Naeo and Again
Requested by: Naeo
Subject(s): Naeo, Yekan, Hybra, and Phyree
Setting: Purgonorgo Isle
* * * * *
A new day arose in the Federation of Windurst. Cool morning dew glistened on the savannah grass and palm trees. The fishing guild was bustling with fishers of all races vying for the best bait and gear. Over in the Waters district, a young male hume woke up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He arose, grabbed a towel, scratched his belly, and made his way to the washroom in the Holstry. He still smelled like an odd combination of saruta oranges and pond water from the day before. Before reaching the bathing stall, Naeo caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror. He jumped back in panic before realizing that the odd feature he caught was the goblin-looking coif he wore on his head.
“Musta forgotten to take it off,” he mused out loud, doing a little modeling for the looking glass.
On the other side of town, an airship was making another of its dramatic water landings. It was the first from Jeuno for that day, actually. The doors opened and the gangplank was lowered. Most of the passengers were tarutaru and mithras, natives to the land. Perhaps they were coming back home to sleep after working third shift in the Grand Duchy of Jeuno oh-so many miles away? Or perhaps they were adventurers…weary from exploration and battle over (and sometimes under) the land and sea.
There was one hume disembarking, a woman with a blonde ponytail and healer’s garments. Her hair bobbed as she descended to customs from the ship. She seemed happy enough and certainly not as sleepy as most of the rest. Moving up the walkway in clanking plate mail was another hume. Male. He seemed cranky and was muttering something about his plans being ruined by “that damn bard”.
Phyree noticed that him and smiled, “A paladin that smells of oranges? There’s gotta be a fun story about what happened to that guy.”
Aburame never looked back as the ship closed up to prepare to head back to town. Based on his demeanor, the white mage felt sorry for anyone who so much as looked at the grumpy paladin. Phyree shrugged and proceeded through the arrivals gate. She had a lot of food to pawn off on this beautiful day and nobody would ruin that for her.
Phyree made her way to the residential district and rented a room. Her faithful moogle, Mr. Mog-Mog, was panting heavily on the floor. He flew halfway across Vana’diel with a safe filled to the brim with items. She sat on the floor and began to rifle through her stuff, sorting out what was going to be sold, crafted, or thrown away for the day. There was so much food!
Naeo had just finished donning the last of his pink gaudy clothing. Being a bard, he could get away with wearing outfits like that without too much (further) social disdain. He was used to it by now. Not many guys were bards. It somehow seemed more acceptable for women to have bardic tendencies than men. But oh well. He enjoyed how he lived his life and Naeo would long be gone from this world before he stopped doing what he enjoyed.
But, aside from prancing about gaily in dandy attire and making jokes about his flute skills, Naeo also enjoyed cooking (something that got him in trouble just yesterday with a paladin friend of his). It was early enough that he figured he’d beat the morning rush at the guild, so he took off to make it the short distance down the wooden platform. Per usual, the small hut was crowded with other aspiring chefs, mothers looking to make the day’s meals for their families, and even a hulking galkan samurai looking for rice to prepare into large galkan-sized rice balls.
Phyree was also making her way to the market with a basket full of goodies to sell off and a list of recipes to try out. She hummed contently the national theme of San d’Oria, doing her best to imitate the bagpipes and, it seemed, catch as many stares as possible. Naeo, with his ear for music, caught it quickly and scanned the area for the source of the elvaan melody. His sparkling eye caught Phyree.
“Ooooo! Ooooo! Hey you! You,” he warbled, “Phyree! Over heeeeeere!” His hands flailed about. He immediately drew all the attention on himself as he pushed through the eager crowd, even catching one mithra roll her eyes and snuff, “Bards…”.
“Naeo! It’s good to see you!” She gave him a friendly hug. “Haha, you wouldn’t believe this but today I smelled saruta oranges on someone else heading up the gangplank of the airship. A pala-”
In a nervous flutter Naeo asked her to disregard that and she complied as usually there are stories associated to things that bards don’t want to talk about that pale those they do in comparison, taste, and the ability to control certain bodily metabolisms and functions. Quickly changing gears he asked what she was up to.
“Oh this? It’s just a bunch of food I have left over from all my cooking lately.”
“Whatcha gonna do with it all?”
“Well I was going to sell it, but it seems they have a different fate now according to that look on your face.”
“Perish the thought Lady Phyree! I am but a humble bard, a world traveler and storyteller. Not some lowly thief or brutish warrior!”
Phyree sighed and rolled her eyes, “Get on with it.”
“Well, as I was just about to say,” Naeo puffed with an unearned indignant air, “why don’t we go on a picnic together? You have the basket. You have the food. You have the time. What else could you need?”
“You and I couldn’t possibly eat this much!”
Undaunted, the hungry and eternally-social bard compromised, “Invite a few friends. Oh! I can ask Hybra to come. I know her pretty well.”
“Oh you know Hybra too? She’s in my linkshell! Do you know Yekan by chance?”
“But of course,” he bowed, “So what say you that we invite them to come along with us?”
Phyree scanned the bard, weighing the fact that he is (essentially) getting a harem of a lunch date. “And just where shall we picnic, sir?”
“Rains too much there.”
“Goblins and orcs will want to join in the fun.”
“Yeah and just as we set down our blanket and sit, a geyser of steaming water becomes intimate with our backsides.” At that Naeo snickered.
“Oh I know,” the white mage snapped her fingers, “how’s about that one island. Uhhh…it is something like ‘Purororororo Island’ or the like. Nice, tropical breeze. Clear water. Sounds perfect!”
Naeo pulled out his schedule of transportation that included the arrivals and departures of all manner of ship. This was quite the handy companion for a traveler such as he. After a few mental calculations he told Phyree that they would be able to make it to Bibiki Bay about fifteen minutes before the Manaclipper was due to arrive. He activated the communication pearl in his ear and sent messages to the other two women to join them, which they happily agreed to. Phyree would be teleporting herself and Naeo to the Crag of Mea just as Yekan would ‘port Hybra. They’d meet up there and hitch a chocobo to Bibiki Bay.
Four humes materialized on the pad surrounding the humming crystal. It was a windy day and dust kicked up in their faces. Undaunted, the four rented yellow riding birds and headed east. The ride over was filled with conversation, catching up, and stories about what each had been up to. Some such stories would no doubt have made their seemingly more civilized (by comparison) avian mounts blush if they could understand what was talked about…or were physically capable of blushing.
Naeo’s calculations were correct, but they were running a little late. Just as they dismounted, the ship was making its last call to board. In a tizzy, four figures scurried toward the Manaclipper, though from a distance you wouldn’t be able to tell that there was a male in the group from how they ran. The mithra dockworker shook her head at the frantic four and let them slip on board. As the ship was pulling away, Phyree tossed her a meat mithkabob in gratitude.
On their narrated journey into the sea, Hybra and Naeo sat across from Phyree and Yekan on one of the large platforms jutting from the side of the boat. Hybra commented on the swirling vortex of ocean they were coming upon. Yekan actually spotted a pod of dolphins giving the boat chase. Phyree prepared a snack for them all to enjoy in the sunshine and salt air. Naeo still had San d’Oria’s theme bouncing about his noodle and was humming it under his breath trying to remember the words to it.
On the blue horizon a spot of green rose up from the calm seas. It was Purgonorgo Isle at last! Hybra was quick to her feet and playfully shouted “Land ho!” Yekan quipped back to her not to be so demanding of the captain and that assumptions shouldn’t be made into the mithra’s personal life. The black-haired black mage stuck her tongue out at the lame joke.
Yekan was off first and helped the others disembark. Hybra ran up to a local mithra who was renting out buckets to pursue the local tradition of “clamming”.
“This looks like fun,” she said excitedly.
“If you find any clams, let me know and I’ll cook ‘em up real yummy,” Phyree responded.
“Hey Yekan, mind making me invisible? I want to change into my bathing suit so I can soak up these delicious rays!”
“Sure, Naeo, no problem!” With that, white magic flowed to the blonde’s fingertips and poured over the cheeky bard. In a flash (literally) he was gone from sight, though the girls could hear him fidget for his things.
“Do something, your spell isn’t exactly sticking around for the long haul!” Parts of Naeo were becoming visible, though translucent. The reappearance had materialized to the point where they saw a ghostly rear end and legs running away from them and diving behind a bush for cover. This sent the three women over the edge with laughter.
“Did you do that on purpose,” Phyree asked. She was met with only an acknowledging wink from her near-twin.
The rest of their day on the island was filled with fun and games…of course with copious amounts of food, too. Hybra was rather proud of a large igneous rock she found whilst clamming and Yekan battered back a kraken that had emerged from the bay to sample Phyree’s snacks. Poor Naeo was pink within an hour and pleading with Yekan for a little regenerative magic.
“Not ‘til you do it.”
“Awww come on! I don’t wanna! It is bad enough you short-cast invisible on me!”
“I guess you don’t want it badly enough, do you? What do you think, Phy?”
Phyree smirked and agreed to a droopy dismayed face looking back at her.
“Fine! I don’t need your help!” Naeo sung a little song to himself to help his body heal, but the sun was stronger than his words and after another hour, the beet-red bard caved in. Before an audience of Hybra, Phyree, and Yekan, the scantily clad Naeo put on his Opo-Opo crown and began his opus:
I’m a little mandragora, short and stout
Here is my onion, here is my sprout
When you swing and miss me, hear me shout
“Uh-oh, uh-oh me gonna beat you up!”
He was met with a fervent clapping and laughter at his expense. But soon, his body was enveloped in the curative magic of his friend and his skin returned to a more natural and healthy shade.
Evening was falling and the sun was setting. It appeared as if it was a fiery ruby sinking into an abyss of lapis lazuli with a scattering of diamond and topaz dancing across it. They all held hand and gave a bow together as performers do to their audience. In this case, they had no doubt that today amused the sun more than most. Together they packed up and trotted back to the docks. Hybra turned in her bucket, along with a fine for breaking said bucket with one too many rocks, and survived the scolding the mithra gave her.
The last ship of the night was pulling up and they boarded. Sitting now for the long cruise, they saw the rising moon, a large opal arising from rippling onyx, and smiled. Phyree first began to sing the song she used that morning that snagged Naeo’s ephemeral attention. It was a soft melody floating from her lips into the tropical breeze. Naeo took out his flute and began to imitate the haunting bagpipes of San d’Oria. Hybra and Yekan hummed along to provide harmony.
In the great Ronfaure forest
There rests the elvaan nation
With faith and deeds unwavering
A beacon for all civilization
The defender of Mindartia
The router of the beastmen
With sword and spell we will prevail
In all weather and all seasons
Their song faded into the night as did the boat they were on. Thus proving that not all of the most important adventures you go on in the world of Vana'diel involve combat, puzzle solving, and high-stakes exploration.