Hi all, I just finished Part 3 of this story and am comfortable with sharing it. ^_^ Please enjoy it as I take a break from the standard fare of storytelling. If you aren't American, you may miss a certain joke throughout the story, but dunna worry, the main focus of the tale will be understandable to all who play FF11~*
A SHOWDOWN WITH THE APOLLO'
Requested by: Phyree
Subject(s): Apollonious (featuring Shadowbuni & Noxx)
Genre: Sports Drama
Apollonious stepped outside his small shop. A cool morning sea breeze blew gently down the main stretch of Lower Jeuno. The sun's brightening rays illuminated the shingle outside the humble clothier's establishment. "Apollonious's Apparels" it read in a fancy script. Apollo's bald head turned around and moved back inside the shop.
A former mage (as evidenced by the arcane tattoos upon his smooth head), he had since given up the magic craft for the cloth craft. Everything Apollo' made was by hand and with all the care one could expect from a person who has spent countless hours meditating and learning about the fabric of reality...and transcribing it to the various material fabrics that existed in the world.
Apollo' was taking inventory in the back when he heard the small bell above the front door ring.
"Hmm, I forgot to lock the front door after coming in," he thought to himself. His eyes lifted from self-reflection on the patron he was ready to ask to come back later when he stopped in mid-stride. The spool of cotton thread he was holding dropped from his hand and rolled away. Before him stood a galka. A hulking example of the species at that. More importantly, a good friend.
"Shadowbuni, it's," he paused, "it's been a while."
The galka smiled and laughed haughtily. "Indeed it has, my dear Apo."
Shadowbuni picked up on the confusion. It had been many years since the two had split ways. The galka, too, used to be a mage before going into the clothing world with Apollonious. Shadowbuni was just as big, hairy, and asexual as anyone on Vana'diel could get and if Apollo' could make clothes which would look good on "him" (as generally it is understood that galka are more masculine than feminine though that didn't stop Shadowbuni from wearing women's clothing if it was comfortable), then anything else he could make would be years ahead of any other clothier.
The duo became highly successful, and soon, the galka was offered lucrative contracts and more gil and endorsements than the humble former hume mage could ever offer. Shadowbuni was shuffled off to be a courtier in San d'Oria and hobnob with the elites, modeling for the royal families and wealthy merchants. Soon he was renamed Chadeaux-Bunee and forgot all about Appollonious's Apparal and the lower levels of Jeuno.
In a regal tone, Chadeaux-Bunee explained, "Apo Apo Apo, you are so far behind the times. Currently it is trendy to address others using two syllables. I see your fashion sense is also lagged." Meaty fingers ran over a freshly-tailored jerkin. "Why are you still sewing these old things? Your skills are far more superior. You could make so much more gil in the world of high fashion, not basic commoncloth."
With a small sigh, Apollonious walked over toward his friend. "Shadow-"
"Chadeaux," came the corrected pronounciation.
"Shadow," the tailor continued, "it isn't about that. I make clothes that anyone can wear. That anyone can afford. I'm not in it for the gil alone. Repair a torn knee on a pair of slops for a poor white mage some time and you'll hopefully rediscover what our original intent was in the business."
"How," the words came straining through the galka's teeth, "generous of you. Look, Apo, I'm not here to reminisce about those days."
"Then to what do I owe the honor, 'Chadeaux'?"
"The Federation of Windurst is going to have their inagural Clothes-Off next month. I want to sponsor you to participate."
"Yes, leave it to the tarutaru to come up with such a base name for a noble duel. But, the prize is worth putting up with their mannerisms and faint cabbage smell."
"What is the prize," Apollonious asked non-chalantly, "a crate of starfruit? Or perhaps a free ride on the Manaclipper?"
"Hardly." The galka's tone became serious. "Try a stack of damascene cloth."
The room became quiet.
A white-furred head nodded.
Sure, Apollonious had seen one piece of it before. He knew how rare it was. To think of a full stack of them could be his made him stare off in the distance. A grumbling throat being cleared brought him back.
"What's in it for you, Shadowbuni?"
"You win, I keep 11 of the 12 and you use them to sew a new garment I designed. You may keep the twelfth and whatever leftover supplies there are from the competition. I will fully sponsor your efforts."
"What if I lose? I mean...I am just a damselfly on the wide scan when it comes to this stuff."
"Stop underestimating yourself. I'm tired of hearing it. This isn't the Apo I know."
"Oh and you are still everyone's favorite magic-using galka?! Huh 'Mr. Bunee'?"
"I could have hired anyone in Vana'diel I choose, Apo! Anyone! But I chose you. Pull that bald head out of your ass for once and listen to me!"
This was the Shadowbuni that Apollo' knew, but he slunk back after having acted that way. He knew how powerful his friend became off of his work, and maybe this was a bit of jealousy being vented in a fuming rant. As he mulled, the galka model began leaving the door. Morning light silhouetted the large frame.
"I will meet you in Port Windurst on the tenth of next month. That's a firesday. Please note it. I expect you to come off on the 8:30 airship. Your way will be paid in full. Oh, I forgot to mention..."
"Noxx will be there." The door closed as if to drive home the point as the final nail in the coffin.
In a matter of a few minutes, Apollo's world was turned upside down and his stomach felt the same. A Windurstian Clothes-Off, Shadowbuni coming back into his life, and now Noxx? He sighed and sat on his worn but comfortable sewing stool. The tailor was stuck. And angered. He knew that he couldn't turn down a request from his friend, no matter what has changed between them. Just as well, he couldn't avoid the competition if Noxx was going to be there. She was the mithran clothcrafter who turned Apollo' on to the art. A former white mage and quite beautiful, her skills were also legendary as was her temper.
It was about the time Shadowbuni left that Noxx, his muse and object of his affection, had expelled him from her tutiledge with little reason beyond wild accusations of him stealing her secrets and attempting a hit on her life. That was a rough year for the hume as he lost both a good friend and a good inspiration. But, it steeled him for his life to come and he was content to own a simple shop. He created quite the reputation for himself and was able to eek out a comfortable life. Reminiscent eyes scanned the shop.
A lot of his equipment was old and worn. His clothes were pristine but the cost to update the looms and continue to purchase raw materials. Shadowbuni's offer could greatly help him out financially as well as socially, depending on what this "new design" was. Plus it would be a great opportunity for him to get some real-life exposure to high quality materials. But what of Noxx? He desperatly wanted to see her, but knew he couldn't bear knowing that the one he adored completely hated him, blamed him for something he knew nothing about, and otherwise would enjoy crushing him under her mighty paw at sewing rather than teach him about it gently with the same appendage.
He had a month to decide, but deep down he knew that he already did.
"Time to get to work," he flatly stated as he prepared his first job for the day, "I have to make a bit of money to continue the shop while I'm on the Quon continent."
* * * * *
A month later on a firesday morning, a bald hume stepped off of an airship in Port Windurst. He was clothed in a simple outfit, but one that was so well sewn, it seemed as sturdy and tough as leather. A galka in a wildly gaudy outfit came up to greet him. They exchanged a few words and set out to the residential district to get him a room.
The whole town buzzed with the pending arrival of the tournament, save for one man lost in his own world of worry, strategy, and confusion.
"Meet me at Timbre's Timbers at ten o' clock for dinner. We have some arrangements to make concerning our roles in this co-op."
Tattoos dipped idly to the eccentric galka model. "Ten it is then, Shad-"
"Ten it is." The door shut once more on the mage.
He sat on the edge of the bed with his case of personal effects open before him. He stared listlessly at his trusted tools before asking them, himself, "What am I doing here?"