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Prompt #10 – Foster

The singing from the party on top of the walls had stopped, but it was still going on below, coming from various quarters of Ala Mhigo.

She turned as there was a screech from a Mol, and Lord Hein jumped the short distance down to the rooftop garden.

“Show off,” she called out to him.

“Next to you my friend, I find one must to keep up!” The prince had his usual grin on his face as she walked over to the warrior and they grasped forearms in greeting.

“Come, you should have a formal introduction to the Eorzean alliance, rather than screaming from Mol back.”

“You cannot tell me it wasn’t effective.”

She shook her head at him, quickly seeking out Rauhban and Pipin first and making the introductions.

“I spotted you in the castle,” Raubahn enveloped the smaller man’s hand in his own, “Twas a fine thing to see a samurai of your calibre aiding our cause.”

“After all your compatriots have done to help me and my people, t’would be a poor showing indeed if I did not come when aid was needed most. Especially against a common foe.”

Iscara didn’t interject anymore as the three of them talked a little, and then Raubhan offered to introduce him to the rest of the Alliance leaders. Hein turned back to give her a bow before he went with them.

Lyse walked up, leaning her head against Iscara’s shoulder, as was her custom, “You seem pleased.”

“For all the victories I claim on the battlefield, I am just as proud of the progress that is made off it as well. Seeing the relationships between the different provinces grow, watching them foster that development and become more than their parts…it’s part of what I fight for. That better future. Together.”

It was more than she usually said, and on this emotional day, it caused Lyse to wrap her arms around her friend and hug her tightly.

“You inspire it in us, you know. That better future,” the words were muffled, her face buried in armour.

Iscara returned the hug, squeezing her back, “We’ll get there. Together.”

Prompt #9 – Hesitate

She drew a steady breath, eye carefully sighting down the shaft, her wood creaking beneath her fingers as she patiently waited for the hare to finish sniffing the air, and then went back down, nibbling on some tuft of grass that had evaded the snow.

Thock.

Raforta smiled and clapped her granddaughter on the shoulder, “Good. Go collect it.”

The young Hyur threaded her arm through her bow, carefully treading across the snow until she found the hare she had shot, a small amount of blood splashing crimson across the white. After picking the animal up, she folded the snow over, hiding the blood, so that the scent wouldn’t draw scavengers.

That’s when the hairs on the back of her neck stood up.

With a very measured pace, she continued to pat at the snow, slowly sliding her eyes round as far as she could to see what the cause was, and caught the spindly limbs of a snow wolf lurking on top of the rocks nearby. A perfect position for an ambush. Where she was the prey.

She slowly stood up, turning so that she deliberately put her back to the wolf, and felt the hairs shiver again before she threw herself forward, going into a roll as she slipped the bow off her shoulder and scooped up an arrow that had scattered out on top of the snow.

Knocking and drawing it, she turned back to the wolf, to see it bearing down on her, jaw hanging open with needle point teeth and curved claws springing forward. The arrow flew, skewering it through a shoulder as she thrust out her hand, searching for another, hand closing on nothing but snow as she moved too late, and the wolf’s claws caught her arm instead, cutting the flesh into ribbons.

Then the wolf was gone, replaced by the towering figure of her Oma, broadsword cleanly piercing into the side of the wolf, whose body slumped on the snow much like the hare had done mere moments before.

The young Hyur sat up, suppressing a noise of pain as she moved her arm, her other hand not big enough to cover the wounds, but clasping it anyway. Raforta swept her eyes around the rocky outcropping, satisfying herself that nothing else was lurking before she turned back to her granddaughter.

“Here,” she removed a length of cloth out of a pouch and firmly started to bind her arm, forcing the cuts closed as she did so. She noticed her granddaughter’s clenched teeth, tensing up from more than just the pain.

“Do you know what you did right, my little dragonet?”

The girl looked at her, dark blue eyes searching Raforta’s face, before looking down at her arm, clearly focusing on the failure, before she shook her head.

“You didn’t hesitate. The difference between walking away with your life, or finding it’s your last fight, can come down to a moment’s hesitation. You’re young, you’ll get hurt, and you’ll learn from the failures as much as you learn from me. But your instincts are there little one, and they did you right today.”

Her granddaughter always had been a quiet one, but Raforta had gotten adept at reading the subtle changes in her face that showed her mood and thoughts, and was pleased to see the words sink in, the wound now a lesson that had been learnt.

“Right,” she finished the bandage off with a knot and stood up again, “back home now, so someone can have a proper look at that. Can you still carry your kills?”

Her granddaughter gave her a look, before pushing herself up off the snow, kicking some of the drift over her own blood, and picking up the hare with a firm grip, tramping off in the direction of home. The whole scene caused Raforta to smile as she slung the wolf carcass over a shoulder, and followed after the determined youngling.

Apologies for the delay, I forgot to cross post this yesterday. Sunday’s are ‘Free Days’ that can be used to catch up on missed days, or used for extra credit. Since I’ve successfully completed 1-7 on time, I’ve gone back to the 2018 challenge for prompts, and have picked ‘Submerged’ for this first extra credit day.

~~~

The light flickered and waved as the lilies and pads drifted overhead, casting shadows down through the water. Iscara looked up, and from her position, it looked as if the blue sky was painted with the outlines of flowers, tranquil and beautiful, so unlike the first time she had been thrown into the water. Smiling at the beautiful visage, she kicked out, swimming down into Longmirror Lake so she could swim amongst the ruins of the Voerbuty city.

Just as she had done on the first time she had been done here, she couldn’t help but compare it to Ishgard, the city that, despite all her initial misgivings, she had come to love. The stonework was so reminiscent, especially when she swam through a circular hole into a building that could only have been a church of some kind. The shards truly were reflections of the source, of her home world.

She spent hours drifting around the submerged city, only surfacing when night fell, to sit on one of the few roofs that still stood taller than the surface of the lake, the flowers she had admired from before now drifting around her as she looked up at the stars, taking in the beauty of the night.

A lily ideally floated up next to her, a small lap of water landing it on her leg. Iscara reached down to pick it up, the water dripping through her fingers as she cupped it in her hands. She didn’t know if it would last long outside of its natural habitat, but it had been a while since she had given Aymeric a present, and she had a rapidly growing need to see him, to see the man that tied her most tightly to the city, and it’s reflection here.

Il Mheg

Prompt #7 – Forgiven

As a note, this entry contains very heavy spoilers for the Shadowbringers main plot quests, so if you are likely to play the game/are playing it and haven’t reached the end, you may not want to read to avoid the spoilers contained within!

Bookman's Shelves

Alisaie looked over the top of her book to the Hyur sitting in one of the other armchairs in the main room of the Bookman’s shelves where a few of the Scions had currently gathered.

“What’s got you thinking so hard?”

The warrior of light blinked, and then looked over at Alisaie, one eyebrow raised fractionally.

“I’m reasonably sure that’s your thinking face, and you’ve been staring at a rather disinteresting point on the wall for a while. Something wrong?”

She shook her head, “Not wrong. Just a…hypothetical question.”

“Care to share?”

The warrior looked over at her for a moment, weighing up something, “Sin eater’s are classed by the sin they were forgiven for. If I had turned, what would the sin I would be forgiven for?”

Whatever question Alisaie had been expecting, it wasn’t that, “But you didn’t turn.”

She chuckled, “No, I didn’t. But you and I both know I was basically there. I’m forever glad that didn’t happen, so don’t worry. I guess this is just, hmm, morbid curiosity? With a dash of self-reflection.”

The young mage tapped her fingers against the edge of her book, thinking on the same question, “Not wrath, that doesn’t fit you. Violence maybe?”

“Mhm. Overconfidence is another thought. Confrontational perhaps.”

“Uncommunicative?”

Iscara looked over and gave Alisaie a mock scowl, “I’ve been working on that one, thank you very much.”

“And we’re very proud of you for it,” She drew up her book just in time to block the small cushion lobbed at her head.

“I woudst appreciate if thoust did not use mine furnishing as weapons, I already disinherit much to fae machnications,” Urianger chimed in as he came down the stairs into the main living area, 

“Sorry.”

“What did you think about our conversation?” Alisaie sat up, interested in the input of the older elezen.

“Of the sin that our dearest friend embodies? Nay, I think the answer woudst lie in a different direction.”

“Care to share your educated thoughts then?”

“Of the lightwarden which our friend encountered, barring both Innocence and the Lord Titania, their names were themed around the topic of love, specifically the types of love outlined in philosophical debate. Philia is the love shared between friends. Eros is perhaps the most well known, being associated with romantic love. And Storge refers to the empathic love that most encapsulates fondness and familiarity.”

“So that’s three, but you said there were four?”

“Indeed, and it is with the fourth that I believe would lie the answer to our friends question – the fourth love is known as ‘Agape’, which refers to selfless and unconditional love, such as we imagine that the gods would have for us, their children upon this earth. Knowing our champion as we do, I cannot think of a more fitting title. Though I must say, I believe that thou embodies this kind of love already, without the need for thou to becomest a Lightwarden.”

“Agape…” the warrior tried the word out loud, mulling it over, “Is it wrong that I like it?”

Alisaie’s lips twitched, “A little, perhaps.”

“If my knowledge serves to satisfy you that you might cease pondering on, as thoust said, morbid topics, then I am satisfied. Now, what doust thou desire for the evening meal?”

Prompt #6 – First Steps

“Does it have to be now?”

“Yes.”

Raforta looked at her granddaughter, and sighed, “You know your sister isn’t going to forgive you lightly.”

“Being there for the other five births wasn’t enough? I doubt this will be the last child she produces, I don’t call them her horde for nothing.”

The elder Hyur chuckled at that, crossing her arms as the pair of them looked out from the top of the mountain, loose snow drifting around in the constant wind.

“If it wasn’t for mother, I would have taken these steps a long time ago. But…” Iscara went silent before shaking her head, “Now is the right time. Right for me.” She turned her head and looked out across the vista of the continent spreading out away from them.

To the right, Ishgard, it’s stone city blending almost seamlessly into the mountains of Dravania beyond. To the left, the mountains of Xelphatal where the Ixal, their ever unpredictable neighbours. Gyr Abania wasn’t quite visible beyond them, but she knew where her grandmother’s homeland lay. But to the South, stretching out for malms, was the forest of the Black Shroud. Just on the horizon she could make out Mor Dhona, her birth place, marked by the Agrius with the Father of Dragons wrapped around it jutting out of the lake.

“Where will you go first?”

“Gridania. It’s one of the three city-states accepting adventurers, and it’s where the lancer’s guild is,” she grinned and looked up at her grandmother, “I want to see if their teachings can hold a candle to yours.”

Raforta snorted, and play wrestled Iscara for a few moments, before pulling her close and giving her a squeeze, “You were always going to leave, my dragonet. So go. See. Experience. Learn. Spread those wings of yours. I suspect the clan will follow along and move back down there in a few more years anyway.”

Iscara didn’t need words to reply, squeezing her close in response, saying a hundred words with that gesture alone. Then, with a smile, she turned away, adjusted her backpack, and started the descent down the front side of the mountain, downward into Eorzea.

Prompt #5 – Vault

The moonlight streamed in through the stained glass windows, the three tiers arching upwards and inwards, curving into the vaulted ceiling, perfectly framing the statue of Halone that towered above even her. Even so, Iscara felt a sense of peace and ease here that had been escaping her in the past weeks.

“I have to admit, this is not one of the places I thought I would find you,” a soft voice came from behind her.

She didn’t turn around as the elezen came up behind her, “I’m fond of Ishgardian architecture, the play of stone and glass together, and there’s no where better to appreciate that then here. Especially under Her gaze.”

“I wasn’t aware that Hydaelyn had decided to grace us with Her presence.”

She reached backwards, smiling at him, “Wrong Her.”

Aymeric frowned at her, and then looked back up at the statue, “Halone?

Iscara squeezed his hand a little.

“Do you follow Halone, Iscara?

“I hold sympathies to a few of The Twelve, but Halone has ever been the one I held closet. I chose to be named under her when I came of age.”

The dark-haired elezen had a broad smile on her face as he looked at her, fondness shining through, “I had little inkling that we shared a patron.”

“No one does, you are the first one to ever ask me about the topic.”

“Ah. I am honoured that you would share the information with me.”

“There’s no one else I would prefer.”

His smile couldn’t get bigger, so Aymeric instead lent down, sealing their lips together in a kiss, beneath Halone’s moonlit gaze.

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Jay-bird snapped her head around, plaited hair thwacking her cheek as she looked around the stone structure, peering around all the adults, looking for something much smaller…there!

“Come back here!”

The tiny Hyur spotted her sister coming, and took off running on a tangent, bare feet smacking against the paved floor of the camp, a boot dangling from each hand. Scowling, the elder sibling gave chase, dodging the adults scattered around, occasionally bumping into them, barely flinging a ‘Sorry’ behind her before continuing the chase. Up stairs, round the parapets, down again, Jay-bird was getting frustrated that she couldn’t catch up with her much smaller sister, given that she had ten years and nearly double her height on her.

She spied the diminutive figure she was chasing duck into one of the buildings, and made a noise of triumph before following in, barely registering that there was a large group of adults clustered around a desk on the far side of the room as she once again cast around for her sister.

Triumph turned to horror almost instantly as Jay-bird spotted her halfway up some stairs curled around the outside of the room, holding out the boots she so despired wearing, and as the sisters looked directly at each other, the younger opened her hands and let the boots drop.

Directly into the large fire that was roaring below.

“Noooooo!” Jay-bird let out a wail, but didn’t get two steps forward before there was a large hand on her shoulder, and her mother pulled her back.

“What on earth are you doing screeching like a banshee young lady? Have you forgotten all semblance of manners?”

“But-”

“No buts! I wouldn’t stand for this even if we were home, let alone when we’re guests here.”

“Mum, she-”

“What did I say about the noise? Go on back outside and play since you can’t be quiet.”

Jay-bird twisted around her mother as she was being forced outside just enough to spot her little sister crouching on the stairs, the biggest grin plastered across her face.

Prompt #3 – Lost

293884104_4169125318001_ff14-ishgard

The city of Ishgard rose out of the ice and mist across the chasm, the tips of the highest spires white-tipped and just catching the pre-dawn light.

Iscara’s legs dangled over the edge of the cliff and she took a drag from the open bottle, the whiskey hitting the back of her throat with it’s customary warm burn, before she wordlessly holds it up.

“Better be a decent vintage.”

“As if I’d insult you like that.”

Her fellow Azure Dragoon let himself fall over heavily next to her, practically lying down, propped up on one arm as he himself took a long drag of the alcohol.

The silence between them was comfortable as the bottle’s contents got lower and lower, passing back and forth between them as the sun peeked over the horizon, slowly illuminating the city and steps of faith. It wasn’t warm, it was Coerthas after all, but it was the light of a new day, and Iscara always found it pleasant to watch, even if the day itself marked an inauspicious occasion.

“I’m surprised you aren’t pestering me with messages from our mutual friends.”

“I didn’t mention where I was going or who with. Besides, you know what they’d say. Aymeric would be markedly to the point in how he understands, but would very much like to know that you are alive and well on occasion. And Alphinaud would never be brief enough to pass a simple message and would instead pass on a letter the size of a small book.”

The dragoon snorted, but didn’t disagree, fishing another bottle out of his own pack and taking a swig, before letting out a breath and muttering under his breath, “A whole year…”

Iscara let her bottle rest in her lap, looking at him, and then over her shoulder to the gravestone they were sitting in front of it, the white and blue flowers she’d placed there earlier gently wafting in the wind. His shield was still resting against the, the jagged hole still causing her a pang deep down as she remembered the spirited elezen.

“Time passes, whether it is welcome or not.”

Estinien grunted, and whilst there were no words spoken, the thoughts were there, emotions hidden behind warrior’s stoicism. He was missed, his loss was still felt.

He raised his bottle up to her shoulder, “To friends, here and gone.”

The warrior of light clacked hers against his, “For those we have lost, and those we can yet save”

Prompt #2 – Bargain

The warrior of light let the sacks of bandages and herbs drop onto the spare infirmary bay and gave a nod in response to the hurried thanks of the chirurgeon’s and they quickly opened them up to assess what could be made from what she had given them.

Wandering away from there, up the stairs to the main plaza of the structure, the Aetheryte casting blue patterns over her skin as she passed it by, she stopped at the command tent, looking over the table with a map of the area. She acknowledged Pipin’s greeting and held out a hand for the latest report of Garlean troop movements, which he passed over to her. Picking up a pen, she started scratching out the lines of those she had encountered on her trip around the Lochs earlier that day.

The soft jingle and sweep of cloth, and the creak of armour told her who was coming up behind her, and Lyse was soon slinging an arm around her shoulders, chin just able to rest of the other one since Iscara was bent over the table slightly.

“Leave some for the rest of us would you Isc?”

“There will always be more Garleans, more’s the pity,” Raubahn’s deep rumbling voice came as he moved around to stand next to Pipin, “Although you efforts are appreciated, Champion.”

Iscara finished with the list, giving the General a small smile as she handed it back to Pipin, and then stretched her back out, cracking her spine in more than one place. Lyse winced, and then took a look at her friends, “Isc, when was the last time you slept?”

The warrior shrugged and continued to stretch out her neck, looking round the rest of the encampment, tracking the movements of the various people around.

“Oh no you don’t. I know what that means when you shrug like that, it’s been a stupid long time hasn’t it? Like a week stupid long. Well not today, you are going to get some sleep, even if I have to drag you to bed myself!”

Iscara turned around and raised a single eyebrow at the statement, as the slightly awkward silence hung in the air. Raubahn coughed, “Phrasing aside, the lass has a point. You’ve been working real hard, and there’s certainly more to come. Rest now, whilst things are easy.”

Crossing her arms, she looked from Lyse to the Raubahn, and then down to Pipin who was nodding emphatically with his father’s words, scrutinising them all.

“I’ll sleep when you all do.”

Lyse took a half step back, “What?”

“There’s no one currently standing around this table who doesn’t look like they’ve been up for three days, so, I will take your advice and sleep when you do the same.”

“Oh, no, I’m…” Lyse trailed off as Iscara fixed her with a look, and then eyed the leaders of the Immortal Flames.

“Well…”

Some bells later, the Elder Seedseer was accompanying the Sultana as they made their way over the command tent and greeted the Admiral and Lord Commander, who were already talking about troupe dispositions and possible Garlean tactics.

“Good afternoon,” the Seedseer greeted her counterparts, “How fare you this day?”

The Sultana was looking around as everyone exchanged greetings, “Are the General and Ala Mhigan commander not here? I would have thought they would have been the first to arrive?”

The Lord Commander smiled, a gentler counterpart to the Admiral’s smirk as she pointed at a nearby tent, “Go see for yourselves what has befallen out shipmates.”

Frowning with curiosity, the Sultana followed the indicated direction over to the tent, gently parting the opening to look in, and had to stifle a giggle at what she saw.

On the bottom of the pile was Raubahn, hand behind his head to act as a pillow. Next to him was Lyse, curled up on her side, only partially trapped under the others. Crossing the both of them was the Warrior of Light, draped across Raubahn’s chest, with one foot practically shoved in Lyse’s face, and the other being hugged by the pugilist. And to top the pile off, Pipin was on Raubahn’s legs, leaning into Iscara’s back. All four of them were breathing steadily, small movements of the chest (or large in Raubahn’s case) indicating that sleep prevailed in the tent space.

The Sultana stifled another giggle as she looked up at the Seedseer who had also come to poke her head and, and ducked back out of the tent, looking up at the Padjal, “I think we can wait to start our meeting for a little while, it seems criminal to disturb them as they are now.”

Prompt #1 – Voracious

KalMyhkThe water splashed up over the rocks, accompanied by a short squeal of effort as Kal Myhk tossed his fish out of the water and pinned it to his rock beneath his claws. Toh Y Thrah was looking warily down at the water, and the over to his fellow dragonet, quite possibly thinking about having a go himself, until another fish flipped out the water and smacked the end of his snout with its tail.

He gave an undignified squeal, launching himself off the rock, only just missing the water, and flapped over to where Iscara was sitting on the bank, skinning the latest Miacid kill for it’s leather. She gave him a wry smile as the young dragon landed beside her, grumbling under his breath about being wet, and wiggling things.

Toh Y Thrah joined them a short while later, flying slightly erratically with two large fish held in his claws, together far larger than the dragonet himself was.

“A good hunt, yes?”

“Is it enough for you to eat?” The Hyur asked.

“Enough for me and my brother both.”

“Then yes, it is a good hunt,” she reached out and gave the dragonet a quick scratch to the scales behind his horn.

Toh Y Thrah huffed, and Iscara looked down at him, “You’ll hunt when you are ready to, it matters not when that day comes.”

The dragonet looked up at her, and then back at the pile of meat and fish that had accumulated behind the warrior, “But I hunger now, and it looks so delicious!”

The warrior gave a rare chuckle, “Never have I known a time when you were not hungry little one,” she teased him, but did slice a cut of meat off the carcass she was finishing up with and let him eagerly snap it out of her hand and wolf it down, “just try to keep your claws off the rest of this until Gullinkambi has had her fill, I have no wish to disappoint a hatching mother due to your bottomless stomach.”

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