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.