind and gentle as Roen Deneith. With this, she was free. Hopefully she would never have to deal with the likes of Jameson Taeros ever again.


He gathered her personal items. She was out on patrol after all when she was taken. Her sword, the beautiful dress she wore to the Ball when she had not stood at the Sultana's side. Her clothes. Each one he took and placed gently in the sack he had brought to deliver Roen's things. He paused as he started to bundle everything together. He reached to grab an item that he had kept on his person ever since his transfer and demotion to the Brass Blades.


A white feathered woolen beret.


Tears fell down his face as his hands trembled while he lay it inside. He rubbed his face against his sleeve before he tidied the sack and readied it.


Perhaps she would understand. Perhaps not. But he would always remember. He couldn't regret this. It would be an insult to how much he cared for Roen and wanted her out of this imprisoned life that she did not deserve. Anything. Everything. It still did and always would apply to Roen.


But she had the support and love that Natalie would not have otherwise and Kage couldn't lose them both. Not both of them.

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((Aftermath of recent events, Nat and Kage speaking of what comes next. If you don't actually know what happened, it will be interesting foreshadowing at least. Or wait... postshadowing?!? Who knows.))


Natalie found Kage in the Quicksand, speaking to a large tanned highlander, a look of supreme sorrow flitting across his features. She waited a moment before clearing her throat and speaking. "Kage."


“Natalie.” He said softly then nods and whispers to the highlander, "Thank you sir." He turns to Natalie and tilts his head, "Want to go for a drink at the bar upstairs?"


"I do..." she shakes her head, "But let's skip the alcohol tonight."


He nods and they make their way towards the elevator, riding it to the top of the city. The two look at each other nervously as if each is afraid to speak first, the only noise the mechanical whirr of the device. The elevator stops and they head for the small bar which serves the small but constant trickle of airship traffic in the city. She speaks to the bartender, returning with two steaming mugs of coffee. “Here, for you.”


He takes one of the mugs from Natalie, "Thanks."


She sits and cradles the mug in her hands, blowing softly on it, "It's all a mess, isn't it." Raising her eyes she gives him a wry look.


Kage holds his own mug and slowly rubs a finger around the cup lip. Sighing, bitterly, "I made it worse."


She smirks and sips at the steaming brew, "Somehow I doubt that's possible."


He laughs bitterly, shaking his head, "What does talking to Taeros -and- Commander Swift about the events of Wolfsong's freeing sound? Osric Melkire wants -you- to -hang- Natalie. I couldn't just let that happen. I -can't-." He speaks quickly, his words tumbling over themselves.


She blinks, "You... you told them we freed Gharen...? Kage..." she simply stares at him for a moment, "What did those people die for then?"


He blinks tears out of his eyes, "Melkire reported their deaths Natalie. Of course I found this out when I went to Swift... but they know. They already know."


Natalie puts her cup down and just stares at the ceiling for a long while. "Why did those people die kage..." she says softly.


He continues desperately, "Natalie, I've tried to keep your involvement out of it. I told Swift you were there but only as a witness. I did it." He starts weeping, whispering, "I did it." He watches Natalie close her eyes, "Would you have wanted Taeros to know we did it? I'm a fool. He knows now. I talked to him... to try and gain favor from him. I DON'T WANT TO SEE OSRIC MELKIRE HANG YOU!" He slams his fist against the table, sobbing. "What's happened to me?"


She shakes shakes her head, "I don't know what's happening to any of us Kage. I'm not sure what I'm doing anymore..." She exhales deeply, "Roen's out of their clutches... it's time to end this."


"I know I don't. I feel like I'll be drowned in my own blood. Soon." He takes in a deep breath, "As long as Roen is out of Ul'dah, she is better for it." He stares at Natalie, whispering, "I'd do anything to get you out of this."


She finally takes her gaze off of the ceiling and meets his eyes, "What if I don't want to get out of this?” Taking a deep breath, "I'm not going to fight this."


Kage furrows his brows, "What are you saying Natalie? Fight who? Taeros? Melire? All of them?" He tries to clear his throat, clenching a fist before closing his eyes.


She shakes her head, "Any of them." She looks down at her coffee before taking a sip. "I'm tired Kage. I'm tired of dancing to someone else's tune, and for what? Just so I can make it through another day, a little worse of a person I was the day before?"


He blinks tears away before nodding. "You're right."


She gets up and walks over, embracing kage, "It's ok..." as she nuzzles against his neck, "I know you've been fighting hard, but it's ok."


He leans his head against hers, "You're right. I've... I've faltered, Natalie." He starts to weep once more. Wiping his eyes with one hand before sighing, "... I won't fight it. I'm tired of this. I'm tired of the politics."


She shakes her head, kissing his tears, "No... you never faltered. She smiles bitterly, "I did."


Kage holds her face with both of his hands, cradling it gently. "I don't think you did, but if you have. I'm right here with you. We'll pick ourselves up."


She brushes off his hands gently, "No... Kage, I'm not going to let you take the fall for this. It was all my fault. I planned it, and I saw it carried out. Smiling softly and rubbing his cheek, "All you did was try to help me fix it."


He shakes his head, "I can't let you do this by yourself Natalie. Besides," he gives a wry smile, "I told you didn't I? I made a mess of it with Taeros and Swift."

She nods, "If you did, again, it was only because you tried to help me." she kisses his forehead, "I'll clean up my own mess Kage." she smiles and adjusts his beret, "You just need to figure out what you're going to do..." her smile flickers for a moment, "...after."


Kage closes his eyes, "Natalie... Natalie I love you. I can't... I can't lose you." He bites his lip drawing blood before exhaling, "But I won't... I won't stop you."


Natalie leans down, kissing him on the lips this time, "Thank you Kage. For everything."


Kage shakes his head before reaching up to cradle her face gently once more before pulling her into a deep, one would call it desperate, kiss. "Always."


Natalie closes her eyes and lingers for a moment. She pulls back slowly, "Well..." giving him a forced grin, "I have some people to talk to."


He returns her wry smile, definitely not reaching his eyes. "Always Natalie. Always."


She steps back slowly, "See you around Kage” and walks towards the elevator.

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