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The Vagrant's Quiver [Closed]

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"Averill! I thought that was you I saw yesterday."

Keitha leaned over the gate of the Moogle's Gift ranch when she saw him approach. He smiled up at her, stepping up the path. "Didn' think you'd come here of your own choosin'. Miounne set you up?"

"No, no." Keitha let him in. He took a few steps towards the ranch, but one look at the tall flightless birds the Hyur had become famous for stopped him in his tracks, "I'm just on a walk."

"Uhuh, and you just happen to swing by a place filled with chocobos." She gestured to his clenched jaw and tightening fists. "Sure, sounds plenty enjoyable."

Averill looked to her. Their distance from the chocobos granted him some measure of comfort. "I saw you idling at the gate and thought I'd say hello."

Keitha tensed for but a moment, before staring off into the middle-distance. "Not idlin' - worryin'."


"Mhm. There was a storm last night - wager you got caught in it, if you were out so late. Anyroad, one of our young'uns up and bolted. Jumped clean over the greens field and didn' look back."

He folded his arms, following Keitha's gaze. "Last night?"

"Aye. Probably won't last too long out there, poor guy. I'd grab an adventurer but y'all seem to busy at the moment."

"I'm here now."

"Don' be silly," Keitha waved her hand, "You're out on a walk. Couldn' ask that of you."

"You don't have to." He patted the bow slung across his chest, setting his hand on the gate. "That way, you said?"

Keitha smiled, bowing her head. "Reckon he's down by the Matron's Lethe. Haven't heard anythin' from the Wailers about a stray bird in the city."

"I'll start there, then."

"Hey, Averill!"

He stopped at the crossroads. Keitha shouted at him from the ranch. "I thought I saw two of you last night - where's your friend?"

"She's asleep!" He called back. A laugh sounded out clear as day.

"Oho, I see. Walkin' off a night's regrets, are you?"

He tried not to scowl. He'd heard enough of that joke out of Kazuto at Camp Tranquil. Averill set off with a dismissive wave. "Hey, hold on!"

The heavy run of a chocobo rancher followed him down the path. Averill turned to see her with her arms full of greens. "Take these. Kid's probably hungry if he's been out all night."

Arms laden with bow and food, he nodded a farewell and set off again.


The gargantuan trunk of the Matron's Lethe proved as easy to find as ever. It stretched skyward, overgrown with moss and vines. Thick legs of bark supported its climb up an otherwise sheer cliff.

Averill slowed his pace upon arrival, ears open to the sounds of the Black Shroud. Diremites scuttled nearby, tails held proudly aloft. They picked ravenously at the ground, carving up the earth in a desperate attempt to eke some manner of morsel from the verdant soil. The vagrant turned his eyes to the floor, twisting his feet around any large twigs or dead leaves hidden in the undergrowth.


It didn't take long for him to find what he searched for; indeed, with its vivid yellow plumage and cowardly chirping, Averill wondered how no other more predatory creatures had located the quivering chocobo. Nestled under one of the Lethe's many legs, it pushed itself into its hiding spot, legs frantically shoving the ground away from it.

He ducked low, and circled around until the bird could see him clearly. It stayed for a second, gauging his intentions. Persuasion proved a simple matter - one flash of the gysahl greens steadied its panic into a fearful quivering. Averill met its eyes, refusing to break away or even blink as he approached. He punctuated every step with a pause. How old was this bird? It possessed neither the travel-hardened eyes of a trained steed, nor the adulating gaze of a chick unto its mother. It seemed tall enough, despite its balled state. Taking one of the greens from the bushel,  he rolled it across the floor. It stopped just short of the bird's beak. A sniff and a chirp stopped its quivering - it began to munch contentedly, assuring Averill that his approach could quicken. He hurried over to its side, checking it over quickly for any serious injuries. "How're you doing, buddy?"

The chocobo munched with neither care nor concern for the Hyur tending to it. Its eyes closed. "Keitha'll be glad to see you home safe, I'd bet."

A rustling perked his senses. He snapped away from his charge, bow drawn and arrow nocked in the same fluid motion. A diremite watched from just a few yalms away, each one of its luminescent eyes fixed on what it thought to be a more rewarding meal than worms and larvae. A fell tail curled and trembled in anticipation.



The first shot ripped a startled squeal from the insect, which staggered back and flailed its pincers hysterically. A second lodged itself neatly in the gap between its legs, sending it hobbling back with a renewed wariness. Averill lowered his bow, only to be thrown by a startled shriek and a bolt of pain in his leg. His foot went numb, as if no longer there. He wrenched himself free of a second diremite's clumsy grasp, launching himself back on his uninjured leg and loosing a third and final arrow into the beast's skull. It crumpled, as did he.

Averill hobbled over to the chocobo, finding it miraculously unharmed. He'd been blessed with no such luck, however - a fresh stream of blood caked the inside of his left boot, staining the hempen a grim crimson. He dropped to the floor and tore his boot off, examining the wound. A clean puncture, by the looks of it. Nothing a quick dose of healing magic or first aid couldn't fix. He winced, prodding it with a gloved finger. Carelessness? Unthinkable.

He dropped his bow and reached for some ivy dangling from the Lethe, wrenching it off and examining the vines for anything that resembled an irritant or poison. Comfortable with his pick, he worked fast to bind his wound, knotting the vine around his leg as a makeshift tourniquet. He tested it as he stood, gritting his teeth with every protesting throb the wound gave him. Averill breathed in, closing his eyes. Steady.


More rustling caught him off-guard. Drawn by the noise, another diremite had come to investigate. It wasted no time, scuttling towards him with a poised tail and clicking mandibles. Averill reached for his bow, but too late - he threw himself out the way, rolling clumsily to the ground. His injury howled, dragging him from the recovery, leaving him open for the approaching monster.

Averill scrunched his eyes, bracing for another puncture. His ears took a heavy battering in the form of two shrieks - one furious, the other panicked.

Here covered just in time to see a blur of yellow feathers bearing down upon his aggressor. Startled, the diremite crumpled and fled without a second look back. Averill watched in disbelief as the quivering mass of feathers that was his charge watched the fleeing beast, beak agape and wings splayed in a ferociously protective display.

When the rustling faded to a dim scratching at the back of his mind, the chocobo wheeled around. It ambled over to Averill, its ire fading to relief. "Thanks," he found himself saying. It chirped happily in response. He staggered to his feet, stifling a groan. "This is gonna be one rough walk- huh?"

The chocobo nudged Averill roughly. "Hey, hey, I'm moving already." Another nudge - an insistent squawk. Averill looked at the bird, vexed. "What?"

It lowered its neck, body dropping slowly to the ground, leaned ever so slightly towards him. Averill blanched. "Oh, no. I can walk, it's fine."

An unimpressed, deadpan "Kweh," was its only response. He pursed his lips.

"Alright, fine."



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"There y'are!" Keitha shouted, "Was worried you'd gon' an' bolted, too."

Held aloft by the chocobo, Averill smiled faintly at the breeder. The slow, regular steps of the bird knocked his wounded leg back and forth uncomfortably against its side, but the ride itself had not been intolerable. He slipped off a saddle-less back and hit the ground on his good leg. "What did he get you into?" asked Keitha. Averill struggled for a moment with whether she was asking him or the chocobo. "Well?"

"Oh! Diremites," he replied, leaning on the bird on their approach, "Nothing a conjurer can't fix, I'm sure."

Keitha took the bird off his hands, leading it away and leaving him half-leaning on the fence. "Can' thank you enough," she said upon her return, "Can I do anythin' in return? A potion for yer leg would be a good start, I'd wager."

"Don't worry about this old thing," Averill assured, waving his hand dismissively, "It's seen worse, trust me."

"As I'm sure you've mentioned. Get it looked at when you're back, 'kay?"

"Yes, ma'am." Averill turned to walk away. Ayda would be waiting for him - searching for him, if she'd woken. How would he explain the limp? No, he mused, he wouldn't. Straight back. Firm steps.

"Oi!" Keitha's shout threw him off his rhythm.


"Bird's taken a shine to you - next time you swing by Bentbranch, he'll have a saddle and some greens waitin' for ya. Clear?"


Averill frowned. How would he explain the paling skin every time he looked at a chocobo? "See you around, Keitha!" he offered in lieu of a denial. Chocobos could wait; he had a Keeper to hide from.

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