This story is dedicated to Wintaru for all the work he has done for not just me, but the Bismarck forum as a whole. Thank you.
Requested by: Phyree
Subject(s): Wintaru, Xan, Kingpopof, and Tshayichu
Genre: Action Drama
Setting: Jeuno and Tu'Lia
* * * * *
It was a cool and rainy night in Jeuno. Spring was on the verge of coming around so the wind and water besieging the majestic city carried a cold bite. Ducal guards on patrol tended to stick to covered alcoves and move only when they had to. The water had a way to find every open crevice in the metal and leather and chilled even the most stout of galkans to the bone.
Dr. Monberaux was asleep at his desk. Not uncommon for the popular physician. He had been up poring over his latest pro-bono medical case as rain poured over the Duchy. His black-haired head raised and long, elvaan ears perked as a heavy thudding shook his clinic, like a clap of thunder focused just above the roof.
The door opened and lightning flashed, silhouetting an imposing frame. As the lamplight replaced the brightness, a galka dressed in fancy attire stepped inside. His face was stoic, and in his arms was a small bundle of white and red. In comparison and first glance, the doctor thought perhaps it was a child. It was a sad sight to see what the doctor figured to be a travelling performer look so forlorn.
"What's this all about, then? Is your child sick? Come in, come in, hurry!"
Wet thuds left watery footprints on the wooden floor. Where the galka once stood, two figures took his place. One was a tall elvaan in plated armor. The other, a mithra. She wore cloth and leather. Where the elvaan male was strong and imposing, the mithran female was lithe and nimble. It didn't take long for the doctor to put together this was an adventuring party that must have run into some misfortune. This meant that the small bundle wasn't a child, but a tarutaru.
Quickly, Dr. Monberaux unwrapped the patient. He was in shock and his body badly burnt.
"At least he is still alive. Tell me," his hands began working their literal medical magic, "what in Promathia's Realm happened to him?"
"His name is Wintaru," the mithra managed to sob out loud, "he was with us when we-we-we- O Altana, it wasn't supposed to end up like this!"
"Tshayichu, please," the knight sounded collected and caring. "Xan, please...would you mind?"
At the implied request and with the same gentle touch that belied his size, the galka Xan stepped back and put an arm on the mithra's shoulder. At the release, she turned around and cried into his already wet clothes.
"Dr. Monberaux, I am Popof and these are my compatriots Xan," the galka nodded, "and Tshayichu." The mithra continued to sob. "The tarutaru there is Wintaru. Perhaps you have heard of us?"
Hearing the names, the doctor's eyes grew wide. These were no ordinary adventurers. These were heroes of the land, of all the nations combined! These four had bested beastmen and felled dragons...even the mighty Shadow Lord himself! Quickly the severity of the situation caught up with the physician. He knew that whatever had laid out the tarutaru mage before him must have been a mighty force indeed. He was tending Wintaru, an even greater healer than the doctor himself!
"I have. Under other circumstances 'King' Popof, I would love to have gotten to know you all better. Circumstances being what they are, I need to know more about what happened first." The doctor quickly moved to his desk and pressed a buzzer. Upstairs they heard a bell ring. "I have summoned my nurse, Rosaline. She will assist me. Don't worry, she is very capable."
Tshayichu composed herself and thanked the doctor. She sat in a chair beside Xan, who leaned against the wall. Popof stood beside the doctor. His battle-weary eyes had seen many struggles for life and death, but none were so close as the one playing out before him. Wintaru let out a muffled moan of agony.
"This is what happened, doctor..." said the paladin.
- - - - - - - - - -
The pearl resting just inside of Wintaru's ear crackled. It was his good friend Popof, or rather, King Popof as he was widely reknowned. "Fastah!"
"Yeah yeah, I'm coming KPP." The diminutive white mage was at the Auction House in Jeuno parusing some last minute adventure gear.
"Slacks!" teased a smooth, mithran voice.
"Slacks!" picked up a deep but melodic galkan one.
Under friendly fire from his compatriots, Wintaru resigned to buying the first bottle of ether he could afford and began trotting for the crystal near the exit of Lower Jeuno. The entire way he was urged to move his small legs "fastah" and "fastah".
Seeing his friends, Wintaru smiled as did they upon seeing him. "Are you guys ready?"
Tshayichu purred, palming her knife. "Rrready and able." She looked over to Popof and he smiled at her charm. The two had grown close in their adventures together, and just because they were on the verge of retirement did nothing to keep them from showing affection. Wintaru rolled his eyes, and they landed on his bard friend who was looking at him, blinking alluringly.
"Not a chance, Xan," the tarutaru smiled.
"Awww come on, Wint!" The scene was ridiculous: a large, formidible galka pursing his lips and toddling back and forth with his hands locked together as if he was beseeching Altana Herself for some divine gift. "We've known each other this long and I get no love?"
"Ok loverboys," Popof injected, "are we all ready?"
"Ready!" came a communal response. At that, the white mage began chanting the teleportation spell that would whisk the quartet to the Crag of Mea.
"King" Popof, Tshayichu, Xan, and Wintaru were known everywhere for their heroic deeds. They had met early in their adventuring careers and had since become prominent figures across the world of Vana'diel. For years they fought against ravenous beastment. They explored the dampest, darkest of dungeons, and had faced down the likes of the Shadow Lord Himself. As the scars and stories mounted, so did their fame and fortune.
The only unfortunate aspect of their careers was that the passage of time and stress of battle had taken its toll on their bodies. Tshayichu wasn't as spry as she once was years ago, and Xan wanted to use his sore muscles to travel from city to city performing instead of slaying. Wintaru wished to return to San d'Oria and help train others in the art of healing. His aching hands healed countless wounds, and his council healed countless hearts.
Popof acted as if his stressed joints and unrelentingly-battered body didn't hurt. Being a paladin, he was a natural leader and had paid the price of such a station personally and in regards to the others with whom he served. He was growing weary of it, and wished nothing more than to retire with Tshayichu in sleepy Windurst to fish to his heart's content.
This last mission was a secret. The people of Jeuno didn't know what their leader and his brother were a part of. They had no idea the vastness of scope that a threat from above posed to the entire world. Floating high above the rocky snowscapes of Qufim Island lie the origin and terminus of a very dire fate. It was up to these four to put a stop to it and thanklessly save all of Vana'diel from something nobody else knew existed the island of Tu'Lia.
Four shapes materialized around the teleportation crystal. The adventures descended the stairs and rented chocobos from the nearby vendor. Together under the guise they were going on a picnic in the Sanctuary of Zi'Tah, they made their way northward. Along the way they shared jokes and relived adventures. Xan sung a few songs that even made the experienced mithra blush. The galka's favorite, though, was a lymerick which started "There once was a hume from Bastok..."
It took nearly half the day, but they finally made it. Hoping to have a fresh start, they camped just outside the abandonded ruins of Ro'Maeve. It seems their reputation preceeded them even this far as none of the area's aggressive goblins or even the walking dead dared not come near the four.
Morning broke through the thick canopy. Wintaru was already awake and saying his prayers to Altana. Xan provided musical support for the hymn. The paladin and thief couple went out to fetch something for breakfast. After a meal of roasted bats, they took off for the old city.
"From here on out, it gets dangerous," warned Popof, "We must move as quickly and silently as possible. Wintaru, would you do us the pleasure?"
The tarutaru nodded and used his magic to silence him comrades' movement. Together they crept past fearsome, arcane weapons and dolls. In true fashion to their work, they had a few close calls but managed to make it to the Hall of Gods. It was there that they were awed by the statues of Altana and Promathia. The four stood in a holy place not occupied for generations. It was humbling, even to the quartet of veterans.
"By Altana's Grace..." Wintaru murmured.
They pressed forward, no longer needing to be silent. This was an esoteric place that made even the seasoned bard fall quiet in reverence. Popof urged them forward. They had a job to do. Tshayichu was the first to reach the transporter as she was sent to scout ahead.
With almost comic and stereotypical mithran demeanor, she poked around the pad. Apparently she had triggered the mechanism as she disappeared right in front of the party's eyes!
"Tshayichu!" yelled out her elvaan courter. he ran clanking on the pad. Xan and Wintaru were only a step behind. The device was still humming with energy. All three looked up at where their thievish friend had disappeared and soon they followed suit.
In front of the now trio materialized a utopia in the clouds. Pearl (or bone?) white floating islands lay spread in the skyscape. They were among clouds in a floating garden. Xan, a bard who thought he had seen everything in life, was speechless as he took it all in. Wintaru toddled forward, saying a prayer to Altana in his mind. Popof came back to reality first and shouted for his companion.
"Tshayichu! Tshayichu! Where are you?!"
A bush shook behind him, emitting an eerie moan. Reflexively, he drew his sword and was ready for attack. From the leaves arose the cat woman, smiling.
She spread her arms wide, smiling. "Welcome to 'sky'."