The Inexplicable Meeting

Hydaelyn date: 1571/7/19
Viewpoint: Gishane Jaerdagne
Place: Central Shroud
Posted on 03 Jan 2017 02:46

The forest was singing. Gishane felt like if he just stopped and closed his eyes, an entire age might go by without his noticing, so magical was this place. He kept his eyes open and continued walking, intent on following the traces of road ahead of him. The Black Shroud was no place to lose yourself in, even though he was fairly certain it allowed people to travel on the roads in peace. Providing you didn't harm anything while doing so.
He looked skyward, and saw only the green canopy so typical of this forest, the thickest and most alive forest in all of Eorzea. There was sunlight somewhere up there, but hardly any of it filtered down to the ground level. The giant elder trees merely kept growing as they grew older, and hardly ever was one felled. Everything in the forest had adjusted to this fact. Thinking about that is when he did close his eyes. Only for a brief moment, but that is also when he thought he heard something. He thought he heard a voice. He quickly opened his eyes to look for its source, and that's when he saw it. Against the canopy, in the barely seen sky, something was exploding into hundreds of pieces.
He stared, shocked, and then looked down and shook his head. That couldn't be happening. And sure enough, when he looked back up it wasn't happening. And that is when he noticed a trail of fire below the canopy. Something was falling.
Gishane quickly and instinctively followed the trail. He ran over uneven ground formed of hundreds of years of decaying and live vegetation, here where sunlight barely if ever reached. He hopped over fallen remnants of lesser trees, stumbled when his foot caught in a hole hidden by layers of thick moss, and caught himself from falling with the aid of an elder giant. And in the end, he followed the trail to a sunlight-filled clearing, where two people were just now gathering themselves up from their fall.
"Ugh, my head…"
That was the Hyur woman, dressed all in red and white and black. Gishane approached the two of them just as the Lalafell man was getting up.
"Where are we, you think? Near Gridania?"
"Take a look around. It's obvious, isn't it? The quiet, the calm, the beautiful flowers… There's only one place it could be! The great beyond! I do believe we're dead, Papalymo."
"Oh, Rhalgr take you and your great beyond."
That was when the two finally noticed Gishane's presence.
"Are you…alright?"
"See, here's a psychopomp come guide as along. Grandad, is that you?" Gishane had no answer to the woman's otherworldly inquiry, and could but look at her. Maybe she had hit her head in the fall.
"And what would that make them? Your dearly departed childhood pets come to play fetch?"
"Always the cynic. Is it so- Oh…" The woman noticed the pack of wolves at the same time Gishane did. Not that he wanted to compare himself to her, but his back had been to their arrival.
"Save your japes, or it'll be our limbs they're fetching!"
"Over my dead body! Hiyah! Fetch some of this!" The woman jumped up from where she had fallen, and drew her knuckles from her belt. The Lalafell had already taken out his staff earlier. Not wishing to hinder them but seeing clearly that the two had more fighting experience than he did, Gishane pulled his own cane free from his back. He may not be much in a fight, but at the very least he knew basic healing spells, and the Lalafell's staff of bone suggested he may be more familiar with the casting of destruction than with the conjuring of heals and protections.
Gishane thought he may have been right as the two cleanly dispatched several wolves even as he himself was just starting finishing his spell of protection. But they themselves were clearly not as satisfied with their performance, as they started bickering even as more wolves approached.
"Hit them harder!"
"Something's wrong. The air here… it feels so heavy…"
That was as far as any of them got. There was a crunching sound behind the wolves, and one of them whimpered in pain as it disappeared from view. Then the bushes shook, and out came the biggest treant Gishane had ever seen. It grabbed two of the wolves and…ate them. That was the only way he could describe it, despite being well aware that trees weren't carnivorous.
"Twelve be good…"
Having devoured the wolves, the treant then inevitably noticed the presence of others in the clearing. The woman and the Lalafell proved themselves not only good with fighting, but with running as well, as they were past him and speeding up even as he was still just turning to run. A giddy thought about how much danger their lives must have consisted of before this ran through Gishane's head as he ran after the two.
It did not take long for the treant to catch up. Gishane could hear it coming ever closer even as he tried to gain more speed on the uneven forest floor. Then it attacked…but it did not attack him directly, it rent the ground so he and the other two were thrown up…and up….and up……and that is when Gishane noticed he was suspended in the air. The woman and the Lalafell were frozen in the air ahead of him. Even as he was still trying to get his mind to understand that, a progression of small fluffy beings floated past. Or marched, for they were certainly marching, even though they were flying. To make matters worse, they were putting on a musical parade, blowing and pounding their instruments to create a kind of unmelodic tune. His head refused to turn to follow their path, but Gishane could hear the treant behind him turn to follow the progression. Their sounds slowly grew more distant.
And then he was on the forest floor, and someone was speaking. It was an incantation of some kind. He looked around, and saw a horned child standing above them. He knew this from his grandfather's stories. This was a padjal, one of the child guardians of the forest. A legend brought to life right before him. Gishane felt like his mind couldn't keep up with everything that was happening.
"The wood's fury is quelled. All is safe."
The padjal was then joined by masked men and women in armor, who Gishane knew well were among the Wood Wailers, the Gridanian melee infantry. Those masks were unmistakable. That is when he noticed that the padjal was also accompanied by one of the fluffy things that had paraded away the treant. It had remained unnoticed until it had started flying towards him and the other two who were still prone on the ground.
It flew a lazy circle around the Lalafell before stopping in the air and…laughing. At least, that is what Gishane would have called it if he'd been pressured to put a name to it.
"One so puny could not possibly have broken the Hedge, kupo."
"Who are you calling puny, you pot-bellied runt!?" The fluffy thing startled at the Lalafell's words and quickly fled back to the padjal.
"Forgive us. 'Tis not oft those versed in mooglespeak fall from the sky." The padjal focused his intense attention at the two who had, indeed, fallen from the sky. "The elementals foretold your coming. And that the fate of this forest would rest with you. Come, we shall see you safely to Gridania." He turned to leave, not waiting for anyone. The moogle floated away lazily. Moogles. The padjal had called them moogles. Another tale of his grandfather's, although of moogles even his grandfather hadn't known much. They were a secretive race of faeries living deep in the woods, or so he'd told Gishane.
The woman and the Lalafell had gotten up and followed the Gridanians as Gishane was wondering about the implausibility of it all. He moved to get up, and was caught with a spell of dizziness. It cleared quick enough to not worry him overly much - after all he'd been through today! - but when he looked up, he could no longer see either the two unlucky travelers or the crowd of Gridanians. Slightly uncertain, he looked around, and ventured forward. Today was really turning out to be a day of mysteries.
Following the direction he Gridanians were heading to before their disappearance, Gishane soon enough came to a road, or what passed for a road in this forest anyway. He followed it and soon enough came to a sign pointing his way. To Gridania, the first destination of the rest of his life.

Title Date
The Inexplicable Meeting 1571/7/19
Hunting Sounds 1572/1/3

Category: Winds of Change

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