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A Wayward Blade ( OPEN )

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( This is an alt. Not Iron, as if this won't be obvious )

The young knight sat alone, on the steps by the Quicksand. He watches the people pass him by, watched Ser Romy deal with whatever little spats broke out, and as he watched he felt himself drift further and further away.

When he had arrived in this city he had big dreams, a loud voice and a hope to become a Sworn. A Paladin serving the most high, and enforcing the laws to keep this city safe. Having lost his parents as a youth to Sahaugin pirates left a gaping wound in his heart, one he could only fill with a thirst for law, and protecting others.

But he realized he was crass, rigid, and all together unfriendly. He learned early on when he met Chachan and Roysia that he didn't seem to truly fit in...

And when they all sat beneath the stars together, and each one left one by one, he realized eventually he was all alone.

Aiden starred up at the sky a moment, missing his farm, the animals, the chores. Normalcy, however plain and routine it had been.

"At least I was wanted there.."He muttered.

He had started in this city to make a name for himself. He had watched this slanderous campaign against Ser Crofte leak free, and endeavored to be the one to end it. And in bare fisted combat he had done so, all the while feeling the insults of his "friends" spoken in the crowd. And yet, somehow after this fact the only real friend he had was that woman...Evangeline.

In a spiral of events surrounding her, he had turned from the path and now his dreams lay somewhere behind him, tarnished and lost. He felt the eyes of judgement from the current Sworn upon his every action, and no longer did it seem he could even help the common citizens with their plights.

It hurt.

He felt empty.

Feeding the refugee camps with what his meager pay could afford only filled his heart so much. He wanted justice, discipline, to see the people look upon him with pride.

A sigh left his lips as he watched Ser Romy pass him by again, without even a glance in his direction. Another at the thought that Chachan hadn't replied to the letter he had sent him.

"Why did I ever come here at all...."

Hopefully someone could show the young paladin the way.

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Chachanji had been musing over the letter that Aiden has sent him. He had thought to write back right away, but he hadn't been sure what to put. While he could read and write well enough, his literary skills weren't the most well-honed things and he worried about sending the wrong message. Which would cause Twelve-knows-what chaos if it was the proud farm-raised Hyur doing the misinterpreting.


So the little Lalafell found himself heading towards the gates of Ul'dah, to try and speak with the man in person. He had mentioned Aiden to Ser Warren, and the Free Paladin had responded simply that some just didn't make the cut for Sultansworn. However, that still left a nagging feeling in his gut, like that sort of answer was just not enough for him. Perhaps it had to do with the fact he saw a bit of his own dream - his wish to be a hero and protect people - mirrored in the Aiden's zeal, that made him so unwilling to see him flounder and possibly fail.


His journey did not take overly long, and not just due to the short distance betwixt Quicksand and the Gate of Nald, but because his quarry was seated upon the steps outside. He wanted to give a cheerful shout, to jump and wave to the Hyur and try to rub off his positive energy on the guy. However, even from here, he could tell something was really eating at the Sultansworn-hopeful.


So, instead, he fell into that odd, dichotomous role he seemed to always take in Aiden's presence and approached him as the watchful guardian and, hopefully, friend. Even with the Hyur sitting down, the youngest Gegenji had to reach a bit to be able to pat the man gently on the shoulder.


"Hey... are ya alright there, Aiden?"

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Natasha walked through the dusty streets of Ul'dah, his rusty red mail rustling softly. It had been several long months since he'd arrived at the city. Several long months of disappointment. He'd been on the frontiers, where the Brass Blades were often the only line protecting Eorzeans against Beast, Bandit, and worse.


The Grand Companies had their fame and fortune, but they were small, focused, and concerned with their own missions. It fell to the Brass Blades to guard those who remained. Their names were famous, among the small towns that ringed the city states, and the caravans which ran between them. The Blades of the Rose, of the Gerbera, of the Hydra, the Raptor, along with countless others. It was with an eager heart he'd taken a post in Ul'dah, a city he'd only seen from afar.


Surely only the best and brightest would find their way to the Capitol. Men and Women who's skill and honor rivaled that of the Grand Companies. Though, he had found, it seemed the opposite. He found himself saddled with men and women who would rather steal than guard, be bribed than stand firm. Here and there, ones stood out, who did not bow down to the corruption, but they were few and far between.


He sighs, finishing the last of his rounds, on which he thankfully did not catch anyone sleeping. Seeing the downtrodden form of Aiden, and the young Lalafell seemingly comforting he stops nearby, removing his turban and shaking the sweat from his cropped hair as he eavesdrops.

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Even as Chachan came closer, Aiden's eyes remained starring foreward with focus. Watching the flame as Ser Romy had said. Though a pat on his shoulder snapped him out of it, and the young man glanced up to his former comrade, and offered the same stoic and stern expression that seemed to have been carved as his face.

"Young Hero, You seem well. " He commented, voice as dry as ever.

What could even say to him? Of the two clearly Aiden was the lesser in both charisma and general likeability. He knew this, he understood and and honestly believed it completely fair and just.

"I wonder, have any of your friends spoken of my decision? I dare say none were phased at all when I tendered my resignation from their training..."

He replied, glancing away from the Lalafel, unable to even make eye contact with him as he said those words. Truth be told, they left his lips and burned on the way out. Truly it had not been what he wanted, but Aiden saw no path as events had gone forward, and rather than guidance that eve, he had felt constant scorn. His anger lingered on Roysia..Ser Rose as it were. What made that girl better than him? He would nearly scoff at the thought.

Thus far his focus lingered on the cadet, and he hardly noticed the other at all. Aiden had learned to shut down his usual hawk like vision, since he couldn't actually deal with any crime or law breaking, as he had learned roughly, to his shame, this very morning.

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"Err... well enuff, I 'spose," Chachan admitted at the Hyur's opening statement, using his free hand to scratch the back of his neck as he returning to a more comfortable standing position. The Lalafell still hadn't quite gotten the hang of the day/night countenance that Aiden often proffered: either stoic and stern or heated and animated. Most of the times when stepping in to try to help the fellow, he had been dealing with the latter rather than the former. His inexperience with it showed rather plainly as he answered the - apparently now "former" - Sultansworn hopeful.


"I haven't heard much word from 'em, actually," the youngest Gegenji admitted, canting his head to one side and scratching bashfully behind the lower of the two ears with a finger. "Been hearin' a lotta talk 'bout folks gettin' married 'n Ms. Hat needin' a break from Ul'dah..."


He caught himself quickly enough from rambling. This wasn't about him right now, it was about Aiden and what he'd been going through. Straightening, Chachanji dropped both hands to his hips and shook his head slowly to clear his head and regain his focus. When he looked up again at his downtrodden companion, his violet eyes were sharp and clear.


"So ya gave up on th' trainin', then?" he questioned, though it was more a clarification of what had already been said than an actual question. The more important one, the more pertinent one, was what followed. "Are ya sure that's what ya want? 'cuz ya look pretty bummed out about it ta me."


One hand released its grip on his hip and again reached to rest itself on the Hyur's shoulder, giving a gentle squeeze to show that the Lalafell was there for him.


"Or is this 'bout somethin' else? Somethin'... deeper?" he pressed, trying to get Aiden to open up some more to him. "Ya don't hafta say if'n ya don't want ta... but I'm here ta listen anyroad if'n ya do."

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Deeper? Did this small one actually think some deep seeded emotions were clouding his decision? Aiden scoffed at the idea, visibly so. Though after a moment, and the feel of that hand gripping his shoulder, the young man glanced back down to the ground and let out a breathe.


"What makes me so different? Why am I so intolerable? And how am I to think the way things proceed are truly in the name of justice? " Aiden asked flatly, rising to his feet in quick action, starring down at Chachan before he thrust an arm out, pointing to the distance, or nothing in particular.


"I've carried myself with pride and honor. Each night I feel the refugees of the meager pay I make, and each night I sleep out here amongst the stars. I try to live and breathe for this city. Yet I am the farce? I seek not to slander, but how has my dedication been any less than Ser Rose? What chances have I been given? Nae, I say to you...I came here and made changes on my own. The good I do, I do without direction, or the need to prove myself. One does good because good needs to be done. " Aiden was going off into a full speech, clearly this was how his mind worked, not to mention an inflated ego. Though after this his shoulders slumped, and he looked down a moment.


"Is that justice truly giving Mr. G'leo over to his death? Is it locking up a broken hearted Evangeline? Is it leaving her in a cell were another is poisoned? No....these cannot be the true way of things. I cannot imagine the Sultana's will would truly see the innocent crying behind bars...especially as one of our own are the reason for such tears. " Oh yes, Aiden had pieced a bit together, and his blame layed squarely,no matter how wrong he actually was.


"I do not know.....I was in a moment or anger and pain when I uttered the words of quitting, yet it has only been rubbed in my face since. I feel mockery each day, and I cannot sleep in this state..." He added, looking down to Chachan with an actual pained expression, rather than his usual stoic ice face.

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Aiden's dramatic tirade sent the little Lalafell reeling a bit. It was not entirely unexpected, considering who he was dealing with, but that didn't keep it from being more than a little off-putting. It didn't help that he veered into events and information that Chachanji had not been privvy to. Who was Mr. G'leo and what's this about his potential death? Ms. Eva had been put into jail and nearly poisoned?


Those were, however, ultimately questions for later clarification. What he could tell is that those events had riled the already easily-riled Hyur to apparently new heights. The same man who had stubbornly held a wine barrel over his head at Ser Romy's instruction, stalwart in his belief he could do it for as long as it took, had been shaken enough to tender his resignation from his dream of becoming a Sultansworn. Or maybe it was because of his zealous approach to things that had resulted in his frustration - something Chachanji could easily relate to, considering recent events.


"A lotta th' questions yer askin' go way above my head, Aiden," the youngest Gegenji admitted with a small shrug. "I do think I get where yer comin' from, though. Doin' good 'cuz it needs doin'. I do th' same, though maybe not ta th' extent y'do. I do a lotta grunt-work fer th' people in th' city fer what few coins they're willin' ta toss at me, 'n I've been makin' my own trips outside th' walls to try ta help those out there as well. There's no farce in that; that's good, honest work."


"If I hafta fault ya for anythin', it might be yer goin' at it too strongly, if'n that makes sense." Chachanji scratched the back of his head, unsure if he even knew what he was saying. He was kinda just following his heart at this point. "Rose has her own... oddities... but she's all business when it's needed. 'n more importantly, she knows when ta turn that off 'n unwind, even if'n its in her own strange way. Every time I've seen ya, yer goin' full tilt 'bout somethin', treatin' every single situation as a grand crusade 'n never slowin' down none. Remember when we first met? Ya were verbally tearin' my head off fer runnin' 'round th' Quicksand."


As much as he was trying to keep somber, some of his innate cheerfulness bubbled to the top in the form of a wry grin.


"What was it ya said? That'd I'd trip 'n crack me head open?" He counted on his fingers even as he recounted all the things Aiden had said to him. "Or I'd trip someone else 'n they'd crack their head open? Or that I'd trip up a Roe, who'd fall on someone else 'n they would both die? Pretty amazin' claims, y'know?"


Chachanji shook his head, letting the smile evaporate slowly before meeting Aiden's gaze again.


"Still, despite that... interestin' meetin', I'm pretty happy ta have met ya," the Lalafell continued. "As I said, yer doin' a lotta things I'm doin'. Ya want ta halp folks, ya wanna make things better, I understand 'n respect that. But, as I learned that day we were all up on th' rise, ya hafta learn ta pick yer battles. Ya can't try ta fix e'rythin' or yer just gonna end up frustrated 'n with e'rythin' still broke. Includin' yerself."


"It's a frustratin' feelin', I know," the youngest Gengeji sighed. "Feelin' like ya can't do nothin'."

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Aiden absorbed every word the small fellow said. He took in his tone, and he memorized the lessons spoken to him. This was his way, it's why he had that small notebook tucked into his armor with every code of conduct he had been advised, and even the ones he had misunderstood. Aiden sighed softly as Gegenji's words ceased, and the blonde paused to stare off at the streets once more. One hand lifted to his chin, ever dramatic even in the way he stood, as he spoke softly down to him.


"I may have loudly scolded you upon our first meeting Young Hero, but your words speak volumes of wisdom, and I take them all to heart.." Adien spoke, his facade cracking if only briefly.


"Life may not be what I read in stories and tales, it may not be the great quests, dangerous foes....and I may never stand in line with you all..shining armor and pride upon our faces. This much I rapidly come to realize. "


He let his hand drop to his side, turning to face the young man, as he crouched down to one knee to be eye to eye with him, awkward upon those stairs.


"You are right though. I...I only live for purpose. While the rest of you socialize, enjoy yourselves and train, I patrols these streets and make the best of every chance I can to help someone, anyone really. In the same breathe I narrow my eyes on the serpents in our trenches. I see them mingle among us, hurt our flocks, and my view on this is considered too strong. I am to protect both the good and the bad. I am to let them grow fat on the blood of those I'd yearn to protect. Mayhaps my view too naive or brash, but maybe that's why I need more experience..which brings me to this decision.."


The young man sighed softly, a frown twitching at the corner of his lips.

"There is a small settlement beyond the walls, I think I may go there for now, see what good I can do without the Sworn watching my movements, keeping me from instilling even the smallest of law. Perhaps I will become a better man out in those sands, or perhaps I'll never return at all. That will be for the land to decide. To you though Young Hero, I would impart this."


Aiden slipped from his armor that little book, scribbled on the front the title " Aiden's Codes of Conduct", and held it out for him.

"Mayhaps the lessons I learned in my brief time in Ul'dah may serve you well...my friend? "

And there he had said it, regarding this one as only the second person he would consider potentially his comrade.

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Chachanji couldn't help but smile a little when Aiden brought forth the ideas of great quests and dangerous foes, his own memories of childhood daydreams coming to mind much more quickly than he'd openly admit. All those thoughts of rescuing princesses and saving the downtrodden that flitted through his mind when his mother was trying to impress upon him such fascinating topics as market flow and supply and demand. The smile faded quickly enough, though, when Aiden dropped himself down to the little Lalafell's level. Had he been in front of a mirror when he had ungoned his own self-reflection, he might've recognized that look in the Hyur's eyes. As it was, he just knew the farm-raised fellow was going to be saying something important - either for Chachan or himself.


As such, he reminded steadfastly quiet as Aiden went on a more... personal tirade. As the youngest Gegenji had long felt, the man's heart was certainly in the right place. He just seemed to be trying to be a one-man wrecking crew against all that was evil - something Chachanji himself had imagined himself being more than once. Maybe it was merely his - albeit equally childish, if not more so - belief that he could turn the bad guys to the side of good that kept the Lalafell from going on "evil-crushing crusades" like the Midlander. It was certainly brash, but Chachan wasn't quite sure about the naive.


Despite the dour tone in which it was presented, Chachan's lip curled slightly upward when Aiden spoke of going out and helping the refugees. Inwardly, he had been worried that the Hyur would have given up on his goals entirely, that his dream had been shattered beyond repair. Knowing that he would continue to fight the good fight, even in his own way, and hopefully find his way in doing so... it was a comforting thing. The Lalafell could've done without the fatalist "never return at all" part, though. He had been upset enough with the prospect of Leanne retreating to La Noscea for an undetermined amount of time.


Happiness, sadness, thoughtfulness... and soon surprise was added to the list of emotions evoked during this chance encounter outside the Quicksand. It was surprise that had the little Lalafell stare dumbfoundedly at the proffered gift, at being referred to as Aiden's friend. Inwardly, he had thought himself as such and hoped the Hyur had considered him on as well, but there was something different about it being put into words. With a gentle touch, Chachanji took the book.


"A'course, Aiden. My friend," he repeated with another, extra-genuine smile as he gazed at the words scribbled on the cover. As he did, his eye wandered to his own hand and down to his wrist, where one of a matching pair of bracelets rested. His mind flitted to the day his brother stormed out, to when he had found the other half of his brother's Cactaur earrings resting on his nightstand. The earring he wore now and refused to take off whenever necessary. And he found inspiration.


"Someone once told me," he sad as he slipped off the leather bracelet strapped to his right wrist. "That ya don't hafta be a Paladin ta halp people. Asked me why I wanted, why I needed that distinction. I'm still workin' on my answer, but th' path has been an enlightenin' one."


He took the larger fellow's hand in his own, and pressed the bracelet into it. His fingers flitted briefly on the details etched into it, of branches and sakura petals, as was the style back in his homeland. It could give away his Doman heritage - something he still wasn't entirely comfortable about revealing wholesale quite yet - but at the moment, he found it hard to care about that. Smiling, he closed the Hyur's fingers around that memento of his homeland, and of their friendship.


"Hopefully yers will be enlightenin' too."

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