To A Thief - Chapter 45: Mom and DadA Chapter by Jobyn
After seventeen years, Stiff finally learns of his mother and father, as well as the importance of his past.
Draven stood amid a barren expanse of gray hills and valleys that stretched on towards the mountains. This place was as lifeless as it looked. The only signs that there ever used to be life here, was various sections and heaps of aged wood lying over and around the valleys.
He stood in the middle of such evidence, old, brittle, and broken floorboards lying beneath him and nearly crumbling with each step. His clothes and face were coated with a layer of dirt and sand that had endlessly blown over him as he traveled the dead highlands. It was as if he himself was part of all this barren gray.
But for whatever reason, he was here now. And before him stood that man. The mysterious leader of the Descent who's face was always shrouded by the hood of his dark cloak with only a pair of thin lips to show for it.
"I knew you would come here," the man started. "So you've begun to remember, haven't you?"
Draven stared at the man without emotion on his face. His eyes remained in that darkened state of black. The only signs of the young man in them were the blue that once shone fiercely like that of a lone wolf you'd come face to face with.
The hooded man held his hand out towards the dead valley. "And now you've remembered once again what years of war those of Altana have wrought to your once beautiful home..."
Draven remained silent.
The man turned slowly as his eyes traced the landscape of this place. When his back was to Draven, he pulled down the hood of his cloak to reveal a head of brown hair and a pair of furry cat-like ears. Not much else could be seen besides that and the lowered hood, however it was quite obvious that he was a one of the rare and elusive male Mithra. "Grauberg," the man said aloud in a distant tone, holding his arms out. "I remember it as if it were yesterday. These valleys were once a place of tranquil beauty and peace, every hill riddled with lush green and trees. Before Altana's forces fortified themselves here and brought with them the evil of the Beastmen, the only ones who resided here in harmony with the wild life were those of the Azure Wolf Clan. Your clan. Isn't that right, Draven?"
Once again, Draven did not speak.
"Your clan trusted those of Altana to preserve the nature of your home. They promised you they would not bring the chaos of their land into your home," The man continued, pulling his hood back over his head and turning his attention back to Draven. "And yet, little by little... as the Beastmen advanced on the allied forces, they continued to pull deeper into your home, stripping it of its tranquility along the way. The Azure Wolf clan could do nothing but watch as their promise was broken, and both home and family struck down at the hands of the Beastmen."
Draven finally clasped his head as vivid images of his past began to prowl him.
Always running. Always hiding. Always dying.
"Over the years, it was believed that the Azure Wolf Clan died out because of the war. They would not abandon their home and so, they died with it. That is, all of them but two..."
Draven kept his hand against his forehead, but looked up at the hooded man with straining eyes, "Two?"
"That's right. There is another besides you," the man said. "Someone whom I'd like you to meet."
Digging his fingers into the aged floorboards of his family's old home, Draven gritted his teeth.
"I can see you are still angry at me," the man said calmly. "You want to take revenge on me for killing your mentor, and for the death of your parents. However, Daan had his own reasons for that. I had not yet met him then and had no involvement in the death of your loved ones."
Draven stood up, clenching his hand into a fist and removing the other from his face. "And I'm supposed to believe that? Just shut up already. You're annoying."
"Believe what you wish. It matters not," the man lowered his arms to his sides. "Either way, you may claim vengeance of me- if you can."
Without giving it another moment's thought, Draven charged at the man not bothering to unsheathe his sword. The dark emptiness once again began to pour out of his body.
Norg - Docks
"How you feeling?" Lion asked Stiff as she walked over to him and sat beside him at the edge of the docks as Sekai's crew prepared his airship for their flight.
Stiff had been thinking about what Sekai said yesterday. Up until now he still hadn't told him anything. He glanced at Lion then looked back at the airship shaking his head. "Oh, nothing. Just thinking about about what Sekai is gonna have us do today. Has he told you anything yet?"
"Me?" She asked without turning to him. Leaning back on her hands, she looked up and kicked her feet up in the air. "Nope. Just something about how I'm going to be taking it easy today and that he's got something for you to do instead!"
"What? He didn't tell me that!" Stiff turned to her in confusion. "Then why are you coming?"
"Eh, figured I'd tag along for moral support!" She giggled, giving him a playfully sinister look.
Stiff gave a drawn out sigh. "Moral support... right." He was sure she meant immoral. "Well, thanks I guess."
"Mhm!" She nodded, looking over at the airship as Sekai whistled them and the crew over.
"We're leavin' this joint!" Sekai shouted. "Get those asses moving!"
"You ready?" Lion peeked over at Stiff with a half-expectant smile, as if she didn't think he was.
Stiff only replied with a "Tch," rolling onto his back and then jumping onto his feet with the use of his hands. "More than you'll ever be!"
Lion followed behind, watching him as he ran up the ramp of the airship and muttered, "Hope so." If it was something Sekai had planned specifically for Stiff, it probably was going to be something big.
The Icarus Wing Mk. III
We boarded Sekai's Airship- The Icarus Wing Mark III as he likes to call it, and took off towards the West. It was aboard the ship that Sekai finally approached me about yesterday's subject. We decided to go into the ship's main cabin, along with Lion.
"Stiff," Sekai began, leaning against the railing overlooking the rest of the cabin below. "Before anything, I'd like to confirm that contrary to any beliefs or even theories you might have picked up over the years, your parents indeed died when you were born."
Stiff looked down at the floor. Of course he didn't expect to find them alive somewhere. He knew they were long gone. But still, the truth kinda hurts no matter how many times you hear it. "Yeah... I know."
Sekai crossed his arms and sighed before continuing. "I know your father's body was never actually found, but... there was evidence that he had attempted to reach your mother during the war just before she gave birth to you. Oh, his name was Aiden by the way. For so many years I looked for Aiden, but I never found him. He just disappeared one day before reuniting with you and your mother."
"Aiden..." Stiff echoed his name, letting the name sink in. "My father's name was Aiden."
"Don't think for a second that he just up and left your mother, either. He loved your mother very much. I know this, because... I used to have a crush on Serena long, long ago. Before Aiden met her. We went to school together when we were kids, albeit not in the same classes. Just in the same building. I met her there while learning about airships- I've always fancied air crafts in stories you see, and when I found out the main cities were going to be using that technology publicly soon, I decided to learn as much as I could about them so I could have my own one day when I grew up. Your mother was taking dancing lessons then," Sekai spoke, a smile on his face which then turned into a smirk. "She bumped into me one day while dancing in the hallway."
"Serena," Stiff echoed as he stood there listening intently to Sekai, "You... you knew both of my parents? Since you were a kid? All this time, you knew..."
Sekai nodded to him. "Yes. I am sorry for not taking you with me when I met you ten years ago. I wouldn't have been able to take care of you then... so I decided I would do it at a later date. I knew who you were the moment I looked at your face, but I had you confirm it by telling me your name. You look a lot like your father, who I grew to admire over the short time I had met and hated him. You seem to share those traits with him as well," Sekai grinned.
Stiff blinked for a second, reaching up and touching his own face before smiling. "You think so?"
"Yep. He was a good looking guy, Stiff. Real sharp," Sekai nodded with a smirk. "Drove the ladies crazy. Yet he only ever pushed for your mother."
Stiff listened eagerly. "Tell me more about my mom. Was she beautiful?"
Sekai nodded, looking up with reminiscent eyes. "Most beautiful girl I had ever seen. And she was an incredibly talented dancer. But where she really shined, was in her warm heart. No matter how much fame she had going on, she never became arrogant. Such modesty is lost among those of high status. In fact, that is something she shared with your father. I've yet to meet a pair like them," he said, reaching over and ruffling Stiff's hair. "You have your father's looks, your mother's hair, and both of their hearts."
Stiff felt a mixture of happiness and sadness. He was so glad that his parents were such nice people, but he was also sad that he never got the chance to be with them. "Thanks..."
"In fact," Sekai continued. "You can find old articles at The Merry Minstrel in Lower Jeuno of her. I'm sure they are still lying around in the rubble. The owner of that tavern was so grateful for her acts that he made her one of his official mascots. Have you not seen the dancing maid in the Minstrel's banner?"
"The dancing maid...?" Stiff blinked.
Yes... the banner of The Merry Minstrel's tavern has what looks like a Minstrel playing a Lute. The Lute forms visible musical notes that shape the letters 'The Merry Minstrel.' A dancing woman wearing light red and black frilly garbs danced along the other end of the letters as if she had written them herself by movement.
"Don't tell me that's...?" I looked at him in surprise.
Sekai grinned. "Right you are, mate."
"So cool," I smiled wide. "I would have had a famous mom!"
Lion smiled warmly at Sekai. "You really liked her, didn't you Sekai?"
Sekai gave a light nod, pushing himself off the railing and giving a more stern expression. "Another thing about your mother that you've inherited: She was very advanced in handling daggers. She was always thinking of ways to better her act, and when she first took hold of a dagger in hand, she instantly grew fascinated with them. Serena learned to handle daggers with such precision and grace, that it left her audience in awe every single time she'd combine them with her dances. She only got better and better from there. In the end, she taught me how to dual-wield in her style after I became a Thief... and now, through her teachings, you've learned it as well."
Stiff's eyes widened as he looked down at his hands. That fancy way of dual-wielding Sekai had taught him... it came from his mother. "No way! So mom practically taught me to dual-wield like that...?"
"Yes," Sekai nodded. "I don't want to get into details about the fights me and Aiden had, but let's just say I realized why Serena liked him so much. Time and time again, he proved that it was okay for me to like him too. I trusted him with Serena's heart. And rightfully so."
Stiff smiled, looking up at his mentor. "I'm glad."
"Now, about Eri," Sekai started. "I don't know half as much about her as I did of Aiden and Serena, other than she was a good friend of theirs, but I do know that she was a Dawn Child."
Stiff furrowed his brows in thought. He wasn't familiar with that term. "Dawn Child?"
"What's that?" Lion tilted her head curiously.
"They are the children of Altana that have been blessed with all elements without limitations, as well as with the ability to combine a number of them into one great spell," Sekai explained. "It is usually hereditary. Very rarely you'll hear of somebody unlocking these abilities in the later stages of their lives, such as Eri. Not only that, but there were only a select few Dawn Children in Vana'diel. Most were believed to have been exterminated during the Great Crystal War... though there is one whom we've learned of recently."
"Really?" Stiff asked in disbelief. He had never heard of a Dawn Child before, nor had Eri ever said anything about it. But he did see her combine spells once before the dreaded Beastman raid on the orphanage.
"Who is it?" Lion asked. She was equally interested.
"Um, well," Sekai cleared his throat. "It's your friend Moku, actually. He had been combining elements since he was a toddler. And as of now he is the only Dawn Child I know of."
"Moku!?" Stiff nearly jumped back. "Seriously? That's crazy! I've never seen Moku do that before..."
"He's obviously not going to advertise it, dummy," Lion mumbled. "Sheesh, Stiff. You got quite the history of friends and family!"
"Heh," Stiff smiled helplessly. "You got that right."
Sekai looked over the railing out through the glass panes as land came into view. He jumped below and seated himself at the controls. "There's one last thing you need to see before we do what we came here to do."
The mysterious Descent leader dropped to one knee, clasping his chest as he looked up at the catalyst before him. "Hngh... untamed emptiness," he muttered, letting out a cough. "I forgot how powerful it was."
The aura of dark emptiness that burned around Draven was stronger than before. The young man stood there, looking at his opponent with merciless eyes. He growled as he dug his feet into the ground and streamlined with unnatural speed along the emptiness, heading straight for the hooded man.
"Kgh," the man gritted his teeth, digging his fingers into the ground as he realized he was virtually out of options.
Draven was naught but an inch away from reaching him before he felt himself suddenly frozen in place. Not only that, but he was frozen in midair.
Confused, he looked down and saw that a separate stream of emptiness was holding him in place. One that was coming from another source. Turning his head to look, he saw a young and somewhat androgynous cloaked boy with crimson red hair standing there, a deviant smirk on his face as he held his hand out and seemingly manipulated the emptiness.
"Take it easy, wolf boy," he said in a young tone. A pair of pointed fangs glinted in the light as he spoke. "Gee boss, you were a teeny tiny hair away from being pulverized."
"Who the hell is that?" Draven thought. These clowns just never stopped coming.
"Hmph," the hooded man grumbled as he stood up weakly. "What kept you, Ecco?"
"Hey, give me a break, boss!" The boy who was called Ecco exclaimed in defense, albeit with a giggle. "You asked for a very specific list of recruits, you know! Some of these people didn't trust me for years... but I think I've won their hearts over for now."
"So, you've got them all, then?" The hooded man asked as he walked over to the suspended Draven.
"Uh-huh," Ecco nodded with a smirk. "They're in hibernation as we speak."
"Very well," the man said as he walked over to Draven and looked up at him. "Do me a favor and tame him."
"Yeah, yeah," Ecco sighed, closing his hand into a fist and letting Draven drop to the ground. "Sweet dreams, wolf boy..."
"What..." Draven mumbled as he began to fall into a deep sleep, his vision turning to black and the sounds of their voices fading away.
The hooded man looked down at Draven, saying to him before he blacked out entirely, "We share the same destiny. My kind- my family, too, was caught in the crossfires of Altana's war. We shall rebuild a new world. A world without the Goddess."
"Let's go already," Ecco groaned lazily. "I wanna get out of this cloak and into my normal clothes!"
We arrived in a beautiful chain of small islands known as the Tavnazian Archipelago, although we weren't at our exact destination just yet. The Icarus Wing landed on a separate island along the sea bed where a lone and abandoned building stood.
It almost looked like something out of a ghost story, what with the sky covered in rain clouds and a chilly wind blowing.
As the trio walked down the ramp of the airship and onto the soft green grass, Sekai motioned them over to the aged building. "Over there."
It wasn't much bigger than an outpost, and one could clearly see that it had been abandoned for years. It had a rough design to it, as if it were hastily built for shelter during the war.
"What is this place, Sekai?" Stiff asked, confused as to what they were doing in a spot like this.
Continued on the Next Page ->
© 2012 Jobyn
Added on March 5, 2012
Last Updated on March 12, 2012
Tags: adventure drama comedy brotherly
To A Thief