Passage-
A movement from one place to another
The process of elapsing: the passage of time
The process of passing from one condition or stage to another

The passage into adulthood..


Chapter 1 – East Sarutabaruta

A lifelong dream finally coming true; sounds perfect right? It should be, but in my life even my dream coming true would have a hitch. Let me explain.

"Torin? Where are you?" My mother called in her pitchy, worried voice. "They'll be here any minute!" She said, craning her head around the doorway and checking to make sure I was actually still packing, and not hiding from the inevitable greeting. Not even sure myself which it was.

"Be out soon.." I mumbled, pretending to stuff more tunics and socks in my dhalmel leather bag, as if I hadn't been packed for weeks. Like I was saying, my dream was coming true, I was packing my things for a journey to Jeuno, my childhood home, and where I'd be tested to become a chocobo rider. For since they began building chocobo circuits, the last of which was almost complete in Windurst, the hole in the hill wall that I live in, I knew that this was what I wanted to be.

Stepping out of my old dusty room I gave it a backward parting glance, never really getting a chance to get attached to be honest. The worn wooden floor creaked as I step out of the house and into the small front yard, full of Windurst lilacs. Squinting in the spring morning sun, I yawned and stretched my arms high above my head relaxing the tightened muscles in my lower back and shoulders, all the ceilings here are a little on the short side.

"There they are!" My mother half-squealed.

"All of them look the same.." I said leaning against the side of the house, my eyes closed and head up to receive the sun on my skin, digging a toe in the dirt.

Shooting me one of her signature scowls she hissed, "Those kinds of things will stop right now! You've lived here for years; you need to stop thinking so highly of yourself, you.." But before she could continue preaching they're heads bobbled into my peripherals as I turned my own the other way.

Introducing the new bane of my existence; Ardocc, a taru around my age, and the son of my father's partner. To make a long story short, our parents thought it would make more sense if we were to go to Jeuno together. Basically I had no choice, and so I was letting him tag along.

"Hello there, neighbors!" His tiny mother squeaked at us. She must have stood a sturdy three feet, judging by the tip of her head being over my mother's waist. The women went on about how they felt their baby boys were leaving the nest too early.

"Uh,.. Hello." Ardocc nervously said to me.. I turned my head and then I looked down.

"Hey.." I sighed, sizing him up. I'd hung out with him before, and it's not like I hate tarus, but now he was a thorn in my side. He was on the tall side, for a taru that is, not that I'm a very tall hume to begin with.

After some time examining his boot he said, "I.. I know you're not happy with this, but I think you'll be-"

"Don't worry about it." I cut in, and walked towards where the parents were conversing.

After an hour of warnings warned and being quizzed on our knowledge of everything we've ever learned, their goodbyes were said and we promised we would write. My adventure of a lifetime began with the gates of Windurst leading to East Sarutabaruta.

Being from Jeuno, I'd obviously taken the route before, but that was in my earlier childhood and so my parents still saw it as an extremely dangerous undertaking. They don't understand that nowadays kids like to start partying earlier, usually on the beach so I've heard. Either way both Ardocc and I were laden down with plenty of maps and aid.

Just leaving those great rough stone gates gave me a sense of freedom, knowing that this time I won't be heralded from my mother to come in once the sun started to dip below the mountainous horizon. I was excited for once, I tried not to let it show, but I walked fast as I pointed my eyes directly to the North while we followed the Nompipi river until it met with the Zanbibi. I was walking fast, but not nearly as fast as I wanted as Ardocc constantly waddled ten yards behind me. Always grunting heavy breaths as he attempted to match my gait, but never complaining.

We passed countless young people, they always resting between fights with rarabs or mandragoras, us always striding straight past them. They knew we were more skilled just by the way we walked past. Its something about being a newbie, you just know when somebody is higher than yourself by the things they wear, or how they seem to always be going somewhere. We weren't as awe-inspiring as those blazing past on chocobos, but that would change very soon for me.

We spent our first break of the day getting water where the two rivers met, filling our jugs and skins before the next leg of the quest, the Tahrongi Canyon. I placed my bag and top travel tunic with my copper sword on the ground next to the shore of the thin river. Because this is where the two bodies of water met, this is where I liked to swim. I jumped into the crystal clear flow to cool myself before our next arid destination. Ardocc smiled with worried eyes as he just sat in the shallows to rinse his own feet. The water here was a bit deeper, and harder for him to fight against the current. He seemed content just to watch and be happy if I was. I didn't care either way, and floated on my back with my ears below the surface to enjoy the muffled sounds of the world. Until I received a searing pain across my back.

Before I could register what occurred I saw the flash of armor, no, I saw the flash of twin sets of scales fly past. Pugils. I looked to where I'd left my sword, it was too far for me to try to outrun them, especially on their home field. But earlier than I could think of an alternate plan I heard a growl and a splash. Ardocc chest deep in water and engaging the smaller pugil. They're aggressive creatures but they don't team up in these parts. I knew I could take the other one, I'd been using them to train for years. So I taking the chance I was given I bolted with the speed and spray of feet running in water for my swords resting place.

My pruned fingers found the copper sword's hilt and I hefted it into the other palm. With a double handed grasp I charged into the now tumultuous water, swinging at the pugil that wasn't engaged. I was quite experienced fighting these monsters, this time they just had taken me off guard. Parry, dodge, advance, slice and dice. Soon enough I was wiping the fish scales from my blade into the stream, and looking to see how Ardocc fared.

I scanned around me, seeing the floating bodies of two fish, but no Taru. He was nowhere to be seen, in or out of the river. Instantly I registered that I was wet up to my own chest, meaning somewhere in the now battle murkied depths he'd be. Throwing my sword towards shore it stuck in the muck with a wet thuck-sound; I dove directly towards where his enemy's body floated. Sure enough as my hands groped the bottom I found his struggling legs and arm, with his other hand holding onto his own, albeit smaller, copper sword which was point-down in the riverbed. I took his blade in one hand and him in the other and stood.

I dumped him from my shoulder when I reached the sand and tossed his sword in the grass. His coughing meant his breathing, and as long as that was certain then my job rescuing was over. I simply went to retrieve and clean my sword, and remembered knowing he was going to be a hassle.

After a short silent break we began walking on the path East that connected with the Tahrongi canyon.

"Thank you.. for saving me. I'm sorry, I didn't know I would sink that fast, I just saw you were in trouble and reacted too hastily." He eventually said to me.

"Don't worry about it, just try not to overdo it next time. I can handle myself." I replied without looking back at him. I hiked my bag to a more comfortable position on my back and continued the same pace, with the dusty rock cliffs looming in the distance.