CHAPTER ONE

Legend tells of the hero Gaol, knight of the amber eyes, wielder of the twin sword Avyuir. Friend to the moogle Lini, lover of the moon maiden Evelyn. How many of these titles are true, and how many are merely romanticized by the years gone by?

Yet one thing people do know for sure is that he did not achieve this fame (or infamy) on his own. Many tales speak of Lini, Gaol's right-hand man, and also of the Aisen 13. Indeed, both Gaol and Lini, and apparently Evelyn, were members of this mysterious group of people who are rumored to have saved Ivalice.

Through the years, the story has been revised and retold so many times that it likely has morphed beyond recognition, save the bare facts. What really happened back in Koringwood, Aisen Keep, Delia and Salika Keep? Will the truth ever be told? Only time will tell…

The Song of the Village swirled around him. His heart pounded, but not because he was nervous. The weight of his Choice bore down upon him, now that he was at his own Naming Ceremony. He knelt down before the pole with all the familiar carvings. Reaching up, he pressed his thumb against the rough surface, and slowly began to write his Name. By the magic of the age-old village, deep markings appeared in the wood where his finger came into contact, forming words of indeterminate value to him...

t-h-e m-o-o-g-l-e L-i-n-i

"Have you heard? The palace is searching for someone," Marlowe the innkeeper commented conversationally to the young man sitting at the bar. Without waiting for a response, he continued, "Apparently, it's someone important. In all the years of my life, I haven't seen them, by them I mean the palace of course, utilize so much manpower for one person. Just that one individual managed to cause an uproar among the top ranks. There's definitely more than meets the eye here."

Lini laughed incredulously. "Indeed! Pray tell me more, my good man! This would make a good story." He helped himself to a glass of milk.

"It seems that the Palace has found a lead. They've been swarming all over Cyril lately," continued Marlowe as he started to wipe glasses.

At that moment, a commotion could be heard outside…

"Geh!" Gaol stumbled into a pub and shot into the next room, trying to put as much distance between him and his pursuers. He ran up the stairs and ducked into the nearest room which had its door open.

"Indeed!" Lini laughed again. It had been such a long time since he left...he downed his glass of milk and hopped off his high stool, waving goodbye to the good innkeeper. As he proceeded to walk out from the inn door, he felt a strong gust nearly lift his cap, and caught a glimpse of pale gold. Now, what could that be? He wondered.

Gaol leaned against the closed door, as if trying to shut out the outside world. Panting from exertion, he finally noticed the occupant of the room.

"I'm very sorry, ma'am!" he apologized to the Viera before rushing out of the room into the next (thankfully empty) room. This is so not his lucky day. "And here I was hoping to have a few more days to explore Cyril!" he complained to the emptiness, sighing balefully.

Downstairs, a group of Palace men thundered into the pub. Marlowe regarded them with interest. This is great fodder for gossip.

"How may I help you, sirs?" he enquired placidly.

"Have you seen a young man running in here?" asked the leader.

"Not to my knowledge..."

"We would like to perform a search through this inn, nevertheless."

Marlowe had to protest at that. "You will be disturbing the customers, sir."

"This is a warrant from the Palace to enable us to perform searches whenever necessary. I hope that you will not interfere, Innkeeper." Turning to his men, he nodded. As one, they moved to carry out their task.

Walking down a road, Lazuli looked up at the sky, her soul lightening at the sight of the bright sun and white wisps of clouds. "What a beautiful day..." She muttered quietly. Passing by an inn, she saw a commotion and went over to see what it was about. Perhaps she would give a hand if need be…

Lini couldn't help but notice the young girl with serene grey eyes, unconsciously radiating inner peace. He approached her, still wearing his merry smile.

"Good day, m'lady. Are you enjoying the show? 'Tis unusual indeed, for the palace to be so worked up. One wonders what could be the cause of such mayhem." He grinned expectantly, and suddenly exclaimed "Egad! I have yet to introduce myself! My name is Lini." Here he bowed with a flourish, right paw over heart. "I am a traveler with no roots, roaming the world in search of adventures. May I have the honor of making m'lady's acquaintance?"

Lazuli looked at the moogle and smiled softly. "It is an honor to meet you, Lini... My name is Lazuli." She replied a soft toned, quiet voice. "I wonder, though... Is the person they are searching after really the one they want?" She mumbled, puzzling over the situation. She looked back at Lini. "I am afraid I do not know this place well, I do not...understand the laws around here. Do you perhaps know of them?" She asked inquisitively.

Lini grinned at Lazuli. "The palace is not one to make mistakes. By now, I believe they would have gotten what they want. What I do not understand, though, is the lack of discretion." He laughed, and added, "But this makes my visit to Cyril all the more interesting! I am a newcomer here, too. But I believe that I know enough about laws in general. Though the laws in different areas are naturally affected by the customs of the dominant race, laws in general are the same everywhere. So, how may I be of assistance, m'lady Lazuli?"

At that moment…

Gaol was suddenly struck by an idea. The window of that room was just large enough for him to climb out of. Moreover, at further inspection, a water pipe was situated just to the side of said window. It was the perfect escape plan. Or so he thought.

His hopes were dashed the moment he reached the ground. Turning, he came face to face with someone he would rather have not met at that particular time. "Sir! I... didn't expect to meet you here," he managed sheepishly after the initial shock had passed.

Serald's grey eyes regarded Gaol impassively from behind his assassin's mask. "Naturally, or else you would never have come down this way. You, young man, are coming with me. No arguments."

Resigned, Gaol followed him. "Yes, sir..."

Lazuli smiled back at Lini. "Thank you, Lini, but I am afraid I must ask you one more thing. I, too, am a traveler. I am here to look at the quest board in the pub, but I am afraid my abilities are...inadequate. I am mostly a supporter but, you see, I am not one for combat. I have asked clans to join their ranks, but have been declined many a time" She said, shoulders slumping. "My confidence is low, so I need someone to help me so I can regain that which I have lost. Lini, can you help me on a quest? I will try to not be much of a burden..."

Lini's brows shot up. Quest? He frowned. This is not good. His plans...he didn't want to, couldn't afford to, get caught. But...this girl needed some serious cheering up. But...oh, to heck with secrecy! His adventure had just become more interesting. He grinned to himself. And cheering people up was what he did best. "I'll help you." He said, and then quickly added, "but I'm only doing this because you look like you need a friend. My skills need sharpening, too. It's been a long time since I got myself involved in quests." He smiled warmly. "Let's do this together!"

Lazuli blinked. This was the first time someone agreed to help her. "T-thanks..." She said, trailing off "That is the kindest thing someone has ever done for me..." She added shyly. She then looked at the inn. "Shall we go inside?"

At the same time, others in different areas began to progress throughout their day.

Dorian sat quietly behind a desk in Adelle's family's estate writing a letter to his sister. After composing his letter, Dorian pocketed the paper and left the room.

Adele wandered through the corridors of the main house. She had gone through the family living quarters and had reached the wing where those employed by the family stayed. Suddenly, she spotted a familiar figure. Running up to him, she smiled softly and asked, "You're Dorian, right? Have you seen my father today?"

Dorian turned and smiled politely at Adele. "My apologies Lady Adele, but I haven't seen your father all morning. Would you like me to help you look?" Dorian replied with a respectful bow.

"No, it's fine. There's nothing urgent," said Adele, stopping next to Dorian. "Where are you going now?" she asked, and then hurriedly added, "It's alright if you don't tell me, it's really none of my business actually." The rabbit ears on the top of her head twitched nervously as she awaited Dorian's answer.

"It's quite alright milady. I was going to have a letter delivered to my sister." Dorian replied smiling slightly at the girl's nervousness.

"Your sister? That's nice." Adele flopped down on the window sill. "I really wish I had a sibling... The closest I have to a brother was Gaol, and now he's gone to Exodus knows where." Sighing, she looked down towards the gardens where they used to play in when they were children.

"It must get lonely. What with your father always gone." Dorian replied sympathetically before smiling gently at the girl. "Would you care to take a walk with me milady?"

"Can I really?" Adele got to her feet and smiled shyly at Dorian. "It does get awfully boring here on my own."

"Of course milady." Dorian replied making a 'Shall we go' motion.

"I spent most of my childhood in these gardens," said Adele as they strolled along the stone footpath that winded through the gardens. "There seemed to be no limit to the adventures found here. Everything seemed so large then, and imagination made the littlest things much more than they were. I really miss those carefree days..." Turning to her companion, she smiled. "What was your childhood like, Dorian?"

"Ah, nothing that interesting. It was mostly just books and running about with Winoa." Dorian replied with a shrug.

"That sounds nice. You and your sister must be close," said Adele, smiling.

"Yes. We were. I haven't seen her in quite awhile though." Dorian replied.

Winoa sat in her home staring out the window. After a while, Winoa stood silently and went outside, looking up at the cloudless sky. Her demeanor was graceful, but her eyes were sad. There are those whose jobs were to heal, as she is one of them. She is one of the curers of the sick, menders of the wounded. But how could she heal her own wounded heart?

Winoa stood at the door of her and her father's home and looked to the chair her father was sitting in.

"I'm going now father. I'll be back in awhile. If you need me, you know where to find me." Winoa said softly, knowing he heard her, but he gave no response. With a sad glance back, she turned and left for the nearby fields.

Meanwhile, the group of soldiers and captive had reached the Palace. Gaol stared at the looming structure, and sighed. Looking at Ivalice from high up there just couldn't match up to experiencing the culture as a civilian, no matter the luxuries.

He had been caught too easily this time, next time he will contrive to be more careful. Thinking about that, his hand brushed against the pouch attached to his belt. Suddenly struck by inspiration, he flipped it open and dug out several rather useful things he had picked up in on his journey.

Grinning, he dropped three smoke pellets together and leapt off the chocobo he was riding in the confusion. To further aid his escape, he lit a few fire crackers and threw them in random directions. Then he ran.

In the age of the Hero Gaol and his Thirteen, the Job system was very, very different. Jobs were merely jobs, unnamed, insignificant. For instance, there were soldiers. Sword-using soldiers, staff-wielding soldiers. Soldiers then were merely soldiers, infantrymen who fought for their country. There were no classifications, such as heavily-armored humes wielding broadswords were not necessarily fighters. In that age, all humes wielding weaponry not in the service of the palace were called fighters. What brought about the drastic change in the system, to become that which we know now? The Aisen 13 happened, that's what.