Disclaimer: I do not own Crystal Chronicles, or anything Final Fantasy
Special thanks to The Trinity Tree for beta-ing this chapter.
The First Caravan
Chapter 1: The Miasma
Everything had happened so suddenly. A meteor had fallen from the sky, and the next thing anyone knew a cloud covered the land. It came rolling from the north towards Rebena Te Ra, people running in fear. Then as it reached the city, they gasped in awe as the poison, thus known as miasma, went around the city, a mysterious barrier protecting them. In the plaza the crystal glowed with an intense light, and it was realized that the crystal had protected them from the evil miasma.
Then horror struck as they remembered the loved-ones outside of the city. King Kolka and Princess Tilika went into a depression as they realized the crystal capital was one of the only cities that was protected due to the fact that little cities housed a crystal, heroes and friends to the royal family in the village to the west had been infected with miasma.
With the miasma came a large outbreak of monsters, and guards were kept busy around the clock.
The wise Yukes of the city studied old records, and found that ancient scholars had prophesied the current events. The records told of visions of how the world could be saved, and a drawing of a chalice with a crystal attached to the top was found. It was said that the chalice was used to gather myrrh, and the myrrh would replenish the power of the crystals.
King Kolka immediately ordered the construction of the chalice, and it was made within the day. A suitable crystal was found from their store of crystals, and King Kolka knew he would have to find brave souls to search for the myrrh.
He gathered all his volunteers from the city and hand selected eight individuals. There would be a male and female of every race, and they would set off on a caravan the next day. And on the next morning they would start their journey.
"Don't be afraid, we are all proud of you." A Selkic man said as eight people stood in front of the crystal. Some of them were looking at the ground, contemplating their duty. Others were staring straight ahead; realizing the life of the city was upon their shoulders.
King Kolka walked forward with his twenty-year-old daughter by his side. "I thank you all for helping your city; you are heroes to us all. I feel memories are important, and I wish for you to take and record your journey in this." He handed them a large, oversized book. "I bid you farewell, and good-luck to you all. May you live and prosper." With his words the eight people headed toward the entrance to town. The Lilty male hopped into the driver's seat and snapped the reigns, and with three people walking on each side and the female Clavat sitting on the backseat, they headed off.
The caravan walked in silence, not sure what to say if they said anything. Jeff, the Lilty in the driver's seat, was the blacksmith's son. The eighteen-year-old was cloaked in red, and wore a red horned helm that slightly covered his eyes.
The Clavat who was sitting on the backseat was named Miranda, and the eighteen-year-old had light blonde hair that went just past her shoulders and onto her snow-white coat. She sat and fiddled with her deep red scarf, her legs swinging idly. She was the tailor's daughter.
A female Selkie walked next to the papaopamus, comfortable by it being the rancher's daughter. Her name was Kirsten, her long blue hair swaying as she walked. She was nineteen and wore orange clothing with black shorts beneath her skirt.
Opposite of her was Jake, the Clavat farmer's sixteen-year-old son. He wore a black headband, barely showing beneath his long red bangs. He had on green clothing, baggy green shorts hanging over his bare legs.
At the back of the caravan trying to make conversation with Miranda was Cindy, Jeff's younger sister. The seventeen-year-old Lilty wore a large green and pink cap on her head and her basic clothing was of pale earth tones.
Not paying attention to the road at all was Alexander the Yuke, who preferred to go by just that. He was studying a copy of the prophecy and its instructions. The alchemist's twenty-year-old son was cloaked in purple and white, and his one-horned helm covered his eyes, making some wonder how he could read at all without trouble.
Joshua was leaning against the side of the caravan; the Selkie perched on the ledge of a wooden board. He wore a blood red bandana over his light purple hair, and his black shorts contrasting with his cream tunic. He was twenty-three and the merchant's son, and found himself to be very good at fishing.
Rose was accompanying Alexander, the daughter of the miller furiously going over the old texts. The twenty-one-year-old Yuke wore white, purple and red clothes, and had a smooth curved helm with an X on either side of the helm for sight.
Eventually Jeff pulled at the reigns, stopping the caravan. "Supper." He said simply. He gathered fallen sticks for a fire, while Joshua and Kirsten started off to get water from the small stream near them, but stopped short. They collapsed to the ground, and everyone rushed over except the Yukes, who watched from a distance. Both Selkies were choking and gagging, and the Lilties pulled them away from the streambed.
"Are you ok?" Miranda asked.
"What happened?" Jake worried about the sudden occurrence of illness.
"Miasma." Everyone looked over at Rose. "It's the poison. We have to stay together: none of us can wonder off on our own. We have to be more careful. Jeffery, can you bring the caravan closer to the stream? And we also need to bring the fire closer too." Jeff quickly moved his bundle of sticks closer to the stream, and Cindy brought the wagon over so it would be in reach of the Crystal, which they placed between the fire and the stream.
"We all have different family trades; maybe we could put them to use out here so we can have specific jobs every night." Miranda suggested as she helped Kirsten recover. They would take a while to recover as none of them had ever been exposed to miasma before.
"That's a good idea. I can take care of the papaopamus every day; I don't mind." Kirsten breathed.
"I'm pretty good at fishing; I can fish so we have fresh food every day." Joshua supplied.
"I can make potions to help us with illnesses." Alexander said, a natural medic. "I am also good with making designs for equipment."
"I'll help Kirsten, and I can plant small vegetables and fruits in pots." Jake said.
"I will cook. Making things seems to be my specialty." Rose stated.
"I can mend clothing. And if you bring me special materials I can make accessories for you that have magical effects. I don't promise anything on what they do, I can just make them." Miranda supplied her own idea.
"I can help Jeff; I'm better at making armor then he is." Cindy said, getting a slight scowl from her brother.
"I think we should all help out, even if it doesn't concern our family trades. We're going to be traveling a while." Joshua was breathing normally now, and everyone nodded in agreement.
Kirsten stood up and walked easily and gracefully into the wagon and immerged with a small bag and chains used for jewelry. She pulled the knot loose and poured out eight small hexagonal crystals. They were all of different colors, and shone each with an individual light. "I don't feel safe just leaving these in the wagon." Their own chalice crystal glowed gold.
"What else would we do with them?" Cindy said. The crystals were for any surviving villages, for they did not have the great supply of crystals Rebena Te Ra possessed.
"Wear them. Anyone want to help put these on chains?" Miranda stood up immediately, happy for the chance to prove her accessories skills. Cindy took off her steel gloves, ready to help. The Yukes nodded their heads also, while most of the boys shook their heads, saying they weren't sure about handling the Crystals with such unsure hands.
Joshua was able to catch a good number of fish in minutes, and while most of the boys cleaned the fish the others finished putting chains on the Crystals. When the fish were done so were the Crystals. Kirsten gathered the Crystals and made sure they were held well. Then she passed them out. Joshua was given the red Crystal, Alexander the purple Crystal, Jeff an orange Crystal, Jake the green Crystal, Rose a pink Crystal, a yellow Crystal for Cindy, Miranda a white Crystal, and Kirsten held onto the blue Crystal for herself.
"Do you think we will use all of these Crystals?" Jake asked solemnly.
"We better." Kirsten assured.
They eagerly dug into the fish after the long day. After they had cleaned up they grabbed their bedrolls from the wagon. They made a circle around the fire, and as they lay flat on their backs they realized it was the first time they had looked at the sky that night.
"Ah!" They gasped as they saw the moon, or rather what they didn't see of it. The Miasmic mist cloaked the blue moon. The ridges and craters disappeared, and all that could be seen was its faint glow.
"Where has the moon gone?" Miranda breathed.
"It's still there, it's just… covered." Joshua took his gaze off of the moon and looked around at the Miasma threateningly creeping around their chalice's circle. "Maybe we should have a night watch. Each one of us can keep watch for an hour." Joshua was quickly becoming a leader.
"That's a good idea. I'll keep watch first, and we can go around in a clockwise circle." Jeff volunteered, and immediately grabbed his pole-arm ax and set watch.
Six hours later it was Kirsten's turn to keep watch. Cindy had already fallen asleep, and she listened for any sound, her bow at the ready.
Suddenly she heard rustling in the bushes by the stream. She pointed her bow, ready to fire if needed. "Who's there?" She asked in a voice just above a whisper.
There was no answer.
"Come out or die!"
Emerging from behind the tree and bushes ten feet away was a tall figure, barely seen in the dim light. In the quiet Kirsten could hear the distinct sound of a large creature smacking its lips with its tongue.
A chill ran down Kirsten's spine, and softly kicked Joshua awake. "There's something there." She whispered.
He immediately became alert and his hands went to his two twin swords. "I don't know who or what you are, but if you do not leave at once I assure you there will be blood spilt." He spoke loudly, waking the rest of the caravan. They saw weapons drawn, and they grabbed theirs as well.
The shadow of another creature appeared, then another. The tension rose, and everyone felt uneasy.
"This is ludicrous. Kirsten, take a shot. Everyone else be ready." Joshua whispered.
Kirsten released her arrow, and it struck home. A monstrous cry was heard. Three lizard men emerged from the shadows looking hungrily at the caravan.
They were still out of reach of the Crystal, and Kirsten continued to fire arrows from her supply at her waist. They guarded with their shields, and slowly took steps forward.
Cindy took her spear and shoved it into the coals, exposing the embers and lighting the fire.
Bright yellow eyes shone in the light, and suddenly the monsters were around them, ready to swing their swords.
Jake jumped in front of Miranda, who was about to be cut to pieces. He guarded with his shield, and Miranda swung her Katana swiftly through the lizard man's sword arm, disabling it. Kirsten was in the back, protected by the two Yukes as she took well-aimed shots at the monsters. Joshua was swinging his swords skillfully at the lizard man Kirsten had hit at first. It was stuck in one place as it held its shield up timidly in front of it.
Off a few feet were the Lilties cutting up the lizard man from both front and back.
Kirsten took careful aim at the middle lizard man. (The one Joshua was fighting) Her arrow flew quickly through the air and made contact with the fiend's head. It fell dead, and Joshua ran behind another lizard man and shoved both swords through its back. Finally all three were dead as the Lilties finished slicing up their monster.
The caravan sighed in relief as they cleaned their weapons. (All except the Yukes' hammer and racket; Kirsten retrieving her arrows and carefully cleaning them) They sat down and breathed, thinking of how much more of this they would have to go through.
Again they heard rustling in the brush, and Kirsten swiftly aimed her bow in the direction of the noise.
"Please! Please don't shoot!" A Moogle fluttered into view. He was oddly dressed, and looked flabbergasted. "My name is Stilzkin! I was journeying back to this area when all of a sudden this awful Miasma appeared! Do you know anything?"
"Stilzkin!" Cindy yelled, embracing the Moogle in a huge hug.
"Ah-hello-to-you-too-Cindy…" Stilzkin choked out.
"Where have you been?" She said, releasing the Moogle.
"Ah, that is a story for another time. Now, can anyone tell me what has happened?"
"We are not positive. I'm sure you saw the meteor: it was large enough. The Miasma came in a large rolling cloud; you probably witnessed that too. What is strange is that the events were prophesied long ago. That is why we are here on this caravan. We are to alert other surviving towns of how we are to fight against the Miasma, and how to construct a chalice, while on our own journey to protect Rebena Te Ra." Alexander said in a voice deeper than normal for Yukes.
"I see. I will help in any way I can. You see; I have been to just about every town-"
"Do you know how many of them housed a Crystal?" Jake asked desperately.
"Hmmm… I do not remember exactly. Why are the crystal's important? I thought they were just used for sort of monuments."
"They were before the Miasma. Now they are the only thing that keeps the Miasma at bay. But… you don't seem to be affected by it, Stilzkin." Kirsten surveyed.
"Huh? I-I suppose you're right, but what does that mean?"
"Not sure. The monsters aren't affected by it either." Kirsten furrowed her brow.
"But it has a devastating effect of people, even lethal. These two here could barely stand a second of it before they started choking on the air." Rose gestured to Joshua and Kirsten.
"The moon, it's gone. The poison has covered it." Miranda stated glumly. "The moon was considered evil, and now the miasma has covered it. It's even more evil than the blood moon!"
The Yukes seemed stunned at her analysis. "What did you say?" They said in unison.
"The miasma is more evil than the moon…"
"Why? What's wrong with what she just said?" Jeff asked.
"It's just that… around two decades ago the world was almost brought to oblivion due to the Lunites, or the moon touched. The crystals were opposite to the moon, bringing light to the world. Now, according to Miranda's hypothesis, the Miasma is an even greater evil than the moon; it would only make sense that crystals would protect us. But… the miasma has only just come… what else will this fiendish poison bring?" Rose inquired.
"Death. It has brought death through the large outbreak of fiends, and its very presence has been the cause of many deaths…" Joshua said.
"Stilzkin." Alexander said. "Go back to Rebena Te Ra. Tell King Kolka you need a dozen copies of the crystal chalice. Once you get them, head out and deliver them to any town you know of and tell them to construct one as soon as they can. We will need to meet with them when we pass through their town."
"If that is how I may help, I will. Good-bye and good-luck, I will arrive there by morning." And with that Stilzkin fluttered off.
"Come on. We're already up, we have a fire going, and it will be dawn in a few hours. We eat, then we head off, and we don't stop unless absolutely necessary. Alexander, I believe you had a ring of fire. Could you and Rose cook while we're moving so we don't waste time?" The Yukes nodded. "We should also travel at night too. We can take shifts sleeping and driving. At least two people can sleep at once, maybe more if some of us can manage to get on the roof." Joshua planned. Everyone knew the reason for his sudden need to rush everything. One minute would be all it took for the miasma to kill off an entire city. They could not waste a second. "Kirsten, I'm sure you can get on the roof, right?" She gave a tired nod. "Alright then. As for the sleep schedule, Kirsten will sleep first, then Cindy, Miranda, Jake, Rose, Jeff, Alexander, then me. That OK with everyone?" They nodded for confirmation. "Then let's get to work.