Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chapter 7: Recovery

The orcs came over the hill in a raging rush, crushing plant and adventurers as they came. Drag's initial reaction was nothing more than his disgust for orc blood on his lance though he readied it none the less. With his pack pushed into the bushes tucked behind a rock for safe keeping he had nothing to worry about. He tightened his grip as he took stance against the orcs.

"You'd better turn tail and run before you irritate me." Drag called to the orcs attempting to flank him. They circled slowly with no intention of backing down. The battle grunts of the orcish sergeant were fierce as his blade came crashing forward with force enough to cleave a human in half, had there been one. Drag laughed as his jump landed him on the back of the orcs head, smashing its face into the sand. The orcs came in one by one as if in some predetermined order.

Drag's lance struck the the first attacker in the throat before spinning behind his head and thrusting backwards into the gut of the next. A sword came swinging down sluggishly and easily countered knocking the Orcish Neckchopper off balance. Drag added insult to injury with a kick to the teetering Orc's groin. With a grin, Drag timed his next jump perfectly so the two flanking orcs would collide skewering one another. Drag landed in his battle stance as he stood face to face with the last orc, who in turn panicked and ran shouting insults as he went.

"That's what i thought." Drag sighed and moved to a palm near the rock where he stashed his pouch. Cape Terrigan was quiet with the sun finally set over the rising tide as the sand whipped around the edges of the palm trees.. Drag's mind was calm as he pulled his satchel close and reclined for a nights rest.

. . .

The morning sun was just peaking over the horizon as drag finished carefully fashioning his armor. His footsteps drug as he headed towards the outpost at the interior of the cape. Drag's training had made him tired and he was in desperate need of a soft bed and a full meal. He made it within sight of the the outpost before the burning sun finally beat him down. His armor clattered as his knees buckled crashing into the sand. He knew he would probably be killed if he didn't move but his armor made it almost physically impossible. He had accepted what was to come when a voice came from what seemed like quite a distance away.

"Get up you idiot. You'll get killed and i don't feel like raising you." A young woman approached Drag with a familiarity to her walk.

"Always around when you're needed, aren't ya Tebby?" Drag smirked as he fought to raise his head to greet her.

"Just come on..." Tebby sighed as she helped drag to his feet. She muttered an incantation as the two disappeared from sight. They moved with haste as they headed to the outpost encampment before the enchantment wore. Resting his eyes in the shade of the wooden shack, Drag awoke to find the sky covered with scattered stars and a full moon. He searched his bag for one of his four warp cudgels as he took inventory of his belongings. With all his items in tact and accounted for he activated the enchantment on the cudgel warping him back to the last home crystal he had touched.

He moved from the crystal at the gate in Upper Jeuno towards the residential district to rent a room for the next few days to recuperate.

"Drag! Hey bro! long time, no see." A man dressed in the garb of a veteran red mage approached at a leisurely pace.

"Warblade?" Drag called blinking a few times removing his armet as he plodded forward. The two shook hands and saluted as War took Drag's bag from him, much to Drag's relief.

"Where you headed, my friend?" War questioned as he took notice to the bruises and cuts on drag's face and arms. "You need to go see Monberoux, he'll patch you up."

"Nah I'm ... *cough* Okay, let's go do that" Drag couldn't help himself as he spoke and staggered.

The nurse called for the doctor as soon as Drag shuffled though the door leaning on Warblade for support.

"Please allow me to take your weapon while you are seen." The nurse spoke as she quickly helped Drag to the back room.

"I'll be in town for a few days bro, look me up after you're rested!" War called to his friend as he tossed a money pouch with 5000 gil on the desk for payment and waved farewell.

Monberoux stood helping Drag out of his armor as he assessed the situation. He frowned as he saw the cuts and bruises were not only on his face but all over his body. He spoke as he prepped himself for what was going to be a tedious evening. "Well, I'm going to have my nurse cast a sleep spell on you to help ease the pain. You'll wake up feeling better than ever. Your treatment was paid for in full so you'll be ready to go as soon as you are full recovered. Sleep well."

Drag's eyes grew heavy but he fought sleep long enough to mutter, "Keep the egg warm...."

Chapter 6: Homebound

The sun slid behind the rocky valleys of South Gustaberg, plunging it's valleys into shadow as the chocobo cantered into the Republic of Bastok's Chocobo stables. The Stable master 's face was filled with excitement to see his lost bird returning at last.

“Thank you very much. I was afraid she wouldn't come back and be integrated into the riding force for the Ducal Stables. You have my appreciation as well as that of all my caretakers.” he spoke through a grin as he stroked the bird's crest.

“It was our pleasure. Now, can you tell me which way to the residential district?” Sul grunted as he picked Feyna up off the chocobo trying his best not to wake her.

explained the way and showed Sul which key he believe was the key to Feyna's apartment as he spoke. “Miss. Fey has deliveries of the status updates of her chocobos on a daily basis so we know where her apartment is. I don't know for sure but I'm pretty sure this one is the key. I'm sure she trusts you to sleep under your watch but I'm also watching so don't try anything...”

Sul blinked unsure what to say. He nodded and carried Fey out of the stables towards her home.

Upon arriving at her door the key was indeed her key and he opened the door very carefully and entered the dark room. He stopped and spoke in a clear but quiet voice. “Moogle, please turn on the lamps. I have Lady Feyna here. Please also prepare he bed. If you wouldn't mind.”

“Mr. Sulmorko, I'm assuming? Yes, I would be happy to prep her bed and light the lanterns.” The moogle responded immediately as he fluttered over to pull the covers.

Sul placed Feyna on her bed carefully removing her hat from her arms in the process. His ears burned as he realized she would need her armor removed to rest comfortably. He removed her boots, gloves, and accessories without a second thought but her tabard was where his hesitation lingered. He and the moogle exchanged glances and a nod as he unbuttoned the first of the many revealing her milky skin. Sul stopped questioning the moogle. “Can't you do this?”

“No sir. She is too heavy but it needs to be done.” the moogle replied quietly.

Sul's face was flushed and his hands shaky as he removed buttons two and three still showing more of her skin. Eyes closed, Sul unsteadily unbuttoned the last of her fasteners unsure of what laid underneath. He held his breath as he opened the armor to reveal the standard hume undergarments. Sul sighed partly of disappointment and mostly of relief. The moogle helped him finish removing the tabard folding it and placing it with the rest of her gear on her almirah.

Sul's head felt light as he tucked Feyna into bed. He turned and headed to the door though he noticed that the floor was coming closer instead of the door. Sul heard the moogle asking him if he was okay. His head swam as he responded. He closed his eyes for what seemed like a few seconds before opening them again to find his head on a pillow and a sheet covering him. The room was dark though he could see that he was now on Fey's bed. She was asleep next to him wearing a night gown with her hair down and brushed. He was conscience long enough to yawn and flip the pillow before his head hit the cool comfort and he was off to dream again.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chapter 5: Counting Sheep

Sulmorko's face was warm as his mind slowly came around from the distant lands of sleep. His eyes were still blurry as he remembered his waking dreams. His thoughts fled back to his foster family and the wonderful way he was treated in the little home in Windurst. He smiled as he remember the day he and his step-brother parted ways. He promised Azureaa that everyone would talk about the Tarutaru and Elvaan brothers that ruled the Northlands and disposed of the demons. He chuckled and stretched as his feet hit the floor. The cold shock of the wooden planks woke him completely and he readied himself for his meeting with the hume red mage he'd met the day previous. His eyes struggled to adjust to the day as he left the Jeuno residential area into the sweet air of the upper level, Ru'lude Gardens. The sun wasn't even at its peak as Sul rested on a bench in the shade of a Rolanberry tree. His meeting time was at high noon with Feyna and he realized he was at least 3 hours early. With his pack as a pillow his eyes slid shut and his mind grasped for dreams of his childhood again.

. . .

Feyna finished her morning ritual and readied herself for the day. She stepped into the brightness that was the mid-day sun and looked for the monk. She walked the gardens for ten minutes before snores coming from the base of a tree peaked her interest. She smirked as she saw the monk lying there arm over his face and drool on his chin. Feyna spoke words in a rhythmic pattern until a small bubble of water formed over the Sulmorko's face.

Sul's mind sharpened as he heard a familiar sound. He shot up but the sudden realization that he was sitting up into a water spell wasn't enough to stop the momentum he had built.

-SPLOOSH- Feyna giggled into her hands as she watched Sul's face go from shock to acceptance as he sat up. She offered him a handkerchief as he stood shaking like a dog.

"C'mon drippy, let's go." Fey said with a rougish grin as she headed to the exit for Upper Jeuno.

The chocobo stable master stood with his hands on his hips and an expression of agitation as he tapped his foot with an unapproachable air about him. Sul walked up and stood beside the man looking at the same bird the man was. The man payed Sul no attention until Sul started petting the Choco.

"Can I help you?" the stable master spat his words.

"What are you looking at?" Sul said with a dopey grin on his face.

The stable master blinked in an almost confused manner as he spoke again "This chocobo was brought here by mistake but it belongs to the stables in Bastok. I don't have a single person who can take it there.

"I'll do it. I"m going to Bastok anyway." Sul replied with a brisk nod.

"I can't just. . . aww screw it. Take her back. Do you have a license?" The man spoke with slight relief in his voice. The man just wanted the bird out of his hair.

"No but i'm an excellent rider. I learned from Camereine and we ride frequently." Sul spoke hoping that his name dropping would work and it did.

"Oh yeah? I know her. She learned to ride under me! I'm sure if she taught you that you're fine. Here, take this." the man grinned ear to ear at the mention of his student and handed Sul a Chocobo License.

Sul and Fey thanked the man and began riding towards their eventual goal of the Republic of Bastok. The two rode through the vineyards of Rollanberry Fields and the wet-lands of Pashow Marshlands before coming to the rolling hills of Konstat Highlands. They spoke little and rode hard until the hills when Feyna's eye was caught by a camp to the side with the fire going.

"How careless travelers are, leaving their fires to burn the highlands to a crisp. We need to put that out." Feyna sighed as they rode towards the camp. They tied their chocobos to a nearby tree before taking the time to clean up the mess.

"What happened to make them leave all their things like this?" Sul questioned Fey as she crouched to douse the fire. Fey shook. "What the..." Sulmorko stopped mid sentence as the ground shook under his feet. Sulmorko's eyes rose from Feyna to the giant ram breathing down at them.

"My you're a big boy." Sul said with obvious sarcasm. Feyna sighed dejectedly.

The sheep reared back, aiming to stomp the mage into nothing. Acting without a second though, Sul dove forward, rolling Feyna out of the way of the massive hooves as they came crashing down. Feyna jumped to her feet, chanting a spell for sleep, but no avail. The sheep blinked a few times and snorted. He lumbered towards them and thrashed his head, hoping to hit at least one, but his strikes were slow and easily avoidable. Sul's training came into play as he focused on hitting the sheep and dodging its strikes. Feyna's magic had blinded and weighed down the ram; she then followed up with her sword, cutting at its thick, matted wool, hoping to do at least a bit of damage. The ram's horn caught Sul off guard, flinging him backwards into Fey, knocking them both to the ground. Sul wrapped his arms around the stunned mage, hoping to take the brunt of the ram's brutal onslaught.

"Hey Ugly!" A booming voice came from behind the sheep, provoking its attention.

"Hey Ugly? Is that the best you have, Kerb?" a second voice called from the same direction.

Sul struggled to turn and find the source of the new voices. Two galkas joined the attack on the ram. The first wore the white garb of a Paladin; with sword and shield in hand, he blocked the sheep's blows as if they were the wind, and counter attacked with mighty swipes of his sword. The second galka's heavy armor and large greataxe belied the fact that this man was of warrior bent. The two hacked at the ram as though it were made of ice. Sul channeled his rage at the beast into a mighty punch that gathered wind as it went. The impact howled as the wind rushed by the ram knocking it towards the two galkas.

"Nice. I've not seen a hit like that from a monk in ages!" the Warrior called as he jumped, swinging his axe with enough force to cleave the ram's right horn clean off.

"Have a trophy!" the Paladin chuckled as he kicked the horn towards Sul's feet.

The fight raged on as Feyna recovered; she pulled back and began casting curative magic on the group. Sul's punches slammed into the ram's side with the sound of hollow drums as the two Galkas continued to hack at its massive, swinging head. Finally, the ram let a great bleat and teetered inexorably towards the earth.

The Warrior bowed courteously to Feyna as he spoke. "I'm Famine. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintances. That there is Kerbasi." Famine turned to point at Kerbasi, only to find he was no longer beside him. Famine frowned.

"I think he's over there," Sul said, a bit confused, as he pointed. The other two turned to see Kerbasi's new location in a flower bed. Sul looked back at Famine before saying, "I am Sulmorko of San d'Oria and this is Feyna of Bastok." Bowing, Sul motioned towards where Feyna had been standing. He stopped and blinked as he noticed that Feyna was no longer there. Sul and Fam turned as they heard laughter. Their faces were blank as the two of them watched Kerbasi and Feyna sitting in the grass, stringing flowers into necklaces.

Famine blinked as he turned back and began chatting with Sul about his techniques in battle. They slowly made their way to sit with the other two, resting and chatting until the sun started to settle behind the mountains.

"It was very nice meeting you both. Maybe we'll catch up in Bastok sometime soon." Kerbasi called to Feyna and Sulmorko as he and Famine rode off on their chocobos

Fey's smile faded as she realized that one of the chocobos had broken its ties and run off during the fighting. "Looks as though we'll have to take one the rest of the way. It's yours, so you can drive," she said with a long yawn.

Sul mounted the chocobo and lifted Feyna in front of him side sattle.

"Head south and follow the path. That'll take you to Gustaberg. You can follow the trail there all the way to the city," she directed him, resting back against his arm. Feyna removed her ha,t letting her golden locks fall on to her shoulders.

Sul's mind rushed as she nestled into his arm. Until now he hadn't noticed that the woman leaning against him was by all standards beautiful. He went to speak, but realized that she had fallen asleep almost immediately. Sul's mind flew in a thousand directions as he placed his arm around her waist to steady her as they rode. He tried to clear his mind as his hand felt the curve of her side, but it turned out to be easier said than done.

"Okay, focus Sul. Get to Bastok" He muttered to himself as he spurred the chocobo into motion and rode to the south along the path Fey had pointed out.