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.

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