althea_valara: A female red mage from Final Fantasy 11. (Default)
I left Bastok a mere day after I arrived. It was late afternoon when I made my way over to the teleport vendor. "Where to?" he asked.

"Valkrum". Oh joy, the Dunes again. My very favorite place. At least I wouldn't be staying long.

I closed my eyes as the world shifted. When it righted itself I opened my eyes--and yup, there was the damned outpost.

"Back so soon?" Medicine Ax called to me.

"Gotta catch a boat," I called back. I waved, and wasting no time, headed to Selbina. I did not want to fight any damselflies if I could help it. I had to skirt around a few goblins, but made it to Selbina without incident.

I hesitated at the steps leading down into town, biting my lip. Had I forgotten anything? Maybe I should stop at some of the vendors. But oh goddess, what about the ferry ticket? What if I didn't have enough?

I really need to learn to ask more questions before heading off.

Well, nothing to do but to find out. I squared my shoulders and marched down to the ticketing office.

"Yes?"

"One ticket to Mhaura," I said. I held my breath. I really hoped I had enough for this...

"100 gil, please"

I broke out in nervous laughter, causing some glances to be thrown my way. "Here you go," I said, grinning as I handed over the gil. Apparently travel is cheap. Who knew?

I sat down on the dock to wait. A mithra was waiting, too; she looked at me curiously, nodded in greeting, then turned away and started casting magic. The spells she was using were way beyond my level; I knew enough to tell that she was a summoner, and it appeared that she was somehow replenishing her MP, but I couldn't tell you how; it looked very complicated. It was hard to believe that someday I might be able to do such magic.

A horn blew to signal the ferry's approach. I quickly hopped to my feet & grabbed my pack as it docked. The Mithra summoner boarded first, Carbuncle running around her feet. I followed them into what I can only describe as a holding room. It looked like it would be used for extra cargo storage when the ferry wasn't carrying passengers.

I leaned against the wall and tried not to stare as others boarded. I have a habit of making others uncomfortable, unfortunately; my curiosity gets the better of me. There were a few others, but not many. What I couldn't understand was why my fellow passengers were taking the ferry; they all looked like seasoned adventures--surely they had permits to ride the airship?

The horn sounded again. I stumbled as the ferry lurched away from the dock. I'd never been on a boat before. I hoped I wouldn't get seasick.

Once we were safely away from the dock, the porter opened the inner doors leading up to the deck. The others filed ahead of me; my attention was caught by a vendor. But he didn't have anything that caught my interest, just some potions & medicines that I either couldn't afford or didn't need.

I headed up the stairs and out onto the deck. "Aha!" I said as I spied the others, who were all standing at the rails, fishing. That explains why they were taking the ferry. Can't catch fish on an airship.

I drifted over to the railing myself. The cool breeze played with my hair. It carried the scent of salt & fish. So different from the smoke & dust of home.

The sun was setting behind us. Selbina was shrinking in the distance, all reds and golds from the setting sun. The stars and night sky were creeping over the little town. I stared in awe at the beautiful sight--and with a bit of trepidation, too. Soon I would be farther away from home than I'd ever been--all the way to another continent.

Selbina slipped over the horizon. I sighed, then turned around to look out at the sea ahead of us.. Islands lay gray in the distance beyond our reach. There was only the sound of waves breaking over the bow and the snap of fishing lines being thrown and reeled in.

I stood at the bow for some time, watching as the moon arose over the distant gray landmasses, turning them a shining white. I was uncertain of how much time had passed when suddenly something cold and wet pressed against my back.

I yelped and spin to see a puk before me, about to attack. I fumbled for my sword, thankful I had gotten into the habit of carrying it with me at all times. I winced as the puk bit my arm, but then my sword was in hand and I brought it down--once, twice, thrice, and the puk was dead.

Breathing hard, I looked around in amazement. No one had even bothered to look up--they all still stood at the rails, silently casting their lines. Bewildered, I started to put my sword back in its sheath, but stopped as I noticed something on it. I lifted it up, and saw fish scales clinging to it. "Eww!" I grimaced, running a hand over my sword to pull them off, then shaking my hand over the railing to fling them back into the sea, where they belonged.

When I finished cleaning up, I sheathed my sword, then turned my back to lean against the railing, looking curiously at my passenger-mates again. I suppose such attacks must be a common occurrence if they didn't even draw attention.

An Elvaan was fighting with his line, reeling furiously. With a great heave he pulled it in--but it wasn't a fish; it was another monster. He didn't even panic, just dispatched it with a flash of a dagger, re-baited his line, and cast again.

It was at times like this when I really felt my inexperience.

The rest of the trip was much of the same. Lines being cast, fish caught, monsters dispatched.

Then, in the distance, a large, gray shape. The rising sun hit it and the grays shifted to greens and browns. I stood in shock. What I was looking at could only be Heavens Tower, the giant tree of Windurst. It dominated the skyline, much bigger than anything I had ever seen. Bigger, even, than Jeuno perched on its bridges and supports above the channel.

I was, indeed, a very long way from home.

Why me?

Jun. 2nd, 2009 05:28 pm
althea_valara: A female red mage from Final Fantasy 11. (Default)
I lay awake in bed most of the night, my head spinning with thoughts. Most of all: Why me? I've barely started adventuring - why would they ask someone as green as me to do this mission when they have experienced folks like Naji eager to volunteer?

I mean, I do feel like I'm getting stronger. I don't struggle as much in battle, and I can use higher-level spells now. But I still have a lot to learn. And I can't even beat a damselfly yet!

So no, it can't be my battle skills they want. It's got to be something else.

Perhaps it's the fact that I am so new? Maybe they think I won't question their orders. Maybe I can pick up on something an experienced officer can't, simply because I don't have any idea what to expect.

Laying in bed isn't going to give me any answers. I obviously wasn't going to get any sleep & dawn was breaking, so I decided to get up and go for a walk.

The city was just starting to stir. Merchants were sweeping their sidewalks and drawing back curtains. Water splashed merrily in the fountain. A young Galka ran by, startling a sleeping Elvaan, who sat up with a start and blinked a few times, then started laying out his bazaar merchandise again. A few hopefuls were gathered at the auction house windows, ready to pounce should a tempting item be listed for sale.

I've been spending so much time in the dunes chasing damselflies that I had forgotten what the city sounded like. The clang of the blacksmiths, the creak of the drawbridge, the water tumbling in the wheels, merchants & customers haggling over prices: all these combined to give Bastok its own unique song, full of energy, discovery, innovation--and yes, adventure.

I stopped in the middle of the Galkan Bridge, leaning on the railing, looking towards the port where an airship was landing. There was still so much to learn about this place I called home.

But now was not the time: I had to go far away, not only to another city but another continent. What kind of song would it have? I couldn't even begin to imagine.
althea_valara: Crouching with exhaustion. (this is rough)
A girl can only take so much of getting knocked out. I've been whacking at flies with all the strength I possess, but I still don't have what it takes to bring one down.

I camped for the night near the outpost, hoping that the sounds of other adventurers whomping creatures of the night would inspire me somehow. What to do, what to do?

I could stay in the Dunes & continue to fight, but that didn't seem smart; I was getting more exhausted with each day, and as a result my techniques was getting clumsy. I was afraid I'd develop bad habits.

I could go to Jeuno. There's a lot more shopping there than at homel maybe I'd find better gear or an awesome weapon that would help me out. But Jeuno was still far away from here, through areas even worse than the Dunes. I was too tired for such a journey.

In the end I decided to go home and get some REAL rest. It'd be really good to sleep in a bed again rather than waking up with sand in uncomfortable places. So I got up early the next morning, intending to get a head start on the long trip home.

I guess I was grumbling too much as I was packing my gear because the outpost vendor asked me what was wrong.

"I'm heading back to Bastok today," I told him. "Not looking forward to the long walk there, though."

He smiled. "You haven't been adventuring long, have you?"

"Um, no. Why?" I said, while struggling to shove my blanket in my pack.

"Because I can teleport you there."

I dropped my sword and looked up at him. "You can?"

"Yep. I'll won't even charge you, since this is your first time and all."

I shrugged my pack on & grabbed my sword. "What are we waiting for, then?"

He laughed. "Okay, here we go."

I reflexively closed my eyes. The world blinked, and then my skin was prickling as the scorching hot Dunes weather gave way

to the gentle warm breeze of Bastok. I opened my eyes ande found myself standing outside the residence area in the Mines district. I was home!

Grinning, I set off to my apartment near the Markets. I couldn't resist stopping at the auction house to see if there was anything good for sale--such as, oh, a lighter but strong sword capable of killing damselflies, perhaps?--but nothing caught my eye. I was just about to step into the residence to see if I had received any deliveries when I heard a voice calling my name.

"Althea! Hey, Althea!"

I turned and saw it was Naji, one of the guards regularly stationed outside the President's office. "Hey, Naji," I said. "What's up?"

"The President wants to see you."

"ME? What could the President want with me?"

"I don't know, but you'd better come along. He doesn't entertain guests very often."

So I followed him through the Metalworks, wondering what in Altana's name was going on. Maybe he wanted to chew me out for reading that report? But that didn't make any sense... why would an insanely busy man such as the President waste his time with that? Especially since Lucius already had given me a dressing down.

We had reached the roof of the Metalworks when Naji suddenly blurted out, "Boy, you're lucky."

I looked at him. "Lucky? Why?"

"I hear you're going overseas." Overseas?! my brain echoed as he continued on. "Usually, I would be giving you your orders, but this time, the president's aide wants to meet with you in person. I don't know if the missions you've been on so far were tough for you... But this time, I'm sure it's going to be a real challenge. I mean, you're going to have to go to both San d'Oria and Windurst..." WINHURST?!?! "It's not like going somewhere nearby, like Gustaberg or the Konschtat Highlands. You'll have to travel by sea, too." He sighed. "And I'll be here, doing guard duty as always."

I... really didn't know what to say to that; my mind was still reeling too much at what he had told me to say anything comforting to him. There was no time for awkwardness, though, because we had reached the President's office.

"Good luck," Naji told me, flashing a quick smile both friendly and sad before taking up his post at the bottom of the stairs again. "Oh, and make sure you don't say anything that might offend him... He's really touchy."

Oh boy.

I entered the office, where I found the President and his aide, Lucius, bent over a report. They looked up as I entered.

"Ah, we have been expecting you. I remember meeting you after your first mission," Lucius said. Yeah, I guess I made an impression on him, huh? "Let me introduce you. This is Sir Karst--"

"President Karst. That is how you will address me," the president said. Naji was right--he does seem touchy. "Lucius, what was that about a first mission?"

"The report from the Zeruhn Mines, sir. About the Talekeeper--"

"Hmph. Those Galka again. I was not informed you had met with the messenger, Lucius."

The messenger? I'm standing right here!

"I did not feel it was necessary to bother you with such trivial matters, sir."

"'President,' Lucius."

"My apologies. I am sorry for not having informed you about the Galka, Mister President."

"No matter." He finally seemed to remember I was there and turned back to me. "Here are your orders. As you know, there are three other nations aside from our own in Vana'diel. The Kingdom of San d'Oria, the Federation of Windurst, and the Grand Duchy of Jeuno. Jeuno is still professing neutrality, so I want you to go to San d'Oria and Windurst. It does not matter which you go to first, as long as you go to both. I will give you a letter of introduction, which you will present to the consuls in both nations. Any questions?"

"Uh, no," I said. Actually, I had, oh, tons of questions, but I was still reeling from how fast this all was happening and couldn't think of a way to ask them that wouldn't make the President grouchy.

"Good," the President said. "Lucius, the letter."

This is your letter of introduction," Lucius said, handing it to me. "Present it to the consuls and they will give you further instructions."

"Those are your orders. Depart quickly. You are dismissed," the President said, turning his attention back to the report on his desk again.

I walked out, and found that Naji had been waiting for me rather than standing guard.

"So, how did it go?" he asked. "Did the president nag at you?"

I shook my head. "After seeing how much he was nagging at Lucius, I decided not to give him a reason to nag at me."

"I hear ya," Naji said. "I still can't believe that Chief Cid actually backed that guy during the elections... Oops. You didn't hear me say that, okay? I gotta go. Good luck on your mission!"

"Thanks," I said. "See ya."

The questions I hadn't dared to ask raced through my head. Why am I being sent? What do I do once I get there? I hope I'm not meant to be a spy, 'cause that'd be rather uncool. And why couldn't Naji have given me these orders, like he usually does?

And apparently I don't need to go to Jeuno because they are "professing neutrality". But he wants me to go to Sandy and Windy, because... they aren't? Does that mean he's expecting them to attack Bastok?

I do tend to have an overactive imagination, so that's probably not his reason. But if that isn't... than what is?

My feet must've automatically carried me home, because the next moment I was opening my door with no memory of having passed through the Metalworks.

"Welcome home, Master!!" my moogle greeted me.

"Huh?" I blinked and started. "Oh yeah, right."

I barely registered his prattle about my plants and deliveries as I crossed the room in a daze and sat on the bed. I looked around. The familiarity of my furnishings had slipped away while I was gone; though I recognised them as belonging to me, they felt strange & out of place. Or maybe it was me that was out of place. How much longer did I have to journey before I had a real home again?

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althea_valara: A female red mage from Final Fantasy 11. (Default)
Althea Valara

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