05 May 2014

C'mell and the Armor of Doooooom!

This is Fan Fiction based on the world of Final Fantasy X|V.  All settings, places, and concepts from the game are used in accordance with the licensing agreement contained within the game.

It was night.  In Central Coerthas.  In the winter.  I had wall patrol, though the snow was howling so badly I couldn't see more than two dozen yalms in any direction.  I was standing by the brazier, near the gatehouse, looking out, when Ser Ophelie approached.  I came to attention, saluted.

"Stand easy," she said, returning the salute desultorily.  "Anything to report?"

"Quiet night," I said.  "Ser Nogeloix's patrol hasn't returned yet.  I hope they found someplace warm to hole up."

"Sergeant Meurise is aware of the situation," Ser Ophelie said.  "She's taking care of it."

"Taking care of it?" I said, dumbfounded.  "How?"

There was the sound of a shod chocobo in the gate tunnel below us, and I leaned forward, looking over the parapet.  Through the snow I could make out a blue-haired Miqo'te on a chocobo, dashing out, into the white oblivion.  For a moment, I would have sworn the chocobo had antlers.  "Is she mad?" I gasped.  "Her chocobo will freeze before she reaches the first road marker!"

Ser Ophelie chuckled quietly.  "Care to make a friendly wager?" she asked.  "I'll bet three nights of wall duty that she's back before dawn... riding her chocobo... and leading the lost patrol in, to boot."

I opened my mouth to take the bet, then hesitated.  If there's one thing my disreputable Uncle Bertennant had hammered into me, it was that if a bet looks like a sucker's chance, the other person knows something you don't.  "No," I said, slowly.  "No, I don't think so."

Ser Ophelie chuckled again, and reached out to the brazier.  "Smart man," she said, wryly.

"What do you know that I don't?" I asked.

"I know who that was," she answered.  "C'mell."

I turned to look into the snow, in the direction she'd gone.  "C'mell?" I echoed.

"They call her the 'Last Sentinel of the Pard,'" the Knight said, looking to see if I recognized the title.  I didn't, and shook my head.  The Knight shook her head in turn.  "Did you see that very shiny armor she was wearing?"

I thought about it.  "I noticed she was wearing armor," I said.  "I was more concerned about the fact that she was heading out of the castle."

"It's made of mythril," Ser Ophelie informed me.  "You know how she got it?"

"She went to the local armorsmith?" I guessed.  I knew it wasn't a good guess... it would take a master armorcrafter to work mythril.

"She went to places it would make you soil your fundoshi to find yourself," she said.  She turned her back to the brazier.  "You know that I was of House Dzemael, before I married Ignemortel, yes?"

I nodded, not seeing the connection.

"A few years ago, I was part of a garrison that got sent out to oversee construction of a new stronghold for the House," she explained.  "I was only a squire then.  The cave... well, caves have been around since forever, I suppose.  And there were legends about this one, but nothing had happened with it in a very, very long time.  So when the City started keeping its gates closed, the House looked around for a place to build a stronghold... and saw the caves."

"I heard something about this," I said.  "North and west of the Observatorium?"

The Knight nodded.  "We took stonemasons and bricklayers, and we began work.  The cave seemed ideal... the temperature was comfortable, most of it had light-giving crystals sprinkled through it already, and best of all, it had fresh water flowing through it, year-round."

I nodded.

"But there was a flaw... somewhere, down below, the caverns were open to the void.  I was there the day the darkhold fell.  Voidsent such as I can not describe faced us.  I do not mind telling you, I felt fear that day.  Fear such as I have never felt before... or since.  And My Lord made the decision to abandon the cave, and lock the gates, and keep a watch on them so that nothing came from inside."  She was silent, thinking, lost in memory.

"I was stationed at that gate," she said, after a long moment had passed.  "For two long years. And then, one day, she walked across the river and up to the gate."

"She?" I asked, to make sure we were reading from the same hymnal.

"C'mell," Ser Ophalie confirmed.  "She had with her three others... V'lenna, a black mage; Rotscy, a Brother of the Fists of Rhalgar; and Lyra, a white mage."  She paused, as if reviewing the scene in her head.  "She didn't have the armor, then.  At least... not all of it.

"You see, the order to which she belonged had been based in a fishing town in Northwestern Thanalan, on the coast.  At Cape Westwind.  After the Empire came, there was no more fishing town, and no more Sentinels of the Pard.  No one knows what became of their armor.  Maybe the Imperials took it home; maybe they melted it down and used the mythril for something else.  Whatever they did, it wasn't available to a young squire who had just passed her initiation test."

I shook my head.  "So how'd she get it?"

"I'm getting there," Ser Ophelie said, turning to face the brazier again.  "It was during the Fifth Umbral era... twenty-five hundred years ago... that the Miqo'te Sun Seeker tribes crossed the ice to Eorzea.  And I imagine, C'mell's little fishing town was settled somewhere around the time the ice broke.  Over two thousand years of Sentinels of the Pard going out from that little town, providing services, proving themselves the bravest of the brave, proving their worth to pass on their names."

I nodded.

"Not all of them succeeded," Ser Ophelie said.  "Some of them died trying.  And some of those who died, died in places where it was beyond difficult to recover their bodies."

I nodded again, beginning to see the light.

"C'mell worked," Ser Ophelie said.  "She worked hard, selling her services as a caravan guard, as a bodyguard, as... well, not to put too fine a point on it, as an adventurer.  No job too big, or too small.  She saved her gil.  And then, she hired a sage.  She asked the sage to tell her where every one of her great-aunts who had fallen and not been recovered were."

"So when she came to the darkhold..." I said.

The Knight nodded.  "She was seeking.  She had the legs... sabatons, greaves, poleyns, cuisses.  Beyond that, she wore good steel.  A hauberk, not that different from our own.  Stout leather gloves.  An antique sword of goblin make.  A round shield, embossed with the Sun of Ul'dah.  And most important, she carried a letter, counter-signed by the lords of House Durendaire and House Haillenarte, saying that I should open the gate, and let her... and her friends... into the darkhold."

"Four of them?" I asked, to be clear.  "Against things that sent... how many Knights of the House scurrying?"

"Many," she said.  "I do not know what she'd done to put them in her favor," she went on.  "But they'd signed the letter, and it was more than my knighthood was worth to question them.  So I let them in.  And I waited.  I was sure I'd never see them again."

"Clearly you did," I said.  "Since she just rode out of here."

"I did," Ser Ophelie agreed.  "Three days later, as the sun was setting.  The four of them, looking tired, and dirty, and burnt around the edges, came back up.  She was carrying a set of arms... rerebraces, couters, vambraces, gauntlets.  She said that the rest... was beyond salvage."

"Mythril doesn't rust," I said, puzzled.

"No," she answered.  "But it burns."

I shuddered.  Our House's elite, who fought against flaming dragons, wore mythril because it would not melt in dragonflame.  I wondered how hot flame would have to be to melt it... to burn it.

"Aye," Ser Ophelie said.  "Like that."  She was silent, and I was silent, thinking about it.  "I don't know where the other pieces came from," she went on.  "But I tell you this, and tell you true... you don't bet against that woman.  She'll be back, before dawn, with that patrol."

And she was.

04 May 2014

The FanFic of Dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!

This ficlit was inspired by game play in the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game Final Fantasy X|V and all races, settings, and organizations are copyright SquareEnix, used in accordance with licensing within the game.

My name is Friday. I’m a Sergeant Second Class of the Immortal Flames. I was stationed out at Forgotten Springs when the long range patrol from Little Ala Mihgo came in. They’d clearly seen some action, so after we got the wounded off to the healers, I invited the Sergeant leading the patrol to come and have an ale with me on the rooftop. As we sat there, he gazed out over the springs, watching the U tribe going about their business.

Suddenly, he sat up straight. “That woman,” he said. I followed his gaze. “The one with the blue hair,” he amplified, which made it clear for me. Most of the U women have white or grey hair, so the one he meant stood out. Then again, this particular woman would have stood out, anyway. Not because she’s big… she’s a tiny little Miqo’te, hardly comes up to the bottom of my breast. But the U, well, they like to dress for mobility, and this woman, she was throat to toes in metal.

“Lieutenant C’mell?” I asked, just to clarify.

“Lieutenant, is it?” he responded, thoughtfully.

“Why ain’t she wearing a uniform?” asked one of my Privates, a big boy recruited out of Little Ala Mhigo.

“Special Expeditionary Force,” I answered. “Not like you and me. They get the hard jobs.”
The recon Sergeant nodded, took a pull of his beer. “Let me tell y’all a little story,” he said. “Now, this here’s a no-shitter. About a month ago, we were running dawn patrol down south-east of Little Ala Mhigo. You know the Amalj’aa like to attack with the coming of the great fire….”

“That’d be dawn,” I said, to forestall the question I saw forming on my Private’s face. I pointed at the sun. “There’s the great fire.”

The recon Sergeant just nodded, and then went on, “You know that promentory there. Always makes me nervous to cross it. A gorge to the north, a gorge to the south, and nothin’ but the rope and plank bridges to get you in and out.”

I nodded. I’d been stationed at Little Ala Mhigo too.

“Well, we were almost to the second bridge when we spotted ‘em. Half a dozen Amalj’aa, trotting along pretty good, carrying those giant bows they got. Running with an arrow on the string, looking for trouble. I took a look at the situation, and figured what the heck… six of them, six of my boys, we could probably take ‘em.” He took another pull of his beer, and set the empty stein down.

I obliged by refilling it. “I’d’ve made the same call,” I agreed, to keep the story moving.

“And you’d’ve been wrong,” he said, quietly, “just like I was.”

“Ambush?” I asked.

“Yup,” he said, picking up his stein again. After he’d had a drink, he went on, “we got stuck in among them, and we were doin’ okay, when our drag man yells out that there’s more of ‘em behind us. I take a gander, and sure enough, here comes another half dozen trotting down from the north. Don’t know when they got back there, but there they are. To warn the other fellows, I yell out that we’re surrounded. I figure it’s time to sell our lives dear, you know?”

I nodded. I’d never been in the last-ditch fight, but every Flame knew that the likelihood was that sooner or later we’d fall into one. Most of us figured we’d rather take a bunch of the enemy with us to Thal’s hall than to get captured and tempered. Most of us.

“Then I hear this voice screaming ‘Take two!’ and out of nowhere, there she is… swinging down off a chocobo. And… I swear this is true… it ain’t a normal chocobo. Damn thing’s got antlers!”

I saw the look of incredulity on my Private’s face, and I nodded. “S’true,” I said. I grinned. “Of course, it’s part of the chamfron she puts on it. She calls that chocobo “Light-trail,” and it’s trained to fight with her.”

The recon Sergeant nodded. “You know what the story is with that battle cry?” he asked.

I shook my head. “It’s not like we’re on a first name basis,” I said. “Mostly what I say to her is ‘Yes, Lieutenant,’ and ‘right away, Lieutenant.’”

My Private snickered. “I’d have a few things to say to her,” he said.

“Make sure your next-of-kin paperwork is up to date,” the recon Sergeant said. “We’ll send your effects on.” He paused to make sure that had sunk in with the kid, and then went on, “So she yells, ‘take two!’ and swings down off that chocobo. And there she is… that antique shield on one arm, and the sword in the other fist, and I swear to you… suddenly there’s blue lightning coming up out of the ground, and she’s glowing. Light so bright it blinds.”

I nodded. “I’ve seen the Sultansworn do that,” I agree.

He looked at me, sharpish. “She’s Sultansworn?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Nah,” I answer. “But you see that armor she’s wearing?”

He turned his head, watching her. She was standing near the bridge over the stream that leads down to the hot springs, laughing with a black-haired Miqo’te girl. She was wearing that shiny metal, and the leather under it was Torama skin. “Yeah,” he said, a question in his voice.

“You know how the U call their warriors the ‘Rangers of the Drake’? Well, the C… that’s the Coeurl tribe… they used to call their warriors the ‘Sentinels of the Pard.’”

“Used to?” the recon Sergeant asked.

“There ain’t no more C tribe,” answered one of the recon Privates, a big green Roegadyn lass I figured had her own reasons for being a long way from the sea. “Leastwise, not the way there’s a U tribe. Used to be. A little fishing village they had, up Northeast Thanalan. Nice little place called Cape Westwind. There’s a Castrum there, now.”

I nodded. “Story I hear is that when the Empire came, the younger version of the Lieutenant was off doing her test for entry to the order of the Sentinels. She comes home triumphant, to find that she ain’t got a home no more.”

I saw the Privates take that in. The recon Sergeant nodded. “Rough,” he said.

“So what happened to your ambush?” my Private asked.

“What do you think happened?” the Sergeant said, looking disgusted. “We all died. Our bones are out there right now, bleaching away in the sun.”

“She saved them,” I said, taking a sip of my beer.

“That she did,” the Sergeant said. “And afterward, she just mounts up on that chocobo again, and trots off south toward Zanr’ak like nothing happened.”

I nodded, and finished my beer.