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Shattered Dreams of the Heart [closed]

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(( This is the story of Coatleque's past. Where she came from, what happened to her, how and why she has grown into the Knight she is today. Parts of this story will contain adult situations. ))




The northern lands, Gyn Abania. The choking point, and last holdout that kept the Garlean's from sweeping through Eorzea. It was here that the militant state of Ala'Mhigo had ruled. For years they fended off the repeated incursions of the Empire, but each victory had also carried its own loses. It was only a matter of time, really. While the Empire was fighting its slow battle of attrition, Ala'Mhigo was fighting one of survival. As the nation wore down, trade began to crumble. Outlying villages were abandoned or forgotten entirely. It was no surprise then, that the remote fishing warf at the southern tip of the nation had gone un-harassed by the Empire. Nestled at the foot of the hills along the Rothlyt Sound, they were close enough to the Shroud that the armies would keep their distance to avoid raising suspicions in the neighboring City State.


The people were vaguely aware that their sovereignty had changed. They knew they were part of some kind of empire now, but nobody really cared. There was little traffic at this point, and the inhabitants eked out their meager existence along the coast as peaceful as they could. No more than eighty people lived there now. It was quiet, picturesque even. And it was into this setting that was born Florence Fishbane, first daughter and second child of the Warf Master.


She had the typical childhood one would expect growing up in these surroundings. While she was young she would trail her mother around the house, mimicking her movements while playing with her rag doll. Or she would spend her time along the dunes by herself playing with the wild Primrose flowers. That is until that boy Johnathan Long-grain came to terrorize her. The Miller's boy, he'd tease her and kick sand in her hair or steal her doll till she chased him around the village to get it back. When she reached her eighth year her real chores began. Helping with cooking, cleaning, ... gutting her father's catch for the day. It was that one task in particular which left her with a strong distaste for fish.


Isolation brings forth bonds of closeness sometimes out of necessity. As the time passed slowly and the two came of age, John's teasing changed. The running through town turned from a 'give it back' to a 'take me with' sort of game. And then he made her the ring. A silly bit of sentimentality. Carved from a simple shell found on the beach, it was white and pink with flecks of pearl-like flakes. Utterly worthless to any serious appraisal, and yet to her a priceless jewel.


Only a fool could not see what was going on. Lucky for them their parents were not. The announcement came to the village on the First Sun of the Second Astral Moon, Fifteen-hundred and seventy two. The arrangement of Florence Fishbane to be given to John Long-grain. There was celebration of course, as there always was at such news. Even the lesser moon seemed to rejoice in the sky as its appearance had grown larger as of late. As the sun set that night the young woman couldn't help but think, Menphina had blessed her with the perfect life. Friends, family, love... nothing could possibly go wrong.

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A few months later...


The early evening breeze glided over the coast sending the black willows into a rustle that almost rivaled the sound of the ocean. It was just another autumn evening along the beach. Dalamund hung low in the horizon now and the days had been forever overcast lately. The clouds appeared to swirl around the hound as it hovered menacingly in the distance.


John Long-grain stood leaning against the split-rail fence that ran along the top of the dunes. He just stared at the distant sky. It's what most people had taken to doing these days. Of course rumors were flying around in packs thicker than gulls now. No doubt something big was about to happen, but that sort of business had no bearing in these parts. Lost in his own thoughts now, he barely noticed the girl prancing up to him along the fence.


She quickly wrapped her arms around him and slid herself under his own arm. He looked down at her with a smile.

"'ello future missus Long-grain. Shirk'n chores again, Flo?"

"Pa 'kin clean his own catch now. 'Sides, I won't be his much longer!"

"'N thank the Twelve fer that! You better not give me as much grief as 'im though.", he quipped playfully.

"*tsk* John!" she chided with the same tome as she pressed herself against him.


They stood there for a few more minutes in silence till she spoke up once more.

"What'l you think will happen?"

He inhaled slowly but did not sigh.

"I don't rightly know. But whatever it is, we'll come out together."

She squeezed him at this response. Her dreams had been troubled as of late, though she would not admit it. She wanted to believe him. He seemed to believe his own words though, and perhaps that would be enough.




The next hour was spent with their backs against the sand, laying there dreaming of their coming future together. They watched as the clouds continued to grow thicker. "S'pose we should turn in b'fore it rains." Flo said. John sat up with a grunt and a sigh. "Reckon it's the right thing to do." he replied. Standing, he reached down letting her take his hand and easily hoisted her to her feet as well. It was while they walked back to the village along the fence that the thunder began.


Not a normal thunder you would expect from a storm. This was a continuous rumbling that ebbed and flowed from the distance. It took people far to long to stop and consider the source. But the sound of something rocketing overhead finally drew their attention to the horizon. Dalamund was coming apart!


It would be hard for anyone to recall the chaos that ensued, but the next ten minutes felt like ten years. As the moon exploded a firestorm covered the skies, hurling brimstone and death across the landscape. Florence found herself cowering in the street as the village burned around her. It was then she heard his voice again.


"Flo, we have to go, now!"

"I c-can't, John!"

"You can!", he hollered back to her. Bending down he lifted her to her feet while pointing up the street.

"Go, that way. Just run. We have to get to the cave at the top of the ridge!"


Once again everything happened too fast to recount. They ran. Even as flames poured around them, they ran. John cried out to anyone still in the area. "To the ridge! Get out of the wharf!". And run they did, even as the tide began to swell from the impending wave. It was only by some miracle or intervention by the Twelve that they managed to reach high enough ground. At the top of the ridge was an abandoned garrison. A low stone wall touched the road from the left and lead to the cliff-side where a cave had served as lodging for no more than five soldiers at one point. Long since abandoned, it was the sturdiest shelter in the area.


As they reached the wall she turned just in time to see the wave now slowly receding. A few stragglers were still making their way up the road as John pulled her into the alcove. The roar of multiple fires along the ridge could still be heard as well as the muffled pops of explosions through the solid rock around them. An old lantern was found among the discarded supplies and lit for what little light they cared for. The few who remained eventually found their way, now no more than thirty. Her family was not among them.


The remainder of the night saw itself spent with the collective wailing and tears of all Eorzea in mourning for what was now lost.

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It had been two days now since the Calamity. Most of the fires had burned themselves out, but the land was permanently scarred. No one had dared return to the beach as the tide had still not fully gone out yet. The survivors stayed huddled in the cramped quarters cut into the cliff-side.


After the initial shock had worn down, it became apparent they could not stay there long. While they had always kept the alcove stocked with emergency rations in case the guards had returned, there was not enough to sustain them all for more than another day at best. People had begun to murmur.

"We can't stay here, we'll starve before long."

"We should make for the city."

"There's not enough supplies to last the journey."

"Someone needs to forage."

It was decided at length that those fit for labor should venture out and forage what they could along the ridge. While John took up a dusty bow and few arrows from the weapon rack to hunt for small game, Florence had a basket thrust into her hands and was bidden to search for berries or other low-hanging fruits. For the better part of three hours she found herself wandering around the valley beyond the ridge. More than half of it was now ash and desolation. Nophica smiled upon her though and a single apple tree was at last found. Filling her basket with what she could carry she made her way back to the alcove.


As she reached the wall that she just happened to look down towards the beach. There was the unexpected movement of figures by the shore's edge. Thinking to herself that some of the villagers had decided to try fishing, she turned and joined the group. John had already returned with what he could find. Two squirrels and a rabbit, at least enough meat for stew. She set the small basket down with the rest of the supplies and asked "Who's that as went down t'the beach?"


All eyes were on her now.

"Some'n's down at t'shore?", John asked.

"Aye, I saw 'em as I came in."


Within moments there was a huddle of them at the edge of the wall, all peering around trying to catch a glimpse. The men seemed to be searching through the debris for something. Kicking over wooden boards, bending down to occasionally pick up something shiny, then toss it aside. They were also armed, each with a sword at their side. Some were dressed in a type of black and red cloth, others in brown leather.

"Who are they?"

"What are they looking for?"

"They look like soldiers."

"Or brigands!"

"Some'n should go down and find out." The voice was John's. All eyes turned to him now.

"They may as be from th'city come t'look for survivors. I'm goin t'find out."

Florence grabbed his arm and held him back with a worried look. "No, John!", she protested with a worried look.

"We can't stay here, Flo. They may be able to 'elp us once they know we're survivors. I'm jus goin t'say hello."

"Let him go, girl."

"Think about more than y'erself fer once!"

"Aye, he has t'right o'it!"

The voices of the others behind her finally relaxed her grip as she looked to him with pleading eyes. "John... be careful." He smiled at her and turned, stepping casualy down the path. The rest of them gathered once more at the edge of the wall, watching.



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  • 2 weeks later...


The man kicked over a wooden board and scanned the sands where it had lain. Seeing nothing of interest he continued his way down the beach. A few fulms to his right was another man standing on the fallen side of what used to be a house. He propped his foot up onto a stone and rested his hand on the hilt of his gunblade. "You sure this place wasn't abandoned?"


There was a grunt from the other man. "Cadmus don't care. He's what we call... an opportunist."


"S'that why he took us into this little group o' his?"


The man standing on the planks knelt down to peer through the side of a broken window on the ground. Seeing something, he thrust the haft of his spear down to break the remaining glass and push the shards into the sand. Retrieving what looked like a silver chain he stood and looked back to the other man. "Aye, I suppose even deserters have their use. Just remember who's in charge now. Oh yes, and that the Empire pays handsomely for the return of their cowards."


That last jab elicited a scowl from the first man. What did this pirate know? He had been at the plains three days prior. He had seen the devastation first hand. He was not the only one who ran, but he was one of the few who were lucky for it. Him and two others had regrouped after the firestorm. With their entire platoon either dead or dispersed through Eorzea now, they were trying to make their way back to Garlemald. On the borders of Gyn Abania they had come across a bandit group and decided to desert. There was no future for them in the army now that the White Raven was gone.


"Aww, did I upset the new meat? Just keep the boss happy and you've got no'ttn to worry about."


The group continued onward scanning the ground for any salvage of value. None of them noticed the man coming down the road till he was almost at the beach. The Garlean was a little apart from the rest of them now, further along enough to hear the man calling to them. "What in the bloody hells... ?"


It may have been his own fear of being discovered. Or perhaps pent up stress from the prior few days. There was a single shot that rang out suddenly and echoed across the hills. And then a scream. A blood-curdling cry from the end of the road between the hills that caused even the birds to take flight. Then more yelling...


"Scrotus, get them! GET THEM!"

It was the boss, from the other side of the village. All of them were now running towards the road. It didn't take long for Cadmus to realize what was going on. There really were survivors here, and now they had been seen. He caught up to the new recruit who was just standing over the man he had killed.


Cadmus spun the man around roughly and grabbed the blade from his hand. He was unable to defend as he was still in shock over the whole incident. But now his own blade was forced against his neck as the boss backed him against a tree.


"We do NOT kill potential sales... DO you understand that?!", he barked.

The Garlean remained silent, staring back with a blank expression.


"Incompetent lout!", Cadmus snarled back at him as he released the man. He took two steps away then leveled the blade with the man's chest. He pulled the trigger without a second thought.




They all saw what happened at the edge of the beach. The shot echoed through the hills, and John's body crumpled to the ground. It was then that Florence had cried out.




She tried to leap forward, to run towards him, but sixteen hands had held her back. She fought, struggled, cried out. "Let me go! Let me go!", but they would not relent.


"Hush child!"

"They'll hear you!"


It was already too late of course. As the men began ascending the road the other villagers also turned tail to run. Once she was released, she fell to her knees. She couldn't move, couldn't go to him. He was so far away now, and she could do nothing.


"Stupid girl, you've killed us all!"


As the men reached the summit, the larger one with a spear who seemed to be in charge barked the order.

"Bind her! Find the rest. You know what to do."


Florence felt her hands pulled behind her as rough ropes were used to tie them together. She did not care. Her gaze was fixated on the lifeless body of her love at the end of the road. Everything else was a blur behind her tear stained vision. Something hit the back of her head, followed by darkness.

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She did not know how much time had passed in the darkness. The was no feeling, sound, or emotion. She had watched him die from afar, and the next thing she knew was the sound of a wagon. The jostling around of hard wooden wheels careening across every stone. She became aware that she was laying down, half on her side, half on her front with her face pressed against the floor. Her legs were curled together and knees pressed almost to her stomach. Her hands were still bound from behind with coarse rope that itched and bit into her skin. And there were... others. An uncomfortable feeling of closeness hung in the air.


Her eyes slowly opened, greeted with the view of someone's legs as they sat across from her barely a foot away. Suddenly alarmed she tried to raise herself but there was no room to maneuver.


"She's awake, finally. Help the poor dear up.", said the woman sitting across from her.


Hands reached out and grabbed her from the side, pulling her into an upright position with her back against the side of the wagon cage. She quickly folded her legs together so as not to fall back over and tried resting her head against the bars. Another sudden stone in the road taught her that was a bad idea as her vision blurred momentarily. Still sore from when she was taken before.


She looked around now to better survey her surroundings. She was in a wagon cage. Wooden, with iron bars surrounding all sides. A door with a very heavy and thick looking lock at the rear of the wagon. There were others with her, all women, all in rags and covered in grime. None of them were familiar to her. It was also evening, though she could not tell what bell. The only light was offered from a dim lantern on the far outside corner of the wagon, hung by the driver to see forward. There were other wagons as well before and behind, and armed men who walked along side of the train.


The woman across from her spoke again. "What's your name dear?"

"F-f-florence.", she managed to stammer.


There were three hard bangs on the side of the cart that made them all jump. "Oi! Quiet in there!. Property speaks only when spoken to!" The command elicited a series of crude laughs from the other men walking along the sides.


"P-property?", she looked up to the others but nobody responded. The rest of the ride was spent in silent fear of what the day would bring.

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The day had not yet broken when the carriage train had stopped. They were away off the road now, deep into the shroud. The trees seemed to press in on them as their boughs obscured the sky overhead while the wagons themselves were arranged in a half circle with a fire pit dug in the middle. Meanwhile, the men went about setting up various tents along the other half of the circle.


Florence had endured the trip as well as she was able. Her eyes were closed in thought for most of the ride, since they were not allowed to speak. Even here, her heart was heavy as images of her love flashed through her mind. His final moments replayed again and again. She had long since spent any tears left in her body that night. Opening her eyes she looked softly at the woman across from her.


She was thin, lithe, and Elezen. Not as young as Florence, but if she had to venture a guess she would have placed the woman in her fourth decade of life. Less than two score years, for sure. She had been here longer than Florence as was apparent by the state of her dress and the grime caked to her forehead. Her rags barely clung to her form at this point. She had no shirt, but a thin shawl-like towel draped over her shoulders which she had to constantly hold closed at the front or risk humiliating herself.


Another girl, a young midlander with dirty blonde hair cowered next to her. She had not spoken a word since Florence had awoken. At the far end of the wagon was a large Roegadyn woman who occupied almost two places herself. It was a wonder her head wasn't permanently tilted as she barely cleared the ceiling. To Florence's right was another highlander woman she did not recognize.


Craning her neck to look out the bars towards the other wagons, at least three others seemed to be the same type, carrying the same cargo. Two others had no bars and were probably full of material wealth or supplies. She eventually settled back down as she could not comfortably see anything for long.


Their captors had meanwhile finished setting up their tents, built a bonfire, and were settling down on various stumps and large stones that were placed around it. The smell of roasting meat filled the air, and none of the women could hold back the sounds of their collective hunger. For the time being it seemed they were forgotten. Despite their conditions, the group let out a collective sigh.


Florence watched the Elezen woman for a time before she could no longer take the silence of the night. "Where ar'ya from, then?" she said.

"Gridania.", she replied.

"'N where's tha?"


She looked down and away from the woman when it became clear she had no interest in conversation.


They all started when there was a sudden clang from the bars on the opposite side of the wagon. "Oi in there. It's slop time." came a crude voice. The man walked down the far side of the wagon with a pail of some foul smelling broth and a large ladle. He scooped out a generous portion and held it up to the bars just out of reach of the Roegadyn at the end. "Come now, lovelies. You know the drill." he said with a lewd sneer.


The woman sighed and huffed but it was clear he would not relent as he continued to taunt her. Finally she relented and in what was probably the most humiliating act possible, she exposed herself to him. "Aaah, that's be'er.", he said. "This one finally knows her place." He held the ladle to the bars as she leaned forward and drank the broth as he tilted it. Most of it spilling onto the ground.


Continuing down the line he paused at the midlander who was still huddled into as small a ball as she could possibly be. She would not look at him or even acknowledge his presence. When it was clear he could evoke no reaction he shrugged and moved on to the Elezen. "Wot about this one, eh? Care to play missy?"


"Leave 'er alone!" Florence called out without thinking. The men behind her went silent. The one with the pail walked around the cart to glare at her from the side she sat on. "Or wot?", he snarled. He pressed the ladel against her shoulder roughly. "Wot you gonna do about it, missy? Huh? Huh!? Yous that wouldn't even save herself on that beach. Oh, aye, we had much sport chas'n down the rest'o your lot. Count yerself lucky ye ain't with them now."


With that she twisted around and spat at him. "Murderer!"

"Oh, ye shouldn't a done that now, lass."


"Rikard! Quit that wench's mouth 'afore I cut out her tongue." It was Cadmus who gave the order.

"Right, boss. I'mma enjoy this."


The rest of the women clamored to the far end of the wagon as he drew around and unbolted the cage. Grubby fingers reached in as Florence kicked and tried to push back to hide with the rest of them, but her foot was caught. She felt a tug and slid sharply against the wood floor, her clothes snagging splinters and almost tearing. Amidst her cries she was roughly tossed over the man's shoulders and her mouth was gagged. The wagon door slammed shut once more as he carried her off towards a tent behind the rest.


The other women looked horrified at each other, then towards the tent. Her cries were muffled by the gag, but it was quite clear what was happening... or about to. Then silence. Rikard came back out of the tent alone and rubbing his hands. Scrotus piped up at his appearance "Don't tell us ye've gone soft already!". The rest of the man laughed at his crude jest. Rikard went to Cadmus and leaned down, whispering something in his ear.


"Oh, is she now?", Cadmus said with the glint of greed flashing over his eyes. "Aye, we know just the place for the likes of her. Starlight come early boys, we've got a jewel here worth triple price! Change of plans! Nobody is to touch that girl. We need her alive and healthy, aye? Tomorrow night we set out for Ul'dah."


The man, Rikard, returned to the tent momentarily before reappearing with Florence over his shoulder once again. She made no move to struggle as she was carried back to the wagon and roughly thrust inside. She felt her head pulled backwards from the gag as a knife slid along her head and cut it lose once more. The door was closed behind and the bolts locked once more as Florence curled up alone against it, tears streaming down her face once more.


Cadmus himself eventually walked over to the wagon. He thrust his hand through the bars and left a small wooden bowl there with a small piece of the meat and slice of bread. It would have been meager except that it wasn't broth at least. "Here.", he snarled. "And I don't suggest you share."

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  • 2 weeks later...

The journey was slow and painful, from the northern border of the Shroud to the southern tip of Thanalan. Would that the Calamity hadn't happened, things would have been considerably smoother. As it was, the entire face of Eorzea was scarred now. What roads had survived were pitted with craters and upturned stones. Trees were felled in numerous places. Crucial bridges over key waterways were destroyed. And whenever the train moved it was under cover of nightfall.


Occasionally a day would be spent in seclusion with minimal guard while Cadmus and the rest had gone out to salvage the remnants of yet another village. Sometimes more unlucky souls were brought back. By the time they neared the city of Ul'dah, four more girls were added to the wagon where Florence huddled. It was cramped; They were all tired, hungry, and caked with mud and grime.


It was once again night when they finally drew near to the city. The open plains of Thanalan gave clear view to the Jewel from afar. It was also faster going now as there would be little cover during the day, and the looming threat of an Amal'jaa raid if they were spotted. Coatleque had been watching the city from the distance as they grew ever closer with no small amount of wonder despite her predicament. She had never seen a walled city before and a small part of her held onto the excitement of a new experience.


During the day it blended in with the tan horizon and was almost obscured by the heat rising from the sands. She blinked her eyes many times thinking it to be a mere puddle in the distance. The smoke rising from still smouldering buildings made the city more apparent as they grew closer. At night the city was aglow with the typical bustle of a near sleeping metropolis. Commerce would not be stopped regardless of the devastation surrounding the landscape.


Dreams were shaken back to reality as they drew up along the very wall of the city's southern side. All streams run downhill to the ocean, and there was no exception in Thanalan. They stopped near the large sewer opening. A large half-circle of stones with thick rusted, iron grating was before them. The grate had a heavy hinged door which was usually secured with a large chain and lock. These now lay on the ground beside the open grate, and a small gathering of people awaited them. Torches were lit and wagons thrown open as they were made to line up before these new faces. Florence and another girl were kept separate at the very end of the line.


There were more armed men who flanked them. They were different than Cadmus and his group, however. Much cleaner, better equipped, and more importantly - quiet. There were also two women. Miqo'te girls in light silken garments that were as elegant as they were revealing. One of them, a Seeker, had dark hair and deep blue-purple eyes. The other, a Keeper, had tawny hair and light brown eyes. Both of them followed an average sized man. A Hyur in a purple suit with a large feathered hat. He carried a jeweled cane and had an incredible air of superiority over everyone else present.


The three of them slowly moved down the line of girls examining each one, though he did not touch any. After each one he would turn away and converse quietly with the Keeper before moving on. When they finally reached Florence she quickly looked to the ground, afraid and unable to meet any of their gazes. The man looked over his shoulder and gestured to Cadmus who had been following along this whole time, offering his own commentary on each girl. He seemed to mostly ignore the scoundrel till this point.


"We've done enough business over the years that I know you've been holding something back for me." His voice arrogantly drawn out as if always speaking to his lessers. "These two. What is wrong with them?"


"Ah, quite te opposite, my friend. I must say, ye know me well, but call'n me honor into question? For shame, me Lord. These two exotic beauties I saved ye for last. Ye see, they are... unspoiled." Cadmus made his best impression of an experienced merchant, but even that couldn't hide the lewd sneer in his voice. He finished his sentence while lingering on the last detail. He was here for one thing, and one thing only.


"Cadmus, you cad. How dare you keep such prized possessions locked away from the world for so long. Have you no scruples?" All the while he smiled at the man with a gleam in his eye. His hand shot back over his shoulder in the Keeper's direction with a snap of his fingers. She stepped up immediately and handed him a leather folder. "Sapphire, you know what to do.", the man said before turning back to Cadmus. "Come now, let us go and discuss price."


As the pair walked off, the two Miqo'tes went back down the line, pulling specific girls out and making a seemingly separate line. Both Florence and the girl beside here were taken as well. Those not taken were ushered back into wagons by Scrotus and the other men. Before long there were only seven of them left standing. The armed men promptly went to work as the two Miqo'tes stood back, affixing each with a heavy collar and a long thick chain that ran between all of them. The collars were designed to slip tighter but not loosen without a key. If one was to run, she would inadvertently choke the rest.


The two men returned a few moments later with Cadmus carrying the leather wallet. "You know what to do. Take those to the treasury house on the east side of the city. There you will receive your gil. And we... never met."


"Aye, that ye can count on!", he replied with a grin. "Alright, boys, get these rejects out of here. We have a payment to collect." Cadmus hoisted himself into the driver seat of the closes wagon and the train began to move on following his lead. The rest stood there without word until the heavy wooden wheels could not longer be heard and the silence of the night began to take hold.


The man in the suit turned and slowly walked back down the line, stopping and turning to face them half-way. "Ladies. I am Master Korlon. Master Dace Korlon. And you... are now mine."

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