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Where the Pumpkins Have Gone.

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There comes a time when sometimes the best place to sleep defeats the purpose of comfort. 'Home is where the heart is.', commonly used for those less fortunate. When all the trappings are stripped away, it is in that solace that true understanding can be envisioned. The sun was barely rising on the horizon near Limsa Lominsa. The salty sea air fermented off the morning tide, bringing in the mists.


Opening his sullen eyes, Gus Pumpkinweed- an estranged businessman and pumpkin farmer let his settings fill the void that dreams fill when you sleep. A heavy blanket was set over his small but ample size, specks of dirt dug into the pores on his youthful face. Stretching his arms high into the air, feeling the joints in his elbows pop, he yawned heavily and chapped his dry lips together. Brushing the heavy woolen blanket from around his fairly broad shoulders, for a lalafell, he stood to finish off his morning routine.


Gus was covered in fashionable leathers. An orange vest strapped over a black tunic underneath. Upon his waist, a large weathered work belt consisting of everything he needed: a journal, vials filled with various concoctions, skins corked and filled with refreshing drinks, several satchels all containing important documents, snacks and always stray pumpkin seeds; a handkerchief to wipe his hands, uncommon tools and a topped off inkwell and quill. At his feet, an open book beside a candlestick that was still burning briefly- a strong, but pleasant, odor rising from the wax which was made of pumpkins. 


There had been very little interaction these last few moons and Gus had taken to living in one of the various pumpkin plots in the Cedarwood. Surrounded with pumpkins of various sizes, Gus staggered away from his crops to relieve himself far enough to not contaminate the soil with his excrement behind a large bush. When he returned, his calloused hands ran through the dark soil beside his prized pumpkin. Despite the season, the pumpkins were still thriving off of the land and this crop had not shown signs of detriment... yet.


It was because of the strange phenomenon that came with the mists at the midst of his disappearance that put all of his stock to a screeching halt. In order to meet the demand of his goods, especially after All Saints Wake, Gus cut all ties with his employees and friends- issuing paid furloughs until his indefinite return. While some had offered to aid him in growing his pumpkins, Gus simply refused to show his growing methods to anyone. After all, who grows pumpkins all twelve seasons?


Reaching into one of the pouches on his waist, Gus retrieved a thin metallic object with a sharp prick at the front. On its side, a twisting knob; the top having a magnifying lens. Poking it into a random pumpkin, he smiled and adjusted the knob, looking into the lens to see the inside of the pumpkin.


"Nothing abnormal," Gus said to himself, "how auspicious indeed!" Turning to his prized pumpkin beside the one he was analyzing, Gus prodded with an ecstatic gaze and lopsided grin. "Jack! The pumpkins are returning! Soon, we will be able to exchange vocal chord frequencies to the masses!" 


"Affirmative, Gus! It's because you read spooky stories to us!"


"I concur! Aren't I the best? I love you all SO much!" The fact he was speaking to a pumpkin and voicing his own responses in a voice that was higher in pitch showed that something was loose in the lalafell's mind; perhaps it had always been that way as far as others were concerned. This was just the beginning of what would be a long, long day.

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[align=center]The day's priorities including the following:[/align]



[align=center]Waxing and polishing every pumpkin in the plot[/align]

[align=center]Checking every pumpkin (individually) for any imperfections[/align]

[align=center]Explaining to each pumpkin that it's okay to 'not be perfect and that it made them unique'[/align]

[align=center]Watering the pumpkins[/align]


[align=center]Checking the roster of the Piquant Pumpkin[/align]

[align=center]Jotting notes as to what changes are required[/align]

[align=center]Thinking up pumpkiny candy ideas[/align]

[align=center]Writing algorithms for the ideas[/align]

[align=center]Using stock supplies to create the candy[/align]

[align=center]Testing the new candy[/align]

[align=center]Liking it no matter what and adding it to future promotions[/align]

[align=center]Starting a nice campfire[/align]

[align=center]Reading spooky stories to the pumpkins[/align]


[align=center]More stories[/align]



The awful truth about this tedious workload was that it happened, each and every single day. There came many times when others offered to talk with Gus, or invited him to congregate. When Gus explained ' I cannot take the time off of work', he simply was not jesting. The set schedule was actually smaller than it used to be due to his self-induced exile from society. While some might grow mad, Gus was used to set conditions of living out in the wilderness without anyone tossing him a moment's notice.


It had only been about twenty four moons since he had left home in Ul'dah and eighty four moons since the Calamity had struck Hydalen. In that strange time, Gus had been through many life-altering endeavors. He broke ties with his own family after ending a betrothal to an opposing and rival business, moved across the world with no money, lived in the wilds of the Shroud with only pumpkin seeds and stolen foods to nourish him, increased his knowledge of business and quaint (but useless) facts and somehow created one of the most successful businesses in all of Eorzea.


There were good moons and less than stellar moons but in all that time, Gus himself, never regretted all he met or those that had taken the road with him. The very last Spooky the 13th, his bi-annual event, was set a few suns before All Saints Wake. The event had crippled his stock of pumpkins, but like always Gus's new stock was well along the way... and then the strange phenomenon occurred.


[align=left]It came with the mists, or so Gus still thought. The truth was that when his pumpkins became coated and filled with strange green ooze, which glowed eerily in the bells of the night, he simply could not manufacture or sell the pumpkins despite their 'spooky' appearance. There was the liability of his reputation, which was already considered abrasive, as well as the possibility of seriously sickening someone. So the eccentric lalafell looked to all his plots, expecting that the Cedarwood plot has simply gone rotten only to learn that every pumpkin plot he owned was suffering the same detrimental effects.


He launched a personal investigation seeing as his employees or associates were all but busy with their own personal shenanigans. Gus traveled across Eorzea to check on several farm lands. It was not only his pumpkins suffering, but other produce as well. Despite the risk of famine coming upon the populace, Gus could not convince many to come together and work towards unraveling the mystery.


Some time had passed and there had been no recent occurrences of the ooze. Was it all some sabotaging prank? Was it an actual supernatural phenomenon? He couldn't figure it out and perhaps he never would. The notes on his findings were all available for dabbling in case the event occurred again in the future.


The plot in the Cedarwood was looking healthy and his work there was done. It was high time for the lalafell to take the ferry across the barren sea to visit one of his many plots settled in the Shroud. When asked why Gus never simply used the stone vigils, he came off hypocritical. How could someone obsessed with the supernatural and anything spooky be afraid of aetheral travel? He never explained it to any and no one thought to ask him. In fact, there wasn't much that anyone asked Gus of other than his business and schedule... except Gus's pumpkins.


While he knew that the pumpkins themselves were not sentient beings, he still took to the habit of pumpkins being his closest companions; that was until Hopkins the fruit bat arrived. Not too long after, Wakalaka- a beautiful and equally eccentric lalafell, became a part of his life.


Gus missed her; he missed all of his associates. As he began the walk towards the nearby stables set beside the pumpkin patch, Hopkins came swooping in from above, squeaking hungrily.[/align]


[align=left]"Salutations Mr. Hopkins," Gus welcomed cheerfully, "returned f'some more pumpkin?"


The bat squeaked several times, circling around Gus's spiky hair. When Gus held out his arm at full length, Hopkins landed onto Gus's sleeve; his small claws hooked into the fabric. The bat hung casually upside down, waiting for his treat.


Retrieving slices of raw pumpkin meat, he held it close to Hopkins impish features before turning around the wooden fence closing off the patch. Already the aroma of the stables clouded his senses and single orange chocobo lay lazily on it's belly.[/align]


"Neuroreceptors are fully charged, Pumpkin," Gus called out to the chocobo, "it is time t'make a journey towards Limsa Lominsa. We've pumpkins t'check! T'sooner t'better f'all Eorzea; they're cravin' pumpkins... I can sense it!"

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