Hey, Cuttingmoon57 here, and this is chapter two of Tainted Grimoire. Thanks to all those that read the first. Throughout the rest of the story, I might be taking some elements from other anime (ex. titles, characters, abilities), but I promise to give credit where credit is due (Such as the title for this chapter from bleach). So without further a due, enjoy.
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 or manga that I take elements from.
"Blah" thoughts or writing
(Blah) scene change
Luso Clemens lay unconscious, face down in a large patch of grass, surrounded by trees and bushes, as well as small forest creatures. Next to him lay the book, with its cover open and the pages turned to the very first page, which was now devoid of any previous writing. Though at the top of the first page, and written in a very elegant style of handwriting, four words were inscribed.
"And so it begins..."
An ominous message. What awaits him in this strange land?
The majestic bird
Lost to the arrow of the hunter, Fate
The violent storm of reality now approaches
Chapter Two: Goodbye, Halcyon Days
Luso stirred slowly from his unconscious state, an almost ethereal light filtering in from the forest canopy above. The landscape and forest surrounding him was relatively peaceful, completely different from the burning furnace that was his home or the black, hopeless abyss that he had just occupied previously. All in all, it was a nice change, though it didn't exactly solve one of his main concerns.
Where exactly was he?
Everything about this place, from the trees and greenery to the sky, the clouds; everything just seemed so...so...unnatural, though he shrugged off that feeling for the moment. He had much more important things to figure out at the moment, such as what happened to his grandfather and sister. He also needed to figure out if he was alive or not, on account of the fact that this place was almost too peaceful. Funny; he imagined the afterlife to be much different then what currently encircled him. There went the white puffy clouds and angels theory.
Putting away all idle thoughts for the moment, the boy gradually rose to his feet, brushing the dust off his clothes in the process. At his feet lay the infamous tome that transported him to this strange place. Reaching down, he picked the manuscript up into his arms and began to walk in the direction with the least amount of fauna.
"This is getting me nowhere…" The boy thought, hopping over another tree root that had somehow managed to protrude out of the ground. He had been walking for the past hour, searching for any sign of civilization, only to come up empty. By now, the pajamas he was currently adorning were getting ripped to shreds by overhanging branches and his bare feet were not in any better condition. No to mention his burned right arm was in considerable pain.
The blue eyed adolescent's stomach flared in a mixture of grunts and rumblings, signaling its lack of nourishment. He set the book onto the ground and hunched over, placing his right hand over his abdomen.
"Great, now I'm starting to get hungry."
The boy closed his eyes for a moment and after a few seconds noticed something that he hadn't noticed before. He could hear the sound of running water afar off. Being just as thirsty as he was hungry, he grabbed the ancient book and worked his way through the brush and branches until he found a small stream next to a partially open plain.
He leaned down onto his knees, plunging his head into the lukewarm stream, which was surprisingly clean and refreshing for being in the middle of a forest. The boy drank until he had his fill, finding a nearby tree to lean against.
After a few minutes, the need for rest began to overcome the boy. Try as he might to fight it, his eyelids slowly began to close as he drifted off.
"Hmmm…this one…and…this one…Oh, these will do nicely." A female thought as she sorted through an array of flowers on the ground, picking the ones that matched her criteria.
She had long, bright blonde hair down to her calves, divided into two long strands much like a Viera's hair. She also doned the Viera style white mage outfit, and wielded a white staff that was more similar to the cane of a shepherd. Tied around her staff was a red piece of cloth. On her head was something unusual for a white mage. A hat similar to the style of black mage hats rested on her cranium, thought the coloring was a pure white with a red band wrapped around the base of the hat. Her light brown eyes seemed to shine vibrantly. On her back she carried a simple sack, much like a backpack of sorts, which she placed the flowers and herbs she picked into.
Looking up from her spot, she noticed a strange form leaning up against a tree across the river. Her better judgment told her to just leave it alone and continue with herb picking, but her curiosity told her that it seemed harmless enough.
After wading through the stream to reach the figure and getting her slender boots wet in the process, she climbed from the shallow brook and over to the boy, who from what she could tell was dead asleep.
At first, she pondered on which method she would use to awaken him, if he wasn't dead that is. Opting for a distanced approach, she grabbed her white staff by the head and used it as a stick to poke him, making sure there was ample distance between the two of them.
She nudged him once, receiving no response. The blonde haired girl tried once more; again, failing to gain the reply she sought. Growing slightly agitated by this point, she selected a more violent approach. The girl lifted her staff as high as she could, before slamming it down straight into the boy's gut.
The response she got was a little more than she had anticipated.
The boy awakened from his slumber, letting out an almost otherworldly scream from the pain he was in and clutching his stomach simultaneously.
"I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to do that." She expressed her concern, bending down and doing her best to calm him. Once the pain had subsided, Luso was able to more calmly converse with her.
"What did you do that for?" The blue eyed boy asked, still irritated at her sudden attack. He lifted up his shirt to see a small bruise where she had jammed her staff into him.
"I apologize. I was trying to wake you up but I suppose I got carried away a little…" The blonde admitted, avoiding his gaze a little as she blushed in embarrassment.
"It…It was an accident, alright? Don't worry about it." The boy responded. He couldn't possibly stay mad at such a cute girl as her. Plus, he wasn't one to hold grudges anyway.
The girl stared at him in wonder for a moment; puzzled by the way he acted. Most if not all people she encountered would have most likely lashed out or attacked her for doing something of this nature, but this boy held no anger in his voice or actions. It truly was a mystery to her, but one she was glad to have encountered.
"Does it hurt?" She asked, returning to her worried state as she looked down at the bruise left on his abdomen. In truth, it hurt very much, but Luso didn't see the need to inform her of this.
"Not really; I'm sure it will heal up eventually if…" He replied, being cut off as she rose hastily to her feet and grabbed her staff.
"Don't you worry. I can fix up right now. Just give me a second." She interrupted. The blonde haired girl held her staff above her head and her ivory colored, wizard hat. It was then that a small white glow formed around her, before she chanted a simple word.
Luso looked on in a mix of amazement and awe as a white glow then surrounded his bruise. The bump began to disappear in a matter of seconds, before completely vanishing before his eyes. The pain, the swelling; everything from that spot was utterly gone. The boy sat up quickly and rose to his feet, checking himself over for anything unnatural as he did.
"What…What just happened?" He asked in a bewildered tone.
"I just cast a little healing spell on you, that's all." She answered, confused as to why he was becoming so worked up over it, almost as if he had never seen one before.
"Wait…a spell? What are you? A…"
"Yep, I'm a white mage…well, white mage in training anyway." The blonde answered in a kind but shy and quiet voice.
To say Luso Clemens was stunned right now would be an understatement. This entire ordeal was just too supernatural to be real, no matter how real it actually felt. First, he was supposed to be burned to a crisp right about now from the house fire. Second, he knew for a fact that magic didn't exist…but the bruise was gone, pain and everything. All the reasoning in the world couldn't compete with solid visual evidence.
"Um…are you okay? Should I cast cure again?" The blonde girl asked inquisitively, wondering why the adolescent male had just suddenly spaced out for the last minute or so.
"No…no, that's okay." He answered back, taking a step a foot or two away from her. He noticed that she noticed his hesitation, and he quickly thought of a way to break any future tension. "So…um…what's your name?" The girl perked up a bit at his question.
"My name is Kanin Heldig, official white mage in training of Clan Gully." She answered with a smile, correcting her posture while saluting. "What's yours?"
"Oh…um…Luso Clemens." The boy answered back shyly. "So…Kanin, is it?" The girl gave a nod of confirmation. "Where exactly are we?"
"I'd say we're around the middle of Targ Wood at the moment..." She answered, scanning for fauna and nature confined to the area, before remembering something very important. "Oh, I almost forgot! I was supposed to meet up with them by now."
"Um…who are 'they', exactly?" The blue eyed teenager asked warily.
"Why they are the rest of my clan, of course." She smiled. "Would you like to meet them?"
Luso pondered his current options for a moment. He could always go with her, meet new people that may be able to help him, and hopefully find out where he was and what happened to him. Then again, he could refuse, most likely die of hunger and thirst, or get eaten by any local wildlife.
His decision didn't take long. And with that, the blonde white mage and the brown haired boy were off. But moments later, the high-pitched feral cry similar to that of a bird came from a cluster of bushes behind them.
"Hey, Cid, didn't Kanin say she would be back around this time?" An older man asked his companion as he lay back on a large tree branch, taking a puff of the cigarette in his mouth.
The most notable thing about this man was his face, specifically the extremely rugged beard running across the bottom half of his face. His tanned skin and solid black eyes were accentuated by his neck length black hair that was neatly tied up by a small hair tie, creating a pony tail of sorts. Just underneath his left eye was and 'X' shaped scar.
Adorning his six foot tall body was a loose, green shirt whose sleeves came down to his elbows. Over that was what looked similar to a blue, sleeveless yukata, which was tied around him by a dust colored cloth which acted as a belt. All this was complimented by light beige pants tucked into brown boots. Fixed into belt cloth was a katana and sheath, with the katana's hand guard in the shape of a sunflower.
Clan Gully Co-Leader: Ensei Rou
"I do believe you're right, Ensei. Do you think we should go look for her? She does have a knack for getting lost at the most inopportune of times." A Revgaji man with neck length blonde hair and a thin blonde mustache answered back with a disheartened sigh. Two minute horns protruded from his head, and two earrings hooked themselves in his Elvin-length ears. His outfit was more akin to the style of a cowboy, with dark purple chaps around his legs. A blue collared vest over a skin-tight white shirt with large cuffs contrasted well with his darkened ebony skin. A faded, yellow, woven cape with scarlet trimmings and designs cascaded down his back, held together at the front by an elaborately carved silver brooch.
Clan Gully Co-Leader: Cid
The black haired man, now known as Ensei, let out a bored sigh, a puff of smoke billowing from his mouth.
"I suppose we should go lend a helping hand." He rose from his lying position and leapt off of the branch, landing next to his cohort. "After all, it is my duty to ensure her safety."
"Hey! You two, over there!" A Nu Mou, most likely in his twenties, called out to the two Clan Gully members as he and a Human Hunter came out from behind a few trees. Judging by his outfit, they assumed that he was of the beastmaster class. "Civilians aren't allowed to be or travel in this forest at the moment."
"Don't worry about us; we're on official clan business. Plus, we know how to handle ourselves if needed." Cid answered the beastmaster in a serious but respectful manner, knowing how to deal with situations like these. "And what could be so dangerous that it requires the evacuation of all citizens from this forest?" The Revgaji cracked his fingers a bit, though it went unnoticed to all but Ensei.
"That's none of your concern. Now, if you would kindly…." The beastmaster began, before being cut off by his Hunter companion.
"Hold on there, Marion." The Human Hunter intervened. "These guys might be able to help us catch this thing. Care to earn a little money on the side, gentlemen?"
Ensei smirked devilishly.
"Now you're speakin' my language."
"Don't worry, they're just up ahead." Kanin uttered to her chocolate haired companion as she pushed back a few branches in her way with her staff. She placed the map she had been using into her leather backpack, as she had no more use for it.
"Thanks for all your help, by the way." Luso said, giving her a warm smile. Without her help, he most likely would have never gotten out of this forest.
"Don't mention it, Luso." The blonde girl replied, returning his smile wholeheartedly with one of her own. "After all, the duty of a white mage is to help people in need."
The two continued in a comfortable silence for the next few minutes, trekking along past tree after tree, until they eventually came upon another relatively open clearing. Luso decided to rest for a bit, sitting down on a large rock while Kanin mimicked his action.
"So where's the rest of your clan?" The boy asked her, scanning their surroundings for any signs of life. Kanin did the same, but both of them came up empty.
"Honestly, I don't know. I followed the map to the letter…" The brown eyed girl pulled out the map and carefully looked at it once more, making sure to take in every detail this time. "Oh…here's the problem. The map was upside-down."
Luso stared at her blankly. They had been walking for the past half an hour and she just now noticed that the map was upside-down?
"Ah, but don't worry. If we just backtrack to where we were before, we'll be fine."
"Sure, why not. It's not like we have any other options." The boy commented, carefully holding his burned right arm which was wrapped in strands of fabric from his shirt.
"Does it hurt…your burn, I mean?" The white mage asked in a concerned tone, her eyes wandering over to the aforementioned appendage.
"A little bit, but it'll be fine." The boy replied, doing his best to give her a reassuring grin.
"I wish I could do more, but that level of damage is out of my league." She uttered, averting her gaze from him as she clutched her ivory colored staff in a gloomy manner. "Being a white mage takes skill and intellect, and as you probably already figured out, I don't have either."
"So what if that is all true?" Luso started, standing to his feet. "When I first started kendo training, I was exactly like that. I had absolutely no talent; I could barely hold the sword, much less swing it; and I was the biggest klutz you've ever seen." Luso stood directly in front of her, holding his left hand out in a gesture to help her to her feet.
"But if there's one thing my grandfather told….well…beat into me, it would be that as long as you have heart and you keep at it, then you'll pull through, no matter what it is."
She accepted his offer, grabbing onto the hand and rising to her feet. The blonde was about to thank him for his assistance when he began to unwrap the makeshift bandages from his arm, showing only the blackened and reddish remains of his skin. Kanin could do nothing but cringe at the sight.
"Go on. Cast it one more time." He encouraged. After his little speech just a moment ago, who was she to refuse his request.
Performing through the similar motions as before, though with all the focus she could muster, the white mage in training held her staff high, her body glowing white just as before, and cast the spell on Luso's arm. Different from previous attempts, the flesh of the boy's arm seemed to actually look healthier after the spell was finished, though it was still badly burned.
"I don't believe it. The pain's gone." Luso voiced in astonishment, staring down at the appendage.
"YES! YES! I DID IT! I DID IT!" Kanin ran around the vicinity, giving off loud cheers and jumping around, almost as if she were a small child. The boy couldn't help but smile at this.
Out in the distance, the sharp, piercing sound of a bird call resonated throughout the area, causing the two to turn their attention in the direction it came from.
"What the heck was that?" Luso asked to no one in particular, looking around for the origin. Kanin ceased her cheers immediately.
"It sounds like a cockatrice. Don't worry, those things are relatively harmless; especially the ones in this forest. Here, they barely grow up to just above your knees." The healing mage commented calmly, readjusting her white wizard hat.
In the same moment of time, small tremors shook through the ground in a rhythmic pattern similar to footsteps. Each grew louder than the pervious, until it culminated in a single last tremor that surpassed all others, shaking Luso and Kanin to their core.
It was then that they noticed the humongous shadow of a very large beast hovering over both of them. The duo slowly turned their heads to find something Luso never expected to see in his entire life.
"…Is that a giant chicken?"
Luso turned to Kanin, giving her a fear induced paralyzed stare, the girl mimicking his action. The giant cockatrice let out its ear-splitting call, just as the two burst into a frantic dash. On instinct, the flightless bird chased after them.
As they ran, Luso craned his neck towards his white mage companion, a sarcastic tone about his face.
"Barely above your knees, huh?"
It was at this time that Kanin fortuitously tripped over a misplaced stone, causing her to stumble forwards and fall to the ground beneath her. Luso, pivoted on one foot sharply, managing to switch directions completely, and dashed towards her, the giant cockatrice plowing for him at full force.
By the time the boy reached her, she was already beginning to stand up, but the bird was already too close for her to properly evade it. In a hopeless panic, she closed her eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable.
On pure reflexes alone, Luso grabbed Kanin in mid-run and worked his way into a slide, sliding under the giant bird just as it was about to crush the two.
The bird turned around slowly, before stalking towards them, a murderous glint in its eyes. The brown haired boy and the blonde white mage quickly rose to their feet and made a break for it. The bird drew closer, letting out several more calls as it closed in.
Kanin looked dead ahead of her as she persisted in escaping the beast, noticing a lone figure standing in the clearing in front of her. From what she could tell, he seemed to be a bit darker than a regular human and larger for sure. Figuring he could help them, both she and Luso ran past him on opposite sides.
"Don't worry…I'll handle him, little one." The Revgaji whispered to Kanin as she passed him, drawing back his fist and assuming a battle stance. Luso looked back to him in disbelief.
"That thing is enormous! What could he possibly do unarmed?"
In that instant, the Revgaji thrust his fist forward. What came about was a massive rush of air that headed straight for its intended target, the fowl's left foot. The blast was enough to knock the beast off balance, the enormous bird falling on its side and causing a large tremor to erupt throughout the area on impact.
Luso stared at the entire ordeal in a mixture of amazement, shock, but mostly disbelief. The boy did truly want to believe that all of this was just a particularly deep dream, but all the signs of reality proved otherwise. He felt physical pain, he felt fatigue, and he was almost positive that you couldn't think inside of a dream.
"Hmm…it was little off, Cid, but never the less effective." Ensei commented, coming into view from behind a tree, the Human hunter and the Nu Mou beastmaster following close behind. "Are you two okay?"
"A little tired, but we're fine." Kanin responded happily, using her staff as support to hold her up. Luso replied in a similar fashion, although ending with a polite 'sir'.
Meanwhile, the Human hunter had already begun to approach the bird, who was trying desperately to rise again to its feet, and stopped at its feet. The huntsman reached into two holsters on his person, and pulled out a small knife and a petite bottle full of a mysterious liquid. As the monster squirmed relentlessly, the hunter made an incision in the claw and poured the entire contents of the bottle directly into the cut.
"Well, that paralysis potion should put this guy out of commission for quite a while." The hunter remarked, heading back towards the party. "Thanks for your help, Cid." The huntsman tossed the Revgaji male a small sack, presumably filled with Gil if the jingling sound was any indication.
"Oh, no. Thank you, sir. With this and our mission money, we'll have food and booze for the rest of the week." Ensei commented, greedily taking the bag from Cid's hands.
"Well, that should be all." The Nu Mou beastmaster, who had been keeping quiet this entire time, uttered. "I'll get a few workers to help me move this one to the monster bank for research and then release it back into the wild. I'll forward the money to you later." He informed the Hunter, before turning tale and leaving.
"Excuse me, hunter." Cid said, obtaining the man's attention. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but this particular type of monster isn't supposed to reach this size, is it?"
"To be honest, the largest they're supposed to grow is no taller than the white mage girl over there." He said, pointing to Kanin. "But there's another thing that's bothering me. These creatures are naturally docile. It's not just rare; it's unnatural for one to attack a human like this one did, no matter how big it is."
"So what are you saying?" The Revgaji queried.
"At this point, I'm not sure. I'll have to look into it more. But for now, sleeping on it sounds pretty good." He replied, turning around and heading into the forest. "Make sure to look me up by the way. I might need your help again."
"We'll need a name if you want that help." Ensei said, giving him a smirk. The hunter only smirked back.
And with that, the man left the area.
Luso, who sat back and watched the entire event, couldn't have possibly comprehended it less than he had. The boy had absolutely no idea what they were talking about; nobody around here seemed to make any sense.
"Speaking of names, who's your little friend, Kanin?" Ensei asked, turning around and gesturing towards the brown haired adolescent with the book in his hands.
"Oh…um…my name is Luso…Luso Clemens." He answered back nervously, giving a traditional Japanese bow as he was taught.
"Oh…I was expecting a cooler name, but I suppose it fits." The bearded man remarked, ruffling Luso's hair a bit in a fatherly fashion. Luso only gave him an annoyed expression.
"So where do you live, Luso?" Kanin asked him happily.
This instantly brought up memories of the sight of Luso's house burning in an inferno of blazing fire. The place he had called home from the day he was born, the family that had raised him; the thoughts of all of it taken away in an instant flashed before his eyes.
"….Nowhere…" Was all that he said in reply, a remorseful look plastered across his face. Kanin stared at him in confusion, though both Ensei and Cid could tell by his sudden change in demeanor that something horrible must have happened.
"What about any family?" The white mage queried.
The image of his grandfather and sister's dead bodies appeared before him.
"…I had a grandfather and sister, but….no…no I don't have any…"
"So you're basically saying that you're an orphan?" Cid pointed out rather flatly. Luso nodded gravely in agreement. The Revgaji strolled over to the boy and held out his hand to him, a bright smile adorning his face.
"Well, how would you like to make a new family? We may not be the greatest bunch, but what do you have left to lose?"
Luso stared at him wide eyed, his emotions in a state of surprise.
"…Are you sure? I mean, I can't do magic or anything like that. I would just be dead weight and…"
"Did he ask if you could, boy?" Ensei interrupted, pointing out the obvious. "He didn't say clan, he said family. The members of Clan Gully are family first and clan second."
Luso turned to Kanin, who gave him a nod stating her approval of him accepting Cid's offer.
"Don't worry about not being useful. Mr. Ensei's more of a dead weight then you could ever hope to be." The white mage remarked in an unusually upbeat and innocent voice, almost as if there was nothing wrong with her statement.
The boy mulled over his options briefly. He didn't really have much of a choice. This world was just too dangerous to go about alone. But even if he did have a choice, there was no way he would pass up this offer.
"I'd be glad to join your family." Luso said, shaking hands with the blonde Revgaji male. The three senior members of Clan Gully gave bright smiles and smirks all around.
Ensei strolled over to the boy's spot, moving in front of Cid and staring the boy straight in the face. A malicious smirk crossed his face, sending a chill up Luso's spine.
"Now that you're part of the family, it's time you took part in the family business. I'll meet you tomorrow, first thing in the morning for job selection, weapon selection, and basic training to get you up to speed." He turned around and began to walk towards the tree line.
"Clan Gully, move out!"
As Cid and Kanin began to follow him, Luso stood in his spot with an exasperated look on his face.
"I think he likes you already." The white magician whispered over her shoulder to the book holding brunette, followed by a feminine giggle.
Luso could only think one thing.
"What have I gotten myself into?"
(Targ Wood, Tree Bark Inn)
"Alright, Luso. If you need anything, just let me know." Kanin told the boy cheerily as she exited his room and walked back down to her room of the Inn the clan was staying at.
It was already late at night by the time the clan got back; not because the forest was so far away from Wood Village, but that Ensei decided that the clan should celebrate the addition of their newest member….for five hours.
Plus, the whole thing was just an excuse for Ensei to buy an enormous amount of liquor and blow through the missions earnings in one sitting. But despite that, and the fact that he and Kanin were to young to drink, he actually had fun. It was odd, but enjoyable; not to mention he got a heck of a lot of heavy lifting in.
Someone had to drag an intoxicated thirty two year old man back to the Inn, after all.
So here he was, writing down the events of his day in the book with the help of a quill pen and the full moon's light shining directly into his room's window.
Dear Grandpa and Frimelda,
Today has been one of the weirdest days of my life. I don't even know where to start so I won't even bother writing it down, though I did meet a few new people. They seem nice, especially that Kanin girl. I don't know where I am or how I got here but I plan to find out tomorrow.
Luso stared up at the full moon, its ethereal light cascading down upon him.
But there's one thing I do know. Today, I have to part with my carefree childhood because there's nothing but hard work ahead.
So with this, I bid you farewell for now. Goodnight, Grandpa. Goodnight, Frimelda, and…
…Goodbye, Halcyon Days….
(End Chapter Two)
Hmmm…not much to say on this one. Oh well. See you next time.