To A Thief - Chapter 25: Two ThievesA Chapter by Jobyn
After a little Moblin 101, the two thieves partner up on their own and decide to settle a little issue..
"This is bullcrap.." Stiff grumbled as he pulled on the moblin helmet's large round snout over the front of his face. Afterwards he yanked on the large floppy rubber ears that looked admittedly similar to a real moblin's ears.
Look at me.. I look ridiculous! I'm a Brigadier.. I signed up for a life of adventure, honor, danger, and fame! Not to play dress up! Why is it always me that gets the short end of the stick? Guess it can't be helped.. sigh.
"Aw, it's not so bad..!" Nanaa giggled. "You look surrrprisingly convincing.. but trrry slouching over a little morrre. What do you think, Zigblix?"
Zigblix; the civilized goblin whom had been working under cover for the Brigade during the excavation at Movalpolos jumped down from a stack of boxes and trotted over to the disguised Stiff, standing in front of him and bringing a hand to his mask's snout.
"Hmm.." It spoke in a grainy tone. "Me tinks te Stiff be quite convincing in te armor, yes.. taller tan most, dough moblins come in all sized.. but te Stiff must try and to be more slumpy like te moblins.." He nodded, speaking in that deep goblin accent of his.
"Give me a break.." Stiff grunted. "The armor alone forces my shoulders down enough!"
"Hrnnn.. Yes, te Stiff must sound more like te Zigblix, less like te Stiff.." Zigblix stated as the hume slumped his shoulders a little more.
"What..? I don't understand a word you just said." Stiff rose a brow.
"He's saying, try to sound more like a moblin or a goblin, and less like a retard." Draven put it bluntly.
"Oh, shut up!" Stiff growled, his voice muffled under the moblin mask.
"Yes.. tat is more like te moblins." Zigblix pointed at Stiff as he growled at Draven. "Now te Stiff must try and do te walk like te moblins. Follow te Zigblix's walk.." He said as he began walking around the room aimlessly.
Their walk was rather strange.. each step seemed to shift their whole bodies from side to side and their legs were wide apart.
"Are you crazy? Dressing up is bad enough.. but I'm not going to walk around like one! That's just.. weird!" Stiff protested, throwing his hands in the air.
"Stiff, this is an important mission.." Bear said as he leaned against the wall. "If you don't at least try and make yourself look convincing, you'll end up being compromised by the other moblins and all our efforts and Zigblix's will have been for nothing."
"Guh.." Stiff grunted under his breath, staring at Zigblix as the goblin roamed around the room. ".. Fine."
He reluctantly followed the goblin around the room, trying his best to imitate the slumped body movements and short, wide foot steps. It wasn't long before he got it down, but he couldn't help but notice Nanaa and Annie laughing under their breaths.
"I look like I have a fricken' rash.." Stiff grumbled, stopping and removing his helmet. "Are we done? I want to get the hell out of this outfit now.."
"Te Stiff seems to be quite te natural wit tese tings.. he follows along fast-like." Zigblix grunted in a pleased manner. "Te Stiff is impatient like te moblins as well. Te Zigblix shall henceforth know him as te Stiffalblix.. Moblin of te Movalpolos Excavation Unit."
"Stiffalblix.. nice name." Annie snorted.
"Indeed." Nanaa purred.
"So stupid.." Stiff grumbled as he held the moblin helmet to his side. "Can I go now?"
"Sure." Bear shrugged. "Make sure to keep that armor stashed in your dorm room. We paid a pretty beastcoin for that thing.. don't lose it. Vincent will dispatch us tomorrow afternoon, so we have the rest of the day off to do any necessary preparations or upgrades."
"Tch.. like anyone would want this thing." Stiff muttered, walking out of the shop after taking off the armor and putting his own clothes back on. "Well, I'll see you guys later."
Stiff left the others to brief on their side of the mission and made his way out into the bustling streets of Lower Jeuno with the moblin armor in a case he held at his side. The sky was just about beginning to dim as the evening sky left. He didn't really feel like dealing with any of that mission mumbo jumbo right now. Plus, he wanted to see how Okina was doing.
Apparently, the monkey girl had passed out cold after her little show with the supposed magicite inside of her. It had wiped all of her body's energy clean out and she had since been in their shared dorm room since the day before; after the battle.
Looks like those powers take a toll on her after all.. she may be a powerful weapon experiment, but even Okina has her limits.
I should give Vincent hell for pushing her that hard.. but I wouldn't want to risk us both getting in trouble. It's not like I'd be able to do much anyway.
I was hardly at the fight.. I didn't even get a chance to show Moku my current progress. While everyone else was having fun and fighting some huge battle, I was stuck in some creepy, boring place Altana-knows-where.
Those b******s.. that's the last time they ever get the jump on me..
What was that place anyway? Those strange creatures.. that shadow that saved me..? Was I simply dreaming? No.. it happened. I had the holes in my clothes to prove it before Lidia sowed them back up. And if I recall.. I somehow split my Pulse Attack in two..
I had two Pulse Attacks? I wonder..
Stiff looked down at his hands in deep thought, a perplexed and lost expression on his face. "I'm.. not normal. I can't run from it anymore. There's something inside of me.. something evil. What will happen if I turn like that around everyone else?" He thought.
"Why so bummed out? Does it bother you that much?" Draven's voice broke him away from his thoughts as the blonde went over to him.
Stiff looked up with a distant look on his face, still clearing his head from the images.
He continued. "We aren't trying to make fun of you, you know.. you might not want to hear it, but the only reason Vincent had you dress in the outfit was because.. well, you're the smallest in the linkshell aside from Okina- who will most definitely be out for a while to recover. No one else would fit in that moblin armor.."
Stiff remained silent for a moment before quickly waving his hands in front of him. "Oh no- it's not that.. I was just thinking of something else." He chuckled nervously.
"Hm? About what?" Draven blinked.
Bleh.. I shouldn't tell him. The last thing this linkshell needs is more suspicion on their hands.
"Well.." Stiff cleared his throat, thinking of something to say, sticking his hands in his pockets before a thought hit him. "I'm flat broke. I have no gil for supplies or gear.. Okina pretty much spent what I had been saving on buying her snacks.. and the only decent equipment on me right now is the new dagger Moku gave me and this brigandine body piece.. the rest isn't even worth mentioning." He grumbled; all of which was true. He examined Draven's armor and sighed. "How do you keep up?"
"Hmm.." Draven leaned against one of the crates against a railing and looked out at the vast crystal sea which was in plain sight along side Lower Jeuno. "I can help you out there, if you're willing to wake up early every morning.."
Stiff felt his spirits lift up a little, almost completely forgetting about the thoughts that had been clouding his mind. "Really? You will?? Great! I'm more than willing to do that." He grinned. "What's your secret?"
"I'll explain tomorrow. You'll see." He simply said, pushing himself off the crate and making his way down the street with his hand rested on the hilt of his sword. "You'd better sleep early tonight."
"Aw.. fine." Stiff muttered dejectedly. "I'll see ya then, I guess.."
It wasn't much longer until Stiff eventually laid in bed - alone this time - and started drifting off into sleep. Okina laid silently on the twin bed beside his, sleeping so soundly it felt as if she was hardly there. She had not stirred an inch.
"G'night, Okina.." He muttered silently before letting sleep take him.
"So.." Moku started as he looked up at a portrait in Vincent's quarters. "What are we going to do about Stiff? It's obvious he's become a main target."
Vincent sat up on his chair in front of his desk and looked forward in thought. "Until we can further investigate the cause, I'm going to have to keep him busy.. and out of the way from our more concerning missions."
"I see." Moku nodded, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Though I don't see how his current mission isn't concerning either.. our enemies have certainly grown fond of magicite as of late. Their use of it is rather.. dangerous."
"Yes, but I thought this was a good opportunity to keep him on the down-low." Vincent sighed with a light smirk.
Moku chuckled. "Ah, you mean the moblin armor.. yes, he looks rather convincing in it, or so I've heard. It'll be an interesting mission for sure."
Stiff dreamt of the emptiness that night.. the same place he had been in after being abducted by Gazo, Daan, and the ninja girl. He dreamt of the strange similarity in that world and his own; dreamt of his child self and that little blonde girl.. it all felt so familiar, yet so distant.
As the empty in the dream turned to face him and charged at him, he was pulled to safety by a sudden hand that came dropping above him and picked him up by the shoulder. It was then that his eyes shot open, the grasp of the hand waking him from his sleep as he now looked up at a figure before him in his dorm room.
Adjusting to the dim light coming in from the curtains, he could see Draven looking down at him with an impatient look on his face and shaking him gently. "Wake up.. it's time."
It took Stiff about two seconds to register what was going on, then remembered their little chat the previous day. Once it hit him, he sat up quicker than he meant to because of both his surprise and because of his delayed response. "Oh ye- OW!"
He had gotten up way too fast and in the midst of the dim lighting, had bumped his own head against Draven's. Both now clutched their foreheads grunting.
"You.. damn moron.." Draven whispered in a rasp tone as he walked away from the bed. "What the hell was that..!?"
"Sorry!" Stiff whispered back quickly. "It's still dark in here and you surprised me.."
"I told you I was gonna wake you up yesterday.. you idiot. Whatever. Let's just get going.. I hope I'm not making a mistake bringing you along." Draven whispered back bitterly as he walked out the door.
"Heh.. s-sorry.." Stiff apologized once more, jumping out of bed and putting on his armor. and boots. Turning to Okina who still slept soundly on her bed and hardly moved an inch, he tucked her in and gently slid her blanket over her shoulder, resting it under her chin before walking out of the room and shutting the door.
Everyone appeared to be asleep still, except for Wert who was working on a blacksmithing recipe list. He simply nodded to them in greeting as they walked past the common room, obviously unable to speak because of his missing tongue.
Outside, the streets of Jeuno were calmer than they were in the later morning hours, but even so still had some early birds walking about minding their own business.
"So, where we headed?" Stiff asked Draven as he yawned loudly, stretching his arms out.
"To La Theine Plateau." Draven replied as he made his way to the chocobo stables. "You'll see when we get there.."
"La Theine, huh?" Stiff echoed. "Man, if I had a gil for how many times I've been through there lately.. "
"This is a specific spot under La Theine." Draven added.
"I see.." Stiff muttered. "What about breakfast? Won't we be starving?"
Draven simply threw a medium-sized pouch behind him over his head at Stiff and continued saddling up his chocobo. "You can eat along the way."
Inside the pouch were some fruits and sweetbread.
"Oh, okay. Thanks." Stiff said, mildly disappointed by the simple breakfast. He couldn't help but think of Lidia's food the previous morning.
I think you know by now the route back from Jeuno to La Theine goes.
It took roughly about forty minutes of traversing on chocoback to get to our destination; which was a cavern deep inside one of the crevices in La Theine known as Ordelle's Cave.
It's a rather curious cave.. it got its name by the founder; Lord Ordelle whom was an Elvaan explorer. What's kind of cool is that the map of this place sort of resembles a hume body. You would think we'd need some sort of light source to be crazy enough to walk in there.. but oddly enough, the beautiful lime stone cavern was covered in glowing crystals that lines its rough walls with enough light to see.
Still, how Draven managed to wander in here so early in the morning alone before was beyond me.
"Are you sure it's okay to come all the way out here before our mission?" Stiff asked as he tied his chocobo beside Draven's.
"We have until noon before then.. we've got plenty of time. I don't plan on us sticking around here too long, anyway. Not with you here."Draven said. "This should go by faster."
"Man, now I have to know what it is you're planning.." Stiff sighed, feeling a bit impatient.
"Little more.." Draven smirked lightly.
The two wandered deeper and deeper into the caverns until they dropped down into a large wide open area. They had been so far in that Stiff started getting rather nervous about how they would get back; but was put at ease when Draven assured him there was a shortcut out of here from this room that was a one-way exit.
"Now can you tell me what we're doing here?" Stiff pressed on, nudging Draven as they stood around.
Draven looked around the room for a moment before motioning his head over to the far left. "That."
What he was pointing to, was a strange sort of what first appeared to be a thick dark liquid seeping out of a wide crack in the wall, but as it stretched out further towards the ground, it dropped down with a wet plop and began to morph itself into a smooth mound with a flat surface.
"What.. the hell?" Stiff blinked in surprise as he watched this strange slime-like fluid that moved around on its own as if it were alive. "What in the name of altana is that thing?"
"They're various form of living slime that inhabit the more enclosed parts of the world.. mainly dark, damp areas.. but they're known to seep into the surface in search of food."
"You mean these things eat!?" Stiff asked perplexed.
"Well.. kind of. Rather than eat, they absorb various materials they find around the world into their bodies and digest them over time. Many of them like to hang around this area."
"Nevermind that!" Stiff grunted. "You brought me here for a something like slime?"
Draven shook his head and pointed towards the slime that was sliding around aimlessly. "Look closely, idiot.."
Stiff rose a brow and turned to look towards the slime again, squinting his eyes as it passed by a glowing crystal that made its body seem a bit transparent. Inside its slimy body, he could see various items that either were half-digested, or were still fresh and seemed rather valuable. In fact, they seemed to only absorb items of the highest quality; mainly smaller things like jewelry.
"Whoa!" Stiff exclaimed as he saw what Draven meant now.
"People drop valuable items almost everyday without realizing it while out in the open world. Items like jewelry which simply become slime food if left unfound." Draven said. "Of course, they like to look through corpses and graves as well.. nonetheless, I'd say it's either slime food, or ours for the taking. These things can be quite the pest anyway."
"I guess.. that's not really stealing if it's about to be eaten." Stiff grinned to himself in thought. "Alright! This was a damn good idea! Let's get to it, then." He said, running over to the slime and about to reach inside of it and yank the items out before stopping mid-reach and turning back to Draven with a suspicious look. "There's a catch.. isn't there?"
Draven smirked and shook his head. "Well, at least you bothered to ask.. yes, there is. They're either really fast and can escape through the smallest of cracks, or they'll flex their slimy exoskeleton until the slime is as hard as crystal. That's when you should avoid getting hit by one.. they can stretch their slime out quite far."
"Fast..?" Stiff blinked, looking back down to where the slime had been, seeing that it was gone. "What the..!? It was just here.. there it is!" He exclaimed, pointing at the same one that was now seeping out of another crack in the room. "Let's get it!"
"With you here, this will go by a lot faster.. but you'll have to use that Pulse Attack of yours." Draven nodded. "If all goes well, we'll be out with a bag full of jewelry.. here's what we'll do:
I'll approach them first, get them to start flexing their exoskeleton, then when their slime is hard enough, you run in and shatter it whole with your Pulse Attack. Got it? That way, there won't be as much of a mess to reach into when we retrieve whatever it is they have. We'll rest whenever you need to."
"Sounds good to me!" Stiff grinned. "This is gonna be fun.."
So after countless Pulse Attacks, we managed to litter the area of hard slime bits and half-digested materials for other slimes to take - as they seemed to consume other slime as well - and leave ourselves with a decent bag of rings, bracelets, and the like.
All in all we had been doing this for about three hours.
Can't say I wasn't tired as all hell, though.. I think I fired off at least twenty Pulse Attacks before falling flat on my face from exhaustion. My arm actually started to hurt.. Draven called it 'energy burn'. Your body could only take so much of it.
Stiff caught his breath as he pressed his back against Draven's, both thieves sitting down in the middle of the room since there was no decent spot to sit against and the walls were lined with potential slime cracks.
"Why did you push yourself so hard?" Draven frowned as he began sifting through their pouch of loot, dividing their shares equally. "I told you to rest when you needed to.. not to keep going until you couldn't even stand."
"Heh.." Stiff breathed out. "You kidding me..? That was nothing.. besides, the faster we did this, the more stuff we could find..!"
Draven sighed helplessly once more, putting his share in his own pouch and handing the rest to Stiff. "Try not to do it again next time.. being surrounded by these things when you've got no energy left would be a bad thing." He muttered, but soon after smirked lightly. "Anyway, you did pretty good.. I've actually got a bigger pouch full than when I come alone.. and that's in my share alone. Good job, Stiff."
"Heh.. No.. problem." Stiff breathed, sifting through his own share and examining the shiny wares. "Piece of cake. So, Draven.. how'd you even find out about this place?"
Draven went silent for a moment as his eyes gazed around the cavern walls before replying, ".. My father and his childhood friend used to come here when they were around our age." He said. "They used to do this for a living every morning. This was their spot. Eventually, they grew out of it and started making easier money.. but when times got tough sometime when I was still a kid, he brought me here one day and told me.. that if I ever had trouble making money while out adventuring in the world, this would be a good place to start."
"Wow.." Stiff listened on as he too gazed at the cavern walls lined with small crystals. "That sounds cool.. so we've basically inherited that spot now, huh?" He asked with a light grin.
Draven snickered under his breath. "Yeah.. I guess. Anyway, I think we've gone through enough slimes for today.. it's about time we start heading back. At this rate, we'll be making a fortune off these things."
"Cool. Let's get outta here!" Stiff nodded, hopping back onto his feet and stretching his back. "Hope we get in some time before the mission to sell this stuff."
Later on after arriving back at Jeuno, we sold all of our treasure almost immediately upon placing it up for bids at the auction house.
Together, we made exactly one-million gil! That's five-hundred thousand each! Shoot, I already felt like I was making a fortune.. But even so, I spent over half of that gil buying some new and very expensive gear. I didn't regret it one bit.
It's a shame I'll be stuck wearing moblin armor for this mission..
"Kahlee." The hooded man spoke in his powerful voice as he sat down on his chair in the center of his dark chamber.
A young-looking mithran woman with dark sleeveless armor similar to the others daintily fixed her gauntlets onto her hands and plopped herself onto her large black-furred pet saber tooth. "Yes?" She asked casually. "You called?"
Her white hair fell in bangs over the sides of her delicate face, the rest of her hair falling just over the back of her neck rather shortly.
"I want you to make your way over to Movalpolos. See to the progress of the moblins.. they have kept me waiting long enough. I will not wait any longer." The man ordered her. "Do make sure they are ready."
She licked her lips and gave a drawn out soft laugh, throwing her legs over her saber tooth's back and patting its head gently. "If you say so, love.. It's about damn time.. I was getting quite borrred being holed up in this s**t hole. Well then, my dearrr.. I'm off!"
"I won't tolerate any more delays." He simply said.
Kahlee's saber tooth let out a piercing roar and romped out of the hideout at full speed with the mithra on its back, its paws thudding heavily on the ground.
It would seem the Brigadier group heading into Movalpolos are to have an unexpected guest.. how will this affect their mission?
Find out in Chapter 26: Moblin Madness
© 2011 Jobyn
Added on May 16, 2011
Last Updated on November 4, 2011
Tags: adventure drama comedy brotherly
To A Thief