Cuttingmoon57 here and there was a small Mistake on my part in the last chapter. Micaiah was supposed to the wife of Sothe in the story, not the sister. The Mistake has been fixed though.

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or anything related to it. If I did, FF12 would already be getting a direct PS2 or PS3 sequel. I also don't own any other anime, manga, or game that I take elements or characters from.

Suggestion: Head to Final Fantasy Wikia for information or images of the main cast if you'd like to see pictures of their appearance. They remain virtually unchanged in my story. (Other non-canon characters will be described.)

"Blah" = talking

"Blah"= thoughts, writing, sound effects, or flashbacks

"BLAH"= Yelling

(Blah)= scene change

"Blah"= quote or short poem (cause I thought it would be nice. Poems are in Kubo Tite's blank verse style and are heavily influenced by him).


(Galleria Deep, St. Galleria, Afternoon)

A Bangaa White Monk dressed in his standard class attire pushed open a set of symmetrical gold-embroidered double doors and stepped lightly into a predominately white room. An ornate bed with golden covers, scarlet pillows and an overall royal ambiance was the centerpiece of the room. Evenly spaced ivory columns rose vertically from the white marble floor to the painted ceiling, crossing the expanse of the gold painted walls. A sparrow fluttered around inside a knee high birdcage that hung from the wall next to a pair of glass doors that led to a small balcony.

A single, white table sat to the right side of the two glass doors. At that table, a red-headed man in green and white priestly robes sat peacefully and erect in a cushioned chair, staring out of the glass doors longingly.

"Archbishop Finch, pardon my interruption." The White Monk bowed his head and took a knee in reverence. The red haired man gestured for him to rise, standing to his own feet simultaneously.

"At ease, my child. All is well." He calmly assured with a fatherly smile. "What is it that you require of me?"

The Bangaa thanked the Archbishop zealously, before continuing on with his report.

"We have received the report from a messenger bird of one of our informants in the caravan. The convoy left early this morning and is on its way as we speak."

A reserved smile crossed the face of Finch, and he made his way over to the sparrow's cage.

"That is wonderful news. Thank you for your report." The man said evenly.

The White Monk bowed respectfully once more, before shuffling out of the room and back down the hall from whence he came. The Archbishop opened a small door on the birdcage and held out a hand filled with birdfeed. The bird began to pick out the feed a little bit at a time, each seed dropping down gradually into its gizzard.

"It's only a matter of time, Maria Pierrot Savoy de Pervenche…"

He closed the sparrow's cage; the small bird gawked at him with an animalistic inquiring look. The Archbishop stood dead center between the two glass doors, staring out into open expanse of the sky.

"…only…a matter of time…"

Ah, how we dream

That we are flying through that blue sky

Devoid of those iron bars

Chapter Eleven: The Birdcage Evergreen

(The Bisga Greenlands, Afternoon)

Grumble…grumble…

"Hmm…getting kind of hungry…" Luso commented to no one in particular, his eyes descending down to his stomach that was emanating the usual repertoire of bowel sounds. "Do we have anything to eat?"

The slow grinding sound of wooden wheels and the rhythmic beating of chocobo claws connecting with grass and cobble stone was becoming predictable to the newly appointed fighter. The caravan had pressed on through shallow marshland and wide open plain for the past six hours without rest, and since the early morning the sun had refused to relent its powerful rays. The ostrich-sized birds were beginning to slow down over the last hour, and everyone could tell. They would need a break soon.

The formation of everyone had been altered from when they first set out. Cid and Cheney had been alternating taking a nap in the wagon with the rest of the clan and guiding the reigns of their chocobo. Currently, Cid was guiding the chocobo and the hunter was lazily leaning back, his Master Bow resting neatly next to him. Luso had somehow become sandwiched between Kanin and Maria with the White Mage girl having fallen asleep on his shoulder, the point of her wizard hat lightly brushing against the side of his head. Maria delicately petted the purple Dreamhare in her lap. In the back of the wagon, Professor Auggie and Hurdy sat peacefully, the Moogle playing a soft tune on his Aona Flute. Both Adelle and her pet black cat lay curled up sleeping next to the slumbering form of Kanin. Ensei and Sir Loin walked alongside the cart on opposites sides like laidback sentries.

"I think there might be something in that bag over there." Cheney remarked, pointing a finger to the back of the wagon. "Do you think you could hand him something, Professor Auggie?" Two bags lay side by side near Auggie.

The Nu Mou began to feel around amongst the bag randomly as if unable to see. After around a minute of pointless searching, the Sage pulled out a red vial.

"Here you are, child."

"Um…Professor Auggie?" Maria started whilst giggling slightly. "You do realize that's a potion, don't you?"

"Oh, is it now? I hadn't realized." He proclaimed with an elderly chuckle. "You see…I have this condition."

Every person awake at the time perked their ears.

"Since the day I was born, I have been stricken with the inability to see." He maintained his cheerful disposition, his eyelids remaining closed.

"You're blind?" Luso queried in a mildly surprised tone. "But you move and act as if you could see as clear as day. Plus you had a book with you when we met you at the bookstore."

"Aye…that I did…."

Reaching into his backpack, the Nu Mou grabbed a hold of the book Luso referred to and brought it into view for everyone to see. As Auggie flipped through the tome, they noticed that each page was covered in small patterns of raised dots constructing what seemed like sentences.

"Is thatBraille?"

"As to why I can respond to other people so easily…" The Nu Mou began. "…I have been given a gift…"

Adelle let out a small purr in her sleep, before quieting back down. The Sage continued.

"As you know, the Mist is an invisible source that acts as a fuel for our magical abilities. Our bodies absorb the latent Mist from our surroundings and once enough is gathered, we are able to cast a spell."

"…but what does that have to do with you being blind?" Maria asked.

"Simple, my dear…through years of effort and magical experimentation…I have obtained the ability to see Mist." Auggie exclaimed with a grin. "Because our bodies are constantly absorbing the Mist in the air, all of you appear to me as human shaped containers of yellow Mist. No offense, Sir Loin and Mr. Cid."

"None taken." The both of them replied simultaneously.

"So how can you tell us apart?" Cheney inquired.

"Nothing special, child. Just remembering the sound of your voices. They say once one sense fades away, the others grow stronger."

"That's awesome!" Luso exclaimed with childlike eagerness. "Wait, does that mean I can use magic like everyone else!?"

"About that, Mr. Clemens…" Auggie began to inform. "…it seems that you are the only exception. I'm only able to view the outline of the airborne Mist around you. There's not a single particle of Mist in your body."

"W-What are you saying?" The boy stuttered in disbelief.

"What I am saying is….you are unable to use any sort of magic."

Luso's let out a disheartened sigh.

"What do you need with magic, idiot." Ensei remarked in a mentor-like tone, sending a glance over to the downtrodden boy. "You're a swordsman, aren't you? You don't need spells. Let your steel prove your worth."

The boy instantly perked up, a smile on his face and a fire in his eyes at the Parivir's words. For a moment, he could've sworn he saw his grandfather saying those words to him.

Auggie glimpsed Ensei's form for a moment, a rush of memories of a small black haired boy bowing down to the Nu Mou asking him to teach him how to use magic.

"Looks like you've grown a little yourself, my pupil."

(The Bisga Greenlands, Bisga Stream, Afternoon)

"Come on, Ms. Adelle. The water feels great." Kanin remarked, attempting to coerce the yellow eyed girl into the large stream. She had on a white one piece swimsuit along with her white wizard hat.

The caravan had stopped to take an hour long break, giving the burden beasts time to rest and replenish their strength with feed. The place chosen was a medium sized freshwater stream, aptly named after the region. Gentle, rolling plains stretched as far as the eye could see, a single, leafy tree sprouting forth every few hills or so.

The negotiating duo of Cid and Cheney had left to find the caravan leaders Sothe and Micaiah. A fork in the pathway to the Galleria Deep was approaching fast, and the pair wanted to help Sothe make a decision on which way to go.

And while they were gone, the females of the group decided to have a little rest and relaxation.

"I'd…rather not…" The silver haired girl commented, sporting a crimson colored, swimsuit-type, one-piece outfit. She lay back in a patch of sunlight.

"But why not?" Maria questioned, crawling up to the girl after getting out of the water and wearing a similar, green-colored outfit.

"Well, first of all, this swimsuit is a prime Anne Sailer original; and second…I need to work on my tan."

"Isn't a swimsuit supposed to get wet, though?" Kanin asked naively, trying to tug the girl into the stream.

"She has a point, Ms. Adelle." Maria added, grabbing hold of her other arm.

"W-What are you two doing!?"

Meanwhile, Luso, Hurdy, Ensei, a sleeping Auggie, and Sir Loin were positioned under the ever reaching shade of a large oak tree. The brown haired boy and his mentor were standing across from each other, the adolescent's blades at the ready, while the Lanista and Moogle leaned back against the bark.

"The abilities of Fighters are all centered on damage and force…" Ensei explained, drawing his katana out of his sheath. "Allow me to explain…"

The bearded man spotted a man-sized boulder in the grass only a few meters away. He readied himself to attack. Luso felt a pulse come from the samurai.

"…Rush…"

Ensei charged the boulder from his position with the blinding speed of a seasoned Parivir. His katana made contact with the stone, and with the follow-through of his swing, the rock skidded across the ground until stopping ten feet away, leaving not only a path of dirt from its position but a large scar where the blade had connected as well.

The only thing Luso and Hurdy could manage was a… "Whoa…"

"Now…what did you notice in that attack?"

The boy began to draw on the knowledge of his grandfather's lessons. Twelve years of kendo had surely been paying off recently.

"There didn't seem to be any sense of personal security...as if you attacked regardless of whether you would be hurt in the process."

"Exactly, nice analyzing…" He praised. "Fighters are masters of the blade who place brute strength and relentless attack over protection. You know what they say…the best defense is a good offense…"

Luso allowed him to continue uninterrupted.

"There is no Mist in their attacks or abilities. Many classes have found other fuel sources besides Mist for their abilities. White Monks like Cid use Chakra, and Fighters use Aura to channel their skills. Unlike Mist which comes from outside of the body inward, Aura starts in the inside and projects outward."

He made a gesture over to the two blades Luso held.

"And certain blades further bring out and shape that Aura into an ability. It's the same principle as Mist, just a different…battery, if you will..."

"I think I'm starting to get it now." The boy proclaimed, swinging the blades around a little to judge their handling.

"Good…then we'll start immediately…"

Splash!

Everyone turned to the stream and watched on as Adelle rose from the water, her silky, silver hair thoroughly waterlogged after being thrown into the river. A boisterous snort escaped Sir Loin's mouth as he practically rolled over laughter.

"Whew, I tell ya. Very nice, ladies!" The Seeq congratulated with a grin, giving Kanin and Maria simultaneous pats on the back. However, the two girls' eyes were locked on the drenched cat-themed female, who looked positively irate.

"…Maybe we shouldn't have done that…"

(With Cid and Cheney)

During the break, Sothe had decided to meet with some of the men from the caravan in order to make decision on which route to take. The discussions had gone well at first, but were quickly descending into a rather pointless argument.

The group stood in an irregular, circular form, with the men dotting the area of the shape. Sothe stood in what looked closed to the middle, and next to him the Clan Falzen leader Andie Kelt situated herself on his right. She silently looked on as the men went back and forth with their dispute

Cid and Cheney quietly approached the green haired caravan leader and stood next to him, the Revgaji leaning over and whispering into his ear from the side.

"So have you decided on a path to take?"

"…Not exactly. We have a small…difference of opinion at the moment."

"I'm telling you…the Vieg Northroad is the way to go." One of the men argued. "It's obviously faster than the northern route."

"But what good is speed if we all die. You've heard the rumors going around. The ones about Klesta's new hunting ground being around that area…" Another interjected.

Unknown to everyone else, a violent shiver ran down Cheney's spine at the mention of the word 'Klesta'.

"You'd so easily believe a rumor, you…."

"Enough!" Sothe interrupted with a stern tone, forcing himself into the discussion. "This is a waste of time. We have to make a decision soon."

Cheney raised his hand in an uncharacteristically timid manner as if asking permission. Sothe turned to him.

"Yes, Cheney?"

"I propose we take the northern route, The Caravan Trail." The hunter said with a decided look. One of the men attempted to counter his proposal, raising his hand in objection, but Sothe instantly stopped him. The huntsman continued. "If what he said was true, if Klesta is hunting the Vieg Northroad, then there's no argument to be made."

His voice took on a more solemn, serious tone, one which cid had never heard the likes of from the hunter.

"Klesta is much more dangerous than some of you realize. It is true that the northern route isn't the safest, but it's not called The Caravan Trail for nothing. I'm positive we will make it through."

After a minute of whisperings and murmurings from the group of males, the crowd finally seemed to come to a unanimous decision. One of the men then began to speak.

"The northern route it is. We ensure you with our safety."

The group then began to split apart and each man headed his separate way, picking up any of his own belongings. A dozen seconds passed, and Sothe came up behind Cid.

"I suppose the northern route it is, then." The emerald haired Thief approached the Revgaji and placed a small weed-like plant in his palm. He studied it curiously, before realizing what it was.

"Whisperweed?"

"It'll allow us to stay in contact over the course of the journey. We don't know what we'll find on that trail, so it's good to have a line of immediate communication."

The blonde Rev nodded in approval, situating the plant around his ear so that one end rested near the entrance of his ear canal and the other swinging down near his mouth. He performed a few vocal tests into the 'mike' part of the plan, and Sothe gave him a thumbs up for confirmation.

"Nice going, champ." The Falzen leader remarked with a tomboyish sort of tone, before giving him a pat on the back and extending a hand to him. "Name's Andie, by the way; Andie Kelt of Clan Falzen."

"Thanks…and its Cheney Galliformes of Clan Gully."

"Hmm…Clan Gully, huh." She began to walk off in the direction the other men took, her silky, ivory hooded cape fluttering in a small updraft as she said whispered gently yet coolly over her shoulder. "I'll remember that."

Cheney stared mystified at her retreating form while Cid approached him from behind.

"We depart soon, lad. Let's make haste."

The two walked in the direction from whence they came, Sothe staring ominously at their backs. His pupils held a certain wary quality within them. The man reached into a side pocket and retrieved a different stalk of Whisperweed. He slowly brought it up to his mouth and softly but lowly spoke into it.

"We're heading north…you know what to do."

(The Bisga Greenlands, Caravan Trail, Late Afternoon)

It was late in the afternoon when the caravan had traveled past the first fourth of the caravan trail. The sounds and signs of the oncoming evening were beginning to grow more prevalent with each passing second. The sun had begun its downward trek in the background, casting a warm, serene glow over the rocky, cliff surrounded landscape. The chirping of birds and the singing of crickets were just some of the night sounds that began to appear.

The clan's wagon rolled along in its steady path, bumping over the occasional small rock in its path. The Caravan Trail's path had become more narrow than the wide open plains from earlier that morning, so the passengers had made room to allow Ensei and the space-consuming Sir Loin to rest, though both remained just as alert while sitting down. Hurdy had taken a seat in Maria's lap to make room for their new passengers, Cheney and Cid also doing their part by doubling up in the driver's seat of the cart. To everyone's astonishment but her father's, Adelle had somehow managed to take another 'catnap', as she referred to it.

Luso, who by this time had become bored out of his mind, was beginning to skim through the book that had transported him here. He thought after not having looked at the tome since the night of his encounter with Clan Gully, it would be a nice distraction from the monotony of travel. Though as he turned page after page, he realized something odd about it.

"…Everything's... here?"

True to his thoughts, everything he had done up to that point had been placed upon the pages in written form. The book seemed to be just one large, detailed summary of his adventures and challenges in Jylland so far.

…and none of it had been written by him…

"What is going on here…?"

"So Maria…what are you going to St. Galleria for?" Kanin questioned happily, trying to initiate conversation. Luso quickly closed the Grimoire's cover and placed it subtly beside him, deciding instead to listen in to the discussion.

"Well…" She seemed to pause for a second, stuttering in her words as if nervous…or afraid. "…I'm actually getting married." She smiled. Ensei, Sir Loin, Cid, and Cheney instantly saw through her false smile as well as picked up the hidden terror and disdain in her tone.

"Really? To who? Is he handsome? What's he like?" The White Mage prodded with girlish curiosity.

"His name is Vaticus Finch, a holy man and leader of the Church of St. Galleria, and he's a very wonderful man." She answered, once again adorning her fake smile. "He's the one who brought our city up from the brink of poverty and made it how it is today."

"I recall that quite well." Professor Auggie added, joining the conversation. "Reports of a man that turned St. Galleria's situation of near-starvation to a bountiful harvest of riches and health have reached even my aged ears."

"Ah, you know him?" Maria queried.

"I've heard of him in passing. I also know that, by the sound of your voice, you're much too young to be wed, child."

The brown-haired girl's head sank and she stared down at her plain, green dress. The Nu Mou cracked open his eyelids for the first time that day and focused on her form. Ensei shivered at his action, unknown to everyone else. He absolutely hated it when the Sage bore his irises, and this time, they gave off the impression that he knew far more about this then the rest of them did.

"Judging your silence, I take it this marriage ceremony is against your will..."

She clenched her fists firmly. Different images of a red-haired man in green and white priestly robes flowed through her thought process.

"It seems as though the next in line for St. Galleria is but a mere tool in this man's hand…"

His eyes seemed to bore into her soul, even with the distance between them.

"…A bird…in a cage…"

Maria brought her head up furiously and stared into his pallid, soulless eyes, a single tear rolled down her left cheek. The rest of the clan could practically feel the determination in her voice.

"I will do what is best…for my people."

"Cid…Cid, are you there!?" The familiar voice of Sothe rang through the hearing piece of the Rev's Whisperweed, just loud enough for everyone to hear. His tone seemed rather distressed.

"Here I am. What's the problem?"

"The front of the caravan is under attack!" The thief's voice rang, though it went in and out as if breaking up or running into interference. "Baknamy…and lots of them…we need your best backup…now!"

"Got it; we're on are way."

The blonde Revgaji turned to his clan mates in the wagon behind him.

"Looks we got some trouble. Ensei, Cheney…you two are with me. The rest of you watch Auggie and Maria."

He and Cheney leapt from the driver's seat and prepared to dash, the huntsman strapping his bow to his back and the White Monk Rev cracking his knuckles.

"It's about time we got some action." Ensei exclaimed in eagerness, hopping from the cart with a midair twirl before landing next to the duo.

Cid looked to his left and right, noting a prepared Hunter and Parivir respectively, before facing ahead with an air of determination.

"Let's roll."

A surprise attack on the caravan! What will become of this new development!?

(End Chapter Eleven)


Character Corner

(Sir Loin)

Job: Lanista and Ranger

Height: 153 cm

Weight: 265 lbs

Race: Seeq

Hair Color: None

Eye Color: Yellow

Skin/Fur Color: Navy Blue

(Gear)

Weapon: Xankbras

Helm: None

Armor: Survival Vest

Shoes: Battle Boots

Accessories: Golden Armlet

(Likes and Dislikes)

Favorite Animal: Cat

Favorite Food: Anything

Favorite Drink: Water

Fears: Losing his daughter

Association: Part of a duo with his daughter.

Favorite Color: Gold

(Trivia)

-Like all Seeq in the story, Sir Loin's name is based off a type of meat. His name and title combine to form the word 'sirloin' a type of steak. The same goes with 'Ribs' the streetear and 'T-bone', the Seeq from the poaching arc.

-While father and daughter, as if it wasn't obvious Sir Loin and Adelle have no blood relation…though that is story for another day.


(Author's Notes)

Apology in advance for the short chapter. I was trying to get something out on today's unexpected snow day. Next installment promises a lot of action.

Until then, Cuttingmoon57.