The Inexplicable Accident

Hydaelyn date: 1571/8/4
Place: Ul'dah
Posted on 16 Feb 2017 08:53

It had been a long summer, Sharcos reflected. The chocobo coach swayed as it traversed the road ever closer to Ul'dah. When he had left his homeland of Coerthas, he had expected to reach Ul'dah in a matter of weeks, not months, but life had a way of happening. This time, life had taken him to what had been intended as a brief detour to see the sights of Vylbrand, but circumstances beyond his control had made him stay for far longer than he had intended. Not that he had complained much, after working through the initial shock of not being able to leave when he wanted to, in a place so far removed from home. It had been quite an eye-opening experience in a lot of ways.

Sharcos turned to look beyond the chocobos towards their destination. They were just about to pass through the gates, as if the deep shadows weren't indication enough. The other passengers on the coach seemed disinterested at best, but the great walls of Ul'dah still made him want to stare, hours after they had first come into sight. It might be that even the walls of Ishgard itself didn't cover this much ground. The city loomed huge ahead of him, even as he had already lost the ability to see all of it contained in his field of vision.

There was a lot of hustle and bustle beyond the gates, and to Sharcos's admittedly untrained eye it seemed like festivities were ongoing. There was music even, coming from somewhere within the crowd. He watched as they passed through a street filled with the stands of merchants, curious passerbys inspecting their wares.
"I'll buy you anything you want, dear!"
"It's exquisite."
Random snatches of conversation from the street drifted to his ears. Sharcos paid them no heed and instead watched the scenery go by. They were surrounded by steep walls with buildings built into the walls, and alleyways branched off from the street, all within the walls as well. It boggled his mind to think of all the work it must have required to build all this. The experience was akin to being in a deep canyon back home in the mountains, albeit one with vastly more humanity packed in it.

The coach stopped beneath one of the huge gateways on the streets to let out the passengers. Sharcos stood up to debark along with the others. Just as he stepped down onto the streets of Ul'dah, he heard it.
"Hear…" The voice was distinctly separate from the other background chatter on the streets. There was a quality about it made him unable to not hear it.
"Feel… Think…" Sharcos looked around, trying to identify the source of the voice. He soon forgot it, however, as he happened to look up at the sky. It was dark, much darker than it should have been in the midday sun. He had been feeling the warmth of the sun just moments before, he could have sworn on it. And yet, there the darkness was. And then to make it worse, a bright spot appeared in the middle of it and started spewing out bright strands of fire. He quickly looked away, only to be blinded by light.

"Look father, fireworks!" Another quick glance confirmed an excited girl nearby. Yet another quick glance up at the sky provided another surprise - no darkness, only the blue sky and the white clouds, and fireworks blooming in the sky. He shook his head, in an attempt to clear it, and started doubting his senses. Maybe the long coach journey had taken more of a toll on him than he'd thought.

The people were reveling in the festivities. A roegadyn - a sight he was still not used to, despite several months in Limsa Lominsa - passed by, this one with red skin. That was unlike their Lominsan brethren for sure, they all seemed to tend towards greys and blues and greens there.

"And where in this marvel of a city might you ladies be staying?" There was, in fact, nothing extraordinary about the day at all, save perhaps if you counted the festivities as extraordinary. Sharcos shook his head again and headed down one of the smaller alleys. Perhaps being away from the crowds might help. The sheer volume of humanity was another thing he wasn't used to, despite being born and half raised within sight of the walls of Ishgard, he had never actually been to the city itself. There had never been any need to go.

"Father, are the fireworks over already? What's next!? What's next!? Is it the parade? Is the parade next? Is everyone going to the parade?"
It was the same girl who had marveled at the fireworks before, Sharcos was fairly certain of it. There was to be a parade soon? He paid more attention to his surroundings, and at the sound of approaching crowds, meandered back towards where he'd come from, the brightly chattering girl and her father following close by. And there it was. A large festival float was approaching, carrying a big goobbue. He raised eyebrows at that, but nobody seemed to be paying any mind to the possible danger involved. It did seem to have a contraption of some sort around its neck, so he surmised it must be bound in some way from causing harm to all these people.

"Come and get your flowers! Flowers for all! Enjoy the festivities!" Sharcos turned around, and found a miqo'te surrounded by a small crowd.
"What kept you?" The voice from just behind his shoulder startled him initially, but it soon became apparent that the red-skinned roegadyn wasn't talking to him. He approached the flower girl and wondered if all cities must be so full that you couldn't even necessarily know who was talking to who.
He meandered around the edge of the crowd around the flower girl, who ended up giving one of her white flowers to the roegadyn. He seemed hesitant to receive it at first.
"Take it. As a precaution."
"Oh, I… uh…" The roegadyn finally accepted the flower at the urging of the elezen man who seemed to be his superior, and left Sharcos wondering why taking a flower would be a precaution.
"Let us go." The two went about their ways, and the flower girl approached where Sharcos was standing. Without his noticing the girl from before had wandered into this particular corner of the crowd as well, and received a flower for her efforts.
"For me? Really? Thank you!"
"Pretty, aren't they? Now, be a sweetling and make sure everybody gets one, alright?" The flower girl said as she handed over her basket to the girl.
"I will!" The flower girl then took off at a run. The reason for her haste became apparent as she vaulted up one of the parade floats and started dancing, taking her place among the dancers upon the floats. Sharcos himself took up position among the crowds lining the streets.

"Ah, the famed Songstress of Ul'dah. So flowers DO grow in the desert." The man next to him was openly admiring the dancers. It appeared that the Songstress he mentioned was the miqo'te woman who had just distributed them flowers. She must be well-known indeed to have passers-by mention her like that. Sharcos turned his attention back to the dancers, and vaguely noted that the sound of a horn rang throughout the alley, seemingly separate from the revelries going on around it.

It was quite a few heartbeats later that it happened. The goobbue on the parade, in the float after the one bearing the Songstress, broke free from its fetters. It seemed to Sharcos that it went straight for the dancers, but that might have been just because they were right before its eyes, moving about, surely enraging its predatory instincts.

There was an impossibly loud crash as the goobbue smashed apart the float. After recovering himself enough to think even for a moment, he made sure that the goobbue was otherwise occupied with the people and rubble on the other side of the float, and then took a few steps towards the rubble even as people jostled and jolted around him to get as far away as possible. The dancer seemed mostly unharmed thankfully, he sighed in relief as she came to sight lying on the street.

"F'lhaminn, are you hurt?" To his surprise, it was the elezen with the roegadyn servant from before who was the first to run up to the dancer. Even as she was recovering, her head suddenly snapped up.
"Nielle, look out!" Sharcos himself took a few instinctive steps back as he saw that the goobbue was finished with its business elsewhere and was now heading straight towards the two on the street.
"Over here!" It was the man who had praised the dancer before. He ran towards the beast waving his arms furiously, allowing the dancer and the elezen man time to run away safely. "Oh dear gods, I hope I live to regret this."

Sharcos grabbed his lance, still safely strapped to his back. He couldn't just walk away could he? He took a few hesitant steps towards the man and the goobbue, just to have to evade as the goobbue grabbed a part of the float and flung it at the man. Both Sharcos and him moved to a clearer area just beyond the nearby gateway, the very same one, Sharcos noticed in the back of his mind, that the coach had left out its passengers at. There was more empty space on this part of the street, and no loose rubble for the goobbue to grab at.

The goobbue screeched, and the elezen man from before joined Sharcos and the hyur man just as they were drawing their weapons. More support was just what they needed to take on this monstrosity. The hyur man baited it while Sharcos and the elezen veered to the side with weapons drawn, intent on at least scratching it. After a few stabs at its closest arm and heroic effort from the hyur man to keep the goobbue's attention, Sharcos managed to land a good strike with his lance at the beast's side. Its hide was tougher than that of most beasts, and while he had known from his father's warnings to never engage a goobbue in battle if he could help it due to that very same fact, it still took him by surprise enough that an inevitably fatal blow turned out to be hardly more than a scratch.

As such, it came as a bit of a surprise when the goobbue screeched and cowered, then falling silent. Sharcos and the two other men cautiously approached each other.

"Damned thing seemed rather taken with me. Any idea why that might be?" Sharcos heard the hyur man's comment while still keeping his eyes on the goobbue. He didn't know if anyone was going to answer, as the next moment the goobbue got back up on its feet, apparently having decided the wound wasn't enough to keep it down. It screeched again and ran down an alleyway.

"Ah, and now our guest requests an encore. Come on!" He and Sharcos ran after the goobbue. It was a lot faster than could be expected of a thing of its size with the kind of stubby little legs it had, and screams of panic rang out far down the street even as they tried to chase it down. They saw it turn down another alley in the distance, and there was a loud crash, loud enough to cover most of the screams.

When Sharcos and his hyur companion finally made it to the site, it was far too late. The goobbue lay stunned on the street where it had crashed to the wall, probably dead or dying. And so were the people that had caught up in the crash. There were colorful flowers strewn on the street, and Sharcos saw the little girl from before, crying for his father who was lying prone on the street.

His mind went blank. He felt like he could hear singing in the distance. He grabbed one of the flowers and just walked away. This was too much. It was tragic and awful and it wasn't something he could do anything about.

All he could think of as he walked back down the alley was how thankful he was that this wasn't his first introduction to city life. He had all those months spent in Limsa Lominsa to support him, to convince him that it wasn't all like this.



Category: For the World

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