Vael looked over her files again, she had plenty of patience, but having to wait on a mark that she had nothing but a name for frustrated her to no end. Waiting by the telephone in the vain hope that one of the Adventurers' Guild representatives would call her with an update, or one of the Archons in the field. It had been days since their last break regarding the group with the marks on their necks, and the only newspaper she knew of on Eorzea, the Mythril Eye, hadn't written anything that might help her track the group's whereabouts. Just an article on a commemoration of the five-year anniversary of the battle of Carteneau. Each city-state would hold ceremonies in honor of those lost in the battle, with VIPs selected by those cities' leaders.

A thought occurred to her, what if some of those VIPs were those adventurers? It'd make sense, if these guys were making such a name for themselves, surely they'd get invites? Vael decided to follow the thought, and contact anyone she could.

"Hey, Waters? It's Roshan, yeah, I got what I think might be a lead to have you work on for me. You know that guy you were talking to us about? The Miqote, yeah. He give you a name when you looked into him, or were you able to get anything out of him? If possible, can you tail him a bit? And let me know as soon as you find him? Cool, thanks bud. Talk to ya soon."

She wanted to get out into the field herself to investigate, but couldn't for the moment, training, both herself, her team, and the guards for the Waking Sands came first. The job being out of her hands for now, she went to the main hall-turned-training room to work on her shooting. Her experience gave her a leg up for now, but eventually, she'd have to commit to learning to fight in an Eorzean fashion, rather than Vana'Diellan. She notched an arrow, and took aim at a hay bale. She fired, just a bit outside, if it were a baseball game, she'd have painted the corner of the plate with a fastball. Another, this time right down Broadway, still plenty of adjustments to be made, plenty of time to make them.

Jarik opted for a different approach, going directly to typical adventurer stomping grounds. Black Brush Station, Camp Drybone, inquiring with passers by, the local Sultansworn, anyone he could get a word in with. It also gave him a chance to do some field research, to better understand the spells he was learning to wield by watching new mages of all schools learn the ropes, sometimes more painfully than others.

He knew the mark was a Gladiator, so, ideally, he'd stay in and around Thanalan, and stick to the places with nearby Aetherytes.

"This'll be an odd question, but, you seen a Miqote Gladiator around here recently? Got a weird mark on his neck, kinda like a monster, about the size of a..."

"Say no more mate, I did see a bloke like that a few days ago, had a friend with him. We was at Drybone, and they was asking us about some ruins up north, and needed directions, don't know where they went after though."

"That's great! What'd he look like? Hair color, height, anything distinguishing about him or his companion?"

"I'd say he's a head shorter than you lad, shaggy black hair, friend was an Elezen lass, Thaumaturge by the look of her staff and robes. Lass is about a half-head taller than you, dark brown hair, 'gain, can't tell you where they went after."

"I can use that, thanks! Okay, I gotta make some calls." Jarik was on a roll, with a lead on two of their marks, he relayed what he knew to the Archons. Now all he could do was wait, and study. He had a knack for two things above all, magic, and cooking. He had worked in the Timbre Timbers in Windurst growing up, after being rejected enough times by the Minstry of Magic that the Orastery's director, Doctor Shantotto wrote to his family that he would not be accepted, even into the Aurastery, the school for novices and children. It burned him alive, metaphorically speaking, and drove him to become the best mage he could possibly be, and to one day stick it to the good Doctor, and the entire Ministry. He picked up magic all across Vana'Diel, learning to fight, to heal, to do all the things they wouldn't teach him, and build a reputation of his own.

Ariana and Torvan had a different assignment, finding a place to stay that wasn't an inn. Their job wasn't tied to tracking down the adventurers, but finding themselves a place to live.
"How many bedrooms we looking at? Three seems like enough."

"No, four, we need an office!"

"Ari, we have an office at the office."

"What if I'm sick and need to do work?"

"You ever heard of a kitchen table?"

"You ever MET my boyfriend? I'm not workin' in the war zone he calls a kitchen!"

"Aight, fine! Jeez-o-Christ, I get the roof for my forge though."

Their squabble over the wish list was broken up by the Agent.

"Mister Hillway, Miss Smith, I presume? Hi, my name is Lunell, I'll be working as your agent. So, it sounds like we have an idea of what we're looking for?"

Ari spoke up, determined to stop living out of a backpack sooner than later. "Yes. Four bedroom, two bath, decent kitchen, and we're willing to rent."

"Well, I've got a lovely condo on the market that would fit those needs, only problem is you'd be making a commute to Vesper Bay each way."

Torvan spoke up, "Hit me, commutes aren't nothing, we can Aetheryte to Horizon and take a bus.

"You want an excuse to go past Gwen's, dont'cha?"

"Maybe. What of it?"

"Let's get back on task please, I'll speak with the rental company and see if they can get a quote for how much we're looking at. You'll hear back from me in a couple days."

A dull thud against the shield of a training dummy inside the Waking Sands is the only thing heard at this hour, it's early, Torvan is practicing, trying to get the rust off, and trying to master the Eorzean way of the Axe. The Remembrance Ceremonies were soon, and the Archons had circled in on their marks. He was to be in Limsa Lominsa, blending in with the crowd, playing backup to Y'Shtola Ruhl, one of the Archons, in case things got out of hand. He swung, the same motion as a Sturmwind, but not the same result, his swing glanced off the shield. The old ways weren't working the way they used to, he had taken up classes with the Marauder's Guild, and learned some new moves, some new methods to use the Axe. It was different, not just fighting to win, but, fighting to guard others.

A more defensive stance, less wild, not as focused on rending his opponents. Sounded like the advice he got from an old Warrior he worked with long ago, back when he still carried an axe and sword. A pair of eyes watched him from afar, a glancing shot off the shield, carried into a hit to the center of the dummy. He still had it, it was just a matter of making adjustments. The figure moved, "You're in early, it's barely light out."

It was a familiar voice, Gwen's, which took him off edge. "You getting ready for that Ceremony? "

"I am, I'm in for Limsa, backing up Ruhl. Couldn't sleep, anxious to get this started, find and maybe recruit these marks. Didn't think anyone'd be here this time of morning."

Gwen looked distraught, "Was trying to get in and out today, this time of year's not easy, lost a few friends and family when the Calamity hit, was still in school myself, big, red moon drops on your head like that, even if you survive, makes you think about life, take stock."

"I'm...sorry to hear that, I don't...don't know what to say."

"Nothin' to say, what was is was, and what's done is done. I just wish I could have done something, even if I'm only one person. I know, couldn't have, and Louisoix gave his life to stop it from being worse. It's part of why I'm here, not just because I needed a job, but, I wanna do something to help people after that. Be the something to help them rebuild, help keep another one of these things from happening."

"It won't happen, we ain't gonna let it. I don't know how, but we ain't. I don't know this world like you do, but you guys gave us a second lease on life here, so we're not letting it go to waste." He placed a hand on her shoulder, "You're a Scion, even if you're not on the battlefield, everything you do still does something to help. Hell, if you want to learn how to fight, pick up a weapon and I'll give you some pointers."

Her eyes lit up, "Hah! You're gonna regret that, big man! Throw me an axe!"

"Gods you're a woman after my own heart!"


About the author


Bio: I’m a wannabe writer that wants to get some of the stories floating in his brain out before it gets too smooth in there. I blog some too, you should check that out. Might be interesting if you enjoy any of this.

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