Author's Note: Before we begin, I would like to point out that I've been away for a while. Therefore, my technique is a bit rusty. For those of you Final Fantasy 8 fans out there who enjoyed LionHearts, thanks for the support. I'll keep that one going as soon as I can. In the meantime, please enjoy this newest foray into one of the (personal opinion) greatest online role-playing games to date.

Warning: The following piece of fiction contains graphic scenes of violence, adult situations, and harsh language. Therefore it is rated M, and is not suitable for anyone under age 18. It also contains scenes that will most definitely be Shoujo-Ai/Yuri. Please refrain from reading this if it is not your style. This is the final warning for this fic.

Copyright: All races, locations, and character names are the Copyright of Square-Enix. I don't own much of anything, besides the shoes on my feet, the shirt on my back, and a wild imagination. Any other characters (and names of said characters) are original creations. Oh, and the first two characters are mine- one is still active (Kujata server) and the other used to be. This is the first and last copyright statement for this fic.

A hume girl is born in San d'Oria, of all places. The parents had wanted a life away from the Republic of Bastok, in a place not so heavily polluted or barren of life. Thus, they managed to cross the Konschtat Highlands by way of chocobo, and settled in San d'Oria. While shunned and ignored at first, they soon became part of the city. They were treated as if they were elvaan themselves, and accepted as citizens of the Kingdom.

To them, it was a surprise. San d'Orians were well-known for their stubbornness and pride.

If that were not strange enough, from the moment the girl had first watched a parade of the Royal Knights in front of the castle, she wanted to be one. From their shining armor to their stoic faces, they seemed to her what a knight should be.

Still, she had some obstacles to surmount. The girl had a fair complexion, slanted brown eyes as if she were from the Far East, and hair like the raven's feathers that swept gracefully to the left. She possessed a charisma that seemed to attract more attention than even the few mithran children in the city, which was quite a feat.

Due to her delicate appearance, the boys made fun of her when she tried to lift an actual sword for the first time. The espadon proved far too heavy for her, and she dropped it time and time again with an embarrassing clang that rang across the parade grounds and made her red to the ears.

Whether out of pity, amusement, or a pure desire to help, one of the knights nearby encouraged her to train hard and never give up. She started with some simple fencing. The girl caught on quickly, and within three years she mastered the entire set of moves.

Soon after, she challenged the same boys that disgraced her and bested them handily in front of at least four Royal Knights. This time, it was their applause that made her red to the ears.

"That's pretty impressive. She's almost as good as captain Curilla."

The name barely touched her ears before her face lit up. "Isn't that the captain of the Temple Knights? But that's the one who beat Prince Trion!"

One of the knights nodded. "The same one, though we Royal Knights aren't too proud of it. Having our commanding officer trounced by a girl is a bit disheartening, to say the least. No offense to you, young miss." He placed a hand on his chin. "Your style resembles hers. Perhaps you should see her; I hear you want to be a knight."

She nodded vigorously, her head almost falling off her shoulders. "I want to be a Royal Knight like you wouldn't believe!"

He reached down and ruffled her then-short hair. "She's the one you'll want to see first. After all, we all started as squires or members of the Temple Knights. Perhaps she'll let you in."

It was not long after that she walked up to the castle and headed into the barracks for the Temple Knights to seek the general out. Once she found her, she bowed respectfully and stated her intentions. Yet after she finished the sentence that seemed to spill forth all at once, the red-trussed knight scratched her head in slight confusion. "You seem a bit nervous to see me. If you would repeat that slowly, perhaps I would know what you're here for."

The girl blushed, and after a deep breath, repeated herself. "I-I wish to be a Temple Knight. I heard that the fastest way to do so is to simply ask you directly. I stand prepared to do whatever it is you would ask of me."

Curilla smiled, mildly interested. "Anything, you say? Interesting. And are you prepared for the concequences if you fail?"

She hadn't thought of that… so she said what came to her mind. "Concequences don't matter. I did not come here to fail." She lifted her head, determination set in her eyes. "But yes, I am prepared for whatever may happen." All attention had since turned to the two of them as Curilla examined the young hume's face. After a moment, she nodded. "So be it. Follow me, and bring your weapon."

Kanto the Slayer presents...

A Final Fantasy XI Fanfiction

Chronicles of Vana'diel

The clash of steel on steel sounded off as one rapier met another, the blades locked against each other in a test of strength. Unfortunately, the girl didn't posess the sheer force to push her opponent back. On top of that, Curilla trained herself in battle tactics and dueling strategy from a young age.

Still, the hume attacked with surprising ferocity.

She pushed away from the opposing blade and cut upwards, slicing as close as her height permitted toward Curilla's head. An easy parry, and a following attack to the young woman's left arm. Parry and attack the left leg. Curilla deflected the attack, sent her foot streaking towards the girl's face in a front kick, heel extended.

Her opponent evaded with a turn to the right, hair kicked up by the wind generated from the attack. Curilla's eyes widened as her kick overextened. Not good! The girl sliced toward her supporting leg in an attempt to knock it from under her, but the armor ignored the blow. No matter. The girl had taken the advantage, and Curilla knew it.

The battle raged back and forth, neither of the duelists giving quarter. Yet despite the apparent speed of the fight, Curilla observed every move as if a slow spell had been cast on her opponent. She had the advantage in strength and experience. In her mind, the fight could end only one way. But the girl proved agile, dexterous, and extremely skilled for someone her age.

Though she didn't say it, this young woman impressed her. But the end drew near. All she needed was one mistake.

After righting herself, Curilla whipped around in an almost untraceable blur, blade leading. With a startled squeak, the girl ducked, only to be met by a downward stroke, aiming to cleave her from tip to toe. She blocked and parried, but found herself staring at a hard right knee to the face.

She somehow managed to hop backwards, just out of reach, though the wind from the attack ruffled her hair upwards. Curilla smiled. There, a mistake. With stunning grace, the captain turned on her left toe and thrust toward the girl's airborne position, blade glancing off of the left shoulder guard.

The attack still sent her spinning, and with a crash, the girl fell to the ground. When she managed to clear her vision, the point of a sharp blade threatened to pierce her throat.

"The duel is mine…"

The girl's brow furrowed over crestfallen eyes.

"…Squire of the Kingdom."

A shocked expression replaced her sour one. "…But I lost. How could I be in the Temple Knights if I lost the duel?"

Curilla sheathed her sword and began to administer the first of many lessons the girl would have. "To a knight, any loss is a lesson. Learn from your mistakes here. It is important not to lose hope, even when one is completely surrounded and outmaneuvered. There is always a way, even if it may seem like there is none."

She extended her hand to the new squire. "You were not born as a noble… and certainly not as an elvaan. However, your skill is such that I find it difficult to tell otherwise. Besides, you have a fire in your eyes that is rarely seen these days- the fire that adventurers possess. Goddess knows we could use that fire among us. From this point forward, I shall personally monitor your progress. Do not disappoint me…"

She left the sentence open, and the girl took it from there. The squire grabbed Curilla's hand and introduced herself to her new commanding officer.

"…Hiirogane. My name is Hiirogane, captain."

The Elshimo Islands.

A lush tropical paradise filled with creatures the likes of which men have never seen before. Well, not exactly. One race of creatures became ambitious and curious enough to venture out on their own: the mithra.

Comprised of a mostly matriarchal society, these feline warriors were known for their cunning and instincts, not to mention their curiosity. Of course, the statement "curiosity killed the cat" comes into mind, and they tended to get into vast amounts of trouble. Skilled infiltrators and master locksmiths, they were best at thievery and archery. Some even took marksmanship to its logical extreme, becoming the best hunters in Vana'diel: Rangers.

One such mithra happened to live in Norg, of all places. Surely, the small pirate cove was not always a comfortable place, but it was home for her.

She was abandoned after her mother left the village of Kazham for adventure; the price to pay for leaving the tribe. No going back inside the walls, nor was she allowed to see the child she worked so hard to raise. No one wanted the daughter of an outcast for fear that they would be made fools of.

Therefore at the age of five, they gave her to the pirates. No, that's not it. Rather, they left her on their doorstep to die in Sea Serpent Grotto. Eventually, a scouting party from the local pirates took her in and began to raise her, since no one else seemed to care. At first, they couldn't stand living with her. She constantly cried for her mother, hoping that her voice would bring her back. Unfortunately, a child's dreams do not always come true.

And it was not the only problem. Due to the fact that she was just left out there for all that time, she never received the trademark tribal markings on her face... a trait which would make her stand out among the mithra she would meet in later travels. At best, she would be alone among her own people; at worst, she would be ostracized for it.

Over time though, she sucked it up and swore to herself never to shed a tear ever again. They were of no use to her here among the pirates, and no one would care when she grew up. The only way to stop crying was to start working.

Juunikyuu started as a seamstress, found herself getting quite good at it by the time a few months had passed, and began making intricate designs from the silk that was brought in from time to time. She even managed to make herself a kimono during the times when her teachers allowed her to relax. As she grew older she had to change the hem length and sleeve length, but it was always the same design- a wave pattern near the bottom, and a spectacular design on the back: a full-length depiction of Leviathan, the sea god, gracefully twisting and turning as it rose toward the neckline of the robe.

Her still-delicate hands remembered the motions from that day forward, even as she progressed into blacksmithing at the age of twelve. The local forge, though small, was home to the greatest of swords- the katana. Starting as an apprentice, she began learning how to make these incredibly sharp works of art. In one year, she had learned the basics and was ready to make her own sword.

She picked the great katana; it had more history than she could recount. Besides, she thought they were cooler than some beginner's knife. The mithra worked day and night, toiled for almost two months before the blade was finally completed. It quickly became her pride and joy, and for a good reason. The four foot six inch long blade, decorated with blue and white fabric on the hilt, was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

The blade shone with an almost otherworldly aura when the sun hit it just right, and she considered keeping it for herself instead of selling it to someone. Such was the way around Norg. But then if she were going to keep it, she had to learn how to use it.

Of course, she had the resident ninjas and samurai of Norg to train her, and train her they did... for four long years. Every hour was grueling, stressful, and just plain old hard work.

"Treat your weapon with respect. Otherwise, just like an untrained animal, it will bite you when you need it most. Such a strong weapon deserves a strong body and mind, not to mention spirit." That's what the masters told her, anyway.

It served as a good excuse for the training, though she really wanted an easier life; one less constrained by rules. And she wouldn't find that life in this cramped, damp cave. However, by the age of seventeen, she had become quite proficient in using her personally forged blade, the spear, and the halberd. Juunikyuu was deemed worthy to be, at the very least, an apprentice samurai.

She'd also bloomed into quite the fragrant flower. Red hair tied back into a ponytail, big, expressive blue eyes, a tan from almost constant exposure to the fires of the forge, and a four foot long tail that aided her for balance. Her frame, lean and toned from constant training, presented a view that men around town began to cast their eyes upon when they thought she wasn't looking.

Of course, Juunikyuu learned things other than using her sword. In the wilds of the Elshimo jungles, she came to realize that a bow and arrows came in handy when one wanted to be silent. So she trained herself in that regard, stubbornly refusing anyone's help. Over the course of those four years, she learned the hard way to use all of her senses to hunt and kill her own food. Soon, she moved through the tall grass with nary a sound, leapt from tree to tree with ease, and built the stamina to search anywhere and everywhere for her prey.

Her skill with the longbow nearly reached that of even Kazham's most talented Rangers, and by the time she finished her training, all aspects of the samurai belonged to her, every trial surmounted… except for the problem of channeling her spirit into her blade. Using the Meikyo Shisui took the utmost concentration. It was something which she lacked…

But her drive, or rather her stubbornness, had become legendary by now. It would take her another two years to even channel a bit of her spirit, but she did so. She was finally allowed to become a proper warrior…

And the moment she heard this from her teacher, Ayoko, she prepared to leave at once.

"Why the sudden decision, Juunikyuu? I figured I would have you lend a hand to our navy. What's with the sudden change of plans?"

With the same mischievous smile she had been born with (or some would say), the mithra who had now lived for nineteen years, made her reply in two short words.

"I'm borrrred!"

Juunikyuu grinned as her sensei blinked, confused. "What, didn't think it'd be that simple? Well it is! I'm becoming an adventurer." Her eyes seemed to sparkle as she explained her plan. "I'll see the world, get a few trrrreasures, and live the easy life! But more imporrrrtantly, I'll use my sword to help people. That's what a samurai is supposed to do, rrrright?"

And so, when the next airship to Jeuno arrived, she bid her farewells to the pirates who had raised her- and come to love their adopted daughter. The shock that the mithra in Kazham displayed when she returned holding a katana and wearing a blue silken kimono with a portrait of Leviathan splayed across the back in a graceful form was almost enough to make her giggle.

She cast her gaze to the horizon as the airship rose into the sky, as if set on some distant mountain that only she could see. "It's time to make my marrrrk on this world! Look out- Juunikyuu, mithran samurrrai comin' through!"

To Be Continued...

K.T.S.: You've seen it before, but not like this.

Cleaned, smoothed out, and hopefully with fewer mistakes.

This is part of an ambitious experiment known as Project: Remix, an attempt to examine stories and eliminate flaws which irk me heavily (and must surely irk you guys). The chapter you see before you is the result of my experience over the past few years of being a fic author and a writer in general.

With that said, hopefully this will make the chapter a lot shinier. I know perfectly well it was dirty, rough-edged in the past. This was one of my "starting-out" stories, and it turned into one of my favorites. And since it is one of my favorites, it must be put to the washing machine!

Subsequent chapters will contain their original author's notes to keep with the flow of things, but the rest will contain multiple fixes, perhaps even new content!

A review of this chapter would be appreciated. Please click that shiny button down there and throw me a line. Have I really improved? Should I continue this project? We'll let you be the judge of that, hmm?

Bye, now. Thanks for reading.