Omens

A sinking feeling gripped Seraph. His body would not respond according to his will. He felt as he did back in Caedarva Mire. On the verge of death, losing out to the power he held within, with none around to come to his aid. His memory called out. Someone did come. When there was no one else, someone did emerge.

You were lucky that time.

Maybe so” Seraph thought in reply. Still, it meant he now had the chance to grow stronger still, to learn how to be greater than this all consuming power. Demanding his body to move worked to no avail. The Immortal’s Scimitar he had recently earned slid nearer to him, and of its own volition his hand reached and caught it. The blade instilled a sense of purpose, a reason for being… prey to be taken down, focusing the Beast’s killer instincts. In that moment its control on the physical faltered, and Seraph regained mastery over his form. He sat up and turned, putting his feet on the floor, leaning completely on his Scimitar.

Seraph had worked too hard. This sword was, in comparison to what he could already wield efficiently, a trinket. Such a hard journey for a reward that he had surpassed. But for now it seemed to be the only thing keeping him sane. Sighing, his stirring awoke Makar. A large yawn overtook the Moogle. “Kuuuupooooooo… My… awake already?” Seraph nodded. Floating over he looked at Seraph’s neck. “You’re having trouble sleeping… nightmares about your magic?” Again Seraph nodded. He reached up and touched his neck. His recent endeavors had earned him recognition, but his power had begun stirring without as it had troubled him within before he found his way to Whitegate.

“The part of your Mark of Zahak that changed after your meeting with the Immortals looks as though it aims to devour the other” reported Makar. Feeling carefully, he could discern what his friend was pointing out. Standing, he went over to where he had laid out his armor from the night before when he returned. “Kupo?” came an inquiry from the Moogle. Seraph laughed. “That doesn’t give me much to work with My Friend.” Still groggy, Makar shook his head. “Just wondering what you’re planning.”

Thinking back to the previous several days Seraph gauged his capability against the beasts he had scuttled by. While outside his reach, laying between himself and they were the creatures of this land. Seraph felt confident, but he had to admit one bitter truth. He was now in a battle, and if he wasn’t careful, he would lose. “I need to grow stronger Makar” he finally said. Dipping in height, the Moogle seemed saddened. “So… are you going off again?” Being half armored he thought it an odd question, until he understood just what Makar was asking after. “No, no… I won’t be doing that again. It was foolish, and I lost myself once.” Sliding on his mail and gloves, he strained against the material. “I’m more vulnerable now.”

While he wouldn’t use it he slung it across his back. It may be little more than decoration, but it was something he needed now. When he arrived at the lengthy dresser he looked at the assortment of group items he held. The Heroism Pearl, shining blue like the sky. Fourteen Drawings, a rich violet. And his own linkshell, Unorthodox, black like slinking shadows. He could have waited until there was an actual need for it to open it. However, he would wear this with pride.

Pride.

Sighing heavily he equipped the shell, finding the silence deafening. It seemed as though the influence of the Beast was not the only thing he was succumbing to. “I’ll be the first to admit that I need help” he said aloud, not to anyone in particular. Makar responded anyhow. “The only person I can think of is Rai.” Outside of himself and happenstances of random kindness Rai was the only surefire connection to this world. He could go back to San d’Oria, but in his state he would cause more harm than good. He stretched, happy to be moving again. The last few days without Dancing had made him more than a little stiff. He was happy to be back in his favored form. Deciding that the only course was the best he sent word off to his Samurai associate asking if they could meet. Setting the Corsair’s Die aside tentatively, he picked the swords he aimed to fight with and set out into Bastok.

Not being accustomed to walking around without some plan, Seraph began to think of what to do next. He hadn’t taken but a few step into Bastok Mines when Rai’s voice rang in his ear. “What’s going on Seraph?” he asked. “I didn’t know you could speak at a distance like this” Seraph mentioned. A short laugh came from the Samurai. “Linkshells can speak outside their set groups. It’s just their main use.” Seraph, previously having no need of the function, hadn’t thought of using it that way. “It’s a little odd hearing from you” Rai continued. Seraph leaned against a small wall in front of the mog house exit and gave Rai a small rundown of his ordeal across the ocean.

Listening silently, Rai spoke up when Seraph finished. “I have seen that before. It’s a shame you had to deal with it. What are you planning to do now?” Running a hand through his hair he admitted defeat. “I have no idea Rai. I’ll probably head back to Whitegate. My magic is starting to lance out of control.” A silence followed, one so long that Seraph called out to Rai again by name. “Sorry…”  came a swift apology. “I know you don’t head up to Jeuno a great deal, but how soon could you get here?” Perplexed, Seraph began moving around the wall to Conrad, taking out enough gil to furnish teleportation. “I can be in Qufim in a few seconds, but I’ll have to hike back to Jeuno from there.” Handing off his money to an overworked but still chipper looking Conrad, Seraph was sent to the middle of the continent, back to Qufim Island. He wondered just what Rai had up his sleeve.

After his form coalesced, Seraph stared up at Delkfutt’s Tower. One of many structures on this continent made out of cermet, a ceramic metal compound, it loomed ominously over the rest of Qufim. The remainder of the island itself was rather bland. It lacked in vegetation, but this did not stop varieties of wildlife from roaming the land. Crabs were prevalent, as well as Leeches. Pugils, a type of fish, could be seen roaming near water. Varieties of squid were not unknown of. A tribe of bipedal Gigas’ made this place their home, and one of these decided to test their mettle against him. It was not long ago that Seraph had trained here on his own. In spite of its size the Gigas was no match. A testament to how far he had come, the loping, bare handed swings of the Gigas were almost at a standstill. Dodging many of them, parrying some with his swords, and merely taking the rest, the frustrated foe got sloppy, and quickly succumbed to Seraph. A pet Leech carried on attacking after its former master was no more, drawing more of its ilk into the fray. Functioning on instinct, many of them tried to siphon of Seraph’s magic power. Surprisingly they succeeded, but left enough for him cast one final spell. If for no other reason for the rampant irony, Seraph loved using Blue Magic. Calling on a spell learned from a previous Gigas, he struck all the Leeches dead, gaining their magic stealing ability for himself.

These fiends laid to rest Seraph continued east, then south. There were a number of times he had made his way across this landscape in parties of other adventurers. A few roamed around even now, causing a smile to show on the his face. Ever assailed by Goblins the Blue Mage took pride in letting loose a bomb and watching the dismay creep across the fiends’ face, and the confusion of the random parties he aided. For a time they’d be safe to carry on as they grew stronger. While wishing to assist, Rai was waiting on him.

Passing through a few natural corridors he came upon the tunnel leading back to Jeuno. Waiting at its mouth were fellow adventurers looking to travel together to hunt on these fields. One seemed to be shouting into the tunnel. Nodding to many of those in waiting he proceeded forward. An unusual being with five eyes and a sword dancing above its head was of the family of monsters known as Weapons. While difficult to think of how these creatures could possibly be natural, it was more a trifle to think of who would have intentionally produced so many. The being hunched over as it walked, stalking this bottleneck for prey. Normally these beings stayed more toward the city trying to catch adventurers off guard as they passed, but some were smart enough to place themselves where there was no way to pass them safely. And it worked. Seraph could see a small party on the other side of the beast.

As he approached, the Weapon marked Seraph as its superior and tried to slink away. The party had to run back toward Jeuno to avoid its attention. Turning back, the adventurer shouting into the tunnel turned her attention to him. “Hey! That thing doesn’t like you?!” Shaking his head he answered “…not anymore. I’ve been ambushed here several times. I assume your friends are trying to get past?” The Hume woman nodded. “This is a great place to train” Seraph continued “if you can get to it.”

Calling up a memory Seraph turned his Blue Magic into crackling lightning and threw it at the Weapon. Dismayed, it’s hands were forced. It began weaving spells to enhance its fighting prowess. Timely draws viciously against each eye prevented them from coming to fruition. Dancing wildly, Seraph toyed with the Weapon. It suddenly lifted its arms, and the sword above it came moved in a wide circle around it. The flow of Blue Magic dripped tangible to Seraph, and he countered by draining the very life essence from the Weapon, taking this new technique with it.

Cheering and applause came from the top of the tunnel, and wary adventurers from deeper in. The threat averted they ran past the drained being, offering thanks. Bowing, Seraph subtly used the jig that put him just out of phase, vanishing from the perception of those above. A small round of wonderment followed. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Another Weapon wandered, but nowhere that adventurers were unable to pass. Unheard and unseen Seraph again found himself in Jeuno.

Knowing Rai to meander in Port Jeuno Seraph took a good look around. Even amidst the hive of activity he was not difficult to find. What was different was that he was speaking to another fighter. This one, a Taru, was clad in black plate armor and carried a sizable sword. As he neared he began to pick up on their conversation. “…from Qufim you say?” asked the Taru. Rai nodded. Placing one hand to his ear he phrased a question, which Seraph heard. “Where are you at?” As he came up to the pair his glamour disintegrated, and he was face to face with a bemused Samurai and an unimpressed Dark Knight.

Apparently this trick had been done.

Offering a small salute, Rai walked a small distance away from the Taru and the Elvaan, almost seeming to be standing watch. This was all rather odd behavior for the Samurai, and Seraph couldn’t pin what was going on. Returning his view to the Taru his sight crossed over. Oddly, the potential for Blue Magic did not exist at all. If it did, it lay buried deeper than Seraph could see. More unusual still… the essence lay outside of the perfect harmony most possessed. He seemed somewhat at odds with the world.

Blinking a few times, the worldview returned to normal. The Dark Knight seemed to be evaluating the Blue Mage in his own way. After a moment he asked “So you’re Rai’s friend?”. “That I am” replied the Elvaan. “I am known as Seraph.” The Taru nodded in reply, and stretched a bit. His overall disposition seemed to soften at this confirmation. “Just making sure. I’m Sogomi. Nice to meet you.” Seraph bowed, and the Taru continued. “From what Rai has said you recently had a falling out with your linkshell.” Struck for a moment, Seraph wondered for a moment who this was that Rai was so open with him.

“You’ve been told correctly” Seraph answered. Tapping his helmet, Sogomi seemed to indicate the linkshell Seraph now wore. “You seemed to have bounced back quickly enough.” Seraph could not help but to shake his head. “I am the only member of Unorthodox. This is to remind me to never leave another in need, especially if they are in my care. And, if I can turn to no one else, then I will learn to do things on my own.” Sogomi crossed his arms. “This is a rough world Seraph. Going it alone is foolish.” Nodding, the Elvaan replied “Foolish, but not impossible.”

Seraph took the Immortal’s Scimitar from his back and let Sogomi look it over. Rai’s attention diverted somewhat as his Elvaan friend presented it. “Blade of the Immortals…” Sogomi whispered. Motioning in affirmative, Seraph kept his story as short as possible. “This was my reward for making it to the staging points of the Aradijah continent. I was allowed assistance, but finding none I made my way to them on my own.” Sogomi hesitated at this, and shot a glance over to Rai. The Samurai turned slightly, and a conversation seemed to unfold between the two. After awhile Sogomi spoke aloud again. “You went from Whitegate to every staging point on your own?” “I did.” Sogomi crossed his arms again and looked down, seeming to lose himself to thought. “What are your aims now?” His grip on his Scimitar tightening, Seraph had to fight to keep his voice clear. “I have to grow stronger. I am nearly lost unto myself, but I have access to nearly every type of power known to this world.”

“That’s certainly a startling claim!” Sogomi almost shouted. “I know Blue Mages are powerful, but I thought you had to be further along to claim that.” Replacing his Scimitar to his back Seraph quickly corrected himself. “I simply meant that I’m aware of every type of job that adventurers can use. I am waiting for an Automaton to be completed so that another Taru can begin showing me how to use them. In fact I have even had words with Zeid…” Seraph cut his sentence short. His Taru companion seemed to be awash in memories. By the dour shift in his expression, none of them seemed to be without pain. “…I am sorry…” Seraph began. Sogomi waved his hands disarmingly. “Don’t worry about it. The burden is mine to bear.”

Reaching into his chest plate he began speaking again. “You have gone far in your search, and from what Rai has said, in a very short time. It is with pride that I…” pausing mid-sentence Sogomi’s gaze drifted. “…check her out!” Seraph followed the Dark Knights’ watchful eye. What appeared to be a female Ninja came into town from Sauromugue Champaign clad in an ornate armor that was wholly unfamiliar had drawn the bulk of Sogomi’s attention. “…here you go!” he exclaimed, tossing up a small red jewel and pursuing after the Ninja. Rai watched his Taru companion dart away as Seraph caught the jewel.

In his hand he now held a red linkpearl.

Rai came over, patting Seraph’s shoulder. “Do right by The Hat” he said, a smile on his face and pride in his voice. He left Seraph to his own ends, and wandered into the midst of Jeuno’s activity. Left to his own, Seraph began the trek up the Jeuno’s central tower to meet the Sentinels’ representative. Seraph held misgivings of equipping this pearl. His previous two shells, which seemed to thrive before he joined, almost seemed to fall apart. Worse yet, this represented a great deal of Rai’s trust.

“The Hat”, Rai’s affectionate term, was short for Moghat. Even before Seraph began adventuring he heard of Moghat from Saint. A very strong linkshell, all of the members were still well above Seraph’s current level of skill. Being the low man was better than being the only man. Seraph tucked this new pearl away. He meant no insult, but stepping into Rai’s pool would be a great test. As he proceeded through Upper Jeuno, Seraph stopped to speak to Luto Meriwah. Having waved him down, she remarked on having seen Clearite lately, seeming to look for another weapon. Seraph bore that in mind, and thought to keep an eye out for something akin to her. He asked after Palometa, and was relieved to know that she was safe and seemed to be going about her daily life.

Continuing towards the outskirts of town, Seraph found the person to furnish teleportation. After accepting his gold, Seraph was offered a warning that Naja Salaheem was in a particularly combative mood today, and that he should stay on his toes. The energies of the teleportation spell took effect, and Seraph was in Whitegate but a few moments later. He sighed aloud. Sure… warn me of the danger, but have me land in a place where I can’t help but pass her potential sight. As he drew nearer to the headquarters of Salaheem’s Sentinels the normal sounds of a mace smashing against wood and stone, and groans of those that could be considered his felled associates echoed from within. There was a sudden silence. Seraph rolled his eyes, brought up a number of defensive magics, and readied a small orb of fire. It oscillated from blue to red as it took full shape. Through a small hole the Blue Mage caught sight of a small glint of light. “Ah… therrre you arrre, foolish Serrraph” came the vicious cooing of a Mithra. “I’ve found you.”

Something banged into the door, and the next second a fellow Elvaan came careening through. Still intact, this was not meant to last. The mace on Naja Salaheem burst through, eyes glinting with deadly focus gleamed through the hole. The head of the morning star burst through again, blowing the door off its hinges and into Seraph’s direction. He unleashed the blast of fire in his hand, reducing the door to cinders. Seraph prepared for the normal song and dance as the fire diminished into dark blue waves. He began drawing his other sword, and crossed them into a timely defense from another assault from the morning star. Naja Salaheem smiled at the Elvaan.

“I rrread updates on Middle Land teleporrrtation from the past week, my sweet Elvaan” she purred. “It seems as though a parrticular Private: Second Class wants to shirrrk his duties.” Salaheem leaned onto her weapon, trying to push Seraph back. Her efforts were in vain. The differences of their frames allowed Seraph to maintain his footing. “I think you are mistaken Naja Salaheem. I have accepted no duties from you to shirk. In addition, I’ve only just recently returned to these lands.” Seraph began charging up a spell, which caused Naja to jump back and prepare a swing. Knowing her propensity to aim for the head, Seraph channeled the energy into hardening his body against attacks. Oft times it did little good, but for “conversations” with Naja it was a true boon.

As expected, an arced attack came towards Seraph’s face. He allowed it to connect full on. His defense, while barely holding, did as he needed it to do. Naja’s upper body shook at the unrelenting obstacle it met. She lost the grip on her weapon and staggered backward. Seraph caught the mace. As Naja shook her head in an attempt to recover he held it out to her. She blinked in an unimpressed fashion and took back her weapon. “You’rrre more annoying than when I last saw you” she stated.

Seraph, trying to retain a level of deference that Naja would be accustomed to, replied coolly. “Is there something you would ask of me?”  As he asked he sheathed his weapons in a flourish and imitated the bow so often given to him by the natives of the Near East. Nonplussed Naja carried on. “I thought I had told you to check in and get a run down on Assault missions?” Seraph shook his head. “You had mentioned it before I went to speak with the Immortals, but not since I returned. I’m really not up for any missions at the moment.” Focusing again, he coalesced the orb he used earlier, but it quickly sputtered into an amorphous blue cloud that quickly dissipated Naja opened her mouth to counter, but then stilled herself. “Go and do what you need to do. Come back when you’rrre done.” Seraph was taken aback. “Why the change of heart?” he asked. She held up a piece of parchment, not unlike the one she tricked him into signing.

By decree of Her Highness, the Empress, and on behalf of the Immortals, the mercenary known as Seraph is to be exempt from any and all missions, per his choosing, until a point in time by which his superiors deem otherwise.

Raubahn

“This came in with Nareema’s rrreport yesterday” Naja explained. “It looks at though you’ve got a bigger fish interested in you.” Seraph looked the not over several times. “This came with no official summons?” he asked. Shaking her head, Naja dismissed him and returned inside her office, kicking a scrap of charred door. Seraph turned away, moving to where Waoud was often found. Not seeing him, he recalled feeling the resonance between he and the Mamool Ja Blue Mage. Focusing on the tell tale chime he often heard, he sent out a wave of his own energy. He felt a sympathetic resonance moving toward him, and saw Waoud coming toward him. The seer had an unusual look on his face when as he drew closer. “Good day S…” he tried to begin. Seraph held up his hand. “Take me to him Waoud.” With that, Waoud’s eye gleamed crimson, thrusting Seraph’s perception into a place not so far away.

Seraph found himself awakening to be an odd sensation. It appeared as though he blacked out. He found himself inside a cage. Confused, he reached out to the bars. His body exploded with Blue Magic energy, and he was brought to his knees. Trying to grab the bars to help him stand, he found he could not command his hands to close. Raubahn moved into his field of vision from wherever he had been hiding. The aura normally surrounding Raubahn was nowhere to be seen.

Kneeling down and extending his hand, the Immortal commander began to speak. “The phenomenon assaulting you is a result of Blue Magic invading every cell of your body. It seems you contained it, but pushing yourself… your excursion these past several days… The vessel that you have become has reached its limit.” Commanding not his body, but his magic to move, Seraph grabbed Raubahn’s wrist. The Immortal nodded. “Your pleas… I hear them. Your physical form struggles to contain this energy, and it leaves your soul crying out in agony…” With his other hand Raubahn gripped the one that now grabbed him.

Meeting Raubahn’s gaze, Seraph’s eyes were filled with a mixture of pain, anger, and helplessness. As though he had just come out of a pool of water, magic that was liquid dense flowed off Seraph. Raubahn shook his head in displeasure. “This is my private domain…” Seraph dragged Raubahn to the cage bars still clutching his outstretched hand. In an attempt to speak, it came out slurred. “ArrRRapaaaagoooooooo…” Shocked at his own voice, the Elvaan contained himself. Raubahn nodded. “Yes… it does resemble that place. I imagine that you too will one day have such power that your affinity will be given physical form.” As Seraph relented, Raubahn righted himself and continued speaking. “The magic I have devoured gives me the power to have a place separated from the outside world. Isolated from reality, the state of a soul’s deterioration is far more obvious.”

Seraph’s will weakened, and so did his grip on Raubahn. At the opportunity the Immortal stood. He watched as the fledgling Blue Mage attempted to follow, but could not. “Do you lack even the strength to stand?!” Watching for a minute as Seraph tried in vain, he knelt down again. “The lengths you have gone to. That you have survived this long without incident… you must have gorged yourself on the essence of your enemies to reach this condition. And you still aim to continue?”

Seraph thought of Saint, and the memory coalesced into tangible form. Working its way into the shape of a great Wyrm and honed by his will Seraph had license to stand. For a few moments he stood looking eye to eye with Raubahn. Looking on in awe, the Immortal returned his “pupils'” stare. Taxing himself greatly the energy surged and exploded, reducing the Elvaan into a heap once again. Nodding solemnly Raubahn nodded. “Very well. I cannot help but note the depths of your ambition.” Taking a few steps back he said “You have seen for yourself that our road is not easy. You fate lay with you. It is not for me to prevent your self-destruction. Your limits are your own to conquer.” Seraph slammed a fist onto the cage floor. Raubahn continued speaking as Seraph’s energetic projection became more and more feral.

“A resilient spirit to control the fear…” Seraph forced energy to draw into his legs and stood.

“To see past the drunken allure of the savage magic you devour…” Into his torso, that breath and magic pulsed in time.

“A willingness to discard your very self…” his mind cleared, retaining control over his being and his magics.

“The ability to achieve your desires…” The tide of power subsiding, Seraph stood as one with the magics that had ruled him just seconds before.

“…these are qualities that every Blue Mage must possess.” With Raubahn clear of the cage, Seraph released a surge of raw energy, shattering to pieces the faux metal found in this mental construct.

The Elvaan stepped away from where the memory of a cage had been, coming into reach of Raubahn once again. The senior Blue Mage placed a finger in the middle of his subordinates’ forehead, and again the magic roiled forth, threatening to crush to dust every iota of Seraph’s being. This time, he remained standing. “There is no salvation for you. Either you wait for oblivion to claim you, or continue to writhe within the energies of your foes. You stand at a fork in the road.”

The air of the place still tasted of rot and dead. The bitter tinge that signified being within the bounds of Arrapago Reef would not leave. However, as Raubahn had said it, he now stood at a junction in a road. “Listen well Seraph. Should you decide on a life consumed with this struggle of your power, I can show you the path.” Lifting a pointed finger, Seraph’s focus shot him through Bhaflau, Wajoam, Halvung, and Mount Zhayolm. At the end was a dark cavern to which Seraph had never been. “Travel to the Navukgo Execution Chamber. There, Flan resist the Imperial Army. For a more seasoned Blue Mage it is a simple task. For you… not so simple perhaps.” The area grew dark until it was merely Raubahn and Seraph standing looking at each other. “Be tempered by the obstacles you overcome. Show me the strength of your will.”

Coming out of his trance Seraph shook his head. His displacement seemed much more tangible this time, the effects significantly more taxing than he had recalled feeling before. Stumbling a step backwards, Waoud watched the Elvaan as he regained himself. As he did, he nodded weakly to the seer, who bowed humbly. Parting from Waoud, Seraph considered his next steps. He turned his face skyward. Realizing the time, and just where he was, he thought to check in on Ghastad in regards to Iruki-Waraki’s Automaton. Moving swiftly, he made his way back to the Automaton workshop.

Nearing midday, all the workers were in full tilt retrieving parts and assisting other Puppetmasters in fine tuning their partners. Aisha sat on a small stool, and next to her what appeared to be the Automaton he had retrieved from Arrapago Reef, merely refurbished. She marked his entry while Ghastad had his back turned, seeking some elusive tool. “Serrraph!” she said, throwing herself at the Elvaan. “Ooooh…. thank you, thank you, thank you! The Automaton is done, and I have so many notes that my head is still spinning!” Ghastad took an unusually funneled screwdriver from his mouth and set it on his worktable. “Ah… I’m happy to see you. Come right over here.”

Doing as instructed Seraph went over next to the Automaton. He knelt in front of it. It seemed completely inert. After a few moments Ghastad let out a sigh. “Oh my… this was unexpected…” A small whimper escaped from Aisha. “Did we do something wrong?” Seraph watched Ghastad shake his head and stroke his chin. “I’ve done this process several times before. I don’t know why the Automaton wouldn’t respond…” Seraph turned his attention to the sitting construct and tapped its chassis a couple of times. Focusing a bit of Blue Magic through his finger he tapped its face. It suddenly sprung to life, upending one end of Ghastad’s worktable. Moving quickly, Seraph danced around Scholar and Goldsmith(?) catching tools and small gears that went flying. Dismayed that he could not be on both sides he watched helplessly as some workings nearly fell between the floorboards. The Automaton sprang into action, grabbing each small piece of his future kin and setting them down on the worktable as Seraph did.

Ghastad laughed and patted Aisha on the back hard enough to stagger her forward.

Seraph tilted a head quizzically at the Automaton who mirrored the action. They moved around the table until they were toe to toe. As the Elvaan knelt, the Automaton lifted on the ball joints of its feet as high as it could until they were eye to eye. Seraph nodded, and the Automaton did in return. “Good day” he said, testing the waters. “Greetings” returned the Automaton. Looking to Aisha, she covered her mouth as she laughed quietly. Turning back he said “I am Seraph. It is a pleasure to meet you, and I thank you for your help” motioning to the table. “I Have No Designation” the Automaton said with the same conviction as Seraph had relayed his name. “Likewise, it is pleasurable to make your acquaintance. I am happy to have been of service.” It punctuated the sentence by stretching a hand out in the direction of the table as Seraph had done.

Seraph stood, and Ghastad walked to his side. “Your friend does still need a name” he reported. The assistants came up the levels of the workshop, excited at this apparent tradition among new Puppetmasters. “Zero is a popular one” reported a Tarutaru. A Hume woman chimed in “Some are happy to keep it simple with a more official designation.” Seraph shook his head. “Although designed to be a partner, Automatons can still be unique.” Aisha flipped through her grimoire, seeming to look for some type of inspiration. Ghastad, arms crossed, seemed to be musing as well. “I agree. It is the type of thing we can always change.” Seraph winced at this. “That may be… but I’d only do that if it was wanted. Respect is a large part of working successfully with another in tandem.” Ghastad smiled at this and was about to speak when the Automaton was strangely vocal. “…in tandem…” it uttered.

Everyone stopped and looked to Seraph. As no one had spoken directly to the Automaton it was surprising for it to speak. They thought it was something Seraph had directed. He knelt in front of the Automaton again. “Well… it’s your name. Do you have any say in the matter?” The Automaton nodded. “Respect. Through you I understand the concept. Pride. The sin given to the Elvaan people. I am… proud to have your respect and…” Looking around the room, the Automaton seemed to be looking for something. Everyone followed its gaze until it fell on the Hume woman. It pointed to her, and mimicking her voice, repeated “Some are happy to keep it simple with a more official designation”. It turned back to Seraph, and in its own voice continued. “…happy to work in tandem with you.”

The shock on the woman’s face cause a roll of laughter to erupt. “It seems that ‘tandem’ is the catalyst to your awakening, as it stands. Would you like to be called Tandem?” Seraph asked. A small pause was met while the Automaton slumped down. “Affirmative!” it said, erecting itself again to much less disastrous results. “I, Tandem, am happy to have been of service.” Ghastad, standing between Aisha and Seraph, but a large hand on each of their shoulders. “And there you have it. Tandem and Seraph… welcome to the ranks of the Puppetmaster!” In unison Seraph and Tandem bowed. “Thank you for all your help Ghastad” said the Elvaan. “Think nothing of it” Galka replied. “If Tandem ever needs any work you just bring him in to see me again.”

Now a trio, Elvaan, Mithra, and Automaton left the Workshop. The former two moved along easily enough, but Tandem seemed to be having some difficulty. Aisha laughed. “Seraph, you’re thinking too much. Just rrrelax. Don’t worry about it. Just move.” Trying to comply Tandem moved forward as he did. “Therrre you go.” While practicing walking Iruki-Waraki came bolting around a corner. Seraph and Aisha dodged out of the way, but Seraph’s computability with Tandem left much to work on. Automaton and Puppetmaster collided. “Watch where ya plod, ya clod!” came an angry uproar from the Taru. Tandem’s yet unfashioned voice replied “Many apologies Master Waraki.” The utterance of his name caused the Taru pause. Looking up at the Automaton he looked and first saw Aisha, then the other way and found Seraph.

“I just saw you running by a little while ago and I was wondering what you were up to.” Iruki-Waraki looked over the Automaton. It bowed and stated an introduction “I am Tandem. It is a pleasure meeting you.” Looking from Automaton to Master Iruki-Waraki shook his head. “Like I told Shamarhaan, there’s really nothing for me to show you.” The Taru passed something off to Tandem, who dawdled over to Seraph and handed it off. “That’s an Animator. You’ll be able to get more precision operation out of Tandem that way. Each Automaton is tied to its Master. If you ended up bringing me one, it would have been mine.” He shoved a thumb back at Tandem. “The fact that you’re walking it yourself means its already yours. Congratulations” he muttered, walking the way he came as he did so. Seraph put the Animator on his belt, and watched Waraki head around the corner.

Setting off to follow, Aisha pulled Seraph in another direction. “Leave him be” she said. “He’ll be in a dourrr mood for who knows how long. Believe it orrr not, Taru know how to sulk.” Having a much easier time with it, Seraph had Tandem running about in order to get a feel for operation. Aisha watched the dizzying pace of the Automaton as it circled the pair. Seraph’s grimoire appeared. Opening to a blank page amongst all the other jobs Seraph had attained. The title of “Puppetmaster” headed the page, with a number of details regarding Tandem. The Automaton seemed to hone in on this focus, and peered into the tome. Seraph laughed, shaking his head at this pair bound to him. Fluttering in front of Aisha, it bobbed up and down in time with the pairs footsteps.

“What is it?” she asked looking to Seraph. “You mentioned having a lot of notes on Automatons.” She nodded “Of course. I was working with Ghastad on Tandem’s construction for days. I know Tandem better than you do, and probably Automatons on the whole.” Seraph nodded to his bound book. “And now my grimoire wants to know.” Her tail stood straight on end. “It wants to know?! What does that mean?!” The Elvaan laughed. “You tell me. You’re the Scholar here.” She started flipping through the volume.

“Tell me about the Quadav” she asked. “They’re centered around Beadeaux and tend tend to stretch between the Rolanberry Fields and the Northern and Southern sections of Gustaberg.” Nodding, she continued. “Do you think anything odd about them?” Seraph grew contemplative, then said “I hadn’t thought about it. But, if I had to surmise something, I’ve heard of creatures called Adamantoises. I think the Quadav could be smaller versions of them, still bipedal.” Grabbing Seraph she directed his view to a page about the Quadav. Before their eyes a small note  regarding what Seraph just said was appearing on the page.

“I have not seen that before” Aisha reported. “It did this when I met the Immortals at the staging points” Seraph recalled. He closed his eyes and focused, information on the runic portals opening to the pair. “There. Most of them knew nothing…” Aisha then pointed to each of those who gave no information. “And you’re upset with them over that?”  Seraph was taken aback. “What? No. Why would you say that?” Looking at where she pointed there were small, terse notes implicating a small amount of anger in regards to their lack of knowledge, all save for Nareema. “What do you know about Dragoons?” Upon that the book slammed shut, Aisha having to draw her hand back quickly so that it was not caught within the books bindings. “What was that about?” she demanded on toe point. “Sorry…” he said, tapping the book several times. Tandem did the same. When it opened again the Automaton took to looking at the picture of itself. “I have a close friend who is a Dragoon… Anyhow… I know they are as one with their Wyverns. I can remember when I first met my friend, I had regarded his Wyvern privately, but then found out that they had shared the experience.” The Scholar nodded. “Somehow, your own affinity for knowledge has linked you tightly with your grimoire. Your… ‘cultural repression’ seems to have granted it a persona, on that is more outward. It seems to emerge when you are hesitant in learning something you feel entitled to.”

Nodding, Seraph posed a question. “So I think I should know about Automatons?” Aisha nodded. “Apparently so. You still owe me a rundown of Blue Magic…” she said teasingly. While he picked up on the lightly barbed remark his grimoire shut close. Aisha laughed at this. “But it is awfully cute, for a book.” She called out her grimoire. “I’m typically the driving force in my search for information. I don’t think that is to say you aren’t, but the influences of your seized magics, and perhaps even a latent mimicry of your Dragoon friend, have forged the connection you now have. I would think, as you grow in power, you will come to be in greater control of it. It’s like a child now. It just needs some direction.”

Opening her grimoire to where she made her notes on Tandem’s construction, she handed it off. Automaton and Master poured over the information. As they read, she carefully eyed Seraph’s tome copy over the information as their eyes glanced over it. Page after page, the three moved in time. Tandem “recorded” what it was viewing as Seraph read over every note. With two sets of eyes the process was quick, with them overlapping, confirming what was taken down by Aisha. As one or the other turned to a new page the Elvaan’s grimoire did the same on its own, copying exactly what they took in.

Once they were done, Aisha recalled her grimoire, and Seraph’s disappeared, its unique appetite sated. “What’s on your agenda now?” she asked. “I’ve been charged to remove a threat plaguing the Imperial Army.” Nearing the rented rooms the Scholar slowed her pace. “That’s a rather large task. You, on your own, are to remove a threat that an army can’t handle?” Seraph laughed, having just realized the full scope of his duty. “I hadn’t thought about it. It does sound rather hopeless. I don’t have any other options. I don’t have anyone I can…” Remembering the new linkpearl he pulled it out and held it in his hand. “…turn to…” Aisha looked on and laughed. “You change linkshells more than the moon changes phases.” Shaking his head he tucked it away again. “But, on a more pressing note, I need to get Tandem back home. As much as I want to test the capabilities, this task isn’t the place to start.”

Aisha agreed. “Now there’s a Scholarly mind at work. You Blue Mages are awfully brash. I’ve been sleeping on a workshop floor for days… I’m going to head on home for a little while. Take Care of yourself Seraph. Going their separate ways the Blue Mage entered the rented rooms with his new Automaton companion. Finding a place to sit, he waited for Makar to show up. Tandem looked around tapping the mostly metallic furnishings, then tapped its own frame trying to find any that were similar. Having not noticed the particular construction before, he found an unusual liking for it. Much of San d’Oria’s craft work was in wood. Metals were reserved for armaments. Bastok made more use of the metal readily found in its boundaries, but most of these that he had seen were bronze and brass constructs. Outside of the cold and massive iron gates separating the staging points the majority of metal were ornate golds. While his Scimitar was quite simple, it was still an ornate working.

Makar’s entry warping appeared. “Sorry for the delay!” came a swift apology. It preceded the Moogle, coalescing in Seraph’s ears before the form set in his eyes. “Kupo? What have we here?” Makar floated over to the Automaton. “I am Tandem. A pleasure to meet you.” Surprised, Makar wheeled backwards in the air, nearly hitting the wall. “Kupo?” Seraph laughed, and explained. “This is my Automaton. I can’t make use of it for what I have to do, so could you take young Tandem back home?” Tandem ran over to Seraph, who passed off the Animator. The Automaton then made his way over to Makar. “I’m not sure of the effective range of my control. Could you find someplace to sit comfortably in the event Tandem powers down?”

Nodding thrice, Makar sat atop the Automaton’s head. “Be back in a jiffy.” Seraph waved to the pair, Tandem returning the gesture. Enveloped in the Black Magic spell, the two faded from sight, warping to Bastok. Alone in the room, he began considering the path that lay before him. For what it was worth, he knew a great deal of it very well. The path shown to him by Raubahn diverged slightly, leading him away from the staging point guarded by Waudeen. However, he marked that would be a good starting point, and would cut down on his traveling time significantly. Beyond that it looked grim. Getting past a large majority of the beasts between staging point and Execution Chamber, the name itself having ill forebodings, would be relatively easy with his glamour and left dispatching the Flan the only obstacle.

Flans were of a more cohesive magical structure than the Hecteyes he’d fought before. While the latter was more inside his reach now, and probably a fair match, all of the beings on this side of the sea were above his head. And if the Imperial Army was having trouble Seraph held major doubts that he would be able to survive, let alone subdue his charged prey.

Makar’s magic caused a fluctuation in the area as he returned. The little Moogle was panting hard. He was so exhausted that he floated all the way to the ground. “Automatons are heavier than they look, kupo…” Walking over Seraph picked up his companion. “I take it shut down immediately?” “Oh, yes. As soon as the vortex closed.” Seeming to have regained some strength the Moogle staggered out of his Elvaan friends’ grip, but was still rather breathless. “Heading out… again?” managing between wheezing mouthfuls of air. “That’s the plan. Raubahn has charged me with another task. This one shouldn’t have me away as long, but it can’t be completed with stealth. I don’t think my cunning will see me through without enough power…” Again he pulled out his new linkpearl. Makar looked at it with fascination. “A new linkshell let you join! Which is it?” Taking it the Moogle rolled it around in his palms. “That one is a gift Rai afforded me.”

“Kupo…?” Makar returned the pearl, mulling over Seraph’s claim. Finding his hesitation, the Elvaan affixed it to his ear in conjunction to his own Unorthodox linkshell. “…wait… through Rai? You don’t mean… You’re in MOGHAT?!” Saint had come into his moghouse during the early days, and mention had come up of the linkshell. “Kupo… wow! Those are some heavy hitters. Calling one of them should have you fixed up in a jiffy! Why haven’t you…” The Elvaan looked knowingly at his Moogle companion. “Oh… right. You haven’t had such great luck…” “I’ve still got a ways to go before I’m in the same arena as them. Not as much as I once did, but some.” “Just move forward” Makar said, patting Seraph’s shoulder consolingly. “If this is the best path, walk it. If not, power through until you get to the next plateau.” Seraph nodded, and playfully gave his friend a shove. “I’ll see how it goes. I should be back by sooner than not. I am only going out once after all.”

Stepping out of the mercenaries’ quarters he made way past an area attunement crystal. Using it, he progressed onto Salaheem’s Sentinels Assault coordination office. Here, a number of attendants offered a variety of missions to subdue a number of threats to the Empire. The Immortals seemed to hold back a great deal of these uprisings in their respective areas, but strike forces were the preferred method of confirmed eradication Figuring that this would be enough for word to return to Naja Salaheem, Seraph made his way back to the Chamber of Passage, and for the first time as an official outbound traveler. He wondered suddenly after Shahyl, the unusual Immortal guarding Nyzul Isle’s staging point. Seraph laughed to himself at the turn of phrase. He realized his worldview had expanded if he was able to find normalcy and oddity among a group as varied as the Immortals were. The Taru attendant, remembering the out of the ordinary request, recalled Seraph favorably, but was still required to deduct the projected trip from the Elvaan’s standing within the Empire. Ensuring his destination, he was cleared to proceed to the Halvung staging point. Having a small tag attuned to the proper frequency, Seraph found it easy to guide himself to his destination.

Unlike before, Seraph kept his awareness primed, seeking if he could confirm Nareema’s words. Indeed, it did feel as though his body was being reassembled. More importantly all his magics were in the right place. There seemed to be no chance of them surging outwards. Stepping from within the sigil Seraph turned and gave a greeting to Waudeen. The Immortal came over to him. “Ah, young master Seraph. A pleasure to see you again. What brings you here today?” The younger Elvaan deferred to his elder in a number of ways. That Seraph could one day be in a similar position to Waudeen was not lost on him. Being frank he answered “A hunt. Raubahn charged me with its completion” Waudeen beamed. “Ah… your first true mission. I wish you the best of luck! As you know the beasts here are vicious. I hope fortune smiles on you, and your prey finds you near to here.” Seraph chuckled. “That is an odd thing to hope for. What makes you say this?”

Waudeen considered for a moment “It is merely because there have been reports of a number of abnormally empowered Flan giving much grief to our soldiers. I can only hope as you chase your quarry it does not take you too far to the West.” Seraph exhaled a dispassionate laugh from behind an empty smile. “No… he would not have…” Waudeen, normally not being too keen, picked up on the conclusion right away. “Is Raubahn mad, sending you on such an errand?!” The area began rippling with heat. It both honed in upon and projected out from the Immortal. “At least tell me you have some assistance?” Silently, Seraph shook his head. Disappointed, Waudeen’s rage slipped into sorrow. “One part of madness above one part of foolishness. The paths we walk aren’t easy… but don’t let it be the death of you. I remember being as you are now. If you manage to succeed in your task, make it back alive. I will be listening for favorable word of your return.”

“I am sorry Waudeen, for worrying your so” Seraph said in parting. “I assure you, I will not do anything foolish.” With that he walked to the iron gate. Taking in and releasing a tense breath he stepped out into Mount Zhayolm once again. The volcanic stench of sulfur rocked his sense of smell. Shaking it off he proceeded carefully forward. Rounding one corner and following a natural hall a trio of bombs, which seemed to be bound together magically, darted to and fro before him. Readying his blades, he prepared to attack. However, upon assessing his opponent he determined that even at his fighting prime he stood no chance against his foe. Watching the fiend carefully he back away, returning to just outside the gate. He slumped against the wall.

A few times he had happened across a few irregulars. These adventurers seemed to operate outside of any linkshell that Seraph could discern, and they could tell that he had hit a wall in his training. They had suggested he go see Maat. Many within the upper echelons of ability on the Quon and Mindartia continents spoke of his training as legend. He seemed to be skilled in the ways of the Far East as well. As Saint had spoken of him, he asked if he seemed skilled with Blue Magic. The answer was a shaky ‘No, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did’. He wouldn’t say much else, but he had mentioned that if ever there was a time when a roadblock was reached to find him. When Seraph had, Maat sent him on a journey of self discovery. If he could return with proof, the old man agreed to share some of his insight with the young Elvaan. Even with his abilities now surpassing what was once natural to him, Seraph had to admit that they had not been expanded enough.

Looking skyward he could not see clearly past the clouds of soot spewed by the volcano he traversed. Every step tentative, he decided to take a chance, and he attuned his perception to the Moghat linkpearl. The silence of his Unorthodox linkshell was quickly replaced with a stream of contained, yet witty, banter. For a third time in his short career he began his introductions.

Hello Moghat” Seraph said aloud. “Ah… there he is!” came Sogomi’s voice. “I was worried about you for a little while. Welcome to Moghat, Bro!” Rai added. “Oh… Rai’s friend?! And new to the ‘Hat too. Welcome to Moghat! I’m Twinsevens.” A quick message shot directly to Seraph from Rai. “That’s the boss.” Returning a thank you to his Samurai friend, he responded across the linkshells’ channel. “A pleasure to meet you, at least in this fashion for now. Hello to everyone else as well.” A slew of greetings resonated in kind. Conversations quickly returned to their former scheme, but Rai shot across a question publicly “What held you up?” Laying his head against the heated stone Seraph told a slight falsehood. “I had to check in near here in Whitegate. I have to head out and take Flan. Unfortunately I don’t know what I’m walking into. I was told ‘Flan’. I don’t know if was singular or plural.” Twinsevens and Rai both sounded off horrid replies. “Can’t really hit them hard enough. They just bounce back into shape” Twinsevens said. “Even my sharpest blade can’t slash them apart fast enough. They just fuse back together.” An agreement came from Twinsevens. “I completely agree. So much easier when there’s a skeletal structure to hammer down.” To himself, Seraph let loose a small breath. It was sounding a lot like with Heroism, but he decided to give this linkshell a real chance. “I’m heading out to the place where they’ve been sighted. I’ll do as I’m able. Is anyone free to back me up?”

                “Let me” came a very swift reply.

                “Ah… perfect!” came a shout from Twinsevens. “Seraph was it?” came the voice again. “That’s right.” “Where are you at?” Seraph looked at the iron gate to his right. “Just outside the Halvung staging point.” A small stint of silence. “I’ll be there in just a short while, if you can wait.” Resounding a small laugh the Elvaan answered. “Not a problem. I’ll admit to being out of my depth here. I appreciate the consideration.”

Listening to the flow of lava, Seraph lost himself, and track of time for awhile. Rai’s voice seemed to come on the edge of a dream, but he soon remembered that the two could speak candidly. “Sorry…” the floating Elvaan replied. “…what was that?” “I checked in on the area you’re in. Sogomi let me know what you went through. Why didn’t you call me up before?” Sighing, he replied. “Saint drew me into adventuring. I was with him and Fourteen Drawings until he disappeared and they broke up. I could have turned to you then. I’d heard of Moghat though… I know how powerful you all are. I wasn’t ready… in fact, I don’t think I am ready to stand with you all.” Rai’s voice was steady. “You’re standing with us now. That’s proof enough.” “Rai… I have the pearl, but not the power it typically represents. I was offered a place in Heroism outside of anyone I knew originally. It was a place for me to make a name for myself. You’re backing me now…” Rai cut him off. “And you’re worrying too much. We’ve all worked hard for my place. Moghat trusts me. I trust Saint. He trusts you. No one may know you as we do, but you haven’t lost the chance to prove yourself. Seraph… just relax. If I didn’t trust you, I wouldn’t have vouched for you.

Using silence, Seraph acquiesced to Rai’s viewpoint. He was correct. Seraph had never taken a slow step since he set out as a Thief. He’d clawed his way through his enemies, learning his chosen trade, and applying himself to the power of benevolent magics just as fervently. Saint took Seraph on a whirlwind tour of the world, and at his behest, followed him to Whitegate. Honing the revealed powers of Blue Magic he soon surpassed the skill he portrayed as both Thief and White Mage. After a few more lessons, he was left to his own. Even when his support collapsed he carried on. Even in less than fertile ground he clawed to greater plateaus of power. It was time to test this new field he found himself in.

Removing his blades he stood and took a few practice stances. Dancing in his narrow safety zone he channeled energy up and down each of his swords. The Immortals’ Scimitar on his back sang in reply. “Um…” sounded a small voice. Remaining in his posture Seraph looked about, surprised by the Taru White Mage standing nearby. “Seraph?” Blades pointed outward, sparks of Blue Magic dancing on the edges, with one leg lifted in an uncompleted step he replied. “That would be me…” The Taru nodded. “I’m Tiberiusara.” “Hello. How are you today?” the Elvaan asked, nodding cordially. “I’m well enough” Tiberiusara said, a wry grin stretching up one cheek. “Ready to go and knock out these Flans?” Dropping out of his stance, he put his swords back on each hip. Seraph prepared to weave his glamour to get past the enemies. “Hold on…” came the Taru’s voice, holding his cohort at bay.

Summoning a grimoire of his own, the White Mage seemed to also be a Scholar, and applied Sneaking and Invisibility magics over the both of them at once. “And impressive display” Seraph remarked. “It’s useful. I know how fickle Dancer’s abilities can be.” Unseen, Seraph nodded out of habit. From what could be discerned there was very little regularity in how long the effects of Spectral Jig, a Dancer’s stealth inducing technique, would last use to use. While not his primary training, one equally talented as he could use the move at the same instant, and there was no telling whose would last longer. “My thanks Tiberiusara.” The Taru laughed. “You’re a real stick in the mud aren’t you?” “How do you mean?” “You’re going to keep using my full name, aren’t you?” Seraph thought this to be a silly question. “Of course. It is how you introduced yourself to me, and we have just met. After some time I may use another name, but that is if I figure out one accepted or hear the same.” A brief silence passed, then the Taru laughed. “The Elvaan hold onto their societal norms just like most Taru do… Just call me Tibs. Everyone does.”

With that, the duo set off. The conversations passed in outward silence. Stealth would be useless if their voices gave them away. As the way was bottlenecked it was some time before Tibs asked just where they were heading to. “West, to the Navukgo Execution Chamber” Seraph reported. “That’s an awfully out of the way place. You’re being sent all the way out there? Through all of this…” Seraph surveyed the area. A group of Wamouracampa were milling about rather harmlessly. At least while Seraph was hidden, so he thought. “It is to be a test of my abilities” he replied. “It’s a death sentence” Tibs countered. “Some time ago finding a group of adventurers heading out this way would have been no bother at all. But since the Cavernous Maws became suddenly active, especially those leading to Abyssea, most have delved into that other world.” A question sprang forth that long plagued Seraph. “This land is still in danger, is it not?” “Depends who’s answering. Besides, most of us adventurers were allowed free reign as mercenaries. The good of the Empire doesn’t interest many, especially considering that the Maws only appear in the Middle Lands. Plus, Abyssea is more lucrative. What good mercenary would ignore that?”

Willfully negating his cloaking spell Tibs opened a metal gate. Significantly smaller than that of the staging point, the duo moved beyond it. One hand renewing his spell, the other pointed outward. Wamouracampa, long cocooned, opened ahead giving way to full grown Wamoura. “You’re able to follow me, correct?” “With no problems” Seraph replied. “You have an impressive amount of magical potential in your wake.” Proceeding onward, Seraph followed closely to Tibs and the two weaved well behind all the Wamoura. Together with their lesser evolutions the area was rank with Blue Magic to be seized. The energy clawed at Seraph’s mind, crying out to be taken. Fortunately, his mind was not so far gone to jump outside his bounds.

Passing a number of Trolls and lesser Flans (none of which seemed to be particularly troublesome) the pair reached the Navukgo Execution Chamber without incident. Extending his senses the Blue Mage felt no tremors of Blue Magic, no enemies… no life at all outside of his companion. This place didn’t seem to reek of death, but the lack of life was startling. Taking a rare opportunity to look around he was able to find a number of dead ends. Normally maddening, it was a welcome change to indulge his exploration itch. “Seraph… this way” Tibs called out. Following the sound of his voice, Seraph soon came across his Taru companion heading down a tunnel. An ornate door lay at one offshoot of the tunnel. Standing at a split in the path, Tibs tried to discern which path was correct. He didn’t notice his Elvaan charge venturing off. Seraph, powerfully enamored, touched the door. As with most gold it was deceptively and cool to an unexpected degree, especially with it being housed in an active volcano. Drawing his senses to bear he felt the familiar essence of Flan beyond. “…Seraph…?” Tibs called out. “Over here…” Seraph sounded out. Once the two were together Seraph pushed the door open and went inside.

“Here?” Tibs asked. The room they found themselves in was vast. What was such a massive chamber doing in this place? Magma falls slid poured down around the chamber. It must have flowed out somewhere, but Seraph was not particularly interested to discover just where that was. The ornate area was a spectacle to be sure… and that when Seraph noted it, a singular entity that seemed to be pacing back and forth. The Blue Mage drawing his weapons was enough of a confirmation for Tibs. While called upon for their Healing talents, White Mages were also well equipped with a number of Enhancement spells. Not unfamiliar with White Mage abilities himself, Seraph was not surprised at the varieties of Protect and Shell. These spells bolstered defenses again physical and magical attacks respectively. Those used by Tibs were several magnitudes higher than anything Seraph had ever produced. On top of that spells of Haste, quickening attack speed, and Stoneskin, negating some damage, were applied to the both of them. Seraph looked back, and with a nod from Tibs, the two were ready.

The duo charged ahead and soon a sluggish black mass could be seen rolling around the area. Seraph was the closest and drew its attention. Snapping around suddenly, ferocious red eyes locked on him. A guttural scream was released from a mouth lined with razor teeth, and arms shaped of the gelatinous mass reached up. As one arm came to bear on the Elvaan he could feel a magical charge coming from within his opponent. Having his blade stroke serve as both attack and defense he bent under the arm coming at him. Just as Rai had said, the flan fused together as quick as it had been cut. While deflected, he was still grazed by the attack, and it was powerful enough to break through the Stoneskin spell. The Flan twisted upon itself, amorphous body twisting in an unnatural skein. Focusing the brunt of the spell it meant to completely take Seraph out.

Divine energy coalesced well behind the fiend. Silently and without warning, radiant power struck the Flan. It slumped forward, mouth nearly enveloping the Elvaan. Seraph crossed his swords to keep the creature from inadvertently making him its next meal. Now wholly disinterested in the Blue Mage before him the Flan didn’t turn this time, so much as its face simply melted into its body and emerged on the other side and seeped aggressively towards the source the attack.

The Flan had turned on Tibs. Whatever attack the White Mage had just unleashed, it caused the foe to forget wholly about the Elvaan. It readied another magical assault, this time targeting the diminutive powerhouse.

In most group scenarios, there lay a hierarchy overall in battle formations. Fighters in front, mages in back. While a Mage himself, Seraph’s talents often allowed him to be on the front line with the other, more physically stout compatriots. After a party had been together for awhile a rapport developed. Everyone cared for everyone else. However, there was an unwritten rule which Seraph knew even from before his adventuring days: Assaults on the backline, the Mages, was an egregious affront And under no circumstance were White Mages to suffer attacks.

This situation was unlike most. Seraph, being the weakest of the party for all intents and purposes, comprised the back line. Old habits die hard, and the Flans’ shift in focus was not one he could stand. You didn’t allow the Healer to get attacked. Simple rule. Just as its spell was to be released, Seraph hit the creature as he had been struck by the Quadav many times over, stunning the Flan. For a time it slumped over, and the energy is drew together broke apart. Much in vain the Elvaan’s blade again slashed feebly against the Flans’ flesh. In time, White and Blue Mages released spells at the same time. A Banishing spell fell in the midst of multiple attacks from Seraph, punctuated by a burst of air generated from the Elvaan. Tibs, relentless, pounded the Flan with its mace. Caught in confusion the face of the Flan stretched, the mouth too wide as it eyes slid to both sides of its body, watching the two assailants simultaneously. It could not decide where to focus. Every time the focus fell on the White Mage, the Blue Mage would strike with a righteous fury. As it turned, the White Mage’s surprisingly relentless result forced its attention back. It again tried a spell, focusing on the both at the same time. In kind the Flans’ opponents prepared theirs. Tibs drew in more power, the influx bolstering the power of his White Magics. Feeling envicioused, lighting arced along Seraph’s swords, fueled by his Blue Magic. He thrust the swords into the fiend, the discharge filling the jelly-like creature, again stunning it. As it slumped over, Tibs released his assault, another powerful bolt of Divine power striking the quivering mass. Being more than its form could bear, the Flan melted into the floor. A few pieces flopped about. Stabbing one with a sword, it stuck, and he raised it to look at it.

“I guess that’s it then” Tibs said. “I suppose so” Seraph agreed. Thief instincts seizing him, he wrapped the flan remain in a cloth and placed it in one of his bags. “What’s that for?” Seraph shook his head. “For study.” With a snap, Seraph’s grimoire appeared. “Information is to my friend as enemies techniques are to me.” Punctuating, the grimoire disappeared Seraph felt a presence, and his eyes darted about. Tibs began charging another vicious spell. “Something wrong?” Focusing, Seraph felt another Blue Mage, and then a warp spell. “No… just my keeper” he said, shaking his head. “I need to head back. I have a Warp scroll. I feel silly asking, but will you be alright on your own?” Tibs nodded, producing his own scroll. “Never let it be said that I’m unprepared.” The two moved in time, and nodded to each other as the spells took their individual effects.

Seraph found himself back in Whitegate and began making his way back toward Waoud. “That’s much Tibs” Seraph said over the linkshell. “Not a problem” he replied. “Got it smacked down?” Rai asked. “Something like that… Why didn’t anyone tell me that Tibs is a Holy bomb waiting to go off?” Seraph asked lightly. A choral laughter rang out from the linkshell. “It’s something everyone learns in their own time” Twinsevens said. “And with that… Welcome to Moghat” Rai said. Seraph shook his head as he came up on Waoud. “Hello Seer.” “Hello Mage.” “I apologize for earlier. I am simply… strained from recent days.” Waoud bowed. “I certainly understand. What I have foreseen has paled in comparison to what you have actually faced. I am sorry to have not given you greater guidance, considering how often you have come to me. It means much that you still trust in me after all this.” Seraph nodded, exhaling a breathe. “You seem ready…” Again, Waoud’s crimson gleaming eye led Seraph to slip into Raubahn’s world.

Seraph’s form buckled, but he maintained his composure this time in the midst the Immortal commander. “I have just received a report from the Imperial Army. You have succeeded in your task. Though outclassed, you brought adequate help. Your own skills were proudly noted by your observer. You’ve honed well your skills as a Blue Mage. I myself commend you.” Seraph was taken aback by this admission. “This is an auspicious day in development and progress.”

“I congratulate you Seraph. In recognition of your achievement I give you leave to don the Magus Armor representative of our order. This will identify you as one of us… This marks your entrance into the ranks of the Immortals. Welcome.”

Seraph was flabbergasted. This was not at all what he sought. But now he was an Immortal?!

Raubahn, undaunted by his newly inducted subordinates silence, continued. “Visit the store named on this envelope They will provide you with the armor you have earned.” He stepped forward, placing the parchment in Seraph’s hand. “While you have your own goals do not forget: Our lives are devoted to the protection of the Empress. Nothing more, and nothing less. We are beasts that owe our existence to the forbearance of Her Magnificence.”

Returning to his outward perception Seraph wondered just what Raubahn meant by his closing words. Moreso, he wondered after Raubahn’s sudden change of opinion. Just the day before he had said that he was not ready to be an Immortal. It had not struck him then, but Seraph had no intent to become one of the soldiers in Raubahn’s charge. He turned and started walking away. “Young Master Seraph” Waoud called. “You have dropped this” he said, handing over an envelope identical to the one given by Raubahn. “If I may say… should not need to turn to me for some time. I have seen this portent before. It is rare, but has happened enough for me to recall. Should you return here to Whitegate, you will be welcome to speak with me, but for now, follow the instructs in this letter. I bid you safe travels Immortal.”

The two bowed to one another as many times before as they parted ways. Waoud seemed to have a strange finality in his tone, and his bow was much deeper than it normally was. The extend cordiality was a shock  to Seraph. He looked over his shoulder as he walked away, and Waoud kept one hand extended gracefully until the two could no longer see one another. Looking now to the envelope there was nothing to speak of within as near as could be discerned, save for a large drop of wax, pressed with a seal that had imprinted the Mark of Zahak while it was still warm. On the front, the stiff brown paper had only a few lines of plain script.

Kushdeel!

Cursory Clothier, Coordinated Compliments

and Archaic Accoutrements

Chartered under the Empire of Aht Urghan

Aht Urghan Whitegate

Balrahn Way

Following the whole of Whitegate quite well by now, Seraph quickly found his way. Set on one of the cities’ upper sections and at a dead end he’d actually been to this storefront before. However, at the time there were no wares being offered. In fact, there was no indication that this place was even owned by anyone, save for the proprietress manning the counter. Perhaps it would not be and he could gain the armor of which Raubahn spoke. Remembering the young girls’ name from having spoken to her before Seraph greeted his fellow Elvaan with a warm wave and humble bow. Lathuya, a beautiful woman with long white hair, returned the amity but in a much detached fashion.

“What can I do for you?” clothier began. “Hello again Lathuya. I know it has been some time since last we spoke. I was hoping to get a look at your wares today. I have long wanted attire showing off the skilled craftsmen of the Aradijah continent. I speak highly of it.” Thinking her male companion to be making a pass, she deflected the flattery in an all-to-practiced manner. “I thank you highly of your praise… Seraph, isn’t it? As you can see we are currently out of any stock. Our typical clientele provide us with custom orders. It is why our stalls are normally so bare, but why we stay in business.” She stopped, and considered what she had said. “If you are ever in the need to have something tailored specifically for you perhaps we may be service at that point.”

Seraph hesitated in merely forcing the envelope upon the girl. He did not want to think he was strong arming her. His impression of the Immortals were that they used their enigmatic natures to coerce others without much work, at least inside the bounds of Whitegate. Having thought of a different approach he decided to try again. “I have actually been considering just that as of late. Perhaps you would have something that would set off this sword?” Removing the weapon from his back, he set it on the counter before Lathuya, who looked over it carefully. “Is this some kind of joke? You are obviously a stranger to these lands. This is crafted rather closely to the scimitars the Immortals carry. I would not try to earn their attention by making some costume simply to sate your vanity.”

Subtly availing him not, Seraph became much more direct. “This is a bit off topic, but I find Kushdeel to be an awfully unusual surname.” Again, Lathuya rejected what may have been an apparent attempt at flirtation, but clenched her eyes and fist shut as she replied. “Kushdeel is not…” she paused, shock creeping over her face as confusion caused her to relax. “I never mentioned any Kushdeel. How do you even know that name?” Holding out the envelope in an outstretched hand Lathuya seized upon it. She read over the script on the front without much regard, her glasses sliding down the bridge of her nose. “I can be certain where you got this from. We do not make public our trade. Hm… Wha-?!” Finger having touched something raised she turned the envelope over and she could now see the seal affixing the back in place. Eyes narrowing, Lathuya seemed at first unphased. Then her eyes widened. “The M-Mark of Zahak!” She pushed her glasses up trying to ensure she wasn’t seeing things. As she slowly began looking back up her gaze crossed the blade, still on the counter before her. “So this Scimitar is actually…” She continued, meeting Seraphs’ patient stare. “Which would make y-you… you’re an Immortal?” He met her stammering with a simple nod.

“Oh my” she said, placing the small parcel down, pushing it and weapon back to their owner.

All at once her mouth seemed to be unable to form words. She tried, but no sounds emerged. She swallowed, coughed, and walked to a small door behind her. “Oh… I just insulted an Immortal… I thought he was flirting and he just…” Having realized she found recaptured her voice without, she swiftly came back to the counter where Seraph was replacing the Scimitar on his back. “A thousand pardons!” Seraph lifted a hand in supplication. “It’s alright Lathuya. You did not know. I’m foreign to this place. I can only assume what you must go through on a daily basis. Am I to take it that you are not the ‘Kushdeel’ I am to meet here?” “Oh no!” Returning to the door she threw it open. Seraph leaned to his left. While the sun was high no light reached beyond the doorway.

Closing the door Lathuya returned in an absolute flurry of motion. “You see, the master craftsman… He’s… well, He’s not here,” she began, seeming to be walking on eggshells with every word. “It’s not ready, that is to say…” she took a deep breath, seeming to steel herself for the obvious admission, “your armor is not yet complete.” She crossed her arms, losing herself to her thoughts. “He KNEW this was coming… My boss has a cruel streak I fear. And then it always falls to ME to apologize to the customers…” Realizing that was to be an inner complaint has slipped to other ears she again feel into apologies. “A thousand thousand pardons” punctuating each word with a swift bow.

Seraph put a each hand to one of Lathuya’s shoulders. Standing her straight seemed to bring her into the moment and she calmed down. “It’s not your fault. I can’t rightfully blame you for his actions. Is it not something that you can complete in his stead?” She blinked. “You would suffer to wear what I would craft?” Seraph broke away, sitting on the stone bannister across from the counter that served to keep people from casually falling to the lower level. “Is there some reason why I shouldn’t?” “You… don’t know what Magus Armor is for, do you?” Seraph shook his head. “I’m, well… you can see how it is… I should be further along than I am, but with all these flights of fancy…” Feeling her drift again Seraph tried to steer her back to cohesion. “It’s of no matter. I accept the treasure for whatever it is.” Through this Lathuya had continued to speak to herself. “Lathuya…?” Still, she paid no heed. This was going no where. “Where might I find Kushdeel?”

“What’s that?” she said, coming back to the conversation. “You want to know where he’s gone? Oh, even if I knew where I couldn’t follow…” Seraph smiled at that. “I had no intention of sending you after him. That would be impolite.” Eying the newly branded Immortal she saw the full meaning of his words. “Oh! Why hadn’t I thought of that. Surely you would be able to find a way. My m-most humble apologies. I did not mean to bring your skill into question.”

“Perhaps the most fitting way to say it is that he “runs away” when orders start piling up. The term hes uses is “goes fishing”. However, he does not like the open seas, and we are sorely lacking in rivers. Beneath the Wajaom Woodlands is a network of caves…” Seraph recalled the place aloud “…Aydeewa Subterrane” completing Lathuya’s thought. “Why… yes! I was about to advise getting a map lest you never find your way out, but as you seem to know of the place, I’ll defer to your abilities.” Seraph shook his head. “I made it out once… but that was a unique instance. I do not possess a map of that place.” “Oh,” came a saddened reply, face drooping. “Well, if you don’t mind waiting, it would be safer to allow the boss to return in his own time. I know he’ll get to work on your armor right away. Whenever chooses to return. IF he chooses to return…” Blinking at slip of the tongue, she fell back into her placating. “A thousand thousand thousand pardons…”

Seraph stood. Resigning to an event with no timetable did not sit at all well with him. “Lathuya, I think the willingness to convey at least six thousand pardons as you have can afford me a bit of information. Do you know of an Immortal called Yasfel? I met him in the Subterrane some time ago. He patrols there…” Calling up her memories she replied with “Actually, yes. I do know that name” ever so carefully. Continuing with his train of thought, he posed another question. “Do you know if the area Yasfel patrols would be connected with any ease to where Kushdeel chooses to fish?” Lathuya beamed. “No! It wouldn’t be! Master Kushdeel, as you can see, likes to get away from his work. He’d ensure that it would be someplace where he was not bothered.”

It was a start. Recalling the path he and Saint took when they set out their, considering the path he fell on and the room where Seraph had met an Immortal for the first time he surmised that Aydeewa may have many other openings, and thought that the southern sections may have some places which flowed in from the sea. “You are going then?” Lathuya asked. “That’s correct. I’ll see if I can find him. At worse, if I fail, it will give me something to do instead of just idling about here.” She returned the envelope to him. “Show this to him. He’ll probably try to play off the fact that he is who he is. This may just convey the… severity of the situation to him.” Nodding, Seraph jumped over the bannister and to the lower levels, making his way out of Whitegate and toward Al Zahbi.

As he passed through the decrepit area he stopped to peruse a weapon dealer. Recalling that Clearite was seeking a weapon, he thought carefully. Not trusting Luto as she said, he didn’t wish to give away her past. Giving homage to neither her Corsair career or her Elvaan heritage, Seraph settled on a scythe. Perhaps the visage of a Dark Knight would suit her well? Placing this too in his bag for the time being, he found a soldier to furnish him with a Warp scroll. Considering the great extent to which he used them he thought it may be sensible to learn the actual spell himself. That would be for another time. Sadly, at the chocobo pen he favored mount was in use by someone else. Renting one of the others at hand he progressed through to the Wajoam Woodlands. Grimoire at the ready, he flipped between the map for the Woodlands and what little he recalled of the Subterrane. Finding an odd offshoot he rode there, and found an entrance worth exploring.

Reveling in how the senses jar memories into place, the smell of Aydeewa greeted Seraph, his days skulking through here as a Thief long past. Watching his footing he was greeted with a steady incline. Having no real lead he began here, walking down through the ever luminescent tunnels. While familiar, his logic had been correct. A damp and salty smell entwined with the area, likening it to the sea, but damp and stagnant. At the end of the incline was a noticeable drop, he saw an Elvaan male sitting in front of a pool. This seemed to be connected to an area of free flowing water. “Bringing himself up to the edge of the drop, Seraph called out to the other Elvaan. “How can I concentrate with you blathering in my ear?!” was the reply that was shouted back. Seraph sighed, and sat down with his legs crossed and began waiting. The other Elvaan, still not having looked back, seemed to calm down quickly. He began humming, voice resonating off the walls.

“…” and Seraph waited.

“Ahummm.”

“…” and waited.

“Mmmm…”

“…” and waited awhile longer.

Seraph closed his eyes and began thinking. If this fisherman had at least pulled something up every now and again it would have been no issue. This was the least productive fishing excursion Seraph ever witness. A pair of brothers in his native San d’Oria, angling obsessed as they were, proved more fruitful. One would think that having fished as much as they have that the seas had run dry. Feeling his magics running inside the wakes of his frustrations he calmed himself. A small bubble of power was tangible to Seraph when he opened his eyes, and the fisherman seemed to be able to tell that something was amiss. He groaned aloud, and shot a very displeased glare. “All my effort has come to naught, thanks to you! I was so close to attuning myself to Aydeewa… Well… what is it? What do you you want!? What, what, what?!”

Still agitated, Seraph spoke calmly. His voice echoed oddly, seeming to reverberate of the still present aura that was pushed outward. “I did not mean to disturb your attunement” he began. “Huh? That’s it? An entire trip ruined because you came along. What do you have to say for yourself!?” Seraph’s energy pushed further out, the water in the pool rippling. Somehow, it forced the fisherman’s line down. Happy, he snapped it up as quick as he could, and was soured to find it empty. Seraph continued, each word spoken cautiously and through strained teeth, willing his power in check. “I am simply seeking a Master Craftsman. I’ve been allowed to make use of Magus Armor as a newly inducted Immortal.”

Laughing, the man eyed Seraph severely. “…Oh no no no. I’m not falling for that one. I know what you are. You’re one of those ‘adventurers’ that have been inundating the port. You just happened across the beautiful Lathuya, and sensing a damsel in distress came gallivanting all the way here to spoil my fun at her behest. If you thought I’d just come along quietly if you spouted some clever story, didn’t you. Sorry, but old Kushdeel is a little sharper than that.”

“Perhaps… but I now know I’ve indeed found the Master Craftsman, and I have no intent to leave before you.”

Taken aback, Kushdeel hissed a small curse having implicated himself. “Then you will be waiting for an awfully long time my young friend. I have no intention of going anywhere! I am an artist! I do not just make clothing. Every piece is a work of superior talent! Each piece must be perfectly honed to its wearer. Resonating my spirit with the aura of Aydeewa is what will inspire my creativity which…” Seraph exhaled, his emotion causing a wave to push outwards. “You can’t even still yourself and let an artist speak of his muse? Hm…? And I was just getting to the interesting part…” He eyed the water he had just pulled his lure from, the liquid bowling as Seraph’s energy pushed outwards. Apparently, he now admitted to the other party in this conversation and his influence.

Keeping a strong front Kushdeel held open his hand. Seraph eyed the upturned palm questioningly. “What? Come on now. If there is truly an order, I surmise you have some document to show me?” Seraph called the grimoire and removed the letter, which had been kept as a makeshift bookmark for aesthetics’ sake. It disappeared as Kushdeel tried to touch it, and Seraph placed the letter in his hand. Looking it over, he gave it a small sniff. “Ah, her perfume. Some love letter from Lathuya, I’ll bet. She really went all out for this little errand, didn’t she? Honestly, I don’t know what to do with that girl…”

Seraph met Kushdeel with a restrained silence.

Sighing, Kushdeel regarded the Mark of Zahak stamped on the back. Breaking the seal, he unfolded the envelope While it appeared that it would have contained a letter, it was in and of itself the WHOLE of the letter. Waste not want not. “…you really should loosen up…” Kushdeel muttered then scanned the note. While his voice was full of joy his face contorted into a disgusted expression. “Excellent. All the materials have arrived.” “So I can expect your swift return Master Craftsman?” Pacing back and forth the angling Elvaan raised his voice. “Master Craftsman… Master Craftsman… Why are you calling me that? My name is Kushdeel… KUSHDEEL I tell you!” He raised the hand holding the letter up and crushed it in his fist. “…oops…” Sighing, he tucked it into his shirt, and began collapsing his rod. “I have to hurry back to town. And you…” he said. “It may not look like it, but I’m a busy man. Do not keep me waiting. I’ll see you back at the store!” With that he used a Warp scroll to take himself back to town.

Seraph sat on the ledge for a small time after Kushdeel had departed. After a small time of concentrating, his energy collapsed, remaining contained within once more. He breathed in and out, it being both relaxing and a strain. Trying to keep himself steadied he was entertained when a small fish jumped out of the pool that Kushdeel had so focused upon. Standing, and using his own scroll, he was taken back to Whitegate. Wasting no time, he returned to Kushdeel’s. Lathuya leaned out of the stall over the counter. Looking down the lane she saw Seraph coming. “Oh, Master Immortal! It’s you!” she shouted, quieting as drawing closer. “You’ll be a fit addition to the ranks of the Empress for certain. Your keen mind served you well. I assume you found him as the Master Craftsman made it back just befor-”

The sound of the the door leading from behind the storefront slamming against a wall cut Lathuya off. Kushdeel, wearing an ornate garb Seraph had never seen, walked forward and set down a pair of boots on the counter, approximately knee high. The toes and soles seemed to be made of gold. Most of the material was some type of light navy, topped at the openings for the legs with ornate designs made of more gold. Keeping one hand on the unusual wrought items he looked at Seraph with very determined eyes. “Ah… you finally made it” came Kushdeel’s voice, both somber agitated

Seraph glanced at Lathuya, who wanted no part of the exchange. “Forgive me… but what do you mean ‘finally’? I had to come after you, and I warped straight back to the city. It took me longer to find and convince you to return than you’ve been waiting here…” Kushdeel continued, not caring much for anything Seraph had to report. “Most uncouth, not giving me your name when we met. No matter, I have your order all ready and waiting.” Sliding the footwear across the counter produced a smooth, almost seductive sound. Both Seraph and Lathuya seemed to swoon at the very unusual noise made. “Standard quality Magus Charuq.” He looked over the younger male Elvaan. “Hmph” came an unimpressed evaluation. “With these you would be a newly recruited Immortal?”

Sighing, Seraph nodded. “Yes. That is a fact I had mentioned.” Railing on, Kushdeel kept speaking. “In spite of your interruption, the disarray caused by seeing the Mark of Zahak did clear my head, strangely enough. It is not a normal happening. In fact, I’m in such a good mood, I made this up for you!” Handing over a small bit of folded material, Kushdeel leaned against the wall with an overly smug grin. Seeming to have reused the parchment that had once been the envelope, what could now be found on the paper was a list. “What is this?” Seraph asked. He began reading… “Two Imperial Mythril Pieces and one each of the following: Gold Chain, Velvet Cloth, Flan Meat, Imperial Silk Cloth. Two Imperial Mythril Pieces and one each of the following: Platinum Sheet, Velvet Cloth, Karakul Leather, Venom Potion. Four Imperial Mythril Pieces and one each of the following: Velvet Cloth, Chimera Bloods, Karakul Cloth, Imperial Silk Cloth.”

“You’re given your first piece of Armor young Immortal. You must buy the rest, and furnish the materials yourself.” Seraph gaped at the list. “…these… I can’t afford any of this… ” Pointing to several items, he exclaimed. “I’ve never even HEARD of these… what are Karakuls?!” Having focused so much on catching up to Saint Seraph had paid no attention to lining his pockets. In fact, everything he currently used had be on loan from him, and Rai had bought his current swords. The only thing he had earned, the Scimitar, was already more an heirloom than an actual weapon. Kushdeel laughed. “You have the armor you have earned and our business is done, yes? May the winds of fortune see you on your way!” Laughing as he went back to what was assumed his work room he rolled out one last jab. “It sounds like you’ll need it!” With that, he closed the door.

Lathuya looked at her dejected Elvaan companion. “This is a time of testing for Blue Mages. Traveling to get all these should put you up against creatures which, as you’ve said, you’ve never even heard of. I can do little but wish you good fortune and swift travels. I do hope to see you again, but I’d rather you take it slow. Come back, even if it isn’t soon.” Bowing, she folded up the note and handed it to Seraph. Grasping his Charuq, he walked away.

When Seraph began his adventurers the Auction Houses were actually contained by area. Recently, they had figured out a way to interconnect them all. Between A.M.A.N. and M.H.M.U., the Adventurer Mutual Aid Network and Mog House Management Union respectively, this didn’t seem at all unusual. Both organizations were wide reaching, and with the Moogles’ ability to warp with ease transport simply had to have the demand to sustain it. The Tenshodo, though running a ramshackle ship to Whitegate, probably held enough sway to get their hands in it. In addition the Middle Lands probably had been wanting to re-establish ties with the Near East for a number of years.

What this amounted to was a greater amount of free trade. The pleased Seraph immensely. While not one who frequented shopping for any reason, the fact that he did not have to go to Jeuno even a bit less made a world of difference. Conversing with a concealed attendant he got a run on how much the items were worth. In total, it would set him back 150,000 gil. That was more money than he’d every seen at one time, and dared to imagine. Saint had informed him of where to go to find items that people wanted. The Dragoon thought it very fortunate to have someone around who would specialize in item acquisition. As he drug himself back to the rented rooms he calculated. To earn that much, in his current state such an endeavor would take… well, a really long time in any case. It was too much for the Elvaan to bear. Making his way to back to the mercenary barracks Makar appeared quickly. “You are just bringing loads in today, kupo!” Seraph set the Scimitar at the head of the bed, and went through the length process of removing all of his armor. How Saint dealt with this day in and day out… Makar eyed the Charuq with unmatched interest. “Those boots have some kick! What are they?”

“Custom made armor for Immortals. I’m quite exhausted” reported the Elvaan. “I’m done for the day. Sorry to be such a bother Makar.” “Rest Well Moghat” he managed to shoot across the linkshell before removing the whole of the device. Closing his eyes, he quickly fell asleep.

“‘…for Immortals’?” Makar whispered to himself, repeating Seraph. He floated over, settling against his friend.

Blue Magic put a silk like cloak over the area. For the first in a long while, Seraph had a dark, dreamless night.

 

 

Next: “Transformations

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