It's been almost a year since my last update, I know. I've had this half-finished laying around for several months, and I got up and finally finished it today. If the writing style seems to waver, i worked on and off on this for about eleven months, so I apologize.
I do, however, hope you enjoy! Also, this is the last warning that there will be male-on-male romance and possibly sexual relations later on, and no, I won't give out a warning of when it starts like some authors do; I find it takes away anticipation and surprise from any story, well or badly written.
The blundering cold from the top of the mountain was sharing its cool air with the Red Leaf Station, hitting Keiss's delicate face soothingly. It hit his hair, drafting it with feathery movements as he walked along calmly. He was revived from an overnight sleep at the beach, and the sun's rays were absolutely gorgeous in a place as colorful as this. Mainly Clavats who were descended from the mountains, or farmers on a visit or vacation, littered the area, though there were relaxing Selkies in the hot spring. The flurries on the mountaintop wouldn't wait for him, but even if he rushed, none of the snow would be the same upon the ground.
Some of the nicer Clavats greeted him with wide smiles, disregarding the oblivious Selkie folk in the background. He acknowledged them in return with a raise of his hand, making eye contact only with those he passed as he began to ascend the base of the mountain with quiet steps. He vaguely remembered the time he and Layle had ventured their way up here in pursuit of Amidatelion, thinking her to be the bad guy. Or just a wad of cash to be caught.
Keiss had lied many times to the rest of the Selkies saying that he hadn't felt guilty about it all, but to tell them the truth would have caused meaningless drama. There was nothing that could be done about it now; Amidatelion was dead after having sacrificed herself for Layle- or so was the rumor- and that was that. Some would disagree with the male, specifically some of the Yukes, saying she deserved every bit of recognition given to her, and that her true face should be revealed and taught to every youngling. Others, those like Keiss himself, thought that it be best to let the matter die, and let her soul rest in peace.
The air started to chill more than before, an evil aura sneaking up upon the inhabitants and visitors of the area. Everyone started to flee in every imaginable way, each individual headed for a safer spot as the miasma stream started to open up. The redheaded Selkie also began to flee much quicker than before, running effortlessly uphill. His efforts proved futile as several goblins, accompanied by a goblin samurai, jumped out of the stream. The plain goblins themselves were decisively easy foes, but the samurai would take time he didn't want to spare.
Goblins yelped as they were thrown carelessly aside amidst the redhead's powerful dash, the goblin samurai being caught by a well-aimed throwing knife, and getting pinned against the wall. Keiss kept moving, heading into the Pilgrim Cave. He could always return for the knife later on.
He let out a breath of air as his pace slowed, the shrieking of the goblins being left far behind. Lucky for anyone, any monsters seemed to have a strange attachment to whichever miasma stream from which they emerged, so leaving to a different area was a common retreat tactic, used even by the Lilltie's bold military should the need arise. A few of the hooded voyagers passed him, in line, silently.
He stopped, just to casually but seriously tell them, "A miasma stream is open, you should wait a few minutes." he continued, not waiting long enough for even their nods of thanks as he continued up the slope.
"Morning," Belle strutted about the workshop in her usual fashion, attitude swaying back and forth like her hips did.
"Hey! You're finally up," the Lilty greeted his guest, pulling up his goggles as he looked up from his newest invention.
"You're an inventor, you think that you could invent a bed with a few less springs?" the Selkie whined, arching her back forwards in a push-out of her ribcage, hand rubbing it. A few faint crunches of the bone could be heard, and that's when she released the awkward pose. "I appreciate a place for the night, beats sleeping under a bridge in the rain, but really. Bet-ter beds!" the largely-busted women tried to emphasise her final comment with a little cheeriness, but Cid was unaffected.
She looked around the shop when there was no reply, just Cid putting his goggles back on and getting back to work. There was half-written instruction manuals strewn about, some beside, under, or on top of gadgets. The brunette picked up one of the guides, and leafed through it, finding it was Cid's handwriting. ""Mn," the corner of her mouth twitched out of boredom, and she dropped it on the floor, before coming up to one of the chests. "Hmm..." the Selkie hummed softly to herself, greedy instincts kicking in. With a quick look over her shoulder to glance at the mechanics busy behaviour, she clicked it opened quietly. Belle grabbed a handful of Gil, and shut the chest, stuffing the coins down her shirt.
"Some hospitality you have here," she jumped onto the chest in a sitting position, and crossed one leg over the other. "No breakfast waiting? No asking me what I want? You're kinda rude to your guests."
"If you want food, there's restaurants down at the shops," the overweight inventor didn't even look up.
"Hey! That`s rude, shooing off a guest to get breakfast somewhere else. And not even giving her any money to pay for it, at that!"
"I heard you steal some of my Gil there, Belle." her face looked awkward, and she blushed as he continued, "Besides, do I look like I have a kitchen in here?" The slender Selkie looked left, and right, and realized he was right.
"Fiiine," she whined in her usual tone. "But I'm keeping the change!" still huffing at her failure to steal money and a meal, she left the workshop with an angry face on. "Ooooh! I forget where Layle said the shortcut into town was!- Ew!" looking down, the Guild member realized she had come outside and stepped right in a bag of garbage. Mucky, gooey garbage, that was sticking to her foot. She kicked, sending the garbage bag into some poor, unsuspecting Lilty guard. "Oops," she bolted, hoping to duck out of any potential witness's sight lines.
In the main sector of Bridge Town, she saw mostly Lilties, which was no surprise, along with a pickpocketing Selkie here and there. Again, not unusual. What was abnormal, however, was the number of moogles in town.
"Ee~ee~eehh..." the treasure-lover put her hands up delicately, as if she had almost touched something gross, trying to figure out what was going on. "This is creepy..." The weirdest part was that all of them turned their heads to look at her when she passed by them, or vice versa. Each of them all had a weird look in their eye when they made eye contact, too.
The blustering wind did nothing to waver the cloaked figure from his path. Any dents that his feet made in the snow were covered in only minutes, filled in by the white. The blue pilgrim cloak was wrapped well around the masculine body, and no matter how hard the wind blew, the hood didn't lift enough to reveal much more than an angular chin to any onlookers.
There was often a hopeless, melancholy feel to the pilgrims that travelled through the snow up here on the mountain, and it was enough to keep others away. For some it wasn't the case- they were just trying their best to get through the cold. Others did like to have this sense of secret identity to the rest of the world, outside of the monastery. For this reason, few approached the silent travellers of the Clavat tribe, and fewer still ever stayed around them. This made it easy to go by undisturbed.
On the other side of the mountain, emerging from the ice caves, was Keiss. Despite the blistering winds and his lack of a jacket or coat of any kind, the wind and snow did nothing more than bite into his skin and freeze it a little. The Selkie didn't feel pained or slow down at all, nor did any other Selkie in a region like this. Only they and the Yukes could hold their own without warm protection and head high in such extreme conditions. Looking left and right, he sighed, white air blown away from between his lips.
One boot stuck the deep snow, and then another after it. As Keiss shuffled along slowly, he ignored the icy bites from the bits of crunchy white that snuck through the tiny gaps in his boots. And he did well; none of the nearby Pilgrims would have guessed his ankles were wet and numb from looking at his face. "Holy shit-" the redhead jumped back in surprise, narrowly missing an attack from a wild chocobo. He looked at the cave he had accidentally stumbled too near to, which apparently held an active chocobo nest. The giant bird wheeled around to charge him again, leaving little reaction time for the Selkie victim.
Keiss's incredible speed allowed most of his body to feint out of danger and to the right, though the offender managed to ram into his left shoulder, sending him off balance. His foot caught ice, and the Guild leader fell backwards into the snow. The black bird triumphantly strutted back to her nest.
"Damn birds," he exhaled as a cold breath quietly, waiting. After a few moments, when it seemed like the wild chocobo had abandoned its desire to maul him to death for good, he rose before hypothermia could begin. The bird heard him shaking snow out of his now-disorderly hair and clothes, turning to his direction. Doing what a Selkie does best, the redheaded leader turned and sprinted away at high speeds. For good measure, he continued to run even after the sprinting became anaerobic, darting past a group of pilgrims on what was almost a road. No bird was going to get him, again.
Holding himself up at the bridge, Keiss caught his breath, panting harshly to take in what oxygen the dry air could offer him. He looked across the bridge, though through the storm couldn't he see it, was the Monastery.
Belle poked at her food with her fork in annoyance. "So many moogles..." the Selkie mumbled, twirling noodles around her own eating utensil before sticking them in her mouth hungrily. As she chewed, she scanned as many as she could out of the corner of her eye, trying to evaluate the creatures. Any of them that caught her eye gave her the creepy, closed eye stare they usually did. Though only about two thirds of her meal was gone, being watched by so many of the alien-like creatures was unnerving. "Fucking spooky," the female added, standing up and drop-kicking the tray the food was on. When that proved to catch the attention of more than the moogles, she made an immediate dash for Cid's place.
"Cid? Cid!" Belle demanded the attention of said Lilty, feet hitting the metallic floor ungracefully as she rushed into his shop. "Cid!" the brunette shouted again, looking around. Spotting the large figure bent over behind his counter, she rushed over in smaller, quieter steps. "Cid! There are a TON of moogles in town!" a fist banged the counter, being shaken and rubbed when the owner of the small right hand realized how tough the counter really was.
"Careful there, I just put a new steel top on that," the shop owner warned too late in his usual tone. Belle shot him a look of annoyance, once that said 'You could have said that sooner.' Straightening himself up, he finally looked at his guest. "And so what? They're probably just out on garbage patrol. There are a lot of them that are willing to do that here, you know." Brushing off the issue easily, the mechanic and inventor turned himself around, going back to repairing a steam engine for the Lilty Royal Guard. He got down on one knee with a wrench in his hand as the stubborn Selkie joined his side immediately.
Placing her hands on her hips, as she had done to Layle before, the busty female huffed. "I know that there's a lot of moogles that do work here! But these aren't them!" between Layle, Keiss, and now Cid not listening to what she said, the Selkie was frustrated. Why shouldn't people listen to her? After all, not only was she a Guild Member, master of information, but she exchanged it all for a business!
Without any further hesitation, she continued in her angered tone, "These ones are too clean! It's like they all suddenly moved away from the Moogle Station just to sit and watch me eat with their creepy eyes!"
Cid had been starting to believe her, until the last sentence she spoke. Her dramatics were getting the better of him, and hanging his head with a slight shake, the male sighed. "The world isn't against you, Belle."
"It sure feels like it sometimes."
"Maybe you should stop doing illegal things- both as a living and for fun," the inventor retorted, his full attention shifting back to the broken machine.
Embarrassment and anger hit Belle in the face, turning it red beyond belief. "I mean it, Cid! Something's not right!" she stomped the ground for each stressed word. Despite that, Cid didn't flinch, didn't move, at all. Either he was too engrossed in his work to pay attention, or he was ignoring her. And Belle knew him well enough that either was entirely likely.
After its lengthy period of destruction, the Yuke crystal shone with all the right, glory, and magic that the Yuke tribe itself was made up of.
Their land was learning how to prosper once more. Though because of their current state, the kingdom itself had been sealed off from outsiders with a ring of water once the ruins had emerged, and just like thousands of years ago, the home of the Yukes was an island. As traditionalists, they returned their only mode of entrance and escaping the city by the bridge that only they could create and destroy, and for the most part, outsiders wouldn't see it. Due to reconstruction of the city and revival of lives, only those who were leaders were permitted to enter the city, such as Keiss or Althea. Any trading of sorts occurred on the other side of the bridge.
The entire island was protected by a thick blanket of magic. A dome, though several miles high, prevented anyone of any tribe from entering or leaving by any means but the bridge, and its strength so severe that looking through it distorted the image. After years of spending their lives on the edge of oblivion, all Yuke people longed to see the world, but understood that safety and stability came first. It was agreement that once everything was ordered and established, the thickness of the veil would be lifted, and the outside world would be joined with the island.
The city itself was thriving, returning to the old-fashioned curved ramps in every direction, with the Yuke crystal shining high in the very center. All of the shops and houses revolved around it, and except for the town square in the middle for guests and ceremonious festivals, the only other special place was the High Chambers for important guests to rest. No one in the Yuke tribe deemed themselves more important than another. Places of private ceremony and those very special to the Yuke tribe were to be held underground, directly below the shining tribe crystal.
One particular Yuke, one who had more of a mask-shaped face and small angel-like wings on his back sat at a wooden desk. The room was tidy and organized, not a speck of dust anywhere to be seen, but the age of the items and the lighting made it seem like an elder scholar's room. He took a single sheet of blank paper out of a stack, careful with it, as paper wasn't something to be wasted. At the moment, nothing could afford to be. Misevey was the Yuke 'in charge' of the tribe at the moment. Though they hated to hold a strict leader, until all operations were smooth, they needed one. As an older man, not quite an elder, Misevey was settling down and becoming quieter, even by the race's standards.
He took a quill out of a full ink bottle, beginning to use it to scratch words into lettering. Even as he wrote, he worried his so-far-fair 'dictation' to the city would wither. The faster everything went, the better, and he could stop being akin to a ruler. Once he was out of this minor position of power, the chance of his slipping up and failing his own kind would dissipate.
Althea, Queen of the respectable and fair Lilty Kingdom...