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Marishi Ten

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About Marishi Ten

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  1. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    Marishi had only read about The Peaks once in a dusty tome in a year-long forgotten. There were large bridges that spanned the gaps of the mountain ranges and connected places of prayer together like a chain. It was not so now. The bridges long broken and their holy ground long since defaced. Their pace was quick. Marishi was in high spirits. As high as they could be. Her mind was active and drawn to other matters. She had purpose and something to do. As they passed the pyramid, Marishi noticed Rae taken with it. “They call that the ‘Ziggurat’. It’s said that it was built shortly after the 6th Umbral Era. The War of The Magi. After the flood, the aether in the area was unbalanced and volatile causing extreme weather patterns. It’s said that the ‘Ziggurat’ was built to be an anchor point for that aether that was able to stabilize the region. Or that’s how the story goes. Something to that effect.” Marishi explained. “Funny, I don’t recall where I read that. Anyway, it looks like a beast tribe has taken up residence there now. Best we steer clear.” Marishi could see Rae starting to slumber and slip in the saddle. She wasn’t used to night travel. Rae may never become used to it. She was also a Seeker of The Sun. Her ancestry worshipped the Sun and loved basking in it. Forcing her to adopt the Moon saddened Marishi. Though she herself was also a Seeker. There were other tribes of Miquot’e who preferred the starlight, distant cousins, the Keepers of The Moon. Marishi heard the weariness in Rae’s voice. “Yes, it’s getting quite late and Dawn will soon be upon us. I am sorry, Rae. Forcing you to twilight while your heart yearns for the firmament. Perhaps with time, I’ll adjust and it won’t be so bad.” Marishi said. As Rae assumed the position of guard duty, Marishi laid down on her side with her elbow propping her up, looking at Rae. “I doubt there is any need for guard duty. Not here at least. But if you insist, I’ll not challenge you.” Marishi said light-heartedly. “Do you know what I was thinking on the ride? I was thinking of a story my master in the Far East told me once when I was young, long ago. He said the story was from antiquity. You’ve likely heard it though. The scholars in Sharlaya at the best in the world. Nevertheless, would you like to hear it?” Marishi asked. Rae’s eyes lit up in happiness. It wasn’t often that Marishi spoke of herself, let alone of her past, and she certainly never told stories. “Long, long ago lived two Gods. Izanagi and Izanami. They gave birth to many other Kami, but Izanami died giving birth to the fire god. Izanagi was saddened by this and missed his wife so, he traveled to the underworld. The world of the dead. Yomi. To find her. And he did find her, though she forbade him from looking at her. Izanami explained that as she had eaten food cooked in Yomi, she could no longer return to the realm of the living. Izanagi decided to stay with her. After a time, Izanagi became curious and lit a torch and broke his promise. He looked upon Izanami. No longer his beautiful wife, but a horrible rotting monster. This scared Izanagi and he ran away from Izanami and Yomi. When he emerged, he felt unclean and went to wash his face from the horrors he witnessed.” Marishi could see Rae beginning to drift off to sleep. Lullabied by Marishi’s soft and musical voice. Rae was still listening, but her eyes were closed. Marishi smiled and continued. “As he washed, he birthed Kami known today. As he washed he left eye, he birthed the Goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu. From his right eye he washed, he gave birth to the Goddess of The Moon, Tsukuyomi. They climbed the celestial ladder together and married. There was a great dispute between the two and, Amaterasu angered by Tsukuyomi’s actions refused to look upon her again moving to another part in the sky. This is why the Sun and Moon are never together. At least, that’s how the story goes.” Marishi smiled as Rae’s chin rested upon her chest. She had fallen asleep. Marishi slowly rose and placed her cloak over her. Marishi didn’t return to the makeshift bed, but instead sat next to Rae, bringing her close, both sharing the same blanket, Marishi’s head resting on Rae’s shoulder. “Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi love each other still and when the world ends, they will make amends and be together again. Forever. I will be your Moonlight if you would be my Sunshine.” Marishi whispered as she too fell asleep. Both slept soundly and well into the evening, waking as the Sun began it’s decent to be replaced by its counterpart. Marishi began packing away their equipment while Rae made supper. Marishi wondered if Rae remembered the story she told her. It didn’t matter. She wanted Rae to sleep peacefully and it seemed that she accomplished her objective. After supper, they washed and refilled their flasks at a nearby stream and mounted their Chocobo’s to leave. “According to the map, we should make for a place called Ala Ghiri. It’s marked as not a hamlet, but an actual village. It’s several malms still and I don’t think we’ll make it by Sun up. Hmm.” Marishi pondered. “There’s a marking here, but it’s hard to make out. It looks like ‘Goodblade’. Perhaps a hamlet or trading post? We should be able to make it there before the morrow. There’s even a shallow lake there it looks like. Are you prepared Sunshine?” Marishi asked with a smile on her face at the playful name she had given Rae that morning. They set at a brisk pace. Their Chocobo’s living up to their prestige. The limestone pillars rising into teeth blotting out the stars. It was nearly a full waxing moon and the light created a blueish tint against the white canvas of the mountain range. Marishi and Rae conversed lightly, laughing. Truly two that were in love with one another. It was briefly interrupted when Marishi pulled her mount to a stop and turned around. She could swear she heard rocks falling from the foothills to her left. She sat a moment straining to hear, but there was no follow-up sound save for the nocturnal animals to and fro and the symphony of the crickets as they played their songs. Marishi shrugged it off and returned to her place by Rae’s side. Just before dawn as the moon was failing, they came upon Goodblade. Stone buildings stood at its center with direct access to water through a sluice. It was quiet. Far too quiet for a settlement. “The hamlet looks abandoned. Look, over there. Rubble from a building or two. The Garleans sacked the place it seems. Perhaps took all here and conscripted them. I don’t see or hear anyone at all here. Let’s have a look around.” Marishi rode up to the center of the hamlet and dismounted. She placed her Katana in her sash at her hip, grip horizontal to the ground. Ready to unsheathe at a moment’s notice. There were no lights in the buildings, no fires, no trading stalls, no smells of cooking, no sound of children crying or Men preparing for the day’s work. Marishi walked up to a building that looked like a private home and pressed her ear to the door. No sound. The Sun was beginning to rise and Marishi had already developed a headache from it. The headache would intensify to a migraine and ultimately, to temporary blindness if they didn’t make haste. She placed her hand on the door and pushed it open. It wasn’t locked. Marishi quickly glanced inside and walked quickly to her Chocobo. She led it on foot to a stable post behind the building. “It’s abandoned. It hasn’t been used in quite some time from the looks of things. It seems people left in a hurry. Or were taken. Tie your Chocobo up and grab your satchel. We’ll stay here for the night – err – day.” Marishi said. They took their belongings and entered the abandoned home, Rae first then Marishi. As she was walking in the door, she could have sworn she saw movements of something near the water line. Unable to investigate, she blamed her senses on her fatigue and adjustment to her disability. She saw Rae’s look. “I don’t like it either. There is an eeriness to the place. But we’ve not much choice. I’m sorry Rae.” Marishi said ashamed. She closed the door, locked it, and wedged a chair under the doorknob as an additional barrier. “What are you thinking?” She asked.
  2. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    “Sleep …” Marishi said. Rae was right it was getting late into the night and though she was emotionally drained, she hadn’t thought of sleep. “Yes, I should retire.” She said moving away from Rae and un cinching her sash. “This will be the last night I sleep in the night. I can no longer go out in broad daylight due to my … disability.” She gently touched her fingers to her eyebrow right above her eye. “Ironic, is it not? A Seeker of The Sun confined to darkness to be more akin to a Keeper of The Moon.” She smiled sarcastically. She moved behind a screen to fully undress and change, not wanting Rae to see her. She knew she had to say something to Rae. She felt her hurt expression through the screen. “I’m sorry, Rae. I just – don’t want you to see me. It’s not that I don’t love you, but – I cannot explain it.” She put in a simple tunic white and spun of cotton. It was long sleeved even though it was warm in the room. She had put on cotton spun long pants dyed black. She folded her armor and placed everything neatly on the dresser next to the screen. Ready for tomorrow. She stepped out from the screen, feeling nervous and running her nails through her hair while staring at the ground. An old habit she developed whenever she was nervous, or shy. “I’m ready. But – and please, don’t misunderstand – but I would rather not be touched right now. Maybe in time … but not now. I’m sorry. It is all still too soon and real.” Marishi whispered. She knew it would hurt Rae and even she herself didn’t fully understand, but she felt ashamed, unworthy, unclean. Her ordeal had damaged her psyche. The road to recovery being long and slow going. Marishi walked to the bed, barefoot and climbed in, pulling the soft pelts over her. She looked so small compared to the oversized blankets and bed. Rae joined her. Staying close, but honoring Marishi’s wishes. The first rays of dawn were starting to crest the eastern horizon and Marishi lay awake for a while, letting her mind wander. It never strayed far from what she was part of only hours ago. Finally, she closed her eyes and she slept. Marishi stood upon a shore, but unlike any she had seen before. The water rolled forward and back, but the smell of salt was overbearing. She was standing on the shores of a large Salt Lake. “The Salt Lake of Ala Mhigo” she said to herself even though she had never laid eyes upon it. Then, she floated into the sky high up to gaze at her surroundings. She looked down. She wasn’t scared she was going to plummet back to the earth. An invisible hand had lifted her up and gently held her in its palm. The Salt Lake was large and in the midday Sun it held a mirror reflection of what It surrounded. The great city of Ala Mhigo. She stared at the city and its beautiful mirror image until the hand began to gently turn her to the north and the west. A massive staircase made of stone rose in the air hundreds of feet to end at what appeared to be a landing. It was fenced off all around the top. Marishi was puzzled and felt a sense of dread. The gentle hand seemed to have a gentle voice for even though it did not speak, it explained what she viewed. This was a great staircase meant to offer prayer to The Destroyer. Though the stairs remained the statue that was once towering above it did not. Broken near the base below, she could make out the statues feet. This was also the location of public executions carried out by one of the last kings of Ala Mhigo. Theodoric the Mad. He would personally execute anyone and everyone he thought guilty of sedition on that landing lobbing off their heads and letting them crash upon the stairs to the ground. They were to serve as an example. Marishi had heard about the mad king when she was a child. The men whispering about the death and carnage he wrought. That he would not stop with Ala Mhigo. That he would bring war to the alliance on their soil. Marishi understood why the great status was no longer standing. The Garleans. They tore down and outlawed and all worshipping of deities of any kind and defaced any idol said to resemble one. To believe is to have faith, to have faith is to pray, to pray is to manifest. They feared an uprising of the people as they would fly under a flag of faith, but they also feared the summoning of an Eikon. Faith, prayer, and aether is all that’s needed to call forth the gods from the heavens. At a price. The summoning bleeds the land dry of the very sustenance it needs to thrive. Syphoned from the manifested and twisted version of the projected wants and desires of the faithful. The hand turned her further to the north and west and let her take in the view of what appeared to be a large cemetery. The sky darkened as heavy clouds appeared oppressing everything to the ground. The clouds were yellow and orange in color, bathing The Lochs in an unnatural red light, making the sandstone ranges appear as pillars of blood. There was a cave near the cemetery, where the nobility and royal families were interred. Tombs and coffins lined the walls barred with rusting and disintegrating iron bars. The best, and worst, of Ala Mhigo slept in those catacombs. Not all slept. Their vengeful spirits roaming the empty halls to prey upon which they envied. The living. The hand turned her in the opposite direction now, pausing briefly on the White Aisle. The pathway to the main gates of the city. It spanned over the Salt Lake in beautiful and intricate laid brick and mason work. This was different from the other areas of The Lochs. The mason work was immaculately maintained and kept in full working order. Not a brick out of place. Marishi began to feel a sense of urgency from the invisible guide. It wanted to show her this place and it was running out of time. Something was coming. Something it could not hold back. The hand pointed her toward south and east where she beheld a beautiful and lush garden full of blooming flowers and massive Oak, Ash, and Cottonwood trees. Also, heavily maintained and pruned. She knew it was the Queen’s Garden. A king of Ala Mhigo whose name is lost to antiquity had built this garden for his beautiful wife to display his love for her upon her passing. It was serene there. A stark contrast from the bone white salt flats. The hand began to lower Marishi to the ground. It was gentle and slow, then lurched suddenly plummeting Marishi to the ground. It regained its grip though it was much weaker. And weakening. It set Marishi safely on the ground. The oppressive clouds and strange orange hue remaining. A wind picked up, strong and harsh. Marishi could feel the hand trying to protect her from the wind, though it itself was being ripped to shreds by it. She felt the hands fade away to nothing. The wind still howling she looked at the shore. The water frothy from the squall. “I’ve seen this before…” she said to herself. Then, the wind stopped. Everything stopped. All sound, all movement. The salt water ebbing and flowing silently. Marishi became scared, not knowing why. There felt like something was intaking all the air to blow her out of existence. The water ebbed its blue green color but flowed blood. The entire lake was filled with blood and bodies floating on the surface. A bright flash followed by crackling of lightning broke the silence and brought Marishi to her knees holding her ears and screaming incoherently. There were so many mangled bodies in the lake and washing to shore. All peoples of all races, beaten, stabbed, quartered, shot. They all had the same lifeless expression in their eyes and they were all staring at one thing. Marishi refused to look in that direction. Another sizzle of lightning causing her to flinch in terror. Then, a sound that made her blood cold and despair envelop her. The beating of wings. Massive wings. She knew this sound from The Calamity, but even those wings were dwarfed by this new abomination. The beat from the wings created a wind that physically pushed her back and forced her to stand. Crouching down Marishi held her hands in front of her body to help lessen the cyclone all around her. It spun her to face the length of the shore and the beating winds stopped, only to be replaced something so large falling it was pushing her to the ground just from its gravitational force. An earthquake erupted cracking the land in two, bodies and blood falling into the abyss to fill the bottomless fissures. Marishi knew something was in front of her. She knew it had noticed her, but she would not look up. Frightened that viewing the entity would drive her sanity from her mind. The thing wanted her to look upon it. Forced her to raise her head. The gentle hand long since perished. It was something akin to a dragon. Marishi had seen dragons before being from the Coerthas highlands. She had seen them flying tip to tip en route to Ishgard to exact their revenge and raze the city. She had even seen the Elder Wyrm Nidhogg as it circled upon high tormenting the city. But this thing made everything else look like flies by comparison. It was grotesquely large with malms wide wing span. It’s body draining silver and brass in color sucking the light from the sky. “Shinryu” Marishi whispered. The dragon answered with deafening screech and beat of its wings. Her Katana was in her hand. She looked down at it. It’s pulsing light weak and pitiful. She looked up at the monstrosity before her. It’s emerald eyes gazing at her with idle amusement and curiosity. She tried to take a step forward, but her feet would not move. She dropped her katana, it’s light flickering and fading. Sucked away by this creature. Shinryu didn’t have to kill her. The beast alone draining aether from all living things to sustain itself, including Marishi. She felt weak and fell to her knees. A withered husk she could almost hear the dragon laugh mockingly at her as it took flight and left. She fell face down on the now whole shore of the Salt Lake and began to close her eyes. She thought she heard the eruption of a firearm going off in the distance. The last thing she felt before passing on were eyes staring at her. Boring holes into her with its gaze of hatred and anger. Then she was no more. Marishi slowly opened her eyes. She found herself unharmed and safely in the room she and Rae had been staying. The curtains pulled over the window to shield the Sun from entering into the room. Rays of light making their way through the small crack in the middle. Even that little of light made Marishi squint in pain. She looked over to find Rae still fast asleep. She arose slowly and gathered her arms and armor from the top of the dresser and quietly left to the bath house. She greeted the clerk and asked the time. “’bout 5 in the evenin’ therebouts.” The clerk replied. “Thank you” Marishi said softly as she walked to the bath house. She nervously entered hoping for there to be no other patron also bathing. She was relieved to hear no sounds nor see anyone. She set her effects on a stool next to the tub in the back and drew hot water. When the tub was full, she undressed and soaked herself. It seemed an age since she had bathed, though she was bathed at The Barber. She used a bar of tallow to scrub herself clean and a small sharp paring knife to shave. She emerged from the tub clean and feeling better than she had in days. The horrors that were endured washing away with the soapy water. She folded her sleepwear neatly and dressed in her new garb. Finally, she placed her Katana, blade up in her sash on the left of her body and right below it, her wakizashi. She reached to the small of her back but stopped short. She no longer had her tanto having lost it during the assault. She walked out of the bathhouse fully garbed and armed. The clerk’s eyes widening in surprise at seeing a fair skinned female Miquot’e dressed and armed with items from the Far East. Marishi walked to the door and quietly entered the room expecting Rae to be asleep still. To her surprise, Rae was awake and had not only dressed but had packed both of their satchels and re-provisioned them. “Seems I’m not as mysterious as I thought I was” Marishi said entering the room. “You knew I wished to depart tonight. All the better, as the Resistance has likely found one of it’s own dead and will begin investigating.” There was no malice or anger in her voice as she spoke, but love and care. “Come, we are expected and the road is long. We are to make our way from here to a place called ‘The Peaks’. Home to several hamlets and … Quiquirn. Oddly enough.” She let out a small laugh as the two gathered the rest of their belongings and closed the door behind them, leaving the last embers in the fireplace to flicker and fade to darkness. It was past 7 as they left the Hostel. The Sun having already set in the early winter skies. They walked hand in hand together, not speaking, but feeling comforted and content just being in one another’s presence. They arrived at the stables to an awaiting Galiena shortly after. “Yer lookin’ well Marishi. I’m truly glad that ya turned out in one piece.” Galiena playfully said. “I am in your debt Galiena. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here. I can never repay your act of kindness … Thank you, Galiena. For saving my life.” Marishi humbly said to the surprise of both Galiena and Rae. “You did all the hard work, not me. But enough of all that. I reckon that yer itchin’ to be off. Word has it that an officer of the Resistance was found this mornin’ takin’ a dirt nap. Few tears’ll be shed over that piece o’ garbage, but all the same, ya best scuttle.” Gailena said. She beckoned both Marishi and Rae inside the stables to where their Chocobos were boarded. “I pulled some strings and I ya both the finest and fastest Chocobos the Reach has. Hate to see ‘em go, but I know they’re in good hands. I also have this for ya.” She gave Marishi a small wooden cylinder. “Yer gonna need that to make it through The Peaks and to Ala Ghiri. From there, yer to travel to Castrum Abania. Don’t worry, though ya have ta pass through the Castrum, it’s free and safe now. On the other side yer going to find yerself in The Lochs. Home to the city of Ala Mhigo. Take the White Aisle and don’t go near the water. It’s all pretty to look at and all, too bad It’s acidic. Follow the Aisle up to the Gates of Ala Mhigo. One of my boys’ will be expectin’ ya. Now, off with ya before I call the guards!” Gailena laughed and winked. They mounted their Chocobos, secured their belongings and trotted to the exit of The Reach. Marishi stopped at the exit and turned around. It was beautiful, in a way she thought. She pulled the wooden cylinder from her satchel and opened it. There was a detailed map inside marking their route and all points of possible interest. A gift indeed. Marishi turned towards Rae and said “And so ends our journey, though where there’s and ended, one will always find a new beginning. Can you hear it? The road is calling to us.” Marishi said melodically. The road was her home and she was eager to return. She held her hand out to Rae and said “Ready, my love?”
  3. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    Marishi was scared. For the first time in what seemed an age, she was frozen in terror at the sight of the man. She knew he should pay and that she should be the one to do it, but he frightened her. She could hear the anger in Rae’s words and she felt ashamed. Ashamed at cowering at this creature, ashamed for not allowing revenge to overtake her, ashamed that her body had been violated, ashamed at being little more than a cripple. Marishi watched as Rae’s emerald green eyes flared. So vibrant they were. So full of life. Marishi’s eyes we dull and rust colored. Not the sparkling red they normally were. She heard the instruction from Rae. Kill that man. She had killed before. She would kill again. But she couldn’t force herself to wield her weapon against him. She expected Rae to be angry as she began to look down at the floor. What she did not expect was for Rae to brandish the Katana herself. Something caught in her throat as Rae laid the blade bare. The weapon reacted to Rae’s touch, a flash of white from the blade and the scabbard brighter than it had been. It tuned it’s humming to Rae’s heartbeat. Marishi wanted to stop her. No more blood on account of this man. No more tears or agony. But she didn’t say a word. She was worried for Rae. Marishi knew that blinding hatred and anger. She didn’t want that for her wife. She was the kindness to Marishi’s malice. She was the one who spoke reason to Marishi when she would hear no other. Rae was mercy. Rae was benevolence. Rae was not this twisted tree nurtured off of blood and sorrow. So, this is what I must look like so often of the time. Marishi thought. She saw herself in Rae’s actions and words. This isn’t what she wanted. This isn’t how she wanted to be. This isn’t how she wanted Rae to be. As Rae raised the sword over her head, A single thought ripped through and entered her mind: The Sword. This was partially it’s doing. Rae is levying judgment upon this wretch. Alexander has decreed that his existence is null and forfeit. Did Rae know? Did she sense the primal as it whispered to her subconscious? Alexander wouldn’t temper her. Just as he wouldn’t temper Marishi. They were his harbingers to meet and carry out justice in his name. Even if they knew it or not. The thought was shredded as this, thing, shrieked in pain. Rae had caught one of his arteries with the blade as she pierced his crotch and thigh. The sword acting as a tourniquet. She watched him writhe on the dirt floor grasping at the bladed end, nearly severing his fingers in the attempt to free himself. She looked at him as Rae had her boot on his throat crushing his larynx. He deserved this. This should be enjoyable. Satisfying. But Marishi felt nothing. Rae pulled the weapon free of his flesh. Blood spraying from his leg onto the tent wall and quickly pooling around him. He wouldn’t live long. Not with that mortal a wound. He had perhaps 4 minutes. At best. Rae then plunged the Katana into his chest. The monster that was a man lurched the upper half of his body up in a death throe, blood soaking his lungs and expelled from his mouth. He fell back limply to the ground as Marishi could hear his last breath filled with bile and blood. Letting out both a bubbling and hissing noise. He was dead. Rae released the weapon and plunged it back into his body. Possessed of hate and anger. She looked more like a wild animal than a Miquot’e. Marishi heard her screams as she stabbed him. Over and over and over. Shredding the bodies upper torso sending small bits of flesh, muscle, and marrow all around. When she had finished mutilating a body that no longer cared, it didn’t look like a body anymore. It had the face of a man, blood spattered across his face and into his lifeless eyes, but his body looked as if someone had opened his rib cage and gutted him. Gore and blood everywhere. Marishi couldn’t look at Rae as she walked to her and placed the sword in her hand. She just stared at the destroyed thing that was at one point considered human. The blood was everywhere. On the ground, on the tent walls, on the tent ceiling. Blood dripping from Marishi’s bare sword and she stared at him. “May the Fury accept you into her halls where you will know peace,” Marishi whispered a prayer for the man that raped her. She found a bit of cloth not soaked in crimson and wiped the blood from the blade, slowly sheathing it. She lingered a moment more, not feeling or thinking anything. As she began to open the flap of the tent, she stopped at what she could have sworn was a choked gasp. She looked back at the husk in paranoia. As she shrugged it off and turned she could have sworn she could saw eyes staring at her. No, It’s nothing. I’m in shock. Seeing things. She thought to herself as she left the ruined tent. The cool night air caused the noxious cloud in her mind to clear and she breathed deeply, eyes closed head tilted to the heavens. There was a certain weight lifted away from her. She didn’t have to fear the shadows of the night or the sight of a Highlander. The price for misdeeds had been paid in full. But still, she felt a pang of pity and sorrow to watch a man beg for his life before spending the last few moments in agony. She walked away from that place, never to return as a living woman. Rae had greatly outpaced her and was likely already in their room. Perhaps washing the death from her body. Marishi entered the room. It was dark. Embers in the fireplace long since stoked. She must have gone to bathe. Marishi said to herself. She looked down and remembered the bundle that the informant had brought with her. The give wrapped in brown paper and twine. Marishi took a small paring knife from Rae’s cooking satchel and cut the twine. She opened the wrapper to reveal its contents. She gasped softly and she looked at the garments. Marishi stripped down out of the basic tunic and breeches she was given at the Barber and donned the armor. It was intricate and took time to correctly wear. Especially since equipping this fine of clothing was typically a two-man job. When she was finished, she gazed at herself lifting her foot and inspecting her wrists. The armor was from antiquity. That much was apparent. Dyed jet black and spun with the finest silk and cloth Marishi had ever seen with stitching and lining she couldn’t identify. The Osode was minimal and form-fitting, accenting her curves and features. Underneath the coat was chainmail with each link perfectly in place and forged black. No blacksmith could match its quality, the knowledge how long lost to time. The sash was black and long. Silken adorned with black cherry blossom motifs. The chainmail was so light and hardly made a sound while moving even though the shirt reached to her wrists. On her hands, she wore black tekko of fine leather, stitched the same way as the Osode. Birds and blossoms chiseled into its leather. The Hakama was more akin to tights. Also, form-fitting, showing off her long legs. Dark, slightly silver in color, it had the same stitching as the upper portion. Finally, her boots were calf high, black supple leather with a pointed toe and a slight heel. Golden Spurs on the heel of each. She blended with the darkness hiding all but her pale face and blood red eyes. The door began to open slowly. Rae must have thought Marishi to be asleep. “Rae, I-I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have had to do that. It was my charge. I don’t know why I couldn’t. But none of that matters now.” One of Marishi’s rare smiles graced her lips. “All that matters is that we’re together. Maybe I can begin to heal. If it wasn’t for your strength and courage, I wouldn’t have survived. I know I can be – difficult – at times and for that I am also sorry. But I love you. More than you can possibly know. Instead of me leaning on you for support, let us walk side by side. Hand in hand. Until death claims us.” Marishi said to Rae with unrequited compassion and love in her eyes.
  4. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    "I wouldn't be leavin'. At least, not yet." A voice called out from the shadows. It was a female voice but the tone was steely and sharp. "You and yours came here for a reason, did you not? To meet with an informant perhaps? Afraid the hour is a bit late for that meetin'". Near the fireplace, Marishi reached unsteadily for her Katana. The voice, still sharp but calm said "There's no need for all that. I think there's been enough violence round these parts. Wouldn't you two agree? Ah, but where are my manners. Allow me to introduce myself." The shadow reached for a small lantern on the table and from the smoldering ashes of the fireplace lit the lantern showing her features. "My name's Galiena. I'm cousin to Rowena, and I'm you're contact for these parts." She bowed slightly. She certainly had a Rowena look to her. Though younger and not as greedy. "You both have caused quite a stir here in the reach, what with rumors of you killing an entire squad of Garlean soldiers, being eccentrically wealthy at auction, to trying to kill kids. And that's just of Mistress Ten!" Galiena said with a short laugh. "You don't need weapons. I'm here to talk and give information. Turns out I'm also a delivery girl as well." She nudged the bundled package wrapped in brown paper and twine. "Where should I begin? Hmmm..." Galiena began. "You can start by telling us what exactly is going on. Who brought me to the Barber? Who paid the bills? What of our hunts? Where are the Ishgardians?" Marishi said, growling at the last part. They wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them. Using her and Rae as guinea pigs. Hoping to collect the data and toss them away like refuse. Galiena said "Sure, I guess that's a place to start. Good as any. To answer your first question, I brought you to the Barber. I arrived at the designated time to find the door had been locked, which is very strange for that place so early in the evening. I looked in the windows and I could see some broken glasses and what not. I picked the lock and there I find you. Drowning in a pool of your own blood, besides whatever else fluids. I picked you up and ran you to the infirmary. I stayed until I spotted Mistress Ten and took my leave to give my report to my lady Rowena." Marishi had sat down on the bed and looking at her hands in her lap softly said "Thank you. Thank you for saving my life. You put yourself at great risk. For all you knew that would be returning to finish the job. A risk you were not required to take." "Bah, think nothin' of it. But we can speak more on that top later. As for your second question, your accounts have been settled on behalf of the House of Splendors. Repayment not necessary. Rowena sends her thoughts and prayers to you in your time of need. The third question is a bit more ... complicated, I'm afraid." Galiena said slowly. Focused on thought she was trying to find a way to best word what and how she would say next. Some things defy explanation and reason. Marishi looked at Rae with a grave face. This was far from over. Marishi looked back at Galiena and said "You don't know do you? You lost one of the largest dragons that has ever existed on this star and it's equally grotesque Allagan machina. How can you lose something like that? You can see them from malms away." "We didn't lose em'!" Galiena exclaimed. Clearly not willing to endure Marishi's withering criticism. "The metal one, Omega. No one's seen since that day. We've search high and low. The Fringes, The Peaks, even under the waters of Loch Seld. Nothing. Like it vanished with no trace at all that it ever existed." Galiena was clearly frustrated by this news. Marishi guessed that Galiena herself was one of the trackers to attempt to hunt down the machine. "I am ... sorry. For my harsh words. I've no doubt you and yours are doing everything they can to assist us in our endeavor. Please, forgive." Marishi humbly said. This triggered a look of shock from Rae as well as Galiena. Marishi never apologized for her words or actions and she certainly never asked for forgiveness. "Th-Think nothin' of it, Lady Ten. You have been through quite the ordeal and your nerves are likely frayed and at their ends. Allow me to continue," Galiena said. "We have no information at all on the machine designated "Omega", but, we have had sightings of that grotesque monstrosity they call 'Shinryu'." Marishi had heard the story of the Kami named Shinryu in the Far East, though she doubted that it was the actual Kami that was given shape by prayer, torment, hate, and aether like this 'Shinryu' was. Likely a moniker due to lack of a better name for it. "The thing is big. Real big. It can be seen from time to time flying above the Royal Palace of Ala Mhigo. We don't know why it hasn't razed the city. But one moment there will be nothing and the next it's flying over The Lochs screaming a horrific scream. So odds are Shinryu is somewhere in The Lochs. And not below the Salt Lake we don't think." Galiena explained. “Hm, so that leaves Omega out of the equation so we go for Shinryu. What does Rowena want us to do, if we live to even get near the thing? Does she expect us to deliver its head or kill it” Marishi asked with a chuckle. “That ‘thing’ is a bloody Primal, sure as you’re born. No less potent than the Elder Primal Bahamut himself. We stand no chance against a creature of that magnitude. It would either kill us on the spot or enthrall us to be slaves.” Galiena half smiled and said, “Aye, we thought you might say that. Be comforted Lady Ten. Nothing so grand or noble as slaying the dragon in its den. Rowena asks for a sample of the beast. A scale or three. Nothing more. If we could imbue the aether contained in those scales into weapons and armor, we’d change the industry!” Marishi frowned. She didn’t like this. She looked at Rae with that same frown as if trying to convey her thoughts to her. This is looking more and more like a one-way ticket. They’re sending us to our deaths, most like. Marishi turned to face Galiena. “So, you would have us travel to The Lochs, gain access to a city that is under Martial Law, then the Royal Palace all the way to the top where the Menagerie is where, what? We just ask real nicely if we can pluck a few scales off it’s flank?” Galiena retorted “how you go about getting them is entirely up to you. This is why My Lady Rowena hired YOU for this undertaking. Both of you. We have some influence in Ala Mhigo. We can get you in the city to the palace gates. We can’t get you in. But, you’re resourceful! I’m sure by the time you get there, you’ll have thought of something!” Marishi sighed “Great. I’m sure we will. What of my last question?” Galiena came to a start “Ah yes, that’s right. Your Ishgardians. Yes, they were seen in The Fringes not long ago headed in the direction of Castrum Abania. The gateway to The Lochs. If they think they’re going to just be able to bribe their way through the gates, they are going to receive quite the unpleasant experience. Our men control that Castrum and they will ‘delay’ them. For as long as possible at least. We can’t stop them, but we can impede them. And we have every intention of doing so. To level the playing field and make it a fair fight.” Galiena was quite pleased with this part. More than like, she was instrumental in setting up the net for them and deservedly so, quite proud of it. “So, we strike out first light? We shouldn’t linger. We place ourselves in danger.” Marishi took Rae’s hand, being comforted and strengthened by her touch. “I’d say hold off a day or so. Wither you see them or not, you are now under the protection of Rowena and we assure you, that no harm will come to you here again.” Galiena stood up to leave. “Ah, I almost forgot.” She walked back to where she was sitting and lifted the bundle of paper and twine. “Your garb was ruined during the assault, so My Lady Rowena saw fit to send you armor and clothing from her personal collection. I’m told these are very old and sewn and stitched together with Allagan weave and magics to enhance those wearing it. There is none other like it in all of Hydalean. As a token of gratitude and condolences, My Lady Rowena bestows them unto you.” Galiena placed the bundle on the bed next to Marishi and headed for the door. Hand on the knob, she stopped and turned. “When you are ready to depart, find me in the south east section of the Reach. I’ll make the necessary preparations. And speed you on your way.” She hesitated. “There is … one more thing. Rowena doesn’t take kindly to those who assault her contractors. She takes even less to one that rob them of their free will.” Galiena pulled a slip of parchment from her tunic and said “We have ascertained the identity of the Highlander who assaulted you. On this sheet, you can find his name, rank, company commander, which tent he resides, along with a list of his known associates. If vengeance is what you seek, you need only take this paper and follow it to pass judgement.” Galiena set the parchment on the fireplace mantle. “I take my leave of you. It was a pleasure to have met you Marishi Ten and Rae Ten. Come find me when you are ready to depart. The earliest I can have things prepared is tomorrow night. I bid you good night.” And with that, Galiena left the room. Marishi stared at the parchment sitting on the mantle place with a look of sadness and anxiety on her face. Struggling with herself. Rae, being ever the one to read Marishi’s expressions, knew the turmoil that was raging in her heart.
  5. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    Finding courage in her wife's conviction, she believed in Marishi more than she did herself. Rae's strength passed to Marishi and her head began to clear from the darkness that gripped it. Never was it far away. She would bear the darkness and battle with it until she passed, but Rae's light could pierce the darkness and illuminate the path. "I'm sorry. I had begun to despair. I do love you, Rae. Even if I can't see you with both eyes. It's permanent. The light. It blinds my eye. At least I won't have to wear an eyepatch though. A sheer bandage seems to keep the headaches away. Come. Let's eat. Once we're done, there is something you should know about me." Marishi said calmly. She and Rae both ate. Marishi eating only a little and Rae like she had eaten in days. Marishi watched her finish with a sad half smile. As Rae looked up at her, the smile was gone. "I remember when I first met you. Young slip of a thing. Barely able to recite the incantations from your Grimoire. Look at you now though 6 years later. You save me from the waters in which I was drowning." They were holding hands now. The Sun began to sink into the horizon and the light of the day dim. Even though scones on the wall and campfires burned brightly, The Barber was dim. They were the only two in triage that night. No other soldiers wounded or dead. Marishi took off her bandage and blinked. She was able to see from her damaged eye. Perpetually dilated, she could see fine in dim lighting, but the glare of the Sun or artificial bright light would cause her intense pain and blindness. But she could see her wife, and that was what mattered. As she stared at Rae and began to speak, her left pupil would expand and contract, but her right pupil never shifted size. It remained dilated with only a small ring of red that made up the iris could be seen. She slowly pulled her hands away from Rae's. He fingers long and delicate Almost translucent. They were cold. They were always cold. "I don't even know how to begin," Marishi said in derision. "How can I rationalize lying to you for 6 years? I am not who you think I am. I am not what you think me to be. I am not what I masquerade as. I am not like you." Marishi was frustrated with being unable to form the words to explain what she was. Maybe she herself didn't know. "I was born in the Western Coerthas Highlands. My father was a logger. A simple man. He and his wife had eloped and as customary, were excommunicated from their tribe. They came in hopes of being received by Ishgard. Only to find that they don't take kindly on Miquot'e. Especially outcasts. They lived happily for a while, or so I was told. My mother ... died in childbirth leaving my father to cremate his wife and care for the child that killed her. You could say that was the first life I took." Marishi sadly said. Then shaking her head as if shaking away a rain cloud she continued "Anyway, he taught me about the forest, about the trees, and the deer. He taught me how to stalk prey and how to hunt. I would go with him when he would leave to work. I would watch them all day long and lay in the cool grass on a warm spring day." Her tone slightly shifter and he eyes lost focus. She was no longer telling the story of her past. She was reliving it. "But he was sick. He hid it well, but day by day he got a little weaker. A little older. Until one morning I went to rouse him and he did not rise. He wouldn't rise again. I was 17. I burned down the cabin that night. He was a Seeker of The Sun, he would have wanted a traditional funeral I like to think. I left there that day and I've not been back. I can recall the Knights from Ishgard marching from their city in the clouds to defend Gridania in the Autumn War. The rest you already know. Most of anyway." Rae was aptly paying attention Marishi could see, but looked confused as to why she was suddenly telling her all of this and more puzzled as the Autumn War was almost 40 years ago. "When I met you, I claimed to be 26 years of age. Only a year older than you. And I'm sure you have wondered as the season's change and the moon waxes and wanes, but I do not. This Winter, I'll turn 52." Marishi watched as Rae's eyes widened. "No, I am not delusional or addled. Does it not strike you odd that you have aged but I appear as I did when we first met? I do not age. In body at least. I don't know if this is a blessing or if it's a curse. It seems the latter most days." Marishi was becoming frustrated as she attempted to recall. "I don't fully remember what happened, but I remember being in Gordias. Your citadel in the Hinterlands that nearly bled the land dry. You've heard the stories. A Primal had taken up residence in your people's mobile bastion of knowledge and reason. I ... I-I met him. He called himself Alexander and he is the Lord over time and of judgment." Marishi let out a small laugh. "This sounds insane! Maybe I am crazy. I don't know how I know it, but I know he is the one that has frozen me in time. I know not how or why. My Katana ... is from Gordias. I would have thought the whole thing a dream if I didn't have proof I was there. I don't know how I left, but when I came out of the citadel, I appeared then as I do now." Marishi said with a sigh of relief for hiding her secret from her wife. "I never meant to deceive you. I was afraid of what you would think of me. I am afraid of what you think of me now. A freak of nature? An anomaly?" Marishi wrung her hands. "My fear is I will be the one to bury those around me and I will be tasked to live on for reasons hidden from me." Tears began to shimmer in her eyes "I've had to bury so many. So many. You are still so young, but as you age, you will become a powerful woman full of a lifetime of knowledge and wisdom. You will pass that wisdom to others so that they may carry the fire that burns so brightly within you. Then you will fade away and you will return to The River. If the Gods are real and if they can hear me, my only prayer is that I not be the one that has to bury you." Marishi breathed a sigh. She felt the weight lift off her shoulders. Not only the weight of the past days, but the weight accumulating for years for perpetuating a lit to the only thing she cared about in the world. "I'm sorry. I betrayed your trust. I cannot ask that you forgive me. But I love you Rae, and if you would still have me, I'd like to stay with you still. Until death claims one or both of us." It was dark out now the stars beginning their rotation in the sky. Ramuh, Garuda, Ifrit constellations could be made out easily with an infinite number of tiny lights twinkling. Rising from her slumber, Menphina, Goddess of Love and the Moon, began to rise full, forever missing her loyal hound. Marishi could see outside. She didn't want to hide away anymore. With Rae at her side, she was strong enough to walk her path. She watched Menphina bathe every she touched in a blessed silver light. Perhaps the Gods were real and this was a sign. She knew it was silly, but she believed it anyway. She wanted so badly to believe. Marishi swung her legs off the side of her bed and stood on her feet. Wobbly after days of neglect. She steadied herself and in her bare feet, she began to cross the tiled floor. She turned her head and in a rare smile "If you would have me still, I'd very much like it if we could go back to our room. I grow weary of this place."
  6. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    "Hey..." Was all Marishi could say before she herself broke out into tears. She was happy and relieved, but at the same time embarrassed and ashamed. Pulling her hand away she sat up and leaned against the back frame. She found herself in a place called the Barber. "A field hospital. How ... how bad is it? Why is it so bright in here? How bad was I ...?" She didn't want to know the answers to those questions. She was intentionally holding those memories away in the back of her mind. Trying to keep them from lurching forward and the reality of what happened sink in. "How long has it been? It's too bright in here." She grimaced and put her hand to her head right above her eye. She felt the soft bandage of gossamer sheen tied over it. She gasped and snapped her hand away. The memories violently flooding back. She began to breathe rapidly and shallow. Anxiety overtaking her in seconds. "No-no-no-no-no-no-no" she whispered. Panic gripped her, paralyzed with fear, she shrunk away from Rae. "Don't touch me. You don't want to touch me. Don't leave ... but don't touch me." She looked like a wounded animal her eye large and terror on her face. Marishi pulled off her covers and started to get out of the bed. "I have to leave this place. It's not safe. You're not safe with me. You need to leave. Where are my clothes?" She was speaking rapidly and beginning to hyperventilate, her own words contradicting themselves. She couldn't focus. The maddening bright lights of the building, the stark terror she felt. Everywhere she looked, she saw Resistance members. Everywhere she looked, she saw him. Though her body mended to the best it could be, her mind began to fracture and splinter. She couldn't recognize friend from foe. She could barely see at all. "WHY IS IT SO BRIGHT IN HERE?" Marishi yelled. The Alchemists and healers stopped their tasks and looked at her. A mixture of sympathy and pity on their faces. She swung her bare feet off the bed and attempted to stand. She wobbled like a fawn and then collapsed on her knees. She began to sob heavily as she felt her wife's arms wrap around her in an embrace. "Don't touch me" She brokenly said as she held Rae close, there on the floor at the side of the bed. One of the Elder Healers neared them. Marishi had calmed down enough to stop crying hysterically, but was gasping every third breath. "How are you feeling? You've been through quite a lot. Here, let me help you back into bed. You need rest." Said the healer. He was an Elezen. Old by all accounts. At least 60 summers. Marishi drew away from his hand and looked at him with shock and horror. "No." She whispered. He was patient and withdrew slightly. With the assistance of Rae, she sat back down on the bed. After a moment she asked "What is wrong with me?" Marishi was staring at her hands in her lap. She wasn't crying or scared. A blank expression on her face, her voice sounding hollow and far away. "You were hurt, Marishi. Badly. You were found in the local tavern more dead than alive in a pool of your own blood. I needn't go more into detail. You were brought here by a local woman when she found you. It's been three days since you were brought here. Your young partner never leaving your side." He calmly and evenly explained. He left out how she was beaten to the point of death and ravaged, but the healer could see in her eye that she knew. "I would embrace you, but I know you don't want to be touched. I'll fetch some food for you both. You could use it. I'll return shortly." With that, he left leaving Marishi and Rae alone together. There was a long and horrible silence between the two of them for what seemed like ages. Fighting back tears Marishi broke the silence, "It can't go back to the way it was. We can't go back to the way we were. I am tainted and unclean. It would have been a mercy for them to finish the job. But no, I must live with the shame of not being able to protect myself. I should have taken my sword. Why didn't I take it?" For all her trying, she couldn't work herself up to anger. To feel the need for vengeance. Just a hollow cavity in her that nothing could fill. "I'm sorry, Rae. I don't say that often but I am so sorry this happened. It was my fault. And I ruined our bond with each other. I love you, Rae, so I release you from your commitment and bond to me. You hold no debt to me." Her hands in her lap she looked away not focusing on anything waiting for the one she loved in this cruel world to take her leave.
  7. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    Marishi left the Inn building and stepped out into the cool night air, breathing in the mists from the nearby waterfall. It was cool, but not cold and the Sun had fallen from the sky. She was to meet the Contact of Rowena’s at 11, though it was barely 8:30 now. She didn’t know this contact and in not knowing, she didn’t trust the contact either. She had every intention of beating this contact to the tavern so in case events didn’t turn out to her liking, she would have the upper hand. The braziers were lit in the camp like tiny stars dotting the tents around them. She could hear faint laughter in the distance, even over the noise of the waterfall. She turned and began her short walk to the tavern. Though it was dark, the low, looming clouds were alight from the fires of the camp. It didn’t smell of rain, but of sulfur. She could see a bright flash in the sky followed shortly after by the clap of thunder strike. The lighting never touched the ground, but the thunder never really stopped. It lit her way as she walked the shadowed areas of The Reach. She found the place with relative ease. It was one of the buildings hewn into the stone near the textile quarters. There was no one in sight. All workers and craftsmen having left for the day. She placed her hand on the weathered brass knob on the dry pine door and pushed it open. The bar itself was dimly lit and the smell of tobacco and alcohol heavy in the air. Marishi cast a quick glance around. The bar on the far end of the room and to her right 4 square tables with 4 chairs each. As she stepped on the varnished ash floor, one of the boards creaked. There were 4 soldiers at the bar and an old bartender behind the counter. All 5 noticed her. Marishi recognized one of them. A Highlander. Resistance member. Possibly a low ranking officer. He was the man who watched Marishi and her wife embrace with contempt. She left the door quietly click shut and headed to one of the back tables to sit and wait for this messenger. She scanned the room. The soldiers had gone back to their drinking and the bartender wiping glasses clean and stacking them neatly on the rack. She could hear the men speaking in low voices. She wasn’t able to discern what they were speaking of, but it seemed one was telling a story. Marishi looked away and out the dark window. As she was looking out the window watching the thunder roll and letting her mind wander, she was shaken out of her thoughts by the slamming of a mug on wood. The Highlander stood up and began to walk towards Marishi’s table, a drunken grin on his face. The man was in his early 30’s and well built. Even for a highlander. His skin was olive and hair dark with stubble upon his face to match. He stood 6’2 and weighed roughly 250 lbs. He wore the standard Resistance uniform, though without the hood. As he walked up Marishi could hear the faint metallic sound of chainmail the he wore under his tunic and bracers. He stopped at Marishi’s table. She did not look up at him. “This seat taken?” His voice was gravely and harsh. “Yes, it is actually. My business associate. So if you don’t mind …” she began. “I don’t mind at all!” Said the Soldier as he pulled the chair out and proceeded to sit in it. Opposite of Marishi. Great. Marishi thought. This is just what I need. A giant oaf to attempt to woo me into his favor. She looked at him and sighed “Well, now that you’ve invited yourself to a table you’ve no business being at, what can I do for you.” Her voice was soft and chimed with false politeness and sarcasm. “Yer that cat who was neckin’ with that other one. The one in purple. She looked real fancy. Where is she at?” Questioned the man. The other three soldiers had stopped their conversation and were watching the conversation at hand. “That information is no concern of your own. Would there be anything else?” Her tone was slowly changing to one of forced politeness to irritation. She didn’t like this Highlander. He stunk of sweat and spirits, was obviously uneducated, and couldn’t take a hint. “Ya didn’t bring yer little cat bitch on a date to this fine establishment? Too highborn of a queer pussy cat?” Marishi’s eyes narrowed as the man stared at her. “Is that jealousy I hear? The big brute feeling left out? You know what they say – the bigger the man is, the smaller the man is.” Marishi retorted. The officer’s friends at the bar erupted in laughter. “She’s got ya there, Ortwin!” one of them said. The man identified as Ortwin turned his head towards his party and laughed a loud, forced, and cruel laugh. The others stopped immediately. Still turned he lifted up his chin and smiled. Then he darted his head back at Marishi and grabbed her by her neck and drug her over the table. “This won’t do! This won’t do at all! See, we let the cats in here because they provide us a service. You’re a cat ain’t ya? Ya gonna provide me a service? I can show ya how big I am and turn you back into the man lovin’ whore you cats are.” His grip on her neck was firm with her feet off the ground. He was strong. Far stronger than her in brute force. Marishi’s eyes widened with alarm and sputtered out “Hah … You look like … you’ve never … even touched … a woman … you oaf”. “Now, now that’s no way for a whore to talk to a Resistance soldier, is it boys? Looks like we get to show her some manners!” He lifted her higher in the air and slammed her down on top of the table knocking off the small objects that were on it. “Yer shift is over old man. Go back to yer hole. We’ll make sure to lock up when we’re done here. Leave” He shot the bartender a scathing glance which frightened the man into scuttling out the back door slamming the door shut behind him. “That’s better. We gots some privacy now. Though a whore like you shouldn’t mind an audience.” He said in a low ugly voice. Marishi was wriggling to try to escape his grasp and kicking her feet up at him hoping to score a blow to his head. Enough to stun him so she could get away. “Quit squirmin’. I SAID QUIT SQUIRMIN!” he yelled as his free hand formed into a ball and struck Marishi across the face with his mailed fist. The blow dazed her and the sound of a thousand bees buzzing filled her head. The hit hurt and drew blood. Another blow with his back hand on the left side of her face landed. The mail cutting into her skin and drawing more blood. The second blow brought her out of her stunned stand and she began to panic. Kicking and clawing trying any way possible to break free. She heard him yell something else as he lifted her off the table and slammed her down onto it again. Hard and harder. He hit her again on her right side near her temple with such force that her blood spattered droplets onto the light wood of the floor. He had ruptured the blood vessels In her right eye causing blood to fill the whites and blind that side. He picked her up like a ragdoll and slammed her back down again followed by another savage blow to the head. She was beginning to pass out from the trauma as her face began to swell from the damage inflicted to it. “Nope! You don’t get to sleep! Ya got work that needs doin’! I like em awake and alert. Give me that pitcher, now!” He yelled to one of the three in the room. The taller one grabbed a silver pitcher from another table and handed it to the man. He splashed cold water on Marishi’s face to bring her back to consciousness. “Yer awake! Right as the fun begins!” He yelled. Never taking his left hand off her neck, he drug her back so her legs swayed limply off the table. She couldn’t break free and with the wounds inflicted upon her she had little strength left to offer up actual resistance. She took her left hand and reached behind her back. She felt the grip of her Tanto and pulled it from its sheath. As he looked away to show his approval to his squad mates, Marishi pulled the blade free and aimed for his neck. He caught her wrist with his hand and bellowed “Now, now! You shouldn’t play with knives! They could really – HURT SOMEBODY!” He slammed her arm down on the edge of the table right below her elbow. There was a sickening popping sound as the man broke her arm. She dropped the weapon and screamed in pain at the top of her lungs. “That’s it, that’s it. Scream. Scream louder. I want to believe it!” He reached his right hand between her legs, leaned close to her face and said “Aww it doesn’t seem you like me very much, does it? That’s alright. My ‘man’ will have you beggin’ fer more!” He gripped her tights on her upper inner thigh and ripped them making a hole in the crotch and causing runs in the leggings. “Hey, look at me you little queer cat. This won’t be over soon and my boys will want a turn as soon as I’m done with ya. Don’t worry, I’d say yer worth about 2 gil a man. Pretty generous price for such a disgusting whore.” He then unlaced his breeches turned to the others and said “Watch this! This is how a ‘real’ man makes a girl straight!” He turned his attention back to Marishi and inserted himself into her. The pain was excruciating. She gripped the cloth under her with her hands and shut tight her eyes and turned her head. She kept telling herself not to scream to or call out. That’s what this pig would want. As he pulled back and pushed back in her eyes opened. One so badly damaged she was blinded on her right side. She tried to focus on something. Anything. Anything that would take her away from here. Through her tears she could see the blood splatter on the floor. Her blood. Dark crimson in contrast to the light floor. Focus on that. Focus. Focus. She kept telling herself as the man labored over her. She could feel his hot wet breath on the side of her face and could hear his grunting from exertion. His stubble irritating the already swollen and battered skin. She grit her teeth in pain and through the tears stared at the stains on the floor. Focus. Focus. Focus. The man’s cadre had been jeering and laughing as he beat Marishi to a pulp with his fists. They started cheering at the sound of being next in line after him. But as they watched the man push himself into her, the laughter died down and slowly, one by one, the smiles slipped from their faces as the reality of what was happening set in. They stared in horror as their squad officer raped a half dead Miquot’e. One of the younger soldiers began to quietly cry at the brutality of the scene. She barely resembled anything alive let alone human he had beaten her so badly. As he continued the look of shock and disgust became their masks. Their shame at being accomplices to such a horrifying crime setting in. The youngest of the group began to wretch at the sight, and still the man continued. Focus. Focus. Focus. Please kill me. Just kill me. I can’t take anymore. Please just let me die. Marishi’s thoughts turned from the floor to death. Never had she wanted her own life to end so badly. She felt the man quickening his pace and his breathing faster and faster and then one hard deep thrust with the man looking up to the ceiling and moaning loudly. Marishi let out a cry at his climax, no longer able to hold the pain or tears back. Just one cry. Her body went limp he eye still looking at the stains on the floor. Nearly lifeless save for shallow breathing and her heart fluttering off beat in her chest. Breathing heavy and wiping sweat from his brow the man said “I’ve had better. He’s your pay whore, though you did little to earn it – Okay! Who’s next?!” None of the three were looking at Marishi or the man as he laced up his pants. They were all quiet and staring at the floor. “No one else? No one? I’m buyin’!” The tall soldier said “I think we better get out of here Ortwin. The wife will be wonderin’ where I’ve been off to and it looks like the recruit ain’t feelin’ all too good.” The man stared at all three long and hard before saying “Fine, suit yerselves. Probably better anyroad. I may have gone and ruined her.” He then turned around toward Marishi and released his grip on her neck. The bruises already red and the skin raw and peeling. “Looks like yer going to get off easy. If I was you, I wouldn’t be in the reach by mornin’. Scuttle away like the rat you are or have the decency to throw yerself off the cliff or die out by the cemetery. If I see you again, I. Will. Kill. You.” He said to her unknown if she actually heard him due to her passing out, or dying. He gripped her by her Osode and threw her to the floor where she lay on her side facing away, not moving. “Let’s go boys! I need to wash the stench of queer cat from me.” As he turned and left through the front door. Each squad member followed in file save for the youngest. The recruit. He quietly walked over to a nearby table and removed the long white cotton cloth from it and draped it over Marishi. He whispered in a broken voice “I’m sorry.” He snuffed the lights in the bar and left through the front door. In the darkness the white cloth could be seen darkening to a dark shade of red as a pool of blood began to form. Marishi was letting go. It was a comforting feeling. Soon she would be gone. Her aether returned to the land no longer burdened by pain or shame. She could feel the sea pulling at her. She was at the shore. All she had to do was wade in and she’d be gone. She could feel it calling her. Cooing her like a mother cooing her children to her bosom. No more pain. No more doubt. No more guilt. No more Rae. The last thought stopped her short. No more Rae. She wouldn’t be able to see her wife again. Her wife would have to bury her. She had a vision of Rae at a memorial service in the highlands of Coerthas. She was crying and telling stories of grand adventurers she and the person in the ground next to her shared. The few members that showed tried to offer condolences and some paid respects to the freshly dug grave. No. Not like this. Not right now. She thought as her soul was attempting to unshackle itself from her broken body. Then, a familiar voice and at the same time alien sounded in her ears. “Thine judgement is not yet at hand. Wouldst thou prefer for it to be rendered now?” “No … Not yet. Please. Give me more time, lord. I cannot leave her like this.” She felt tears well in her eyes. It was quiet as she hovered between the realm of the living and the dead. “Thy judgement has been determined. Thou shalt live. Yet know that all who live will one-day die. The hands of time are not for thee to manipulate. Your candle shall burn once more.” She was vaguely aware of being weightless, then a bright light. It hurt her eyes. She could hear distant chanting and the pull of aether. Something she hadn’t felt in many years. Restorative magics. Her body was being mended by Conjurers. As best as they could. Even healers have limitations on what they can do. Some damage, be it physical or mental never mends. She slipped back away into a dreamless sleep. Marishi began to come to over the sound of three people talking quietly near her. Two voices she didn’t recognize. The third she did. It was Rae. One of the voices was addressing her wife. “… Permanent damage to the optical nerve in her eye. We’ve done what we could, but I’m afraid the she won’t have full function of the eye anymore. The pupil is dilated to near full and doesn’t respond to stimuli. We believe that she can see out of it, but she will have trouble with lights …” Muffled crying was the last she heard before she slid back into her coma. How long had it been? An hour? A year? 10? She didn’t know. Once again she was slightly roused by the sound of conversation. The same three people. Rae, and two strangers. One of them was addressing them both. They sounded both angry and sad “… Regret to inform … signs … sexual assault … severe internal bleeding … fracture to the arm … beat near to death … could go at any time … alchemists … induced coma … concerned of shock … nervous system … sorry …” Tears stung her eyelids and fell past her cheeks. She lost the strength and will to stay in the world of the living and let the darkness wash back over her. The light slowly came back and banished the darkness. It was bright. So bright. Her brow furrowed at the annoyance. Slowly, she opened her eyes. She was laying down staring at a ceiling with bright lights all around. She could hear the sounds of people coming to and fro and the faint sound of groaning and suffering. It was then she realized where she was. She was in an infirmary. To keep the blinding light away she shut her right eye and turned her head. There she saw Rae asleep in a chair, eyes swollen from crying. Marishi managed a croaked whisper in a groggy voice “Hey …”
  8. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    Marishi was relieved, though she didn't show it. As Rae kissed her, Marishi looked up, travellers had slowed their pace to look at them and even a small contingent of soldiers had stopped and stared. Dark looks of disapproval on their faces and muttering things she couldn't hear. "I, too, am sorry for my words. I spoke in anger. I know there was nothing you could have done to save anyone at Carteneau. I wasn't even able to save anyone." Marishisaid quietly drawing away and dismounting her chocobo. "We cannot show outward displays of affection. Not here. We're no longer in Eorzea and though our kind is tolerated in Ala Mhigo, from the looks of those around us, our relationship is not. You and I are travelling companions. Nothing more. The day is nearly spent. Let us stable the birds, find lodging and reach out to this contact or Rowena's. They're supposed to have fresh news for us regarding our marks. I am to meet her at the 11th hour of the moonrise at a nearby tavern in the Reach itself. Come." Marishi said with a softness in her voice. She knew Rae would be saddened by not being able to display affection, but it kept them safe. There were plenty who thought of Miquot'e as nothing more than whores and prostitutes to serve in the pleasure districts. There were more who disapproved of same-sex relationships. Especially Highlanders. And this was their home and seat of power. The walked side by side through the narrow passage next to a stream towards The Reach. The air was cool and on the cliff faces could be seen the erosion of time against the mountains that showed limestone, clay, and granite bands. The road was even and heavily trodded kicking up a fine dust if one drug their feet. Soon the passage gave way to a bowl in the mountain. Rhalgr's Reach. Brightly coloured command tents dotted the terrain by the pool of clear water in the centre with buildings and residences hewn and carved into the very mountain itself. Once a holy ground for the Ala Mhigo Monks, the area now served as the military command post for the entire Resistance and mercenary companies. To the right of the stream that led to the pool lay a newly constructed aetheryte crystal as well as shops and boutiques. Garlond Ironworks had even set up a branch. To the left appeared to be the residential and textiles area where artisans could be seen wrapping up their labour for the day and heading home. In the middle was the most impressive landmark of all. Towering as high as the mountains themselves was a statue of Rahglr, The Destroyer. The patron deity of Ala Mhigo. Or, was, before the Mad King banned religion and the Empire made their coup against the region. The status was in almost perfect condition. Facing outwards with a stern bearded face holding a sceptre it served as protector and a ward to all those that would do the brothers and sisters of Ala Mhigo harm. At the base of the statue on a bridge that led over the basin that sat a small symbol of The Destroyer that pilgrims could come and pay homage and pray at. Marishi had never believed in the twelve. And if they were real, their influence had waned and become impotent. The Sun was cresting just below the mountains when they reached the stables and checked the birds in. They were then directed to a small inn on the other side of the Basin where they would be able to find room and board. They walked side by side, close, but not touching with Marishi recounting one of her stories of adventures and the places she had been and seen. as they made their way across the bridge. She was retelling the tale, but in reality was just to keep Rae occupied so she wouldn't notice the looks and stares of Hyurs and Highlands. Their passing did not go unnoticed and words seem to travel fast in the encampment. Marishi wasn't unfamiliar with inequality. She had faced it in one degree or another her entire life. She was a Miquot'e governed as a child by the Holy See of Ishgard, a body of government made up of nothing but Elezen. She was also a woman and was expected to perform more domestic tasks. To top it all off she had taken another woman as her lover and companion. Taboo in some areas of the world. Eorzea had worked long and hard for change and equal rights. Marishi had assisted in forging those ties, but they weren't in Eorzea anymore. They were in a backwater military encampment full of men and sellswords with no more enemy to fight and no more spoils to plunder. Two attractive exotic looking Miquot'e was bound to be noticed. They made their way across the bridge without incident with the Inn being situated in the very back of the mountain partially obstructed by a small waterfall that feel into a clear deep pool. They entered into the dimly lit reception area and were greeted by a sheepish Innkeeper who at first attempted to offer them two rooms. After the advisement of Marishi and the feign of being short on coin, they settled for just one. She thanked the Innkeeper and headed to their room. It was a simple room. Hewn from sandstone and reinforced with plaster, the floors were adorned with Ala Mhigan spun rugs in their fashion. There was no washroom as it was expected that one would use the pool outside if the need arose. There was a rough-hewn table with plate ware and chairs for eating, a firepit for light and warmth and a small one person bed with sheep and roc hides as blankets. Marishi set her pack and katana down by the mantle of the fireplace and checked the small wind up clock next to the bed. It was a quarter past 8. "We can enjoy some privacy here at least," Marishi said. "However, I should be leaving soon to meet with this 'contact'. It's expected that I am alone, so I'm afraid you'll have to make due without me for a few hours my love." Marishi flashed a rare smile with affection and love in her voice and eyes. "I won't be long" moving close to Rae placing her hands on her hips and drawing close, "perhaps when I come back we can properly show each other 'formal' apologies." She gave Rae a light quick nipped kiss on her upper lip and stopped a moment to lock eyes with her. Her smile turned bittersweet "How I love you so. Though I may seem harsh or distant, you are the only one to keep me in this world full of hate and cruelty. You are the light that shines my way. Until next we meet, my Lady Ten." Marishi gave Rae one last kiss and turned to the door and left. There, alone and forgotten about by the fireplace lay her pack, Wakazashi, and Katana quietly flickering in the firelight.
  9. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    "You know nothing of death, girl." Marish's voice rose so that Rae could hear. "While you hid away on your island denying aid to those who needed it most, you and yours doomed countless soldiers of the Alliance. You doomed your own Archon! Who speaks for them, Rae? Who?!" Rae trotted out earshot. She snapped her katana back into its scabbard and walked to where she last saw her Chocobo. It hadn't gone far and she quickly retrieved it and mounted on top. As she took the reins, she noticed her hand we stained red with dried blood. She then looked down at her attire. The cloth was stiff with blood and matted with debris. She then drew her sword and gazed at herself in its polished steel. Her face had spatters of blood on the right side and her hair was slightly matted. Grimacing, she sheathed the weapon and tied it off on the bird's side and kicked at its flanks to move forward. She was headed towards the massive river where they were to fjord into the badlands. She could hear the roar of the falls and the cool air and smell of the water. It was like a spring breeze tearing away a winter storm over her mind. She didn't know where Rae had gone off to but assumed she had already made for the crossing. Marishi trotted the banks until she came upon a small pool shrouded in foliage. The pool was clean and part of an eddy of the river. She brought her chocobo in and tied it off near the pool. She waited a moment, listening for the sound of any passerby or traveller, then stripped out of the soiled merchants clothing she was wearing. Naked, she dipped her toes in the water. It was frigid cold, but the mid-morning Sun was heating the air and the cold felt refreshing. She completely entered the pool gasping at its temperature. she then washed the sweat and blood from her body. The pool was deep. Far deeper than she had anticipated as she couldn't touch the ground a few feet in. She unclasped her hair and washed the remains of a dead man away. As she was washing she thought about what she had done and what Rae had said. She felt a pang of regret for upsetting her so. Perhaps she should have stayed her hand. No, he couldn't be suffered to live. Doman or no. He was of Garlean soldier. A combatant. She had given him the best thing a soldier could ask for; a clean death on the field of battle. No, his time for judgement had come and she found him lacking. Clean, she climbed the warm rocks and pulled her pack from her chocobo. She didn't have any spare merchants garments, but there was no use in hiding now. She dressed in her attire; her deep green osode, brown kote, deep brown linen tights, and her boots. Finally, she took a comb from her pack and combed back the middle portion of her hair and clasped it so it created a flat like ponytail like the women of the Far East will style theirs. She mounted her chocobo and trotted away from the secluded pool and broke the bird into a dash for the crossing of the mighty river. The water was shallow, only ankle deep with fine sand as it's bed. she couldn't see Rae on the other side, though there were some travellers on their way to and fro. She slowed down to a trot and crossed the river. On the other end, the landscape was far different than the one she had just left. Rocky flat plateaus and wind tunnelled formations dotted the Sun blasted land. It was an hour ride to The Reach she had been told once the river was crossed. She watered her chocobo, fed it some gyshal greens and began her trek. There were fresh signs of another rider that had passed before her and had guessed that rider was Rae. She was upset. Best let her be, she thought to herself. The land was alien to her as she passed by landmarks and formations. She made out ruins of a small settlement long since engulfed by the wind and sand. In her travels, she had witnessed truly wonderous monuments; the wall in Yanxia, The Iron Feast in the Dravanian Forelands, Heaven-on-high in the Ruby Sea, but she had never seen a temple built not out of, but into a mountain. She slowed down as she passed by. A ways away still she could make out the stone columns cut out of the sandstone and the dark halls they guarded. She sensed a cold from that temple. One that whispered of death without peace. Tormented to walk the halls in which you fell for eternity. She moved passed the temple her mind full of questions and curiosity. A short trot down the stone-paved highway and there was a break in the mountains in the north. She stopped her chocobo and stared up in wonder. In the distance, the figure of a man could be seen. This man was carved out of the very mountain itself. Standing hundreds of feet tall with a massive stone beard, this is the image of Ala Mhigo's patron god, Rhalgr, The Destroyer. One of the twelve gods said to slumber in Eorzea. That was her destination. Rhalgr's Reach. The high command for the Resistance of Ala Mhigo. She urged her bird forward and came across a small stream that looked to cut into a small valley. There at the mouth of the valley, she found Rae watering her bird. She rode up next to her and stopped, with a look of sadness and remorse on her face.
  10. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    Marishi was never fond of Chocobo's. They stunk, were stubborn, and unreliable. She had watched as the trees gave way to a badlands, then to a canyon. She saw the black spire in the distance and halted her Chocobo so she could get a better look. There was a flag fluttering in the breeze at the top, but she couldn't make out who's it was. Then she heard the snap of a bowstring in the distance. She dug her heels into the Chocobo's flanks. Hard. To spur the bird into full motion. Marishi came upon them and watched as Rae brought her magically charged rockslide down. She had tied off her Katana to the saddle on her right side. Marishi pulled the bird flank facing the battle. She'd sacrifice the animal to ensure she wouldn't be injured. Especially without her armor. The men had turned their attention to Rae as she made the air sizzle with fire and gave Marishi the time she needed to close the gap and even the playing field. She pulled her Katana from its scabbard and holding it blade facing backward dashed and jumped on the one with the bow. He had enough time to see her bury the steel in his chest and exiting the small of his back. Marishi had run him through, blade up. In shock from the trauma for a moment, their eyes locked and he could see nothing but hatred and rage in her eyes. She wasn't out to wound or scare off. She was out to kill. The pain set in as she put her boot to what was left of his chest and yanked her weapon free of bone and sinew and flesh. The pulsing white Katana now spattered the rocks and ground with crimson. Her first threat neutralized, she reversed her hold on her sword, blade facing front. One of the Garleans was still focused on Rae, but this one, this one was hers. An officer she had noted looking at his dingy uniform. This should be more of an even match. Good. She held her weapon in both hands and raised it above her head as the two began to circle one another. He had his Spatha drawn and his buckler at the ready. Marishi wouldn't be able to cleave through his defenses though her blade was sharp enough. She simply didn't possess the strength. In the air, the sword poised like a snake to strike, blood collecting at the pommel the blade drinking the lifeblood of a man. Marishi was calm. She had been in countless battles and had taken her share of lives. Some deserving of it and some not. This officer though, he was scared. He kept circling slowly waiting for Marishi to go on the offensive. "So be it." these were the only words she said to the man. She moved in bringing her Katana down in a slashing motion, which was clumsily deflected the by officers buckler. He attempted a half-hearted swing with his Spatha that Marishi blocked with her own weapon. His blade checked her own. Katana facing down, blade forward behind Marishi's back and his weapon horizontal to it. The officer expected her to parry away his strike and attack make another slashing maneuver. This never happened. She put her weight into her blade and shoved the man backward, knocking him off balance. He looked down then up to see the crowned hilt of a gold and white Katana bear down on his left eye socket. The butt of the Katana was made of highly polished brass and ended in points, much like a crown. In close quarter combat, one could use it as a defense tactic. Marishi used it as an offensive one. The butt drove down hard into the officers face below his left eye. She felt the bone give way and with it a splash of blood spattered across her sleeve and face. The man screamed in pain as she bore the butt down deeper destroying his eye and cornea. He began to fall from the weight of Marishi bearing down on him, the pain of the wound, and his own blindness. Still, she bore down ripping through the optical nerve and into the brain. He hit the ground with a thud. Quiet and lifeless with his killer on top of him. She pulled the butt away from his head hard as the suction of blood made it difficult to remove. As she freed the weapon a spray of blood, bone, brain, and what was left of his eye spurted out. She looked down at her work. No longer did he have anything resembling a human face. His mouth agape and his right eye open and wide in a state of shock. The left side of his face was a gaping hole with fragments of bone lodged in the tissue and brain stem. It was oozing blood and other fluids as seeped into the dry desert ground. She turned her attention to the last man. Rae had subdued him for reasons Marishi couldn't understand and had bound his hands behind his back. Marishi walked up to Rae drenched in matted blood with bits of bone between the fibers of her tunic. "What is this? We take no quarter. Especially their kind." Marishi said with disgust as she wiped the blood off her blade with her sleeve. "This one looks more dead than alive anyway. Supplies low at the Castellum? You're no better than the buzzards that will scavenge you and what's left of your troop when I drag them out into the afternoon Sun." She made a gesturing motion behind her where the thing that was the squad's officer lay. Grotesque and mangled. "You should have just killed him Rae. But no matter. You're a soldier. You will receive a soldier's death. A clean death. On your knees." She kicked the backs of his knees and he fell to the ground. The man couldn't have been older than 22 Summers and was blubbering and pleading for his life. "P-please please, don't. We was hungry's all. We've been hidin' from Alliance p-patrols with no one lookin' out fer us. We just wanna eat and go home. I-I w-w-wanna go h-h-home." No emotion passed over Marishi's face as he made pleas for his life. "Face forward. My face isn't the last thing you want to see in this world. I'm sending you home." She said coldly. The man turned his head to face the river, "I-I just w-wan--" The blade bit deep into the back of his neck severing his spinal cord and exiting out his windpipe. His head lifelessly fell forward and his body hit the ground as Marishi removed her sword from his flesh. "That's why you don't take quarter. They are the enemy. They are the ones responsible for the loss of everything you hold dear. They have destroyed countless lives and have raped and murdered women and children in the streets. Don't you EVER forget that, do you understand me?" Marishi's ire was on Rae. She was angry that Rae wouldn't have taken that small measure of vengeance against the Empire. She couldn't understand it. She was angry as she saw Rae's eye fill with tears at her verbal abuse. "We are but shades and spirits of vengeance against men that have butchered and raped us. It is our duty to judge. We must measure their worth. They were found ... wanting." She spoke the words and spoke them with her voice, but they were not her own. She shook her head and walked over to the deformed body of the officer. "Now, help me with the bodies. The crows don't feed themselves."
  11. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    Marishi said nothing as she was led past the soldier in the green and yellow garb. Though she wore her hood, she kept her face from the man. They entered the building where the other men were drinking and telling tales of their bravery, laughing and jabbing the air with their fingers. She readjusted her pack to give her back more comfort as they moved toward their quarters. Marishi smiled sardonically "27 rooms. Hardly. This is a barracks. There may be 27 beds available, but there is only this room." Lining the walls could be seen single beds stacked two high with stiff looking mattresses. "I'm afraid we'll be afforded very little privacy from here on out. Watch what you say. Trust no one. There are already some whom we have attracted attention to." Marishi said as she nodded slightly in the direction in one of the dark portions of the room. There were 3 men, two Highlanders, and one Hyur sitting together at a table with their eyes piercing Marishi and Rae both. "We'd best find beds while we can. The darker the corner the better." Marishi let go of Rae's hand and her voice grew cold and sharp. All emotion removed "We cannot be seen as a couple. It is to invite weakness and exploitation. We are business associates merely sharing the road for there is safety in numbers." Marishi spun on her heel and promptly began moving quickly to one of the more shadowed beds that didn't have someone sleeping in it or belongings on it. She found two side by side. "I shall sleep on the right. You, the left. I take my leave of you." All emotion suppressed and shut down, she placed her pack on the bed and took her Wakazashi from it, sliding it down the small of her back, concealed by her cloak. she hated to treat Rae so, but it was for their protection. The both of them. If anyone of ill intent discovered that they were not only companions but lovers, they would use the other against them. Marishi had perfected the act of severing emotions. She left the Barracks and stood on the paved road. She glanced to the right where she could see the Command Tent and the Flame General behind his war table. There were several other high ranking soldiers near him and pointing towards the map that lay on it. They were debating. Marishi couldn't hear the conversation, but she guessed the intent. There were still pockets of Garlean resistance scattered causing them no end of grief most likely. She turned her attention to two Ishgardian soldiers that stood off to themselves opposite the command tent speaking in low voices. They appeared to be of lower rank and likely easier to approach. Marishi pulled down the hood of her cloak, slightly loosened the string and unlaced the top portion of her tunic. Just enough skin showed to entice what lay underneath. She then quietly approached them, palms down, hips swaying slightly letting the campfires light her eyes and accent her features. "My Lords! It is good to see Men of the Fury here acting as spear and hoplon! I have heard of Ishgardian bravery, but to fight for a land and a people not our own..." She trailed off. It was clear that she had captivated their attention with her figure and honeyed words. "Aye, we've driven the bastards back and reclaimed the highlanders their home, we did. Where The Destroyer failed, the Fury succeeded! How have you found your way to these parts? This isn't a place for one so beautiful as yourself." The younger soldier said as he looked Marishi up and down with his eyes. "I'm a trader looking to ply my wares in Ala Mhigo ... and before you get any ideas, by wears I mean textiles and cloth," The man frowned in disappointment "as well as meet up with a couple old friends who also hail from The Holy See. Has there been news from Ala Mhigo or The Reach? How are the roads? I see that there is cause to come and go armed..." Marishi trailed off. She had to be careful. Musn't be too eager for information on either the state of war or her "old friends". "Aye, they say Ala Mhigo is reclaimed and we've taken their Castrum and Castellum. There are still stragglers here and there that try to harass, but they've mostly turned to banditry and aren't a threat. The Reach is secured and is being used as the central operation camp for the campaign. Did you happen to need an escort on your way? Perhaps we can strike a bargain..." The soldier said. "No, your offer is most generous my lord, but I am traveling with a caravan and we should already be well protected." Information on the state of the war was the easy part. Now the part Marishi had to tread very carefully "As I said, I'm also looking for two dear friends of mine who also hail from Ishgard. Perhaps they passed through this way? They would be of nobility and of wealth. Important to the Church. Brothers. Would you happen to have seen them?" The taller soldier turned directly towards her. This caught his attention. "They may not have passed this way, I was just hoping ..." Marishi said in a soft voice. "Friend or no friend, we've orders to not give out any information on anyone of import that passed through this Castrum." The taller man hissed. "Oh, what's the harm? It's not like they made their presence hidden or anything. Aye, 2 Ishgaridan noblemen passed through here, though not on Chocobo, on airship. They docked a day or so at the large Garlean tower you make out just yonder. They were on their way to Ala Mhigo. Looked in a hurry too." The smaller man said. The other soldier said nothing but scowled darkly at his comrade. "Thank you, my lords. It was an honor to speak with you. May the Fury keep you safe." Marishi said drawing up her cloak and walking back towards the barracks. It was later than she had anticipated and when she entered the fires had grown dim and the men had found their bunks for the night. She moved silently to the bed she had picked out next to Rae. She sat down on the bed and watched Rae's chest rise and fall in rhythm. She felt a pang of sadness and regret at treating her poorly hours earlier. Perhaps she shouldn't have been so harsh. Marishi steeled herself and clenched her jaw, attempting to rid herself of the remorse and guilt of being cruel to her wife. She pushed herself back against the bunk but she didn't lay all the way down. Being propped by her pack she closed her eyes, rested, and listened for any sudden sounds waiting for the grey light of dawn to begin to seep through the windows signaling the start of their journey.
  12. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    "I've walked a great many places. Thanalan, Idyllshire, Coerthas, even the Far East. But Ala Mhigo I have never been. No. It is a land I've never walked. The wall has been up since I was in my teens and before that the Autumn War with the Eorzean Alliance, so I have never seen it in person. They say the city itself is beautiful beyond words. Perched on a cliff overlooking the mountains. Massive in stature and in wealth. Until the Mad King took power and plunged his country into chaos and unrest. He was particularly interested in the execution of all who opposed him. Real and imaginary. When he was finally deposed, the city was sacked by the Garleans in the middle of the night. A bloodless coup however. No lives were lost in the surrender of Ala Mhigo. This was due to the man called the Black Wolf. Gaius Baelsar. The Legatus of the XIVth legion. He was the one who built the wall and Castrum Oriens in the Shroud. Our enemy, though sometimes I wonder. Perhaps he was trying to save us from ourselves. Hm." Marishi quietly said. "I've heard stories from others though. We are headed to a place called The Fringes. Where the Black Shroud falls away and is replaced by a great canyon and badland. All until recently occupied under the control of the Empire. Our path is east through The Fringes, across a fjord and over a small bridge that spans the canyon. From there, I'm told it's a short distance to the north and east to Rhalgr's Reach. The seat of The Ala Mhigo Resistance and the war effort." Her face became dark and a frown passed her lips as she explained "It's little more than an armed camp for an Army with no more enemy to fight. Soldiers and Sell Swords with no other occupation but war and drunk off their own power and success. Trust no one. Go nowhere without an escort. This isn't the lowlands of Coerthas when I was born and raised. I don't know what to expect and it will prove difficult to tell friend from foe." She ate quietly lost in her own thoughts. Finishing, she took a drink of water and leaned back and stretched her legs. The Sun was beginning to crest over the horizon and the pine trees of Coerthas began to thin away to be replaced by Aspen's and Birches of brilliant red's and yellow's marking the passage of Autumn. They had already ridden past the Observatory and were entering the great forest known as The Black Shroud and seat of Marishi's old command post, Gridania and The Twin Adders. She drew her hood over her head. It was oversized as to shadow the face and its features. There would be some who would know her and would cause unneeded complications. Marishi softly said to Rae "Try to sleep. There is nothing to fear in this forest. She will protect us from any harm. I'll keep watch. The smells and sights are familiar and of comfort to me." She smiled as she watched Rae lay down for a nap. Marishi opened the windows slightly to let in the forest air and sounds. The smell of growth and late-blooming wildflowers was thick in the air. It wasn't hot. It was never hot in The Black Shroud. The massive trees overhead made for a canopy to shield them from the burning Sun. The air was cool and crisp, the sound of water flowing from the small tributaries and rivers bubbling around. The birds singing and flitting between the trees. Marishi mind began to wander and she found herself recalling her moments in the great hinterlands and her excursion into the steel giant that was home to the Primal known as Alexander. Recently back from the Far East, trained and hardened in the way of the Samurai, she and a small group of treasure hunters delved into the mobile castle in search of rare finds and bizarre trinkets to sell to foreign buyers. Finding little of value on the outer edges of the corridors, they pushed inwards towards the heart. She had never seen anything so intricate and stunning. Countless cogs and wheels spun in unison while steam carried kinetic energy to various parts of the citadel. Created by the Sharlayn, it was to serve as a mobile bastion of higher learning and education. Only to be abandoned and sunk into the great river when they abandoned their plans for fear of the Garleans. They withdrew to their isolated Isle of Val, removed from the affairs of Erozea. As she walked with her companions she became mesmerized by perpetual motion of the great machine and would often stop and stare in wonder and awe. Though they traveled as a party, none had love for each other and soon Marishi found herself separated from her party as they pushed on down the maze of doors and halls. There was a metallic hum all through the shell and even though couldn't be heard directly, it could be felt, as if a small amount of electrical current ran through her and connected her to ... something. She didn't know where she was going but felt as though she was being pulled somewhere. A magnet finding it's opposite polarity. She came to a small room in which appeared to be some sort of control room filled with levers and screens. Chairs lined the brass and copper hammered walls. and in the middle of the room sat a pedestal with a rectangular case made of polished copper and brass rivets sitting atop of it. As she walked quietly through the door inside the room, the lights flickered to life and the hum became audible. Something was powering on and she had triggered it. She thought about running, but even if she tried, she knew she couldn't escape. There was a power here. Far greater than anything she had felt and she was reminded of the horror and awe the Dreadwyrm called upon her mind. There was a presence in the hum. Words that couldn't be heard or understood, spoke to the heart. As she neared the center of the room, it became clear that the object on the pedestal was an enclosure. She touched the perfectly polished latches on either side of the case and the metallic snick from the locks disengaging could be heard. As she opened it, time seemed to slow to a crawl, then to a halt. Her mind was aware that the passage of time had frozen. A disembodied voice called out in an eerie and metallic tone "You who hath entered thy domain. What is it thou seeketh? Thy burdens weigh heavily on the mind do they not?" The voice filled her head and she could feel the blood pumping in her heart. She suddenly felt very small and insignificant to this voice. Unworthy of being received. "Thou is indeed worthy of an audience. All will be brought and judged. Tell me mortal, why dost thou fight? Where dost thou go?" The voice called directly to her and tears welled in her eyes "I-I don't know" she brokenly said, "To atone for sins committed, perhaps. For things that I have done and have not done. I have failed in my charges because I lack conviction and strength." She wasn't fully aware of what she was saying, but she knew it was a truth she had buried deep and slowly it was being stripped into the light by this being. Time still halted, the voice called inside her head "Thou hath been judged. Your purpose strikes true. In turn, thou shall be given the conviction needed to carry out judgment of others. For weal or woe? It has yet to be seen. I send with thee a fragment of thy judgment and of thy balance." The voice began to dissipate "Go, and carry with thee what is needed to perform thy duty. Many hardships will thou face but we shall meet again when thou is ready to receive thy final judgment." Time lurched forward and Marishi staggered forward as if released from an iron grip. And she lurched, the top of the container she was holding also moved forward showing was encased inside. It was a weapon of intricate design and of beauty. A katana. Never before had she seen it's parallel. No artisan of the East made this weapon. It didn't appear to be hammer forged or tempered. It's as if it were part of the giant itself. The sheath lay next to it. Black lacquer and pearl inlay that had a quiet white glow to it that seemed to hum with the same current. She lifted the blade and its scabbard from the box. They were light and perfectly balanced. Almost as if they were made for her. She couldn't fully recall the conversation she thought she had but she could recall the awe and reverence she felt next to something divine and godly. The carriage jostled slightly. Marishi must have dozed. The Sun was in the west now closing out the day and ushering in the night. "Best wake you and yours," the gruff and tired voice of the driver called out, "We'd be enterin' Castrum Oriens within the hour and that's as far as I'd take ye." Marishi looked out the windows and could see in the distance the imposing Baelsar's Wall and the Castrum spires that served as it's entrance. She drew a deep breath and let out a sigh. Rae was fast asleep still. Tail twitching at the dreams she was having. She knew she was exhausted not only from the previous night but from the recent events. She fretted over Marishi and that takes its toll on a person. Drains them as they pour their love and energy into someone who deserved neither. She reached out her slender hand from her cloak and gently shook Rae. "I'm sorry, I hate to wake you. We are close now. The driver will have us on the other side of the wall within the hour. Remember; we're merchants trying to ply our trade and wares on our way to Ala Mhigo. Make no threatening gestures or moves. We want to blend in. The Castrum has been converted to a camp it seems and there ought to be food and lodging for the remainder of the night. Come first light, we set out to our first destination. I fear you will have to protect me yet again, love." Marishi smiled. She couldn't manipulate Aether like Rae could and she never studied the arcane arts. Without her brandishing steel, she was helpless. But Rae, she needed no steel to conjure destruction or mending. She could decimate an army with a few waves of her hands. "Are you ready?" Marishi said with her hand out waiting for Rae to grasp it.
  13. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    "No ... Yes, yes, I'm fine. You'd do better if you didn't fret over me as you do. Just ... dreams. Dreams not worth mentioning in the hours of the dark, lest we create monsters to scare the children with." Marishi let out a slight smile at the jest. "We still have some time, aye, but not as much as you may think. Prepare breakfast and I shall bathe. We will have to eat on the way." Due to the recent advancement of technology by way of commandeering it from the various Garlen Castrums in Mor Dhona, Coerthas, and Northern Thanalan, The Toll was able to enjoy extreme growth and prosperity and expanded from a few small tents and bitter watchmen, to a full-blown city in a matter of months, complete with ceruleum powered lighting and full plumbing for every room, including hot water upon demand. Marishi closed the door to a crack but didn't let the door latch. There was no danger to someone finding her in a compromised position besides the one that has seen all of her. She drew the steaming water into the porcelain tub and let it fill, sitting on the edge of the tub with her hand lazily creating waves in the water. Her mind wandered a bit while still shaking off sleep, trying to recall the previous night's dream. It was important, she knew it was, but each time she attempted to recall the specific details, it was like grains of sand in the hand, the more one grasps, the more it slips through. But the profound feeling of sadness lingered as she thought about it. She turned the valve to stop the flow of water and completely undressed. For as old as she was in years, her body was still youthful and barely showed any marring on her skin. Her bruises and cuts never leaving lasting damage or unsightly scarring. She climbed into the tub and submerged letting the water cleanse her of sweat, dirt, and sickness. Next to the tub were cloths and tallow soap that she used to scrape and wash her body along with ample lotion and a small sharp trimming blade for grooming. Once she was done with her cleaning and grooming, she let the water drain from the tub and stepped out. She took the clean white linen towel from its hangar next to the tub and began to dry off. Her hair was wet and there wouldn't be time to let dry so she could comb it and clasp it as was her normal practice. Marishi moved to a nearby mirror, wiped the steam off and instead, she took her hair and bunched it up into a ponytail tight at her scalp. He bangs fell over her left eye and the arch in the back had a choppy, layered look to it. She smiled in admiration of herself. It didn't look half bad. Turning to a hutch next to the mirror she found her garments. New small clothes to fit under her cleaned and polished battle attire. Next to the armor lay a simple off-white tunic, brown breeches, and a sand brown hooded cloak. She slid into her undergarments and instead of taking to her armor as she normally would have, she pulled the tunic over her head put the breeches on and laced the cloak with the hood down. They fit well and the tunic and breeches accented her curves while the cloak was able to mask them. She then took her armor and on the floor placed it into a rucksack designed for the use of small merchants when traveling long distances on foot. It wouldn't do to have two heavily armed females in the midst of a group of traders and merchants. They would be prime targets for being robbed by bandits or worse, easy prey for Garlean squads that may still be roaming the area outside of The Fringes. Cleaned, dressed, and everything in order, Marishi stepped out of the bathroom and into the bed/living area to find Rae packing the food she had prepared. It also looked like she had a similar garment ensemble as well, though colored differently. "We are ready then. Marishi turned and as she was closing the door to the dark apartment said: "This is the last time I'll see this place as a living Woman." She was startled by the not only the thought, but it being powerful enough for her to actually utter aloud. Shaking her head to clear the thought, she spoke to Rae, "The carriage that will take us to the Castrum is already here and the driver is under specific instructions to not ask questions of our intent. We'd do well not to reveal who we are to anyone from this moment on." She took Rae's hand in her own as they walked to the front gates of the settlement where, as promised, a carriage pulled by two Ishgardian Chocobo's waited. Marishi opened the door and assisted Rae into the carriage, placed her foot on the stirrup of the carriage, looked at the driver and said "our thanks to you. The hour is still early and I hope that we did not keep you overlong. You know where we are going?" The man was a Highlander, tanned skin and rough calloused hands from years holding the reigns. He looked at Marishi with an inquisitive eye and cautiously said "...Aye. I've been instructed by yer overlord to ferry the two's of you past Coerthas and into the Shroud. From there, yer wantin' to be taken past the Wall and into the Castrum. That the short of it?" "Yes, it is. With all due haste at our disposal. I am hoping to cross what's left of Baelsar's Wall by tonight. Is this an issue?" Marishi asked. "No, no issue at all. I'll take you and yours to the Castrum, I will, and no further. Untamed land The Fringes 'ave become. The Garleans haven't treated her well and there are pockets of them still hidin' in their felled airships. I'd not take ye further even if I was paid double!" The man replied. Marishi unslung her weapons and pack and placed them into the carriage at the far end. Stepping inside as she closed the door her soft and chimeful voiced called out to the man "This is preferred and we are most humbled by your escort. Let us not delay then as we are both pressed for time." The door closed with a click of the latch as Marishi sat down opposite of Rae. "I think I'll have what you've prepared now, I'm starving!" Marishi said with a rare smile on her face as the sound of the Highlander man could be heard calling to the birds and the snap of leather reins.
  14. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    "It's nothing. Just a bad spell." Marishi said quietly. She wasn't one to laugh and rarely smiled. Prone to melancholy she would often appear isolated and brooding. In direct contrast to Rae, whose personality could light up a room, Marishi's would cast a pall. She was no great hero and there would be no songs sung in her name. An outcast of The Twin Adder for aiding the enemy, a wanderer with no home convinced to walk into lands completely unknown that had been until recently under the boot heel of an Empire still very much alive and well. They would have the Garleans to contend with. Though the nation of Ala Mhigo was free, the Garleans were not gone and resorted to guerrilla tactics and small pockets of resistance. Marishi had dealt with them before through her time in the military, though in a different capacity. She was a healer, a wielder of white magics of restoration. It was only after the Calamity that she put down the staff and picked up the sword. She had changed from saving lives to taking them. She wasn't a murderer or killed en masse, but she wouldn't shy away from spilling blood. She knew roughly as much as Rae did about the lands. The Shroud's evergreen thins and gives way to a rocky plateau where the land is cut in the middle by a massive gorge with a river at it's bottom. There were two ways across the gorge. One, a small fjord at the head of the river and two, across a spanning bridge that just happened to be Garlean made to dock their airships and war birds. From there, it would be a trip to what they called The Reach. The home of the Ala Mhigo Resistance and seat of their camp. The war being over their soldiers turned to rebuilding their shattered homes and burying their brothers. Marishi was informed that once there, there would be a contact waiting for them to apprise them of the current situation and give them what information they needed to attempt to complete their task. "The ride through The Shroud will be light. When we arrive at the Castrum, we'd do best to hitch in with a merchant caravan. Safety in numbers. We will dress as modest merchants as to not call attention to ourselves by unwanted eyes. The Garleans would see an armed caravan and kill everyone to the last man." Marishi let out an unhappy sigh. "This is a fool's errand and the closer we move to Ala Mhigo, the closer we move to a shallow grave on the side of the road." Marishi turned and looked directly at Rae with eyes clouded with sorrow. "Don't let them burn me when I'm gone. Bury me in Coerthas. In the Lowlands. I've always found peace there oddly. But enough talk of things unsavory. I know it wears upon you." She drew a weak smile. "I am weary tonight and I think I'll retire for the evening. Our carriage arrives 3 bells before sunrise. We are expected to arrive at the Castrum late tomorrow evening. I'll eat in the morning." Marishi slung her weapon on a nearby rack and undressed out of her normal attire into a clean white linen nightshirt and pantelletes. She was thin. more so than others of her race, though it didn't detract from her curvature or simple beauty. Bare feet on the stone floor she moved silently to the four post goose down bed adorned with bear pelts for blankets and slid in. She placed her Wakazashi under her pillow as she was wont to do. Marishi had trust for none. Save one. And she would defend that one unto her death. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A dream. There was nothing but blackness all around, but the feeling of floating was present. It felt as if Marishi was a kite being slowly led on a string to a destination unknown. Then the light and she found herself in an area familiar to her. The Coerthas Western Lowlands. But not as they appear now, but before the eternal snow had encased the once craggy meadows and thick pine trees. She could smell the cool, crisp, clean air and for a moment, was a child again running through the meadows playing with her father. She was content.Complete. Then the sky darkened and took a hue of violet and red. No more animals chirped, no more breeze stirred. She was no longer in a lush green meadow but on a rough barren badlands. She knew where she was and she didn't want to look up at the falling moon that would encompass the night sky. Panic filled her being and she attempted to scream, but nothing could be heard over the sound of ringing steel, hoarse battle cry's, and shrieks of maimed and dying. She looked down at her hands. They were soaked in blood. Blood that would not come off no matter how many times one washed. Marishi was calm, however, and looked finally to the sky as the moon came apart. The sound the came from the thing that emerged filled the world. There was no one on the flats save that monstrosity floating above and Marishi frail and pitiful. She began to weep for she knew her life was over. A life she would never live as the flames rushed from the Elder Primals mouth to incinerate her. Marishi opened her eyes. No longer on the fields of Cartenau, she was surprised to find herself in Hingashi. She began walking. Her body knew where it was going even if her mind did not. The Siekusegumi Barracks. Marishi watched herself spar with kempo swords of wood with another Samurai. One much more adept than she. She watched as the youth overpowered and outmaneuvered her to land a hard blow on the side of her head. She staggered from the hit and attempted to regain a defensive stance but it was clear she was no match for her sparring partner. He knocked her weapon to the side while spinning and hitting her in the back of the legs bringing her to her knees where the next blow was glancing off her shoulder throwing the wooden sword out of her hands. Battered, half blinded from the head wound that caused the whites of an eye to darken to red, she looked up at her opponent. Weapon pointed down at her the hollow ring of the man's voice chimed "you are left wanting Ijin. This is no place for a foreigner let alone a woman. We should take you to the pleasure district and sell you for what little you're worth. You will never be a Samurai." She looked up at him in defiance and hatred "Are you going to finish this match?" The man had a look of shock and slight respect "it is as you wish Ijin." The next blow to the head left her unconscious. Marishi opened her eyes. She was in a place she did not recognize. She was dressed in full battle armor standing in ankle deep water That smelled heavily of salt. It was day and she could see in front of her a massive city adorned with falcons in various poses of flight and attack. She was awestruck by its size and beauty. She looked around to find herself on a salt flat with the most beautiful staircases that rose to great figures cut into stone. She guessed her location to be Ala Mhigo. As she took a step forward towards the great staircase that led to the gates of the city, an ugly, shrill, screech filled the air and deafened the world. Marishi dropped to her knees and clutched at her ears to shield herself from the awful noise. The shrill scream stopped only to be replaced by the beating of wings. Massive wings. Never had she seen a living thing like that. It flew lazy circles around the city and even at her distance, she could feel the push and the pull of the massive wings beating the air. The water pulled away as a tide and was replaced by blood lapping her feat foaming at the churning from the wings. Marishi felt despair. Pure despair. She saw out of the corner of her eye a crumpled body at the shore. Her eyes began to well with tears. She knew whose lifeless and mangled body it was. She had failed in her charge to protect the one person she loved and the only person that loved her. She knew that Dragon had ended Rae's life. The beating of wings stopped and all was still but her breathing and pounding heart. She looked up to see the Dragon gazing at her not moving. "get on with it then!" She screamed, but the monstrosity gurgled something that may have been a laugh and looked at her torso. Suddenly, she grasped her lower stomach in great pain. Now there was nothing. No Dragon, no Rae, no city. She looked down at her hands black and wet with her own blood spilling out of a wound from her lower abdomen. Her breath became short and shallow with the darkness moving in. She was scared. She knew she was dying and that she would die alone. Tears slid down her cheeks as she crumples to the ground starring at the blackness above. Her final thoughts were of Rae, smiling and dancing full of life and fun. Her Sun. Marishi's breath came in short ragged gasps and then suddenly stopped. Her ruby eyes and dilated pupils staring at nothing and she knew she was no more. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Marishi awoke with a gasp. Sweating and heart pounding she knew she had a powerful dream but like sand upon the shore was swept away and only the feelings were left over. It was 4 AM. Rae was next to her peacefully slumbering. It was time for them to wake and begin their journey.
  15. Marishi Ten

    Ever Turning Wheels

    "Ever the optimist." Marishi sighed. It was no use. There was no changing course. "Make no mistake Rae, I'm not here to save the world or free an entire people from slavery. I am here for the bastards that would have sent you and me to our graves. Their sins are undeniable and they will be made to stand in judgment for them, and I am their reaper. They will be made to atone. Their heavenly "Fury" wills it." Marishi was vengeful and one-sided. No amount of convincing would deter her from their deaths. Years ago, she would have thought of mercy and forgiveness. To be thankful she still had her life and moved on. But the horrors of war and the twisted faces of the fallen had stripped away what mercy she had leaving her a twisted mass of smoldering anger, resentment, remorse, and shame. Marishi turned towards the market stalls and called over her shoulder "we have free reign of the wares. All of them. We'd best stock up. I'll leave the shopping to you. I would stay a moment longer here." She watched Rae disappear into the throngs of other customers and shifted her gaze to her hands. They were young hands. Strong and vigorous, though she was not as young as she appeared. To a stranger, she would have appeared to be in her mid 20's, the prime of her life, her figure lithe and hair vibrant. But this would be the 40th winter she had seen. "I suppose I owe that to you," she said softly to herself as her gaze shifted to her Katana. Imbued with a fragment of the essence of Alexander, time affected Marishi differently than those around her. Though it slowed the aging of her body, her mind was not so fortunate. She carried the years of life with her and at times would curse the weapon that would prolong her life long after she had buried everyone she knew and loved. "If I live that long." she again said softly to herself. This brought up another problem; Rae had never been in contact with a Primal or even near one. Marishi had probed the machination in Hinterlands known as Alexander and though the Primal never appeared before her, she did leave with a handful of pearlescent like crystal that she then had fitted onto her Odachi's pommel and scabbard. Though she couldn't explain it, she knew this was the reason for her time dilation. She could almost hear the Primal whispering to her edging her to administer judgment unto others. Rae had no such experience and would be fully susceptible to its influence and if the beast lived up to its name, there was no hope of direct confrontation. There had been reports of other Primals being felled however such as Ifrit, Titan, Leviathan, Ravana, Bismark, among others. Felled by the hands of mortals with no special gifts or blessings granted by Gods that, if existed, died or have long left this plane. Marishi wasn't sure about the deaths of demi gods. She left the reports and updates to Rae who's mind was much sharper and clear than her own. Though learned, Marishi had little patience in information gathering and banter. Turning toward their task at hand, their road would be relatively easy the first stretch. They would take by Chocobo Carriage from the Hamlet of Mor Dhona and travel through the snowy lowlands of Coerthas where they would arrive in the Dalamud scarred North Shroud under the protectorate of Gridania and the Order of The Twin Adder, an Order she had once belonged to and held official military rank in. They would be unmolested. From the North Shroud, they would then turn east to Castrum Oriens. The Garlean outpost meant to be the staging area of assault against Eorzea as well as being the only way through Balsear's Wall to the land of Ala Mhigo. Recently liberated from the clutches of the Garlean Empire by the Eorzean Alliance, the Castrum had been converted into a staging point and command post for the Alliance and barracks for their soldiers. As such, the passage had already been paid and scheduled with the sentry's at the Castrum already notified to let them pass. From there, they would be outfitted with their own personal Chocobos, reprovisioned, and left to their assignment. As for the land beyond, Marishi did not know. She had never been that far east in Eorzea and held little love for the Highlanders who sought conquest against their allies 20 years previous. Not many had and the ones that did were either dead, elderly, or missing. She took a final look at the serene and unchanging Crystal Tower shining softly in early evening Sun. It would be night soon and Rae should be done procuring provisions, weapons, and armor for both herself and Marishi. She suddenly had a sharp pang of sadness when a thought entered her mind. It was so forceful that she actually spoke it aloud: "This will be the last time I will ever look upon this place." Shaking her head to rid herself of the bad omen, she slowly moved towards the marketplace as it had died down in search of her partner. The foodstuffs and armaments would be loaded tonight and they would have to leave no later than the 5th bell toll to reach the Castrum by the third day. Marishi had found Rae near a stall cooing over some baubles and moving silently behind her commented "Those are beautiful. Almost as much so as yourself and I hate to tear you away from your shopping, but I've grown weary and must retire. We are scheduled to leave tomorrow morning before the rising of the Sun. Will you lend me your youthful arm and escort me to my quarters?" Marishi teased with a rare smile on her face.
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