Thoughts from the Otherworld

 
 
It was morning, the air wasn't too hot even for the time of the day. Calvier nervously leaned against the fence of the small but reputable chocobo stables in the Markets area. While most travelers would prefer to use a bigger one, his future - he supposed now current - employer had chosen to arrive at this one. He sounded like a person who didn't like wasting time on trivialities, this Endahren Merchell from San d'Oria.

Calvier quickly straightened up when he realized what he was doing. Said employer was standing only several ilm away, making small talk with one of the stable boys. He was a curious sight here in Bastok, a blond elvaan in a country where elvaan were rare enough. A foreigner who wanted to set up a business in this city of opportunities. Calvier supposed he should be thankful that he had been judged good enough to be brought into the position of this man's helper, thankful that a cousin of his had relations to San d'Oria. More than anything Calvier wanted a stable income now, to be seen as a respectable man by his own right. This was his big opportunity, and he wasn't going to make it disappear.
Endahren walked to him, brushing his forehead. "Quite hot in here this time of the year."
"Not particularly," Calvier responded. He wondered how much colder it was in San d'Oria. It was a late-summer morning for sure, but this was Bastok and San d'Oria was quite a way north from here. Calvier was born and raised in Bastok, even though he was an elvaan. He supposed it was uncommon, to be a Bastok-born elvaan. He didn't recall ever meeting another one, although was sure they must exist. But rather than being an oddity himself, the odd one was Endahren in Calvier's eyes, this future husband of a cousin's former student who adamantly wanted to play merchant in Bastok.
"So. I hear you have it all set up for me and waiting."
"Yes. I checked the premises myself before signing the preliminary contract, they are in good shape and the location satisfies your demands. I do think we got a good deal with that building." Endahren nodded to his response thoughtfully.
"Well, that remains to be seen. We'll check the paperwork once I've actually seen the place. From what I understand it's not too far from the markets district?"
"Yes, although like I notified you earlier there would have been chocobo stables closer to the site."
"That's of no consequence. I need to check out the Markets district right away, and I can't really do that lugging a wayward chocobo behind me. Let's start walking."
Calvier felt like sighing. This energy, this dedication wasn't something he was too used to. But this was his big chance. That's what he kept telling himself anyway.
 
 

Jenare looked at the midnight-black blade in front of him. It seemed to suck all light within itself, and was maybe heavier than would be expected of a sword of its size and build. He'd received it earlier today from a man called Zeid, a Dark Knight. It was partially a case of mistaken intention, and partially a case of him not even wanting to correct it. Ever since that afternoon of Celestial Nights not even that long ago, he had been feeling admittedly reckless. To think that all this time, this twin sister of Kii's had been taking her place, impersonating her. While he could understand her reasons intellectually, his heart did not want to forgive or understand. Maybe that was why the blade drew him so. He reached out and placed his hand on the blade. Not particularly hot or warm. But he could feel it, it craved for blood.
He thought back to Zeid's words.To satisfy the lust for blood, to drink in the blood of its enemies..to use the anger and darkness within, use all your strength in taking down your opponent. Nothing but your strength, your anger, and in the nothingness, with you..the sword. He picked it up. It felt like the right time.
"Kupolin. I have need for my sturdier armor."
"Right away, master!" The moogle disappeared in the customary swirl of energy. Jenare looked around the rental room. He was in Bastok, where he had ended up traveling after that afternoon. He'd meant to visit Endahren, but when he'd arrived to the city he hadn't felt like it anymore, and had instead half-heartedly decided to help out a young Galka he'd talked with several times before, and chased word of the Dark Knight Zeid to Palborough Mines. That's how he'd ended up here and now.
Kupolin returned from San d'Oria with his armor, cheerfully flitting about and showing how well-kept they were. Jenare suspected that either the moogle was a very good reader of character but responded in unconventional ways, or he just had a very bad sense of timing for his weird moods. Over time, the two had built a working relationship of largely leaving each other alone unless the situation called for interaction. Usually, Jenare rather liked the moogle, but his mind was dwelling in unpleasant enough thoughts that he didn't have much room for joviality for the moment. He nodded absentmindedly and put on the armor with some help from the cheery moogle. All the while, the sword called for him. He felt like he couldn't take his eyes off of it for very long, like it had an inner gravity he was very susceptible to.
"Well then. I'm out. Don't wait up." Jenare picked up the sword and slung it on his back. It was much bigger than the swords he was used to handling. He might have some difficulty fighting with it. For the moment, it didn't matter.
"Have a good hunting trip, kupo!" Kupolin wished him cheerfully.

The sun was setting. Jenare took a deep breath. It was strangely calming in a way, swinging this big sword. He was just getting used to it, and it was easier than he had thought. Giving in to the sword, merely being in a state of readiness..it seemed like the sword wanted him to learn how to use it. All he had to do was give in to it.
A familiar buzzing came from behind. A bee. He turned around and raised the Chaosbringer. Concentrate, let go. Give in. He swung the sword, and the bee was cut cleanly in half. "Fifteen."
As he raised the sword again and looked around to search for more prey, he wouldn't have recognized his own face if he'd seen it. Adorning it was a crazed grin telling of blood lust and beneath it, regret.

 
 

Miss Kii Kalira,

First of all, I would like to offer my apologies to have left you waiting in uncertainty for so long. There have been some...complications, here in San d'Oria. To make the matter brief, my father Gervaine Richille died last June. To the end he was against me staying in contact with you. I don't think he ever found out Endahren was willing to help us stay in contact. I felt guilty over this, and could not continue. While he did have opinions that differ drastically from mine, he was still my father.

Endahren left for Bastok today. I think that is what made me take up the pen again. With him gone, I realized that San d'Oria will not offer me any more. I have decided. As soon as mother and Triene are settled down into this new life well, I will leave San d'Oria. I wish to see the world. Even if I've hurt you with my inconsiderate behavior, I hope you can still be happy for me. If you still wish to stay in contact with me, you can once again reach me at my home, at least until I leave.

Respectfully,
Jenare Richille

 
 

Jenare sat in front of his desk. The day had been long, and it wasn't even evening yet. His best - and quite likely only - friend had just left San d'Oria to live in Bastok for an undetermined length of time. He felt tired, a kind of a weariness in his bones that would not be easy to dissipate. He missed him already. They had not been friends for all that long - a mere five years - but had at least known of each other for most of their lives. Throughout these five years Endahren had become something irreplaceable for him, spurning him on to new achievements, broadening the horizons of his mind. He supposed he should be thankful for Endahren, but their friendship was beyond thinking in such terms.
He sighed and looked at a small box on the corner of his table. It contained several letters from Kii Kalira, a friend of his from Windurst. Ever since his father had died three months ago, he had stopped reading her letters. Endahren was right, she must be getting worried. He had tried to ignore the situation, he felt guilty over continuing his friendship with her since his father had been so strongly against it. But he had promised Endahren to write to her again.
Hesitantly he reached over to the box and opened it. Picked up the several letters it contained and looked at them. He had really been dishonorable in handling this situation, there was no way of getting around that.
There was a knock on the door. "Come in." His mother Celese entered, carrying a tray with some food and drink.
"Decided to bake you same pie. Thought you would love some right now." Jenare smiled sadly. The scent of baked apples came from the tray. His favorite pie. His mother was a true savior. She was keeping the family together right now, after her husband's death. Triene had always been closer to their father than Jenare, and he had taken his death much worse.
"Ah, letters?" Jenare looked down at them and nodded.
"From Kii Kalira. I should write to her again." His mother placed the tray on the desk gently.
"I won't be bothering you for longer, then. Take care now." Saying that, she left the room, closing the door behind her. Jenare opened the earliest of the letters and started reading. He would have to apologize for waiting so long before responding. He hoped he hadn't made her too angry.

 
 

Miss Kii Kalira,

Greetings from San d'Oria. This is Jenare Richille. If you remember, I promised to write to you after coming back home from Windurst. I decided not to be too late with it, so here is my letter.

Belated Valentione's Day greetings! The day flew by largely unnoticed for me, father and I did not arrive home until yesterday. Hopefully your Valentione's was more eventful than being confined on an airship. As amazing it is to see the scenery fly past, the airship is still a small space to spend a day on.

San d'Oria is as it always is, it never really changes. New buildings are built, old ones crumble, but the spirit of the city is always the same. It is more noticeable after spending some time in a city like Windurst, which always seems to be abuzz with something. At least that is the impression I have of it, having spent slightly less than one week in the city. Is your impression of it different?

I wished to write something meaningful in this letter, but it appears I am not capable of more than senseless chatter. But I think it will do for a first letter. I hope you will decide to write back to me, I will be looking forward to it. Whatever you decide, hopefully you and your sister are doing well.

Respectfully,
Jenare Richille

 
 

The sun shining into Jenare's eyes woke him from his sleep. When he opened his eyes, he went through a momentary confusion. The surroundings did not look familiar to him, and everything was constructed in an unfamiliar way, out of unfamiliar materials. Then he remembered. This was Windurst, the capital city of the Federation of Windurst. The ancient capital of the tarutaru, mostly destroyed in the Great War twenty years past, but since rebuilt. The history of this place was overwhelming. He had been looking forward to this journey for weeks beforehands, even though a good portion of it would go to aiding his father in business matters.

Jenare smiled and dressed for the day. If all went well, his father would allow him the free time to look around Windurst today. Gervaine wasn't too interested in the history of other nations, even though he kept bringing up the grand history of their home nation San d'Oria. He was a true patriot, although sometimes Jenare thought his opinions about other nations and other races of the Goddess went too far. They were all the Goddess' children, there was no reason to shun others, even though their appearance was different. Personally, he felt curious about the other races. There had never been much opportunity for him to interact with them, other than with the occasional hume.

"Father? Are you awake?" Jenare passed the screen separating the space into two. Most likely he wasn't, as he would have waken Jenare up if he had risen already.
"Mmm. Ah. Morning already?" Jenare nodded seriously. Lately, his father had been sleeping more than before. He wasn't certain if it was serious, since it wasn't instantly obvious and happened only every now and then. Still, only several years before he had never caught his father sleeping, no matter how early he woke up himself.
"Shall I head down for breakfast?"
"You do that. I will join you in a moment. We have a lot to do today." Now that he had woken up, Gervaine was full of energy. There was business to be done, deals to be signed, and wares examined. Jenare smiled faintly.
"Alright." With that, he headed down the stairs to the eatery. Their lodging fee included a breakfast for every morning they would spend here, and one meal in the after noon. The rest of their meals they would have to take elsewhere. Jenare was already looking forward to enjoying the varied Windurstian dishes. That is, if he could convince his father to try out something a bit more foreign, which was not a given. Perhaps if they were unable to find a place in the near vicinity that offered something familiar...

Jenare looked over his shoulder. His father would take a little while to get ready yet. Feeling somewhat guilty about it, he inquired of the kitchen staff giving out breakfast for good places to try out Windurstian food. It couldn't hurt, and they didn't necessarily have to eat in these places. Nevertheless, it was good to be prepared. He listened attentively and memorized the names of the places the tiny tarutaru recommended him. This would quite likely turn out to be an interesting day. When his father came down for breakfast, Jenare was peacefully eating his breakfast, with only a slight guilt within him and several memorized recommendations showing he had done anything out of the ordinary. He hoped the tarutaru who had adviced him wouldn't give him away to his father.

 
 

Jenare looked around carefully. It was his first time ever in this city, and he didn't have much free time. Tomorrow already, he and his father would start heading back home to San d'Oria. He didn't really know what to do now. His knowledge of the city wasn't too great, so after leaving his father at the Metalworks administrative area, he had wandered here, looking for something interesting. Anything interesting. He doubted he would have the opportunity to come again, so this might turn out to be his only chance ever to see this city the hume and galka had built on the hilly area of Gustaberg.

He looked up to the sky. It looked so different in here. The blue was the same, but the surroundings made it a much harsher sight than in San d'Oria. It was the first time he had ever been so far from home. The world was full of wondrous sights, he thought. They had come on chocobo-back, it being the fastest and cheapest method to reach Bastok. The journey had been hard, he supposed, but the things he had seen on the way had made it worth it.

The water of the fountain - the Firewater Circle - glistened in the sun. It was a hot summer day. Jenare wandered down a stairway that led to a busy street further down. Shopping around might not be the best way to spend his time here, but at least it was doing something. He could see endless rows of stores of all kinds crammed into the street. At least father might thank him if he did this. It never hurt to be aware of what kinds of wares other shops sold. That applied for San d'Oria, so he thought it might apply to Bastok too, even if it was situated half the continent away.

As he slowly made his way down the street, he eventually came to one that caught his eye. Situated right next to a goldsmithing guild house, it advertised for Bastok-made jewellery. Jenare hesitated for a moment in front of the shop. It wasn't like he had any money to buy anything that expensive, nor the expertise to see how well made the jewellery actually was. When he noticed a shop guard looking at him suspiciously, he shaked his head and moved on. In a way, Bastok was similar to San d'Oria. Here, too, people were suspicious of others that did not look exactly like them. Here, too, was there hate. It wasn't as obvious as in San d'Oria, but it made him sad. He gave up on the street and started heading back to Metalworks. It was nearly time for him to be back, in any case. Not a big loss.

 
 

The Doll Festival was almost over. It wasn't celebrated too much in San d'Oria, due to its Windurstian flare. Nevertheless, you could always see signs of it around the city during the festival, although not as many signs as for some other festivals. Jenare leaned on a railing close to the docks and look out to the sea, humming. It was set out to be a fun evening, for he was waiting for Vera Nedaurant, a friend of his. He wondered if he was supposed to be calling him a girlfriend, that was what some of the other boys called girls they were regularly going out with. He smiled, feeling a bit guilty. This wasn't exactly behavior for a proper elvaan youth, the two of them were certainly old enough that they probably should not be keeping in contact for too long without him introducing himself to her parents. But he did not have too much experience with a situation like this, so continued with Vera's suggestions. They hadn't known each other for too long, for one. Perhaps in several more weeks.

He turned his head distractedly, looking around. Then he paused. Was that not her, at the square to the right? He looked on, raising one's voice in a busy place like this wouldn't be too useful, not to mention that it wasn't too polite to shout. The blonde girl was dressed up in a pretty child-like dress, fresh green in color. She seemed to be with an older man dressed all in black, laughing with him. Finally she turned enough for Jenare to see her face - it indeed was Vera. He did not recognize the gentleman with her. Perhaps a relative of some kind? They seemed to know each other well.

He watched as the two laughed and talked together. He was most likely dropping her off, sometimes the streets were not safe for a young girl. Especially dressed like that, she was bound to attract attention. Jenare nodded to himself. A wise precaution. But it would not do to interrupt their goodbyes, so he waited, smiling in anticipation of the evening, dividing his attention between the pair on the square and the sea in front of him.

He waited for what seemed like a small eternity, but was more likely only a few minutes. Then the black-coated gentleman left, and Vera headed towards Jenare, where he was waiting at their promised place. He straightened and walked ahead to meet her.
"Jenare! Good afternoon! Did you have to wait for long?"
"Not at all, I have just arrived myself." She did not have to worry herself over making him wait, there was no point in that. He smiled down at her, and she smiled back. Jenare thought she looked rather good in her childish little dress, even though it might not be exactly suitable to wear out about with people. She most likely hadn't realized it, so he would just have to look after her then.
"Shall we go then?" Vera smiled at him brightly in response and took his hand.

 
 

Jenare woke up. The house smelled of freshly baked apple pie. He smiled. Ever since yesterday evening, he had been in a kind of a haze of happiness.

Everything looked somehow bright. When he got up from his bed and looked out the window, he could see that the sun was shining radiantly, with hardly a cloud in the sky. The window was slightly frosted over in the corners. It was the day after Valentione's day, and Jenare was happy.

Last night, he had been introduced to a girl, the younger sister of Endahren's future brother. His older sister was engaged and it had so ended up that Endahren had promised to look after her for the night. He was glad that had happened, for it had given him the opportunity to meet Vera. She was a good traditional Elvaan girl, blonde of hair and brown of eye, her voice soft like a summer's breeze. He was even more greatful to Endahren for his usual wild ways and leaving early in the evening and telling him to look after Vera for the night. He felt slightly guilty for that last part, but couldn't suppress the feeling. It was never good to slight your responsibilities, but if it brought him so much happiness, could it really be wrong? Jenare sighed happily and got up. He would need to practice his sword this morning, and continue reading a biography of an interesting person. An adventurer, who had been all the way to Windurst and back. By foot. Jenare smiled wistfully at the thought. Maybe one day, if Altana smiled, he would have the opportunity to travel freely too. But the thought that brought him the most pleasure this morning was his promised meeting with Vera in the afternoon.

He went downstairs for breakfast. It was looking to be a good day indeed.

 
 

"I don't really get why I need to babysit you," Triene said. He and his younger brother Jenare were going fishing. He hadn't really felt like bringing Jenare with him today, but mother had made him. She was going to visit a friend's home today, and father was too busy with the store to look after either of them. So he had been tasked with the duty of keeping company for Jenare.
"Don't always complain, Triene. Mother was simply worried," Jenare answered. That behavior drove Triene up the walls sometimes. Jenare was always so calm, like nothing could affect him. And when he spoke back to Triene, there was always some sense in his words. Triene quite detested it, and recently had taken every opportunity to try to break that calm front. He was sure it was a front, no one could be like that all the time, deep inside. And it wasn't like he hadn't seen Jenare wound up over some issue or another at times.
"Right, right..." They had reached their usual fishing spot. Years ago, the two of them had fished here regularly. These days Triene mostly came by himself if he came at all, and it was at a different spot. A spot he thought better, but there was no need to show that spot to Jenare. One more annoyance for the day. He sighed and started setting up his fishing gear. Not that he had much to prepare, just placing some bait on the hook and casting his line. The two worked the preparations in silence, side by side.
Triene sat down on the edge of the pier and looked out to the lake. He supposed it was a nice enough day, even though there were annoyances. Jenare sat down next to him.