Cuttingmoon57 here, and back with chapter thirty-six of The Tainted Grimoire. And as a side note, any beliefs expressed throughout my story are not my own. They are simply unique to the characters and their personalities. Just wish to clarify that.

Credit for making sure this gaggle of words is somewhat coherent goes to Supreme Distraction. Every writer who wants to be taking seriously should have a beta, and now I have mine. Hope you 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, 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


Oh, and as a side note, I have a new poll on my profile page. Feel free to cast your vote for your two favorite, current Clan Gully members.


"You won't fell this beast with simple arrows like that, my friends."

The resounding call of the man's voice grabbed Veis, Luso, Vili, and mostly Cheney's attention. The Malboro's many eyes searched every which way for the source of the voice, eventually turning to its left, where thirty feet away three figures walked steadily out of the thinnest part of the surrounding tree line.

A Gria Ravager unfastened the strap on her back that held her Vigilante, and brought it around in front of her. A Nu Mou Illusionist walked steadily along diagonally behind a Hume Fighter, who carried an entire Worgen carcass draped across his shoulder.

Cheney slung his bow back over his shoulder and leapt down from the tree branch. He stared at the oncoming trio, eyes widening in disbelief. The Fighter as well noticed the Hume Hunter, and held an equally awe-stricken look. The huntsman whispered distantly.

"Bowen?"

Fated reunion! In celebration of over a hundred reviews, Part 2 of the Vieg Town Arc!


Bowen

This prison called revenge

Shaped by the rain

Locked by memories of you

Chapter 36: Blue Rain Blues 2 (Gaol Named Revenge)


"That was too easy." Adelle remarked in an unsatisfied tone, hands comfortably behind her head as she and Kanin made their way down one of the smaller streets in Vieg Town, a street situated in the expanding part of town, littered with buildings under construction. Bangaa, Hume, and Seeq all toiled away in the upper and lower recesses of these buildings, carrying wood and iron on their shoulders or hammering nails into place. "We should've gone with Luso and Cheney on the mark hunting quest."

The two females of the clan had just finished up running the last of an in-town delivery for a restaurant that was too flooded with customers to handle the task on their own.

"I asked them about it before they left, but they said someone else had already offered to join them." Kanin spoke.

"Yeah…but whatever. Either way you and I will be spending their hard-earned money in Grazton." An evil glint formed in Adelle's eyes, and Kanin giggled. "Let's say we grab something small to go in the meantime."

"Yeah, I am getting pretty hungry." The White Mage agreed. The duo rounded the corner, spotting an open air food stand to their left a little ways away. They weaved their way through the two way traffic, careful to avoid the hulking workmen passing through as well as carts hauling loads of equipment and raw materials, before ending up on the opposite side of the street in front of the stand, where they promptly occupied two of the five stools present. Adelle sat on the end with Kanin to her right.

"And what can I get you two fine ladies this afternoon?" The stand owner queried jovially.

"A few rolls will be fine. Oh, and make sure they're buttered thoroughly." Adelle answered, envisioning the oven baked bread in her mind.

"Sure thing." The stall owner turned around after uttering his response, grabbing some dough from a shelf underneath the countertop and placing it onto a board. He formed it into four individual rolls and placed the board into the brick, wood-fired oven built into the back wall. He turned back to the females. "That'll be twelve gil."

"Well that's expensive." Kanin thought dryly, while having expected an above-average price had not expected it to be so high. She reached for her coin bag and skimmed through the contents, only to realize that she didn't have enough money. "Ummm…I only have seven gil."

"What! I knew we should've asked Ensei for more." Adelle remarked in an exasperated tone. "It's because he's so stingy that these things always happen."

"Well, unfortunately ladies…if you don't have the gil, you can't have any bread." The stall owner stated. "With taxes on the rise this year, I can't afford to be chivalrous."

"We understand…" Kanin said with an understanding sigh, preparing to swivel around on her stool, when suddenly she heard the sound of coins plopping onto the counter surface.

To her right sat a Hume White Mage, his youthful, clear face suggesting an age no older than seventeen. His dark brown locks and blue eyes matched well with the blue triangular lining of his robes. A burlap sack was draped over his left shoulder, lying over his ornate cobalt cape. He grabbed the Healing Staff leaning on the counter as he stood from the stool, the emerald hued orb that sat at its top glimmering in the afternoon sunlight.

"Will that be enough?"

"Aye, it will lad." The stallholder eagerly eyeing the three gold coins placed on his counter, giving the male a gracious, thankful nod. He immediately pocketed the change and removed the bread from the oven. He then reached down and placed the rolls into a woven basket, handing it to the two girls. "Here you go, ladies."

With a nod, Adelle retrieved the basket from him, and both girls turned towards the White Mage that had just paid for them.

"Thank you, sir." Kanin said with a delighted tone, performing a bow.

"Don't mention it." He replied, walking towards her. He veered off slightly to the left, and as he passed her shoulder, he spoke again. "It would be quite un-chivalrous of me not to assist such a pretty Hume girl."

He continued past the two, not turning around to see the surprised and flustered face of Kanin Heldig. She stared at his retreating form in wonder, while Adelle only grinned mischievously.

"Looks like you have an admirer, Kanin."

(Outskirts of the Jadewood)

"Bowen?"

Upon hearing his name uttered, the Fighter turned to the source of the voice, a Hume Hunter standing under the shade of one of the jade-hued oak trees that partially permeated the clearing landscape. A few seconds passed before his eyes widened, and a rubbed them in disbelief soon after. He was brought from his reverie, though, as a different voice called out this time, noticeably female and from the direction of the trees.

"Look out!"

A pair of purple vines snaked their way around his body, coiling around and restricting his arms and torso, causing him to drop the Worgen he carried in the process. Strangely, even as the vines tightened, completely sealing off his limbs, he made not a single movement of protest. There was no struggle to break free, no flinch; only the sound of a few short words leaving his throat.

"Loa, if you would…"

The Gria Ravager made an effortless swing with her Vigilante, cleanly slicing through the Malboro's restrictive appendages before ending in a flourish. The once taut vines grew limp within the moment, plummeting to the grass below in a messy pile around his feet.

"Many thanks." The Hume uttered to his dragon winged clan mate. He walked forward until he reached Luso's position just in front of the beast, drawing the Ebon Blade at his side, a blade comprised of the finest onyx-colored steel. "Now let's say we dispose of this eyesore."

Luso nodded and the Great Malboro released an even greater roar, the sound waves even managing to rustle the leaves of surrounding trees. Seconds later, the great beast drew in a rather lengthy breath, an action which Cheney recognized instantly.

"It's using Bad Breath! Get back! It's extremely poisonous!"

Just as the Hunter spoke the last of his words, the Malboro exhaled sharply. Simultaneously, both Bowen and Luso, heading the monster expert's sage advice, leapt backwards into the air, the latter performing a mid air flip, before landing side by side in crouches over a dozen feet away. Upon returning to standing positions, they watched as olive tinted smoke, opaque enough to match even the bark of the neighboring foliage, poured from the beast's maw.

"You have good agility, young one." Bowen remarked to Luso with a smirk, the boy uttering a small word of thanks while inwardly giving credit to Mist Channeling. The noxious fumes continued to radiate from the Malboro's mouth, the cloud of gas expanding with each passing moment. Bowen turned his head back to Tweigel and Loa's position, and called out to the Ravager. "Loa! Cyclone!"

The Gria sprung into action after giving him a nod of confirmation, her wings flaring out in a flash. Tweigel stepped to the side so as not to get in her way. Her sword held out in front of her, her wings flapped slowly and at an even pace, gradually increasing the tempo as time went on. Before their eyes, winds began to circulate around her form, steadily gaining force until a full-blown gale had enveloped her. Then, she lowered her Greatsword, and brought it upward in a powerful, sweeping arc.

The winds around her parted and dispersed, and in the same instant, a cyclone erupted right in the middle of the cloud of poisonous gas, causing the thinner trees to sway and the leaves of all to rustle. The billowing fumes ceased spreading and began to retract to the circling wind's position. As everyone gazed in wonder, the cyclone began to absorb them, eventually adopting the same hue as the poison itself.

"A cyclone to absorb the gases? Brilliant." Cheney remarked inwardly from afar.

Once the majority of the gases had been contained by the cyclone, Bowen stepped forward, making his way towards it along with the Great Malboro that roared fiercely only a dozen feet behind it. It surprised Luso how unaffected the Fighter was by the winds the cyclone generated. He simply continued walking forward, Ebon Blade gripped in his hand, as if he were strolling on a calm spring morning.

"Did you know? The gas that a Malboro secretes contains, among other poisonous gases, a compound known as Methane CH4." Bowen remarked. The Great Malboro, roaring, lashed out at him with four of its vines. The appendages slithered through the air before being pulled in by the force of the cyclone, trapping it. The beast tugged and tugged, and found itself unable to break free, actually getting drawn into the swirling, gassy winds. "As it turns out, this is what gives the gas its horrible stench, but is also highly flammable." As the monster struggled to break free, snarling viciously, Bowen smirked, then whispered softly.

"Backdraft."

Luso jumped slightly in surprise when a flame instantly ignited on Bowen's blade, wreathing everything from his wrist down in billowing flames. The Fighter stared up at the gaseous cyclone, brought his arm back then swiftly forward, lobbing his fiery blade into the center of the tornado.

The resulting explosion was gargantuan, the flames so bright that everyone could almost feel the flames themselves on their bodies. The cyclone erupted outward in searing fire before traveling down the length of the Great Malboro's caught vines. The beast released an ear-splitting shriek as fire overtook its body, incinerating its rough, purple skin.

The explosion subsided, everyone looking to see the outcome as the light died down. What was once the amethyst hide of the beast had now been morphed into a mass of charred, blackened flesh, a splitting image of the ground that had burned as well. Small pockets of fire burned on the remaining grass around it, and columns of smoke rose from its forms.

Luso looked upward, in the vicinity of the sun, and spied a black object plummeting towards the earth. The object, which the boy recognized as Bowen's Ebon Blade, landed with a thud, the sharp edge stabbing the ground up to half the blade length. Bowen walked over to it, and with a gentle tug, retrieved it, ignoring the heat that it still gave off.

"…so…one-sided…" Vili remarked in awe after she and her sister leapt from the tree and landed.

"So this is the skill of House Bowen." Veis said inwardly, taking note of the Malboro's defeated form. She slung her bow over her shoulder, and made her way over to the accomplished Fighter, her sibling following closely behind. "Thank you for your assistance."

"Yeah, that was pretty cool." Luso added with an enthusiastic smile, approaching him as well. Loa and Tweigel soon did the same, crossing the clearing and joining the group at the center.

"Think nothing of it." Bowen replied, turning to them and sheathing his blade. "I'd had a mind to remove this horrible stench anyway." The man stayed silent, then quirked an eyebrow, focusing specifically on Veis. "Your accent, Viera. I have not heard the likes of it before in Loar."

"You are correct." Veis replied. "My sister and I hail from a distant land, outside of Jylland. It has been a long journey for us." Her tone changed to one of relief. "But it has finally reached its end."

"It has, has it?" Bowen asked, sporting a confused demeanor. In response, both Veis and Vili dropped to a knee and respectfully bowed their heads as all looked on. The older sister spoke in a humbled voice.

"Yes, for my sister and I would be honored to be accepted into House Bowen's ranks."

An eerie calm washed over the clearing, Luso gaining a surprised yet happy look while both Loa and Tweigel turned their heads to each other, staring nervously. Bowen's face remained placid for a few seconds, before he crossed his arms and released a sigh.

"It pains me to say this, especially after hearing of your difficult voyage. House Bowen is currently not accepting any new members."

The revelation caused Veis to become overcome with disappointment, though she kept her emotions well in check, an action which Vili, being her sibling, noticed immediately. The younger sister could still hear the dissatisfaction in her voice, no matter how clear and precise the girl continued to speak.

"I understand." The Viera and her sister stood to their feet then performed a small bow. Bowen frowned, envisioning that she had taken the blow quite hard. Tweigel and Loa merely awkwardly looked away and towards the ground, avoiding eye contact. Luso also felt remorse, giving the rabbit-eared woman a comforting pat on the back, a gesture she appreciated.

His attention, as well as everyone else's, was diverted as the sound of boots brushing against the grass grew louder. They turned, spying Cheney walking towards their position, his bow slung over his shoulder diagonally across his body. His face was completely devoid of emotion, his eyes focused solely on Bowen. He stopped just in front of the Hume Fighter, no more than a meter away, both faced towards each other.

"It's been a long time, Cheney." The Hunter looked down to see the Fighter's outstretched hand. A few seconds passed, and he let out a shallow breath, accepting the man's gesture of greeting.

"Likewise, Bowen." Cheney replied with a firm shake. "What brings you to these parts?"

"Just some jobs. We're on a hunt at the moment." Loa answered, jumping into the conversation, and enveloping the huntsman in an embrace, which he returned after a moment of awkwardness. "It's good to see you again."

"Cheney." Tweigel stated with a nod and a smile, the Hume mirroring his actions as best he could under Loa's constricting hold.

"Did you say you were on a hunt?" Luso queried, catching part of the Gria's earlier statement. Bowen answered for her.

"Aye, boy; and a dastardly beast it is." He pointed a hand behind him, to the area where he had set down the Worgen carcass. "We're planning to lure it in with that morsel." The Fighter went silent, stroking his hairless chin, before coming upon an idea, a fact evident on his face. "We could actually use some assistance. How about one mark hunt, Cheney? For old time's sake?"

All eyes turned to Cheney, who stood perfectly still for some time, mulling over Bowen's proposal, though showing no signs of acceptance or rejection on his face. A dozen seconds in, he turned around one hundred eighty degrees, then spoke.

"I'm sorry. I can't. I have to head back into town and get the Malboro verified."

Bowen could tell that the Hunter was merely using that as an excuse, a fact that Cheney was sure he knew, though he said nothing about it, simply adjusting his helmet and releasing a sigh. Tweigel and Loa joined him in his expression of disappointment, having been eager to join forces with their old clan mate one more time.

"I suppose there's nothing to be done about it."

"Excuse me." Veis spoke up, garnering the attention of the three Bowen members. "I understand your earlier position, but if it is merely assisting you in a hunt, my sister and I would be more than happy to oblige. We did not travel all this way to be sent back empty handed."

Bowen stared at her for a moment, then cracked a smile.

"Very well, Viera. Consider this your trial period. Depending on your performance, I may revoke my earlier policy." Veis's eyes lit up, though she managed to hide most of her excitement. Bowen looked at Luso. "What say you, boy? You've already shown yourself capable."

"Me? Well I mean I guess I could..." Luso looked at Cheney, who gave him a smile and nod of approval. He turned back to Bowen and nodded enthusiastically. "Sure!"

"Then we depart immediately." The Fighter remarked, sending Loa to fetch the Worgen carcass. "We should return before nightfall, Cheney. Perhaps we can meet up at the pub and have a drink."

Before giving the Hunter time to reply, Bowen turned around and began walking towards the far end of the clearing, Tweigel, Veis, Vili, and Luso following behind. The red capped fighter gave his clan mate a final goodbye wave before catching up with the rest of the group. Cheney watched as they passed through the tree line, then shifted his eyes towards the sky.

"Friese."

(Northern Precipice of the Jadewood)

The group, after leaving Cheney in the Jadewood, made their way towards to the area of their mark's last sighting. The trek involved heading slightly deeper into the forest, traversing the variety of woodland pools that hindered their path and fighting against the high air humidity the area was known for. From there, the party headed north/northeastern, the landscape losing trees with every mile they walked.

Eventually they were free from the majority of the forest greenery, the scenery morphing into a rough plain, littered with rocky hills and sparse vegetation. The declining warmth of the sun bathed the area in orange light, a clear signal of the oncoming evening. Luso recognized the area from a past journey, their trip to St. Galleria. It had been the way the caravan passed through after the Baknamy attack. He wondered offhandedly what kind of beast dwelt here, and was thankful that, if this area was its native habitat, it hadn't attacked them back then.

The party stopped at a particularly rocky section of the area, with a large stone on the perimeter that jutted from the earth, rising twenty or so feet into the sky.

"Younger Viera, would you mind leaping up to that rock and surveying the area ahead." Bowen asked, turning to Vili. The girl, caught off guard at first, quickly nodded, stared up at the lofty, thick rock, then crouched down. She exploded into movement moments later, rocketing into the air at a diagonal and landing cleanly on the targeted boulder. Veis looked on proudly at her sister's impressive accomplishment, and Luso stared in wonder.

Vili stared out into the open expanse of the terrain, dotted with similar rocks like the ones she stood on and covered in grass with occasional trees sprouting up. The cliffs of the Caravan Trail proper could be seen not too far in the distance.

Her lengthy ears soon picked up a strange noise, emanating from somewhere afar, a noise that caused Veis's ears to perk as well and turn in the same direction her sister faced. Bowen, noticing this, queried.

"What did you hear, Viera?"

"A shriek." Veis responded curtly. Bowen looked back up at Vili, who was still looking out into the distance. Vili then looked down at the group, and called out.

"There seems to be a beast a mile or two from here; some sort of bird. It's massive."

"That's it!" Bowen exclaimed inwardly, before spinning around to the remainder of the party and beginning to issue orders. "Drop the Worgen, Loa. We won't need it after all. Viera, boy, Tweigel; you four follow me, and be quick. We won't let it get away."

The entire group burst into action, Bowen drawing his Ebon Blade and bolting at full speed in the direction that Vili had directed with Tweigel catching on quick and leaving at the same moment. Veis and Vili, using the natural speed of their race, and Luso, focusing and gathering Mist into his legs, all dashed off seconds later, attaining speeds much faster than the average Hume could ever muster. Loa's draconic wings flared open, and she soon took to the sky, catching up with the rest within moments.

…..

The Cockatrice, an avian creature with a violent temperament, known for its docile nature when unprovoked. It pecks at its foes with a razor-edged beak, and has been known for its ability to petrify those who would cause it harm.

The Crushatrice, a variant strain of the Cockatrice, feared for its prodigious girth and more volatile personality. Many a man has lost his life to its aggressive nature, and few have ever been known to fell one singlehandedly.

And known throughout south and eastern Loar, having been given a kill-on-sight status to all mark hunters is one, if not the most deadly Crushatrice of all, and he goes by one and one name only.

"Klesta…"

Bowen whispered breathlessly, his pupils widening as he laid eyes on the great beast just a couple dozen feet in front of him. Brown plumage covered the upper half of its body, while dusty, white feathers sat on its underbelly. Its pointed tail swayed back and forth like a horizontal pendulum, the sound of displacing wind ringing on rhythm every few seconds. Its form, over three times the height of a human, from the Fighter's perspective, eclipsed the setting sun in the distance. Its yellow beak, showing golden in the sunlight, was covered at the tip in a red substance. The substance was quickly identified by the sight of a bloodied wolf carcass at the bird's feet.

It was as the Crushatrice rotated and laid his eyes on Bowen did the remainder of the group arrive, Loa swooping in first, followed by Veis, Vili, Luso, and lastly Tweigel.
The two Viera and Luso stared in awe as the bird let out a fierce cry, a sound Loa and Tweigel had become all too familiar with.

Any weapons that hadn't been drawn already flashed out.

Klesta roared once more, then took two, earthshaking steps forward. Bowen's eyes widened, and his head snapped around.

"Get out of the way!"

The Crushatrice dashed forward with a speed unbecoming of its gargantuan size, and the party split in every direction to avoid the rush, Loa flying upwards. Bowen, Luso, and Tweigel dodged to the left, rolling into a small depression in the land while Veis and Vili leaped to the right. The beast, crashing through the group's previously occupied position, skidded to a halt and spun around to its left, choosing the less numerous, rabbit eared prey that were the Viera sisters.

Both sisters brought their greatbows up hastily as the bird began a second charge at them. The twang of the bows resounded through the area, though not simultaneously. Vili's bow had gone off three fourths of a second after her sisters, an intentional delay on her part. The arrows whistled through the air, sunlight gleaming off their heads, and just as Veis's arrow reached its target, Klesta brought its claw around in a swipe, knocking the projectile out of the air.

By the time the beast had done this, though, the second arrow had already run its course, driving into the flesh just under the bird's eye. The pain caused the monster to lose control of its forward momentum, and it stumbled over onto its side, though having allowed the two females enough time to leap away once more.

"Keep it occupied, Viera!" Bowen called out to them as they landed from their jump. He quickly turned to Tweigel, Luso, and now Loa, who had just touched down from her flight. "We're going with the plan. Follow my lead, boy. We'll kill this beast if it's the last thing I do!"

The pair of Humes vaulted over the side of the depression, making a bee line for the monstrous fowl, which had now gathered its bearings and was beginning a return to its feet. Simultaneously, Tweigel weaved his hands around in the air and whispered under his breath, ignoring the incantation.

"Haste."

Instantly, Luso felt a strange sensation about him. Gradually, though over a short period of time, the world around him began to grow slower while his movements and speed remained virtually the same. He noticed in his continued charge towards Klesta that Bowen also seemed unchanged.

From the outside though, both Veis and Vili noted that it was actually the two Humes that had become significantly faster.

"Keep up with me boy." Bowen called out, earning a nod from the red capped fighter. They reached their target just as the bird stood, decreasing their speed slightly in order to lean into a turn. Klesta raised a clawed foot from the ground, attempting to stomp them to death, though their high speed proved too much for the creature's accuracy, and it merely kicked up a large amount of dust as it cracked the earth underneath it.

Following Bowen's lead, both Luso and he maintained their speed, now circling the creature counterclockwise, and in close proximity. Veis noticed that the bird seemed almost confused as it tried to keep up with the males' movements, and she herself was equally curious as to what plan the House Bowen leader had up his sleeve.

Upon watching the two circle the beast, Loa immediately sprang into action, emerging from the depression in the ground and began flapping her wings rhythmically, just as she had earlier. Vili watched her carefully, realizing the Gria's prerequisite to the Cyclone spell. Both sisters made their way over to Tweigel as winds began generating around the Ravager, the two having fulfilled their orders. The wind force around her finally reached its maximum, and within moments brought her Vigilante down in an overhead swing.

This motion confused Veis. When she had used the spell back in the Jadewood, the Gria had swept her weapon from bottom to top. This time, she swung top to bottom. A subtle, mostly insignificant detail, thought one that caused the Viera to wonder if the Ravager had another spell in mind.

Her assumption proved half-right in the following seconds.

Just as before the Cyclone burst forth from Klesta's position, however she noticed two key differences straight away. This time, the cyclone's base was much wider, broad enough to accommodate the wide girth of the fowl, yet stopping right at the edge of Luso and Bowen's circular trail that the two continued to run despite the monstrous winds. The second was more noticeable; the cyclone itself was spinning in the opposite direction than earlier, and the winds were angling downward.

Peering inside, Vili could see that Klesta had ceased all of its movements, and was apparently struggling to stand.

"What's happening?" The Viera queried, turning to Tweigel. The Illusionist continued to face out towards the scene taking place, a confident smile on his face.

"We call it 'Vacuum Prison', a new House Bowen original. Two or more people act as a base and begin circling around the target at high speeds. Loa then casts a modified Cyclone spell, one that spins the opposite way so that instead of sucking from bottom to top, it starts and the top and ends at the bottom." He explained.

"I see. With all the atmospheric pressure being gathered at that one point, the beast should hardly even be able to move." Veis surmised aloud.

"Exactly." The Nu Mou confirmed. "As the speed gradually grows, the atmospheric pressure will build, eventually reaching a point where it could pass out or receive internal damage." He paused, staring on at Luso, who continued running at full speed. "The success of this spell hinges on the ability of its base. It took Bowen a lifetime of training to obtain that speed. How that boy can keep up with him so effortlessly, and at such a youthful age is beyond me."

"How long do you think it will take before the creature falls?" Vili asked in a concerned tone. "Bowen and Luso can't keep this speed up forever."

"It shouldn't be much longer child." Tweigel assured with a smile. "I spent these past two days calculating the time necessary in comparison to the creature's size and fortitude."

And so the group waited, Loa planting her Greatsword into the ground and resting her arm on its handle. Shallow, labored breaths emanated from her throat, a testament as to what power the spell had behind it. Veis, Vili, and Tweigel watched intently, refusing to blink or take their eyes off the scene before them.

Soon, thirty seconds passed. Then, a full minute.

Luso's eyes snapped open as the world began to gradually speed up around him once more. In the same instance, Tweigel mirrored the boy's action as the brown haired fighter's speed started to dissipate, and the color drained from his face.

"No!"

The cyclone's power began to wane, and Klesta, feeling it body steadily lighten, raised itself and released a vicious roar, flaring its wings out in defiance. The powerful movement caused the cyclone to break down from the inside, and the result was a gargantuan explosion of gale force winds, rocketing out in every conceivable direction. The wall of moving air crashed into both of the unsuspecting Fighters, sending Luso and Bowen hurtling through the air in opposite directions.

Loa, acting on instinct alone, immediately discarded her sword to the side and blasted off from her position, flying directly towards the closest airborne fighter in an effort to save him from a dastardly fall.

Bowen.

Luso's body collided with ground, and the others only hoped that the grass he had landed on prevented any serious injury. Vili, deciding to discard her helpless position, slung her bow over her shoulder leapt from the depression and made a bee line straight at Luso's body, despite the loud protests of her sister. Bowen and Loa watched her from the air, the Fighter fearing another casualty with the girl's reckless decision.

Klesta released a haunting cry into the air as she charged towards him on her way to Luso. As she ran, she noticed that the beast was certainly impeding her way, and that she would no likely pass it by without confrontation. True to her assumption, Klesta brought its tail back, then whipped it around in a sweeping motion as she entered its range.

Acting quickly, she leaped into the air with the grace of a gazelle, performing a forward somersault before landing on its supposed left shoulder. The beast jolted and moved around, attempting to shake her off, but to no avail.

Meanwhile, a strange yellow glow began to envelope Vili's right arm from her elbow down. Veis immediately understood what her sister was doing, her eyes widening as she heard the faint traces of Vili chanting under her breath.

"Cliffs of the forgotten, towering over the lost souls. Seal those who would dare escape your crags, and capture the feet of the swift." Vili slammed her hand down onto the bird's left wing, then called out.

"Rockseal!"

Floating, rune symbols circled rapidly around her forearm at that moment, and immediately three-fourths of Klesta's wing was encased in a solid, jagged sheet of stone. So heavy was this stone that it through the bird's center of balance off and the bird began to stumble while shrieking relentlessly. Veis leaped from the bird's body and landed in a crouch behind it, dashing straight towards Luso without even a look back. She crouched down beside him, placing a hand on his forehead. Surmising him to be unconscious, she threw his body over her shoulder, then grabbed the handles of his two blades with her free hand.

Loa and Bowen finally landed from their short flight, the Fighter went into an unbridled rage, dashing towards Klesta the moment he touched down, Ebon blade leading the charge. The bird, seeing the Hume assailant, turned and began charging as well. Rather than the confrontation that the Fighter had hoped for, upon reaching him, the Crushatrice leaped over him as he swung, traveling more than twenty feet before landing with monstrous thud.

It continued running farther, not slowing down for even a second even with the heavy weight of its petrified wing. Bowen spun around on his heel, his face full of hate, intending to give the fleeing beast chase.

And it was seeing him in this state that prompted the rest of his clan to stop him.

Tweigel stood in his path, arms outstretched to their maximum. The Nu Mou held a grave, disappointed look in his eyes, one which caused his leader to stop in his tracks for a moment before returning to his outrage.

"Get out of the way, Tweigel! I'll give whatever it takes to destroy it."

"Lay down your anger, Bowen." The Illusionist responded calmly. "Let it go."

"Have you gone mad? The beast cannot fly now! There will never be a chance like this!"

"Luso might have been badly damaged in that fall. His health must take priority." The Nu Mou directed the fighter's attention to Vili, who carried the unconscious boy on her shoulder. "We will return to town with him. You, however, are free to give Klesta chase, but you will do so on your own." He narrowed his eyes, Bowen matching his steely gaze. "And we have learned from the past the outcome of such an action."

Bowen stood for a moment, his face coupled with the trembling of his body indicating the war inside of him. He brought his Ebon blade up, staring distantly at it, then after a few seconds, placed it in the sheath at his side. He looked around, watching as the rest of the group's members gathered around him, then stared in the direction that Klesta had fled. A long sigh escaped his throat, then he began to cry; at first but a single tear that gradually morphed into an onslaught of screams and curses that had him shouting at the wind.

Tweigel turned away from the man, unable to watch the broken form of his leader. He spoke softly.

"We return to town."

(Vieg Town, The Wolf's Den)

"You up for another drink, lad?"

Cheney lifted his head from the counter, looking at the copper-colored, Bangaa barman in front of him before directing his gaze at the three empty glasses to his right.

With its profitable location, the traffic in Vieg Town was always at a high point, even during the winter months, and as such, establishments were always well filled with patrons of all kinds, no matter the time of day. The Wolf's Den was no exception, the dining room alive with all manner of noisy clansmen, even with the time being but an hour until midnight.

"Yeah, go ahead and give me another lemonade." Cheney remarked, answering the barman and propping his head on his arm. The pub owner reached for one of the clean glasses on the top shelf, and began mixing the fluids of a few bottles in the single cup. Within the minute, the beverage was on the counter in front of him, Cheney soon filling his throat with the cold, yellow-hued fluid.

"What seems to be troubling you?" The barman asked out of curiosity, grabbing one of Hunter's used glasses and polishing it with a dishrag. "Seem pretty down. You finish that Malboro quest you accepted?"

"Yeah, we got him." The Hume replied distantly. "It's…It's nothing really. Just…remembering a friend…"

"I see…" The barman said, his tone mellow upon catching the hesitance in his customer's voice. He chose not to delve any further into the subject. "Where are the boy and those Viera you were with?"

"Off on another quest. We met with House Bowen in the Jadewood, and they asked us to join them on some mark hunt." Cheney took another sip of his lemonade, then continued. "I would've joined them, but I had to wrap up our own mission."

"They say they'd meet you here?" The Bangaa asked, quirking an eyebrow. The bowman only nodded, beginning to wonder where he was going with this. "Really? That's not good. If they haven't returned already, then something probably happened."

"It is rather late." The Hunter admitted. "Though I'm not too concerned. Tweigel and Loa more than capable of keeping them safe."

"I would be." The barman replied, silently wondering why the Hume would not mention the clan's leader himself. "Klesta is quite the dangerous beast, after all."

Cheney almost choked on the lemonade he had just started to sip, coughing violently as the fluid traveled down the wrong part of his throat. He slammed the glass on the table, his eyes widening as he played back the barman's last sentence in his head.

"Klesta!"

The sound of boots pounding against the wooden floor and the rattling of various equipment caught both the barman and Cheney's attention, drawing it to the pub's front door. There, both watched as Vili and Veis entered first, their clothes slightly dusty but otherwise kempt. Following them were Loa and Tweigel, their outfits in similar conditions. Lastly entered Bowen, his Fighter garment also as dusty as the two Viera.

Cheney spun around on his stool before standing to his feet, making his way over to the entering group. Bowen was the first to notice, and soon the others quickly gathered around him.

"What happened? Where's Luso?" He asked, skipping any formalities as he noticed his clan mate's absence. All noticed the undertone of concern in his voice.

"Luso suffered from a fall during the battle." Veis answered, her tone saddened. "We weren't sure how severe it was, but judging from his fall, it might be serious. We took him straight to a local clinic."

"I apologize, Cheney." Tweigel spoke, watching as the Hunter's face was overtaken with subtle anger as he looked at Bowen, who met his eyes with his own steely gaze. "There was a miscalculation on my part. The beast was able to withstand more pressure than I had first surmised."

The huntsman promptly ignored the Nu Mou's apology, continuing to focus on Bowen as he stepped forward towards the man. Both men locked eyes, their gazes unfaltering in the slightest. Cheney was the first to speak after a long period of silence, his voice low and menacing.

"After all this time, you're still after Klesta, huh? If you had told me before, I never would have allowed Luso to go with you." He paused, taking another step forward so that they were merely a few inches apart. Everyone watched warily from around them. "Next time that you feel the need to drag someone into your pointless revenge, do me a favor and leave my clan out of it."

Without giving him time to responded, the Hunter sidestepped him and walked forward, heading towards the exit, not even giving a look back at him. He kept walking, until the words that next left Bowen's mouth stopped him in his tracks.

"What need have I of the young and frail, especially of those that could only handle such a small amount of punishment? I've better things to do than play at nursemaid."

The Hunter paused, and in that moment, it seemed to the entire group that the whole pub had gone silent. Bowen stayed still, then after a calm of three seconds, it happened.

Cheney's fist crashed into the back of Bowen's helmet, the force so great that the Fighter could actually feel it through its metal plating. The action caught everyone in surprise, and instantly the entire noisy pub, even the rowdy patrons in the rear, died down instantly, allowing the sound of the Hume Fighter colliding with the ground to resonate through the space.

Cheney erupts in anger!


(End Chapter Thirty Six)

Character Corner

(Alberio Augustus)

Job: Sage/Runemaster

Race: Nu Mou

Hair Color: White

Eye Color: White

Skin/Fur Color: Grayish Brown

(Description)

Former Dean of the Moorabella Academy of the Magical Arts and current advisor to the Baron of Flugoris. In exchange for his sight, he was given the ability to visibly see the Mist within everything. He is ranked as one of the top mages in all of Jylland, and has mastered numerous spells.

"Such is the fate of those that tamper with creation…"

Augustus, informing Luso of the Mist Channeling procedure.

(Likes and Dislikes)

Likes: Reading, teaching,

Favorite Food and Drink: Roasted Vegetables, Milk

Hates: Missing humorous events due to blindness

Dreams: Peace

Favorite Color: White

(Trivia)

-Augustus is taken from the Professor Augustus in the original FFTA, though his role in this story will be much larger than in said game.


Alright, and there's thirty six. Hopefully it wasn't too bad, as I've been quite drained lately. Next chapter should explain some things that weren't clear in this one, so look forward to it.