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Pure White

Lunet Greene

Brynhildr (Crystal)

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A Story: Ch 4 Part 1

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(Disclaimer: Took liberties with a new plot thread that's not in-game. Prese to forgive, I wanted the option to write more stories. Please find the first parts of the story here: https://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/lodestone/character/853473/blog/?order=2 )
Rated M for Moggle Mog
~*~

The next day, Gaius stood in a loose circle with his comrades that had made this journey with him. His expression was grim as he read the paper in his hand; it was a hand-written receipt that someone passing through the village had forgotten. Upon it was the tally for chemicals....certain chemicals that could be used to make a certain gas....
“This again...when will they learn?” Valdeaulin said with a scowl.
“At least they lack the capabilities to mass-produce it. We saw to that.” Gaius said.
“And there's no guarantee that they even know how to craft it properly...” Dyson, a bespectacled Au Ra said in a logical tone. “Even if they are to have the right chemicals, didn't you three already see to razing their facilities, and the proper notes detailing the production? This was a top secret project, wasn't it?” He adjusted his spectacles as he craned his neck to try and see over Gaius' shoulder.
“All that we could find...and between their alchemists choosing sides in this new conflict and various facilities being raided by common man, it comes to me as no surprise that more people would know about it now.” Valdeaulin answered. Gaius clenched his hand, resisting the urge to crumple the paper in anger.
“You're sure this is an actual receipt, and not another forgery of information?” Gaius asked, looking over to the village leader. He stood some distance away, shifting nervously. He was a tall Garlean, taller than Gaius, but his expression gave away how intimidated he was by the other man. He nodded vigorously, and dug in the pockets of his threadbare, patched pants, and pulled out three coins.
“This currency was among that which he p-paid with, m'lord.” the man stammered, holding out the coins. Severa stepped forward to take them, and after giving them a quick glance, tossed one to Valdeaulin.
“Rabanastran coin.” she said, as Valdeaulin passed the piece of metal to Gaius.
“The man was part of a mercantile branch that is said to be large enough to rival those in Eorzea,” the village leader continued, wringing his hands in front of him. “He was heading back to Valnain, right boasted about the sale he'd just delivered to a faction involved in the civil war, and how he let it slip to the 'right people' that the products were in certain 'other people's' hands....”
“Blood money.” another Hyur, this one a short, red-headed man named Porfirio, murmured. “They'll raze each other to the ground trying to both destroy and gain those chemicals for themselves.”
“All the better to hunt down the source so more of the same doesn't happen elsewhere, don't you think?” the Au Ra named Akane spoke up, her eyes fair gleaming with the prospect of adventure. Her sentiment was echoed amongst the rest, excitement rippling through them. Gaius shut his eyes as the trace of a smile drew across his lips, heartened by the eagerness of his comrades to set wrong to be right. They had been stationary for nearly a week, it was far past time for them to return to Terncliff.
“Oh and beggin me pardon m'lord...” the village leader piped up again, drawing everyone's attention back to him. He rummaged through a rucksack by his feet and pulled out a handful of stained, crumpled papers. “It wasn't the easiest to track down, but my girls have a few gentlemen callers who come here on occasion to get away from all the fightin'. One happened to work in the clerk's office and knew where this sort 'o thing was kept. He just delivered them to us early this mornin'.” he held the papers out proudly, looking something like a ragged, skinny hound hoping for a treat. Gaius stepped forward and took the papers, flipping through them quickly.
“Yes thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for.” he said, impressed that the village leader actually came through with not one, but two bits of information they could use. He folded the papers in half and tucked them into an inner pocket of his coat, then turned to Severa. “Could you bring our “guest” to me? It's time for one last talk before we go.” Severa nodded, and departed for the gaol. To everyone else he said; “Make ready to break camp, we leave in the morning.”
Valdeaulin remained behind as the rest departed, his mouth set in a thin line. Gaius regarded him without expression. “If you have aught to say to me, best come out and say it, we are on a timer now.” Gaius said smoothly. Valdeaulin sighed heavily, his gaze drifting towards the makeshift gaol house.
“Is it really necessary to continue this game with that woman? I heard her tale as plainly as you, she clearly came here to kill you for her own boosted ideals of revenge. It just amazes me that she seems dumbly oblivious that the one she's after is the one she's been making eyes at when she thinks no one is looking.” he said bitterly, folding his arms across his chest. He lifted an eyebrow as Gaius' expression faintly shifted to something he hadn't seen before. It was gone as quickly as it had appeared, however. Was Gaius feeling...warmth...towards that Vieran woman? Preposterous. They had no time for such frivolity.
“When she approached the camp, yes, without a doubt she had come to kill me.” he said, his stance and voice once again giving nothing away of himself. “But if she had followed Severa and the others from the city, the question of why she was there remains unanswered. I have a suspicion as to her reasons, and as we will be parting tomorrow, I would at least like to leave her with closure, as it seems to me she did not find what she came searching for.” he placed a hand over the papers tucked inside of his coat, “If my suspicions are confirmed with this last interrogation, I believe I have what she's looking for.”
~*~

Babette was already seated in the chair when Gaius finally entered the shack. Severa, who had been standing against the wall closest to the door, bowed her head respectfully as he entered, and then left them, taking up her post outside the door once again. Gaius walked around the desk slowly, taking the papers from his inner pocket and placing them on the splintered wood.
“You look confused, Babette.” he said, noting her expression. She looked at him suspiciously, as if unsure of what he wanted from her. She shifted in clear discomfort, her shoulders likely sore from her arms being cuffed for a third day.
“I thought you would have gotten all the information you wanted of me yesterday.” she said, watching him with an unblinking stare. He gave her a wan smile and tapped the papers with his fingertips once, then came back around the desk to take up his usual spot leaning against it.
“Not nearly, there were three explanations I requested of you, remember?” he said, placing both hands on the desk at his sides, completely opening up his stance. It was a test, completely letting his guard down with her to see if she truly recognized him only as the Garlean that facilitated her revenge for her mother. He knew enough about ninja to know that the two blades that had been lifted from her were not the only weapons she had hidden on her person. To his pleasant surprise, she made no movement to come at him, and the air around her only seemed to shift from suspicious to a kind of tense Gaius knew there was no time for, in this place.
When she only continued to stare at him, he held up three fingers. “Your opposing citizenships. You have sufficiently explained how you are both Dalmascan and a citizen of Garlemald, but you have not explained Doma.” Surprise washed over her, and her mouth dropped open in a small 'o' shape. She blushed fiercely and looked down, looking the most flustered he'd seen of her yet. She took a breath and after a moment composed herself, returning once again to the dark place where the memories resided.

“When Viera come into pubescence, we mostly enter our adult bodies within a little over a fortnight. Our height is usually the last to complete. I was ten and five when my body matured, and according to father, I had become an 'old-fashioned Dalmascan beauty'. I was, in fact, a late bloomer as far as Viera go, but it caused a new worry to spring to life in him.” Once again Gaius was thrown off by the frankness on which she delivered intimate details of herself, but he let it not show, “He feared the same fate would befall me that did mother, if our adopted countrymen were to see what I'd become.”
“I had not been trained in combat. This was something I would've traditionally learned from mother, but she had been able to do little more than teach me how to use a blade properly while hunting food. We had been visited by a Centurio not long after mother passed away, who offered me a place in the combat academy, saying it had come to their attention that I had raw potential. Father refused, not wanting me to sell my soul as he had, knowing full well that I would fare little better there, even if I were being trained to fight.”
He was a smart man... Gaius thought, appreciating that the man had not fallen into desperation to impress his superiors. It was Gaius who had sent the Centurio. Babette's display of natural dexterity and strength was something that he had felt would have benefited the empire at that time. He had not started fostering orphaned children at that point in his life yet, but he did feel responsible for Babette, and wanted what he had thought best for her at that time. How lucky for her that her father was fiercely protective of her in that regard. Distracted by other duties, when his offer was refused, Gaius simply went on with his life, and had lost track of the Vieran girl.

(Character limit reached, next post incoming)
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