Disclaimer – 28 December 2017

          Much like anyone who has developed a skill I cringe looking back on earlier works. I know this work will be a hard to read and is not formatted in the best way. However my writings past, present, and future will all be made with the same heart and spirit. I love writing. I love sharing what I make. I take pride in all the works I produce. This is simply from my earlier days. Back then, I didn’t know what I was going to make out of this blogging gig. So I wrote, and I posted. If I got hung up on it being perfect, I never would have shared it.

          Since then I’ve read and learned. The results that came from 150% effort in the past come from 30% now. That is just how growth works.

          I may come back and edit this one day to bring it in line with my present standards. This is likely if my written works prove to earn my daily bread. Or if I have no pending articles (ha) and find myself bored. Still, I would not have made it where I am without this stepping stone, humble as it is.

This said, none-the-less, I hope you enjoy reading this offering.

Jasper H.B. a.k.a. zerohourseraphim

Once fed, the hunger only grew more indomitable. Seraph followed the call of his new power, staking out any grounds he had not walked since his awakening. He had gained skill in both the arts of a thief and of white magic, but this time he felt power. Before he was careful and reserved, collaborating with others or being shielded by them. Now he was the head of the spear. He reveled in his new found ability.
“…devour the essence of your foes…” echoed Raubahn’s words. Someplace fleeting, someplace sane, was were this and all of Seraph’s other memories called from. Such elements of the past mattered little. The words from members of his linkshell droned on into a dull haze, then seemingly ceased altogether. Calls and queries went unanswered. Driven ever more by his growing might Seraph became one with the wilderness.
The little things fell beyond Seraph’s notice. His clothes were tearing, his weapons worn down, hair unkempt. All things physical were deteriorating. Adventurers who took notice of him kept their distance. Having wandered the whole of the Quon continent Seraph took in as much of his enemies’ influence as he could. When his limits were strained he fought and clawed his way to greater depths, reaching to expand his limits. Every feral creature given over to Seraph’s furtherance drew him further and further from his logic and knowledge. He became as the beasts he felled. He came to avoid the movings of Altana’s children.
However, even a continent is only so large. His wandering lead him back to Jeuno. The hub of activity was the only way to get to Qufim Island, and was one of the few places Seraph had not returned to sate his appetite. Wandering through the town was a strain on his ears. The many sounds of speech, shifting armor, and money changing hands were all foreign now. A familiar voice calling out was the first time Seraph responded to his own name in a long span of time.
The voice came from Rai, Saint’s old friend. Rai looked the Elvaan over. Jeuno was a busy place, and he could have just as easily mistaken another Elvaan as Seraph, but Seraph’s confused response gave Rai pause. After a few moments’ effort patterns of speech began to return to the normally eloquent Elvaan. “Rai…” Seraph said, shaking off the fog of his long journey away from civilization. Rai nodded. “You’ve certainly been away a long while. Have you been well?” Sluggishly Seraph replied “Yes… I’m just growing accustomed to this… whatever this is.” Rai laughed. “You’ll do fine.” Rai saluted Seraph, and the Elvaan returned the gesture in kind. As the pair began parting ways, the Blue Mage halted the Samurai with a question. “Any recent word from Saint?”
Rai looked puzzled. “Aren’t you two tapped into the same linkshell?” Seraph nodded. “I think this pearl is defective. I’m not picking up anything.” Rai shook his head. “And you haven’t heard from him in any other way?” Seraph shook his head. “No. I’ve been… out of it for a little while. I’m not even sure when it is to be honest…” For the first time Seraph looked down and saw how tattered and worn down his equipment was. How far had he gone…? “He’s in Abyssea, somewhere” Rai said. “You may not know anything about it… but go to Port Jueno. Look for a man named Joachim. He’ll lead you there, more or less.” Rai nodded at Seraph solemnly, then went about his way.
Seraph began running toward the central stairs of Jeuno. The town had something of a residential tower in the middle with sections of the town reaching out in different directions at differing heights. Port Jeuno was the bottom level. Access to water bodies below the city made ideal ports for airship docking. However, Seraph did not know where he was, and made his way to the residential tower to gain his bearings.
Seraph stumbled into one of the many rented rooms at use for adventurers. It was the first time in a long while he’d had a roof over his head. A pocket of dimensional energy flared in front of him. When it dissipated completely an eccentric moogle tackled into the long lost wanderer. “KUPO!!! PO PO KUPO!!!” came shouts of joy from the little winged wonder. “I’ve missed you too Makar” came a solemn admission from the Elvaan. “Master Seraph… I was worried sick!!! Look at you… you’re all ragged… have you been using that old sword this whole time? And your clothes? Not fitting at all.” The moogle looked over Seraph frantically. “Come on… off with them. Every last bit.” Seraph removed the standard issue equipment handed out to all beginning adventures and a sword he bought. “Wait right here!”
Makar vanished. Taking a look at himself in a mirror Seraph saw how ragged he looked, and began to clean himself up. A tale tell density of magic power heralded Makar’s return some time later. “Sorry that took so long, kupo!” Makar seemed heavily burdened with what could have been a veritable warchest of procurements. Seraph rushed in and grabbed a few to lighten his friends’ load. “Saint sent you this” Makar reported, causing Seraph to set down a full suit of armor on a table. “And these are from Rai” Makar said while motioning to several swords. “It pays to have friends it seems…” Seraph mused, causing Makar to nod feverishly, pom pom bobbing in kind. A note was attached to one of the pieces of armor.

I’m not sure where exactly you’ve gone, or when exactly you’ll read this, but I know it will reach you in good health. Knowing that you finally found an answer to the power you sought I’ve decided to continue in bettering myself. I’ve taught you all I could think to, so you’ll be fine in my absence. I’ve entered a realm called Abyssea. It is a horrid place the likes of which you’ve not seen. However, it is in such places that fighters exercise the darkest depths of their limits. You may remember how I sought the armor of the Dragoon from San d’Oria. Apparently there is such a matching suit in this parallel world, and I hope I grow in my search for it. I know you will do what you must, but I welcome you to come to Abyssea one day when you are strong enough for the journey. Until then, struggle hard and do me proud.
Dragoon Apex,                                                                                                                                                          Saint

P.S.- Don’t ask me why, but our mutual departure coincided with our linkshells’ demise. Not saying it’s our fault, but well… you’re on your own. Good Luck!

Seraph placed the letter in his pouch along with a large deal of other items. “How is Saint?” “Hard to tell Makar. He seems well enough, but he’s set off to a place called Abyssea. I’ve not heard of it until now. What worries me is that Rai seemed hesitant to speak about the place to me.” Seraph began placing on the armor left for him. It was a good fit and felt much more durable than what he was wearing. The variety of swords left by Rai served a great many purposes. Seraph carefully discerned those he needed and left the rest to be taken back home by Makar. “Is that all for now, kupo?” Seraph nodded, loosening straps on the armor. It was obvious Saint has worn this before. It fit far too snugly. “I’m off again. I shouldn’t be gone as long.” Makar bowed in midair. “Don’t be a stranger!”

Sent from Saint

Seraph made his ways through lower traffic pathways to quickly work his way down to Port Jeuno. A throng of adventurers clogged the streets. The bustle was much thicker than he had remembered. Being as nimble as possible he made his way through the crowds. His thief training still evident, he soon found himself near the airship docks. An exhausted looking duo caught his eye. A pair of Humes, one young with blonde hair, and the other, dark haired and bearded with a patch over one eye. They bore a foreign air even to Seraph’s far traveled eyes. It was becoming telling just how large the world was by the frequency of that occurring.
Seraph quickly approached the pair. His unfamiliarity with them would probably lead to his finding of Joachim. Something of an adventurers’ intuition kicking in. “Excuse me… I’m seeking a man named Joachim. If he is not someone you know, perhaps you can tell me where those wishing to get to Abyssea gather.” The younger man deferred to the elder, who let out a bellowing laugh. “Mate, your search is over. I’m the one called Joachim. My friend here is Horst. You’ve got a very direct manner. I can admire that.” Horst neared enough, bringing himself into the conversation. “You are well informed as well. We can indeed foster a means into Abyssea.
Knowing nothing of the specifics, Seraph asked Joachim and Horst of Abyssea. A harrowed expression marked both of their faces. With heavy registers they told Seraph of their homeworld. Abyssea was, in fact, another dimension. It bore many similarities to the world of Vana’diel, however ceaseless hordes of ghastly powerful monsters had begun running rampant and forcing inhabitants to eke out in terror. Through what they called a cavernous maw they made their way to Vana’diel. Seraph mentioned cavernous maws leading to a version of the Crystal War from Vana’diel of the past. The pair was awestruck, not having heard of the things transporting people through time. Speaking on them, the determined there were key differences based upon understanding of many things after reaching Vana’diel.
First, travel between the two words was not easy. The realm of Abyssea did not suffer outsiders, but the doors of Vana’diel were too welcoming. Joachim and Horst were stuck here, forever sealed off from their home. With them they brought the art of creating traverser stones. With them Abyssea’s wrath could be staved off for a time, allowing adventurers to journey into that world. Just as they could be called to combat threats, so did they enter Abyssea to help the plighted. Another major difference was that foreigners to Abyssea were capable of greater power than they knew on Vana’diel. This made them ideal soldiers.
It made perfect sense then that Saint would travel to this world. Albeit only while he was in Abyssea he’d enjoy the expanded abilities. It made sense that such a place would hold stronger armors than those commonly found upon Vana’diel. “Joachim, I have a friend who I was told wandered into Abyssea some time ago. Is it possible that you can furnish me with a Traverser Stone that I may go after him.” Joachim eyed Seraph carefully. “Aye. I could…” “…but?” Horst stepped in. “While you are strong enough to survive getting to Abyssea, I don’t think you could do much beyond that. Even the weakest beasts there are well above your scope of ability.”
Seraph nodded. “I understand. Still… there is nothing like first hand knowledge. I give you my word I won’t do anything foolish. Let me go and find out just how strong I need to be to make a difference. Who knows… I may just run into my friend.” Horst shook his head, although he smiled while doing so. Joachim laughed some more. “This is why I love the people of this world! A hale and hearty lot. Here… use this well. I’ll make it a point to be ready to fashion more stones for you, should you need them. Best of luck!” Stone in hand, Seraph marched off towards the residential tower. He decided that he should leave from Port Jueno. Having spoken to a Goblin in one of the cities’ stores he’d heard tales of several maws bearing in this direction. However, he wanted to spend just a little time in town and relax. He thought it would be nice to have a meal cooked without his own magic power for a change. Blastbombed lizard steaks was not a precise meal making method.
Port Jueno harbored travel at the cities’ base while Ru’lude Gardens was the political center at the pinnacle. Lower and Upper Jueno serviced more the mercantile endeavors of the city. There was no clear division in the wares sold, however Lower Jueno seemed to be more popular among adventures. This left Upper Jueno as perhaps the least clogged section of the city, which is akin to saying a Tonberry will only stab you a little. One of the most interesting places was a tavern by the name of the Marble Bridge. It made its home in Upper Jeuno. While not having exclusive membership, entry was barred on a daily basis from all but one set of people. As Seraph drew near he discovered today’s group were Elvaan.
It was growing late but Seraph saw no harm in poking his head in. The Marble Bridge Eatery was not particularly popular to adventurers, at least not in his short time in Jueno. This night was no exception. A few local Elvaan populated the tables. A few nods were exchanged between he and the groups. A small alcove at the end of the establishment rounded a corner. Seraph decided to take a small rest and set out his plan. Coming around the corner he found Clearite, the Corsair he met back in Whitegate.
“My, my, my… Just look at you Seraph” said Clearite. “Please, join me. The tea here is less to my taste than back in Whitegate, but I can finally return the gesture.” Clearite slid a cup filled with a light scented tea. Instead of an almost inky black, it was more of a clear rose color. Seraph nodded in thanks and asked “What brings you all the way over to the Middle Lands?” Clearite sighed and leaned against a wall. “A lack of funds, actually. Bullets can be expensive. So I decided to get back to basics. I’m taking it easy while I refill my coffers. How about you? Did the Empire give you what you sought?” Seraph hesitated, remembering the great disdain she held for Blue Magic practitioners.
He sighed, then answered. “In fact I did.” Holding out his arm he focused a small amount of energy resulting in small bolt of cobalt energy to surge down to his hand. “I can now wield Blue Magic, as you can see.” Clearite laughed an empty laugh. “So even after my warnings you’ve relegated yourself to being the Empresses’ dog?” Seraph closed his hand. “Far from it. You think I’d be all the way here if I were limited to her protection?” Clearite nodded while retaining her dark little smile. “You hold a point Seraph. However, you are stronger than when we last met. I’d say you’re more the Mage than the Thief. I’d wager what little money I have that the Immortals would now accept you with open arms.”
Seraph hadn’t actually thought of returning to Al Zhabi for a long while. Perhaps they would be able to help bolster his skills should Abyssea prove too harrowing. Last Call was made in the tavern. Clearite decided to see Seraph out of town. The pair of Elvaan made there way to the chocobo stables. A dancing troupe caught Clearite’s eye. She watched with fascination, and caught the leader of the troupe nodding to Seraph. “Do you know her?” she asked. “In passing yes. Her name is Laila, and she uses a old style of dancing for magical effect.” Clearite stared blankly at Seraph. “What is it?” he asked. “I just… never saw you as the type to dance.”  Seraph laughed. “True, it is not what our people are most known for. I found reason to do so after returning from Al Zhabi.” Clearite nodded, denoting a clear understanding. She seemed to understand that Seraph had been liberated, not enslaved, by the power of Blue Magic.
Seraph jumped over to the troupe and joined them in their performance for a short while. Clearite laughed and clapped. Somehow the visage of her hated foe dancing in the streets gave her much pleasure. A pleasing nod came from the troupe leader and after a small recourse she sent Seraph along his way. “I thank you for that, Seraph” Clearite began. “I’ve witnessed all too often the horrors that the Immortals perform all in the name of the Empress. I don’t even know why they are so loyal.” “Nor I” Seraph admitted. Clearite continued. “However, seeing you engage in such foolishness is enough to convince me that you are not as your ‘brethren’. You still have heart.” The duo smiled at one another. “That was almost heartfelt Clearite. I think you are losing your edge.” “Hardly! I’ll make sure to make a bullet with my own hands, one with you cobalt saturated name written on it.”

The two leaned against an empty door regaling one another of their lives. Seraph spoke on his time in the wilds. It was a quick tale, because it was quite a broken one, and he found it difficult to recall many details. Clearite nodded along with general interest. It seemed that even now she left it to herself to do her part against the Immortals. If nothing else she could still learn about how they grew in power. Clearite, in like fashion, told Seraph of her journeys since they last met. Aisha had disappeared into Abyssea as well it would seem. He could imagine her just scrawling away at the experience. It would be awfully convenient if some lead towards Saint existed in her manuscripts. The pair of Elvaan traded tales of fighting monsters on their own,
After a time a distraught woman came into view. Clearite was the first to see her and brought attention of her to Seraph. Noticing their watchful eyes the woman came over to the pair. “I am sorry to bother you, but I am looking for my daughter. She is a young girl… have you seen her?” Seraph found the description lacking, however most children were at home at this hour. “I have not I’m afraid. I only recently returned to civilization myself. Perhaps my companion…” As Seraph turned to Clearite a flash of light came out of her jerkin. Seraph was about to voice his confusion, but Clearite moved in a practiced motion which revealed an ornate mirror. He found the trinket out of place until she turned it around. An image of a young girl was held within.

She could not have been more than twelve years old. She wore a brown cap over blonde hair. Her fair skin complemented her attire, which resembled that which the woman next to him wore. It was light and frail looking. “Would this be your daughter?” asked Clearite. “Palometa!” said the mother. The shock in her face explained all too much. Clearite and Seraph exchanged a look. The female Elvaan moved shoulder to shoulder with her male counterpart. “I don’t recognize where she is” Clearite said in a hushed tone. “I do” Searph returned. “Miss, might I ask you to wait here? With my friends’ help I should be able to bring your daughter back here.” The girls’ mother nodded. “Oh, please do!” Seraph waved his hand to Clearite who followed him to the chocobo stables.

“You’re being too calm” Clearite observed aloud as the stable hands readied their mounts. Seraph nodded. He’d have made a more worthy answer, but the woman was just above, watching the adventurers depart. The chocobos were soon ready, and once in the Batillia Downs Seraph pointed and spurned his bird of burden in that direction. Taking cue Clearite followed close. “Palometa is somewhere in the Eldieme Necropolis” he said. “What?! Just… you can tell that from my mirror?” Seraph sighed, bringing forth a memory. “Yes I can. I’ve been there before. I recognize the stone in that area. I guess for once I should thank Mad Man Maat without a curse under my breath.” The two rode quickly to a lesser used entrance found near Jugner Forest. Dismounting the chocobos they moved into the stairwell.

Most of the Necropolis had weathered the times. Whether this section fell apart or was never formally completed Seraph did not know. The stairs ended quickly, giving way to a natural tunnel. It was from here that tiny footsteps could be heard. Edging closely along the walls the two soon caught sight of Palometa. The young girl was looking around confused. She’d somehow avoided all the undead that wandered the halls. A bit of luck on her part. “Wait here, but if something happens come running.” Applying a small amount of eldritch effort and turning in a small flourish Seraph wrapped himself behind a  small glamour, slipping out of sight and moving without sound. Clearite thought she’d gone mad for a moment.

Making his way over to the girl Seraph knelt down and spoke softly. “Palometa, please stay calm. We were sent to find you by your mother. There is a woman at the mouth of this tunnel. She is with me. Go to her now.” A look of shock crossed the girls’ face as she heeded the disembodied voice. Once she spotted Clearite she quickly obeyed. Running up the tunnel the young girl ceased to pay attention to her steps and kicked a skull into a wall. Normally this would be of no consequence, but being a place were undead manifest marked the rules a little different. The skull shook, and as it did nearby bones shook in kind and drew together. “Seraph!” The skeleton pulled a scythe from the wall and began to swing towards Clearite and Palometa. “I see it!” he replied. Clearite forced some items into the young girls’ hands. “Use these as I gave them to you, and move outside. We’ll be there soon!” Palometa reflected Seraph’s earlier disappearing act, leaving Clearite and a still hidden Seraph to do battle.

Clearite was ready with her sword and shield. The skeletal fiend raised its scythe into a high arc. A baton of pure magic reached out from behind it as Seraph began his attack. It shattered his glamour, but served to shift the fiends’ focus to the Blue Mage. The attack was turned on him, but Seraph held the blade at bay with the swords he bore. “Hm… many thanks Rai. Much better than the ones I had…” “Will you focus!?” came Clearite’s shout. She stabbed at the skeleton but the blade slipped through its exposed ribs. Had she not shouted Seraph would have not seen her coming. He dodged in time, preventing himself from getting run through. “I could ask the same of you” came his curt reply. “Gah… blades versus skeletons… I miss my guns!” Focusing his will again a strain of energy stolen from the Quadav lanced out, dropping the skeleton for a time. “Oh yes, because I’d much rather try to parry bullets.”

The skeleton recollected itself, renewing its assault on Seraph. “I can’t make heads or tails of this thing” Clearite said over the sound of hitting the skeleton in the back of its skull. “Nor can I. I’ve dealt with the undead before. This won’t be a problem.” With that, Seraph again hit his foe with the Quadav’s technique. Using their size to their advantage they were famed for head butting their opponents. Fortunately Seraph could mimic this without using his own head. As the skeleton was again forcibly halted, Clearite took stock of the situation. From behind Seraph she saw a new development. “You’ve got a Hecteyes watching you Seraph.” Seraph glanced over his shoulder. “Now that could be a problem…”

Hecteyes are a type of amorph, bearing no shape that compares to man or beast. Many amorphs seem to be what amounts to congealed magical essence and bear powerful magics in their respective affinities. A more unusual brand, named after a type of dessert, made the designation of “flan” rather pervasive. Hecteyes were much more sinister than their jovially jiggly ilk. It is hard to determine just what begets them, but they seem to be the amalgamation of many dead bodies. Stripping the flesh, muscle, and organs, they coalesce the knowledge of the consumed resulting in dangerous magical beings. This created an all new type of life with which to draw from, and somehow not an undead one. Although flesh and blood they are rotting mounds of deceased matter, and weapons don’t deliver the punch they would on something more conventional. Worse yet, they seemed to gain a hunger for flesh soaked in magic, making mages a delicacy.

“Clearite, when this thing jumps back up we have to drive it up toward the stairs.” Clearite looked back towards the entrance. “But Palometa…” “Should be fine. We’ll keep her out of the range of this things’ attacks. If that thing catches wind of me THEN she might be in trouble.” A cross look corrupted Clearites’ normally unmarred beauty. When the skeleton jumped back up she screamed, focusing its attentions on her. She leapt back several times, drawing the skeleton up the natural ramp into what was present of mans’ construction. Seraph pressed the flat of his blades against the skeletons’ backbone. In a purely physical assault he pushed the skeleton several paces ahead.

But the Hecteyes followed suit.

Clearite and Seraph marked this with dismay. “Clearite, this is going to get really tricky.” “Just a little more Seraph! This thing is on its last legs.” The Hecteyes moved closer. “It’s no good… it’s beginning to draw in power. I’m taking this skeleton out. When I do… get Palometa and get back to Jeuno!” “Seraph…” “Just do it!” And with that Seraph began to split his attentions. He slammed the Hecteyes with the Quadav’s power, gaining its attention and halting its spell. As it drew close he unleashed a blast of wind and a barrage of flame. As the flames died out so did the skeleton. “Seraph are you sure!?” “Yes Clearite! GO!!!” She ran up the stairs beyond sight. Steeping himself in magic afforded him much. Seraph was able to sense when a Warp spell activated, returning Clearite to town. The lack of Palometa artificial glamour showed that she was out of harms’ way as well. “It’s just you and me now… Let’s dance.”

To be alone with this creature was a harrowing ordeal. The scope of this beings’ power was not wholly out of Seraphs’ reach. However, he had to stretch himself to stay in the fight. Later on he’d be told that such a thing was suicidal. But for right now he reveled in this experience. Being left alone and outclassed, not just able but forced to pull out every stop. Soaked in blood, ichor, and a few fluids better left untold Seraph was elbow deep into taking his foe apart. The Hecteyes malformed limbs did very little good against the Elvaan’s borrowed armor. It was a battle of magic. The Hecteyes possessed Water, Fire, and Earth magics. It threw its power around carelessly with varieties of spells meant for groups, not for singles’ combat. It was good Clearite was not here. Had he needed to divide his attentions he would not have survived. In turn, Seraph assaulted his foe with the power of the beasts he had faced. Blastbomb from an artificial war machine. Claw Cyclone from the tigers just outside. And, funny enough, he used Blood Saber from his skeleton foe.

These spells and more heeded Seraphs beck and call. Soon, every ounce of magical power had been spent between the two. Not even enough to steal. It was down to a battle of attrition. The Hecteyes physical strikes did not amount to much, but after the onslaught of magic they were deadly. Likewise Seraph’s swords did little damage. In one final attack Seraph found himself using a technique bearing his namesake, Seraph’s Blade. The Hecteyes too found some power, and struck Seraph with a blast of darkness homing in from multiple directions. Seraph’s attack came too late and he was unable to stop the attack from coming. He did put down the Hecteyes before he fell to the ground. In all the commotion Seraph hadn’t noticed that the Hecteyes bore a sympathetic resonance. Grounded he laughed to himself. “Death Ray…” he laughed more. Out of all this he snatched another bit of power for himself.

Never let a small bit of foresight be discounted. Seraph held on to a small trinket from when he began his adventuring. In it lay a few charges of magic able to bring back the bearer from the brink. He used one now. Seraph had found energies that synced with one another, and they gave him the ability to restore his body over time. Soon his magics would heal him. Until then he had to use caution. Exiting the Necropolis he found that the chocobo he rented had stayed put. Unusual, but not unwelcome now. It was unknown why chocobos were not targeted by beast. Perhaps their smell. He remounted and let the bird run its course.

They were trained to return to their stables, so Seraph thought he would be returning to Jeuno. It would seem however, that this particular chocobo hailed from San d’Oria, because it ran instead through the Jugner Forest. Steering as best he could around obstacles he soon saw a blackened mouth drawing near. From its description he marked it as one of the cavernous maws Joachim had pointed out. The chocobo seemed done with tolerating a rider and bucked Seraph off. Fortunately nothing lay between him and the ominous looking structure.

Seraph had traveled through a maw previously when he journeyed to the past. He started his Dancer’s training in this fashion as well as began his Scholarly pursuits. He was with Saint then. Perhaps now all would come full circle. He touched  the structure. It seemed to be made of segmented plates in a type of exoskeleton. It hovered off the ground, with a tail that indicated a greater flexibility than he would have otherwise thought. He’d only seen a maw like this while in the past. In the present day they were left earthbound and clad in stone. Seraph brought out his sole traverser stone. Raising it up, the creature that was the maw took notice and drew him in.

Many things happened all at once. Seraph became racked with an untold pain. He was unsure if his injuries were more substantial than he thought but they felt deeper than that. It was blinding. He heard a voice asking for his traverser stone. “…visitant…” was the only other word of substance he could make out. He waved the stone in front of him, looking for a hand to deposit it in. Eventually he found one, but he could not let go. He held the small rock in a vice grip. A sudden surge ran through him and he was able to cope to a much greater degree. He released the stone and stood.

The sky was the color of twilight. However, it was all too saturated. It was beautiful nonetheless. However, the air was cloying and thick. It seemed to take a great deal of effort just to stand and remain coherent. He looked to the one who assisted him. “You are a mite young to be sent here. Joachim I assume? Our situation is not so hazardous as he needs to send everyone who wishes entry. Those such as you hamper more than help.” Seraph shook his head. “I’m sorry…?” The woman sighed. “I am a Conflux Surveyor. It’s my job to help those with traverser stones retain cohesion in this realm.”

Seraph was understanding her frustration. “And you have enough to do already without worrying about those such as I who aren’t up to snuff.” The Surveyor nodded. “Precisely.” Seraph looked around. While similar, he realized he was no longer in Jugner Forest. “Just where are we?” The Surveyor sighed again in disbelief. “You are from Vana’diel, yes? So you would know of Vunkerl Inlet?” Seraph thought solemnly. In the current age the Inlet was sealed off as near as he could remember… one of the many areas lost during the Crystal War. “I do, just not in my time.” She shook her head. “Not in your time…? What nonsense.” Seraph scoffed. “You tether outsiders to this plane of reality and you find travel through time unrealistic?” The Surveyor nodded with a sly smile. “True enough.”

“You’re mind is sharp at the very least, so I can imagine you’ve surmised that you won’t be staying long.” Seraph nodded at the summation. “I”m simply looking for a Dragoon friend of mine. I’m not certain you’d remember them. Hume, about two heads shorter than I, perhaps a little too enamored with his spear and wyvern?” The Surveyor shook her head. “You’ve just described most of the Dragoons that happen this way.” Seraph nodded. “So I had imagined.” He shuddered. He was not able to completely concentrate. “It is best I left now. Thank you for your help.” “It was of little hassle. Just refrain from coming back until you’re better equipped to handle yourself. And tell that Joachim to use a little more discretion in handing out those stones!”

With that Seraph removed a parchment imbued with a Warp spell to be used once. He thought about crossing dimensions affecting the spell. He gave the Surveyor a questioning glance. She nodded, and Seraph began reading the spell. This was a formality because he had memorized the words. He just couldn’t cast the bloody thing alone. After reading it a shimmer absorbed the scroll and Seraph, and he soon found himself back in Upper Jeuno. He decided it was time to rest. The sun was high in the sky as he made his way towards the residential tower. “Excuse me! Hello Mr. Elvaan over therrre!” Seraph turned to a Mithra waving him down. “You’rrre Serraph, arren’t you?” “I am. Do I know you?” She shook her head. “Not just yet. Wait herrre?” She ran off without waiting for a response. He sat down against a pillar. As his magic allowed he cast a spell to speed his healing.

After some time the Mithra returned with Palometa and her mother along with Clearite in tow. “Slacking Seraph?” Clearite asked. He laughed at the jab. “Hardly. Let’s see you burn out magically, return from the dead, then dimension hop and see how you feel.” Palometa threw her arms around Seraph’s neck. “Thank you Seraph. I heard how you stayed behind to protect me.” Her mother nodded as well. “Forgive me for not introducing myself earlier. I am Laurana. I don’t know what my daughter was doing in such a place, but you have my eternal gratitude.” Seraph stood, with Palometa still hanging onto him. He held her in one arm and bowed to Laurana. “It’s of no consequence. I’m just glad she’s okay.” He squeezed the little girl tightly and sent her and her mother along their way.

“Now that’s just sweet” came the Mithra’s voice, purring all the while. “So… I hearrr you’re familiarrr with the Nearrr East?” Seraph eyed Clearite. “I met her when I got back to town. She was interested in my mirror. I happened to mention you while talking about what happened with Palometa.” Seraph nodded. “Luto Meriwah at your serrrvice! Treasure Hunter specializing in Near Eastern rrrelics!” Searph bowed. “A Corsair and a Blue Mage. Pirate and Immortal. One with knowledge of treasure, and another with knowledge of the crowned Empress. An unlikely pairrr. Perhaps you two would like to work with me?” Seraph was taken aback. “To what end?” he asked. Clearite quickly dragged Seraph aside.

“What is this about?” Seraph asked shocked. “If I admitted that I were not completely honest with you, would you hold it against me?” she asked. “Probably not. Our conversations have always been short. What is it?” “Along with the Corsair tradition I also hold this mirror. They’ve served one another well. Still, I don’t know just what it is. I’d like to find out.” Seraph nodded, and the pair returned to Luto. “Well? What do you say?” she asked, tail twitching in anticipation. “We’re in agreement” Seraph began. “We will help you in your endeavors so long as it suits ours” Clearite finished. “Marrrvelous!” Luto purred. “May I have your names in honor of our new partnership?” “I am known as Seraph.” There was a small pause before Clearite spoke. “I’m Lashiel.” Luto nodded. “Just now I don’t have any information, but that should change very quickly. In the meantime, take these.” She handed each of the Elvaan what appeared to be Pearl. “These Signal Pearls should allow the two of you to communicate. Use them as you see fit.” The three said their goodbyes and parted ways.

They walked a good distance away before Seraph posed the obvious question. “Lashiel?” “I always liked the named, and favored whips although I know of no one who crafts them. I don’t trust Ms. Luto.” Seraph considered this. “Why not?” Clearite shook her head. “Experience. She just doesn’t sit right with me. You’re too trusting and wouldn’t see it. When she’s around I may be a bit more offensive than you know me to be. Hopefully it will be enough to throw her off.” Seraph nodded and said “If that’s the case we should take care in using these pearls as well.” Clearite blinked. “So you do possess some deviousness.” Seraph laughed “I began my career as a Thief if you’ll remember. At the very least it’s a learned trait.” As they were coming up to the residential tower Seraph beckoned Clearite to follow.

The rented room was empty at first. Whatever alert system the moogles use must have been tripped because Makar soon made himself known. “My, that was fast! How-OH! Kupo! A guest!” Seraph motioned to his Elvaan companion. “She’s Clearite. If she ever needs help, she’s welcome here.” Seraph thought for a moment. “She may also go by Lashiel.” Makar nodded, nearly hitting his pom pom with his nose. “There is little need for that. I have my own home to go to.” “Yes, but these are dangerous times. A second place to go could be needed.” Makar bumped into Seraph playfully. “Just warn me the next time you plan to bring a guest. Not having food is rude.” Clearite laughed as the two jabbed back and forth. “Oh… that’s right…” Makar dug a letter out of his bag. “This came for you…”

Heard you ran into the boss. Turned him down too? Just like you. Figured you’d be more accepting from someone you already knew. You may be an exception, but its still rough to go it alone.


Inside the envelope was a new link pearl. Seraph thought to give it a shot. He put the pearl on and waited to sync in. “Anyhow, it’s time I head back to Whitegate. I’ve been to Abyssea and back and found myself lacking. I’m thinking that I could learn a thing or two from other Blue Mages.” Makar waved and bowed, Clearite said goodbye as well, reminding Seraph to be wary of the Immortals and the Empire. They marked a few places to get together and decided to meet up later. Seraph made his way out toward the Upper Jeuno town limits and furnished the gold for a Warp back to Al Zhabi.