Bingo Challenge: Stuck in a Rut. Dimo Nor hates carrying the crystal chalice when the Tipa caravan journeys forth, either for myrrh or for supplies - he'd much rather fight the monsters that try to get in the way. But when he has no weapon (thanks to a mishap that happened while the caravan spent the winter in Shella), he has no choice. May be considered a sequel to Cabin Fever.

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles or any characters or locations within, only the Tipa caravanners and Shiva, the Ice Elemental.

Fighter's Fumble, Battler's Bane

Normally I wouldn't be carrying the crystal chalice as my caravan ventures into the Mine of Cathuriges on a hunt for supplies. Normally I avoid chalice-carrying duty by being an expert lancer, fearless in battle so long as I have my trusty spear at my side. I'm a Lilty, and nobody calls me, nor do I call myself, Dimo Nor—Old Selkic for "he who fears nothing"—just to sound impressive. But as it is, I currently have no weapon, which is why—by default, according to my caravan's leader, a Yuke woman named Khetala—I've been saddled with the task of carrying the chalice while someone else in the caravan does my share of the fighting.

I shouldn't be blaming Khetala for this; I know it was at least partially my fault. As it is, though, I'm mostly inclined to blame Shiva, the Ice Elemental, for seeing to it that we caravanners from Tipa were stuck in the Yuke citadel of Shella for the entire winter. About two weeks into our stay in Shella during what was predicted to be the snowiest, most blustery winter since before I had been born, I was already suffering from some serious cabin fever and chomping at the bit for something to break the monotony. Naturally, the moment I'd seen commotion out the window of the Sunrise Inn, where we caravanners were staying, was the moment I (having continued to wear my armor in the daytime to stay warm) grabbed my spear and leapt into the fray. To make a long story short, my Selkie comrade Anaïs Nin and I, along with a Selkie alchemist named De Nam who had just made Anaïs Nin's acquaintance, succeeded in saving the life of a young Yukish boy whom some monsters had tried to drag off. Unfortunately, however, I lost my spear in the freezing-cold lake when I'd failed to outrun the explosion of two self-destructing ice-bombs and nearly got carried away on a dislodged ice floe.

Nobody could see where the spear had fallen, let alone retrieve it. Even without my armor I had the swimming skills of a brick, and Khetala refused to let even Anaïs Nin, the best swimmer among us, risk hypothermia or injury from blind fumbling to retrieve the spear (or De Nam, when he was gracious enough to offer). "Weapons can be replaced quite easily," she had insisted, "but the caravanners who wield them cannot." Besides which, within a few short days that part of the lake where the ice-bombs had punctured the surface froze over again, so nobody could even try to recover the lost spear anyway.

Among other things, a trip to the ruined town of Tida last spring had yielded a scroll containing what appeared to be four designs for some decent-looking weapons: one each for a sword, a lance, a hammer, and a cudgel. All four call for mythril and alloy; we have alloy in reserve, but we need mythril before I can be armed with a spear again. Most merchants who sell armament-crafting materials carry mythril, but the price of it is outrageous—it typically costs as much as five thousand gil for as much as most weapon and armor designs call for, and we're not willing to spend that much. Fortunately for us, although the Mine of Cathuriges may have run dry of the iron for which it became famous a long time ago, the mine still teemed with mythril (and even, it was rumored, orichalcum).

Still, I couldn't help but be at least somewhat disgruntled, since I was stuck carrying the chalice. Usually the two Clavats aboard the caravan, the grizzled blond man David and his brown-eyed younger sister Lydia, do most of the burden-carrying when we explore and hunt for treasures (Lydia carries the chalice, and David carries our big leather spoils-bag in which we keep most of the useful things we find, dropping the bag in order to fight when needed). Now, however, I supposed that Lydia would carry the spoils bag while David did my share of the orc- and ogre-killing.

"We've got a fire-bomb and an orc a short distance to our left," Anaïs Nin announced lowly as we reached the place just inside the mine where passages led off in two directions. "Think we can manage not to draw the orc's attention until the bomb is ready to self-destruct?"

"Of course we can," Khetala answered confidently. "I'll cast a Blizzard spell on it as soon as we're within range, and you'll run in and bludgeon it like you always do. If the orc doesn't notice us by the time we have to run away from the exploding bomb, one of us can throw a rock at it."

Since I could carry the chalice one-armed if I had to, I tucked it into the hold of my left arm and picked up a rock with my right hand. No way would I be left out of the fighting if I could avoid it!

Khetala cast a Blizzard spell on the bomb accordingly, and Anaïs Nin rushed in to beat it up with her racket. The orc, surprisingly, was thick-headed enough that I did need to throw my rock in order to draw its attention—just in time. The bomb exploded, and the orc caught fire—and as it ran around in a screaming panic, David cleaved it wide open. With the orc and the bomb gone, we were free to explore the open space that those monsters inhabited, as well as the rickety-looking bridgework level up a flight of stairs.

Lydia's attention was quickly drawn to a greenish glimmer of something that was embedded in the wall of the upper level. Mythril! First place we looked—it was a miracle! At least, it would be a miracle if there was enough to make me a new spear…

There was only one way to find out if there would be enough. "Bring the chalice back down a few of these steps so I can get that orc's axe," David bade me. "It'll have to do for a mining pick." I did as requested, and David retrieved the axe and immediately began debating how best to extract the mythril from the rock wall without compromising the structural integrity of the bridgework on which we stood. Meanwhile, the rest of us spread out as far as the chalice's aura would allow, in case of potentially fatal breakage. Khetala kept watch for more monsters from her position, as it was an advantageous one for casting spells.

The orc axe was an awkward mining pick at best; it took us nearly six hours of taking turns at the mining effort to get as much mythril out of that little niche as we could. But those hours of mining yielded us nearly three times as much mythril as we needed for a typical weapon or other armament. All in all, it was a successful trip just a little way into the mine.

But as Khetala reminded me, I wouldn't be stuck in the chalice-carrying rut if I hadn't been so anxious to fight in the first place. Easy for her to say—if we'd been stuck in Alfitaria for the winter, instead of Shella, even she would be a bit over-anxious for a skirmish! Or maybe not; Yukes have a certain thing for staying surprisingly even-tempered, after all.

Oh, well. Live and learn, they say.