Summary: Jessie Maye was going through a rough time. Her career was over. Her mistakes were taking their tolls. And her daughter wanted nothing to do with her. She wasn’t sure she could find happiness, but one man felt she deserved it more than anyone else.
Jessie Maye stirred awake the moment she felt something trailing along her cheek. A soft, warm touch carrying a gentle pleasantry that spread throughout her head and nibbled at her mind. It coaxed a soft moan from her throat as she opened her heavy eyelids and peered up towards the source of her delight.
It was a young man, roughly a decade and a half younger than her if she had to guess. It wasn’t like she had asked his age, but she had always assumed he was about the same age as her daughter. He was a head taller than her, well-built, and just seemed to have a charm about him that she had missed.
Over the last two years, he had changed for the better. The first time she’d let him take her to bed, he had been charming in a cute way that gave the impression he hadn’t had much experience with women. Of course, learning he managed to bang her friends on their Friday Night bar crawl left some room to the imagination that he had more than that going on.
But now there was confidence just smoldering beneath the surface in everything he did.
“The plane’s landed. Time to disembark.”
“Is it now?” She pulled her head off his shoulder, a task she found far more herculean than she would ever admit before turning her gaze to the window where the slowly fading sun was casting its final rays over the airport. “I can’t believe I slept nearly the entire flight. Some company I turned out to be.”
A soft chuckle pulled her attention towards him once more. She saw his lips were curled into a slight grin even as he stared into her gaze with his stalwart, silver eyes. “To be fair, we did stay up pretty late the night before.”
“Well, you’re not wrong.” It was true that the two of them had a very late evening with Lola before the end of their vacation. But she also knew that wasn’t the only reason.
She had been sleeping later than usual or waking up tired at times. Some days she struggled just to get out of bed, unable to find the motivation. It was a far cry from when she felt ten years younger just two years ago.
Honestly, Lola wasn’t wrong when she said that she needed a vacation to get away from everything that was weighing her down before. She had felt more alive in the last few days than she had in a long time. She was sure that ninety-percent of that was due to him, and it might have been the reason why she’d taken him up on his offer when he invited her back to his place rather than heading back straight to Glenberry.
Seeing him again had been a blessing. But she was sure it was just a fleeting one, a brief break in the dark clouds that would be swallowed in a moment. All the same, if she clung to him then there was a chance he’d lose interest in her or see her as being too needy. She wasn’t fond of the idea of becoming that sort of woman either.
Jessie was pulled from thinking too deeply on the topic when she felt his hand settling on top of hers on the armrest between them. His touch was warm, accompanied by a slight tingle that seemed to sink beneath her skin. It was a pleasant enough feeling that it coaxed her lips into a smile and pushed back the dark thoughts as they disembarked the plane, retrieved their luggage, and caught a ride back to his place.
It was… a far cry from his old place in Glenberry. Sure, she hadn’t paid much attention given that night was a haze of sex and booze. But it was the kind of place you would expect for a young man living on his own.
Now he lived in a loft complex that was on the verge of luxury. It had a modern aesthetic to it with polished hardwood floors that ran from wall-to-wall, a kitchen island that was made of marble, adorned with stainless steel, and had an overhead rack for champagne, martini, and wine glasses.
“You’ve really moved up in the world, haven’t you?”
He smiled as he set his jacket on a rack by the door. “Yeah, the complex has just about everything. A Gym. An indoor pool. And then there’s the view from the balcony.”
“Not bad at all.” It sounded like a great place to live. She had to wonder what job he had to afford staying in a place like this, but she didn’t want to press the matter. “Mind if I have a smoke while I take in the view?”
“Go ahead.” He gestured over to the balcony door. It was a sliding glass one, right by the windows that faced the eastern side. “On the way over I ordered dinner from a decent restaurant, along with Mint Ice Cream and a Red Velvet Cake for dessert. It should be here in less than 10 minutes.”
Her favorite dessert. Jessie genuinely smiled as she walked past him, a sway in her hip. “You’re too good to me, baby. I’ll have to take especially good care of you tonight.”
Sashaying her way to the balcony door, she opened it up and felt the evening breeze on her skin. The sun was already behind the distant skyscrapers and the cloak of night was steadily draping the sky. Soon it would be an ebony blanket strewn with countless stars that glimmered like diamonds in the moonlight.
The flick of a lighter. A string of smoke wafting into the air. Then the familiar sensation of relief slowly spreading over her body as she took it into her lungs and let out a ring of smoke that slowly faded into the backdrop of the cityscape.
For a moment, Jessie just basked in the glow of things. She found comfort in the fact that she was here now, in a nice place with a decent guy. It was just like the island, an extension of the vacation only closer to home…
“Cough! Cough! Cough!”
But then reality reared its ugly head as she found herself coughing violently. Every breath clawed at her from the inside out, a scraping sensation running along the back of her lungs. It left her with one hand pressed against her chest while the other still held fast to the cigarette until it passed and left her panting for moments afterward.
“Damn it all…” She huffed before turning back to the window to look on the inside. She was relieved when she saw he wasn’t there. Maybe had gone to the bathroom or their food had arrived. “Why the hell did this have to happen now?”
Jessie had spent twenty years smoking without a problem. Through the good times and the bad times, a cigarette always brought her some measure of relief and comfort. Only when she was at her lowest did she learn the hard way that she emphysema after her coughing had gotten bad enough that her agent practically shoved her into a doctor’s office or else he wouldn’t get her another gig.
Now she didn’t have her work anymore. There had been too many shoots when they would have to stop so that she could catch her breath. The industry wasn’t so kind that they would accommodate her. Especially when she was steadily moving towards a demographic that was less profitable than before.
In the end, the agent had made it clear the only thing that she could do was quietly go sink into the background. Announce her retirement soon. That way she could leave her fans to remember her as she was, rather than let it get out her age and health were catching up to her.
The hell am I going to do now, she thought bitterly as she took another drag of her cigarette and stared out at the cityscape growing dotted with lights, a heavy weight pressing down on her heart. Getting another job wasn’t going to be easy since she had dropped out of High School. And spent the last twenty years in the industry.
Even if she went back to school that wouldn’t change much, since you had to disclose your background at nearly every possible place to get a job. She was damn sure that not a lot of people would be willing to hire someone who once banged a football team while dressed as a cheerleader. And she wasn’t sure she would find anything she really liked.
The doctor had been optimistic at least. He told her the case was mild enough that if she quit now then she could probably make it another twenty years. Maybe even longer if she ate well and exercised regularly. But Jessie had tried quitting before and it was a nightmare.
She shuddered, recalling the time she had tried to quit back when Tiffany had been in Middle School. That was probably when she first took an interest in medicine and tried to warn her off smoking and drinking. She wanted to make her daughter happy and if quitting was one way of doing it then she had been desperate to try—god knows she had tried.
It was Hell.
She faltered before she could make it a month, settling for trying to keep it a secret from Tiffany instead. But she was a smart girl and it was only a matter of time before she found out. Another nail in the coffin, even before the last one had been driven down and left her daughter wanting nothing to do with her.
Now what did she have left without her career or her daughter?
She still had her looks, but she imagined they wouldn’t last much longer. She had her home, but that was an empty nest. She had her memories, but she was afraid those would fade away as well with enough time.
If she had to walk into Hell again without anything waiting for her on the other side, was trying to go another twenty years like this worth it?
She blew out another string of smoke as the haunting thought lingered, leaving her wishing she had a drink until she heard the balcony door open and turned to see that he had returned from wherever he had been. And there were glasses in his hand, both of which had a lemon twist garnish on the edge. Her brow rose as he extended one towards her. “A Martini?”
“You wanted one, right?”
“It’s like you read my mind.” Her fingers delicately wrapped around the stem of the glass and brought the wide rim to her lips. Cold. Crisp. A hint of greenery gracing her tongue before sliding down her throat, like a stroll through a pine forest in the winter. “Mmhmm… that’s damn good. You made it yourself?”
He shrugged. “I took some correspondence courses on barkeeping in my free time. Figured might come in handy for dates.”
“Well, far be it from me to say otherwise.” She took another sip, basking in the taste before turning back to look towards the city. ”The view here really adds to the atmosphere of it.”
“Yeah, it does…” He took a step out onto the balcony and then rested against the rail, peering towards the same skyline. “But it really looks amazing during the winter, when the snow is coming down.”
Jessie took a moment to close her eyes, letting her mind paint a picture of just how lovely it would be. She could imagine just standing behind the chilled windows, nestled by the warmth of the heater as frost crept from the edges and coated the glass that was just clear enough to see as the silver and white flakes slowly drifted from the gray skies above. They would cover the steel and concrete, leaving it a blanket of white as far as the eyes could see.
It brought a smile to her face as she opened her eyes again. “It sounds beautiful. I’d love to see it for myself one of these days.”
“You could always spend the winter holidays here,” he offered. “It’d give me a reason to deck the place out for Christmas.”
“Careful now. I might really take you up on the offer.” Her voice and tone were teasing, backed by a slight bump of her hip against his. “You wouldn’t want me to show up when you’ve got some adorable girl here, would you?”
His smile folded in a little at that, becoming just a little dourer. “You wouldn’t have to worry about that. Company tends to be scarce around that time of the year.”
I thought he was a little too young to be making that kind of face, Jessie thought to herself. She recognized that expression on his face. It was just a touch of loneliness, spending the one day of the year where everyone else was with their loved ones alone.
She was well-versed with that same feeling, especially these days. Her girlfriends all had other things going on around then, so the best they would do was drop by. It served as a balm for the loneliness, but that didn’t change the fact that her only constant companions throughout the holiday would be the two in her hands at the moment.
And, in his case, she supposed that casual relationships were just that—casual. Sticking around during the holidays would involve commitment, which would defeat the purpose. Not something most girls who weren’t serious would do if they had a social life.
That look doesn’t suit him at all. She knocked back the rest of her martini and set the glass on the railing before looking to him with an amorous glint in her eyes. “Well, I know Santa doesn’t deliver gifts to naughty boys, so I guess I’ll give you a present to unwrap on Christmas Eve.”
The message carried well enough. His dour smile turned to one more carnal, his mind clearly running through just what that would entail. “And just what kind of present would that be?”
“Maybe I’ll give you a sneak peek if you can convince me?” She ran a finger down his chest, adding to the playful tease. She had already decided to sleep with him on the way back unless he really did something to get under her skin. But you couldn’t blame a girl for trying to get going a little before the main event, could you? “What would you do with your present?”
Sure enough, he played into it by setting down his own drink and approaching her from behind. His chest was firm as she felt it against her back. His hands were careful as he cradled her while hovering just over the sweater dress she was adorned in. His breath was warm against her skin as he breathed close to her ear and whispered sweetly into it.
“I’m thinking I would take it slow…” He trailed off into a kiss, planted firmly at the crook of her neck and shoulder as his finger glided up the knit sweater towards the swell of her shapely breasts. “Feeling beneath the wrapping to take in the shape of it as I made my way towards the ribbon.”
The touch was soft over the fabric, but it sent electricity rushing throughout her body all the same. Temptation began to bubble up in her blood, a familiar and welcomed sensation to accompany the alcohol on her tongue and the smoke in her lungs. Then he reached the peaks and touched them in a way that left her back arching and a moan on the cusp of slipping out of her mouth…
…Then he stopped as his phone began to vibrate in his pants, muttering a swear under his breath as he pulled away. He pulled out the phone and then practically glared at the screen. A sigh followed as he gave her an apologetic look. “The food is here. I’ll have to run to the front desk to get it.”
Jessie felt the urge to tell him to forget the food and eat her there and now. But reason won out and she felt the familiar itch in her lungs. Better to send him off before she killed the mood even more. “We’ll pick up after dinner. Don’t keep me waiting too long, okay?”
He couldn’t have flown out the door faster.
Which is just as well, considering the coughing fit that followed. This time it felt like her lungs were trying to escape her throat, leaving her nearly to double over. The cigarette she had been holding onto slipped from her grasp and landed on the balcony ground. Jessie swore under her breath before bending down to reach for it…
Then she stood straight and settled for snuffing it out with her heels. She had enough for now to settle the craving. More would just make things worse and she’d be damned before she traded the real fun tonight for a few more puffs. She kicked the butt off the ledge, grabbed the glasses, and went back inside his loft.
Dinner was great. Dessert was even better. But the real treat came afterwards in the bedroom.
“Ooooohh… baby, that was just…what I needed…”
A satisfied tinge painted her words between heated breaths as Jessie just laid there, adrift in the postcoital bliss. Her body felt so light that she felt like she was floating. The smoldering embers from the fire he stoked inside of her still lingered beneath her skin, a pleasant warmth that ran from head-to-toe.
He laid there alongside her, taking deep and slow breaths that left his chest to rise and fall while staring up at the ceiling. “You’re amazing, Jessie.”
She giggled at that. “Honey, I was a professional. I’m more impressed that you managed to keep me going for so long compared to the island. I guess sharing you meant you couldn’t give me your full attention.”
Jessie wasn’t exaggerating either. Years ago, he had been a foal getting his legs underneath him. She had practically taken care of everything. Now he was a stallion and had shown how far he had come, which she was very grateful for it.
It had been a while since she went at it for that long without needing to catch her breath. He’d controlled the pace to match her perfectly, drawing it out while not pushing her too far too soon. She had a chance to take it slow and really savor it all. It felt almost like she was making love with someone rather than just banging them for the rush of it…
“I kind of had other things on my mind at the time,” he admitted, taking a deep breath before adjusting his posture on the bed. “…Have you thought about what you’ll do now that you’re not in porn anymore?”
The question put a damper on the elation she was feeling. “Sweetie, I really don’t want to think about that right now.”
“I’m just saying, you could be a coach or an agent or something.”
She sighed before sitting up, her good mood waning. “As interesting as that thought is, it’s typically not professional to fuck your clients even in the industry. I’m not sure I’d be able to stand watching younger girls getting to have all the fun on the set and then have to crank it out on my own.”
“Even if you had someone waiting back home more than willing to help there?”
She turned to him with a raised brow. “Are you offering?”
He leaned forward and looked her in the eyes. “Maybe I am.”
For a moment he sounded completely serious to her. She hadn’t clarified whether she was talking about a steadier relationship or even marriage. But it almost sounded like he would have settled for either and she was almost willing to believe it.
But Jessie knew better than to believe him. It wasn’t the first time she had been proposed to after they’d gone a few rounds in the sack. But once the high faded and they were in their right minds, it was clear they never really meant it. She’d tease them about it and just brush it off, not willing to even entertain the thought longer than it took for her next drink.
Besides, she had been burned once before she had gotten into the industry. Promises of a wedding coaxing her to keep spreading her legs, right up until the baby bump began to show. At this point, Misty Katz had become synonymous with Jessie Maye and any man who wanted to marry her would probably want the former rather than the latter—if there was a difference between them to begin with.
But… for a moment… just a moment… she allowed herself to just fantasize about it.
She imagined working in the industry from the other side. Helping nervous girls come out of their shells and learning to embrace their sexuality like with Lailani. Teaching them not to make the same mistakes that she had. Maybe even have them plan an exit strategy, so they wouldn’t end up like her.
Then she’d come home to find him there. A welcoming kiss leading to a quick release to burn all the sexual frustration away. Then they would talk and laugh and cuddle in the bliss of the moment. Maybe she could even end up raising another daughter who would love her. Having a whole family for once.
…It was painful for Jessie to open her eyes again and return to reality after picturing all of that.
All of a sudden, she felt a craving for a cigarette. She reached over to the nightstand next to the bed almost reflexively only to realize that she had left the pack in her pants. A scoff slipped out of her mouth and she moved to slip out of the sheets when he grabbed her wrist.
“I really am serious,” he said before she could pull away. “I’m in love with you, Jessie.”
“… You aren’t thinking straight,” she said slowly as conflicting feelings built up in her chest. He still sounded so serious that it hurt listening to him say that because she knew things couldn’t be that way. “I’ll catch a ride home and we’ll just pretend this never happened.”
“I know it might sound hard to believe considering everything but seeing you again after all these years… made me happy. Wasn’t it the same for you?”
Rather than give him the answer he was looking for, she instead resorted to asking him a simple question for which there was no good answer. “…Were you ever going to tell me that you slept with my daughter a few years back?”
His body tensed next to her for a moment, going rigid entirely. Then he looked away from her, not daring to meet her eyes. “…How long have you known?”
“For a while now,” she admitted. She didn’t know whether or not to be happy that he didn’t try to deny it. “Aiko, Beli, Lola… we get together every Friday and talk about things over drinks, so it was only a matter of time before your name came up. There weren’t any hard feelings since none of us were going for anything other than a casual fling back then. But it’s different for younger girls, you know?”
His expression went from guilty to slowly dawning horror as the dots connected. Then he asked the question that she knew was coming. “Am I the reason you and Tiffany aren’t talking to one another anymore?”
She closed her eyes so that she didn’t have to see the look on his face as she drove the knife in. “It was the last straw.”
It was around Christmas then. She wanted to connect with her daughter, knowing that she was getting ready to graduate and move out into the world beyond the dorms. But Aiko had told her that Tiffany’s grades were slipping, she seemed constantly distracted, and about the time she overheard her getting into an argument with one of her friends over a relationship.
Jessie only wanted to help, and men were her field of expertise in contrast to her daughter. Tiffany had strived to be everything she wasn’t, so it was natural she would struggle to cope with the idea that it had just been something casual or that a guy would have multiple partners. But the moment his name came up…
Her eyes opened to get away from the memory of how heartbroken her daughter had been. “She had struggled so hard to avoid being like me, only to find out that we had been with the same man. To her, it was as though the moment she let her guard down she was destined to make the same mistakes. That was why she severed ties between us for good.”
“…I only thought about getting laid at the time,” he admitted, letting her go. No, he didn’t let her go. His fingers simply lost their strength as he fell backwards until his back ended up against the headboard. “And after I succeeded once, I just…”
“Couldn’t stop?” she finished for him. “The pleasure. The thrill. You became addicted to it and could only think about having more and more of it.”
She understood how it was because her first time had been an awakening of sorts as well. She honestly couldn’t get enough, and it was no wonder she ended up conceiving her daughter. But the fact that the guy in question wanted nothing to do with her afterwards had only reaffirmed that sex didn’t make for a deeper relationship, and she couldn’t trust any partner to stick around when things got too heavy for them.
She had entered porn to pay her bills after giving birth to Tiffany, but she honestly loved her work for what it offered her. Pleasure, attention, all of it. The thought of enrapturing the eyes of men and women alike, all of them within her grasp, was just such a rush that it kept her going until now.
He buried his face into his hands, as good as admitting he was the same. “If I had known this would have happened, I wouldn’t have… You must hate me for that and here I am asking you to….”
She didn’t, surprisingly enough. He couldn’t have known they were family at the time. Even if he had, it had been casual and she had distinctly kept her daughter’s name out of it when they had been together. But she needed an excuse so that she didn’t have to tell him that she had felt happier these last few days than she had in a long time.
The moment she saw him back then on the island she honestly wondered if she should get involved with him again. She had accepted her role in how things went with her daughter and wanted to find a way to escape the pain. He was familiar and had a way of taking her mind off of everything, so she took him up on his offers for going on double dates.
She never really considered falling in love and finding someone to just stay with her as anything more than a dream. But as the nights went on, she felt she could overlook her pain and began to think that he really could be her Prince Charming, here to sweep her off her feet. That was why she was so tempted to give his promise a chance.
At the same time, she was terrified about getting serious with anyone because it would mean being vulnerable. If he broke her heart after she opened up to him, then even that pleasant dream would become just another painful memory. Her heart had betrayed her once already.
Walk away. The little voice in her head whispered, telling her it was safer to cling to just fleeting moments of passion while her body allowed her to. She should just get dressed and get a ride home, leaving the whole thing behind her so she could continue as she was. He would be nothing more than another man walking out of her life, as he had been years ago.
…Yet, her legs refused to move. Could she really leave things like this? Could she leave him like this, full of regret that he had been the one to push her away? That he had torn away the fragile tether she had with her daughter?
In the end, Jessie couldn’t leave him like this. So she climbed back onto the bed and sat next to him against the headboard, setting a hand on his heated, sweat-slicked shoulder. “…Sweetie, if I hated you then the last few nights would not have happened. But asking me to get serious with you all of a sudden was a bit much. What brought it on?”
He lowered his hands, turning towards her. Even with her bare breasts on display, his gaze remained firmly on her eyes. “I was afraid if I didn’t make it clear I was interested… if I let you away, then it’d just end up like before.”
“That we’d eventually just lose contact with one another,” he clarified. “It was two years since the last time we spoke to one another. You didn’t call me even once after that first night.”
Jessie pulled back and crossed her arms. “I could say the same about you, sweetie. Phones work both ways.”
“Yeah, I know,” he said. “It was because you didn’t seem to be the type to want to get into a serious relationship back then. If I had called you, I was afraid I’d come out as desperate and you’d simply have laughed it off or saw me as being too clingy, so I settled for just hoping you’d remember me.”
She probably would have. He wasn’t anything too special back then. She also had her work, so she wouldn’t have gone out of her way to make time for him. If he kept showing up at the bar to hit on her then it really would have come off as desperate.
“…You been with a lot of girls since then,” Jessie mentioned, shifting the topic. “Even on the island. What made me so much different than them that’d you’d try asking me for a serious relationship now?”
“I won’t pretend I haven’t had a lot of sex with a lot of women since the last time we met,” he began. “Yet I was never really able to get that same feeling that I had the first time. No matter how many times I slept around, even with some women like you couldn’t believe, nothing quite matched. There was just something there that only returned when I was with you.”
“That’s just probably because it was your first time,” she reasoned. The experience didn’t really stand out to her, but it was a pleasant memory for him. “It was a big step for you, so you’d naturally have good memories and feelings tied into it.”
“I thought the same at first,” he admitted. “The moment I saw you again back there, it rekindled that feeling. I thought it was just sex, so I was more than eager to go out with you and have threesomes left and right. And each time it was like the first.”
“If that’s all then there’s no reason to—”
He shook his head slowly and set a hand on his chest. “But it didn’t end there. Every date, I found myself just happy to listen to you talk to the point that sex wasn’t even on my mind. When you smiled, it was like butterflies fluttering through my chest and left me floating. When I saw your pain and sorrow, I felt miserable and wanting nothing more than to help. Then there was the night before the last when you…”
As he trailed off, Jessie tried to recall then. To be honest, it felt like her head had been in a haze. She couldn’t quite recall what she had been doing, but it almost felt like she had been sleepwalking.
“I was worried that we wouldn’t see each other again once I left the island,” he continued. “That terrified me because I thought you might disappear from my life again. And since you told me about how much your life had changed….”
“You figured it was the time to act,” she finished for him. Over the course of their last few dates, she had confessed how in the past she wanted someone to sweep her off of her feet. That was probably why he had gained the courage to act now.
He looked away from her. “I only thought that I wanted to be there for you, without any clue that the reason you and Tiffany broke apart was because of me.”
Jessie’s expression softened as her own guilt weighed on her heart. He was the last straw, but her daughter had completely severed ties with her because of how she had lived until now. There was no way to make the past disappear and she could only accept that as she went forward.
But when she was with him on the island, she felt so happy. And when she looked back at all those sarcastic comments he made, like traveling the world looking for her and spending every waking moment thinking about her smile, it seemed like he was trying to drop hints. He had even admitted to having fallen in love with her, but she had simply thought he was playing around so she had never given it any serious consideration.
“I suppose I can’t blame you then,” she settled on, getting comfortable next to him and laying her head on his broad shoulders. “You even admitted you’d marry the right woman regardless of an age gap right in front of me, and I just said I hoped you’d find her. That must’ve hurt so much.”
“It was what made me decide to do all of this…” He let loose a shuddering breath. “I’m sorry for acting like that without knowing anything. I’ll make things right with your daughter. I promise.”
“Oh baby, that ship has sailed.” It hurt for her to admit that much, but it was true. “Anything we can do to connect to her would just make things worse. All I can do now is have hope that one day she’ll look back and reach out to me.”
“But she was part of your world,” he said softly, reaching up to touch her shoulder. It was a gentle touch, soft as it glided down her arm to her elbow. Comforting. “There has to be something I can do. Just tell me and I’ll do it.”
A slight hum bubbled up in her throat at that as the whisper in her head came back. She swallowed her own fear and reservations so that the words they kept chained down could float to the surface. “…Then could you promise to love me for who I am?”
She was a woman who had been with more than a hundred men over her career of twenty years. Her body might have looked good on the outside, but she was already facing an uphill battle on the inside. Not to mention everything she had done was out there in the open, where anyone could find it. Her stint to the island had proven that with that girl having practically worshipped the ground she walked on, and she knew that it would never go away.
“There will always be people who know me as Misty Katz, even if they don’t say it out loud,” she said, giving voice to her fears. “I’ve been with more men than I can count, and I’m not as young as I used to be. Even then, could you really be happy with someone like me when you’ve got your whole future ahead of you?”
Just asking him that much was causing her heart to race. Not out of anticipation, but out of fear that by putting herself out there again she’d end up being betrayed. He may be in love with her now, but who was to say that he wouldn’t get bored with her until he left her behind as well. If that happened again, she would never recover…
“I know all of that, and I’ve never been more in love with you,” he confessed, staring into her eyes. “I love you for who you are, Jessie.”
…Forgive me, Tiffany. Jessie felt her heart quiver in her chest and tears escaped the corner of her eyes, as though everything that was being held back came rushing forward. I don’t know if I deserve anything good in my life for not being the best mother to you, and I don’t think anything will fill in the hole you’ve left behind. But…
“You’d better not break your word,” she warned him. “I swear I’ll never forgive you if you do.”
“I promise,” he murmured, placing his hand beneath her chin and raising it up so they were eye-level with one another. “I’ll love you until the day I die, Jessie Maye.”
She was drawn to his lips, pressing hers against them in a kiss. The fears, the sorrow, the sadness, all of it seemed to just be blown away at that moment. Her heart felt like it had wings and hope flickered within her chest anew. Her Prince Charming was with her here and now, a dream coming true.
But I’m going to try to find happiness with him. Jessie silently finished as she fell into one kiss after another. Whatever the future holds, I want to believe that I can with him in my life.
[-His Apartment Months Later-]
It really is a beautiful sight. Jessie couldn’t help but think as she watched snow fall from the skies and slowly painted the darkness outside with a veil of white. It wasn’t quite so cold that frost had built up on the edges of the glass, but it was still a breathtaking view that added to the spirit of the holidays.
It had been months since that night. Months since she had decided to entrust her heart to the man who’d stolen it, despite being more than a decade younger than her. And she hadn’t regretted it.
He’d been a bright spot in her life, a beacon of hope. He always seemed to know just what to say to pull her up when she felt down. And, because of that, she found the courage to start moving ahead.
Her career as a pornstar might have been over, but Misty Katz now lived on as a coach for girls just entering the industry. She had been working for twenty years, so she was fairly knowledgeable about the latest trends in the industry along with the needs of the girls. And she had a few connections to pull on if need be.
Of course, since she didn’t have sex practically every day, she needed to workout more to keep her weight down. Beli was helpful there. Her classes were easy enough, helped keep her flexible, and were good for exercise. And she was cutting back on smoking and drinking—stopping outright was still beyond her, but she was getting a better handle on it bit-by-bit.
I hope you’re doing well, Tiffany. Her thoughts turned to her daughter once more. She had sent a letter as a birthday gift to her a while ago thanks to Aiko getting her current address from the college’s record. In the letter, she had poured her heart into it and told her of the changes in her life, from her new career to her new love, and expressed that she wanted Tiffany to be a part of it.
But if she chose not to, Jessie would understand. All she could do was wish her well in her future as a nurse, telling her that she would always love her and reminding her that there was always a place in her heart—no matter how Tiffany felt, they were family.
“Now then, I suppose I should get ready to give him his present when he gets back,” Jessie mused as she turned her attention to a gift that she had gotten from Lola. Her business was taking off, so the two did not see each other as often they would have liked. But she had taken the time out of her busy schedule to make what was probably one of the most seductive outfits she had seen.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
However, before she could get started changing, there was a knock on the door. He did mention that he was having a gift for her delivered that was likely coming while he was out. So she sauntered over to the door and cracked it open…
Only for her world to sudden shake as she came face-to-face with her beloved treasure. “Tiffany…?”
Tiffany looked off to the side, trying not to meet her gaze. She was dressed in a beige coat and checkered scarf still that were still covered in melting snow. Her hair had been woven into two long braids while adorning her head were a pair of earmuffs.
“…Hi, Mom.” Her voice was soft, just above a whisper as though she was uncertain about her words for a moment. But then she cleared her throat and held up a gloved hand to show the envelope that was addressed to her. “I got your letter.”
Happiness. Confusion. Elation. So many emotions swirled together in Jessie’s chest that she struggled to put words to what she was feeling at the moment. So she settled for just lunging forward and embracing her in a crushing hug, rocking back and forth while just taking in the fact that her daughter was here now. “Baby, you’re here! How? Why?”
“Mom, let go of me.” There was more than a hint of annoyance in her voice, but Jessie could see that her cheeks were rose-colored as she broke the hug. “Like I said, I got your letter. Since I still had his number, we… talked and he managed to convince me to stop by.”
“He did?” Jessie looked around the corners, but she didn’t spot him.
“He promised to wait outside until I came back,” Tiffany explained. “I’m still not ready to see you two together, you know?”
That’s… to be expected, she thought to herself before sighing. “Baby, I know how it probably looks with me being here. But everything I put in that letter was true.”
“Mom… I…. I tried so many times to get you to change, but nothing I said reached you. You always seemed to either be drinking, smoking, or getting it on with some random guy. It’s not easy to accept having someone like that as a mother.”
“I know, baby,” Jessie said. “I wanted to change, believe me. It was so hard before. It still is now.”
“Yet, he managed to do what I couldn’t,” Tiffany pointed out. “It bothered me until I really sat down to think about it for a few days and understood that I couldn’t accept the flaws you had. I always wanted you to be… the perfect mother, I guess. And, because of that, I didn’t give you as fair of a shake as I probably should have.”
“And now?” Jessie asked, hope in her tone that they could finally connect.
Tiffany only shook her head. “Not yet. To be honest, I’m still not really sure how to process all of this. Kyanna helped me understand how difficult it is for a single mother, but it’s not easy to just forget everything. And while I’ve gotten better about it, that guy is still a sore spot.”
“That’s fair,” Jessie said. “It’d be too much to ask that you let those things go right now. But someday, I’d like for us to really be together again.”
“Someday, maybe,” Tiffany agreed before she pulled a small envelope out of her other pocket. “It’s a card with my new number, address, and email. It’s not much, but—”
“It’s the best gift in the world,” Jessie told her, taking the envelope gingerly. It was light and probably just a gift card from a dollar store, but to her it was the most precious thing in the world. Because it represented the very thing she wanted the most in the world—a chance to connect with her daughter.
“Just don’t go back to how you used to be,” Tiffany said before she spun on her boots and made for the elevator. “Anyway, I better get going before your boyfriend ends up freezing to death out there. Merry Christmas, Mom.”
Jessie watched her go, fighting against the urge to reach out and pull her in. As much as she wanted to spend more time with her, she knew that forcing her to try to stay would only sever the new connection they had reestablished. Even if it was fragile and possibly fleeting, it was still a chance she wasn’t eager to let go to waste.
That didn’t apply to her boyfriend. The moment he popped back up on the floor, she pounced on him with a kiss that stole his breath. Then she dragged him back inside to give him his Christmas present early.
Her future was finally looking bright.
This was longer than it had any right to be, but as a side-project it wasn’t bad. Huniepop has surprising depth with some of the characters when you think about it. Even little details like how Jessie’s token preferences changed align with her character development. I only regret that at the end we ultimately did nothing to help her.
Summary: What can the magic of blue do for you? Well, for Cocobusi it offered a chance to become a mage like he’d always wanted. Even if it wasn’t the same magic that his brothers could use, it was still worth a shot… right?
Many practitioners of our cerulean arts are wont to favor the more destructive spells. However, one must remember that the Whalaqee discovered Blue Magic to survive first and foremost. Because of this, there is inherent compatibility in other techniques that were derived to do the same without wanton destruction left in its wake. One such example would be the technique developed by the Qiqirn: Faze.
The members of this small-statured Spoken race lack the inherent technological prowess of Goblins and the raw strength of others, thus leaving them at the mercies of many predators. To survive they developed a technique that condenses aether into their palms and creates a shockwave that sends it rushing through an area in front of them. The sudden rush of aether causes an imbalance with the aether flowing through the aetheric channels and causes leaves the body and mind stunned for a bit—buying just enough time for them to squirrel away to safety.
Now, while Qiqirn can be found around Eorzea, those who would have it impressed upon their aether are those who would more frequently utilize the technique. That leaves those that would settle into a merchant trade a poor, and possibly unlawful, source of learning. Though, there are roaming bands of lawless Qiqirn known to frequent Thanalan and have a taste for flesh…
“It’s good to be back home!”
The nascent blue mage stretched beneath the bright sun casting its rays over the glory of the city-state as he passed through the Gate of Nald. He was surprised how much he missed the dusty, sun-kissed breeze. Limsa Lominsa might have been neighboring a beautiful sea, but the desert jewel that was Ul’dah was his home.
As he strode up the sett-paved roads and around the bustling streets, Cocobusi came to a stop beneath the lamppost on the left corner and just stared at the structure that laid before him. It was one of the finest, affordable establishments for Adventurers within Ul’dah: The Quicksand.
The towering structure had at its front a babbling fountain spouting crystalline water. Folks of all ilk and races moved about, chatting while clad in arms and armor both foreign and native. To accommodate them and make travel easier there was an Aethernet Shard just outside of the establishment, a Chocobokeep right across from it should they need to travel out of the city, and he knew the Aetheryte Plaza was further to the right.
The nascent blue mage crossed the street once a Chocobo passed him by, climbing up the flight of stairs. He made it to the massive set of double-doors and moved to push one in when it opened of its own accord. What greeted him was the glare of the sun, reflecting off a massive female Roe clad in plate armor as she stepped from the shade of the building and into the Ul’dahn sun.
It left him seeing spots, eyes stinging as the woman stepped around him. He stumbled inwards before the door could close, rubbing his eyes with one hand while he reached out for the wall with his other… only to bump into something relatively softer than stone.
“Watch where you’re walking.”
He quickly recoiled as he forced his eyes open, looking upwards towards the source of the voice. It was a Wildwood Elezan woman dressed in linen robes that felt different than usual. There was a brimmed hat perched atop her head, marked with an unfamiliar emblem, while her eyes peered down at him with her lips pulled back in a frown and her arms were crossed. Judging from the ring bands adorning her hands that were affixed with an Eye of Wind in each of them, and the well-used wand on her back, she was a seasoned Conjurer.
“I’m so sorry,” Cocobusi apologized hastily as he looked to the ground, where he could just make out her shoes that were weathered from travel and trade. “The sun caught my eyes, and I couldn’t see where I was going.”
“…Well, no harm done, I suppose.” She lowered her hands and turned her attention back to the board in front of her. “If you’re looking for Leves, the only ones left are slim pickings. You have to be here earlier to get any of the good ones.”
“Oh no. I’m not registered here yet, so I was going to introduce myself to the head of the Adventurer’s Guild.”
“If that’s the case, then go speak with Mistress Momodi.” She pointed a slender finger over towards the counter, where a red-haired, red-eyed woman in a woolen bilaud was amicably chatting with another person.
Cocobusi thanked her before he made his way over and politely waited for her to finish.
“Thanks for being patient dear,” she told him. “I saw you talkin’ to Elviane just now before she pointed you my way. Is there somethin’ I can help you with?”
“Yes. I’m a native to Ul’dah but, on a trip I just came back from, I registered to be an adventurer in Limsa Lominsa. I wanted to place myself on the registry here as well.”
“Then just sign your name here for me.” She pulled out a pen and a registration form for him to sign. When he did so she quirked her head. “Cocobusi Lolobusi … any relation to the boys who run the Thaumaturge guild?”
He nodded. “Those are my brothers. Oh, but don’t tell them. I don’t want them to know I’ve registered to become an Adventurer yet since I want to surprise them.”
“Well, you’re entitled to your privacy unless they come through certain channels, so I won’t say anythin’ unless they come to me that way. That being said…” Mistress Momodi cast her gaze over his sheet—specifically his Job Class. “I don’t think they’ll fancy you copyin’ that new performer by claiming to be a Blue Mage.”
He tilted his head in confusion. “Umm, I don’t quite understand.”
“Oh, right. You said you just returned from Limsa Lominsa, so you probably don’t know about the new guy that has been making waves over at the Celestium. Calls himself the Great Azuro and participates in somethin’ called the Masked Carnivale. See?”
She pointed to a poster that was set on the pillar next to them, separating the tavern counter from the inn-registry. Sure enough, the image on display was that of a man dressed in a regal blue outfit that was adorned magnificently with a cape that fluttered in the wind. In his hand was a different sort of cane that held a white wolf’s head. Opposite him was a depiction of several monsters that he was poised to face against with his cane in one hand and his other arm out in front of him.
“Hmm… I think that might be the one who gave my Job Crystal,” Cocobusi said. He couldn’t be completely sure with the mask covering his face, but the goatee and mustache gave him the impression it was. Plus, who else would be better known as a master of Blue Magic than the one who brought it over. “You say this gentleman is at the Celestium?”
“He’s been puttin’ on shows a lot and they tend to be sold out fairly quickly, but I hear he’s seen around the Steps of Thal afterwards. That’ll probably be the best place to run into him.”
“I’ll head there next then. I owe him my thanks for what he’s done for me.”
“Don’t be in such a rush that you go forgettin’ to attune to the Aetheryte and the rest of the Aethernet Shards,” she reminded him. “That way even if you miss him, you’ll be able to just port over to the Miner’s Guild or Weaver’s Guild and head right out another day.”
It was sound advice. He gave her a courteous bow in gratitude. “Thank you for all your help, Ma’am.”
She returned the gesture with a wave and smile. “Anytime. Take care now.”
Then he made his way out of the Quicksand, stopping at the Aetheryte Plaza first in order to properly attune to it. The beating pulse of it felt different than the one that he felt from Limsa Lominsa. Enough that he could feel the difference deep down inside of him as his aether matched its rhythm until he felt the pull.
Once he finished attuning, he took the path towards the Steps of Thal and ventured out into the plaza leading to the Milvaneth Sacrarium. The temple was still undergoing repairs, so few visited the locale. Yet beneath its fountain there sat the two Mamool Ja talking to the very same figure that he saw on the poster with his shoulders hanging low and slouching.
“—I tell you the stuff’s not easy or cheap to come by,” the man finished whatever he was saying with a sigh before one of the beastmen took notice of the approaching figure and pointed in his direction. His head whipped around and, upon noticing Cocobusi approaching, he quickly straightened his back and turned to face him with a practiced smile. “Afternoon there.”
“Oh good, it is you,” Cocobusi said, elation in his voice. “I was hoping to run into you again, Mister Martyn.”
“Err… Have we met?”
“We met back in Limsa Lominsa a short while ago,” Cocobusi reminded him. “I was one of the people that who you sold a Soul Crystal to.”
“Look, if it’s a refund you’re wanting then I should point out that not being satisfied with your purchase—”
“Why wouldn’t I be satisfied?” interjected the neophyte Blue Mage as he pulled out his Soul Crystal. “Thanks to this I can use magic now when I couldn’t before. I wanted to thank you personally, but you disappeared before I could.”
“Uh… congratulations?” The man paused for a moment with a befuddled expression, as if taking a moment to process that. “So, you actually managed to get a few spells under your belt then?”
Cocobusi nodded. Then he looked back and forth between the beastmen, slightly craning his head. “Wait… weren’t these two the Mamool Ja that tried to attack us before?”
“Oh, uh… these two?” He fumbled over his words for a moment before he cleared his throat. “You see, after that display of my majestic cerulean arts, they decided to repent their ways and entered into my service. But never mind them—why don’t you let me see your Soul Crystal so I can see what it is that you managed to learn?”
He handed over the precious gem that had become a prized treasure to him. “I managed to learn Blood Drain from a Cave Bat in the Blind Iron Mines. After that, I learned Sticky Tongue from Cane Toads and Bomb Toss from some Goblins. And before I left La Noscea I felt the Soul Crystal resonant when a Killer Wespe died, but I haven’t tried using Final Sting yet.”
“Best you don’t go practicing with that last one,” Martyn advised as he did something to the crystal, leaving it alight with aether. “Even at the best of times, that one will put an experienced Whalaqee out of commission for weeks from the strain of it. Still, that’s not half-bad for such a short time.”
“Should Gaheel Ja give Totem to small one then?” asked one of the beastmen.
Martyn explained as he handed back the Soul Crystal. “Wooden effigies that have aether from creatures from the New World. They contain spells that you won’t be able to get here under normal circumstances, making them even more unique.”
“Oh, can I get one?”
“Hmm…” He rubbed his chin. “We’ve only got a select few of them, but given you’re pretty dedicated I might be convinced you’re worthy enough. You’re an active Adventurer, aren’t you?”
“I only signed up to become one recently,” he admitted. “I’m an Alchemist by normal trade. Part of the Guild here, in fact.”
His brows rose at that. “An Alchemist as well, you say. Well then, I think we might be able to—”
“Nice to see you’re making time for your fans,” a third voice interjected. It drew their eyes towards the eastern entrance of the plaza where Hyuran woman was approaching. “But mind spending a few talking with your boss?”
“Ah, sure thing,” Martyn said, before looking over to the neophyte Blue Mage. “Tell you what, meet me at an eating establishment called The Coffer & Coffin tonight out in Central Thanalan. We’ll talk about getting you a totem there.”
Cocobusi nodded his head enthusiastically at the prospect. “Certainly, I’ll be there!”
That said, he left the master of the cerulean arts to speak with the woman and made his way back throughout the city. He had his evening planned out, but he still needed to attend to the matter of visiting his brothers. It had been so long since he had seen them and there was a lot that he wanted to tell them, like the fact that he could use magic now.
He made his way to the gates of the Arrzaneth Ossuary, the temple that extolled the worship of Thal. Those who traversed the hallowed halls often fell into two groups: those who came to pray that the weight of their wealth in the world beyond would be greater than in the world of the living. Or those who had amassed great amounts of wealth and wanted their funerary rites to be worthy of Thal to tip the scales in their favor.
It was also home to the Thaumaturge’s guild, as their art was born from funerary rites.
No sooner than the doors open did he hear, “Leave these grounds immediately!”
The heated demand left him to jump as a Hyur hurriedly fled, nearly kicking the Lalafell if not for him getting out of the way at the last minute. He then turned his gaze inwards to see Yayke Yake, the guild’s receptionist. The woman had a furrowed expression as the man fled from the halls, only for her visage to visibly soften when she spotted Cocobusi approaching.
“Is everything alright, Miss Yake?” he asked in a concerned tone, taking note of how uncharacteristic it was of her. She was soft-spoken for the most part, often with a book in hand.
“I am sorry you had to see that shameful display,” she huffed softly. “Since that performer at the Celestium has been showing off, we’ve had all sorts of new applicants seeking to tutelage in the hopes of emulating him. I’ve had to turn away a number of them while dealing with our sacred and time-honored art being compared to that…gaudy showmanship.”
He figured she was talking about the Great Azuro’s performances. “Why would they come here?”
“Because there is no guild for that mockery of the arcane arts,” she said pointedly. “And if it were my choice, there never would be. Our art were born of tradition and teachings of our ancestors of Belah’dia, with the lessons instilled having been refined over centuries through the Order of Nald’thal. It is not for the sake of entertainment.”
He winced at that, knowing full-well how frustrating that must have been for her. She had been the receptionist here for over fifteen years now, having come into the position before even his brothers had ascended to the title of guildmasters. He could argue that there was no one who valued the practices of their art, the intricacies and dedication to mastery, more than her.
Not only that, but she had a record of turning away applicants that she deemed unworthy. She valued the requirements that had been loosened since the need for more thaumaturgist required trimming back the necessary reading materials. Plus, her brothers seemed to trust her judgment in spite of the previous guildmaster’s failings.
“Do my brothers feel the same way about it?”
“But of course.” She adjusted her monocle. “What self-respecting thaumaturgist would feel otherwise? I disapprove of even selling the Celestium the creatures we conjure up as part of our practice, knowing that they would have to be disposed of either way.”
He felt himself deflate hearing that. He wanted to tell his brothers that he had gained the ability to use magic, but if they perceived the method he used in the same manner that she did then it would probably be sacrilegious to them. There was a chance that they might not only deny him anyway, but confiscate his Soul Crystal and strip away his ability to use magic entirely.
Then again, maybe he could bribe them with enough high-quality Ethers…
The receptionist breathed out softly before continuing at a laxer tone. “I do wish there were more applicants with your dedication. If only fate were not so unfair, you would be amongst our numbers… at any rate, if you are here to try to convince your brothers to allow you to practice, now wouldn’t be the best time. There’s been a bit of a situation as of late aside from that annoyance.”
His lips pursed slightly. “What do you mean?”
“My apologies, but it is a guild matter, so I cannot give you the full details,” she said in an apologetic tone. “However, I will tell them you have returned from your journey and that you appear to be in good health once they are free.”
It was all he could ask, so he gave her a bow of gratitude before heading out. He still needed to pay his guild a visit, attune to the rest of the aethernet shards, and then get ready for his meeting with Martyn at the Coffin and Coffer over in Central Thanalan.
“Finally made it,” Cocobusi breathed out a sigh of relief as he finished traversing the desert lands along a well-trodden dirt path that ran along from the Ul’dah to the Black Brush Station still some ways off, its distant Aertheryte luminous even with the fading sun lighting up the horizon in softer hues. “So this is the Coffin & Coffer…”
He had never been to the establishment. It was weathered in some spots from the harsh winds that occasionally blew, built in the shadow of a cliff-face that offered it shelter and shade. It was also far more rustic than what would normally be seen within the town, though he supposed it looked sturdy enough despite being a lot rougher than the usual establishments he stayed at when traveling for work.
He approached the entrance, muted chatter leaking from the walls when a man wearing the uniform of the Brass Blade that stood out front gave him a glance over from behind the visor of his turban. “Wipe yourself off a little, will ya? Don’t want any dirt getting into ale or food and sparking a fight.”
“Oh, my apologies!” he said, hastily wiping the dirt and dust that had gotten on his Hempen Cloak Set. He’d worn his garments with the hood up in order to hide his face while on the way out of town, having decided to keep his new occupation from his brothers for the moment. “Some of the local wildlife seemed to believe that I might be an easy meal, and so I had been forced to defend myself.”
“Better a little dirtier than dead,” the man said with a shrug. Then he quirked his head in the direction of the tavern, a gesture for him to continue inside.
He ventured through the doors, the hinges letting out a gritty groan as though sand had been wedged inside of them from the rough winds. The muted chatter turned into a somewhat louder cacophony of voices that mixed and mingled with a modest but rowdy number of individuals. Their garments and arms suggested they were adventurers, though the tan and accent were distinctly Ul’dahn as they seemed to regale the barkeep with some tale while another looked among the casks of ale that lined the wall further back.
Not far from there were a group of Brass Blades who were seemingly off-duty. Their blades and bucklers were set aside, turbans and visors set in the center of the table while a woman dressed in a brown canvas tunic and red cotton turban took down their orders. When they were done, she stowed it in a pouch attached to the belt and gave the Roegadyn a wink before making her way back towards what was assumed to be the kitchen.
He eventually spotted Martyn at a table by the windows. The man was no longer clad in the more extravagant outfit, but instead a popular doublet and halftrews that Cocobusi believed was from the oasis settlement at Southern Thanalan. The name of it escaped him, but he recalled that one of his co-workers intended to visit the springs there. “I’m sorry if I kept you waiting.”
“I arrived only a short while myself, though I have become something of a regular since coming to Ul’dah,” he said. “Here we have more freedom to speak, after a bit of food.”
As if on cue, the Alehouse Wench appeared at their table with a small tray. It had Flatbread that looked rather plain to go along with the gruel that smelled of spices and fruit, and some boiled eggs. She set the plate down in front of Martyn before turning to Cocobusi. “Haven’t seen you here before. What do you fancy here?”
He brought a hand to his chin in thought. “Hmm… I’ve been eating fish for the last few weeks, so I’ve gotten a bit of a taste for it. Would you have anything like that?”
“If it’s fish you’re after, we do have some Tiger Cod caught fresh from Vesper Bay. We salt it and dry it in the sun, giving it a native taste that goes well when washed down with a Mint Lassi.”
“That sounds nice. I’ll have that, along with some Raisins, if you don’t mind?”
She gave him a nod, turned on her crakows, and made for the kitchen. That was when Martyn opened the dialogue with questions about his experience with being a Blue Mage so far. More feedback than anything, like how he learned the spells, his experience with them, and any sort of complications that arose from it.
Cocobusi was fairly open in his answers as well, which sparked curiosity in the elder Blue Mage about his increased anima capacity. Of course, that became a secondary concern by the time the food arrived from the kitchen and he mentioned the overarching opinion on the cerulean arts from the perspective of the Thaumaturge’s Guild. Namely, the low opinion of them.
“I suppose puttin’ on a show with Blue Magic that might not be doin’ it all the honor it deserves,” Martyn conceded with a soft sigh before setting his spoon down in the empty bowl that had been filled with the Frumenty before. “But Blue Magic has grand cultural significance to the Whalaqee. The New World isn’t exactly easy to live in and their ancestors had to effectively learn to harvest the power of the monsters that hunted them to have a chance to survive. Since then that art had been passed down and refined through generations—no different than their own.”
“I think it’s because some members of the guild already weren’t happy that they had to lower the requirements so that adventurers could learn without fully undergoing the same teachings,” Cocobusi said, rocking his feet back and forth as he finished the last of his Salt Cod. “I know better because it’s helped me, but to them it’s different.”
“I’ve got my reasons for it, so that won’t be changin’ any time soon,” Martyn said, one hand on his chin in thought. “But I suppose I can make it a little clearer folks shouldn’t go botherin’ them at the very least.”
“I’d like to give my brothers a good impression of it as well if I could.” Cocobusi set the knife and fork he was using to eat on the plate. “So, for the time being, would you mind if I studied under you?”
“I’m glad you’re findin’ it useful. And I’m curious about the results when it comes to your anima capacity situation as well. But my performances leave me little time as is. Though, we might can reach an arrangement—”
Before he could finish his proposition, wood shuddered and the hinges screamed as the doors burst opened. The chatter of the crowd stilled as their eyes were drawn to the source, the Brass Blade who had been outside standing watch. He laid eyes on the table with the others and pointed at them, “Roundelph, you and the rest get off your arses! The rats are on the move and Babaroon Halfshell is with ‘em. They’re calling in all the local arms!”
“Thal’s balls, I’m supposed to be off!” the man said, dropping his fork that had a half-eaten Marmot Steak as he rose to his feet along with the other two at his table. They were reclaiming their helmets and weapons, the call to arms too great to ignore apparently.
“Tell that to the Rats!” He then turned towards the rest of the patrons of the bar. “As for the rest of you, the Brass Blade are offering coin to anyone willing to sell their sword and deal with ‘em.”
“I’ll throw in a free meal every day for a week,” Roger added. “Those sodding rats have harassed and plundered travelers, and it’s driving down my business. The sooner we’re rid of those bandits, the better.”
Martyn rubbed his chin in thought while muttering under his breath as the other Adventurers began to make their way out. Then he then rose to his feet. “Come on, lad. We’ll go with ‘em and I’ll show you a lesson first-hand of what Blue Magic can really do.”
Given the urgency, the Brass Blades and the adventurers sprinted in a hurry towards what was presumably the camp that the bandits had set up. By the time that they came to a stop, Cocobusi was struggling for breath and covered in sweat. He wasn’t in bad shape by any means but compared to men and women who had been at this sort of a thing for who knows how long he might as well have been.
The area near the train tracks had been made into a ramshackle camp for the Qiqirn bandits, haphazardly strewn together lodgings serving as their base of operations. Flames from the campfire had begun to spread as the wood gathered to serve as kindling was at some point ignited and scattered, creating patches of light where steel gleamed as it was swung. The battle was raging on in earnest now.
There were maybe twenty Brass Blades engaged in combat with the handful of adventurers from the tavern-inn, each one more skilled with a weapon than the bewhiskered beastmen. The Roegadyn alone took a broad sweep of his sword and managed to cut three of them down before using the shield on his other arm to slam another on his flank in the face. It went flying into a tent that collapsed as its body broke the support within it while he tried to push through their ranks.
But the sheer numbers of the bandits placed them at three-to-one odds, those that had been cut down easily replaced as reinforcements poured from the shadows of the camp. They used their numbers to their advantage, allowing two to distract one of the attackers so that a third could get into their blind-spot and performed a technique he’d read up on his way back to Ul’dah.
“That’s Faze!” Cocobusi said as one of the adventurers who had been punching another Qiqirn in the face was clapped from behind. The shockwave of aether drove an influx into the body, causing symptoms akin to aether sickness and leaving them witless. Given that they were in combat and the aetheric channels were overflowing, they would soon purge themselves of it. But those scant seconds would have been more than enough for the Qiqirn to finish off the pugilist if not for one of their compatriots rushing in to protect them.
“They’re going to be overrun before any reinforcements get here.” Cocobusi could tell that there were just too few of them and too many of the Qiqirn to last very long. “We have to help them.”
“If we run off guns blazin’ then we’ll only make things worse,” Martyn told him. “What we need to do is tip the scales so that the others will be able to bring down the biggest target. Without their leader, the rest will scatter.”
His gaze then spanned the battlefield for a pause before settling on a Qiqirn that was seemingly larger than all the others. Whereas most of the beastmen would be lucky to reach the height of a ten-year old Hyur, this one was notably taller. Even so, he was steadily backing away from the Roegadyn cutting a swathe to get through to him, flanked by the other two they’d seen in the tavern as the ranks of bandits closed in upon them.
“Right then, time to show you what a real Master of Blue Magic looks like,” Martyn said, rolling his shoulders before holding out his hand upright. Azure crystals danced around him, the aether in the surroundings stirring before viridian wove itself anew and took the shape of what looked to be a massive seed pod. He then threw it out towards the cluster of Qiqirn Shellsweepers.
It ruptured, the shell breaking apart with far more fragility than its exterior would have led you to believe. The closest thing he could relate it to was his own Bomb Toss spell, a shell housing the aetherial copy of the explosive compound. However, rather than flames and smoke and smoldering dirt, what emerged was a thick cloud of viridian spores that shrouded the horde to the extent that Cocobusi couldn’t see more than their silhouettes as they collapsed onto the ground.
Some kind of soporific akin to the Sleep spell, Cocobusi theorized as the trio of Brass Blades took stock of the fact that they were no longer barred from their target and promptly rushed the large Qiqirn. Then he spotted movement in the corner of his eyes, turned his head to see that several of the Qiqirn Shellsweepers were approaching them, and drew his cane. “They’ve spotted us!”
Martyn spun on his heel to face the incoming swarm. Azure crystals danced around him once more, supping upon the aether around them as his eyes began to grow luminous while small, crackling streamers began to lash out from the corner of his eyes. He quickly brought his hands to his face and removed the spectacles he wore before leaning forward…
And then a blinding, deep-purple glare illuminated the night around them as a singular crackling beam surged forward like a levinbolt.
A dense concentration of lighting-aspected aether, the rational part of his mind deduced based on both the coloration and the fact that the air immediately around the beam as it cut forward was ionized to the point where purple electric arcs filled the space. Thus, it electrocuted even the Qiqirn who weren’t directly hit by it, leaving their small bodies spasming in place from the electricity worming its way into their muscles.
The neophyte blue mage followed up. His mind shifted to that of the Goblins and crystals danced as the spell took form in his hand, an explosive mimicry of goblin engineering. He chucked the bomb as hard as he could into the paralyzed group, helpless and unable to escape as their muscles seized up.
Cocobusi took a deep breath as scorched black earth rained down. His nose itched as acrid smoke rose into the air, mingling with the tangy scent of ozone. But in the pocket where he kept his Soul Crystal, he felt the telltale quiver of a new spell acquisition.
“BABAROON HAS FALLEN!!” a voice shouted across the dark, drawing their gazes towards the Brass Blades.
The Roegadyn from before stood with his bloodstained sword raised, the Qiqirn bandit leader fallen in a pool of its own lifeblood. The remainder of the bandits scattered without any semblance of resistance or direction, now lacking a leader to hold the Rat’s Nest together. The rest of the Brass Blades let loose cheers as they allowed them to run off in whatever way they could to get away.
“And just like that, the matter’s resolved,” Marytn noted, replacing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. “There’s the real key to what makes Blue Magic so special. It’s versatile enough that the right spell can change the tide of a battle before the enemy knows what’s hit them.”
“I’d like to show that to my brothers as well someday,” Cocobusi said in agreement, before shifting back to their original topic. “You mentioned before you wanted to come to an arrangement of some sorts?”
Martyn nodded. “I’ve got my hands tied here in Ul’dah., so I need someone who can do favors for me here and there. You’re a solid fit for the bill and you’ll get a chance to get some new spells along the way. Not a bad deal, I’d say.”
“Mmm… it seems simple enough,” Cocobusi said. “Very well. We have a deal, Mister Martyn.”
The two shook hands.
Summary: What can the magic of blue do for you? Well, for Cocobusi it offered a chance to become a mage like he’d always wanted. Even if it wasn’t the same magic that his brothers could use, it was still worth a shot… right?
Cocobusi had been mildly concerned about potentially learning the next spell
The day after dealing with the King Wespes, Cocobusi returned to the Drowning Wench. Not for the ale or food, but because there was an Independent Arms Mender. His outfit had gotten quite torn from the constant battles, and his cane battered up from his use of it as a blunt instrument.
“I’m honestly surprised the fabric ‘eld out this long,” said a Hyur woman named Leofrun as she inspected them. “I’ll repair it for ye at a low cost since the materials are little better than those used to make a ‘empen ‘alfrobe set. But, considering the nature o’ your business, you’d be well off purchasing more durable armor for yer adventures.”
“I suppose you might be right,” the neophyte Blue Mage conceded. The soul crystal did the majority of the work when it came to casting his spells, but the cane itself was useful in its own way. It didn’t need to be replaced at all, in theory.
But the clothing was a different story, given that through the use of crystals and other techniques it was entirely possible for them to be more durable than steel, provided they were properly attuned to the wielder. What he had now wasn’t good enough for future endeavors. “What would you recommend then?”
“A visit to ‘awker’s alley,” she said. “Old Iron Thunder will set you up with a proper attire, if it suits yer fancy.”
Heeding her advice, he left the Drowning Wench through the nearby lift, dropping him down into the Bulwark Hall that led to the Octant. The area around the massive aetheryte in the center of the plaza happened to be crowded with adventurers of all shapes and sizes, chattering and such. For some reason the number of adventurers in Limsa seemed so much larger than the number in Ul’dah. He could only presume it was because the sea afforded access to lands beyond the horizon as he ventured past them through the lower level of the city-state towards—Hawker’s Alley.
There he found the merchant that the mender had mentioned, who just so happened to have reasonable articles of clothing in stock that would be more suited to him. He ended up purchasing a Hempen Cloak, along with a set of Leather Ringbands, a Hempen Sash with matching Gaskins and Leather Boots. He even ended up being roped into talking to a nearby Jeweler and purchasing a Copper Wristlet and Bone Necklace to go with them, claiming they would be an improvement over what he had before.
And they weren’t wrong.
Cocobusi didn’t understand a lot of how Weavercraft and Goldsmithing worked, his trade was Alchemy after all, but he could feel the difference. He felt just a bit more protected. A little bit more clear of mind. It probably wasn’t too much better than what he had before but, considering how dangerous his search for spells had been so far, he should at least take the time to improve his chances of survival.
I may as well get the color dyed while I’m at it, he couldn’t help but think as he took all his newly purchased equipment with him towards the West Alley. There was apparently an individual known as Unsynrael the Dyemonger, who kept blue dye in stock. Though it wasn’t strictly necessary, Cocobusi felt that somehow his identity was tied to the color of the school of magic he found an affinity with, so he at least wanted the clothing he wore to carry that on as he upgraded his equipment.
It was when he passed through the small plaza that separated the East and West Alleys that he spotted the familiar bed of pink hair. The Plainsfolk Lalafell who he’d been partnered with more often than not was standing on a small stool in front of one of the stands, allowing her to reach the countertop as she had what was seemingly a heated conversation with a very large Sea Wolf Roegadyn.
Between the hustle and bustle of the foot traffic, he couldn’t make out what they were saying from a distance. But once he got closer it seemed like she was trying to negotiate a deal with him. Though, once he got close enough, they noticed him and the conversation stalled.
“What are you doing here?” the Arcanist asked. “Eavesdropping now?”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I just happened to hear your voice on my way to the dyemonger and wanted to ask what was going on.”
“My grimoire needs to be replaced,” she explained somewhat curtly. “Yesterday’s events burned though all my pages, and the wear and tear on it have gotten to the point where simply binding new pages to it won’t suffice. But the merchant here won’t give me a suitable deal and I won’ t be able to afford new garments if I do buy it.”
“If I gave you a discount when I haven’t others, it would be a disservice to the other adventurers who come to me,” he said in a somewhat exasperated tone. “More so if word gets around. I can’t risk my business because you want to scrimp by.”
“Well, it would be unfair if he simply gave you a discount and word got around,” Cocobusi admitted, causing the Roe to nod in approval while the Lalafell scowled. To assuage her temper, he quickly added, “But I can make you one if you’d like—as a thank-you for your help until now. That way you can focus on getting more durable clothing.”
She didn’t keep the skepticism out of her voice. “You? Make one?”
“I’m an Alchemist by trade,” he explained. “In fact, the entire reason I originally came here was to deliver a new grimoire I made for the acting guild mistress. Blue magic was something I happened to stumble upon, but it seems like the one who was selling the soul crystals is gone now.”
“Considering your so-called method of acquiring spells, I imagine he was either run out of town or thrown in a cell by the Yellowjackets. Still, if you say that you can do so, I shan’t refuse your offer to make me a Maple Picatrix then—the best you possibly can, in fact.”
He mulled it over, recalling what would be needed to make one. “I believe I have the necessary crystals in my room at the Mizzenmast Inn to work with, and I spotted a merchant in the East Alley with the lumber and log and yarn I need as well to make it. The biggest issue will be procuring the Enchanted Copper Ink. It requires Copper Sand to properly make, along with Beastkin Blood. If we were in Ul’dah, I could procure it from the Guild Supplier, but I don’t believe I’ve seen it sold here.”
“You’re scant out of luck there,” Faezghim said. “Such products are so narrow in use that most merchants won’t keep it in stock. Suppliers would rather sell to guilds for something like that.”
“I suspected as much…” He brought his hand to his chin in thought until something came to mind. “Oh! But I could extract it from the Weathered Grimoire you had through desynthesis, if you’d be willing to part with it.”
She tilted her head at that. “De…synthesis?”
“Ah, I suppose it isn’t common knowledge unless you’re a Disciple of the Hand. Basically, it’s a technique created by a well-renown Goblin with his own workshop in Thanalan. It allows us to break down things into the parts that make them up and sometimes the crystalized spiritbond energies of the crafter if they were really talented will manifest. Those are pretty rare though.”
The Arcanist just stared at him in silence as he finished, at a loss for words.
Faezghim sighed. “In short, he takes your old grimoire and breaks it down to get you the ink needed to make your new grimoire.”
“I-I understood that,” she claimed. “Still, is this ink really that important?”
Cocobusi nodded. “Yes, the ink acts as a really good conduit for aether. Not the best, but it does make it easier for those who are getting a feel for the flow of their magicks. Because of that, it’s actually integrated into the construction of the entire grimoire through when we use crystals to work the materials. So if I desynthesize your old grimoire, I can obtain enough ink to make your new one.”
She seemed almost hesitant, contemplating the offer silently for a moment. But she ultimately consented with a nod. “You aren’t the type to lie from what I’ve seen so far. And you have been somewhat helpful since we have worked together, so I am willing to entrust that you know what you are doing so long as I may watch.”
“That’s fine, though it won’t be very interesting,” he said. “Just let me take my clothes to the Dyemonger and then I will go purchase necessary materials. After that I’ll take the lift back up to the Drowning Wench.”
“It’d be faster to take the Aethernet Shard network given the amount of people,” the Arcanist pointed out. The foot traffic made it fairly easy for the smaller folk to have trouble getting around in the middle of the day.
“I haven’t attuned to any of them,” he said.
This time she sighed. “Even if you weren’t planning to stay long, its common practice for Adventurers to attune to every single one they can find. Next you’ll tell me you haven’t even attuned to the main Aetheryte.”
He looked away at that.
“Oh, for Twelve’s sake. You really are new at this, aren’t you?” She huffed before grabbing him by the wrist and pulling him along towards the Octant. “Going out into the field without attuning to the local Aetheryte is practically suicide.”
“It’s not that I don’t know that. It’s just that I don’t have the anima capacity to attune to them!”
“If you lacked the ability to attune then you wouldn’t have been able to cast those spells of yours,” the Arcanist replied, pulling the neophyte Blue Mage as close to the hovering crystal as possible before sticking his hand out. “Now, focus on the crystal. Feel the energy coming off it and then feel yourself becoming one with it.”
He was hesitant to do so. But the entire reason for him testing Blue Magic was to see if it could improve his anima capacity to an extent. The surest way to see if it was working would be if he was finally able to attune to one of the Aetherytes.
Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and focused on the crystal in front of him. There was a sensation in the air that seemed to pulse surrounding the crystal. Like a heartbeat. He reached out to it, matching his breath to the beat until he felt his body begin to thrum to it. The sensation grew faster and deeper until it felt almost like he was a part of it, hovering above a fast-moving current that surged just beneath the surface.
If he wanted to, he could just fall into it and… vanish…
His eyes snapped open before he followed that train of thought. Looking down at his outstretched hand, he said, “I think I felt a pull just now.”
“Then it was a success,” the Arcanist noted. “Aetherytes act as a beacon for traversing the Lifestream—”
“I did it!” He jumped up for joy and then embraced her. “I can finally attune to Aethertyes!”
Flustered, the Arcanist stumbled across her words until she finally demanded, “L-Let go of me already!”
Belatedly realizing he was invading her personal space, Cocobusi did so in a hurry. “Oh, I-I’m sorry. I was just so excited.”
She huffed. “As I was saying, consider this a sort of a lighthouse on the aetherial current of the Lifestream since your body’s aether now resonates with its frequency. If you have the fortitude to withstand such travel in the future, you’ll be able to focus on the frequency of it and your body will naturally be drawn to it from the great flow. In other words, Teleportation will become available to you.”
“That’ll be amazing,” he said, picturing himself blinking from one city-state to another in only a few moments. “I could travel all over Eorzea like that, couldn’t I?”
“Before getting any funny ideals in your head, I’d suggest getting a feel for how taxing it is before you try to go too far and end up taking a permanent swim in the Lifestream,” she warned him. “Regardless, let us hurry and get the materials you need. I expect that grimoire to be the absolute best I have laid my eyes on as compensation for having to explain all of this.”
“Sure thing,” he told her with a blooming smile on his face. “I’ll make you the best Maple Picatrix possible.”
True to his words, once he left his new garments to the Dyemonger to be painted a proper shade of blue and bought the materials, he took her back to his room where he had his tools. Even while traveling a Disciple of the Hand would carry the tools they needed, no different than an Adventurer would carry their weapons or foci. While minimal, the ability to manipulate aether allowed the usage of what would be considered techniques that could be used in the process of crafting.
“I can see you really did put in a lot of practice with this,” he said while turning her Weathered Grimoire in his grasp., before nodding to himself and then proceeding to hold it with both hands as he began threading his own aether through it. “The spiritbond you have with it is perfect.”
“What do you mean?” she asked from her perch in the chair that was in his room.
“Basically, you’ve used it so much that part of your own spirit has flowed into it,” he explained as he began to tug on that bond. Aether was the source of many mysteries, including the crystallization of experience. By gathering up that residual bond and forcing his own aether to compact it, it began to take on a solid shape until there was a bright flash. “Done!”
It was a blue sphere that was a bit rough around the edges, somewhat unrefined but it still had a radiance within it. He turned it over in his palms before brushing it against his sleeve and then handing it to her. “Here you go.”
“This is… a Materia, isn’t it?” she asked. “Some of the more accomplished Arcanist have them in their grimoire.”
He nodded. “Most people don’t know it, but Materia are essentially the crystalized essence of certain attributes found in the bond between oneself and their equipment. In other words, it’s proof that you’ve been trying hard with perfecting your craft and were attached to that grimoire. Since I have to destroy it to make you a new one, I figured I should at least crystalize that bond so that you’ll have something to remember it by.”
The Arcanist slowly reached out for it before taking it into her grasp. Her dark eyes softened as she looked down to it and she found herself perplexed before looking back up to the Alchemist as he prepared an empty bottle to gather the ink before he began the desynthesis process. Taking a deep breath, she asked a single question:
“Why are you being so nice to me?”
“Hm?” He looked up at that and tilted his head. “What do you mean?”
“I am aware of how I come across to other people and how demanding I can be,” she explained. “And I know I have trouble controlling my Carbuncle, and that has endangered us both. Yet, you have done nothing but assist me since we’ve been acquainted. Why is it?”
“Oh… that’s because I understand you’re trying your hardest,” he said. “I get that it can be frustrating when you start with something and seem to hit a wall. It was the same for me when I started out as an Alchemist. During times like that you need someone to offer you a helping hand, so I did.”
It was the same when he started out. His brothers supported him even though he couldn’t join them in thaumaturgy because of his deficiency. Even though his reasoning was to find a way to increase his aptitude through the alchemy, he still wouldn’t have made it that far without help.
“And besides, it’s not like you didn’t help me,” he continued. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to learn as much as I had if not for you helping me. So just consider this all my gratitude for everything before I return to Ul’dah and proof that I believe eventually you’ll be able to master your Carbuncle.”
That said, he proceeded to continue with the process. She watched as the Weathered Grimoire that she had been given starting out as an Arcanist disappeared, broken down while leaving behind only the ink. Then she lost track of time as he took the materials and shaped them using the crystals, fusing them together through synthesis until the new Maple Picatrix was done. “Finished!”
Her pink hair shifted as she handled it with stunned silence upon brushing her fingers against the surface. Sending her aether through it was smooth and fluid, leaving her to acknowledge it was probably one of the highest quality grimoire she’d handled in her life. “I… can’t accept this without giving you something else in return.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because it wouldn’t be right,” she insisted, tapping her head in thought as she tried to decide on what she could do for him. “Uh… oh, you don’t have a formal mentor when it comes to your magical studies, correct?”
“I suppose not,” Cocobusi said. “The spellbook gives me the basic understanding and method of acquiring the spells, and the soul crystal does most of the work.”
“Then, at the very least, I can share with you a standardized technique passed along to students of offensive magic,” she said. “It isn’t something that would require arcanima learning, but a relatively simple technique to use aether to hamper one’s ability to focus their spells and weaken their concentration—to Addle them, effectively.”
“I think I’ve heard my brothers mention something like that,” Cocobusi said. “I didn’t think that it’d be one of the standardized techniques, but if you’re willing to teach me I’d be happy to learn it.”
“Then let’s begin since you don’t have much time before you depart.” She hopped out of her chair and offered him her hand. “Also, I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced to one another in spite of working together so often. I am Litata Lita.”
“That’s a nice name,” he said, extending his own hand. “I’m Cocobusi. Cocobusi Lolobusi.”
The two shook hands before her lecture began…
Summary: What can the magic of blue do for you? Well, for Cocobusi it offered a chance to become a mage like he’d always wanted. Even if it wasn’t the same magic that his brothers could use, it was still worth a shot… right?
Among the spells that a Blue Mage can learn there are some that are more potent than others. Some would say they could surpass even Thaumaturgy in the sheer amount of raw destruction that they can unleash. However, such spells are usually reserved for the direst of circumstances, due to the fact that they draw upon the very aether that sustains one’s life and thus leaves said caster incapacitated.
One such spell happens to be what we will be outlining: Final Sting.
This spell works to convert the entirety of one’s anima into a concentrated aetherial poison that is forcibly driven into a single target, inflicting a massive amount of damage. Even the most fearsome of foe can be felled should they find themselves on the receiving end of this spell, but the steep price and incapacitation that follows means that it should never be used except as an absolute last resort.
While a number of vilekin of the Giant Hornet genus are capable of utilizing this lethal technique, the most feasible to obtain it from are located in the following region of Eorzea…
Cocobusi had been mildly concerned about potentially learning the next spell that he could gain before his time in La Noscea came to an end. He may have been a fledgling adventurer as far as the others in the group he was traveling with were concerned, but he was first and foremost an Alchemist. He had obligations to the guild, and it was only because he’d taken an allowed leave of absence that he could pursue gaining his spells without consequence.
That being said, this spell appeared to be one of the more dangerous ones.
From what he could gather the spell worked by concentrating one’s aether and anima until it reached a dangerous level of density, transmuting it into a potent poison, and then forcibly driving it into a target utilizing pressure from contracting the aetheric channels. He already knew that it was possible for individuals to weave aether into a poisonous substance, and that a sudden influx of a dense concentration of aether into one’s body would cause a violent reaction. But he also knew that if what he was grasping was true, utilizing the spell would most likely leave him in a state that was similar as to what happened with Cocobuki if he used it—on the verge of death.
Having all the aetheric channels contracting at once due to the aether flowing through them being squeezed out would cause the body to go into shock nearly instantly. Even with a transfusion of aether or restorative magicks to get them back on their feet, the body would still take time to recuperate from the sudden shock. And that was for someone with the anima capacity to utilize such demanding spells like his brothers.
All the same, it was still a spell that he could learn—even if he had no immediate intention of using it.
That was why he’d traveled to Three-Malm Bend after he’d had more time to practice with his newest spell. He figured out both the range and casting time to prevent anymore mishaps, which proved wise considering there were a number of other adventurers who’d answered the calls of the Yellow Jackets this time for what seemed to be another seasonal culling. It was Giant Hornets this time.
Apparently there was a large number of vilekin because they built nests in the trees close to a checkpoint here. While they were normally only aggressive when you approached their hive, during this season some were known to grow so large that they could tower over a Hyur. And these “Kings” naturally sought to expand their hives while stirring up the local population of wespes into becoming much more aggressive, meaning that they had to be put down.
What incentivized the Adventurers was that the pay was much better due to the Culinarian Guild financing the reward, as in the aftermath they could harvest Honey from the hives with far less risk to themselves. Cocobusi saw it as the best opportunity to learn Final Sting, and so he’d prepared himself by using the last of his earnings from that cheese quest he took.
Of course, he couldn’t really be prepared for the chaos that it rapidly devolved into as he observed how quickly trouble arose when several parties of adventurers vied for the same prize. The portion of La Noscea they were in was something of a habitat for more passive monsters, but with so many spells and attacks going off haphazardly, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that stray shots would abound. And, once angered, the once-passive monsters had taken to the field resulting in a battle on multiple fronts.
In one such case earth shifted as it was rose from the ground, pooling together mid-air in front of a Conjurer’s Maple Crook. The densely packed soil was bound together into Stone, its grinding weight sent flying towards the upraised claw of a Megalocrab. It hammered into the limb that was in the midst of preparing to crush a Marauder that was trapped within its other set of pincers, fruitlessly trying to hack away at the hardened, green carapace without solid leverage, and knocked its attack astray before it could cave in their skull.
But the beast only responded by spitting out a weave of thick bubbles in her direction that frothed and sizzled as it coated the grass. The acrid scent of the digestive fluids turned hasty weapon was quite poignant, leaving the Conjurer to wisely step back. But in doing so her partner was left trapped between the jagged teeth and crushing finger of the claw, soon to be torn in half once the weave of protective aether around his skin that seemed to act as a Bulwark faltered.
Seeing their plight as he had several others to this point, Cocobusi prioritized helping them and an aetherial replica of the goblin explosive found its way into his hand. Then he gave a shout of warning to the pair before chucking the palm-sized bomb. “Incoming!”
The moment the explosion blew off the rear legs of the giant crab and it collapsed to the ground, they didn’t waste the chance. With a shout, the Marauder was suddenly wreathed in a bloom of aether that seemed to seethe from his skin as he began hacking away with his axe in a rage. The carapace covering the arm shattered with the single swing, cleaving through and severing the limb. Freed, he then proceeded bring the head of the heavy Cloud Axe down on its carapace over and over.
If the slashes before could chop wood, then the blows now would cleave through solid stone. The hard, chitin broke, green fragments and blood spraying as the axe struck the tender meat below. The wavekin let loose a shriek as it came out of its stagger and attempted to crush him with its remaining arm when another Stone slammed into it, finishing it off. Once the monster was dead, the Marauder fell to a knee and the Conjurer ran over to tend to the wounds he’d sustained.
They should be fine now, Cocobusi thought to himself before he caught a flicker of light-pink hair further out. It was the Arcanist he’d worked alongside a few times now, running after her Carbuncle as she attempted to participate in the hunt as well. He hoped the arcane construct wasn’t being too difficult to manage, given things were already chaotic enough as it was. He was tempted to follow after her to make sure, but a brief flash of light in the corner of his eyes pulled his attention elsewhere.
Specifically, towards a trio consisting of a Miqo’te Pugilist, a Hyur Gladiator, and a Lalafell Thaumaturge in the midst of struggling with some of the very Killer Wespes that he’d come to slay for their spell. That Flash he’d seen earlier must’ve been a technique that gathered aether on the weapon and transmuted it into light to blind an enemy. Though from what Cocobusi had heard in passing the Gladiator’s guild had stopped teaching it due to the fact that it could catch allies unaware as well.
The Pugilist, a young woman, was nursing a bleeding wound to her abdomen as she curled up on the ground. The Gladiator, a young man, was using his shield and sword to keep her safe as the Giant Hornets blindly attempted to sting him. As for the Thaumaturge, who looked to be somewhat older than the Blue Mage himself, he was currently being attacked by a Water Sprite.
Cocobusi suspected that they were all fresh from Ul’dah where, due to a shortage of those capable of restorative magicks compared to the other nations, a group of three would center their tactics around piling on a singular enemy and bringing them down quickly. Their original intention was probably to have the Thaumaturge use Sleep on the swarm and from there they would slay them one-by-one. But because of the Water Sprite had begun attacking the Thaumaturge, he couldn’t properly focus on shifting the polarity of his inner anima and so now he was left fumbling with his traveling pack to pull out an Ether while under attack.
His brothers often complained about how neophyte Thaumaturges tended to improperly manage their capacity for destructive spells at inopportune times. Bearing witness to the sprite pooling water-aspected aether into a ball and launching the Water spell hard enough that it knocked the Lalafell off his feet, despite the fact that he tried to block it with his Square Maple Shield, showed exactly why. Either way, he had to act now lest the situation worsen.
The novice Blue Mage cast the Bomb Toss spell once more, flinging it towards the Water Sprite. For a moment he held some concern that the sprite, being a minor elemental of the opposing element on the aetheric wheel to fire, would be unharmed by the explosion. But the explosive force still managed to rattle the sprite, its form undulating around the crystal shard that it used for a heart.
“Hurry and drink your Ether!” Cocobusi told the neophyte Thaumaturge as he then ran closer to the other group to assist them as well, pulling out a Potion. Casting the explosive spell for a third time, he flung it overhead towards the swarm of Killer Wespes as the blindness wore off.
When the explosion dazed the Giant Hornets, leaving them stunned for a few precious moments, the Gladiator took the chance to start slashing away at them. The obsidian edges of his Ash Macuahuitl ripped through one in a spray of visceral fluid before finding the head of another and caving it in. But as the Pugilist spared a glance in his direction and she saw him running towards them with the Potion in hand, she shouted, “Watch out!”
He didn’t get the meaning of the warning until he felt something hard and wet slam into his back, knocking Cocobusi off his feet and sending the Potion flying out of his grasp. Reunited with the sense of pain that he’d become a little too accustomed to since starting his adventuring career, he raised his head to see the cause of. The Water Sprite was drifting his way, having seemingly earned its enmity from the bombing.
He saw the next attack coming, a watery sphere being fired towards him like a cannonball. He barely rolled out of the way before it splashed down where he had been. Then he got back onto his feet and prepared himself for the next one when a bundle of frigid, ice-aspected aether from the umbral polarity hit the Water Sprite.
The Blizzard spell erupted into white ice and blue frost as it smashed into the watery mass. The cold began to subsume it as the Thaumaturge began another incantation and funneled his aether into Marbled Eye of the Copper Scepter that he wielded in his right hand. Not to be undone, Cocobusi dredged up the primal HUNGER for aether that he used to activate his Soul Crystal and proceeded to rip the aether from the Water Sprite.
The elemental was little more than a mass of somewhat aware aether, so Blood Drain took from the whole and rid it of element before flowing into him as the creature strained to keep itself together until the throbbing sphere of fire that had pooled around the Thaumaturge’s scepter was released. The moment the two elements met there was a violent burst of steam as the water that it had pooled together around the shard that was its heart evaporated. The Water Shard fell to the ground, the elemental’s awareness scattered.
That left the real threats, the Killer Wespes that the Gladiator and Pugilist were fending off. The sharpened point of a stinger scraped against his Bronze Hoplon as he parried a thrust for his head before shrouding it in aether and slamming it into the vilekin. The resulting shockwave as it discharged left it dazed long enough for the Pugilist to deliver a Snap Punch that caused it to collapse to the ground lifelessly.
Next, the Gladiator raised his leg and drove a kick into the abdomen of another vilekin, which sent another burst of aether through its body and stunning it. That bought him enough time to spin around with his weapon, cutting it down while the rest of the vilekin that were attacking him backed away to avoid more than a glancing cut from the obsidian points of his weapon.
The novice Blue Mage and neophyte Thaumaturge began casting to further turn the tide, giving a shout of warning that didn’t go unnoticed by the Pugilist. She called out to the Gladiator as incantations from one flowed freely from rote memory as while azure diamonds encircling the other created the aetherial construct of another goblin explosive. The Gladiator gathered aether onto the tip of his sword and released a blinding flash that robbed the compound eyes of their vision, before sprinting to get out of range as the Bomb Toss flew first.
The volatile construct of fire-aspected aether ruptured as it landed amidst the swarm, the explosion swallowing the giant hornets and stalling most of their wings from the shock. The Sleep spell from the Thaumaturge followed, robbing them of their consciousness. They laid on the ground in a deep, yet ephemeral slumber that was soon to be made permanent—with one exception, that was.
A single one escaped from the fringes of the blast, rushing out of the smoke as it sped towards the Thaumaturge in a frenzied haste, eager to claim his life. But the Gladiator sprinted to meet it midway and intercepted the point with his shield, guiding the killing thrust away as it scraped against the metal surface hard enough to scratch the surface deeply. The Pugilist followed up with another punch that was hard enough to knock it to the ground, whereupon the Gladiator stabbed it in the head.
Seeing they had that in hand as they turned their attention to the sleeping swarm to kill them off before they could wake, Cocobusi decided to keep moving to help where he could. Some of the adventurers were faring even worse than the two groups he’d thrown his lot in with so far. Those he attempted to buy time for so they could get away or supplied Potions to keep them alive, before they ended up amongst the dead.
It was only after he finished dispatching another Water Sprite that had gotten too ambitious that the cry of a familiar voice reached his ears. It was the Arcanist he’d worked with before, pink hair and a fiery attitude. Only now she was in a pinch, clutching her grimoire to her chest and her Carbuncle missing while a trio of Killer Wespe fluttered towards her with lethal intention.
Acting quickly, Cocobusi focused on casting the Sticky Tongue spell and let loose the aetherial tongue. In the blink of an eye the Arcanist was crumpled on the ground in front of him while covered in the sticky, aetherially replicated toad saliva. A sound of disgust and frustration slipped out of her mouth as her gaze turned positively venomous when she noticed he was responsible.
He felt bad about getting her slimy, even though it’d dissipate soon enough. But he didn’t have time to really focus on that since the Killer Wespes were still keen on attacking. They were headed towards the pair now, closing the 25 yalms between them rather quickly. “You can yell at me later, but first we need to deal with this!”
“My book ran out of pages!” She held up what was left of her grimoire. Sure enough there were only a handful of pages left that were inside, all of them filled with inscriptions and formulae for her other spells. Since she used the extra pages as a medium for calling out her arcane entity, that meant she couldn’t summon anymore.
“Then get to safety!” he said before he ran forward to put distance between himself and her. She’d need time to get free and flee, and his options were limited as he mentally recounted his stock. I have two sleeping potions left. Will they be enough?
With little time to debate it, he tossed the bottles of Sleeping Potion towards a pair, leaving the glass to shatter on impact. The fluids within splashed over their exoskeletons and seeped in, leave them in a stupor as they drifted down to the ground. But the last one was closing in while preparing to jab at him with its stinger.
Out of other options, he focused on casting Bomb Toss once more and felt the anima pulled from deep within him forming the backbone of the spiraling diamonds as they siphoned and shaped ambient aether. Goblin explosive in hand yet again, he tossed it at the incoming monster right as it entered stabbing range.
The Blue Mage was knocked off his feet from the detonation being so close, bones shaking from the force of the explosion. But the vilekin swept up in the explosion took the worst of it, still on the ground and writhing about trying to get its wings working again. He found it in him to cast Energy Drain once before it managed to get up, ripping the aether out of its body violently before it retaliated by violently flailing about with its stinger.
There was a flash of pain and the sound of fabric tearing as a Sharp Sting caught his shoulder when he tried to parry the incoming stab. Blood seeped from the wound as he lashed out with the cane in his other hand, whacking it twice, only for it to retaliate by slamming into him reflexively. It managed to knock him onto his back while the cane flew from his grasp.
“Oww…” In pain, Cocobusi fumbled around for his cane for a moment only to see the stinger on its abdomen swaddled in a dense amount of aether. He realized that the wounded vilekin was getting ready to deliver the fatal sting right as it descended—
—when a fireball slammed into the vilekin a moment before it could spear through his chest and deliver the venom into his heart. The flames swept away the burning husk of the Killer Wespe, smoldering bits and pieces raining down all around Cocobusi. He’d barely felt the minor shake in his pocket over the pounding in his chest as the Thaumaturge from before came over, scepter in one hand with smoke wafting off it.
“That was a close one,” he said, extending the other towards the downed Lalafell. “Can you stand?”
Cocobusi nodded and accepted the help getting up. “Thank you.”
“Think nothing of it,” the Thaumaturge said. “It would be ill of us if we left you to die while in aid of another, after benefiting from such ourselves.”
“Leaving a debt as such unchecked would catch up to us in Thal’s Halls when we got there,” the Gladiator from before said, now on his way over with the Pugilist. Their weapons were covered in fresh viscera, the sleeping pair of Killer Wespe slain as the one attacking him was blown to pieces. The immediate threat was over then.
“Not that we were in a rush to get there anytime soon,” the Pugilist quickly added, while bringing her hands together in gratitude. “Thanks for the Potion earlier, by the way. Though it looks like you could use one yourself now.”
She wasn’t wrong. The bleeding wound he had was still running, and he felt his bones aching from the proximity to his own explosion. “I used up all of my Potions helping others today, but they’ll mend in time.”
“A fool’s logic.” The sharp barb was followed by a familiar sensation washing over him. It was the soothing sense of his body mending through the workings of a Physick spell. He turned to see that the Arcanist was once more casting her healing magicks on him with an annoyed expression. “You are lucky that I am feeling generous in spite of what you did to me.”
He supposed she was still upset about covering her in slime. But the fact that she still saw fit to tend to his wounds left him grateful. “Thank you.”
“Hmph.” The Arcanist huffed as she turned away from him. “If you have to keep butting in, at least do it properly. There’s no point in playing the hero if you’re going to end up getting killed yourself.”
And with that said, she proceeded to walk off towards the direction of the Yellow Jackets. It seemed that the King Wespes had been successfully culled while they were preoccupied. All that was left was to help the wounded back to the city-state and collect their compensation for participation.
“We didn’t manage to get any of the juicy targets, so I doubt we’ll get much for all the trouble we went through,” the Pugilist said bitterly, ears and tail drooping. “I wanted enough to at least try one of the meals I’ve heard about at the Bismark.”
“As far as I’m concerned, so long as we get enough to fill the belly and a few pints that should be enough,” the Gladiator replied with a shrug of the shoulders. “Anything is better than the days of eating thrown-out scraps just to stop our bellies from aching.”
“I didn’t need the reminder,” she said, ears and tail rising in agitation. “The whole point in us becoming adventurers was to get away from all of that. That’s why we should keep trying something new every step of the way—right up until we make it big.”
“You two can debate on suitable cuisine with whatever our finances after we have replenished our supplies and repaired our equipment,” the Thaumaturge stated firmly, giving the impression that he’d had to do so beforehand a number of times. He then looked towards Cocobusi. “Once more, we thank you for your assistance. But do be a bit more careful in the future, yes?”
“Take care,” the Pugilist said with a cheery wave while the Gladiator gave him a nod. Then the three of them set off.
What a peculiar bunch they were, Cocobusi mused. From what he could gather the Hyur and Miqo’te were likely orphans or inhabitants of the slums prior to becoming adventurers. But the Lalafell seemed almost scholarly. How they’d met and formed a party was beyond him to grasp, but adventurers came in all sorts and from all different lots in life. I suppose I’m not exactly one in a position to judge either.
Besides, he really did owe them his gratitude. They‘d helped him in more ways than one, given the sensation he’d felt when the mage had killed the Killer Wespe attacking him. He’d gotten his fourth spell thanks to that, all that concentrated aether being violently released in such proximity practically guaranteeing it.
Shame I can’t actually use it, he thought to himself while brushing his hand over his pocket where the Soul Crystal was nestled. He would still meditate on it when he returned to his room, as he did the other spells, but chances were he’d never use it. The risk was simply too great for him to consider it under normal circumstances, especially with his low anima levels at the moment.
Still, even if it was a close call, he’d helped some others and earned a new spell.
That was good enough for the moment.
To the nascent Blue Mage, one might be surprised to learn that it is possible to gain Blue Magic that allows one to aetherially replicate the functionality of mechanical devices. For example, take the explosives frequently favored by Goblins for the fiery punch they pack. Through the same means of acquisition used to obtain other spells, you can gain access to the ability to chuck similar explosives with the aptly named spell: Bomb Toss.
Now, it may seem strange that one of the Spoken races are capable of granting Blue Magic as monsters would upon death. But keep in mind that one’s aether contains not only the force of one’s life, but has the experiences and memories imprinted upon them. For Goblins, whom are often taught to create their preferred explosives through magically enhanced gunpowder at a young age, it would be nearly instinctive.
Now, while Goblins can be found all over Eorzea, different tribes of Goblins use different methods. Those that attune best to the Soul Crystal are those commonly found in Middle La Noscea, though a particularly lawless cadre of goblins belonging to their tribe have been seen in the Twelveswood…
“Ahhh!” Cocobusi shouted in alarm as he rushed towards a large, outcropped boulder. His tiny legs worked themselves at a frantic pace to reach the stout stone before he dove behind it. Then he huddled over and braced himself as a moment later the explosions rang out.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
The goblin explosives tore the ground on the other side of his cover apart with surprising force. Soil and burned grass pelted his hat as they rained down, blasted up by the concussive force hidden within the tiny bombs. He could feel his teeth rattling as he brushed it off while shooting a glance to other person taking shelter behind the boulder.
The Lalafell whose name he never did get was huddled over, clutching her Weathered Grimoire overhead to stop any pebbles from hitting her in the head. She felt the weight of his stare upon her and pouted. “This isn’t my fault!”
“Never said it was.” At least not out loud anyway. The job in itself was supposed to be simple. A group of Goblins had apparently robbed a merchant caravan and stolen a crate of cheeses that had been meant for the Culinarian Guild. But because her familiar jumped the gun their attempt to get back the crate without being caught went poorly, to say the least.
“You no take cheese!” the Goblin barked. “Cheese belong to Goblins! Not uppity uplanders.”
“That cheese doesn’t belong to you!” Cocobusi shouted back, peeking over the edge of the rock. Even though he said that, he could see that the three Goblins were still getting ready to cart their stolen goods away. He turned back to the Arcanist and spotted her drawing on the pages of her grimoire once more. “They’re going to get away at this rate.”
“Then do something!” She glared up from getting ready to summon her Carbuncle only for her eyes to go wide as she pointed behind him. “Look out!”
He whipped his head around to see that one of the Goblins was there, having broken from their group in order to try and stab him with a knife. Cocobusi immediately threw himself to the side as it stabbed at him, only for a Ruin spell to slam into the Goblin and knock it back. He followed up by reaching out with his Blood Drain spell and proceeded to rip the aether out of its body, leaving the Goblin to jerk violently and shudder.
But it didn’t kill it. The Goblin instead gripped its knife tighter and attempted to slash with it, cutting into his arm and drawing blood as he drew back and instead whacked the Goblin with his cane as if it were a club. The Goblin’s head whipped around before another Ruin spell burst against its body and it went still, knife flopping out of its hand.
Cocobusi sucked in a sharp breath at the wound. It stung but he could manage for now. So, he looked around to the other side of the boulder to see they were beginning to move with the stolen crate. “We have to go now, or we’ll lose them.”
“Done!” She shouted, ripping the page out of her Weathered Grimoire and using it to call forth her Carbuncle. “Go fetch the Goblins!”
It gave her a curious tilt of the head before looking off towards the fallen Goblin.
“The other ones,” she clarified, pointing off towards the pair. It deigned to listen to her this time, making an aggressive squeak before it darted off. The Arcanist then turned to him and gestured for him to follow. “Come on!”
He broke from his cover as the Emerald Carbuncle drew upon the winds as it darted forward, squealing before it let fly a Backdraft that knocked one of the remaining two Goblins away from the crate and leaving the other to drop it. The Carbuncle then moved to attack, leaving the last one to glare at them through its mask as it pulled out another bomb.
“Not this time!” Cocobusi said as the azure diamonds encircled him. Aether gathered in his mouth until his cheeks were bulging, before he spat out an aetherial Sticky Tongue that latched onto the final Goblin and snapped him forward until he was pinned to the ground in front of Cocobusi, the adhesive fluids leaving him trapped…along with the bomb. “Gah!”
He turned to book it as far from the Goblin as he could—
—and barely made it out of the death radius of the explosion as the diminished force of it sent him sprawling into the dirt. He came to a tumbling stop, his small body left prone on the ground and a small moan of pain slipping out of his mouth. Along with a slight quiver in his pocket. “I… did… it…”
“If by that you mean nearly blow yourself up, you did an adequate job.” The Arcanist’s voice rang out from somewhere close-by. He barely managed to turn his head from the dirt to see her hovering over him with book outstretched, magic in the work. “Hold still.”
He felt the broken skin and battered cells begin to rebuild themselves, his body mending and the pain dying. His strength returned, allowing him to get back up to his feet slowly. He dusted himself off, noting that his garments were in need of a mender, and then thanked her. “Thanks.”
She turned her nose up to him. “It wouldn’t look good if you got yourself killed on such a simple job. Speaking of which, what kind of disgusting spell was that? It reminded me an awful lot of those slimy toads we had to contend with.”
“That’s because it’s a Blue Magic spell derived from them,” he explained, pulling out the Soul Crystal to show her. “Unlike my brothers, I can’t use thaumaturgy because I don’t have enough anima to use spells from most of the other schools of magic. But I discovered that I can use Blue Magic to copy the spells of monsters, due to the fact that it costs so little of my own anima as long as I have a Soul Crystal.”
She looked at the crystal with skeptical eyes as she processed the information. “That sounds like rubbish to me.”
“I’ll show you,” he closed his eyes and tightened his fingers around the Soul Crystal. “Just now, I felt it quiver when that Goblin got caught in his own explosion. That should mean I can use the Bomb Toss spell once I attune it…”
What was the Goblin’s reasoning for creating their bombs? It was a weapon, of course. One refined through experimentation and effort that spanned a vast swathe of time, a product born from their intellect. For those who carried every aspect of their lives on their backs, they needed a way to defend themselves from those that would take their precious treasures despite their lack of strength.
And so the Goblins turned to the crafting of explosives.
Even though he didn’t know the composition, as that was a heavily guarded Goblin secret, he could imagine steady hands delicately mixing aetheric sand, fire crystals, and gunpowder into the perfect blend. It had to be done slowly, carefully, a bit at a time—oxidizer, fuel, binder, all packed into a small ball that would give way to a very big…
The Soul Crystal began to pulsate within his grasp as the envisioned scenario resonated with the memories that were imbued within the aether traces that had been absorbed upon the Goblin’s death. The azure crystals encircled him, spinning as they took aether from their surroundings and gave shape to that memory. It felt hot, a steadily growing heat pooling in his empty palm and being overlaid with a shell, until he finally felt a bomb was in his grasp.
“See!” He opened his eyes as he held it out to show her, only to see her backside as she ran away from the bomb replica… which had a steadily shrinking lit fuse. Panic set in for a brief moment before he tossed it behind him and started booking it in the opposite direction.
Fortunately for him, he was actually out of the blast radius this time. He only ended up with a gracious amount of dirt and burnt grass pelting him as they rained down from the blast spout. “Whew… that was dangerous.”
“That is an understatement!” She came back over, lips framed in a pout. “There’s a reason using magic requires years of study. If any layman could simply use spells without proper guidance, they could easily hurt someone. Whoever gave you that Soul Crystal was so irresponsible that they ought to be arrested!”
“That’s a bit excessive,” he murmured. Though, he would admit that the book didn’t note that the fuse would be actively lit. That was an oversight. “Anyway, thanks to that now I’ve got three spells that I can use, and we finished the quest. So, all’s well that ends well, right?”
She only huffed. “I am going to inspect the cargo and make sure that it wasn’t damaged. Then you can help me cart it back.”
He watched as she went back to the crate while her carbuncle just curiously stayed behind and gave him an inquiring look. Then she let out a small yelp and began to sway on her feet. She attempted to stagger away from the crate before collapsing onto the ground, leaving the arcane entity to vanish as well.
“What’s wrong?” Cocobusi moved to check on her before the scent wafting from the open crate hit him like a brick and he began to stagger as well. That when he noticed that wind crystals on the underside of the crate lid had been used to keep the odor contained within the crate, as what was inside was several blocks of hard-yellow cheese, threaded with blue-green mold. He fought against the nausea and held his breath, barely managing to get the top back on, before he slumped down against the crate as well.
Before the scent clinging to his nose could overwhelm his small mass as it did hers, he reached into his pouch and grabbed some liquid Smelling Salts. The scent of it was pungent and powerful as he popped the cork, but it was still better than what his nose had the horror of smelling just now. He soaked a cloth with it and tied it around his mouth and nose to eventually wash it away while the stimulant kept him alert.
Then he did the same for the unconscious Arcanist and they both carried the crate back to Limsa Lominsa.
The Bismarck would find few brave enough to try Goblin Cheese Cuisine in the future.
The environs of Eorzea lends itself well to a number of different beasts, many of whom have adapted to their local biome. One of the more common species you’ll find are those of the Gigantoad genius, which are, as the name implies, large amphibians typically characterized by their ability to make great strides through leaping, their propensity to secrete fluids through glands on their leathery skin, and their extremely long and unusually adhesive tongues that can be used to snatch prey from afar.
The latter ability is what you will be attempting to reproduce through a single spell: Sticky Tongue.
Blue Mages can utilize a far more sanitary aetherial “tongue” once attuned to the wavekin’s instincts, constructing an adhesive and malleable fluid that will reach out and grab the target before snapping back and bringing them to you. It may not be elegant, but utility of the spell isn’t to be understated.
However, let it be known that while it can be learned by several different species all over Eorzea, the chances of obtaining it are slim due to the nature of the spell. But if you fancy giving it a shot, you can learn it from the following species of the genius…
Cocobusi nearly stumbled on a rock cropping out of the ground as he read the passage on the Sticky Tongue spell while following behind the two nearby Yellowjackets on their way to a stream in Lower La Noscea.
He had gone to the Adventurer’s Guild to register and was scantily finished when a Yellowjacket came about requesting help to deal with an impending surge of Cane Toads, an invasive species that was imported to deal with the vilekin swarms. But their numbers grew out of control as they had no natural predators and required culling from time to time. From what he could gather it happened frequently throughout the season, due to them having eggs similar to the local Rivertoad population—which they couldn’t exactly eliminate due to them serving as a vital part of the ecosystem.
There weren’t many volunteers to help in the Adventurer’s guild. Especially when the reward was really a pittance of gil with a bonus for every of Cane Toad killed. There was nothing glamorous about it, and even the Yellowjacket didn’t seem too enthusiastic.
Their party consisted of the two Yellowjackets, himself, and another Lalafell that had strawberry blonde hair and was dressed in somewhat worn and ragged clothing, likely made of hempen. He believed that she was a novice Arcanist, judging by how she was cradling a rather weathered-looking grimoire to her chest.
When they arrived on the bank overlooking the stream, Cocobusi put away the book and stood before the Miqo’te Yellowjacket as she gave them the details of the assignment.
“Listen up,” she said. “We’re only here to deal with the Cane Toads, so don’t go attackin’ the bigger ones. I’ve seen ‘em flatten grown Roegadyn in a single leap, an’ I don’t feel like tellin’ Old Baderon a couple of whelps got themselves turned into chum chasin’ after enough coin in their daddles for a pint.”
“Does that happen often?” Cocobusi asked, brows raised.
The other Yellowjacket, a Midlander, gave a barking laugh. “The big ones are lazy as they are dumb. Ye can walk right by ‘em without so much as a glance. Just don’t go misfirin’ yer spells an’ don’t be so keen as to pick a fight with more than one of the small buggers at a time. They can still smash in yer skull but good. If ye’ve got one o’ ‘em beasites, best use it before ye start castin’.”
Cocobusi watched as the Arcanist took that as cue to flip open her grimoire and pull out her quill, beginning the process of conjuring the arcane entity that was a Carbuncle.
He had prepared grimoires before, so he understood the principles behind how it worked. The ink, laced with aether-conductive materials that allowed for easier absorption and transmittance, was drawn into specific shapes and geometries that formed blueprints that shaped their spells. The conductivity of the ink made the tome essential for casting as an Arcanist, as without it they’d have difficulty using even basic spells—even if they memorized the patterns in their minds.
But for the entities known as Carbuncles it was more complex, as explained by the acting headmistress when he delivered the requested grimoire to her. Comparing the headmistress’ demonstration to the Lalafell as she wrote into the page of the grimoire, the difference was as clear as night and day. Whereas the former had a relaxed expression, the visage of the one in front of him was strained to the point of sweat coming off her brow while visible pockets of aether being shaped by the formula on the pages circled her.
Likewise, in contrast to the headmistress who had lifted the formula and ink off the page itself through aetherial manipulation to summon her Carbuncle, the young woman simply collapsed the aether into the page before she ripped it out and tossed it away. The discarded page itself served as a medium for the collected wind-aspected aether within the gemstone to flow into it, shredding it as the summoning spell manifested an Emerald Carbuncle tied into the gemstone through an invisible aetheric tether.
“…ten this time,” he heard mutter beneath her breath before she caught him looking at her. She returned his curiosity with a glare. “Didn’t anyone teach you its improper to stare at a lady?”
“Sorry about that.” He held his hands up in an effort to placate her while the summoning looked around curiously, sniffing its surroundings. “I just found it fascinating. That’s all. It’s different from the school of magic I’m familiar with.”
“Well don’t go straining your pretty head about it. Arcanima creates higher functioning spells compared to the primitive magicks you Thaumaturges use. Making something like a Carbuncle isn’t something you’ll be capable of, so stick to lobbing fireballs and try not to get in my way.”
She wasn’t completely wrong. An Arcanist had to route their aether into the aetheric gemstone to form a foundation that could manifest in real-time, which meant they had to draft the shapes by hand and memory. In addition, the equations required taking in variable factors, like the current aether density, and interweaving more complex equations into the formulas that made up the Carbuncles allowed for more ways they could manifest their inherent properties taken from the gemstones. That naturally meant it required a higher level of skill and knowledge.
But that didn’t mean thaumaturgy wasn’t also a complex art. It was certainly more dangerous as, unlike with Arcanists, the Thaumaturges had to shift the balance of a portion of their own personal wellspring of aether and then use a suitable conductor to expel it—with certain metals, gems, and the bones of once living creatures being the best choices. But through careful manipulation of the Umbral and Astral states they could potentially keep casting with little need for rest.
He would have happily enlightened her to those facts, despite not being a Thaumaturge himself, if she’d given him the decency of allowing a rebuttal before she brushed him off with a ‘hmph’ and followed the Yellowjackets to get closer to the bank. That left Cocobusi to sigh frustratedly before noticing that Emerald Carbuncle wasn’t following her. It was instead milling about its surroundings, only to start moving once she was a certain distance away—the range of its invisible tether acting as the leash.
I wonder if she has full control over it, he thought to himself as he observed it. He wasn’t fully aware of the mechanisms of the formula that integrated whatever allowed for control over the summoning, so he couldn’t speak on it for certain. In the end, he ultimately forced it to the back of his mind as the Yellowjackets drew their axes.
As the culling of the Cane Toads began, they ended splitting into two groups. The Yellowjackets went closer to the mouth of the cavern from which the stream flowed, but the Arcanist stayed closer to the shore and path as she ordered her pet to attack one Cane Toad that was nearby, looking for vilekin to devour.
The arcane entity made as aggressive of a noise as it could before bounding forward a set number of steps. Then the ruby on its head shone and the air around the wavekin stirred into a violent whirl that caused its entire body to jostle. It fixed its gaze on the one who attacked it and, the moment Cocobusi blinked, the Carbuncle was already in front of it while covered in a thick layer of fluids.
It was the spell he had come looking for. The only thing left was to claim it for himself, so he focused on it and began the channeling process once more for the only spell that he knew. Blue crystals danced around him as he called upon the primal hunger that invoked Blood Drain and the Cane Toad’s body rocked as bundles of aether were ripped from its aetheric channels.
The Arcanist followed up with her hand over a page, aglow with aether as she used the geometry written there to format the unaspected magicks into the shape of a dense sphere. She then extended the book out towards the Cane Toad and the sphere launched at a destructive speed, slamming into its body so hard that the bindings came undone. The rupturing blast dispersed into the air as fading wisps over the Cane Toad’s corpse.
Cocobusi pulled out his Soul Crystal in the hopes that it’d had a reaction as the soul’s aether burned its brightest upon being freed from the vessel through death. But there was nothing. I suppose it was too much to hope that I’d get it the first time.
He shoved the crystal back into his pocket as the Carbuncle moved up the river and attacked a second Cane Toad. The Gust it called forth splashed the water as the cutting winds that buffered the wavekin stirred the attention of a third one as well, leaving it to lash out and snatch the Carbuncle once more. Pinned down and helpless, the second one threw its body against the entrapped arcane pet hard enough that cracks formed along its fur.
The Arcanist cast her Ruin spell towards the first one as it tensed its legs to do the same and shatter the Carbuncle entirely. The sphere flew towards it and slammed into the Cane Toad harder than the previous one had done, knocking it over to the side as it reeled from the impact of the hit. Cocobusi finished it off with a Blood Drain spell, tearing apart its aetheric channels and leaving it to collapse in the stream.
The third was swiftly dispatched as well in a similar manner and the novice Blue Mage let out a sigh, when a shrill shriek reached their ears and was followed by a strong wind that billowed their clothes. They turned to see a Cane Toad was knocked back by the Carbuncle releasing a blade of wind that slammed the wavekin, sending it right into a Rivertoad that happened to be perched away. It immediately turned hostile as its gaze locked onto them and it subsequently took a leaping bound to crush the Lalafell pair.
Cocobusi turned to run, only for the force of its landing to throw him forward and send him tumbling onto the ground. He shook his head to clear it of the dizziness before he turned to see the Arcanist flat on her back, groaning. Her Carbuncle was still attacking despite the fact that aether was leaking through the cracks in its form, its construct life slipping away even as it continued to fight.
She’s definitely struggling to control it. He supposed that was one of the downsides to having a pseudo-sapient construct. It had could misbehave at the worst time possible.
He used a Potion to numb the pain before he retreated a safe distance, while she picked up her grimoire just as the Rivertoad finished slamming into the Emerald Carbuncle, the impact dissipating its form entirely. That was when a sickly green and purple substance erupted over its body and invaded it from the inside out. It was a Bio Spell, meant to kill it via accelerated entropy.
Dying from the inside out, the Rivertoad leapt towards her as Cocobusi began to cast the only spell he knew once more. She barely managed to get out of the way as it landed and then tried to take her into its mouth, instead getting a gullet full of grass and river soil. Then the Blood Drain spell finished, leaving it to collapse and go still as Cocobusi breathed out a heavy sigh of relief before he looked over towards her—
—only for a wet and sticky substance to blanket him before he was snapped off his feet and into the shallow water, where a Cane Toad had marked him as its prey the moment his back was turned.
Helplessly mired in the viscous secretions as it prepared to crush him, Cocobusi fought to get free with all his might and barely managed to pull himself away as it leapt up and came crashing back down with enough force that it would have crushed him. But the sheer force of the displacement of aether that it lined its underbelly with for protection sent him tumbling backwards until he hit a rock on the shoreline.
“Owww…” His moan of pain echoed the ache seeping into his bones and his vision swam. Moving hurt. Breathing hurt. But considering the Cane Toad was moving in to finish him off, he found it in him to at least use his cane to get back on his feet and focus on a final Blood Drain spell.
The wavekin threw itself into a ram that would break his bones before the spell could be completed, if not for the sphere of condensed aether slamming into it before rupturing. The Ruin spell that had flown from behind him intercepted the Cane Toad, repaying the ambush in kind and buying enough time for the novice Blue Mage to cast his own spell. Its body convulsed thrice before its legs collapsed under it, the cumulative damage too much for it to withstand.
And at last he felt the Soul Crystal quiver in his pocket.
Cocobusi would have celebrated if not for the pain in his body. The cane became a crutch as he slumped down to his knees in the water, his clothes soaked and heavy. It almost felt like he was going to pass out when a soothing sensation swaddled him. It felt like his body was repairing itself, damaged tissue and bone mending courtesy of a Physick spell.
He stood up straight and gave the approaching Lalafell a bow of the head in gratitude. “Thank you.”
She only turned her head to the side and muttered, “Just don’t tell anyone about the Carbuncle and we’ll call it even.”
There was a hint of shame in her tone. The kind he had when he often had to admit that he couldn’t use magic like his brothers when asked by those who were unaware. The one exception to their family of arcane experts. The fact that she couldn’t control her pet well was clearly a sensitive topic for her, so he bobbed his head in agreement. “Sure. My lips are sealed.”
She huffed in acceptance and then pointed to the remainder of the Cane Toads. “Well then, let’s get back to it. Every toad we leave for them to kill is one less gil for us. Come on now, hop to it.”
Later that evening, Cocobusi was outside of the Zephyr gate once more. Though the experience of culling the population of Cane Toads proved more tedious and less rewarding that he expected in terms of monetary compensation, he did ultimately earn something far more valuable. Holding the Soul of a Blue Mage in his palm, his fingers wrapped around it tight as he attempted to attune to mindset needed to use Sticky Tongue.
What drove the Cane Toad to use this primitive form of aetherial manipulation? It was a primal means of obtaining prey that remained distant, meaning the desire was rooted in the need to…
The Soul Crystal began to pulsate within his grasp when that thought crossed his mind as he fixated on a Little Ladybug, the vilekin moving in erratic patterns. Attuned to the mind of the small breed of toad, such succulent prey left his mouth salivating as azure crystals began to swirl around him and draw in the ambient aether. He felt it pooling in his mouth, morphing into a viscous liquid that filled his cheeks until they were puffed out and he couldn’t keep his lips closed anymore.
“Ptooh!” His lips were forced apart and the fluid came out like a nocked arrow being loosed. All the building pressure was released at once, lancing onto the unexpectant prey and then snapping back faster than the eye could track. The vilekin plopped down in front of him, writhing in agitation and confusion as it remained pinned by the thick, slimy fluid.
“Das’ oin ta ek ome getting used to…” he muttered, tongue hanging out and saliva dripping down as it tried to wash away the taste of the so-called aetherial tongue. He doubted that it would be enough to impress his brothers, but it was still another spell in his arsenal.
Another step towards becoming a mage who could walk alongside of them.
Two of the more commonly found creatures lurking the lands are the beastkin classified as Bats and vilekin known as Chigoe. They subsist on the lifeblood of others, taking in both nutrients and aether at once to fuel themselves. And as a Blue Mage, you can do the same with the spell: Blood Drain.
Contrary to its name, the caster doesn’t actually drain blood in the same manner as these species would do to those they prey upon. Instead, the spell simply rips the very aether from their bodies, contracting the aetheric channels to strangle the life from them in the process of depositing it right into your own inner reserves. No superstitious, vampiric urge to drink blood while frothing at the mouth involved.
Best of all, because it doesn’t rely on blood itself, it works on anything that possesses aether—making this rendition superior to the original.
The Whalaqee themselves ensure that all who use blue magic are capable of using this spell as both a means of weakening their quarry and keeping themselves able to cast their magic. Therefore, it should be a priority for you to do the same. As such I’ve catalogued the different species that one can learn this spell from in Eorzea and their locations as follows…
The Blind Iron Mines were surprisingly well-lit as Cocobusi ventured into the cavern past the checkpoint leading from Middle La Noscea.
Getting past the checkpoint had presented a minor setback as the guards were a little wary of some of the items he had, as typically they were only in possession of adventurers. But he managed to get through by presenting his Alchemist’s Guild membership. All the same, he made a note to register with the Adventurer’s Guild before he went back home if his efforts today proved successful—if only to move about easier in the future.
Even so, reservation riddled the readied yet reserved blue mage as he finished going over the pages for the Blood Drain spell for a fifth time. The concept of the spell was simple enough to understand. It was meant to take aether from the foe and use it to fill the wellspring that was your own.
In a way it was similar to the Drain spell that his brothers taught to promising thaumaturges, stealing the very life of the foe and using it to mend physical wounds. He had also heard of an even more refined version used by Arcanists that combined both the aspects of taking the life and aether of the enemy. But, while Blood Drain was less refined than either of them, it was more or less the perfect spell for Cocobusi to acquire first…
At least if not for the unpleasantness associated with it when he remembered his brothers’ tale of what transpired with Mormo. He couldn’t recall what had happened after he opened the lid to the vessel that kept her bound, but he knew that the voidsent had committed many a mage to death. So great was her hunger for aether that she ripped it from their bodies in an effort to reconstitute her own until her physical form was obliterated entirely.
It was an unpleasant thought to know that he’d be willingly using a similar technique to fuel his ambitions once more. But he had no intention of becoming a monster like she had been. He only sought to wield blue magic for the sake of fixing the cruel quirk of fate that had befallen him and standing alongside his brothers—nothing more.
Of course, before he could ponder the potentially perilous path presented by the spell, he had to actually wrest it from the corpse of a Cave Bat.
It was a mostly passive beast from what he could gather. But that didn’t mean that he was confident that he could still best it alone, given his inexperience with this sort of thing. That was why he was in the middle of preparing a trap to tip the scales in his favor.
He poured the remaining contents of a still-warm bottle of Beastkin Blood he had bought with him onto a slab of Mutton Loin before he took shelter out of sight, clutching his cane with clammy hands and waiting for one to be drawn in by the scent. A Cave Bat eventually swooped in and lapped at the blood that had been spilled over it, sampling it and feeling the warmth of the meat that still lingered. He waited until the moment it bit down into the meat, fangs pressing deep until fluids came bubbling out and down its maw.
Then Cocobusi rushed in with a shout to psyche himself up. The Cave Bat broke from its meal at the sudden startle, glowing white eyes catching the motion of the cane as it was swung. Its wings carried it out of the reach of the initial, clumsy attempt. Then they abruptly started spasming and twitching, throwing its flight off before it could do anything else.
Just the results he expected when he laced the blood with a bottle of Weak Paralyzing Potion.
The Jellyfish Humors and Cnida all came from this region and were easy enough to procure, while he had the Quicksilver and the shards himself to use in crafting it. The blood didn’t congeal, masking the potion well enough to fool it into taking a bite. Cocobusi was sure the effects had been diluted, but it should be effective enough to hamper the Cave Bat’s fine motor control and stop it flying away for at least a few moments.
He took a second swing, using the cane like a bludgeon to thwack it with a meaty thump. But the Cave Bat was surprisingly resilient, given that after it whirled in the air for a moment it managed to correct its flight. Then it turned aggressive, chittering and fluttering around his subsequent attempts at hitting it again before swooping in and biting down on his arm.
The sting of the fangs piercing his new outfit and flesh, ripping into the arteries and capillaries beneath it, was something he could tolerate. What he couldn’t was the sensation that followed afterwards. There was a tug, an irresistible pull as it drew from both his circulatory and aetheric channels at once— it was using Blood Drain on him.
“Get off! Get off! Get off!” He slammed the cane into the Cave Bat over and over until he managed to knock it loose, widening the wound that stained the white and blue garments with a spot of crimson.
The Cave Bat screeched menacingly as its fangs that had been dyed with blood were revealed. The taste of sweet nourishment to be found within his flesh was too great a lure for it to flee now. It dove straight for his neck this time and ended up just short when Cocobusi brought his wounded arm up to protect his neck, catching him between his neck and shoulder to sup on his blood once more.
Whacking it with the cane did nothing to deter it as the Cave Bat threatened to suck his aetheric and cardiovascular channels dry, stirred into a frenzy of pain and hunger. If left alone, the Lalafell would soon be a withered husk stumbled upon by some adventurer or miner. Desperate, he dropped his stick reached into his pouch until his fingers found a wide-bodied bottle. He brought the cork to his mouth, popped it off, and then dumped the contents over the bat and the wound alike.
The moment the deep, inky fluid splashed down he felt the stinging sensation of the cnidas that were woven into the Weak Poison Potion piercing down as it took root in them both. The bloodthirsty beastkin’s devouring of his aether was stopped short as its muscles locked into place from the remnants of the paralysis. It gave him a chance to pull it free even as he felt his own arm suffering from the sensation of internal bleeding from the viper’s venom.
Cocobusi then hastily reached for an antidote, a slimmer-bodied bottle that he knew to be somewhere in there. Any good alchemist carried a bottle meant to counteract the potations they made on principle, a safety measure to avoid any unfortunate accidents in the workplace. In this case, he had just the one bottle and hastily guzzled it down before he chugged a Potion as well to quell the burning pain from the wound and staunch the flow of blood.
Afterwards, he scrabbled over the ground for his cane and used it to prop himself up before looking over to the Cave Bat. It was twitching on the ground, spitting out a mix of both its own blood and that it stole. The poison was working for now but, given enough time, its body would fight off the afflictions and become resistant to them. So, to be safe, Cocobusi doused it with another set of maleficent potions.
Then he watched as the two sets of baleful fluids ravaged its tiny form inside and out until the light of its eyes went out as it succumbed.
The alchemist breathed out a sigh of relief that he managed to kill it on his own. Sure, it wasn’t a glamourous way to end a battle. But it was no different than the teachings his brothers preached as Thaumaturges—strike when they couldn’t fight back and from a distance—so he’d like to believe they would be proud of him for that.
The fact that his soul crystal quivered and pulsed only served to reinforce that thought.
The violent, painful death that his cruel concoctions wrought had released the aether from its body when it was at an apex due to the nature of the battle. That aether resonated with his own as it flowed into him, an almost tangible sensation that left him feeling tingly, and the crystal had caught that… hopefully.
He still needed to test it on a living subject, but he had already used up two of the three bane potations that he made with the materials he had on hand. They were so unstable that he didn’t trust them to help him last long enough against another Cave Bat, and he couldn’t use Teleport due to his low levels of anima, which was why he took a ferry to get to Limsa in the first place—meaning he couldn’t get back if he got too hurt to walk.
So, he decided to retreat from the mines while he was still able to with the tainted mutton and made it back to Zephyr Drift around evening, as the sun was starting to set over the water. There were only largely passive beasts within the region, as the more aggressive or dangerous ones were often culled before they got closer to large cities. The perfect kind to practice casting his first spell on.
In this case, a Wharf Rat that had decided to try to eat the mutton that he’d left out as bait. The rodent was large, with a pair of teeth that tore into the meat eagerly to taste whether it was edible or not. Satisfied, it prepared to abscond with the morsel only for its muscles to begin to twitch violently as the last of the paralysis potion that he’d doused it with took hold.
It bought him time to try and cast the spell as he came out of hiding and focused on the rat.
The book said he needed to attune himself to the mind of the beasts to use their spells. That he had to resonate with it. Grasping at the soul crystal, he closed his eyes and tried to envision what would resonate with the aetherial traces within him. What drove the Cave Bat to use Blood Drain on a primitive level?
That thought bubbled up from the recesses of his mind with suspicious ease, almost enticingly so. He could just envision that it was STARVING, wracked by a desire for nourishment that could only be found in the warm, flowing life blood. Yes, an INSATIABLE need that hollowed out its stomach and gnawed at it from the inside out. It had to…
The crystal pulsated within his grasp as he concentrated on that feeling. That primal YEARNING, to gorge itself until it was full on the abundance of aether from whatever source it could. The CRAVING could only be quelled by supping on the essence of another and quench the gnawing void within. A FERVENT desire that only grew as pain and hostility left it with a desperate need for succor, to mend the wound and numb the pain.
He lacked the yearning for nourishment that it may have possessed, but there was a fervent desire that he could tie into it akin to an insatiable hunger. That instinctive, desperate urgency to fill in the void and match his brother’s arcane might. The only way to satisfy that desire was for him to… for him to…
His eyes shot open as he felt the aetheric reserves within him stir. A pinch of the little anima he possessed gave form to the azure crystals that spun around him, drawing in the ambient aether that had settled in the surrounding plants. The traces were formulated and gave rise to a spell to take its aether for his own.
The Wharf Rat’s twitching body abruptly jerked as motes of warmth-less light bundled together into orbs that burst from its body. The raw and distilled aetheric energy flew towards into Cocobusi’s compact frame, slipping past his clothes and flesh to take root in deeper inside. The concentration was so potent that he could feel as it ran through his own aetheric channels once the prisms faded and the spell came to an end.
“I… I did it.” Looking down at his own hands that trembled, he found himself overcome with excitement and ended up jumping for joy. “I’m a mage now!”
Even if it wasn’t the arcane flames, crackling thunder, or frigid ice that his brothers could bring to bear, it was still a form of aetheric manipulation. It was still magic. He had surpassed the limitation that fate had put upon him and defied it to cast magic where he hadn’t been able to before.
His excitement was only cut short by the menacing squeaking of the Wharf Rat as it rose back up to its feet. Turning aggressive at the attack, it charged towards him with jagged teeth bared and ready to gnaw away at him, only to be knocked away as the fledgling mage hastily swung his cane around to before it could take a bite. It hit the ground with a thump and then stalled as paralyzing potion had yet to be purged entirely from its system.
Cocobusi reached out for that hunger and desire again while he had the chance to cast. He had to prove that it wasn’t just a fluke, a desire that only served to formulate the spell as the blue prisms circled him and drew in aether from the surroundings once more. It only took two seconds before the aether was properly shaped and the spell was cast.
The Wharf Rat’s death throe was audible as the pull of the spell violently collapsed the rodent’s aetheric channels. The magic ripped every last drop from its corpse, death offering up even that which had accumulated within it. The surge was so great that he felt as though his own channels were being pressed from the inside out and threatened to expand.
“I can’t wait to show my brothers…” He said giddily before trailing off after considering his progress to theirs. Even if he could use one spell, it still might not be enough to convince them otherwise that he should be like them. And they might have some reservations about using the same kind of magic as the lying voidsent that had possessed him for a time. “On second thought, maybe II should wait until I get a few more spells?”
Now that he knew for a fact that it worked, he could go out and seek the monsters he could learn spells from to build his repertoire. But, considering everything that happened, he would maybe start small and plan things out a little. He’d pay a visit to the Adventurer’s Guild come morning to see if he could gain any advice.
Busi Goes Blue (or How to be a Blue Mage in Eorzea) – An Excerpt from Martyn’s Guide to Blue Magic [FFXIV Fanfic]
So, you’ve gone and picked up the Soul of the Blue Mage and Martyn’s Guide to Blue Magic, have you?
Congratulations, you’re now one of the few and proud members of this new school of magic. You had the bravery to step onto this path and will be rewarded with great power in the end. But before you can call forth and wield the might and magicks of the beasts roaming around Eorzea, you must know what makes this form of magic special, and what it can do for you that the other modern schools of magic can’t.
Blue Magic itself is a form of magic that comes from my research into the mystic arts of the Whalaquee, inhabitants of the New World who managed to create a form of spellcasting based off the wild creatures that prowl the plains and forests. Over centuries of facing off against the creatures as they brought their magicks to bear in self-defense, they gained the ability to make it their own. I was fortunate enough to have learned from the best of them and will now pass on these teachings to you through this book.
Now, surely you must think that such it requires an immense amount of training and massive inner reserves of aetheric energy in order to use such spells?
Well that’s where you’re wrong, my apprentice. While most modern schools of magic might demand such a thing, blue magic stems from a different principle. You might still need a little aether of your own to start up the spells, but by drawing in aether from the immediate surroundings, you can use spells even greater than one could imagine.
Now I’m sure that to some that might seem like the white or black magic of old, but the similarities end there. These near-extinct (and forbidden) magicks rely on connecting oneself to the world’s aetherial current, but blue magic simply borrows ambient aether from the local environment in the same manner that the beasts do and returns it once the spell has done its work. It’s not unlike Conjury taught in the Twelveswood and that’s not illegal, is it?
Best of all, since you aren’t using your inner aetheric reserves to form the spells, you don’t have to worry about the complex relationship of aetheric balancing and efficiency like they teach in the Ossuary in Ul’dah. If you want to cast fire spells all day you can do so with no risk of burning yourself inside-out from over-aspecting or anything else.
So now that you know the skies are the limit for blue magic, you’ll surely be wondering how to learn the spells that you’ll be adding to your arsenal. Will you need to study from countless theurgical tomes and recite ancient incantations? Spend hours meditating and begging the elementals to let you borrow their power? Memorize complicated arcane patterns and geometries to shape the spells?
Of course not! Part of what makes blue magic wonderful is that it’s the simplest form of magic to use since you don’t need to do anything like that. All you need is one of my specialized focuses and a brand-new soul crystal.
As you might know, soul crystals are designed to store an echo of the user’s memories and allow future holders to learn from them. Well, thanks to my time in studying the arcanum, I’ve created a rune that allows for the soul crystal to formulate the memories of various creatures into spells instead. While not all of the local wildlife possesses the necessary aetherial composition to be engraved properly into it, you’ll find a list of those that can and their habitats in the pages of this spellbook.
As for actually learning the spells, you need to be either the target of the ability being used or close to it with the soul crystal present.
The mere threat of combat increases the flow of aetheric energies flowing throughout the beast’s inner channels and thus the instinctual patterns that it uses to weave the magic will permeate it to a certain degree. Then, once you vanquish the beast, that aether will be dispersed and you’ll absorb some of it into yourself by proximity. If that aether has the residual pattern within it, it’ll be stored and transcribed in the crystal as a spell for you to use.
Well, casting the spell is even simpler. You just need to attune yourself to the instincts of the beast and the crystal will formulate the spell from the stored knowledge, allowing you to use aether in a similar manner to the beast. That’s all it takes.
You don’t need to meditate on raising the potency of the elements to shape the spell like Conjurers do with their unworked wands and canes.
You don’t need to use speak a string of hard to remember words in the heat of battle and worry about ending up in a grave from biting your tongue like Thaumaturges.
You don’t even have to lug around a heavy book filled with complicated scribblings, written in enchanted ink and tipped with an expensive gemstone, and worry about the little creatures you call forth getting distracted while you’re in the middle of pitched combat like many Arcanists do.
So now that you know what blue can do for you, it’s time to start your acquisition of spells until you swell with the power to rival even the greatest of spellcasters.
Go forth and make your mark upon the world as a Blue Mage.
Peering down at the pages of the book from his room at the Mizzenmast Inn of Limsa Lominsa, Cocobusi found himself intrigued by the prospect of this new form of magic. So much so that his legs swung back and forth while he sat on the edge of the chair, his linen robes rustling in excitement. The discovery had been more than he expected when he joined the caravan to come to the seaside city-state. There had been a request for a member of the Alchemist Guild in the crafting of a grimoire and he had volunteered for a number of reasons.
The first was because he wanted to have a chance to learn of this city-state’s most common form of spellcasting, done through tomes and ink laced with pigments of metals that were conductors of aether. That made it much easier using gemstones and geometries, the two things that defined their school of magic. Unfortunately, since it relied on one’s inherent anima, practicing it held the same risk as with his brothers’ magic.
Then he had come for supplies to work on improving his potion, since the materials he needed weren’t easily procured in Ul’dah. The prices for getting them imported was far too expensive on his current budget. Especially since he had just saved up enough to purchase a Mythril Mortar, which he hoped would help him push past his current progress with the addition of a crafting materia.
It was by chance that he had come across the Blue Mage. After witnessing his demonstration and hearing his explanation, the alchemist couldn’t help but be drawn in by the opportunity it presented. Even though it cost him all the gil he’d saved towards getting his new mortar, he couldn’t pass up the chance to finally use magic.
Though his brothers had assured him that they appreciated what he could do as an alchemist, the desire to weave spells still thrummed in his very core. But his conundrum was that he lacked the excess reserves of anima needed to use the same arcane arts as his brothers, a quirk of fate that was cruel in itself. In Blue Magic, however, he saw a fortuitous chance to challenge that fate itself.
The aether from living beings flowed out and tended to return to the other realm upon death, but the more violent and sudden the death, the more frantic the process. And one’s own aether could be stained by it, though the effects were so miniscule that it would be unnoticed given that one’s inner reserves were often greater—a soluble within a solvent. But if the Soul Crystal could capture the essence that was diluted in oneself as the body absorbed it and somehow reconstruct it when the caster attuned themselves to it…
It was possible for it to work. And if the majority of the aether was drawn from the surroundings rather than one’s anima, the costs of using the spells themselves would be lower. Low enough to where he could perhaps use a spell without the risk it would pose to his life.
Then, one day, maybe he could even stand alongside his siblings.
Flipping through the pages to see the potential spells he could learn, he noticed how they were ranked based on a star-system from easiest to obtain to hardest, including some theoretical ones like the primals. There were a few beasts he could go after while he was in the region, so he marked the first of his prey. Then he turned back to his tools, since he had just enough materials on-hand to make some things useful enough to see the job done.
By this time tomorrow, he would have his first spell.