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.

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