Saturday, September 28, 2013

Skyla's Story: The Markets

Skyla, stop getting so distracted, I scolded myself.
It's hard to ignore how beautiful Gridania is at night, however.

I knew this wasn't the time to admire the lights, with this eel pie growing colder by the minute in my backpack... I just couldn't help myself though.
One minute can't really make that much of a difference anyway, can it?

I continued along my way, following the path that led to the mark Miounne placed upon my map. Careful to not bump into any other adventurers, I made my way into the Markets...

I was immediately met with the sounds of clanging, banging, and chiseling as dozens of craftsmen (and women!) lined the halls, perhaps working for clients. 

 I finally found Parsemontret, the so-called "Master of the Markets"... He was quite reluctant to speak to me at first, regarding me as yet another blundering new adventurer...
...that was, until I held out the eel pie Miounne baked!
I must admit, I had a bit of an urge to go off and eat it myself after being treated so rudely, but I have to get "friendly" with the folks of Gridania if I'm ever to pursue my dream. I guess enduring ornery old men is a part of the job.
No sooner than I handed the pie over, he was already shoving slice after slice into his gob.
Don't you need a glass of water?!? I wondered, but when the last slice disappeared into the deep void of his mouth, it was already answered.
Saying that he was a man of his word, he hastily explained where I could find just about anything I needed as an adventurer... potions, armor, weapons, and whatever else I might desire. The whole while I couldn't help but notice the crumbs in his mustache, but that's besides the point.
He then requested that I buy a few things and deliver it to a certain someone at the Lancer's Guild. My ears twitched in excitement. Finally, things are moving along!
I ran off as he blabbed about how all I had to do was mention his name to receive payment, and starting browsing the stalls with fervor.

Once that was over with and my pack was brimming with the needed items, I quickly ran off after my next objective... to visit the Lancer's Guild!
This was what I truly wanted to do. Large mysterious crystals and shopkeeps are interesting and all, but this would be truly useful.
To follow in his footsteps... I shook my head furiously. No, this isn't the time to get all sentimental. There's enough time for that later.

Through all of the excitement, I failed to notice the pitter-patter of rain on the roof, which became all too apparent when I stepped outside.
Sprinting as fast as I could, I tore down the path, past the sign of the large lance, and into the safe overhang of the Lancer's Guild's roof.

I fell onto the ground trying to catch my breath, and noticed a Wood Wailer giving me an odd look...
Oh well, at least I don't need to talk to her or...
"Are you the one who was supposed to deliver some goods?" she inquired, interrupting my thoughts. embarrassing.
"Yes, that's me!" I blurted out, and quickly handed them over to her. She nodded, handed me my payment, and I dashed off into the building. No need to embarrass myself further.

So much for a good first impression.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Skyla's Story: Aetheryte Beckons

How on earth did I not notice this?
It seems that I was so focused on listening to Miounne that I didn't notice the Canopy filling up with occupants...
I stop in my tracks, almost bumping into someone. Imagine if I had, that pie wouldn't survive...
Deep breath.
I hold the box close to my person, and wait for the exit to clear. Last thing I need is an adventurer with a ravenous appetite to get any ideas.

I bite my lip, wondering if perhaps I'm judging everyone too harshly yet again. Maybe the Wood Wailers are just overreacting at perceiving most adventurers as a menace.
A brightly colored creature bounds past me, following its master. A Summoner and his familiar, I assume... I've heard of them, but have never seen them before.

I catch my breath and decide that people-watching can be saved for later...
I have tasks to complete!
Releasing my grip on the box a bit, I exit the Canopy and glance to my left. I'm pretty sure that's where the Wood Wailer stopped me earlier. Must be the way I'm supposed to go.
I walk along the path, catching glances at people who pass by. They all seem to be in such a rush, thrilled to go about whatever business they're attending to. I'm glad they aren't paying me much mind. Wouldn't want to be known as the "newcomer" to everyone in all of Gridania...

As I walk up the small incline, I see something incredible before me... A giant crystal, rotating and suspended in the air by some strange magics. Is this what Miounne spoke of? Before it stands a Wood Wailer, and though I can't see her eyes, the smirk on her face reveals her bemusement.
"Let me guess, you're new to Gridania?" she asks while motioning over to the crystal.
I sigh. I guess worrying that I'll be labeled a newcomer is pointless... It's obvious enough already.
"Yes, I am.." I reply.
"Good," she says with a smile. "As you probably already know, the creatures of the Twelveswood have been acting unnaturally as of late. It falls to the God's Quiver to pacify them. You should speak to them near the Archer's Guild, as alas, they are sorely undermanned."
I'm not exactly sure if my rudimentary skills qualify me to even dare to help, but I accept her request anyway.
I just want to get over to that crystal.

Rushing up the ramp, I barely even notice that a light, yet steady rain has begun to fall.
I'm too busy being amazed by what stands... err, floats, before me.

The crystal... What did Miounne call it? The Aetheryte?
It is HUGE!
I bask in the blue glow, staring in awe as other adventurers and citizens place their hands upon it, and in snap, disappear. What Miounne said was true, it really is used for transportation... and I don't feel ill around it, thank the gods!
Glancing around me, nobody else seems to be having any ill effects either. Guess there's only one thing to do,  and that's to touch the crazy thing.
Placing the box of eel pie under one arm, I reach towards the Aetheryte. As soon as my hand comes in contact with the surface, I feel a strange sensation course through my limbs...

"Ah, I see you're following Miounne's instructions?"
The voice startles me, and I quickly pull back my hand from the Aetheryte, feeling almost as if I've done something wrong.
I turn to the source of the voice, only to find that it's yet another Wood Wailer. Seems as if they really are watching my every move...
"Excuse my manners, I'm Nicia of the Wood Wailers," she says, extending an apology for scaring the living daylights out of me. I must confess though, I was rather transfixed by that odd feeling that washed over me when I placed my hand on the crystal...
"I know a thing or two about the Aetheryte - that big crystal over there," she continues. "They are devices that tap into aetherial energies, and are primarily used as a means to travel from one place to another. There are many of these devices found in almost every corner of Eorzea, so try to attune yourself to any you come across."

"Attune? I'm not sure..." Before I can finish, she answers.
"Like you just did. Pressing your hand to the Aetheryte. But you need not locate them all at once. I suggest that you start with the ones here in Gridania to make your stay here easier."
I nod, finding myself once again staring in awe of the Aetheryte.
How little we all are...

Well, that's one task down. Two more to go!
And this eel pie is only growing cold...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Skyla's Story: Back to the Basics

Mother Miounne crosses her arms.
"Alright, let us begin at the beginning, shall we?" she says with a smirk, though free of any malice. "Now that you are a formal member of the Adventurer's Guild, we must be sure you have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of adventuring. To that end, I have three tasks I wish you to perform."

"Your first task is to visit the aetheryte. This massive crystal stands in the middle of the Aetheryte Plaza not far from the Carline Canopy."
Aetheryte? Sounds related to aether... I better not get ill standing near it. If there's one way to show that you're incapable of something, it's passing out before you even start.
She must have sensed my apprehension, though it seems she mistook it for confusion.
"Aetheryte... It's a device that enables instantaneous transportation. It plays a key role in the life of the ever-wandering adventurer," she explains. Instant transportation... I can't help but wonder if aether can transport you somewhere in your dreams. I chuckle inwardly at the thought.
"You think I'm kidding?" Miounne raises an eyebrow, but continues before I can protest. "Just try touching its surface. A member of the Wood Wailers will provide you with further instruction."
I promptly shut my mouth and nod. Great, more Wood Wailers.

"Is that your weapon of choice?" She motions to the old spear strapped to my back.
"Yes... or, at least I hope it to be. I know how to... stab rabbits." I reply sheepishly. I sure hope we aren't expected to have prior training.
"Alright. For your second task, you are to visit the Lancers' Guild. There's no better way to learn the arts of the polearm. Speak with Jillian, and she will explain the benefits of joining the guild."
I rub my hands together in anticipation. Could Jillian be a dragoon? To learn from the best... that would put me on the fast track to fulfilling what I had promised to do all those years ago... The goal that brought me here in the first place.
Miounne cuts my thoughts short.
"For your third task and final task, I would have you visit the markets at the heart of Old Gridania's commercial district. There you shall find armor and weapons, and all the various items that an adventurer might need on her travels." She reaches into her pocket, and places a few dozen gil on the counter. "This is a little something to help you out. I expect you to return the favor someday to one who has less experience than yourself," she says with a smile.
I can barely believe it, but I happily grasp the gil in my hands and grin widely.

"Thank you so much, I can definitely buy something with this. I spent nearly all of my gil getting here..." I say excitedly, tucking the coins into my pocket.
"Before you go, there's one more thing... There's more to the markets than buying and selling goods. Speak with Parsemontret, and listen well to his counsel," she advises me. "The master merchant can be... uncooperative at times, so be sure to offer him one of my famous eel pies." Miounne raises her eyebrow with amusement. "Like so many men, he is MUCH more charitable when his stomach is full. Here, I made a batch not too long ago."
She bends down to grab something behind the counter, and hands me a box wrapped in brown paper and tied twine. I can smell the delicious scent of seafood through the wrapping and my mouth begins to salivate... No, this isn't for you, Skyla! Don't even think about it!

"You have your tasks, Skyla," she says, somewhat skeptical. Oh yikes, she caught me drooling over the pie... Time to snap out of it.
I nod and smile, acknowledging her statement. I turn to leave, and she leaves me with one last word...

"May Nophica guide your path... and should you happen to come across any citizens in need, don't be afraid to proffer a helping hand!"
Don't worry, Miounne... I will. If I'm to achieve what I've set out to accomplish, I need all the experience I can get.

Friday, September 20, 2013

An Update to Skyla's Story - New Format

Over the past few weeks, I've been absolutely DREADING to write more of Skyla's Story. I've been playing on my Roegadyn Marauder instead, completely ignoring Skyla Leitero.

Oh, my...

To be honest, I've bitten off way more than I can chew.
Firstly, writing in present tense is TOUGH AS HELL.
I've never written more than a page or two in present tense, and I keep finding myself reverting to past tense and then having to fix everything.

This game has way too many cutscenes. WAY. TOO. MANY.
If I'm to transcribe every cutscene, I'll never progress in the game or the story.


From now on, all of Skyla's Story will be written in past tense, and I won't be focusing so much on writing out every cutscene in excruciating detail.
Of course, there are still two more entries scheduled for tomorrow and Wednesday, so those will not have the new format.

Hope you all enjoy the new format better!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Skyla's Story: Scorned

"Look what just arrived... Another godsdamned adventurer."

It becomes clear to me that the Wood Wailers don't like adventurers very much. Maybe that Wood Wailer I spoke to earlier spooked me just for kicks?
I stand frozen, taken aback by such random hate.
"Don't you start with that. Adventurers are the very salve that Gridania needs." Looks like Miounne to the rescue...
Her eyes narrow, and her tone isn't much unlike a scolding mother.
"The Elder Seedseer HERSELF bade us welcome them with open arms. Do you mean to disregard her will?"

She seems to have struck a nerve.
"Of course not!" an Elezen Wood Wailer exclaims, his pointed ears giving his race away, even behind a mask. "Lest YOU forget, it is my sworn duty to uphold the peace! Am I to blame if outsiders bring mistrust upon themselves?"
I guess some of the adventurers that sign up here are less than savory in terms of character.
The Wood Wailer points a long finger towards me in warning.
"YOU! Adventurer. Mind that you do not cause any trouble here, or I shall personally cast you out of this realm and into the seventh hell," he snarls. If I didn't know any better, I'd have mistaken him for a coerl. I can't help but fold my ears back in reaction to this... abuse.

He turns in a huff, and stalks out of the building with his two buddies in tow.
I relax a bit, but barely.
How hard am I going to work to gain the trust of these people? Is Mother Miounne just a rare exception to a suspicious and harsh populace?
As if reading my mind yet again, she pipes up.
"Pay that outburst no mind. He meant only to... counsel you." She says that last bit with a bit of bitter scorn. I can tell she's not happy about them coming and interrupting her. I can't say I blame her. If I had known everyone would be so hostile, I would have chosen somewhere to sign up as an "adventurer..."
I think I'm starting to dislike that label again.
"Some counseling..." I mumble, staring down at my feet.
Miounne sighs.

"Don't take it to heart. Suspicious characters have been prowling the Twelveswood as of late, you see, and the Wood Wailers feel they cannot afford any chances." she explains, and I raise an eyebrow in skepticism.
"I saw them battle with the Ixal. Do I look like an Ixal?" I reply, perhaps a little too harshly. She doesn't seem to want to further the conversation along those lines, because she ignores my statement. Ah well, it was rhetorical anyway.
"Gridanians are wont to mistrust things they do not well know, your good self included. Fear not, however... given a catalog of exemplary deeds, and no more than a handful of years, the locals will surely warm to you."
She doesn't seem to notice my jaw drop. Years? YEARS? This is going to be much harder than I thought.
I quickly close my mouth before she notices my horror.
"Sounds... sounds good," I stutter in reply.
Miounne smiles weakly, seeing that all genuine excitement has left my face.
"Well..." She raises her arms in an attempt to dissipate my nerves. "On behalf of my fellow citizens, I welcome you to Gridania. May you come to consider our nation as you own."
I nod in thanks.
"Now... let me guide you in the ways of the adventurer," she says with a flick of her wrist.
I just hope this won't be as hard as trust-building.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Skyla's Story: Adventurer

What can I say? I wasn't expecting an adventuring headquarters to be this... beautiful!
Light floods through the ceiling, and I can't help but wonder if it's glass, or some other more durable substance.
I take a look around at everyone, trying to scout out where this Mother is... what's her name? I've forgotten already. I guess I was still in a bit of shock when talking to that Wood Wailer, he did kind of spook me with his suspicions, after all.
My eyes settle on a woman behind the counter. She's reading a book, and looks "motherly," I guess.
Her eyes lift from the tome she's reading and meet mine.
"Miounne," she replies with a smile. "What have we here? I wide-eyed and wondering young adventurer, come to put your name down at the guild, I assume?"

I guess that's what I am, though I detest being lumped together with the average profit-monger... I can't deny my wide-eyed childishness though. This place is unlike anything I've ever seen, and it does evoke a sense of wonder...
I nod in agreement, and she proceeds to tell me that the Carline Canopy is hers, and she has the great honor of providing guidance to fledgling young... heroes? I blink in surprise. "Heroes" wasn't the word I was expecting. Maybe there really are adventurers with better intentions than making easy gil.
She raises a finger and her voice becomes a little more serious.
"In return, you expect you to fulfill your duties as an adventurer by assisting the people of Gridania. A fine deal, wouldn't you agree?"
"Yes, ma'am. I'll do my best," I reply sincerely.
A fine deal indeed... better than having to pay gil, that's for sure. I'm no money-grubber, but to be honest I don't even have the gil to spare. Almost all of my savings went into that wagon ride, and I don't really have any talents besides basic housekeeping, and maybe stabbing rabbits. I have my mother to blame for that...
"Good," she says, relief overtaking her serious tone. I get the feeling that other adventurers possibly gave her a hard time, asking for payment in return for services.

Mother Miounne gives a sigh.
"You know, to an outsider's eyes, all may seem well with out nation, but naught could be further from the truth. The people live in a constant state of apprehension. The Ixal and gangs of common bandits cause use trouble, and that's only compounded by the ever-present threat of the Garlean Empire in the north. And that's nothing to say of the Calamity..."
Her honesty and trust in me surprises me.
She seems to stare off into space, as if watching unsavory events flash before her eyes. Her eyes suddenly close, as if to put it out of her thoughts.
"Ah, but I speak of it as if you were there. Forgive me," she says sullenly.
"It's no matter. I don't take offense," I reassured her. "I know it must have been a painful time. Though... I don't know much about it."
As much as it embarrasses me to not know about such a pivotal event in Eorzea's history, I know I can't possibly be the first adventurer to be somewhat clueless about what happened. After all, I was still in my place of birth when it happened... The village I had grown to hate so much.
She seems unphased by my question, my assumption confirmed.

"A dread wyrm emerged from the lesser moon, Dalamud, and rained fire upon the realm... It is this which is called the Calamity." she explains.
My ears twitch in response. I had known of the destruction, the strange glow of the lesser moon, but did not know it was a... a dread wyrm? The word is unfamiliar to me. I struggle to remember anything from the book...
"Not a square malm of the Twelveswood was spared the devastation. Yet despite the forest's extensive wounds, not a soul among us can remember precisely how it happened."
My eyes widen in surprise.
"You mean... I don't..." I must sound like an idiot stammering like this, but I fail to comprehend what she just said.
Once again, Mother Miounne stares off into the distance.
"I am well aware of how improbable that must sound to an outsider... It IS improbable."
Her gaze shifts to me.
"But it's also true. For reasons we can ill explain, the facts surrounding the Calamity are shrouded in mystery. There are as many version of events as the are people to recount them. Yet amidst the hazy recollections and conflicting accounts, all agree on one thing..."
She pauses and takes a breath before continuing.
"...that Eorzea was saved from certain doom by a band of valiant adventurers."

I feel a twinge of pain deep inside my chest as my thoughts wander. Did they perish like he did...? A life for the sake of others'?
Miounne continues, unaware of my expression of hurt.
"Whatever else we've misremembered, none of us have forgotten the heroes who risked life and limb for the sake of the realm. And yet... whenever we try to say their names, the words die upon our lips. And whenever we try to call their faces to mind, we see naught but silhouettes amidst a blinding glare."
Mother Miounne has started to "talk with her hands," as one might say, obviously getting excited about the retelling of these heroes.
"Thus have these adventurers come to be known as 'The Warriors of the Light'!"

She waves her hand, suddenly somewhat embarrassed.
"Ahem..." she coughs, "Pray do not feel daunted by the deeds of legends. We do not ask for you to become another Warrior of Light, only that you do what you can to assist the people of Gridania."
I smile uneasily.
"Of course, I'll do my best to fulfill that promise," I state, meaning well on what I say. It may not be my goal, but everyone starts somewhere, right?
At this, she smiles back.
"Remember... Your name...?"
"Skyla... Skyla Lietero," I quip.
"Ah, Skyla," she responds, rubbing her chin as if analyzing my name. "Remember, Skyla... Great or small, every contribution counts. I trust you will play your part." She looks at me with a wide, approving smile.

It's as if she can read my soul. Maybe she's seen enough adventurers to probably know which ones are trustworthy and which ones just want a slice of a great big treasure pie.
I know I'm keeping my promise. Even if it's something trivial, I'll help these people...
I need the training.
Plus... it's what he would have done.
I write my name on a scroll she presents me, and it's finalized...
Skyla Leitero, adventurer.

Right as I feel comfortable with the title, THEY come.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Skyla's Story: A Welcome

"You there!"
Me? I look around, trying to find where the voice is coming from.

"Yes, YOU!"
My eyes make contact with an Elezen not unlike the one that had stopped the wagon back while we were on the road. Same mask, and outfit, that's for sure.
I have barely even gotten a chance to look around the entrance to Gridania and already, someone is bugging me... Wait, wait, no. Be open about this!
I nod politely in the direction of the Elezen, acknowledging his exclamation.

"Your face is not known to me. Newly come to the city, no doubt." he says in a fairly official-sounding voice, and I feel a small inkling of worry. Am I not supposed to have a weapon in the city? This spear is rather noticeable...
Suddenly, my eyes are drawn to his own weapon. On his back is strapped a massive lance with a blade unlike any I have seen before. It looks almost as if three blade were layered on top of each other, and then melded together. To be skilled enough to wield a weapon like that...

I shake my head as if to clear my thoughts. Focus! And goddess forbid he thinks you're admiring his body, not his lance!
He seems like he hasn't noticed me staring... Good.
"I am Bertennant, a Wood Wailer of Gridania," he states with authority. "It is my duty to protect our nation from her enemies while welcoming those who may yet prove her friends." His voice suddenly switches to a more suspicious tone. "Let us see which you are," he says grimly, and I can't help but feel a pang of fear.
Is it the weapon on my back that made me suspicious as a newcomer? I guess I don't look like an innocent peddler or random visitor...
I glance around briefly, looking at the people walking by me. They don't seem to be bearing weapons... Great, what have you gotten yourself into?

I clear my throat.
"I'm just a... a new adventurer," I manage to spurt out.
His expression softens.
"I thought as much," he replies, but he takes on a voice of authority once more. "We cannot allow strangers to wander Gridania unchecked and untested. I suggest you make yourself known at the Carline Canopy, where the headquarters of the local Adventurer's Guild is located. Talk to Mother Miounne within, and she will take you in hand."
I give a quick thanks, and dash off in the direction he pointed to.

Adventurer's Guild? I chuckle to myself at the thought. This must be where reckless imbeciles are sent, most likely to have reality slapped into their faces by true warriors. I remember hearing stories in my childhood about someone running off to be an "adventurer" and biting off more than they can chew...
I immediately halt in my tracks, a hand placed in front of my face.

"HALT! Unregistered outsiders are not permitted beyond this point!" screams a female voice behind a wooden mask.
"I'm sorry, I must have missed what I was looking for," I say hurriedly while backing away.
She sternly points to a building behind me to my left, and I high-tail it... no pun intended. How embarrassing... I let my mind wander. I should know better than to reminisce about the past.

I make an effort to pay attention, and walk through the large doorway. How could I have missed this?!?
Before I make it inside, a large hulking Roegadyn standing next to the door speaks.
"The wood... it's watching, you know!"
I hope I made the right choice by coming here, because that... that was rather ominous.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Crafting Update! What I've Made This Summer...

Since I officially closed down my Etsy shop, I've been a roll making tons of new stuff for our grand reopening.

Here's some photos of what's in... hehe... STORE! (Okay, that was awful.)

After a lot of research into polymer clay techniques, I decided I definitely needed a clay machine. I found a reasonably priced off-brand one on eBay, and it works like a charm! 

After my first venture into the world of clay canes and clay machines, I made myself a cane that looked a lot like bacon. Thanks to the clay machine, I was able to make some great pendants and button-like post earrings!

Anyone who played World of Warcraft knows that home is where the hearthstone is... These hearthstones were shaped, textured, carved, and then accented with blue glow-paint from Glow-On. After they were glazed, they were made into pins and earrings!
Jon went for a bike ride one morning while we were in Delaware, and brought back a gorgeous dead dragonfly he found! I decided to buy a shadowbox and paint a background to mount it on.

More adventures with the clay machine! I made a tiger-stripe cane and used my new cutters to make shaped pendants. The pendants on the right were from my first clay machine experiment... They're supposed to look like they're made out of real stone.

Continued fun with both the clay machine, and my new blade! By making a small millefiori cane and cutting it up into tiny thin pieces, I was able to make the wings for butterfly post earrings. I then took scrap pieces, flattened them with the machine, and used the cutters to make some some more pendants and post earrings. 

School has started up again, and since I'm looking for a veterinary internship, I'm taking it easy this semester. The only class I'm taking is Sculpture I, and we're already getting started on something big! We're going to be making a giant "Yellow Submarine" installation in our college's east atrium... but the catch is that the WHOLE THING must be made out of only newspaper, and duct tape! Today I made a Portuguese Man o' War, and it may have attacked me... :P

I'll be keeping you all updated on the continuing progress that I make in building up my shop inventory before the big reopening day!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Skyla's Story: A Change of Heart

Silence had filled the wagon for what seemed to be minutes. I guess that my fellow occupants needed a moment to mull their sudden brush with fate over in their heads.
Unsurprisingly, it's Bremondt that finally breaks the silence.

"That... that was too bleedin' close," he says, staring down at the arrow that almost became embedded in the back of his head earlier. "Nice of the Ixal to send us a welcomin' party, though, eh?"
He reaches down and pulls the arrow from the wooden floor of the wagon.
"Jokin' aside, this won't be the last time you meet those feathered fiends, so just you take care, all right?"
I smile weakly. I can't be mad at this guy anymore, not with what he just went through. Somehow I think he's just pretending to be unphased by the Ixal incident. At his age, I'd hate to have my life cut short by something as stupid as a stray arrow. To die in the fury of battle, however...
"By the by, is this your first trip to Gridania?" he asks, interrupting the beginning of a daydream.

"Yes, it is." I reply, to which his face becomes cheerfully animated. I can't help but think that he's relieved to be able to talk about something other than beastmen attacks.
"It is!? Well then, let this journeyed itinerant tell you the ins an' outs of your destination."
I sit back and listen closely.

He tells me that Gridania lies in the middle of the Black-Shroud, the thick forest that we are traversing through right now. That much, I already knew, I did not choose to come here blindly. I don't mention this, however.
His face becomes a bit sullen as he mentions how it used to be a lot more lush before the Calamity. I stare off into the treetops, amazed at the thought that these woods could have been even thicker than they are now. Continuing with his story, he says that the destruction wrought by the Calamity caused monsters and the Ixal themselves to settle in, and that the Ixal seem to think they have a rightful claim to the Shroud.
So that's why they seem so hell-bent to attack us...
"Ah, at long last!" Bremondt exclaims, a sense of relief betraying his nerves. I guess he was expecting the Ixal to appear with their mention.
"Behold Gridania, the forest nation blessed by the elementals!"

I can't help but gasp as the trees give way to a beautiful landscape and architecture that I've never known.
Gridania... At last, I'm here!

A huge smile bursts across my face, and I stand on the wagon bench to get a better look.
Waterwheels and foliage, buildings made entirely of wood...
Once again, the wagon comes to a stop, though not as suddenly as before. I jump out the wagon, almost forgetting the long wooden spear I brought along with me. Despite its age, it's a lot better than arriving in an unfamiliar place unarmed... though it definitely is no proper lance.

"An' here's where we part ways, lass."
I turn to Bremondt, who has also exited the back of the cart. Would I be labeled insane for feeling a bit sad that we have to part ways? Maybe I was too harsh on the guy.

I thank him for giving me some background information on Gridania, but stop myself when I'm about to apologize for my rash behavior. I may be... what did he call me? A "new adventurer," but I still have some pride.
He nods and tells me he needs to deliver his wares, and then it's back to the road... Must be a boring, yet somewhat dangerous life. I feel a pang of regret for getting so angry at him earlier, I would probably dream of fame and fortune as well if I was stuck in the life of a peddler.
I find myself watching the two quiet Elezen exit the cart, walking away without a word. I almost don't notice Bremondt holding out his hand.
"Here, I want you to have this - by ways of keepin' me company," he says with a smile, and my eyes instantly snap back to his face. Way to make me feel guilty! I take the object without a word, too embarrassed to notice what it is.

"Hey," he exclaims, "You never did tell me your name, did you? Well, here's an idea..."
The skepticism about his intentions creep back into my mind, but I shake them away. Oh come on, he's just a lonely old guy. Who knows, maybe he drinks to quell some kind of past sorrow? I mean... He almost got shot with an arrow, he probably had other frightening or unfortunate incidents, right?
"Become the sort of storied personage I can brag about havin' met, an' I'll consider us square!"
See? Nothing to worry about.

With a wave of his hand, he walks off... and I'm left to ponder my thoughts and actions.
I reach into my pocket, curious as to what he had given me, and my fingers are able to make out a cold, circular object. I grab it and look into my hand... Hmm, a ring. Not an overly gaudy one, just a copper band with a nice carved design. I slip it only my finger and a faint smile crosses my lips. Looks pretty good!
Then I remember all of the doubt and malice I had towards the one who had given it to me...

Maybe I need to be more trusting.
I sigh, and look upon the entrance to Gridania.
Today I will try to have a more open mind.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Skyla's Story: The Journey Truly Begins


I open my eyes, startled to hear a voice besides that of the guardian that softly spoke...
I almost feel dismayed at what I see before me.
The blue expanse, the menacing figure, the voice... It was all a dream. I'm just on a wagon, a small little carriage that I had paid a few gil to ride in. I stretch my legs out with a sigh, disappointed that I would never see the end of that encounter.

Apparently I was mumbling and sweating in my sleep, and my fellow passenger decided it was time to wake me up. Wish he had just left me to my feverish dreaming.
Though honestly I'd rather sulk and ponder the outcome of that dream battle, the old man doesn't seem to recognize the disappointment on my face. He proceeds to tell me that it must be the aether that caused my sleeptime disturbances, and that some people are just more prone to the sickness than others. I scowl at his assumption, but who knows?
He has the grizzled features of one who has seen many moons, and I softly acknowledge to myself that maybe I just disagree with him because he woke me up. After all, I was robbed of a conclusion to my epic dream scenario.
All regret I may have had at feeling anger towards the guy fades quickly as he reaches for a large bottle that is snuggled beside him, and he takes a long swig. If there is one thing I've learned in my short lifetime, it's that you should never trust a drunk.

My scorn quickly dissipates as a blaring horn rattles my eardrums. I turn to the left, towards the end of the wagon, and immediately smile... strange, chubby creatures flutter next to me, and though I don't know what they are, they're just too ADORABLE to pose any threat.

"Feeling better, kupo?" one asks, and I grin and nod in appreciation.

They seem surprised that I can even see them, and quickly explain that they are moogles, and live in the woods we are now traversing. I glance around at the rest of the passengers in the wagon, and realize that none of them are even acknowledging the newcomers. The moogle without a horn notices my confusion and flies over to the drunkard. I watch, puzzled, as the plump creature does a ridiculous dance in front of his face as the inebriated man seemingly ignores it.

No... he's looking THROUGH the moogle. The little thing solves the mystery for me with some odd information...
Not everyone can SEE moogles, they tell me, and the hornless moogle flies in front of the two impish-looking Elezen across from my seat to no reaction. I just hope those two and the Hyur with the booze aren't following the rapid movement of my eyes.

A thought then invades my mind, distracting me from the current situation... I have never had such a vivid dream such as the one I had before. And now, moogles? Creatures that nobody seems to see or hear?
Maybe that guy wasn't speaking old wives' tales of aether sickness, and I really am going mad!

Almost as if he (at least I think it's a he) has read my mind, he asks me...
"The woods have been restless of late - lots of strange things happening. Have you chanced to witness anything suspicious?"
My mind automatically flits to my dream, but I quickly shake my head. I had a dream in the woods, but surely he asks if I've seen anything, not dreamed anything. Do moogles count as something strange I saw in the woods?
I hear a gurgling noise to my right and realize the other moogle has grabbed the drunk's bottle... and is GUZZLING it down like a heavyweight alcoholic!
My jaw practically hits the floor, and I can't help but wonder how nobody else can see this! Maybe they really aren't real after all, and I'm just sick... But, this! This is just crazy! As my mind fights itself over the possibility of having lost its sanity, the first moogle suddenly interrupts my gawking.
"But of course you haven't - you've only just arrived," he says sorrowfully. I stare blankly, still mulling over in my mind whether or not he's a figment of my own imagination. He bids me adieu, saying he will just have to keep up his search.
As he flutters away the other moogle joins him, and I can't help but notice the other moogle's flight seems unaffected by the drunk's booze. Alright... maybe I losing it, there's no way any creature that size could hold down that much alcohol, without any effect!

I see other moogles join the two in the treetops as the wagon continues, and I rub my eyes hoping that when I open them my field of vision will be free of fantastical, invisible flying things.

Instead, what I see just confuses me more.
The drunk reached for his bottle again, and tilted his head back to take a swig... only to find it empty. Maybe the moogles were real after all.
As I backtrack my thoughts and try to erase all doubts of my sanity, the man begins to speak.
"Gridania is still a fair way off, in case you were wonderin'..."
I guess he mistook my confused expression for a struggle to calculate how long I've been sitting here for.
"Seein' that you're awake, how's about you keep me company till we get there?"
I glower, half-wondering if there is any menace behind his proposition...
"Them younguns don't care much for conversation, see?" He motions towards the two Elezen at the far end of the wagon. I guess he does have a point, those two are an enigma. They didn't even bat an eye at his statement! Should I be surprised, though? I'm pretty sure they haven't moved once since I boarded this little caravan in the first place.

I sigh in surrender. Alright. I'll bite.

Before I even have a chance to get a word in, he's off talking about himself.
He introduces himself as Bremondt the peddler, and I can't help but wonder if that booze was some of his unsold stock. I'm about to introduce myself in return, but the idea of having someone to talk to has seemed to loosen his lips quite a bit.
"Judgin' by your unusual garments, I'd say you're one of them new adventurers. Am I warm?"
I stare blankly. Am I really that obvious?
New adventurer... I guess that's what I could be called. A naive Miqo'te with a dream.
I nod noiselessly, and Bremondt shouts out like he's won a game of Chocobo Chess.
"I knew it!" he yells, the smell of alcohol on his breath becoming very obvious. "Goin' wherever the wind blows, seekin' fortune an' glory - now that's what I call livin'!"

I feel the scorn for this man return. Sure, that's what a peddler would want. Gil, relics, whatever he can get his greedy hands on. This journey means more than that.
Despite my stern visage, he continues to blab.
"Well... so long as you avoid dyin', I mean. Ain't no secret that adventurin's a risky business - these days especially."
Business! This is not business...
I take a deep breath, insistent on reeling in my temper.
He's just a man, a man you'll probably never see again. Just relax. Breathe.
...and then the kicker.

"What attracted you to this in the first place?" he asks, and I bite my tongue to keep from telling him to mind his own business.
For once, he seems to be able to read my face accurately.
With a sigh, he says he won't pry if I'm not willing to tell. Good, because I wouldn't tell even if you paid me. You interrupt my dream, then I start questioning my sanity as fat little fairies flutter around me, (I mean, they had wings, could moogles and fairies be related?) and now you pry into my reasons for being here? I can't hardly wait to arrive in Gridania and be rid of this man.
Not answering his question hasn't seemed to stifle his talkativeness, because he proceeds to tell me that he himself has dozens of secrets, and doesn't stick his nose where it's not welcome. Really, now... You could have fooled me.
He proceeds to attempt to lecture me that being alive is better than any kind of fame or fortune, as if I didn't know that already. I didn't come here unprepared... but neither did I come here thinking that death could not be a door's knock away.
I'm about to roll my eyes, but suddenly the wagon halts with such a lurch that I quickly scramble to hold onto the seat, worried that I will fly off the wagon cart itself.

I peer over the edge of the cart, and my heart almost stops when I see a figure wearing a half-mask standing in the middle of the road... but the mask isn't a blood red, and there is no dark cloak over his shoulders.

Bremondt shifts in his seat, obviously unsettled by the sudden stop.
My ear twitches as I sense something wrong. Without warning, an arrow flies down into the cart, nearly missing Bremondt's head.
I feel a lump in my throat as I realize how close he just came to being slain. I may not like the man, but I don't dislike him THAT much that I'd wish death upon him!
I hear the carriage driver panicking up in front, and the masked man yells out that a skirmish has broken out ahead.. with the... Ixal?
My mind races as I remember a rough image in a book, a grotesque creature that looked as if it was a result of an unholy union of man and bird...

Right on cue, Elezen with the same wooden masks appear in a clearing ahead, clashing with monstrous humanoids that could only be the mentioned Ixal. They look less demonic that the drawing in the book had portrayed, but still just as lethal.
"Bloody hells! We shall hold them here! Try and break clear!" the first masked Elezen screams, and the carriage driver doesn't waste a split second. He cracks the reigns and the chocobos pulling the carriage rush into a steady canter, away from the sounds of blades and shields.
As we pull away, I squint to catch a glimpse of the battle... And there, I see it.

The Elezen that had stopped us holds a long lance, like that which I long to wield.
... a lance that I WILL wield.
I know with this brush with danger, my journey has officially begun.